A NEW row has broken out between council cabinet members and campaign groups as the future of a bypass on the A27 hangs in the balance.
Opinions differ on whether or not the Highways England consultation, which went from having seven bypass options to five before public consultations commenced, should be re-run entirely.
Chichester District Council cabinet members will recommend a complete re-run of the consultation to full council on Tuesday, January 24.
But campaign group Chichester Deserves Better (CDB) believes that if this were to happen, upgrades to the A27 would be jeopardised for years to come.
Cabinet members want the council to formally request a new consultation is carried out, and that this should include a range of options, including the two northern ones previously dropped.
Chichester District Council leader Tony Dignum said: ‘This is not about the council favouring an option, it’s about the transparency of the process and public confidence in the preferred option.
‘We have already requested justification for the decision to drop the northern options, but this hasn’t been provided.’
It is thought that whichever option is chosen, motorists from the city will be affected by the congestion that will follow the construction.
CDB are also in disagreement with West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith, after she said in a letter to Highways England that there could be a case for running another consultation, and reopening the road investment strategy to include a northern bypass, if the majority response to public consultations had been to reject all current options.
A spokesperson for CDB said: ‘The consultation report is yet to be published, and Cllr Goldsmith appears to be jumping to the conclusion that the majority of respondents rejected current options.
‘The calls to re-run the consultation is the start of a slippery slope. If Chichester ends up with no improvements because of this constant prevarication, the blame will firmly lie at the door of our councillors, who have failed to provide the leadership required.’
Highways England say a re-run would risk delaying improvements.