CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Modern Transport Bill and the A27

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001

The Queen’s Speech of last week from the House of Lords, marking out the programme for the parliamentary year ahead, has now made its way through the media.

One paper helpfully ranked proposed legislation through a ‘likely to cause controversy’ filter! Electric cars 1, British Bill of Rights 5.

It’s going to be another full year.

The Queen’s Speech reflects three driving principles: strengthening the economy, increasing life chances for the most disadvantaged and maintaining our national security.

All important on the national stage, all totally relevant to us in Eastbourne and Willingdon.

Driverless cars, drones and a new spaceport grabbed the imagination and the headlines with the Modern Transport Bill. My ambition remains, ‘Funding secured for new A27’ for our own, local front page header.

Last year, at the conclusion of the Department for Transport’s study on notorious and long standing hotspots across the country, £75 million was ringfenced for improvements to the A27 Lewes to Polegate but left open, particularly in light of the (STILL!) pending decision on airport expansion.

Now Highways England is looking to move on the money in what could prove to be small scale, short term and short sighted

This approach will do nothing about capacity and in safety terms is of very limited value - it’s the mix of horses and HGVs which makes this road infamously dangerous and these measures would slow traffic on a road where journey times are already crippling business.

We have massive potential and promise in the town but transport connections are vital.

This money was hard fought in the recent Department for Transport study.

If spent on tinkering, it would represent a colossal opportunity cost. More action to follow.

The government is absolutely right to invest in ‘Modern Transport.’ In our case, ‘modern’ means road improvements (I have an A27 file from Ian Gow’s office!)

Does it still hold true that the journey to Lewes was swifter decades ago, in a coach and four?

Included in the Modern Transport Bill is support for electric cars.

The very recent report on Eastbourne’s air quality (more on that later) is a salutary reminder up and down the length and breadth of our nation that we all must do more on emissions.

Since the launch of the Plug-in Car Grant In 2011, there have been over 60 thousand electric cars registered.

Government support in this area is an important message to the sector and an initiative which will feature in my work in Parliament on the Environment Audit committee.

Personally, I’m thinking about an electric bike!