Saturday, 25 March 2017

A pause on my thoughts

We are fast approaching the end of our current four year County Council administration and I have to say those years have just whistled by so quickly.

I can honestly say it has been very busy and eventful over the last four years. There have been major changes and events both locally and nationally and the organisation has responded well to all that has come its way. However the one constant thing that doesn’t change is our need to do the best for you, our residents and your communities as your County Council. We’ve faced financial challenges and have had to take some difficult decisions. And to be realistic, this is something the new County Council will need to continue to do after the elections.

Throughout the last four years I have tried to make time to write my blog, helping to keep everyone informed. I would like to thank everyone for their interest and for reading the blog.

The County Council election will be held on Thursday 4 May – I would encourage as many people as possible to make sure they vote and have their say. It’s not too late to register to vote – you can find out more on our website.

We enter into our ‘purdah’ period from next week, so I will not be blogging during that time but am looking forward to the election and to meeting residents during the next few weeks.

I would like to thank you all for your ongoing interest in reading my blog and for the comments you send in.

Best wishes,
Louise

Monday, 20 March 2017

Coming together to find big bold solutions for the A27

As I am writing this the plans for the next A27 Community Workshop in Chichester are being finalised.

There has been a huge amount of support for this approach from all quarters and it is really heartening to have so many offers of help and interest.

We, the community in and around Chichester, have the opportunity to put our thoughts and ideas on a blank sheet of paper and speak with one collective voice to secure improvements which are so desperately needed.

The A27 affects all our lives in one way or another, but it is not just about this single road and its traffic – it’s about transport in the local area in general as well as issues such as air quality.

From experience I know that community based solutions are the best ones and that is what we will be looking for in the forthcoming workshops.

It is a community led approach and not for the County Council alone. But we know that we will need some expert help and advice at some stage. At the last workshop it was agreed that it was important that this advice is independent and can offer a different approach and fresh thinking. The County Council will help make this happen and ensure those requirements are met and that is why £100,000 has been put aside for this purpose so we can help our communities to help themselves.

Some may ask why didn’t you do this last year? The reason is quite simple – the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, commissioned Highways England to develop schemes for the A27 – the County Council’s role was a statutory consultee, Highways England prepare plans and then consult. It is a format that they adhere to and we had no power to change this.

We know the results of the consultation showed 47% said ‘no option’ and that is where we are. Some people take a negative view saying it will take 10 years plus before a further allocation of funding and it is all too difficult.

Having listened and read the many comments I know how much people wanted to be involved to have their voice heard to make sure we had the best solution.

Now we need as a community to come together to find those solutions - short, medium, and long term – so the Secretary of State and Highways England know we can work together, and that we, as a community, can find the right answer for our residents and our beautiful city.

It is a bold vision but it is the right thing to do and I look forward to our first proper workshop event and more to come, judging by the considerable positive comments many others feel the same.

So a big bold step for all of us but we need to take it to find big bold solutions.

I will keep you posted.  

Best wishes,
Louise.