So we are back to square one on the A27 and now in an even worse situation as to make the new emerging local plan sound, mitigation work has to done on the A27 with a fraction of the money originally on the table from Highways England.
How did we end up here? A recent public servant said one of the lessons he had learnt over 50 years experience was that the discussion should precede the decision not the other way round.
Imagine if we had the excellent BABA27 discussions during the original consultation period with Highways England sitting down with us and we all coming to a consensus based on our opinion, local knowledge and what was actually achievable from Highways England.
Instead our leaders from CDC and WSCC went immediately on the attack and divided the community firmly into ‘north’ and ‘south’. Our leaders pushed hard for the options and costs to be published when Highways England were at a very early stage and constantly harassed them throughout the process.
Admittedly Highways England did themselves few favours during the consultation.
The leaders argued among themselves and eventually turned over the option decision originally made by the respective councils, not surprisingly as the public favoured no option. Then they went to the Secretary of State for Transport with a limp request to keep the money for us. Chris Grayling must have smiled that day as the leaders had given him the perfect reason for him to save £250 million from his overstretched road budget.
Too late came BABA27. It did its work and a consensus was finally achieved only to find that the consultants had come up with two solutions which were too costly, impractical or in the case of the northern route was never a contender anyway because of the policy that no route should either be in the National Park or adjacent if an alternative route exists.
Why didn’t our leaders tell us this at the start? I am sorry, with good leadership and proper community involvement early on such as the BABA27 model, we would have achieved a far better outcome. Instead nothing will happen significantly to improve the A27 for another 20 years and that one group of people, never really considered, that queue every morning on the A27 to try to get to work or deliver goods, will grow old waiting.
Richard Plowman, Worcester Road, Chichester