Demonstrators march against Hastings to Bexhill Link Road

Protestors at Combe Haven Valley
Protestors at Combe Haven Valley

SCORES of protestors gathered in the Combe Haven Valley recently to demonstrate against the Hastings to Bexhill Link Road.

Around 100 walkers met at Adams Farmhouse on September 24, and unfurled banners condemning the scheme.

Objectors from the Campaign for Better Transport and the Hastings Alliance say if the link road is built, thousands of cars would travel daily alongside Combe Haven, cutting off Powdermill Stream valley with a bridge and an embankment, and bringing noise and pollution.

Walkers then went uphill to Bynes Farm for a picnic and music from the Cajun Dawgs.

A poem by well-known local poet Brian Moses was read out during the picnic, with the help of children.

Saturday’s protest comes after controversial plans for the link road returned to the forefront earlier this month, with East Sussex County Council (ESCC) stumping up almost £29 million towards the project.

Last year proposals for the Hastings to Bexhill Link Road were put on hold because of the change in Government and subsequent budget cuts.

But ESCC submitted a fresh bid for £56 million of money from the Department of Transport to help build the new road.

The total cost of the link road is £85.9 million.

And the county council said its contribution to the scheme had been increased by almost £19 million, compared to its original proposal.

Derrick Coffee, from the Hastings Alliance, said: “This valley is important to many local people for its tranquillity and beauty and to see those qualities destroyed for a road with questionable benefits is unacceptable to us.

“Cancelling the link road would be an important first step in making Bexhill and Hastings a showcase for sustainable development and alternatives to the car.

“This could have happened 10 years ago.

“Relentless and thoughtless pursuit of the link road has prevented a package of alternatives from coming forward, leaving a basket case the more likely outcome.”

Planning permission for the link road was granted in 2009 following a public inquiry, which looked at the land needed for the road and for new environmental habitats.

The link road is one of 45 transport schemes across the country vying for £630 million of Government funding.

The county council believes the road is ‘essential’ for future prosperity.

Councillor Carl Maynard, the authority’s lead cabinet member for transport and environment said: “More than £300 million of investment has already gone into the area and the link road is absolutely central to its future economic development.

“It will open up land for business and housing developments and improve transport links between the two towns.”

A decision on the latest application will not be known until December. If the bid for funding is successful, construction will begin in 2013.

The Hastings Alliance is collecting public objections ahead of the final Government decision. Log onto www.hastingsalliance.com.