Focus on where you live:
West Sussex County Times Article
A fortnight ago my colleague Mike Penning MP, the Minister responsible for highways, came to West Sussex to look at congestion problems on the A27.
The visit included a journey along the road so that he could see the problem areas at Arundel, Chichester and Worthing, which we all know are so detrimental to the local economy and quality of life here in West Sussex.
The minister was accompanied by Lionel Barnard, our excellent County Council cabinet member for transport.
The Arundel by-pass has been in the pipeline for years. It always seemed to be pushed down the priority list even in the good times. Now, we have the added challenge of less money.
The fiscal situation can't be escaped. Last month, it was announced that improvements to the A24 between Ashington and Southwater would not go ahead. The problem was that the amount of money being asked of the Government was the most of all the shortlisted bids.
But we can't give up on key road improvements. So I welcome the fact that West Sussex County Council's new 15-year Transport Plan puts improvements to the A27 as one of its top priorities - and that the Plan still aims for a bypass.
The transport network has been holding back economic growth in West Sussex for a number of years.
Last year at a Sussex Enterprise event I was told that poor transport links in the County are costing £2 billion a year - or £29,000 a year for each business.
Worryingly, 14 per cent of coastal West Sussex businesses said that they would consider relocating outside Sussex unless the transport infrastructure improves soon.
And our quality of life is affected, too. Villages such as Houghton Bridge and Storrington suffer from rat-running through the Downs as drivers try to avoid congestion on the A27. There's a strong environmental case for an Arundel bypass.
So I'm realistic, but I'm determined to keep up the fight. I've raised the issue in the Commons and with ministers before, and I am doing so again with the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond.
Most of us accept that spending has to be prioritised. We just want to make sure that the bypass is still in the queue.
3 March 2011
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