There has been a massive response to the County County consultation on its proposed cuts, though there’s a high probability that the complex design of the questionnaire will have deterred many from attempting to fill one in. Even so, those who have made their objections clear number thousands rather than hundreds – with a petition of 7,000 signatures from Hastings and St Leonards among the responses. With an election round the corner, sitting MP for Hastings Amber Rudd and the Labour prospective candidate have both been drumming up support for the campaign to roll back the cuts as they affect Hastings,  as well as their own electoral chances. And both favour the BHLR with its capacity to persuade people to drive rather than take a sustainable bus, thus undermining public transport in general. Shame about that. To date, some Hastings services have been reprieved through Stagecoach ‘adopting’ them as ‘commercial services’  – but there’s the prospect of serious hardship ahead for those dependent upon services still under threat. Sundays, Bank Holidays and evenings would still see poor levels of service – even if nothing changed at all.

Meanwhile, in Lewes, opposition has also been vocal with the ‘Love Your Bus’ campaign packing public meetings and providing information about the nature of cuts in Lewes – Newhaven – Seaford district.

See LINK to ‘Lewes Travelog’ latest Newsletter and note the 8th November event in Lewes:


Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex has also played a part with a submission to the County Council and some distribution of questionnaires on two threatened rural routes: the 318 (Heathfield – Burwash – Etchingham – Hurst Green) and the 349 (Hastings – Sedlescombe – Bodiam – Hawkhurst).  See LINK to submission here:

ESCC Bus Cons Final v1Derrick Coffee


The crowd on the 12.07 318 from Heathfield to Hurst Green on Friday 3rd October look pleased to be on board their bus. What will they do when this service is cut back?

And below, the family from Edinburgh on a short visit to Hastings would not have been able to make this Sunday journey on the 349 to Bodiam for a castle tour and steam train ride on the KESR preserved railway. (Photos Below)

318 - Bound for Broad Oak, Burwash Common, Burwash Weald, Burwash, Rtchingham station, Hurst Green...318 – Bound for Broad Oak, Burwash Common, Burwash Weald, Burwash, Etchingham station, Hurst Green…all ages (baby hidden from view).

318 - linking Heathfield and High Weald villages

318 – Linking Heathfield and High Weald villages – a future weakened link?

Sunday Trip - By 349 to Bodiam Castle and the KESR Heritage Railway

Sunday Trip By 349 to Bodiam Castle and the KESR Heritage Railway. Impossible next year? The Edinburgh family on holiday.

It is clear that if carried out, the cuts would hurt significant numbers of people who rely on the bus, and remove the opportunity to promote the bus as a useful and attractive alternative to the car: that’s if the County Council takes the trouble to advertise the bus services we all pay for: at present, there is little if any promotion.

*****Excellent article on East Sussex situation by Andrea Needham in the Guardian:

see LINK:




In the last post (July 2014) we spoke of an approach to East Sussex County Council (the transport authority) to find out if there were any plans to meet transport needs of patients (and their friends and relations) in the reorganized world of clinical services. Although clearly an obvious issue to address before the changes took place, these needs have been overlooked for some time now and individuals are having to use taxis from Eastbourne to get to Hastings and vice versa. A taxi fare can be anything between £32 – £38 according to the time of day or night. We think this situation is unacceptable. The reply from ESCC:

‘The changes to clinical services between Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals, with the transport access issues which may result, does raise concerns. This really is a matter for the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to address’.

We would point out that ESCC also now has a responsibility for public health. In any event there is an urgent need for a dialogue and there appears to have been none.

The matter of choices of alternatives to the car available from day one of BHLR opening, and the need for an exhibition to explain these to the public, was also raised. Well, with bus cuts threatened, Glyne Gap station plans removed by Rother District and ESCC from policy, and a general vagueness about what alternatives will exist in May 2015 (ESCC’s opening date for BHLR), we received confirmation that there is no exhibition planned because alternative transport measures are ‘still in development’. Sustainability is certainly not at the core of ESCC transport policy. Cars first. Alternatives? Sometime, maybe – but why are they incessantly, relentlessly, ignored, delayed or suppressed? They will NOT be there as the Link Road opens.


Our June Post includes background information about the report commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex into the feasibility of a new station at Glyne Gap. LINK: Glyne Gap station review JRC 644 Final

The report also reviewed the earlier report upon which Rother District Council, with tacit support from ESCC, based its decision to remove the station from its development plans.

In late July, we received notification from the Planning Inspectorate that in their view, Rother District Council was justified in removing a new Glyne Gap station from the Core Strategic Plan because put simply, there was no chance of funds being made available within the plan period.

We were extremely disappointed in this because the decision demonstrated a failure on the part of two local authorities to build a case for the station, and also because the case for its removal presented by Rother District Council – with backing from the transport authority, ESCC – was seriously flawed. We shall take the opportunity to re-present our case at some time in the near future.

Incredibly, the local authority’s case completely ignored the £multi-million new signalling system, installed and about to go ‘live’. Rother’s and ESCC’s case had predicted just one train per hour because the old signalling system could not permit more trains than this to call at a new station. The new system could have accommodated two trains per hour, helping local people to access their daily needs without the need for a vehicle. It seems as if the £30,000 study commissioned by Rother DC and ESCC was not examined and interrogated by those responsible for its commissioning.

The shorter rail trips originating and ending at smaller stations on the Coastway are just as important as the longer distance commuter trips much talked about recently by Amber Rudd, MP. We are convinced, and our commissioned study shows, that Glyne Gap station would be a success – not least in the function of removing  short car commute trips (the cause of congestion and poor air quality) from the roads at a cost of under £10m. The £113+ Link Road will simply help to fill the roads up by promoting just such carbon emitting  car trips while undermining public transport, walking and cycling and getting in the way of tradesmen and women who need a vehicle to carry out their work.

