The 12th of February saw a further demonstration against the BHLR at County Hall (above) ahead of a full council meeting on the day. Contrasting starkly with the Link Road, the inspiring and creative demo was led by the Combe Haven Defenders who brought a large limb of a felled oak, symbolising the destruction of hundreds of trees ‘come back to haunt the council as the BHLR would surely do one day’.
It was interesting to hear a number of councillors expressing doubts over the wisdom of risking public funds before the final funding approval, and progressing the destructive road scheme.
In the chamber itself, emotions ran high and several protestors were physically removed before the entire public gallery was cleared. This was despite protestations from Cllr Rosalyn St Pierre whose point held sway for a while until the shutters eventually went up.
IN THE VALLEYS
The trees in situ (above) just days before.
The choked channel of Decoy Stream (above)
Decoy Stream above the choked channel – a classic weald ripple stream: a soothing sound, inaudible with the thousands of vehicles that would pass above with BHLR just feet away.
Following evictions from the tree houses, a visit on February the 18th saw the Decoy stream bed choked with timber and branches of oak and alder. Birds were active on this bright, sunny day, including a female buzzard circling overhead: according to the farmer who until recently owned the land, it was probably seeking a nesting site: ill advised.
Other felled timber was being moved by a tracked vehicle below Adams Farm, while immediately west of Actons Farm (see below), police, security guards, High Court officials and two specialist tree climbers were guarding against protestor action as hedges on either side of a field, standing in the pathway of the BHLR intended route, were cut almost to ground level. A police constable remarked on the peacefulness of the valley - as have councillors (or at least those who have bothered to visit), DfT officials and countless others. That was before the chainsaws.
TRINITY COLLEGE (Motto: ‘Virtue is true nobility’) IN FAVOUR OF DEVELOPMENT
Trinity College is the major landowner of the land earmarked for development in north Bexhill. Viewed by the college as ‘sustainable and justified’, and unquestioningly accepted as dependent upon the BHLR, Trinity are already marketing the building land to prospective developers – with a big, free, taxpayer funded road too. Well, it’s a great motto, but rings a bit hollow given the uniquely ‘poor’ rating of the BHLR among 45 other English road schemes by the Department for Transport (and worst for CO2 emissions), damage to the environment, and the anticipated rise in car dependency. Agents for Trinity, Bidwells, have been apprised more than once of the falsehood of tying the development to the BHLR but presumably under pressure from Trinity to get some cash as quickly as possible, have ignored it.
For us and many others, BHLR would create few jobs at an astronomical price, and a 1960s car dependent development, the negative effects of which would prevail for decades – no virtue there: it’s simply unsustainable and unjustified.
WITH BHLR, THE FUTURE IS THE BUS – BUT NOT AFTER TEATIME : NEVER ON A SUNDAY
According to consultants working for the county council, if the BHLR was built, the future bus network would possibly include services along the BHLR, but those in Bexhill and Sidley expecting a bus to the Conquest Hospital would have to change at TESCO, then wait for a bus to complete their journey. Good news for TESCO but not for passengers wanting seamless journeys. Timetables being suggested seem to rule out service after 7.00pm though. So after visiting your friend in the Conquest you would have to get a taxi home. And hospital staff? We all need a comprehensive service to meet our basic needs. Some areas of Bexhill/Hastings have as many as 40% of households with no car.
No Sunday bus services are planned, and Saturday’s sample timetable shows a reduced service. The bus should be a viable, safe and attractive alternative for all, not a safety net for ‘poor unfortunates’. And not just until early evening.
GLYNE GAP STATION IN THE BALANCE?
Many of us (but not the councils) have been fighting for this since the 1980s when Ravenside was being built, and before that. A County Council study looking at the prospects for a new station is nearing completion, but unofficially, signs are not encouraging so, despite two favourable studies carried out in the last 10 years, each giving a more positive value for money rating than the BHLR, the current study, due to report soon, may not bring hoped for news of a new station. More on that later.
BEXHILL AND HASTINGS DESERVE THE BEST – LESS TRAFFIC: BETTER TOWNS!
For those who, for many good reasons, increasingly seek a good alternative to the car or at least to reduce their dependence on it, or those for whom the car is not a possible option – including the young – the future does not include what it should: not the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road, but instead a local and national showcase for high quality bus and rail, walking and cycling facilities.
Thousands of students now in town at the college and university would welcome a combined good value for money ticket: free travel would be even better, so at a stroke removing money worries from hundreds of households where money is tight.
For the road’s promoters, the future instead includes:
- an expensive, exclusive, poorly thought through, environmentally damaging, unnecessary Bexhill to Hastings Link Road which would be a millstone round the neck of alternatives for half a century.
A wrong message for future generations.
We say: CUT THE ROAD – NOT QUALITY OF LIFE
(See July 2012 post -link below- for comment image of Glyne Gap station; see also Combe Haven Defenders busy and exciting website – link below too).
SEE ALSO (here.) an excellent, well informed summary of the BHLR situation, including information about the major backers, politicians and their agents behind the destructive and unnecessary scheme, written by Adrian Hopkins of the Combe Haven Defenders.