THANK you for your excellent coverage of the alarming rise in the costs of the link road project – another £13.5 million and nowhere near finished counting the full cost yet.
Your front page and comment were made all the more pertinent by the previous week’s leading story, which revealed that the county council is considering cutting funding to a nursing home and two day centres in Hastings, as well as possibly to five other centres across the county. These cuts would be part of a projected £27.8 million cut to the adult social care budget.
Of course we know that East Sussex will claim that separation of budgets make any juxtaposition of the two stories invalid, but the fact remains that the county council is dramatically cutting funding for services to the most vulnerable citizens of the county while apparently having limitless funds to lavish on this road scheme. Even if we accept separation of budget, then we must ask what other much-needed improvements in transport and environment have lost out to the road’s insatiable demands.
You note also that the county council is sticking to its assessment of the road’s potential value. This is not quite accurate; it is in fact inflating its value, now claiming a remarkable and improbable 3,000 - 3,500 jobs will somehow accrue as a result of the road (and ‘high quality’ jobs at that).
East Sussex’s own staggeringly optimistic expectations of the road’s benefits are made all the more incredible by the fact that the impartial professionals whose job it was to scrutinise this road and to compare it to other schemes across the UK found rather differently.
The Department for Transport ranked it as ‘poor to medium value’, put the number of possible jobs it could bring as maximum 1,000, and placed it bottom of its list of value for money against the other schemes looked at as part of the same exercise in 2011. The link road did come top by one criterion however – it was the most polluting scheme of the 45 presented to the DfT.
Well, the valley is already ravaged and birds and other wildlife have had to flee the destruction caused, in some cases with no further sightings recorded, suggesting that they have not survived.
The financial costs will assuredly continue to rise; the environmental costs to the whole of our area and to future generations are incalculable.