AS work by East Sussex County Council to create the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road started in late December, met by disruption from the anti-road minority, we quietly watched and listened from the sidelines at first.
But it’s high time to help put the record straight.
Let me be unequivocal: the link road is an absolutely vital local road for the next phase of regeneration. It will provide access to the largest new development sites in the whole area: 42 acres in north-east Bexhill which will support up to 500,000 sq ft of business premises and thousands of jobs for Hastings and Bexhill.
We’re dedicated to developing this land in order to build on the comprehensive regeneration programme that’s already included investment in the local University of Brighton campus, a new sixth-form college, two Academy schools, a new rail and bus hub for Hastings plus significant new premises, from business centres to offices and industrial units.
All of these, including the link road, have been subject to rigorous scrutiny from the planning and funding process and received universal democratic approval.
And now one element, a key part, has woken up protestors who have never shown any interest in the regeneration of this community before. They have decided they dislike a small local road and clearly feel their views are more important than the whole area’s economic and job prospects.
Their activities are also running up hundreds of thousands of pounds in security costs, for which hard-working local tax-payers are having to pick up the tab.
On top of this, they’re propagating a grotesque distortion of the facts.
Firstly, they say there’s no need for more business premises, but we know from local land supply studies that nothing’s further from the truth. Many local firms are being constrained by their current premises. New developments will enable them to grow without having to leave the area and will also help attract companies from elsewhere, in the way high quality new offices drew Saga to Hastings, bringing 800 jobs.
Secondly, the link road is neither a major road nor a dual carriageway, tearing through designated areas of natural beauty and scientific interest, as the protestors imply.
It’s a 3.5-mile, single-carriage country road. It will utilise disused railway cuttings, follow the contours of valley and avoid any designated nature, science or historical zones.
Thirdly, contrary to protestors’ claims, the county council has gone to enormous lengths to minimise the road’s impact on the environment.
In short, this is a road to jobs, to business success and to a brighter future. It’s especially vital for our young people, who should never find themselves forced to leave the area to pursue fulfilling careers.
The sooner this obstructive minority steps aside to enable us to continue delivering regeneration for this community, the better.
Sea Change Sussex