In other local authority areas, the financial case would have been made and the trains would already be calling at the new station. ‘Excellence’ in terms of high quality alternatives to the car are a long time coming: threatened bus cuts suggest that a decline in public transport for Bexhill and Hastings is acceptable to politicians at all levels. Pressure mounts for those who can afford it to switch to the car. Those who can’t don’t seem to matter.

*Unlike Bexhill College students and local shoppers at Glyne Gap, students at Sussex Coast College campus at Ore College and local residents are flocking to use the trains. There’s a station! In one year, following the full opening of Ore Campus, trip numbers to/from Ore station rose by 97,442. There are 2/3 trains per hour. The opening of M&S store at Glyne Gap/Ravenside would have been the moment to open the new station.


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Bexhill to Hastings Link Road (BHLR) ‘Complementary Measures’ – Offsetting Environmental Destruction – Real Time Bus Information – Access to Hospital, or not – Glyne Gap Station – Bus Service Cuts – Challenging £multi-million South Coast Road Building:Launch of SCATE (South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment).


Car users can happily rehearse how they will make use of the Link Road from day one of opening in May 2015 (current ESCC prediction) – maybe doing new journeys, or switching back to their cars from sustainable, healthy alternatives. Those without access to a car, are unable to drive, or who choose not to, can only guess at the promised improvements to alternatives to the car. These were always described by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) as ‘complementary’ to the Link Road. Remember, alternatives were never fully examined: there was a resolute refusal to do so. But what? When? Where?

In our view there should be advance publicity around this issue, and a prospect of delivery of ‘high quality’ healthy and sustainable transport coinciding with opening of the Link Road rather than a confused picture of what to expect, and a ‘managed decline’ in bus services now offered through impending cuts.

It is grossly unfair that after 14 years of planning the road, there is almost complete silence on the nature of those ‘complementary measures’ we were led to expect, and what exactly non-car users can look forward to as the Link Road opens. This group of the electorate – plus young people – clearly matter less than habitual car drivers. Time for an urgent dialogue between ESCC and Stagecoach – it might be fruitful.

We have formally asked ESCC to hold exhibitions showing what will be in place on day one of Link Road opening for non-car users. We have heard nothing. A failure to set in place high quality alternatives to the car at that point in time will simply promote the ‘car habit’ and increase traffic congestion, making it much harder to promote or achieve a high take-up of ‘active travel’ – walking, cycling and public transport. This has serious implications for public health and doesn’t comply with ESCC policy, or health policies in general. Once again, it seems that alternatives will lag behind provision for the car, struggling to play catch-up.


Sure does – but what and where are the plans?

To borrow a phrase, here is a list of the known unknowns:

The bus service to The Conquest from Bexhill may, or may not run on the Link Road. The last we heard, it would run to Tescos where passengers would need to change for the Conquest. Good for the supermarket, but not for those wishing to get to and from the hospital. Evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays would be excluded. The proposed frequency is unknown.

Eastbourne, Hastings, Bexhill

The wider issue around access from communities to their local hospital, or newly reallocated clinical services, is also unresolved, with Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH) better connected to its local communities than is Hastings, but no improvement in sight for public transport access to either hospital from their more distant ‘catchments’ eg Hastings Conquest from Hailsham/Eastbourne, or DGH from Bexhill/Hastings. How needs of patients, visitors and staff will be met is unknown. There has been no forward planning, over recent years, simply never ending car park extensions which generate more traffic and undermine the bus market and make walking and cycling unpleasant. It’s crazy!

Those with access to a car are fine. But a taxi from one to the other costs £34. There is not a comprehensive bus service – and there are no signs of one appearing. The Royal Sussex in Brighton offers a good practice example for bus access until late evening, should anyone be interested – and they should be.

Real Time Passenger Information

Funding for Real Time Passenger Information signs (RTPI) intended for Hastings and Bexhill – indicating how long until the next bus arrives – was a casualty of funding the Link Road. These signs have long been in operation in Brighton, including inside the station  where people can clearly see what buses are due at stops outside the station.



Government funding for these was withheld because ESCC had received millions of pounds for the Link Road. ESCC are going to provide the signs eventually but there is confusion over how many, and where they’ll be. We heard recently that they would not be provided at Hastings Station/Bus Interchange. Clearly, at that location they would be welcome. Inside hospital foyers and the FE colleges in Bexhill and Hastings, and the university would be other obvious locations. Then ideally there would be displays at bus stops over the wider area, including Battle and Rye (and Heathfield and Hailsham). At present, there is no information about information. Public transport works better with clear and prominent information displays but the installation of the displays mentioned has got off to a disastrous start in East Sussex coastal towns. This, plus open talk of cuts to come, does nothing for public confidence in the bus service, and relegates the status of the bus. It’s a subliminal advert for the car.

Glyne Gap Station/Packed and Inadequate Trains

We wait, and wait, for a decision from the Planning Inspectorate on the controversial proposal from Rother District and East Sussex County Council to remove a plan for new station at Glyne Gap (Ravenside) from Rother District Plan and the County’s Local Transport Plan 3. We objected to the local authorities’ proposal  and campaigned hard for its retention and funded a study which showed that the proposals to ‘delete’ the station plan and the £30,000 report on which it was based were flawed. The station would serve the large traffic generating retail park at Ravenside on the A259, the FE college nearby and local residents. We need a new station. We need more trains!



G Gap Demo


One condition placed on funding approval for ESCC’s Link Road was a requirement to enhance a habitat in the ‘Brede Hastings area’ to offset loss of habitat in Combe Haven. The work will cost £250,000.

