Nick Herbert slams Labour threat to Arundel bypass

Arundel & South Downs Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Nick Herbert has slammed Labour’s announcement yesterday (Monday 13 April) that they would “delay” the Arundel bypass.

In December the Government announced a £350 million investment in A27 improvements including the Arundel bypass, with consultation over routes beginning this year.

Labour’s Manifesto pledged to invest in strategic roads, but a briefing document revealed that they are planning to “delay” A27 projects to fund a one-year rail fare freeze.  The Party later said that A27 upgrades would go ahead “with the exception of the Arundel bypass.”

Mr Herbert commented: “First Labour said they’d invest in strategic roads, then they admitted they would cut investment in the A27 on economic grounds, then within hours they said it was only the Arundel bypass they were shelving, claiming environmental issues.

“The policy is a shambles.  Labour claims they’ll save £200 million from this to fund a one-year rail fare freeze, but the money isn’t there to raid yet because it’s allocated for when construction begins, which won’t be until the end of the the road period.

“Conservatives have already delivered a rail fare freeze for the last two years and have now committed to extend the freeze to run throughout the next Parliament without cutting essential roads investment.

“Labour’s excuse that the bypass goes through the National Park won’t wash because the routes are being consulted on and the existing A27 goes through the National Park anyway.  This is a tiny section of replanted woodland right at the bottom of the Park.  It isn’t chalk downland.  Meanwhile real damage to the Park is being caused by pollution and rat running through Downland villages as a result of congestion at Arundel.  Storrington suffers some of the worst air pollution in the South East.

“Nor does it make sense for Labour to claim that they’ll go ahead with upgrades on other sections of the A27 while leaving a bottleneck at Arundel.  Frankly, no-one will trust Labour to deliver any of the A27 schemes.  They’ve got form on this - they shelved the Arundel bypass once before in 2003.  Once again Labour are cutting roads investment and showing that they couldn't care less about Sussex or the South of England.  It’s now clear that users of the congested A27, the local economy and the environment will continue to suffer if Labour are elected.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin commented:

“Infrastructure investment is a vital part of our long term economic plan and once again Labour has shown that they will ignore Sussex.  Only David Cameron and the Conservatives are committed to upgrading the A27 and relieving the congestion that causes misery on a daily basis. 

“Labour cancelled lots of road schemes in 1998 which led to us tumbling down the international league tables for infrastructure.  Today Ed Miliband has shown he would repeat the mistakes of the past, condemning Sussex to decades of congestion.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes  

1.    Labour’s Manifesto states (page 19): “We will support long-term investment in strategic roads ….”

2.    Labour’s Manifesto Briefing stated: “Labour will deliver a fully funded rail fares freeze for one year, a strict cap on every route for any future fare rises, and a new legal right for passengers will be created to access the cheapest ticket for their journey.  The cost, of just over £200 million, will be fully funded by switching spending within the existing transport budget from delaying road projects on the A27 and A358 for which the economic case is still uncertain.”

3.    A spokesperson for Labour later said: “Labour is today saying that we intend to go ahead with the works on the A27 with the exception of the specific Arundel bypass – this is due to cut through a National Park and so raises a number of environmental issues that need to resolved before we give this one section of road improvement the go ahead.”

4.    According to the Department of Transport's Feasibility Study there around 25,000 traffic movements through Arundel on the A27 every day, nearly 90 per cent of which is through traffic and not local.  Sussex Enterprise have calculated that poor transport links in the county are costing £2 billion a year, or £29,000 a year for each business.  14 per cent of coastal West Sussex businesses have said that they would consider relocating outside the county unless the transport infrastructure improves.

5.    An Arundel bypass was first proposed in 1985, and was elevated to the Conservative Government’s main roads programme in 1996, but was shelved by the Labour Government in 2003.  The ‘South Coast Multi Modal Study’ in 2002 confirmed the need for it.

6.    Nick Herbert’s news releases on the Arundel bypass:

MP hails fantastic news on Arundel bypass (1 December 2014) http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/575/mp-hails-quotfantastic-newsquoton-arundel-bypass

MP calls for ‘beautiful’ Arundel bypass bridge (9 December 2014) http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/578/mp-calls-for-beautiful-arundel-bypass-bridge

A27 upgrade consultation timetable published (30 March 2015) http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/615/a27-upgrade-consultation-timetable-published

Michelle TaylorA27