COUNCILLOR Jones cannot know the Link Road is vital for the economy (letters, Observer November 2) because East Sussex County Council (ESCC) has never tested alternatives. We said so in 2006, and the Department for Transport said so in March 2012, just before the budget statement announced funding for the road.
ESCC has never been interested in alternatives, and began lobbying for its ‘pet scheme’ in 2001 at Steering Group meetings for the South Coast Multi-Modal Transport Study: I was a member of the Steering Group and at the time we were meant to be discussing objectives! Sorry Cllr Jones – there’s not been exhaustive debate.
Consultation in 2004 was a farce: it featured two pages with seven road route choices, five of which would have broken conservation laws; it advertised seven exhibition venues, five of which were car parks. None were at stations.
The private sector has shown little or no interest since 2004 in developments said to be dependent on the Link Road: despite government exhortations, not a penny of private sector money has been secured. Cllr Jones’ inflated estimate of jobs created by it are almost four times those of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) estimate. The scheme has the characteristics of speculative development, imprudently using public money, while wrecking a very special valley.
In contrast, a report in 2001 for Friends of the Earth predicted a figure of between 1,067–2,557 jobs that could be created with no roads at all. In fact, at least 1,000 new jobs have arrived in the new developments close to the town centre and in Bexhill – with no roads at all.
Following the very critical analysis (Bexhill to Hastings Link Road – Evidence Review. Department for Transport, 19.3.12.) of the Link Road by the DfT days before the funding announcement, we wonder how on earth it got the go ahead. Interestingly, government refuses to publish the DfT recommendation on funding made by its officers to the Secretary of State for Transport.
Perhaps Amber Rudd could ask Chancellor George Osborne what happened – this road is clearly his folly.