Hastings’ original road, The Ridge, with all its woes, is now grabbing media attention.
Drivers stuck in its daily gridlock become ever angrier (and anger leads to risky driving).
Emergency vehicles cannot weave through the nose-to-tail traffic (The Ridge’s narrowness leaves no path for road-centre overtaking).
Pedestrians dodge between vehicles (The Ridge has one controlled crossing in five miles) and East Sussex County Council (great dictators of every Sussex road) sit in the comfort of completely bypassed Lewes and patronisingly tell us that they ‘are reviewing the situation’.
A task they have had years to do.
Indeed, ever since 2003 when the Observer first featured news of a ‘relief road’ to replace the Hastings bypass, cancelled as one of its first acts by New Labour in 1997.
Our residents’ association has been forecasting the Ridge chaos we now witness since then.
My letter to The Observer in November, 2003, was perhaps the first warning printed, but it all seemed so faraway that no-one took us seriously and the plans to cash in on empty land by providing easy access to it rolled on.
Protesters, whether through the press and meetings, or by waving banners from trees, were largely scoffed at.
Not only is the present situation on The Ridge bad news locally, it is a disaster for Hastings internationally.
Media feeds on bad news: what business, irrespective of size, is going to locate to a town where the roads are perceived to be blocked every day?
Hastings looks enviously at Brighton’s success and our own council continually ‘talks up’ regeneration.
Urban regeneration is based on reliable fast transport links.
Without these Hastings will remain the poor relation of Sussex.
If we want to see resolutions to Hastings’ traffic problems now rather than after years of ‘consultations’ and ‘stakeholder initiatives’, whether on The Ridge or at Rock-a-Nore, we need to bully those we pay so amply to represent us to act immediately.
Our MP Amber Rudd is doing sterling work for rail services, but we need her to push persistently for urgent road solutions here.
Councillors such as Hastings’ Mike Turner need more support if results are to be obtained.
We need action, not political party posturing.
Pilot Field Area Residents’ Association
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