Scrapheap looms for Link Road?

Traffic congestion on Bexhill Road is set to continue
Traffic congestion on Bexhill Road is set to continue

THE controversial Hastings and Bexhill Link Road now looks doomed for the scrapheap.

A Government report released this week named the £90million plus scheme bottom of the table for value for money of the 22 projects competing for a share of £630million funding.

The Department for Transport looked into the cost and benefits of the schemes, giving each one a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) mark.

And, while projects like the Waverley Link Road in Rotherham (4.5 BCR) and the Beverley Integrated Transport Plan in East Riding (4.4 BCR) topped the table, the link road here in 1066 Country came out bottom of the pile with a BCR of 2.1.

The three-mile stretch of road was designed to open up new areas of Hastings and Bexhill for development and relieve the strain on the busy seafront road.

Its supporters were given an initial set-back when they were told that the road would not be included in a list given the immediate green-light by David Cameron’s government.

The link road was put in a list of ‘maybes’ which would then have to put forward their case to win funding from the £630million pot - a figure which works out at just £14million per scheme.

However, East Sussex County Council said it remained confident the road would go ahead despite this latest knock-back.

The local authority’s spokesman Kathryn Langley told the Observer: “The link road continues to offer value for money – these figures show the benefits are more than two times greater than the costs.

“As such, the link road remains a priority. We believe it is vital to the economic regeneration and prosperity of the area and the wider south east and will bring real benefits to residents and businesses, by providing access to new housing and business space, creating jobs and helping companies thrive.”

Those campaigning against the scheme though were singing from a different hymn sheet.

Nick Bingham, chairman of the Hastings Alliance group, said the study showed the link road was a waste of money. He said: “It must be extremely unlikely that such a large proportion of the total sum covering all the schemes would be allocated to the one that showed the least benefits.

“We want the county council to call a halt to this potentially pointless waste of public funds - especially as other budgets for front-line services are under pressure - and instead use their energy and creativity to deliver sustainable, cheaper, and much better value for money transport packages for Hastings and Bexhill.”