Public Inquiry

15 April 2009

Government Office for the North East has informed us that there will be a Public Inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) and Side Road Orders (SROs) issued by East Sussex County Council. This is good news for us as we can challenge the project on the basis of need, urgency, alternatives considered, value for money and environmental impact.

We have been told that the Inquiry has to take place within 22 weeks of the announcement (unless there are pressing reasons why this should not happen) and is likely to be held in July or August. This a little unfortunate for us since many people are likely to have made holiday plans by now and those tied in to school holiday dates will naturally choose those months.

The total number of objections sent in so far is 247. This includes 19 from ‘statutory objectors’ such as home/landowners. A big thank you to all those who managed to get their objections in.

A date for the Public Inquiry will be announcedd in the next few days and will be advertised on this website.

MIS-REPORTING BY ESCC ‘YOUR COUNTY’ MAGAZINE

In ‘It’s Your County’ magazine published in March, claims are made by ESCC that support for the BHLR road scheme is ‘overwhelming’. However, a close look at the council’s own report to its planning committee on December 10th last year is revealing. (See ESCC Planning Committee papers for 10th December)

Here, it is recorded that in their correspondence with the county council, those making representations IN SUPPORT of the scheme made 34 separate points on 260 occasions; those making points while OBJECTING to the scheme made 347 separate points on 20,069 occasions! This makes the claims of East Sussex County Council seem more than just a little wide of the mark!

PUBLISHED LETTERS RE: ASDA and CLIMATE CHANGE

The Alliance had two letters published in the Bexhill and Hastings local press this week. In the Hastings Observer, we welcome the support offered to local shops in Bohemia and Silverhill, St Leonards through opposition to the ASDA superstore proposals expressed by the prospective conservative parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd. We ask her to reconsider her support for the BHLR in the light of it increasing the likelihood of the store opening and threatening the survival of much valued local shops in the area.

In the Bexhill Observer, we challenge the shadow minister for climate change to justify his support for the BHLR in the light of its significant contribution to carbon dioxide emissions. He has just returned from a conference on climate change in Washington. Greg Barker , MP, also is a signatory to the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee report on ‘Biodiversity Loss’ (the Link Road would add to this loss), and co-author of the Conservative Party Green Paper on ‘A Low Carbon Economy’. Oh dear.

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It’s not too late to object

NOT TOO LATE TO SAVE A BEAUTIFUL VALLEY

It’s not too late to object! That’s the message from the Hastings Alliance which is appealing to anyone wishing to scrap the Link Road to submit their objections by the 6th of March. Although compulsory purchase orders and side road orders have been issued by East Sussex County Council to clear the way for their destructive road scheme and stop up lanes, we can object to these procedures. 

The Alliance is calling for alternative transport solutions and development plans that would not wreck one of the south east’s precious resources – a beautiful unspoilt valley containing protected wildlife species and habitats and nationally important archaeological sites.
The valley is a great leisure facility on the doorstep of 130,000 people as well as a unique tourism asset.

Speaking on behalf of the local and national organisations that make up the Alliance, chairman Nick Bingham said: "The need for the road has never been demonstrated. Alternative transport solutions, and development proposals that would not be road based have been ignored. The massive environmental damage in pursuit of fictional claims of 2000 extra jobs is completely unacceptable. There is a strong possibility that some of the out of town jobs will simply replace ‘in-town’ jobs thus requiring those who currently walk to work to get a car. This is not an option for an area where only 39% of households have one [see note 1]. How many town centres have to be ruined by out of town developments for the lesson to be learnt that local shops and businesses close down where urban sprawl and big retail sheds rule?
Major roads are bad for local economies and favour footloose employers who are quick to depart.
Small businesses are a positive feature of both Bexhill and Hastings; with the Link Road they could disappear."

