Today saw the launch of the Labour Party manifesto, outlining its blueprint for the country should it be elected on 7 May. Contained in the accompanying press release and press statements, it has announced that it would pause any work on the Arundel bypass and linked this with a rail fare freeze.
“Labour will deliver a fully funded rail fares freeze for one year, a strict cap on every route for any future fare rises, and a new legal right for passengers will be created to access the cheapest ticket for their journey.
The cost, of just over £200 million, will be fully funded by switching spending within the existing transport budget from delaying road projects on the A27 and A358 for which the economic case is still uncertain.”
It also that:
“…we intend to go ahead with the works on the A27 with the exception of the specific Arundel bypass – this is due to cut through a National Park and so raises a number of environmental issues that need to resolved before we give this one section of road improvement the go ahead.”
This comes on the back of the very good work by local Arundel, Binsted and Walberton residents who have been lobbying hard about having a say over what is brought forward in their area. The Labour, Green and UKIP Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for the Arundel and South Downs constituency have all stated their opposition to a new dual carriageway bypass through the South Downs National Park and elsewhere. These can be read on the ABNC website along with the Conservative statement in support of a new bypass.
So today is good news in that a major political party has at last recognised the potential damage that a new bypass at Arundel would cause the South Downs National Park and has questioned that it offers value for money. Whether this means anything in reality of course depends very much on the outcome of the General Election, but there is at least the potential opportunity for a pause in the process to take stock of the issues. We need to make sure that we get the right solutions for Arundel and not be bulldozed into accepting any old bypass solution, which is what has happened to date.