Another row has erupted over the A27 between two of the candidates, hoping to be the next MP for Polegate.
In a BBC Sussex interview yesterday (16 May), the Liberal Democrat candidate, Kelly-Marie Blundell, highlighted the concerns she says have been brought to her by constituents who fear dualling the A27 between Polegate and Lewes would cause the potential destruction of the countryside and villages. She also said she would like to see improvements made to the existing road.
However, Maria Caulfield, who is standing for the Conservatives, has condemned the stance. Ms Caulfield, who represented the Lewes constituency for 2 years from 2015, chaired the A27 Reference Group and called for funding and Government support for a dual carriageway.
Maria said, “I am shocked and dismayed that the Lib Dems are refusing to listen to residents and would stand by and do nothing about the A27 should they be elected locally.
“As Chair of the A27 Reference Group I know that many people in Lewes and the wider region want this congested and accident prone road to become a complete dual carriageway through East Sussex, and if elected I will ensure that this happens.”
Responding to the Conservative’s viewpoint, Ms Blundell said, “I think Maria Caulfield has quite unfairly painting me into a corner here. My position is that residents across my side of the constituency and mainly on behalf of the villages, as opposed to Polegate who I know are very unhappy about the A27, but the residents in Berwick, the residents in Glynde and in Firle are all very against the idea of duelling the A27 and someone needs to stand up for them.
“What I’m very resistant to and I was resistant to on the BBC interview to do, is painting this as a LibDem policy because a long time ago, Stephen (Lloyd) and I agreed to disagree. I understand he is representing his constituents, I am representing my constituents. The big problem with the A27, well there are lots of problems with the A27 proposals, number 1 it’s driving a motorway through the south downs, which I don’t believe anyone wants to see, number two, this isn’t a new announcement, it’s blatant electioneering. The money was actually allocated by Chris Grayling in October and they just re-announced this, this week. When in fact there is no additional money to do a survey, there is no additional money to actually expand the motorway. It’s just a ploy to gain votes.
“I’m in touch with the previous A27 dualling action group who are against any of the dualling and if necessary, we will re-start that campaign again. I know that’s not necessarily what you want to hear in Polegate, but I think that there are better solutions out there.”
Earlier this week, the Transport Secretary announced £3million of the £75million earmarked for improvements to the road, will be ringfenced for a survey to explore the viability of a new A27 north of the railway – a move criticised by the Campaign for Better Transport and given a cynical welcome by the Labour Party candidate, Daniel Chapman who said, “Although I, of course, support any funding for the area to develop important infrastructure and to support the needs of those who frequently use the A27 I do find this announcement a little cynical coming so close to the general election.”
The full list of candidates standing in the Lewes constituency, which covers Polegate, in alphabetical order are:
Blundell, Kelly-Marie (Liberal Democrat)
Caulfield, Maria (Conservative)
Chapman, Daniel (Labour)