The road was estimated in a government funded study to cost £24m in 2002 [see note 2], conditionally approved by government in 2004 at £47m (one condition being: no increase in cost!) and is currently priced at £100m. The costs are clearly now out of control and this is reflected in council tax increases this year for all in East Sussex. The road would clearly be very poor value for money, and prevent sustainable non-polluting alternatives from playing a full part in meeting our needs. The road will produce 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, more than cancelling out East Sussex County Council’s aspiration to reduce emissions in all its schools and libraries. 

We urge readers to send objections to:

Linda Smart,
National Transport Casework Team,
4th Floor, Citygate,
Gallowgate,
Newcastle upon Tyne.
NE1 1TW.

These may be sent by e-mail:
Linda.SMART@gone.gsi.gov.uk

Download a draft objection letter (Microsoft Word format)

Please object if you agree that the road should be scrapped and subjected to a public inquiry on grounds of no proven need, environmental damage, poor value for money, alternatives never examined, reckless haste to provide the ?wrong
solution?

Please log on to: http://www.hastingsalliance.com or phone 01424 883319

Notes to Editor:
1 South Coast Corridor Multi-Modal Study, 2002 for DETR
2 Ditto.

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Climate Change Minister Urged to Question Proposed Bexhill-Hastings Link Road

17th February 2009

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change Ed Miliband was presented with a letter from the Hastings Alliance last week at a meeting in Brighton.

The letter (below) gave a stark reminder that not only would the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road produce an extra 6,000 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide, but also would more than wipe out East Sussex County Council’s target to reduce county wide carbon dioxide emissions from its schools, libraries and other operations by 5,712 tonnes. Ironically, the two sets of figures apply to the same year: 2012!

The minister accepted the letter and began reading it immediately during a lull in proceeddings caused by a demonstration about…….yes, climate change and Heatrow’s proposed new runway!

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Planning committee approves proposed Bexhill-Hastings link road

Three miles of road across countryside near Hastings was given the go ahead by East Sussex County Council today. Campaigners say the scheme, at nearly £100 million, is far too costly at a time of recession and is not a good use of taxpayers money. The road would cut across one of the most beautiful valleys in the South East. It would sever wildlife corridors across the valley used by dormice, owls and other protected species.

The Hastings Alliance, a coalition of local and national groups has called for a fraction of this money to be spent on other transport schemes which would benefit the local community by reducing traffic and providing better public transport and cycling facilities. They have also produced evidence to show that the area could be regenerated successfully without this damaging road.

Brenda Pollack, South East Campaigns Coordinator at Friends of the Earth said:
“I’m shocked that the County Council can believe that spending £100m of public money on this road is the best way of boosting the local economy. This project will increase traffic, increase carbon dioxide emissions and suck the life out of the existing town centres.”

Derrick Coffee, East Sussex Campaign for Better Transport said:
“We hope that common sense will prevail and the Government will step in and carefully examine the council’s case to see if the costs and benefits stack up. We don’t believe they do.”

Nick Bingham, Chair of the Hastings Alliance added:
“The link road will ruin this precious piece of countryside in order to save a few minutes journey time. Our landscape is irreplaceable: once destroyed it cannot be brought back”.

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Planning committee to consider proposed link road

Objectors will protest outside County Hall

After numerous delays, the proposed Bexhill to Hastings link road is to be considered by the Planning Committee at its meeting on 10th December 2008.

The meeting starts at 10:30 and objectors will be protesting outside County Hall from 9:30 onwards.

Organizers are hoping that as many people as possible will turn up on the day to take part in the peaceful protest.

The address is

East Sussex County Council
County Hall
St Anne’s Crescent
Lewes BN7 1UE

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Proposed Bexhill Hastings link road “Irrelevant and possibly damaging to regeneration”

A report published today by the Hastings Alliance for Sustainable Transport Solutions (HASTS) casts doubt on the claims made by promoters of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road for its regeneration potential. It concludes that there are cheaper and more effective ways of delivering regeneration benefits to Hastings and Bexhill, and that these would be much closer to the original Five Point Plan produced by the Regional Development Agency (SEEDA) and the local authorities.

