GLYNE GAP STATION PLANS ”Should be retained for the next planning period” – JRC Consultancy report January, 2014.
Concurrent with the demonstration in support of a new station at Glyne Gap, and following a formal objection to deletion of the station plan from Rother’s planning policies and East Sussex County Council’s Local Transport Plan 3, (See previous post on this website), Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex (CBT E SX) commissioned JRC consultancy to review the councils’ own £30,000. report. That report – carried out by Mott McDonald – evidently had flaws and omissions: importantly, it ignored the new signalling system about to be ‘switched on’, and failed to investigate the potential difference that this could make to provision of new services.
The JRC report – presented by CBT E Sx at the Public Inquiry into the council’s proposed amendments to next local plan for the period to 2026 - Glyne Gap station review JRC 644 Final is critical of the council’s commissioned report, pointing out its shortcomings (as well as some useful research). For instance, the ‘one train per hour‘ service would set the business case to fail and yet the new signalling could potentially accommodate two trains per hour, giving a much better ‘benefit to cost’ ratio. That was never tested. Rother District’s consultant admitted that he was never asked to look at that scenario! It wasn’t in the remit given him by the two councils.
There were other criticisms in the JRC report:
The extent to which passengers would be ‘lost’ to Bexhill through using Glyne Gap was exaggerated and took no account of passengers new to the railway; the massive growth in popularity of rail travel was underplayed ( a doubling of passengers at Ore from 112,000 to 210,000 in just one year and 10% for each of the last ten years at Bexhill and Collington!); the value of an extra train per hour serving local stations was overlooked; improved pedestrian/cycle links to Pebsham community, a better complementary bus service and area wide and well marketed ticketing including bus and rail travel as in other urban areas – none of this was considered of interest or benefit to residents or visitors.
On top of this, the decision to delete the new station plan didn’t fit with national or local policy – including support for local economies, health and environment - and was considered premature and unnecessary since the railway timetable would be re-examined for 2019: that’s 7 years before the expiry of the Local Plan period in 2026.
Overall, CBT E Sx considers this to be a poor decision flowing from an incomplete study, and outside of any overall strategy ignoring the hopes, needs and changing lifestyles of the younger generation.
The press release, and the CBT E Sx submission to the Planning Inspector are here:
Bexhill Observer article is here:
MUDDLED THINKING: JAMS TOMORROW?
Any temporarary relief afforded the A259 by BHLR may be very short lived. Unless there are high quality alternatives to the car and parking controls to lock in the benefits, the traffic will simply grow back.
The Bexhill Observer headlines of 31st Jan 2014 celebrated the planned bus lanes for the A259 as bringing a ‘cut in A259 gridlock’: there was an editorial sigh of relief: ‘At last…..’. But the ‘gridlock’ scenario rarely applies to Bexhill Road and the traffic is almost always moving, if slowly: that’s good, not bad for residents, pedestrians and cyclists. A recent trip on the 99 from Hastings to Eastbourne included a total of 18 minutes where the bus just sat at stops between Hastings and Bexhill. In any case the situation is always much worse in school term time. And the bus lanes, along with many other sustainable measures promoted by CBT E Sx for many years, could have been implemented in the early 2000s. We can contemplate that if those measures had been carried out, they may have caused a few red faces when their success and popularity became obvious and made the BHLR look a bit daft and many, many times more costly for local and national taxpayers.
So, what should the mix of high quality alternatives include?
- Pedestrian and cycling improvements, including a redesign of the arrangements between Hastings station/college and Priory Meadow/Havelock Road. These are dangerous and insulting to pedestrians.
- Evening and night bus services, with daytime ‘turn up and go’ levels of service at 4 buses per hour between Bexhill and Hastings, and Eastbourne, and at least 2 per hour on Sundays and Bank Holidays . The Conquest and Eastbourne District General hospitals are now central to the needs of residents and visitors of all three towns. Currently evening visitors to the Conquest have a very hard time when it comes to finding buses home. Brighton standards provide a good model with all residential areas provided with 4 buses an hour from the Royal Sussex hospital up to 10 pm. That’s civilised and fair, and helps staff too.
- A well marketed Bexhill and Hastings Travel Card ‘smart ticket’ for all buses and trains. That was recommended in 2002 in a major government funded study of the two towns and south coast towns in general.They’d be popular
- Bus lanes: yes, we know they’re coming, but they were said to be coming in the ESCC Local Transport Plan (LTP1) for 2000. They’re long overdue – as is the Quality Bus Partnership route for Ore – Little Common; and one for The Ridge. They were also in the ESCC 2000 LTP1.
- A railway station at Glyne Gap to serve the retail/leisure services, provide workers with access, give college students a good mix of non-car alternatives, make it easy for young families to have a day at the beach and with improved pedestrian/cycle access, give Pebsham residents a high quality mix of transport choice, and reduce traffic and climate change gas emissions on the A259.
- All the above would be important pieces in the mosaic of measures that have been resolutely resisted by ESCC for so long to make the BHLR look such a good deal, though not according to the Department for Transport who could only rate it as giving ‘medium to poor value for money’.
GIVE A RED LIGHT TO THE RUDD ROUTE!
Now here’s a sure route to gridlock!
Friends of the Earth ran a campaign over a decade ago on the theme of ‘Better towns: Less traffic’. That principle still holds good. A noisy town choked by traffic and fumes is not a town to linger in and will deter visitors. The pressure of traffic and the degradation of open space taken up by cars cramming in to diminishing space does nothing for a town’s prosperity. It also holds up pedestrians, cyclists and the bus services. The free parking petition set up by MP Amber Rudd will simply lead to more car trips for short distances, choking up local streets and getting in the way of traders, builders, plumbers, electricians and essential service vehicles which do need to get around to carry out their business. It’ll make walking and cycling unpleasant and dangerous, frustrate efforts to create more high quality public spaces where people will want to linger, encourage unhealthy lifestyles, increase emissions of climate change gases and create a negative image of a great town.
WARNING! MAJOR ROAD BUILDING SPREE AHEAD.
There is a big push on in government to rush through studies assessing projects for new roads. Some are re-hashed old ones, dusted off and wheeled out. Most frightening is that the plans are based on assertions not backed by evidence (think BHLR only on a national scale). This has many serious implications for generations to come. See the link to the national Campaign for Better Transport website:
WATERY COMBE HAVEN – STILL PEACEFUL FOR NOW
Some images of the floods – 2nd February, 2014:
The peace of the valley is recognised by everyone as of value: within such easy (and affordable) reach of so many people: a perfect place to experience wildlife and sense history in a beautiful landscape setting. That combination will be lost. A scheme to ‘offset’ some of the habitat loss will be funded ‘in the Hastings/Brede area’. Of course this is of some value, but no one seems able to tell us where it is. Still, as Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, tells us, it’s quite an acceptable practice as long as it’s no more than an hour away by car, so cutting off kids from nature. What a cynic and what a cynical ideology.