Observer Comment: Does link road warrant a further £70million of taxpayers money?

WITHIN months the fields and countryside surrounding east Bexhill and west St Leonards could be echoing to the industrial chorus of an army of plant machinery and construction workers.

The long awaited Hastings-Bexhill Link Road is now within touching distance for scores of frustrated commuters and residents.

But before a single brick has been laid the county council has already spent a staggering £15 million of taxpayers’ money.

Now the Department of Transport must take another look at the ‘business case’ for the project and decide whether it warrants a further £70million of taxpayers money.

It is plainly obvious that a solution is needed to ease the chronic traffic congestion on the Bexhill Road.

But what planners must be mindful of is the notion that building a four-mile stretch of road between two seaside towns will suddenly breathe new life into our economy and kick start a wave of regeneration.

Hastings has very little major industry, factory exports or immediate trading partners.

It is not a major commuting town and relies on tourism and daytrippers in the summer months to swell its coffers.

One of the world’s biggest and most economically resilient capital cities in the world is on its doorstep.

But it still takes almost two hours by train and up to 90 minutes by road to reach London.

If companies were to relocate to this area, where rates may be much cheaper than the capital, then road and rail links musts improve too.

By building new homes, people need a place to work. So where exactly are the jobs going to come from?

A Government enterprise zone would go a long way to tackling Hastings tag as the poor relation of Sussex.

An £80million road between two seaside towns may bring relief to many of our residents, but those who need jobs may still have to travel down a much more long and winding road.

.............................................

SUSSEX Coast College is an architectural triumph for Hastings.

With its sweeping glass frontage and majestic atrium, the college is a towering edifice admired by many who are confronted by it as their first glimpse of the town when they step through the station doors.

Like us non-royals, Princess Anne couldn’t fail to be impressed when she officially opened it in March this year.

Sadly some of the surrounding area doesn’t live up to what this building promises to visitors getting off the train, but we’ve come to think of the college as a beacon of hope.

While cuts are being made left, right and centre, our town can boast a new multi-million pound educational establishment.

So it with deep regret we report that Ofsted inspectors are expected to find the college ‘inadequate’ in various ways.

The detail of their report is not yet available but it is clear the standards of teaching and leadership have fallen way below what is expected. Whether managers or teachers are at fault, changes must be made very soon. We have the aspirational building, now standards in the classroom must be raised to meet that - for the sake of students and the town.