Category Archives: East of Lewes

Fudging the figures

Those interested in the way that policy is made behind closed doors might want to read on….

The question of a new dual carriageway to replace the existing A27 between Lewes and Polegate has long been on the agenda of the road building lobby.

After the Department for Transport (DfT) turned down the plans (for probably the second or third time) on the grounds of very poor value for money and huge environmental damage, the local MPs (first Caroline Ansell and then after the election, Stephen Lloyd and Maria Caulfield) got together with East Sussex County Roads department and the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce to form the secret and shadowy “Reference Group”, with the sole aim of reviving the dead scheme.

In secret meetings between 2015 and 2018 this group lobbied the DfT minister to release £3m for a new economic study to “prove” the need for the road.  This was taken from the budget allocated to the modest on line junction and crossing improvements proposed to improve the existing road .

Working with (and influencing) officials at Highways England, they secured very strange and unusual instructions being issued to the consultants who were tasked with writing the study.

In the light of conventional Cost Benefit Analysis which shows the proposal to be a complete waste of money, it is worth quoting that the instructions state:

“k) The Consultant shall therefore refine the assessment of the identified corridor(s) using a spreadsheet-based approach that can apply different weights to achieving the scheme-specific objectives (and any other elements that may warrant a higher weighting).”

This is colloquially known as “fudging the figures”.

The fundamental basis of Cost Benefit Analysis is to give different impacts a standard monetised value so that one scheme can be compared on a like for like basis with another.

Choosing different weights for different effects in this scheme compared to others is in our opinion an invalid and dangerous way forward – if widely applied it would be impossible to compare and contrast different road schemes and to judge value for money. This could lead to expensive and highly damaging schemes being built , potentially wasting vast amounts of public money.

We wrote to the Secretary of State and local MPs to ask that when it is published, they would join with concerned locals in rejecting a study that is so clearly weighted against the outcome you have said you have argued for. We requested a meeting, but regrettably the DfT have yet to respond.

We remain hopeful that policy should be made on the basis of unbiased evidence.

A27 East of Lewes Update

We concerned about the effect which a major new dual carriageway will have on the National Park, east of Lewes. These new proposals are being put forward, even before the agreed safety improvements to the existing A27 have been implemented.

Current situation: 

New road proposals have emerged from a group of MPs in East Sussex.  If this new motorway-style road was built (an ‘offline’ route from Beddingham roundabout to Polegate) it would destroy a swathe of countryside and massively increase air and noise pollution. The proposed road would be highly visible for many miles along the South Downs Way and from Mount Caburn in the National Park. With faster speeds and more traffic, air and noise pollution would also increase, which would negate the claimed benefits from moving traffic away from the National Park. Also it would be unlikely to improve overall travel time as no changes are proposed to the two roundabouts at either end of the Lewes by-pass. Here congestion is already a major issue and likely to be exacerbated by attracting more traffic onto the A27 which the major new dual carriageway would undoubtedly do.

We are now waiting to see what Highways England propose to the Department for Transport. We are told that proposals will be made this summer.

SCATE’s larger members including CPRE, Sussex Wildlife Trust and The Friends of the South Downs (South Downs Society) are working with other groups in Sussex to prepare for the next stage of engagement.

After recent confusion over proposed government plans a public meeting was held at Selmeston village hall on June 12th. This meeting was extremely well attended with some residents having to stand at the back of the hall and others having to listen in from outside the open doors.  Also a meeting (on 13th July) has been held with parish representatives to update them on what is known. This meeting is being followed up in September at which it is hoped that Maria Caulfield MP along with Wealden & Eastbourne MPs will be present to meet the representatives of the affected parishes. CPRE have been invited to attend as well. This meeting is being organised by SSALC.

On the 1st August, Derrick Coffee (Campaign for Better Transport East Sussex) and David Johnson (Chair, CPRE Sussex) presented the SCATE report ‘A New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast’ to Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne. The MP said he was keen to see an ‘evidence led’ approach to traffic issues and to see politicians and community groups coming together at a wider, ‘round table’ event to build on the report’s recommendations later in the year.

SCATE believes that Highways England will make a recommendation to the Department of Transport during the summer. We would like to see this report published for all to see. We believe there has been too much secrecy surrounding the development of the proposed dual carriageway.

Background listening:

Many will have read the press reports of the packed residents meeting held back in June 2018. At the time BBC Radio Sussex interviewed with Oliver Harwood, a charter surveyor from RH & RW Clutton. The interview is about 5 minutes long but it will give you a good background to the A27 East of Lewes.

Background reading:

Click below for a summary of the current background information:

A27 East of Lewes Background info 2018-08-11

More information:

If you would like to know more about this development or believe you can help with our campaigns, please contact us

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A full house at Selmeston Village Hall as locals discuss concerns over plans for A27 dual carriageway road!

After recent confusion over proposed Government plans for the A27 extension between Lewes and Polegate, South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE), the Folkington Estate and RH & RW Clutton presented to a ‘full house’ at Selmeston Village Hall on June 12th, to determine the truth and what could be done to influence the outcome of Highways England’s proposals.

SCATE suggest that members of the public write to their MP and to their councillors at Wealden and East Sussex councils, expressing their views whether for or against a new road through the countryside. Anyone who wants to be kept informed was advised to join SCATE (membership is free).

Click here to see links to the report of the meeting & presentations (at bottom of page)

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