A glimmer of hope for those who believe we have quite enough roads. In an apparent U-turn Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has come out clearly against a brand new stretch of dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate.
Maria’s message was delivered at a public meeting in Selmeston. Two years ago, Mrs Caulfield, along with former Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, persuaded Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to spend up to £3m on further studies on an offline expressway. A 2015 bid to build the new road was , rejected because it was poor value for money, at £405m.
The new report, taking into account future developments in Wealden, is now with the Department of Transport for a decision before the end of this year. Though the business case and preferred corridor remain ‘confidential’, Highways England have confirmed an upper price estimate of £528m.
In an email to SCATE, the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment, Mrs Caulfield says “I have made clear that I would like to see any funding to dual the existing road and improve access for all road users and not for a new road as some in Eastbourne would like”.
Mrs Caulfied also confirmed that the secretive “A27 reference group”, which has campaigned for a completely separate road, has not met for a year suggesting that the campaign may be not functioning
Liam Russell, Chairman of SCATE East Sussex which organised the Selmeston meeting said “Mrs Caulfield’s support for a re-think of the Highways England plans is most welcome.”
“At our meeting last night we were able to demonstrate that the biggest problem with the existing A27 is the congestion caused by queuing to get off it, rather than the road itself. The Highways England proposals will not resolve this”.
“We are calling for a rethink, with improved rail and bus services as well as some dualling and modest improvements to the existing road, including the junctions at both ends, which we are sure will be a better solution than spending many hundreds of millions on a new dual carriageway through a treasured landscape” he added.
Currently the government’s Highways Agency is working towards these modest improvements, which the campaign for the new road had threatened to derail.
SCATE East Sussex is an umbrella group, chaired by Liam Russell, based on an alliance of like-minded organisations and individuals with an interest in sustainable transport solutions. Its core supporters include CPRE, FoE, South Downs Society, Campaign for Better Transport and many others.
Scate can be contacted via their web site at http://scate.org.uk/
Article date 2/7/19