Security costs for Link Road rocket to £770k

17/1/13- Protestor at the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road site is removed from a tree by security staff
17/1/13- Protestor at the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road site is removed from a tree by security staff

THE cost of protecting the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road has spiralled to more than £770,000.

In just 12 weeks the county council has spent £772,483 to stop anti-road campaigners from delaying the construction of the controversial development.

East Sussex County Council confirmed it has shelled out £150,377.57 on security support, £408,993.11 on High Court enforcement officers and a further £213,112.32 on specialist enforcement officers.

Security staff in yellow high visibility jackets became a familiar sight in Crowhurst and Sidley as so-called ‘granny’ protesters attempted to stop chainsaw operators by climbing trees, tunnelling and setting up camp.

A spokesman for ESCC said: “This is a significant sum but this was a significant protest which culminated in the arrest of 28 people. To remove safely people who have locked themselves in tunnels and to trees requires very specific skills and expertise and therefore it was a regrettable but essential expense.”

Sussex Police have also been on site but the Force refused to disclose the number of officers used and how much the policing operation has cost. A spokeswoman said: “We have a police presence some days to facilitate peaceful protest, engage with the protestors as well as keeping the peace to allow the work to continue for the building of the link road, which is a lawful process. We are not commenting on specific numbers or cost.”

Combe Haven Defender Andrea Needham said protesters felt their efforts had been worthwhile and said she hopes this campaign will be the start of national movement against new road development. She said: “The council has spent all this money and yet still hasn’t actually got funding for the road. It is taking a gamble with our money, looking to spend £70 million of our money on this road at the same time as cutting services such as adult social care and for children.”