A FORMAL written response regarding the rejection of the A27 proposals from Highways England has been received by Chichester District Council.
The letter, from Highways England, follows a meeting that took place last month between Chichester District Council; the West Sussex County Council; and Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan.
Leader of Chichester District Council, Cllr Tony Dignum said: “The detailed letter confirms the discussions that we had with Highways England, in December.
“We are still extremely disappointed with the response, but we remain determined to continue to campaign on this issue to ensure that a positive solution is found as an improved A27 is absolutely vital for the whole district.
“I will be meeting with Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, and Gillian Keegan on January 25 to discuss and reflect on the letter and talk through what the next steps should be.”
The letter outlines the reasons why neither of the options would be feasible.
Highways England write that it is clear that both presented options, the Mitigated Northern and Mitigated Southern routes, have ‘considerable issues to delivery that cannot at this time be overcome’.
It states: “This, along with the considerable costs without increased benefits mean the scheme would not represent value for money and therefore it is not possible to take a major improvement of the Chichester bypass forward at this time.”
MP for Chichester, Gillian Keegan said: “I am very disappointed that Highways England were unable to support either of the proposals put forward by the Build A Better A27 (BABA27) group and Systra.
“It is clear any scheme will need the approval of the councils and Highways England before we are able to secure funding, so I have requested a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to discuss the next steps for the Chichester A27 upgrade.
“Highways England, as the national road building authority, have offered to come and present their findings to the community and I hope they will attend and further explain their position at the next meeting.”
Last week, the Chichester Post explained how an A27 action group, the A27 Alliance, claimed that West Sussex County Council is solely responsible for the loss of funding for the road.
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of the county council, said: “I totally refute the comments made by the A27 Alliance in their recent statement.
“Representatives from the Alliance attended the BABA27 meetings and signed up to its agreed guiding principles to work together to achieve a consensus on the A27 with Systra, the appointed highways consultants. We achieved consensus on a scheme and we were hopeful that funding in RIS2 would be available.
“In my blog before Christmas, I detailed how the original consultation, due to commence in March 2016, was dramatically withdrawn just under two weeks before the consultation was due to start.
The 11th hour withdrawal of the consultation caused considerable confusion and division and that’s why we are where we are now.
“I have asked MP Gillian Keegan to arrange a meeting with Chris Grayling Secretary of State for Transport.
“It is imperative at this time that we work together to push for a long term solution that has been so long denied to Chichester. Making inaccurate accusations does nothing to progress towards the end goal we are all committed to.”