The habitat is ‘wet woodland and grassland’. It may well be a pathetic attempt to make up for the wreckage in Decoy Stream valley – completely ruined now – and set to be further degraded when the traffic roars through what was a beautiful, tranquil, intimate, steep sided valley. If an intention is that those who rue its loss may experience something in the area of Brede/Hastings to make up for it – which is very doubtful and more likely impossible – then accessibility is an issue. It should be equally accessible to the ‘sacrificed site’, and accessible to all.



Decoy Valley Greylag Decoy Valley June 14

Where is it? How may people get there? It won’t be easily walkable from Bexhill/Hastings and if there is a bus there’ll be a cost. Even if there’s a bus now, current plans to cut services may remove the service. (See below).

ESCC won’t give us a grid reference or accessibility information (requested twice). Worryingly, according to Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson, MP, offsetting is acceptable if the offset site is ‘up to an hour’s car drive away’. That’s both dismissive and ignorant.


An ESCC consultation on proposed cuts is about to be launched (July 7th). It will run for 12 weeks which unhelpfully coincides with school holidays – and summer holidays for all. The report to Cabinet – including proposed cuts (last three pages) is available via this link: Item 6 (opens new window)

The consultation can be accessed via the link below:

What do you think about these suggested changes to buses? Individuals

In due course we will comment on the proposals on this website and already, others have raised concerns too. Here is a link to ‘Travelman’ website with appropriate comments and useful information. www.travelloglewes.co.uk

Hastings – including links to the Conquest Hospital – is particularly badly hit  by the cuts on weekdays, and on Sundays, for those wishing to access some of the best walking country in the south-east, there may be no buses at all. The ‘honeypot’ of Bodiam Castle will be inaccessible by public transport, along with the adjacent heritage railway.

BELOW:  HASTINGS – BODIAM – HAWKHURST SUNDAY SERVICES MAY BE SCRAPPED. Currently there are four buses each way on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Bodiam Bus 1a

Hastings Country Park, Fairlight, Winchelsea Beach, Rye and Northiam could lose their Sunday buses too. We note that the National Trust is Committed to reducing the impact of traffic on its properties and the countryside in general, and maximising access by public transport, walking and cycling. The cuts won’t help.

If you wish to make comments on the proposed cuts directly to CBT East Sussex, feel free to do so by e-mail to: derrick.coffee@talk21.com I will incorporate comments in a response. If you have time to submit a response that would be great.


The funds for the ‘low to medium value for money’ (according to the Department for Transport) Link Road and associated schemes will run to £150m or more, while the East Sussex bus support grant of £1.7m is apparently unaffordable. But ESCC is chasing many more millions of public funds to spend on grand road schemes along the coast without – as with the Link Road – considering sustainable, healthy alternatives that do not spawn sprawling and unhealthy car based developments. Health professionals warn us now of the impending crisis that will accompany obesity and consequent Type 2 diabetes caused by poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. A serious and urgent investment in alternative, healthy transport would help to avoid the worst of this: the last thing we need is more road building, its accompanying car dependency and its wasting of land. The costs imposed on the NHS through a failure to meet and beat the obesity challenge would, they warn, threaten the survival of the NHS.



Lewes Rd Cycle

A great example of popular cycle infrastructure investment is the Lewes Road cycleway, Brighton, opened late last year. Measures to support cycling such as this typically repay every pound of investment with up to £20 – in some cases the figure is even higher – of benefits in health improvement, better air quality, reduced CO2 and pollution, less noise and less parking space required.  Accompanied by 20mph zones to encourage cycling in all residential areas, such schemes promote strong growth in walking and cycling. Kings Drive, Eastbourne and St Helens Road, Hastings might be given the same treatment, while a route parallel to the railway line to Ore might also be successful.

It is clear that a strong commitment and major shift to investment in sustainable transport, rather than a car-based future with its accompanying health disbenefits and environmental degradation, both rural and urban, is a way forward to improve public health – physical and mental.

For up to date information on the threats posed by authorities promoting major and very costly road building along the south coast, see the website of newly formed South Coast Alliance on Transport and the Environment (SCATE):

South Coast Alliance on Transport and the Environment .

See also:

Combe Haven Defenders | Stop Osborne’s Roads to




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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:

Glyne Gap Presser 20th Jan

Glyne Gap 3,000 Words Sub.

Bexhill Observer article is here:

Glyne Gap Sta Bex Obs 31 2


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’.


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.


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:

New roads policy goes back to the 90s – help us take action


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.

CHWaterscape Berries CH Wintry Water CH Water Adams Fm CH Spit and Adams CH Flying Swans CH Flooded Gate CH Dinosaurs and Berries  CH Causeway Flood CH 1066 and Swans

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This gallery contains 15 photos.

To coincide with the opening of the new Marks and Spencers store at Ravenside (Glyne Gap) on the 28th November, Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex, and the Hastings Alliance, held a demonstration to publicise the absence of a … Continue reading

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Combe Haven and its smaller tributary valleys are currently being transformed by construction works on a massive scale – and this is only the beginning.

Doubtless, many of those who have cherished the experience of walking in these valleys in their lifetimes feel powerless to do anything at all to prevent the progress of the road scheme that will deliver anything up to 30,000 vehicles a day through this exceptionally tranquil and beautiful environment.

A reminder of the scheme’s characteristics:

  • It is the worst scheme of 45 currently under development in England for CO2 emissions. Minister for climate change and MP for Bexhill Greg Barker is not bothered. It was the second worst of the 45 for ‘value for money‘, and cost increases of £14m since chancellor Osborne’s approval suggest that it’s now bottom.
  • There are no firm strategies for monitoring the environmental mitigation measures. As yet, we don’t know who will do the monitoring or even if it will be carried out. The status, extent and nature of monitoring remain ‘theoretical’.
  • Alternatives were never looked at. The Department for Transport was found by the independent Information Commissioner to be wrong to conceal from the public that immediately prior to the chancellor’s ‘green light’ to approve BHLR funding, a ‘public transport’ based strategy was also on offer to ministers  Shocking enough on its own.

