Nick Herbert receives update on local transport issues
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert met with Lt Col Tex Pemberton at West Sussex County Council on Friday to discuss local transport issues.
Col Pemberton is the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport and County Councillor for the Fernhurst Division.
Since he became the MP for Arundel and South Downs in 2005, Mr Herbert has been fighting hard for local transport improvements, especially to the A27 at Arundel.
Plans for a new bypass around Arundel were first formulated in 1985, but the bypass will not be in the regional roads programme until 2016 at the earliest.
The lack of progress will condemn the South Downs and villages to continued environmental damage caused by rat-running.
Businesses will also continue to suffer from the effects of congestion. The British Chambers of Commerce have said that the inadequate transport infrastructure is costing Sussex businesses an average of £29,000 a year.
Nine out of ten local businesses surveyed by Sussex Enterprise say that improvements to the A27 are essential to the local economy.
Nick Herbert and Col Pemberton agreed to continue campaigning for improvements to the A27 and agreed to seek a joint meeting with the Minister of State for Transport, Rosie Winterton.
Mr Herbert also pointed out that congestion on the A27 was another reason why the Primary Care Trust's plans to downgrade local A&E departments could not be contemplated.
The blight of residents living near the A272 at West Grinstead was discussed, after Nick Herbert met with local residents earlier this year to hear about the problem. Col Pemberton reported on planned improvements, including reduced 50 mph speed limits.
Also on the agenda were the ongoing problems of traffic noise and speeding along the A29 at Bury. For some time, local campaigners and Bury Parish Council have been arguing for safety improvements to the road and a more visible police presence. Nick Herbert and representatives of the County Council and the police attended a public meeting with Bury residents about the issue in July, and Col Pemberton will shortly be reporting back to the Parish Council with a number of proposed safety improvements. The main problem appears to be noise rather than speeding on the hill.
Nick Herbert is also investigating the issue of illegal removal of silencers on motorcycles. The MP raised the issue of speeding bikes when he met the new Chief Constable of Sussex, Martin Richards, in the Commons last week.
Mr Herbert and Col Pemberton also discussed the provision of bus services in West Sussex. There was agreement over the importance of buses to residents in rural parts of the county, particularly the young and the elderly, who often do not have access to their own transport.
Col Pemberton reported on the success of the County Council's ‘3in1' Card for young people, enabling those aged between 5 and 19 to get discounted travel on buses. The card can also be used to provide ‘proof of age' and offers discounts with retailers. Around 9,000 people have already signed up for the free card.
Col Pemberton also reported on the new Road Rail Partnership Group (RRPG) formed by West Sussex County Council and Network Rail to look at problems of congestion, pollution and safety at railway crossings. Some crossings may be removed and more bridges built to deal with the problem of congestion in these areas.
Nick Herbert commented: "We had a very useful meeting and I am grateful to Col Pemberton and his Council officials for responding to the local concerns I raised, and their efforts to improve transport in the Arundel and South Downs constituency and across West Sussex.
He added: "The transport infrastructure in West Sussex needs to be improved, especially the major roads such as the A27, both for the sake of the local economy and to reduce rat-running through the downland villages.
"The situation will only worsen with the proposed construction of 58,000 new homes in West Sussex over the next 20 years."
Notes for Editors
1. Further details on the ‘3in1' Card can be found at the following address http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/ccm/content/roads-and-transport/public-transport/buses-and-coaches/your-3in1.en
2. The Council's news release on the launch of the Road Rail Partnership Group (RRPG) can be viewed at the following address http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/ccm/content/your-council/news-room/press-releases/2007/2007-07/how-partnership-can-ease-the-barriers-to-keeping-traffic-moving.en