Cost of proposed link road has nearly doubled

EAST SUSSEX TRANSPORT 2000
PRESS RELEASE – IMMEDIATE

NEAR DOUBLING OF COST FOR BEXHILL TO HASTINGS LINK ROAD – A BIG DRAIN ON THE PUBLIC PURSE say local transport group.

The recent announcement from East Sussex County Council that the estimated costs of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road (BHLR) have risen to a staggering £89 million appear to completely ignore conditions placed on the government’s approval for the scheme, says Derrick Coffee, County Officer for East Sussex Transport 2000, the local sustainable transport pressure group.

Government approval was given with conditions attached. One of these was that the gross and net costs of the scheme remain unchanged. The latest figure is almost double the original figure of £47.12 million and in the light of this we will certainly be asking the Secretary of State for Transport to reconsider the whole scheme, said Derrick Coffee.

This news comes only two weeks after a report commissioned by East Sussex Transport 2000 from a government adviser found that East Sussex County Council had failed to fully investigate non-road alternatives to BHLR even though government guidance required them to do so. This alone justifies a reconsideration of the scheme by government ministers.

It looks as though the taxpayer will now have to foot double the original bill for the ill conceived road scheme, said Mr Coffee; we might ask the County Council what kind of world class sustainable transport strategy could be developed for Hastings and Bexhill with £89million to invest, but they couldn’t know because they have never properly considered and tested alternatives to the road scheme. For that money, we think it could be very impressive and could provide:

· a safe route to school for every child

· residential streets where space can be shared by all instead of being dominated by traffic

· comprehensive pedestrian and cycle networks, incorporating the ‘Greenway’

· a high quality bus service

· new rail stations at Glyne Gap and West Marina

· ‘travel plans’ for businesses and organisations to drastically cut driver only car commuting

· a series of high quality town wide public realm improvements that would be possible through strategies that were based on walking, cycling and public transport and not the car centred BHLR strategy.

We say scrap the scheme, which is clearly spinning out of control, or at the very least, place it on hold to enable transport planners and communities to work together to create a transport strategy that reflects a serious commitment to sustainability and quality of life. This could gain Hastings and Bexhill deserved national and international reputations as towns prepared to face the climate change challenge, and save a unique asset – the Combe Haven valley – from certain environmental degradation.

ENDS

Derrick Coffee, County Officer, East Sussex Transport 2000.
9 Mayfield Place, Eastbourne BN22 8XJ 01424 446373

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