This week we heard the fantastic news that the Government is committing £350 million of investment to upgrade the A27 in Sussex, including an Arundel bypass.
I campaigned hard for the bypass and am delighted that it will now happen. I am also very pleased that the “starting point” is the ‘pink-blue’ route, which would run to the south of the town and commanded local consensus when it was previously proposed.
Other routes will be considered as part of the public consultation, but they are more expensive, or would damage villages, or would sever Arundel in two.
The small piece on the edge of the National Park affected by the ‘pink-blue’ route is not chalk downland, it is replanted woodland, and the A27 already goes through the National Park at Arundel. What’s more, environmental damage is done to the South Downs and its villages by ‘rat-running’ to avoid congestion at Arundel.
There is substantial funding to upgrade the A27 in Worthing and Lancing, too, and in the Commons on Monday the Transport Secretary confirmed that full dualling of the route through Worthing is “certainly on the table”.
The reason this is all such good news is that these A27 upgrades have “committed” funding, which means that, subject to the necessary statutory approvals and the schemes continuing to demonstrate value for money, they will enter construction during this roads period, which is between 2015/16 and 2020/21. So we will see the improvements within six years.
A £69 million upgrade to the Chichester bypass was already in the pipeline, which means that the total investment in the A27 in Sussex is well over £400 million.
It’s right to prioritise capital spending on infrastructure which helps to generate growth and wealth, and in any case the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week reported that the deficit has now halved and will be turned into a surplus in four year’s time.
And while the anti-roads lobby protest loudly about a £14 billion investment, the biggest roads programme since the 1970s, they ignore the largest investment in rail since the Victorian age, which even excluding HS2 is £36 billion over the same period.
Upgrading the A27 will benefit the local economy and the environment alike. I believe this major investment is great for West Sussex and will be welcomed by most local people.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org