Council pledges £100,000 on '˜bold' community-led A27 scheme

A £100,000 pledge has been made by West Sussex County Council to fund the community drive to build a better A27.

When Chris Grayling announced in March Chichester's scheme had been scrapped it was feared the £250m had gone
When Chris Grayling announced in March Chichester's scheme had been scrapped it was feared the £250m had gone

The money will be spent on community workshops, where groups can discuss the best way of obtaining much-needed relief after the Government scrapped the scheme earlier this month.

The first A27 Community Workshop takes place in Chichester on Wednesday night, March 22.

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Attendees will include councillors, business groups, campaigners and resident associations.

Louise Goldsmith

Writing in her blog ahead of the workshop, county council Louise Goldsmith said: “We, the community in and around Chichester, have the opportunity to put our thoughts and ideas on a blank sheet of paper and speak with one collective voice to secure improvements which are so desperately needed.

“The A27 affects all our lives in one way or another, but it is not just about this single road and its traffic – it’s about transport in the local area in general as well as issues such as air quality.

“From experience I know that community based solutions are the best ones and that is what we will be looking for in the forthcoming workshops.

“It is a community led approach and not for the county council alone.

“But we know that we will need some expert help and advice at some stage.

“At the last workshop it was agreed that it was important that this advice is independent and can offer a different approach and fresh thinking.

“The county council will help make this happen and ensure those requirements are met and that is why £100,000 has been put aside for this purpose so we can help our communities to help themselves.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling announced his decision to cancel Chichester’s £250m improvement scheme on March 1, blaming ‘the withdrawal of support by local councils for the shortlisted options and significant local campaigns’.

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However, both the county and district council say neither of them ‘withdrew support’, continuing to pledge more than £20m between them.

But they say the 47 per cent of respondents to the public consultation who voted for ‘no option’ showed they were right to call for a re-run of the consultation including previously dropped options.

Speaking about the community now taking ownership, Cllr Goldsmith added: “It is a bold vision but it is the right thing to do and I look forward to our first proper workshop event and more to come, judging by the considerable positive comments many others feel the same.

“So a big bold step for all of us but we need to take it to find big bold solutions.”

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