The report "Bexhill to Hastings Link Road regeneration issues revisited" was commissioned by HASTS and produced by consultants Urban and Regional Policy. The key conclusions of the report are:

Despite design and transport purposes of the BHLR remaining the same since the bid for funding was made, the costs have escalated by "up to 50%" while the benefits are estimated to have increased by over 130% There is no explanation for this huge difference and therefore doubts as to the usefulness of the figures for decision making. Headline costs (£98m) are now over double the original approved figure of £47m.

The scheme is justified primarily in terms of "regeneration" but the vast bulk (80%) of the quantified benefits is in the form of time savings to road users. Given that most of the trips will be local, and time savings minimal, conversion of these savings into economic or regeneration benefits is of dubious validity. The BHLR may even be counterproductive in these terms.

There has been no proper investigation of means cheaper than the BHLR in securing access to the North Bexhill Business Park developments, and the promoters admit that the Business Park is unlikely to be attractive to inward investment.

Current scheme justification suggests that rather than BHLR supporting regeneration, it is now a case of regeneration supporting BHLR!

The recommendations of the previous report by Urban and Regional Policy (Bexhill to Hastings Link Road: regeneration issues, August, 2004) remain valid. These were essentially that a more balanced package of rail, traffic management and limited road improvements, integrated with environmental, housing and training measures, in the spirit of the original Five Point Plan would be both cheaper and more effective in fostering the regeneration of Hastings and Bexhill.

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Campaign for Better Transport calls for transport policies that lead to better health

Derrick Coffee
County Officer
Campaign for Better Transport, East Sussex
9 Mayfield Place, Eastbourne
BN22 8XJ

16th September 2008

HASTINGS ALLIANCE MEMBER CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER TRANSPORT CALLS FOR TRANSPORT POLICIES THAT LEAD TO BETTER HEALTH

PRESS RELEASE – 16TH SEPTEMBER 2008

WALKING, CYCLING – KEY TO A HEALTHIER POPULATION say local transport group Campaign for Better Transport.

In a response to a recent NHS South East Coast consultation, Healthier people, excellent care, the group concluded that alternatives to the car are an important route to healthy lifestyles and improvements in public health, particularly for the young. The recognition given in the draft document to the importance of healthy lifestyles is welcome.

Speaking for the East Sussex Group, County Officer Derrick Coffee said:

Although there is a greater appreciation of the importance of healthy lifestyles, we continue to plan for a car based future – the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road is a good example of this mistaken approach.

We would like the NHS to add their voice to a call for a speeding up of the provision of safe routes for walking and cycling in order to tackle what it sees as the major health issues of today, and to reduce dependence on the car. Ideally this should be accompanied by support for locally available services and shops which are walkable and cycleable.

Key objectives for those in the NHS concerned with health improvement include: reducing levels of obesity; improving diets; increasing exercise; increasing life expectancy; and improving mental health.

Campaign for Better Transport believes that the strategies to achieve these can be easily understood and explained, even though plans that should follow are slow to materialise:

Safe walking and cycling networks linking popular and important destinations for healthcare, shopping, education and leisure would promote better health. Even the walk to the bus stop or station can help

Such networks would support local shops and services such as those under threat in Bohemia, Ore, West Marina and Silverhill, allowing more people to obtain fresh produce to aid a healthy diet – particularly important for the elderly and those without access to a car

The resulting reduction in traffic, and through 20mph zones, the improvement in safety, would lead to more walking and cycling and public transport usage

Safer and quieter streets would create a better public realm and more opportunities for social interaction

All of this would create greater independence and reduce isolation for all vulnerable members of society and this would be likely to lead to improvements in mental health

"All of this fits perfectly with the aspirations of the consultation document, and could happen at a fraction of the cost of the £100m Link Road", concluded Derrick Coffee, "at the same time saving the NHS huge sums of money that could be better spent."

Derrick Coffee, County Officer, Campaign for Better Transport, East Sussex

9 Mayfield Place, Eastbourne. BN22 8XJ 01323 646866/01424 446373

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