Councillors showed their true colours when they backed a new Arundel bypass.
The Arun District Council members decisively backed the magenta route for the A27 route.
They united across party political lines with 31-5 vote in favour, plus three abstentions.
The only other of the six options put forward by Highways England to attract any support was crimson. But it could only muster five votes in favour, with 31 against and three abstentions.
Cllr Dr James Walsh, the council’s Lib Dem leader, thanked his colleagues for seizing the chance to send a strong message to the government that the bypass was essential and widely welcomed.
He opened the two-and-a-half hour debate last Thursday, watched by about 30 members of the public, urging his fellow councillors to avoid following Chichester and Worthing and becoming divided about the choice of route and losing the chance for the new road.
“This meeting tonight is a once in a lifetime opportunity for this council to make sure we have the completion of the Arundel bypass, the first stage of which was the Poling to Crossbush bypass,”
“We must not end up tonight divided and we must unite tonight around one option as our sole recommendation to Highways England.
“Residents are crying out for it, commuters are crying out for it and tourists are crying out for it.
“It is time to put this to bed. We are being offered around £300m of investment in the Arun district to provide the highways infrastructure.
“Are we going to be the council that turns that down? There is not a penny from our ratepayers – £300m from our government for infrastructure and investment.
“It is the key to the expansion of our economic base in the Arun district. What is there not to like?”
Of the options, magenta was the best. Only 750m of its route was in the South Downs National Park and it took up 3.9 hectares of woodland against three times that figure for crimson.
Councillors across the spectrum backed Cllr Dr Walsh. They included Cllr Terence Chapman (C, East Preston). He said:
“The time has come to make a decision and get something done about the dreadful situation in Arundel.”
Others included Cllr Ricky Bower (C, East Preston), Cllr Mike Northeast (L, Courtwick and Cllr Jamie Bennett (LD, Rustington W).
The council’s two Green members – Cllr Isabel Thurston (Barnham) and Cllr Faye Catterson (Arundel) – opposed all the options.
Cllr Catterson said:
“One of the most compelling reasons for not supporting the options presented by Highways England is that they are having a damaging, divisive effect on our communities.
“Nobody wants a 70mph road near them. The residents of Barnham, Walberton and the Five Villages are up in arms. Walberton village has issued a leaflet calling this a catastrophe.”
Cllr Thurston said building a bypass would be repeating the mistakes of the past and damaging to the environment.
“We have to have the courage to change. The damage we are seeing (to the environment) is because of actions like this that have out short-term economic opportunities ahead of caring for our home.”