Threat to trees - but what of concern for people?

It makes saddest reading the letter from Andrea Needham (Observer 1 March) who seems to show only concern for trees and building no new roads - and accusing Mr John Shaw of “propagating gross distortion of the facts”! It takes one to recognise one it seems, as Ms Needham has driven into her own trap of much mistaken claims as she and Hastings Alliance are as guilty as each other.

There are very few people who like the idea of axing trees except where they are clearly diseased or unsafe. But here is no balance in the argument put forward. There are very infrequent times when land has to be cleared to enable the population to advance. But for Andrea Needham everything is wrong - and the majority cannot accept that. The world would grind to a halt. The Link Road will be built, however much the protest goes on.

And look at some of the facts that will impact on all rate and taxpayers. The investment in the Road by the County and Government is based on a balanced budgeting. In East Sussex it has been and continues to be very low - and that is distracting new employers and those “naughty” developers who take so much risk to keep their businesses and the economy on the go. The security costs of the Link Road are already frightening but, on simple projections, likely to exceed £5 million of money that is being spent on security measures and specialists. This is a massive unbudgeted cost that we will all have to dig deep in pockets and purses to pay for - and will come from already stretched resources.

And the reality of all those who are seeking jobs in Hastings and Bexhill, those who have been in work but are no longer employed, youngsters who are leaving schools and colleges, is that there is no hope on The Andrea Needham Formula. Even the changes that impinge on the health care of pregnant or expectant mothers or those who are stricken by accident, heart or stroke victims just do not figure - and yet all these will rely on the benefits that come from better communications. The Conquest/Eastbourne hospital rationalisation underlines the case. The old A259 is just not acceptable for emergency services between the two - and, as the recent gas pipe renovation work showed, will cause untold and increasing misery to residents and users whatever the protesters say until the relief comes.

Frankly put, if the new Road generates 300, 500, or even 3000 new jobs, surely each person newly employed will be thankful of the opportunity and income. And lives are saved by fast transit to and from hospitals. That is astonishing benefit. We have to be sorry for the trees that have to go, and the people who have been affected, but acknowledgement that people do have some rights would help.

Richard Tilden Smith

2 Church Cottages, Mountfield