Nick Herbert calls for A27 campaign as Minister reveals new delay to bypass

The Government has revealed that a decision on the A27 Arundel bypass has been delayed until next year, prompting local MP Nick Herbert to call for a public campaign to improve the heavily congested road.

In March the Government said that the Highways Agency "expects to be in a position to go to consultation on Arundel towards the end of the year".  But responding this week to a letter from Mr Herbert, the Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman said that the process would be delayed until the Government had taken "regional advice on the priority of any emerging schemes".

The proposed scheme for a bypass at Arundel will be considered by the South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) as part of a "regional prioritisation exercise".  If the plans for a bypass are given a high priority they will then be put forward for public consultation.  SEERA is not, however, due to give its advice until the beginning of next year, further delaying any possible solution to the growing congestion in Arundel and areas above the A27.

In his letter, Mr Herbert told the Minister: "It is an ongoing frustration locally that the scheme has been subject to review since a decision was made in 1993 on the preferred route.  Since then, congestion has increased considerably and traffic cuts through the South Downs and other unsuitable routes in my constituency to avoid the A27, with consequent impact on the rural environment and the tranquillity of villages."

"Regular congestion on the A27 is not just of great local concern.  The lack of an adequate coastal route also impacts on the regional economy and is detrimental to coastal towns which have suffered from economic deprivation."

Responding to the Minister's letter, Mr Herbert said: "As we feared, there has been yet another delay to the Arundel bypass.  I think the time has come to step up local pressure for action.  There needs to be a broadly based campaign, involving as many interested groups as possible, to make the case for improving the A27.  We need to make sure that the voice of local people is heard."

Mr Herbert hopes that an alliance of businesses, MPs and councillors of all parties, councils and other organisations could be persuaded to support the campaign, which would then aim to recruit widespread public support via a petition and a website.  He has already discussed the idea with West Sussex County Council and hopes to meet SEEDA shortly.

Mr Herbert hopes that, if the response to the idea is good, a campaign committee might be formed which would then raise some money for posters, car stickers, a leaflet, website etc.

"I would be very grateful to hear from individuals and organisations who would be willing to help get a new campaign for improving the A27 off the ground",

Mr Herbert said.  "I don't think a campaign needs to support particular bypass routes or options.  But an alliance to step up the general pressure for upgrading this vital route could help to get things moving."


Christopher N Howarth