Despite winning funding for this ‘gold plated’ road scheme, about which there is a great deal of information, there is a lack of information about the range of alternative and sustainable transport options that will be available as (if) the BHLR opens for traffic. There was less than half a page on the subject in the original 200 page bid to government in 2004, and there has been little hard information ever since. Even worse, following a rather secretive and poorly conducted study, Rother District Council want to kill off for good plans for a new station at Glyne Gap.

We can only conclude that those without access to a car (including everyone under 17), as well as those who would like to use their cars less, are apparently considered by those designing our future transport networks as somehow of a lower status. That’s disgraceful. The needs of this significant and growing constituency of people must be met and their numbers increased in order to limit the dire effects of climate change. In this respect, the BHLR is the worst possible option, with the consequent car dependent developments eating up scarce land and set to spew thousands of tonnes of climate change gases.

Back to that ‘feeling of powerlessness’: Harriet, a Crowhurst resident and artist, is recording this transformation on canvas as part of the story of the road. It is a commitment to telling that story – of how the road came to this stage in its construction.  So far, it’s a story of the triumph of dull, dangerous orthodoxy and profit over sustainability: a story of irresponsibility towards the next generation and its quality of life, and a failure to ensure for that generation a better and fairer world. Telling that story might prevent other similar unsustainable road based developments from tainting the planet. The Hastings Alliance and others like Harriet will continue to tell the story:

‘In just how many ways is this a story of how things should not be done?’

Harriet records the unfolding tragedy

Harriet records the unfolding tragedy

Concerned Crowhurst residents by Powdermill Stream

Concerned Crowhurst residents by Powdermill Stream

Habitat severance at Decoy Stream Valley - early Spring

Habitat severance at Decoy Stream Valley – early Spring

Decoy Stream Valley this week (Oct 6th)

Decoy Stream Valley this week (Oct 6th)

Buzzard circles over Watermill Stream. Vegetation replaced by extensive crushed rock

Buzzard circles over Watermill Stream. Vegetation replaced by extensive crushed rock

Alder - Combe Haven Valley. Oct 6th

Alder – Combe Haven Valley. Oct 6th


Elsewhere in England, new Local Transport Bodies are now in place to bid for funding predominantly for, it turns out, road schemes. Their wish lists include not a single cycling scheme and ‘sustainable transport’ hardly features at all. In the South East  (Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Southend and Thurrock) the Transport Board scores 2.2 out  of 10 for sustainable transport, with new roads at the top of its agenda for funding. Download the full report here (pdf)

John Shaw, long time BHLR fan, advises the Local Transport Board, chaired by former East Sussex County Council leader, Peter Jones. Of the 31 attendees – or would be attendees – 31 out of 33 are male. The parallel Local Enterprise Partnership for the South East is also chaired by Peter Jones and has 40 male and 4 female members. These are very interesting statistics which do nothing to instil confidence in decisions taken. Jobs for the boys? We have to say that the ‘development pool’ process (as highlighted in the report above) produced a far more mature and responsible approach than that being adopted by the new Local Transport Body setup. The environment and sustainability are way down the list.


We have been privileged to contribute evidence in support of those of the Combe Haven Defenders tried in court in Hastings in September. Trials continue and there will be more news about their fate and other matters in the weeks ahead.

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BHLR – COSTS RISE £13.35m.

The costs increase, funded entirely by the county’s council tax payers, was approved by ESCC 0n the 10th July, bringing the current total of public funding required to £113.35m. This increase alone could have funded  a step change in bus services for Bexhill and Hastings, a new station at Glyne Gap – and area wide walking and cycling facilities. The funds were voted through in a knockabout full council meeting almost devoid of evidence, with no councillors opposing the increase. An account of proceedings follows, accompanied by a summary of the preceding Planning Committee meeting where almost all concerns around the supposedly non-material amendments to the BHLR scheme – including removal of a bus lane –  were swept aside. (see ‘A Day at County Hall’ below.)



On July 10th,  2013, East Sussex County Council Planning Committee considered their authority’s ‘non-material amendments’ (NMAs) to the BHLR scheme. Three objectors to the NMAs had registered a wish to address the Planning Committee and did so on the proposed amendments concerning Drainage and Flooding contingencies, the bus lane removal, and ‘Greenway’ alterations. Pete Caunter spoke on the first of these, Derrick Coffee on the second, and Andrea Needham on the third. All three speakers held that the amendments were material amendments departing significantly from the original BHLR plans, and that therefore the planning process would need to be re-run.

Before this, Planning Officer Tony Cook argued that the amendments were relatively minor, and the effects were predicted to be either neutral or environmentally beneficial.

With ‘extreme weather events’ on the increase, increased surface runoff from roads and the newly built up environment, and rising sea level all adding to uncertainties around the capacity of drainage infrastructure to cope, Pete Caunter’s concerns were legitimate and were echoing neighbours’ worries about these matters: Pete and the neighbours live along the line of the Egerton Stream which at intervals in the past, has caused flooding problems both near their homes and also in Egerton Park which floods regularly. Pete flagged up the issue of frequent flooding in the Combe Haven valley and the danger and impracticability of substituting fords for bridges.

Derrick Coffee’s concerns were around the contradiction between ESCC’s expression of certainties supporting the case for the bus lane removal and uncertainties or complete ignorance around future levels of bus services: the nature and extent of those services is after all, unknown, including to ESCC. Consultants working for ESCC have suggested that services could be expanded and the two regional hospitals of Eastbourne and Hastings have both talked openly of the need for bus services linking the two to provide access to the different clinical services that each will in future offer. Those consultants have made no reference though to evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday services. Derrick Spoke on behalf of the Hastings Alliance.

