Campaigners slam fifth Bexhill-Hastings link road cost rise

The total cost of the Bexhill-Hastings link road is now �125.6m

The total cost of the Bexhill-Hastings link road is now �125.6m

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The cost of the Bexhill-Hastings link road has risen for the fifth increase since the project began, according to council documents, leading to criticism from campaigners.

Costs for the Combe Valley Way have gone up by £1.3m with risks of further increases, according to a East Sussex County Council report, bringing the current total cost for the road to almost £125.6m.

The council argued the cost may vary with a project of this size with landscaping and planting as well as legal settlements to be finalised.

Environmental group Combe Haven Defenders slated the ‘alarming’ rise a year after the road opened and questioned whether the Department of Transport would have funded it had it known it would cost this much.

“It is alarming that a year after the Bexhill Hastings link road opened, costs are continuing to rise, with the risk of further increases to come,” CHD spokesman Anthony Bradnum said.

“We believe there is a strong case to be made that ESCC underplayed the costs when bidding for money from the DfT, in order to secure funding.

“Had the likely real cost been revealed at that point, the road would have been such poor value for money that the DfT would not even have considered funding it, and Combe Haven would have been saved for future generations to enjoy.

“As it is, we have a road which is a disaster for the environment and locks people even more firmly into car driving, at a time when public bodies should be doing everything they can to encourage people to use public transport.

“Our hope is that lessons have been learnt from this disastrous project, and that no more destructive vanity projects are given the go-ahead locally.”

This is the latest in a series of cost increases since road construction began.

In January, 2013, the cost increased by £6m, and six months later a further £13m was added. Then in January, 2015, it went up by another £2.9m, and in March last year, by a further £3.4m.

The latest increase brings the total cost increase since construction began to £26.6m and means the contribution from ESCC towards the road, originally £30m, has now gone up to £68.75m – an increase of almost 130 per cent.

No reason is given in the report for the additional costs.

An ESCC spokesman said: “The latest forecast cost for the Link Road project will feature in the budget which will go to cabinet later this month and be confirmed and approved by full council in February.

“While work on the link road is nearing completion and the road has been open for a year, as with any road scheme of this size there is a seven-year aftercare period for work to be carried out such as landscaping and planting, and also an extended period in which legal and financial settlements must be finalised, during which time the projected final cost may vary.

“A final cost of the project cannot be confirmed until the end of this period.

“The link road will bring an estimated £1bn of economic benefits to the area and deliver 2,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs.”

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