Jessica Hubbard Profile picture
Mar 3 69 tweets 9 min read
A special council meeting to discuss the Arundel A27 Bypass is kicking off now:… #LDReporter
Chair Jim Brooks: "Many residents in Arun will be from the Ukraine or Russia and have loved ones that they are concerned about. Our thoughts are with these community members...
"We are flying the flag of the Ukraine here at the Civic Center, and also at Bognor Regis Town Hall, and we have lit these buildings in blue and yellow as a sign of our support."
Some legal advice now:
"We are not now considering the case for choosing a route, but commenting upon the National Highways preferred route."
Members of the public are being reminded to send consultation responses to National Highways rather than Arun District Council.
Council leader Shaun Gunner on Ukraine: "President Putin, who no more represents the Russian people than we in this chamber do, does not believe in democracy.
"He does not believe people should decide their own future.
"But the people of Ukraine are fighting back and in fact, it seems that the people of Sussex have something in common with the people of Ukraine, because it seems that our motto 'we wunt be druv' is also their motto."
Mr Gunner has encouraged people to show support by donating to the DEC
Onto the Grey Route now.
Gunner: "It would not have been the route that I would have chosen... And tonight, although I'm not a fan of the grey route, we are not debating what our preferred route is...
"Here are my thoughts: I support the Arundel bypass, I'd rather have a bypass than no bypass at all. I support a Ford junction and want to see that happen and we must continue to work with National Highways and West Sussex County Council...
"I support any and all activity to reduce the rat-running through villages, in particular Walberton.
"I support any and all work to mitigate any flooding challenges on the Arundel floodplain.
"Finally, I want to express my deep frustration with National Highways at the lack of information they're providing communities, and the lack of transparency we are seeing from them."
We are hearing there are several proposed amendments to the consultation response, including from the Independent group and Lib Dems. These will be heard later on.
Technical questions are now being taken including on the 2013 figure of £700 million of benefits to the region and the district.
Director of Place Karl Roberts says officers are working from information provided by National Highways and that producing a more up-to-date figure would not have been possible during short consultation period.
Councillors of wards such as Walberton and Arundel have been invited to give slightly longer statements in recognition of the potential effects of the bypass on these areas.
Cllr Roberts said he and his family would benefit from the bypass.
"I was aware straight away that my ward is very divisive about this issue. People that want it built yesterday, people that don't want it built at all."
On the Elected Representatives Forum which discusses directly with National Highways, cllr Roberts said meetings should've been made public.
"There is capacity for the Arundel Alternative," he said.
"We were told in the previous consultation there would be no rat-running in western villages, but now they recognize [it] will overwhelm them, and this is in the opening year only.
"It turns out that their traffic figures are on the basis of this district building only 785 houses a year.
"This is an organisation that marks its own homework. If I was marking the homework it would say 'must do better'. In fact it would say 'must do a lot better'."
"I support an offline bypass, always have, always will. But can I be beyond reasonable doubt that, with the evidence before me in these consultation documents, there is more good than bad? That remains to be seen throughout the rest of this debate."
Councillor Paul Dendle now: "I would say two thirds of the people in my ward are for this bypass. One third is against, I accept that.
"Every time we've tried to have a fair debate, we've been stopped by people, say the Green Party and lots of people, activists from Brighton, who have tried to actually cancel the will of the district, in having this piece of infrastructure delivered."
He says this left the only possible route as the 'horrible' Grey Route. "It's black or white. Whether you like the route or not, it's the only route in town. By not supporting this you won't get a bypass."
A statement from Green councillors now. Thurston who says traffic data is 'not reliable' and the current consultation response 'does not reflect the views' of councillors.
"I find it incredible officers and members can simply allow this area of the district to be collateral damage," she said.
"The council should be doing the responsible thing and investing in Ford railway station, making a new transport hub there so that our residents to the south can use public transport to get around. It's called sustainable planning and we need to be doing it.
"I don't believe this council should support a route which does untold harm to landscape, communities, and wildlife. It will be turning a quiet rural area into a huge transport corridor."
Councillor Walsh now: "The A27 is, whether you like it or not, the major transport corridor, for the South of England... It is in the undoubted interest of Arun district, residents, business community, tourism, wider regional and national economy, that this road is completed.
"I have to say The South Downs National Park Authority has taken the dog in the manger attitude to this road building scheme from the word go.
"The Magenta Route had 250 yards of road running through the national park. It was absurd in the extreme that is why Highways England rolled over and we've ended up with the Grey Route.
"Highways England is equally riding roughshod over local democracy."
A 10 minute adjournment now as amendments to the consultation response/ recommendations are circulated.
The meeting has now returned.…
Councillor Dixon has moved amendments which include asking National Highways to discuss the problems of rat-running and increased traffic in local villages, especially Walberton, with representatives.
Dixon: "I've supported the principle of an offline bypass for many years and I still do. However, I don't think any of us envisioned a route that would do so much damage to Walberton, Binsted and Fontwell."
Dixon: "Pushing the route outside the South Downs National Park boundary might be a good result for the South Downs National Park Authority, but it will be devastating to existing communities at Walberton, Binsted and Fontwell, that is too high a price to pay."
