Chichester’s MP has given the city new hope for A27 funding after Wednesday’s budget.
Gillian Keegan is confident she will secure funding for the development of potential schemes for the A27 in the government’s road investment strategy budget two (RIS2) that runs from 2020-2025.
Money has been made available to plan much-needed improvements to the heavily congested A27.
However, funding for the building phase will be made available in the RIS3 budget (2025-2030) but only if the proposed plans are approved and can out-compete other national projects. Since the community rejected previous options put forward by Highways England and funding was lost, Mrs Keegan has been working to get the money back for Chichester.
Without funding, no large-scale improvements can go ahead.
In the short period since her re-election in December, 2019, Mrs Keegan has held several meetings with the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, the chief executive of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan, and the roads minister, Baroness Vere, where she made the case for Chichester and its residents.
In Wednesday’s budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced the largest ever road investment of £27billion. This will include the A27 Chichester bypass which will again be receiving the funding necessary to get the initial A27 improvement scheme up and running again.
In all her meetings with Highways England, Mrs Keegan also asked for reassurances that, unlike previous consultations, the planning process will be transparent and open to community scrutiny. The MP has been given assurances that Highways England officers will be on hand to explain reasonings and justifications for design options and choices.
Mrs Keegan said the A27 had been a top priority for her and she supported both councils and the community through the Build a Better A27 (BABA27) group and has been raising the need with the Department for Transport.
When Mrs Keegan was made aware of the pending announcement she said: “I couldn’t be happier that Chichester’s voice for improvement has been listened to by my colleagues in the Department for Transport.
“We all know how desperately we need to improve the current situation on the A27, which is causing worsening air quality and quality of life, as so many of us spend hours sitting in endless traffic jams.
“Getting the funding our community needs means we’ve passed the first hurdle.
“It is now up to the community and local authorities to re-engage in this process, with Highways England, to find a solution that is affordable, viable and most importantly improves
By Kelly Wickham, Chichester Post