JOHN Shaw, CEO of Sea Change Sussex, recently accused opponents of the link road of ‘propagating a gross distortion of the facts’.
He should perhaps be a little more sure of his own facts before he starts making such accusations.
First, he claims that the road ‘will utilise disused railway cuttings’. As the briefest inspection of the route would have shown him, the road travels a very short distance in disused railway cuttings - almost entirely within Bexhill - before it heads out across the Combe Haven valley, passing through species-rich watermeadows, destroying woodlands, and cutting in half what is currently a beautiful and undisturbed valley.
He says the road will bring ‘thousands’ of jobs - presumably this is based on East Sussex County Council’s repeated claim that the new development around the road in north east Bexhill would create 3,000 jobs.
The Department for Transport, however, sees it rather differently, and states that a more likely figure is 900 - of which 40 per cent would go to people from outside the area. In other words, we are looking at spending more than £100 million in total (probably far more) in order to create around 500 jobs for local people.
If we spent a fraction of that money on sustainable, community-based initiatives, we could create far more jobs - as a study by Friends of the Earth has shown - and without destroying Combe Haven.
John Shaw lists the projects that have already come about locally: a new sixth form college, the University of Brighton campus, two academy schools, a new rail and bus hub, 800 new jobs with Saga, and ‘significant’ new premises (does this include the almost empty North Queensway Innovation Park developed by Sea Change?).
This rather undermines his own argument; if all these developments have come about without the road, why do we need it?
Opposition to the road is growing, as more and more people come to realise that the road is not about jobs, and not about congestion on Bexhill Road.
It is about money: the road will allow the speculative development of a huge swathe of land north of Bexhill, covering green fields with industrial estates. It will benefit nobody so much as the land owners and developers, who are set to make a killing out of this. That the road is being sold to the people of East Sussex as being vital for regeneration, is cynical and dishonest.