Dixon: "Grey is the longest route and therefore the most environmentally damaging, taking more green space and damaging more habitat than any of the other routes... Let the Grey Route be their [National Highways'] decision, not ours. We must put our residents first."
Dixon says to 'not let fear' of losing funding for the bypass 'govern our decisions'.
Conservative councillor Ricky Bower says he supports
much of Dixon's statement but that amendments put forward were not 'backed up by evidence'.
Paul English (Con) - "As much as I understand the situation in Walberton and the surrounding area, Arun is a bigger area. Should we not consider the whole of the economy of Arun district and the betterment of the vast majority of people who will be needing jobs?"
Paul Dendle (Con) asks members to consider how those queuing in traffic may feel if councillors do not support the bypass.
Grant Roberts (Con) - "We can't make our decisions based on fear, particularly when that money [for Chichester] is coming back."
Paul Bicknell (Con) - "The amendments involve a lot of hurdles for National Highways to jump - If that document arrived on my table, I'd just put a big 'X' through it."
Council leader Gunner: "Sometimes governments and councils indeed take decisions that are actually not great in terms of value for money - they do it because they think that they're the right decisions to make."
Gunner: "I think if we did a referendum of the Arun district, they would be overwhelmingly in favour [of the bypass]."
Ian Buckland (Ind) "I've had people write to me and actually say unless there is a Ford junction, I don't agree to this because we need that junction.
Buckland: "We can't actually stop this bypass because we need it because of Ford Airfield, the possibility of premises being built there. We've still got the proposals for 1,000 houses over at Rope Walk. Ford Prison is expanding etcetera etcetera.
Buckland: "We are being bullied to accept the route.
I think if we agree this tonight, you're gonna get a complete and utter outcry from the residents... People will remember."
Andy Cooper (Con): "Let's be clear, there's no other route on the table here this evening... We need to make the right decision for all of our communities in this district, not just the ones that are being the most vocal."
Thurston (Green): "This decision is not our decision, as many people pointed out - we are stating our opinion. And the point is a lot of us, most of us I would say, are not very happy with this route. We should have the courage of our convictions and say that.
Thurston: "It does pain me, as the National Park representative for this council, to hear the National Park Authority being spoken about in such a terrible way. They have been set up to protect landscapes and thank goodness they have."
Hugh Coster (Ind) - "As representatives of the people of Arun district, there is absolutely no way we can accept the damage that it will do by destroying our residents' homes and communities... to the environment and biodiversity in spite of so-called mitigation."
Coster: "If any of you are considering giving support of any sort to the Grey Route, shame on you. Shame on you because we've been elected by the public to look after their area, protect the environment, and ensure that their homes and communities are not compromised."
A vote on the amendment now. This will be a 'recorded vote' which means councillors' names will be taken down alongside their choice to either 'abstain', vote 'for', or 'against'.
The amendment tabled by Independent councillors was not accepted. A potential amendment by Dr Walsh (Lib Dem) is currently being put forward.
Walsh: "We all know what 'continuing current discussions' means. They go on forever and get nowhere. Everybody in this chamber believes strongly in inclusion of a junction with the A27 at Ford Road. Why not say so bluntly and strongly?"
Walsh: "We actually have to instruct [National Highways] as to the wish of this council, to reduce rat-running and increased traffic in local villages... We must also stress the roundabout capacity, particularly at Fontwell Avenue.
Walsh: "Highways England will walk away and take their money elsewhere and some other part of the country will greatly benefit from it. And we will be left stuck in the 1960s."
Henry Jones (Lib Dem): "I would not support any option that didn't have a Ford Road junction, which is why the current wording, I believe, is too weak and woolly. We need to be steadfast in showing National Highways that there are certain requirements that we must have."
Shaun Gunner (Con) says the administration is happy to support the Lib Dem amendment with small alterations.
Mike Northeast (Lab): "Perhaps we should get National Highways to declare the results of the Eurovision Song Contest. Then we would probably win even though no one voted for us." He is of course, referring to the fact the Grey Route received only seven per cent of public support.
Grant Roberts (Con): "I genuinely feel we're moving in the right direction. And I'm genuinely pleased by what seems to be a non-partisan wish to do the very best for our whole district."
The council's current response would give support for the Grey Route Arundel Bypass - with conditions such as a Ford Road junction and proper mitigation for local villages.
A recorded vote is now being taken.
With 25 votes for, 6 against, and 4 abstaining, that means the current response is SUPPORTED. The meeting has now ended. What do you think of the council's decision to support the bypass?
Night everyone. Local democracy dog (below) is knackered.
"‘I’d rather have an Arundel bypass than no bypass at all’ - A27 grey route conditionally backed"…

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More from @jhjourno

Mar 2
This is set to be discussed at a planning meeting tonight. It would be the second tallest building in the area if approved. Link to the live-stream meeting in the thread below.… #LDReporter
News tonight- After several hours, chair Stephen Chipp decided to adjourn the meeting. He says this was due to several interjections from the public. The meeting has now resumed without members of the public present in the room.
Read 10 tweets
Mar 1
1/4 Why did changing the time of a meeting in Worthing cause a fuss?… #LDReporter
2/4 During a council meeting last week, a proposal was put forward to change the annual mayor-making ceremony back to its original time of midday. Some councillors said daytime meetings are a barrier to those with full-time jobs or caring responsibilities.
3/4 Lib Dem councillor Hazel Thorpe said that her daughters couldn't make it to her mayor-making ceremony as it was during the day and they live in different parts of the country. “Being mayor is an honour and I was really sad my daughter’s couldn’t [attend],” she said.
Read 4 tweets

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