A £75million pot has been set aside for the A27 from Polegate to Lewes, and a consultation will be launched to decide how it is spent.
The government announced a £350m scheme for improvements along the A27, including at Lewes.
Conservative Minister for Communities, Penny Mourdant, visited Eastbourne on Monday, and said she hoped the scheme would ‘link the A27 as a single road’.
“The A27 east of Lewes is a key problem,” she said. “It is a complex situation so we do recognise we need to consult with people. We need to consult with people to come up with the right scheme. This is a good day for the campaign, and great news for local businesses and the town’s economy. We’ve secured £75m worth of investment, and we have time now to bring local partners together to find a scheme that will deliver improvements to journey times – and most importantly, safety.’
Caroline Ansell, Conservative candidate for Eastbourne, said the consultation will ensure the stretch of road is improved in the right way.
“It is down to us locally to determine,” she said. “We have got time and we have got money. We have got hopes for more investment.”
She said the move was important for road safety reasons, as well as for business who claim they are losing money because of the road.
The Conservatives said the £75m would be ring-fenced for this part of the A27, but Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Stephen Lloyd said the cash was not ring-fenced.
The Gazette contacted the Department for Transport to clarify this, but it did not respond before the newspaper went to press.
Mr Lloyd said, “I am profoundly disappointed that the department of transport can only come up with a further consultation and a £75m bid that isn’t even ring-fenced. This, to me, smacks of the chancellor promising money before an election that is not actually deliverable. The whole of Eastbourne, across businesses, myself and the community have fought a tenacious campaign to try and get the department of transport and the treasury to understand just how bad our situation on the A27 is. It appears to have fallen on deaf ears.”
He said the announcement ‘appears to be more about political spin than to help our town’.
Andrew Lee, director of Strategy and Partnerships at The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) said, “There are strong protagonists for and against these proposals and it is for the government to take a view on whether, taking into account all social, environmental and economic factors, any or all of the schemes should go ahead.
“In doing this the potential impacts upon the special qualities of the South Downs National Park are a crucial issue and are our primary concern.
“The SDNPA will therefore be looking for evidence in any route options that may be brought forward in future that there are no other more sustainable transport measures which would have a lesser negative impact; robust data on the nature and scale of the impacts on the national park that would arise; and detail on how they would be mitigated or compensated for, bearing in mind that this is a nationally designated landscape.”