Greenway campaign suffers blow

THE Observer’s campaign to get a town-wide network of cycle paths and walkways for pedestrians has suffered a major blow.

Hastings Urban Bikes (HUB), together with Ramblers, which both spearheaded the campaign for the Hastings Greenway learned this week that their bid for cash from East Sussex County Council was unsuccessful.

They wanted £300,000 to use to build the first link of the Greenway that would run from Hastings station to Sussex Coast College’s Parker Road campus in Ore.

The county council put in a bid for £4.92 million from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, a pot of money designed to promote greener ways of travel.

But the authority only got £2.2 million instead for the coastal towns and the £300,000 that HUB and Ramblers wanted was cut out altogether.

The proposed Greenway would link Station Plaza to Ore Valley in one direction and Silverhill and Hollington in the other, with a further link up to The Ridge and the Conquest Hospital.

Gordon Russell, chairman of HUB, said: “We feel that Hastings has been let down and the urgent need to create safe cycling routes in the town has not been recognised by the Government.

“We will be meeting with MP Amber Rudd, to ask her to intercede and talk to the Transport Minister to seek other ways for the Government to provide urgently needed funding for cycle and walkways in Hastings.

“Although East Sussex County Council has said it will find equivalent funding for cycling and walking routes in Hastings from other sources, this latest news is still a very poor outcome for Hastings.”

Mike Riley, local footpath secretary for Hastings at Ramblers, said: “Given the poor infrastructure in Hastings it was a pity that yet again the needs of local walkers and cyclists appear to have gone unrecognised, and that an opportunity to provide an incentive for people not to use the car has been lost.”

Since the Observer campaign was launched in April, doctors, walkers, other health professionals, teachers and students have aired their support.

More than 300 people have also voiced their support for the campaign, with signed copies of the cut-out petition continuing to come though the Observer’s offices in Woods House.

People now have until Tuesday, July 31 to fill out the cut-out petition below and return it to the Observer offices, as these will be then presented to County Hall in Lewes.

HUB will be meeting with officers from both the county council and Hastings Borough Council to discuss how best to use any funding that can be obtained to start work on the Greenway.

In addition HUB and the local Ramblers branch plan to invite key organisations to set up a Task Group to promote and oversee the development of the Hastings Greenway, now that the Observer-backed Greenway campaign has gained widespread support.

HUB will also be campaigning for other measures to encourage and make cycling safer in the town, such as cycle lanes and improvements to dangerous junctions.