Worthing’s MPs dismiss A27 Improvements Scheme as an elaborate damp squib

Tim Loughton and Sir Peter Bottomley have reacted furiously to plans by Highways England to upgrade the A27 through Worthing and Lancing as a non-starter and a bad use of public funds for minimal effect.

Tim Loughton MP & Sir Peter Bottomley MP said:

“The long overdue upgrade of the A27 which is the central artery through our constituencies has been the most important issue locally since we helped save Worthing Hospital. We very much welcomed the news that the Government had put the A27 back on the agenda and we are grateful for the work that Highways England and their consultants have undertaken.

“What that work has clearly shown is that it is impossible to achieve an effective solution to the congestion problem within the indicated budget which has straitjacketed their work. As a result the only option that they have been able to come up with represents a ‘tinkering round the edges’ at the 6 key identified junctions from Salvington to Lancing. There is no convincing case that this will have any significant impact on traffic flow, congestion or air quality to deal with the existing problem let alone the significant growth in traffic expected if various proposed developments go ahead.

“As we have warned all along it is essential that we have a budget that is fit for purpose and that is at least commensurate with that applied to other parts of the A27 if we are to achieve any meaningful and sustainable solution. If the Arundel section is working on the basis of a budget upwards of £250m around a town of 5000 inhabitants it is hard to follow the logic of applying just £50m-£100m to achieve a solution for a much busier and more problematic section of the road through Worthing with over 100,000 residents.

“Speeding the passage of vehicles around Arundel to join lengthening tailbacks going into Worthing won’t wash and we have always worked with our West Sussex colleagues for an holistic solution. It is also impossible to see how major proposed new developments such as that at New Monks Farm, including a new branch of IKEA, can possible go ahead in the absence of a scheme that effectively addresses the existing congestion problem even before adding to it.

“In the absence of a bypass through the Downs being an affordable or effective proposition at this time the only solution is for grade separation involving flyovers and/or underpasses at the key junctions. We are pleased that Highways England have looked at these options and clearly identified major benefits but have not been able to explore them further as they come in over the indicated budget.

“We will therefore be recommending to the A27 Working Group and our constituents that the option in this consultation should be rejected outright and further work authorised on the more extensive options involving grade separation.  We have already spoken to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to make him aware of or objections and deep disappointment and asked him to keep an open mind about increasing the budget to accommodate this further work. If it means a slight delay to any scheme starting this is surely much more desirable than spending money and causing upheaval for a scheme which will be redundant before it is completed.

“We have not spent 20 years as the Parliamentary representatives for Worthing and Adur fighting for an effective solution to congestion on one of the busiest roads in Sussex to oversee an elaborate damp squib which alas is what this amounts to.”