There was a ray of hope for motorists using the troubled stretch of the A27 between Polegate to Lewes this week when the Department of Transport unveiled a feasibility study.
There is cross-party support for a dual carriageway to relieve congestion along the road, cut down on the number of accidents and attract more business investment to Eastbourne.
The meeting on Wednesday saw the Department for Transport, Highways Agency and key stakeholders including local politicians get together to talk about the government’s road investment and various sections of the A27 including the Polegate to Lewes stretch.
The Conservatives’ prospective parliamentary candidate Caroline Ansell, who has been pressing for improvements after what she called years of nothing being done by either Liberal Democrat MPs Norman Baker and Stephen Lloyd, was at the meeting.
She said, “Congested, frustrating and unreliable – for too long the A27 Polegate to Beddingham has been unfit for purpose.”
“We need to be open for business and a slow, winding journey says ‘time and money’ to potential investors. Worse, lives are lost.
“The good news is, to build a prosperous future, the Government is investing in our roads, funds have been dedicated and there is a strategy. Not so encouraging, the A27 Portsmouth to Polegate is one of six schemes across the country ‘competing’ for investment.”
The feasibility study this year will determine priority.
Mrs Ansell added, “The stakeholder meeting laid out the terms of reference of this feasibility study, its aims and objectives, geography, its relationship to route based strategies. It will revisit previous proposed schemes – duelling and bypasses at Selmeston and Wilmington – but, despite the tight timescale to identify proposals there is still scope for new thinking. We’re working intensively on it.
“Having met with the new Roads Minister at the DfT to press our case in December, Wednesday’s meeting was a great opportunity for me to talk again with his team. We have long campaigned for the A27 and the next six months will be defining.”
The campaign is also now being backed by Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Stephen Lloyd.
Although he was unable to attend the Brighton meeting, his head of office and Eastbourne councillor Alan Shuttleworth went.
He said, “The Department of Transport is working on gathering robust evidence by spring 2014, with a view to identifying proposed solutions by March 2015.
“The DfT is looking at a number of locations across the whole of the A27, so we need to step up our local campaign to ensure that the investment brings improvements for the section which most affects Eastbourne, ie between our town and Lewes.
“The MP’s office will shortly be providing details how local residents can help our campaign to improve the A27.”