Speaking for the Combe Haven Defenders, Andrea Needham pointed out that the exercise in amendments was a purely ‘cost cutting’ (‘value engineering’) one, dressed up as inconsequential, minor and very sensible changes to the scheme. She gave an example of an application to a planning committee for the provision of a canopy to a small area of a school playground being viewed as ‘material’, while major amendments in today’s BHLR plan were somehow ‘non-material’. Diversions of the ‘Greenway’ would make it less attractive to non-vehicle users, resulting in more car trips, provision of a ford instead of a bridge would create hazards in flood conditions, and arrangements for combining equestrians, pedestrians an cyclists would cause conflict.

Following our addresses, various councillors’ commented, mostly in support of the ESCC position. Only Cllr Field agreed that the bus lane removal was a ‘material amendment’ and that there was a danger of traffic backing up behind buses.

Cllr Ensor’s views (Bexhill) would, he said, exclude all representations of those not living in his locality.

Tony Cook summed up and demonstrated a misunderstanding of Derrick’s point around the anticipated ‘low’ level of bus services. Derrick described this expectation of bus services as ‘pessimistic and unimaginative’; Tony Cook referred to that pessimism as a description of the function of the amendment to the junction without the bus lane. He thus missed the point altogether that the ‘low level’ of bus services cannot be assumed because no-one on the planning committee has any idea of the future extent or nature of bus services. There is no bus strategy.



The funding increase of over £13m was agreed after almost 2 hours of overwhelmingly evidence free dialogue: you couldn’t call it debate.

Accusations of incompetent management of finances came from the Lib Dems and Labour, accompanied by calls for Lead Member for Transport Economy and Environment to resign. These were very soon laid aside with assertions of support in the light of the ‘higher costs of cancellation’. There was fear expressed of then losing the government’s £56m (now less than half the costs). This of course ignored the ‘non-BHLR, public transport option’ that we now know was offered to ministers so, no, the funds would not necessarily be lost. That’s of no interest: they will have their road whatever the cost.

Just one councilor (Rosalyn St Pierre, Lib Dem, Ringmer and Lewes Bridge) queried the BHLR ‘jobs assertions’ mentioning the DfT assessment of ‘1,000’, flowing from the road and developments. That was the sole piece of evidence featured in the whole session. She also queried the levelling of blame at protestors. She suggested that it had been foolish to pretend that protests would not arise: they were predictable. “Many young people hate road building” she said.

Cllr Field (Lib Dem Battle/Crowhurst) didn’t want this road but supported a road. She also supported some development in villages to ensure viable services were available.

Cllr Hodges, (Labour, Hastings) believed that the (3,500!) jobs would flow to the premises (and their vast car parks?) and create clusters.

Cllr Shuttleworth (Lib Dem, Eastbourne) warned that there may be further requests for even more money from ESCC coffers.

Cllr Pragnell (Con, Hastings) Defended the increase ‘…benefits the whole county…3,000 jobs’, while Cllr Elkin, (Con Eastbourne) spoke in similar vein – panacea for jobs, etc.

Cllr Carstairs (UKIP) simply offered support. Clr Keeley (UKIP) – known to be opposed to BHLR, was not present.

Cllr Wallis (Lib Dem, Eastbourne) echoing Cllr St Pierre’s scepticism, alone expressed doubt over the links between roads and jobs.

The low points of the meeting (there were many) were characterised by comments on:

Jobs – there would be 3,000; there would be 3,500. It varied during the meeting. These would all be ‘high quality’ jobs.

Environment –  cancelling the BHLR would lead to desecration of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – it would be opened up for developers. The Combe Haven is less important than the AONB. BHLR would allow people to enjoy the scenery as they drive through. People could get to the countryside more easily.

Costs –  Cllr Tutt – Lib Dem, Eastbourne, quoted the costs of BHLR to local council tax payers as £288.00 for every inhabitant of East Sussex. He then went on to support the increase.

Costs for the BHLR were described as rising from £50m to £113m now. (This ignored the 2002 cost assessment of £24m (South Coast Multi-Modal Study), and misquoted the government’s conditional approval in 2004 of £47m).

Lead member for Economy, Transport and Environment, Cllr Carl Maynard, spoke of the benefits to the ‘travel to work area’ (with BHLR, to become the ‘drive to work area’?). Cllr Simmons described the investment in the road as ‘an exact science’. An amazing claim which shows  clearly that he has never read the Department for Transport’s analysis of the case for the Link Road. But hang on: we haven’t yet met a councillor who has read it. Obsessive progress of this great and expensive ‘vanity project’ doesn’t permit an analytical approach.

One councillor was barracked for suggesting that the rising costs from the capital budget were unpalatable in the light of cuts to services. He wasn’t evidently understanding the separation of budgets. But the public’s anger of this profligate use of their money in a time of cuts is real, and we should remember the threat made by former leader Cllr Peter Jones to use capital from the education budget to fund the road if he didn’t get a government contribution.

Blame for delay was laid by some councillors at the door not only of the protestors but that of the Department for Transport. Clearly the conduct of the BHLR project by the County Council is viewed by councillors as ‘perfect’. The awful truth is that most delays are due to mismanagement by the council itself, and that is in no small part due to their pursuit at any cost of what is at best a mediocre road scheme irrelevant to the needs of Bexhill and Hastings, and at worst a disaster for the county as a whole and Bexhill and Hastings in particular. Failure of ESCC to work effectively with the government’s statutory environmental bodies – Environment Agency, Natural England and English Heritage – cost them a delay of almost three years between the 2004 ministerial approval  and the 2007 planning application to which all three raised objections, two formally. The 2004 approval, incidentally, costed the BHLR at £47m!


