It was with interest that I read your report on Arundel’s annual town meeting (Observer, May 4) in which planning consultant Lindsay Frost warned of the trap that ‘too quaint, too affluent, too dozy’ market towns can fall into. He went on, you reported, to welcome the ‘opportunities’ that an Arundel bypass might present.
But if the conduct of a town council’s meetings could ever be said to reflect the character of the town itself, no one could ever accuse Arundel of being either quaint or dozy, although there might be some evidence in the chamber of its affluence.
Clearly, Mr Frost had not been to many Arundel Town Council meetings recently nor had he researched his chosen topic independently.
Consequently, the report that the £100-250 million earmarked by the Government for an A27 bypass around the town could in fact be used to ‘improve the local area’ generally, would have come as a surprise to many of your readers. And furthermore, as an Arundel resident, it also came as some surprise to me that there were ‘two Arundels’ which a bypass might reunite.
Surely Mr Frost does not think that such public money, available to Highways England for this project, is some sort of award to Arundel Town Council to spend on ‘improvements’ as it sees fit? And, if Mr Frost knew the area at all, he would know that wherever a bypass may be built around the town, some residents, such as those at Tortington, are destined to be severed from the town centre by it. He might also be reminded that there are no plans to remove the present A27 relief road, the roundabouts thereon or the road up ‘hospital hill’ if these are the obstacles he has in mind that are dividing Arundel at present.
Clearly, Mr Frost has been briefed by a town council which has not consulted the people of Arundel on the issue of a bypass since the 1980s, a council which only last week passed a motion instructing the mayor to issue jointly with Arun District Council a Memorandum of Understanding, which asserts those two councils’ support for a so-called pink-blue route for the bypass. It should be said that that motion was not passed unanimously and also state that until Highways England begin their public consultation on the bypass later this year, there are as yet no bypass routes on the table at all to be supported or opposed.
With such undemocratic and self-serving manipulation of information regarding both road funding, the geography of the area and the process of consultation, I fear that the only sort of opportunity that Arundel Town Council has seized so far has been one to set the trap that Mr Frost warns about and to bait it with ‘alternative facts’.