The plans for Chichester’s desperately needed A27 improvement scheme are lying in tatters this morning.
In a sensational twist to the long-running saga, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has dropped a bombshell by writing to Highways England (HE) chief Jim O’Sullivan to state: “After the withdrawal of support by the local councils for the shortlisted options and significant local campaigns, I am cancelling the scheme.”
The stunning development comes completely out of the blue and just before HE was due to declare its preferred route option.
In his letter to HE of February 28, Grayling wrote: “We have discussed how best to take forward the A27 Chichester improvement scheme. Highways England has quite rightly been taking forward the scheme, as set out in the Road Investment Strategy, to upgrade four junctions along the existing route south of Chichester and undertook a consultation last summer.
“I have considered all the representations and understand that this is a controversial scheme. The support and funding contribution by the local authorities are both vital to its successful delivery. After the withdrawal of support by the local councils for the shortlisted options and significant local campaigns, I am cancelling the scheme.”
Motorists have reacted with astonishment to the announcement.
Mum-of-one Sue Hayes said: “This is very difficult to absorb. After all of the effort put in by various parties, this comes as a complete broadside. Are we really expected to believe that the whole thing is scrapped?
“I had to look at the calendar and check it was actually March 1 and not April 1. I am astonished and I am not looking forward to more motoring misery on this nightmare stretch of road. Surely we haven’t heard the end of this?”