Hundreds turned up for the national rally at Crowhurst recreation ground on a glorious day to hear music, speeches from local and national figures, enjoy a coconut shie and great food. Walkers arrived with guides from Bexhill, St Leonards, Hastings and Crowhurst stations to see the valley, scarred but still tranquil.

Speakers included Stephen Joseph, Director of the Campaign for Better Transport; John Stewart, veteran campaigner from Clear Skies/Plane Stupid (Heathrow, third runway issue); Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner at CPRE; Georgia Wrighton of CPRE Sussex; Tony Whitbread, CEO of Sussex Wildlife Trust, also speaking for Wildlife Trusts UK.

Andrea Needham of Combe Haven Defenders, Derrick Coffee of Campaign for Better Transport- East Sussex, Michael Bernard of BLINKRR and Sonia Howley of Crowhurst Road to Nowhere Action Group gave a local take on the history of the scheme, heritage of the valley(s) and the habitat destruction evident to all who passed through the valley on this day.

The successful event was organised by Crowhurst Road to Nowhere Action Group; Combe Haven Defenders and Campaign for Better Transport.

The  Combe Haven Defenders website carries excellent coverage of the day’s events and other news:

Combe Haven Defenders | Stop Osborne’s Roads to Nowhere: Stop

Two excellent letters from the Hastings Observer express the continuing anger over the destructive and ever more costly road scheme:

H Obs Letters Jul 13_NEW

Decoy Stream Valley - Protest Camp Site - a once peaceful and beautiful little valley.

Decoy Stream Valley – Protest Camp Site – a once peaceful and beautiful little valley.

Attentive Audience

Attentive Audience

Georgia Wrighton, CPRE Sussex

Georgia Wrighton, CPRE Sussex

Tony Whitbread, Sussex and UK Wildlife Trusts

Tony Whitbread, Sussex and UK Wildlife Trusts

Veteran campaigner, John Stewart

Veteran campaigner, John Stewart

A shock to those who have known the valley

A shock to those who have known the valley


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A national rally will be held at Crowhurst recreation ground on Saturday, July 13th to protest against the government’s aggressive and destructive roads programme. Come along to hear speakers and learn more about the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road (BHLR). It is not too late to halt the destruction, and it’s never too late to demand an end to forced car dependency and its inevitable accompaniments: second rate public transport, dangerous walking and cycling environments, congestion (it’ll be shifted around), worsening public health and wasteful urban sprawl.  There’ll be guided walks, refreshments, music and poetry – an enjoyable and educational day out.

Details here: View it in your browser.


Dr Judy Clark and Derrick Coffee met Amber Rudd MP at her surgery in Hastings Town Hall on Saturday, June 15th in response to her general invitation to hear views on matters including the BHLR, post disclosure of concealed information.

Observers may wonder of there was any point in going along, but our view was that the meeting had been offered to interested parties; the MP had publicly anticipated questions on the Link Road, and so it seemed sensible. We were well aware that the effort was highly unlikely to achieve any u-turn, or even a pause in the current destruction along and around the line of the route. In the end though, the dialogue was quite revealing, and the MP undertook to respond in writing to our concerns expressed through written questions read out and passed to her on the day.

We had a good half hour to present our concerns and describe the history of our involvement, though there was no debate to speak of around the core issues. The MP listened, but was resolute in her support for the scheme and although we represented the doubts expressed in DfTs’s own analysis, she remained fully supportive of the claims around jobs that the promoters expect to flow from it, and confident that the GENECON report’s forecasts were sound. This report calculated that the number of jobs produced through developments along the Link Road would equal the number of people that could be fitted in to the offices/factories built. This was aptly described by a leading UK academic as ‘nonsense on stilts’. For her, the DfT, and other experts,  are wrong, and nothing else would work because it isn’t the BHLR.

Nor was the MP troubled by the concealment from the public for nearly a year of a (much cheaper) ‘non-BHLR public transport based’ option, or that analysis of this option had been prematurely stopped in its tracks with the consequence that any measures that might have flowed from it never saw the light of day.

We gave our thanks for the 40 minute ‘exchange of views’, and Amber took our questions away with a promise to respond. The question, signed, and as left with the MP, is here:

Amber Rudd Q June 13

and her response, just received, is here:

Amber Rudd Letter 6 13

Disappointingly, Amber is taking a stance sincerely, but founded in a very shaky evidence base, while chancellor Osborne has no interest in evidence at all. On this particular issue, the Department for Transport appears to have been parked, and its very real and substantiated doubts swept aside at great cost to the public purse. The ‘environmental credentials’ of government look very shaky indeed.


A ‘red list’ species at particular risk of disappearing from large tracts of farmland where once they were a familiar and uplifting sight and sound, the lapwings breeding in Combe Haven were a symbol of success in adversity. Absent for a number of years, they bred several chicks this spring. Tragically, disturbed by the ESCC contractors, they appear to have abandoned their young to an unknown fate. Local ornithologist Cliff Dean has told the story on his website, link here: Combe Haven | Birding Walks in RXland

Greg Barker, MP, Minister for Climate Change (NB:BHLR=the dirtiest English road scheme for CO2 emissions), sat on a committee which published a report: ‘Halting Biodiversity Loss’, 2007/8. Well, almost, because according to the minutes of that committee, it appears he didn’t attend any of its meetings.

