Is overspend a success story?

ACCORDING to the Observer in its uncritical reproduction of an East Sussex County Council (ESCC) press release (‘Link Road on track to open in spring 2015’, December 27), the Link Road has ‘received a glowing mid-term report’.

We’re told that work is progressing well, and that so far £29.7 million has been spent (out of a projected total of £113 million). This progress report is presented as an unmitigated success.

There is another way of looking at this project, however. When ESCC put the road forward for Department for Transport (DfT) funding in December 2010, it stated that that ‘given current funding pressures’, it could not spend more than £18 million in total on the road.

Now it is preparing to spend a minimum of £57 million of our money (plus a further £56 million of public money from the DfT), plus all overrun costs, which are likely to add tens of millions more onto the total.

Following a recent £13 million increase in costs, the road, originally classified by the DfT as ‘low/medium’ value for money, is now ‘low’ value for money. DfT guidelines state that only ‘high’ or ‘very high’ value for money transport projects should be funded. The question of why the low value Link Road was funded - in direct contravention of these guidelines - has never been answered.

Those who continue to support this destructive, wasteful, project, should ask themselves this: is this a responsible use of £113 million in public money at a time when we’re all told we have to face spending cuts?

For a fraction of the cost, we could have had a decent bus service along Bexhill Road, improved walking and cycling facilities, a station at Glyne Gap, and millions left over which could have been used to keep open the vital public services which the county council is in the process of closing.

Anyone who has been out in Combe Haven recently will have seen not a wonderful new road under construction, but the appalling destruction of a once beautiful and tranquil valley, which will never again merit the term ‘haven’.

The Link Road represents nothing more than the failure of creative thinking about traffic management, coupled with greed and a wilful ignorance of the effect that encouraging more and more people to drive is having on our climate. It is no cause for celebration.

ANDREA NEEDHAM

Milward Road