County Council leader calls for action

PLANS for another public consultation about the A27 Arundel bypass have been described as “disappointing to say the least” by the leader of West Sussex County Council.

Louise Goldsmith said some people were getting “very weary” with the ongoing improvement process, which was first proposed in the 1970s, and pleaded: “We need some action, please.”

Mrs Goldsmith also told fellow councillors that she would call on Chichester MP Gillian Keegan to stress to Westminster and Highways England the need for a “long-term and comprehensive solution” at Chichester as well.

At a meeting of the full council she said: “It is a little bit disappointing to say the least that we’re going through yet another consultation, but we’ve been assured by Highways England of the commitment to the scheme.”

During last year’s consultation, 48 per cent of people who took part voted for option 5a, which would take the bypass through ancient woodland at Binsted Woods, Binsted Park and the South Downs National Park.

But Highways England announced this month that another consultation would be held in the spring as ‘important new evidence’ had become available.

Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) said: “I hope that we will say loudly and clearly, in every forum possible, including through our Members of Parliament, that we will all continue to throw our weight behind the preferred route for 5a for the Arundel bypass and do not run the risk of the £270m set aside by central government for the construction of this bypass.”

Mrs Goldsmith said the council had spoken to all West Sussex MPs, adding: “Everybody is committed to doing their utmost to get this scheme delivered.”

But Councillor Michael Jones disagreed, referring to a legal challenge to the Arundel bypass scheme, which was recently given the green light by the High Court.

Mr Jones said: “When granting this permission, the QC decided it could be argued that ‘something went clearly and radically wrong with the consultation’.

“The news that Highways England are planning to re-run that consultation in the spring might lead some to conclude that they are therefore acknowledging the original consultation process was flawed.” Environmental campaigner Emma Tristram won the right to take the case to a judicial review.

She argued that Highways England had misled the public over the impact its preferred route.

The authority denied that this was the reason it was running a second consultation.

What’s your view? Can public consultations become a barrier to the delivery of major investment? When new information becomes available how important is transparency and putting the community first? Share your views by emailing The Consultation Movement at: theconsultationmovement@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Tuesday 23 October 2018 in The Argus. The Consultation Movement cannot confirm the accuracy of this story or confirm that it presents a balanced view. If you feel this is inaccurate we would welcome your perspective and evidence that this is the case.

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