If he wasn’t comfy with that report’s ethos, maybe he should have a read of the ‘State of Nature’ report, reminding us of the central role of nature in the small matter of a decent quality of life for all and the not so small matter of survival itself. Report here: “State of Nature”

Certainly, people who can now enjoy the landscapes, wildlife and history of Combe Haven in a tranquil and remote setting within a short walk of home will have no equivalent after BHLR punches through the valley, accompanied by 25 – 30,000 vehicles a day. They’ll need to buy a car or find a bus (if there is one).

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In the Hastings Observer of 31st May, Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, repeats the call for the Baldslow Link in order to solve congestion problems on The Ridge. It would do no such thing.

Hastings Observer Srticle, 31/5

Read our counter letter:


The article here, from last week’s Hastings Observer is hugely symbolic. It………….

……….demonstrates that Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Chancellor Osborne’s Private Parliamentary Secretary, is still happy to repeat the very shaky assertions of ESCC on jobs they claim will flow from BHLR scheme: 3,000 plus, as against the Department for Transport’s analysis of 900 – 1,000. She is misleading her constituents.

The disclosure by the DfT of their officials’ recommendation immediately prior to the funding announcement in the 2012 is to say the least, revealing. As reported in the local and national press, the recommendations included an option of not funding the BHLR, but instead offering:

‘support  (for) development of a package of alternative transport measures of benefit to the area’.

 Read the disclosures here:


There has certainly been an ‘economy of truth’ here, and because of Chancellor Osborne’s pressure to get the funding announcement into the budget, research into the alternative option was halted prematurely. We want, and the public need to know, what that (inevitably much cheaper) alternative might have delivered. The research should be completed.

In the same article, Amber Rudd claims that the building of the Baldslow Link to the A21 would relieve traffic on The Ridge. ESCC’s evidence to the public inquiry suggested otherwise. By far the largest proportion of traffic is internal to Bexhill and Hastings as illustrated by the ESCC figure here:

Traffic Flows Hastings Bex PI Fig 3.8

This scheme is controversial because of the uncertainty and evident exaggeration around anticipated benefits, the certainty of its destruction of habitats and landscape, huge cost to the public purse and most worringly, the ignorance of evidence on the part of its promoters. Let’s not forget that after its comprehensive assessment process, the Department for Transport rated it second from bottom for value for money, and worst by far for CO2 emissions out of 45 current schemes in England.

Meanwhile, the Rother District Council planning application for the link road from the BHLR to serve developments has attracted over 450 objections. Rother’s consultants helping them progress the application include ‘Genecon’ who came up with the fantasy unchallenged assertion of 3,000 jobs for ESCC.

Amber Rudd, Greg Barker (minister for Climate Change – you couldn’t make it up!) are dismissing evidence, talking rubbish, and in the process of delivering rubbish.

Against this background, and as the photos here show, the destruction and degradation of the Combe Haven and Watermill Stream valleys progresses.

One photo, taken on June 2nd, shows  a pair of supposedly protected lapwings attending to and seeking to protect their nest their within the construction site perimeter.

PHOTOS, June 1st, 2013:

1. Barn at Adams Farm – bat roost to be demolished and relocated. Prospects for bats: uncertain. The ‘haul road’ is in the distance.

Bat Barn Haul Road

2. Remains of the hedgerow, Buckholt Lane,  now completely grubbed

Hedge Grubbed

3. Stump of a once mature oak at the foot of Watermill Stream valley

Stump and Notice


4. Lapwing circling. One of a pair of these protected birds, currently nesting within the construction site, and not seen breeding in the valley for some time.

5.The haul road has now extended to the foot of Watermill Stream valley. If it goes further east, it will interrupt the lapwings. ESCC ecological surveys have dismissed the needs of these birds.  lapwing Flight Watermill Stream Cross

6. Damaged sign. These high quality signs are felt by many to be hugely ironic.

Damaged information board

Damaged information board

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The DfT has now published its documents including previously redacted recommendations to its ministers. Today’s press release (link below) gives a summary of the content. The documents can be viewed here too (links below). There was no clear recommendation for the Link Road! There was huge pressure from Chancellor Osborne to approve funding. Document 2a reveals that there was a clear option to develop less damaging public transport alternatives for which funds would have been made available.


DfT Disclose 2a

DfT Disclose 2b

DfT Disclose FER0464382 – Letter to Derrick Coffee-1.

To see the press release from Campaign for Better Transport, the link is here:

Bexhill Hastings Link Road – released documents show Treasury forced DfT into a rushed decision that ignored alternatives

Combe Haven Defenders  also campaigned hard for release of the documents – website link here:  Combe Haven Defenders | Stop Osborne’s Roads to Nowhere: Stop

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BHLR – Car culture first, Humanity second, Nature, Landscape and Tranquillity last.


The unbridled optimism at East Sussex County Council continues unchecked as Combe Haven and its tributary valleys face irreversible damage from construction of the BHLR – its exclusive and obsessively pursued 1960s transport vanity scheme. The landscape has already been stripped of hundreds of trees – many of them significant landscape features and up to 400 years old.

It’s not all over yet though: resistance continues as it must and the story has to be told. Here’s a summary of how things stand:

The preparatory tree and hedge cutting on a major scale appears to have been completed. This includes additional clearance for which permission appears not to have been granted, with an area of designated ‘ancient semi- natural woodland’ being felled (Chapel Wood, photo, map.) The map shows clearly that only the area within the solid brown line was to have been cleared. The photo shows clearance up to the road.

Chapel Wood Grabbed

Chapel Wood Clearance 1

Torn reptile fencing has been repaired. The damage was on quite a large scale and was left unrepaired for days on end. It would seem to us that surveys of reptile populations and behaviour need to be redone. Several reports have come in from farmers of numbers of trapped newts providing easy pickings for birds. Certainly, the traps within the zig zags of fencing held no trace of reptiles. The fences are conspicuous against a background of  a barren and now treeless landscape. (Photo). Birds returning to nesting sites have been seen flying around along Decoy Pond stream, near Actons Farm and around Adams Farm where their recently cleared habitual  sites used to be. A pair of lapwings have been seen displaying their courtship flight on the path of the BHLR route, sadly futile. Individuals walking in the valley have reportedly been aggressively challenged by security staff.

