MPs call on Government to end delay to A27 improvements

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has called on the Government to end the delay of vital upgrades to the A27 at Arundel, Worthing and Chichester.

Mr Herbert was speaking in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Monday 12 December which he called so as to raise the issue of the A27.

Fellow West Sussex MPs Peter Bottomley (Worthing West), Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) and Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) added their voices to the debate.  The MPs repeatedly asked the Transport Minister, Stephen Ladyman, to visit the area and see the problem for himself, but the Minister would not commit to doing so.

In the debate, Mr Herbert spoke of the unacceptable length of time that the people of Arundel have been waiting for a bypass, saying that "plans for the Arundel bypass were first formulated in 1985" and that "two decades later it has still not come to fruition."

Mr Herbert argued that congestion on the A27 is continuing to increase and that "traffic flows on the A27 are three to four times more than the designed capacity of the road."

He also highlighted the effect that the inadequacy of the A27 was having on road safety: "The accident rate in Arundel is twice the national average for the type of road and four times the national average for dual carriageways."

The lack of a bypass at Arundel was also having a significant impact on the economy and environment of West Sussex.  The Environment Agency has highlighted air pollution as a growing problem at congestion hotspots in Arundel and Worthing, and figures from the British Chambers of Commerce estimate that problems with traffic infrastructure cost the Sussex economy at least £2 billion a year.

Mr Herbert concluded his speech by asking the Minister "how many times [do] we have to make the case for a bypass and for improvements to the A27?"

While the Minister acknowledged that increasing levels of traffic were a problem in Arundel, with four out of five vehicles on the A27 at Arundel being through traffic, he stated that any decision on moving forward with a bypass was dependent upon the advice of the Regional Transport Board of the South East England Regional Assembly.

However, Mr Herbert pointed out that the Board has initially given the Arundel bypass one of the lowest priorities, meaning that it would be unlikely for any scheme to take place before 2015 at the very earliest.  The Board is due to give its final advice as to which transport schemes should be given funding priority by the end of January next year.

After the debate Mr Herbert said: "It's clear from what the Minister said that he is setting great store by the advice of the Regional Transport Board.  So I strongly urge the Board to promote the A27 schemes.

"In particular, it is extraordinary that the Arundel Bypass is currently given one of the lowest priorities.  The A27 is a major strategic route, vital to the economic wellbeing of the South East.  The Board must stand up and be counted now.  People have waited for A27 improvements for long enough".


Christopher N Howarth