For many years it has been the ambition of the county council to improve the reliability and safety of the A24 through West Sussex.
Over the years improvements have been made at Horsham, Dial Post, and Southwater to improve traffic flow and the accident records.
Residents, tourists and businesses, particularly in the Arun District, have often cited the poor quality of the northerly section, from Horsham to Capel as a bar to trade and investment on the coastal strip.
In 2003, the county council approved a scheme to complete this missing link, which had an appalling safety record of death and serious injury, albeit only as a single carriageway, broadly following the railway line to by-pass Kingsfold, and supported by 70-80 per cent of local residents.
In a “Key Decision” just before the Christmas break, the A24 Horsham-Capel scheme was scrapped by the cabinet member for highways, on the grounds that “there was little prospect of delivering the scheme”.
This will be a blow to many south coast business interests, and shows that the county council is less than serious in delivering a major strategic road network fit for the 21st century.
The proposal was not discussed at any committee or panel, and in spite of attempts to “call-in” the proposed decision by Liberal Democrat members, the cabinet member saw fit to confirm the decision, and the scheme is now consigned to the scrap-heap.
If this new criterion of “little prospect of delivering the scheme” becomes the new yardstick, how many other schemes will bite the dust, such as the Arundel by-pass completion, and the Worthing - Lancing A 27 improvement?
West Sussex needs and deserves the completion of the east-west A27 and the north-south A24 strategic road network to modern standards of engineering and safety.
Dr James Walsh
West Sussex County Councillor