Newt Fence zig zag


Following our appeal to the Information Commissioner (ICO), the Department for Transport (DfT) was judged to be wrong to withhold key information on recommendations to ministers on the question of funding for the BHLR. These recommendations – which we believe fell far short of recommending that ESCC should get the money – were made just 2 days before George Osbourne’s approval of £56.8m, announced in the 2012 Budget Statement. The Department for Transport has a right of appeal but we hope they will respect the ICO decision and disclose the information to us, and the general public.


After 11 years of planning and expense devoted to the massively subsidised Link Road, East Sussex County Council are only now looking at the nature and extent of public transport that will have to compete on the far from level playing field. What a contrast to all the money and time wasted on the road. Clearly public transport and its users are considered of lesser importance. Initial plans for buses on the Link Road envisage none on Sundays and Bank Holidays; none at all after 7pm; none between Bexhill and the Conquest Hospital – instead change at Tesco. A bus lane is now proposed to be removed from the original link road plans. A station at Glyne Gap (30 years late) is under study but we’re not holding our breath, and the extra train per hour passing through and serving stations between Ore and Cooden recommended in 2000 is unlikely to arrive any time soon.

Based on figures from the Access to Hastings Study of 2000, rail passenger numbers will fall by anything up to 40% as car travel (and congestion) increase.  And we all know of the CO2 increases that will follow the road – the worst of all 45 currently planned English local authority road schemes. Oh yes, and second to bottom for ‘value for money’ and the only one described by the DfT as ‘poor’. That’s second rate then. Hastings and Bexhill deserve better.

(See archive photos Glyne Gap station site/bus stop, July 2012)

A separate planning application from Seachange will go in shortly for the additional road between the BHLR and Wrestwood Road to open up land for business and housing.  Chief Executive John Shaw has little idea of how people would get to work other than by car. We pointed out to him that the people most in need of jobs don’t have access to a car. He describes the sites as ‘accessible’ and as a ‘coastal location’.  There’s also an optimistic prediction of high occupancy of the business site arrived at by comparing the successful town centre office developments, close to public transport links, with this ‘car based’ out of town site. There’s no comparison.


A number of amendments to the BHLR plan have been submitted. These are cost cutting measures considered to be ‘non-material’ amendments (NMAs) to the scheme. This means that in the eyes of ESCC, they don’t fundamentally alter the plan or function. If this is accepted, it means they can avoid going back to the DfT and rush the amendments through. We disagree. We believe the amendments are material changes and will make a difference to the function of the scheme and have submitted objections to their proposals. These include: changes to flood control measures in Sidley and Bexhill along the line of Egerton Stream; combining cycle, pedestrian and equestrian routes instead of segregating them; narrowing the carriageway in places; replacing bridges with fords (remember the annual floods); and removing a bus lane. We had asked to speak at the Planning Committee meeting, but…..

We now learn that the Planning Committee, due to meet on Wednesday 24th April, will NOT now determine the amendments to the BHLR plan. This means that Derrick Coffee of the Hastings Alliance and Andrea Needham of the Combe Haven Defenders, both having asked to attend and speak at the meeting, have no right to speak. Instead, Rupert Clubb, Head of Economy, Transport and Environment has taken delegated powers to determine the amendments himself as they are considered ‘non-material’.


In our objections to the above we point out the low aspirations for bus services (see above) and consequently a large risk of failure to carry out conditions attached by the minister to the approval of funding in April. He required ESCC to ensure that public transport measures, including meeting the objective to give unemployed people access to jobs – which includes public transport provision, and buses on the Link Road – were provided. The changes to conditions for cyclists mean that journeys could be longer and time consuming; and as a result, cyclists may be using the (unsafe) Link Road. Of course, much of this is academic because the ESCC jobs calculations are in fantasy land and over 4 times the numbers calculated by the DfT.


The arrival of the University of Brighton campus in Hastings has brought prestige and vitality to the town – a sustainable element in the regeneration plan for the town centre and area, and something the Hastings Alliance supported from the start. The University has in the last 12 months received a silver award for introducing procedures to cut energy use and increase sustainable practices. Credit is certainly due there.

Universities can be said to be the repositories of widely and deeply held values of the societies of which they are an important part. That is true of this University, and also of Trinity College Cambridge, which stands to make huge financial gains from the sale of land to be developed following the construction of the BHLR. Many local people find it difficult to comprehend how these seats of higher education can freely associate themselves with the BHLR project – a risky and speculative car based development involving the devastation of treasured local habitats and landscapes, and seemingly ignorant of pressing climate change issues. The University of Brighton is a member of East Sussex Energy, Infrastructure and Development Company, also known as ‘Seachange’ which is promoting the north Bexhill development along with the Link Road. Associations with projects like the BHLR can only tarnish the Universities’ hard earned reputations.


The ‘offsetting’ measures ‘in the Brede/Hastings area’ approved by the DfT as one condition of funding approval were apparently designed to ‘offset’ some of the BHLR’s negative impacts on biodiversity. However, while residents of Bexhill and Hastings were able to walk to Combe Haven to see wildlife, how to access the area where offsetting will be implemented is not at all clear. What is clear is that anyone looking to experience this new and enhanced natural area will have to exchange the  ‘walkable’ and soon to be degraded asset of Combe Haven, for a car or bus journey to a location further afield. This is hardly socially equitable, certainly unsustainable, and clearly no substitute for anyone, people or wildlife. A bad joke really.

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