A blueprint for the way forward on the A27 Lewes-Polegate section was agreed last week at a meeting convened by local MP Norman Baker to which all parish councils along the route were invited. The meeting, which was held at Selmeston village hall on Friday morning, ruled out both a new dual (or single) carriageway as proposed by Eastbourne, and doing nothing. Instead, the meeting agreed a package of measures designed to improve safety along the alignment of the existing road.
Specifically, the meeting concluded the following:
- All agreed that doing nothing was not a good option.
- The allocation of £75m funding for improvements was welcome and the villages would like to see implementation on an agreed programme of measures as rapidly as possible.
- There was no support for a new dual carriageway (and considerable objection to the Caroline Ansell proposals).
- The villages want a safer road with improved local access at junctions and better traffic flow but NOT an increase in traffic speed.
- There is support for junction improvements all along the route, with improvements particularly needed at Wilmington and Selmeston.
- There is support for a safer crossing between the Firle and Glynde junctions for pedestrians and cyclists
- There is support for a Selmeston bypass behind the Barley Mow.
- There is support for a single speed limit along this stretch of road and related measures.
- There is no support for the Folkington Link
Norman Baker says: “This was a very good meeting with a high degree of agreement about the way forward. I will now be writing to the Transport Secretary Patrick McLaughlin and to the Highways Agency to pass on the views of the councils along the road. I am determined that it should be the views of local people that prevail, rather than those from elsewhere. I anticipate that this group will be meeting again in due course.”
David Quysner, Chairman of the Selmeston Parish, adds: “The Parishes from Beddingham to the Cophall roundabout are united in their view that improvements in traffic flow, road user safety and local access to and from the A27 are long overdue. They welcome the announcement of £75 million of funding and look forward to seeing this money invested in the very near future in junction improvements and other works along the existing route. “
Southern’s Head of Timetable Planning has met with local MP Norman Baker, Lib Dem County Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre, and representatives from Hamsey Parish Council to press the case for improved train services for Cooksbridge.
After a long campaign Norman has been successful in reducing some journey times between Lewes and London by five minutes, and believes that the opportunity now exists to add an hourly stop for Cooksbridge throughout the day.
Norman explains: “I have long argued that we need a faster train once an hour between Lewes and London, and a service that gives Cooksbridge and Plumpton the services they deserve. After much campaigning, Plumpton now has an hourly service, and I want to see the same for Cooksbridge.
“Now we have the new franchise awarded, the focus moves from the Department for Transport to the rail company. If we are to make progress, it will be via Southern rather than the Department, which is why I have arranged for their Head of Timetabling to meet me and the local parish council this week.”
- The meeting is taking place this morning.
A Scheme developed by Lewes MP Norman Baker to help young people with their transport costs has been adopted by the Lib Dems and will feature in the party’s manifesto for the next General Election.
Under the scheme, developed by Norman when he was a transport minister, under 21’s would receive discount bus passes so they can afford to get to college or work.
The education leaving age has now risen to 18, but entitlement to support for school transport now ends at 16. Bursary payments are not always enough to cover rising bus fares. More people have started an apprenticeship under this parliament than ever before, with nearly 2 million new apprenticeships, training our workforce for 21st century jobs and by providing support for young people to access travel the LibDems are seeking that more young people can access training and work opportunities.
Norman says: “Young people have identified travel and the cost of travel as a barrier in accessing work and employment.
“By investing in our young people and enabling them to access the opportunities being opened to them we are insuring not only individuals but also the future of a skilled workforce and stronger economy”
East Sussex County Council Cabinet members have decided to consult on drastic cuts proposed for rural bus routes. Their plans include reducing daily village bus services to a mere twice weekly instead of daily, and higher bus fares.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre has frequently criticised the council for failing to opt in to national initiatives including grants to improve road junctions, reducing fuel costs by using electric or hybrid vehicles, as well as ignoring local proposals to synchronise bus and train timetables at stations like Cooksbridge to reduce the number of car journeys and relieve pressure on car parks, such as the one at Lewes station.
Cllr St Pierre says: “Rural life has changed significantly, many people are now forced to work outside the 9am to 5pm routine. Current estimates suggest rural families are now £5,000 per year worse off than those living in towns, partly because of transport costs.
“Vulnerable people, the sick and elderly not only face rural isolation, but also serious obstacles travelling for doctors and hospital appointments. This proposed reduction in rural bus services will have a further, very severe impact on people.”
Norman Baker MP added: “This very week East Sussex County Council is cutting home-to-school transport services, creating problems for pupils travelling in rural areas to schools such as Chailey, Lewes Priory and others. Furthermore, the effect on small to medium businesses makes the Council’s boast that they support East Sussex business sound hollow.”