Council’s study was incomplete

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YOUR article ‘Council decides no new station for Glyne Gap’ (Observer, January 24) includes a statement by David Marlow, Rother’s planning and environment manager, that his authority ‘worked in partnership with East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and Land Securities Group plc to demonstrate a robust business case to Network Rail … the business case concluded a new station at Glyne Gap would be unviable and would offer ‘poor value for money’.

On the admission of the consultant representing the council at the public inquiry, the council’s £30,000 study failed to consider:

* A service of more than one train per hour – hardly attractive – so set the study to fail;

* The opportunity to provide more than one train per hour offered by new signalling systems, about to be switched on very soon;

* The massive growth in passenger use at local stations, even throughout the recession; (98 per cent increase to 112,000 to 210,000 trips at Ore in just one year; 96 per cent at Collington over the last decade – and similar growth all along East Coastway).

The Rother study also exaggerated loss of passengers who would desert Bexhill for Glyne Gap and ignored the positive effects of pedestrian and cycle access improvements from Pebsham - and also its own councillor’s survey of residents of Pebsham showing a 97 per cent support for the new station.

That survey came too late to be included in the Public Inquiry hearing but should carry weight in any decision. If not, what are councillors for?

Campaign for Better Transport East Sussex presented its report in support of the station to the Planning Inspector with a recommendation that in the light of changing circumstances including the continuing demand for rail travel and a decent public transport alternative for all, it would be premature to delete the station from both the local Core Strategy and the ESCC Local Transport Plan especially as the next review of rail services in 2019 would fall well within the ‘local plan’ period ending in 2026.

The council’s representative from consultant Mott McDonald did not dispute that the CBT E Sussex report added usefully to the body of knowledge available to the inspector to determine whether the station should be retained or deleted from plans.

The incompleteness of the council’s study suggest to us that it was not the best use of public funds. We believe that our study (£1,200 raised by voluntary contributions) delivers the studies to a proper destination: Glyne Gap station).

DERRICK COFFEE

County officer

Campaign for Better Transport, East Sussex