Louise Goldsmith, the leader of West Sussex County Council, has responded to a challenge to her Chichester West division seat from anti-northern A27 bypass campaigners.
Chichester Deserves Better has announced its intention to put a candidate forward to contest cllr Goldsmith’s seat at the elections this May, read the full story here
In response, cllr Goldsmith said: “There are county council elections this May and anyone who qualifies can stand – that is the democratic process. “Councillors should be judged on the work they have done for their communities and will be judged on that by the people I am proud to represent.
“Like previous West Sussex County Council leaders, I have campaigned with MPs for improvements to the A27. We do need improvements and that is one statement surely we can all agree on?
“However the A27 consultation process which ran last year was unsatisfactory, having been withdrawn three weeks before commencement and certainly before any quoted letter from West Sussex County Council.
“Eventually the consultation commenced in August, and as people may know, I lobbied Highways England for an extended consultation process together with many more venues than HE had originally proposed, as I knew that many residents in my division were concerned about running a consultation in the summer holidays.
“It is now 2017 and I would like to point out that we still do not have the results of the consultation, something I know many of my residents are keen to see, which is why I wrote to Highways England in December requesting the results of the survey be published.
“As the Secretary of State had said at a private meeting he would be prepared to consider re-running the consultation, a point I also made in my letter, which can be seen on the website.
“Chichester Deserves Better states that the affected parishes of Bosham, East and West Ashling, Funtington, Fishbourne are strongly opposed, although no mention is made of Parklands, which is also in the Chichester West Division and will also be affected too.
“This is not the case, yes some are against a northern bypass others are not but this is not about a northern bypass – it is about residents having full confidence in a consultation process to deliver a major highways scheme costing millions of pounds.
“Wherever it is built it will impact on the area, homes and lives and that is a very important issue to me and my residents.
“This is about having a process in place that is fully transparent and open to scrutiny.
“It saddens me to see communities divided, people feeling aggrieved.
“The actions of Chichester Deserves Better does nothing to help these divisions, and I think some of their claims are somewhat exaggerated.
“In the end any improvements to the A27 are for the Secretary of State and Highways England.
“West Sussex County Council is a statutory consultee and works with Highways England but will not take the final decision.
“I do hope that that if a re-run of the consultation does take place, that the A27 will not lose its place in the funding round and I will make this point to HE and Mr Grayling.”
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