Proposed link road may suck money from other services

15 July 2009

Cost increases and insufficient money from developers mean that the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road is likely be funded only by taking money from other County budgets, the Hastings Alliance for Sustainable Transport Solutions said today. The road has doubled in price and has failed to attract the required £19 million from developer contributions.

Chairman Nick Bingham said:

‘The Department for Transport is currently reviewing whether to fund the scheme, because of the dramatic price increase (from £47 million in 2004 to £99.8 million now). Securing funding from private developers was an important condition of the road getting any Government funding. East Sussex County Council?s Business Case for the scheme shows that the Council has failed to raise any developer contributions, and is considering using up to an additional £19 million of taxpayers? money to fund the scheme. This could leave many county council projects short of money.

‘It could be even worse: in their latest official report on progress of the BHLR scheme, the county council has itself identified a total funding gap of £33m. We understand that the total could be closer to £39m.

‘Social Care, Education, Libraries, School Buildings, Children?s Services, Highway Maintenance, Integrated Transport and Local Transport schemes ? all or some of these services are at risk of being the focus of cuts in the capital budget. This has not been made clear to the public.

‘If the Council does not put in any additional money then the scheme may be cancelled or proceed at the cost of lost money to other vital services.

‘In Spring of 2008, the Hastings Alliance for Sustainable Transport Solutions offered to work with East Sussex County Council to help develop a truly sustainable alternative to the costly and environmentally damaging BHLR. The offer is still on the table

‘This road scheme looks less and less attractive as it becomes more and more expensive; there is an urgent need for a radical re-think. Raiding the public purse of its fast diminishing resources is unacceptable: throwing millions at a scheme of dubious value at the risk of cutting essential services to those in need cannot be justified.’ concluded Mr Bingham.

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