MPs brand Worthing to Lancing A27 improvement plans an ‘elaborate damp squib’

Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham

MPs have reacted furiously to Highways England plans to upgrade the A27 between Worthing and Lancing, branding the plans a ‘non-starter’’ and a ‘bad use of public funds for minimal effect’.

Worthing West’s Sir Peter Bottomley and East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton issued a joint statement on the first day of Highways England’s consultation today (Wednesday, July 19).

Election count 2015. Sir Peter Bottomley - West Worthing, left. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160622-115732003

Election count 2015. Sir Peter Bottomley - West Worthing, left. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160622-115732003

Highways England revealed just one £69million option, which fell short of radical solutions such as underpasses or flyovers.

The MPs’ joint statement read: “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 six key identified junctions from Salvington to Lancing.”

The Worthing to Lancing scheme has an upper budget limit of £100million, compared to plans for Arundel which could cost upwards of £250million.

The MPs said it was ‘hard to follow the logic’ of applying such a low comparitive figure to their area when Arundel had a town of just 5,000 residents.

They said Highways England was unable to fully explore other options highlighted, including flyovers and underpasses, despite having identified ‘clear major benefits’.

Mr Loughton also questioned how the New Monks Farm development, set to include 600 homes and an IKEA, could go ahead without a sufficient scheme to improve the stretch of the major A road.

Both MPs sit on an A27 working group, along with other key businesses and groups.

They said they would recommend the group rejects the option and authorised further work on more extensive options.

“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,” they said.

“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.”