One of the most infuriating things about the job of an MP is to get bombarded with correspondence from constituents concerned about an issue or event you know nothing about.
Last week Sir Peter Bottomley and I received a number of emails from constituents horrified at what they had heard at a public meeting about the upgrading of the A27 – an issue which we have been lobbied about hundreds if not thousands of times over the past 20 years as Worthing’s Parliamentary representatives.
The problem was that the organisers of this ‘community meeting’ had not invited the democratically elected representatives of the community to take part, let alone Highways England who are doing all the preparatory legwork. Not surprisingly an awful lot of misinformation then ran riot.
Worse than that a number of people involved in organising the meeting are members of the A27 Working Group specifically set up to keep local people informed and engaged, and yet apparently they did nothing to correct some of the more misleading claims doing the rounds.
This is unfortunate and I have published an open letter on my website, along with all the other information I have been posting for some time about the A27 proposals to put the record straight and try to allay many of the fears raised.
In short, no decisions have been made and will not be published until November, after which there will be extensive public consultation and I will be striving to make sure everyone has their say and we can move forward with a solution that most, if not all, residents can support.
The alternative is nothing happens and after 20 years of campaigning A27 improvement plans are mothballed yet again, the funding we secured is withdrawn and the congestion, air pollution and frustration continues to get worse.
I am aware that there are some people who openly oppose any upgrading work and think we can all take to our bicycles and everything will be fine.
They are entitled to their views but I do not believe they are representative of my constituents who have rightly been pressing for practical action for years.
It is also disingenuous for them to claim that they would support an open bypass through the National Park which they certainly do not and which they know is no longer an option.
We will be organising a meeting of our own after the summer break and hope that a few more facts will be forthcoming.
We had far too much of ‘Project Fear’ during the referendum debate after all.
• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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