Attempt to halt link road ahead of funding decision

Contractors and security staff dismantle the protest camp on the site of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.
Contractors and security staff dismantle the protest camp on the site of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.

LINK road campaigners have renewed their call to the county council to halt work after it emerged Government funding for the scheme has yet to be released.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the final approval decision to release £56.9 million of Department for Transport (DfT) money, which is key to the success of the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, is due this month.

However, East Sussex County Council is already six weeks into preliminary works.

Speaking for the Hastings Alliance, Derrick Coffee said: “This is a scheme that is destroying environmental and heritage assets; is a speculative development using public funds; and is being improperly progressed without a full examination of cheaper and sustainable alternatives.

“It is not welcomed by local and general taxpayers.

“The BHLR scheme is no more than a rather poor GCSE project and should not receive funding approval from government: we have set up a petition on the Government website.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport confirmed that the funds had not yet been released, and said: “We gave the scheme provisional approval in March 2012.

“Ministers will now look at the business case and will need to satisfy themselves that nothing has changed substantially before giving full approval.

“East Sussex County Council is entitled to start preliminary work before receiving full approval and funding from the Department.

“This is not uncommon, but it is at the council’s own risk.”

In April last year ESCC’s cabinet agreed to allow an early start on the road, before final funding was approved, in order to take advantage of the best weather and environmental conditions, with the aim of avoiding long delays and increased costs.

The preliminary work has been met with a wave of protest by anti-link road campaigners since it began in December last year.

Protestors vow to continue with their campaign.

A group of local grandmothers showed their opposition to the link road this week by paddling across the proposed route at Crowhurst in dinghies and inflatable kayaks.

Among them was grandmother Rosamond Palmer who said: “Combe Haven floods, it is a flood plain and therefore a stupid place to build a road.”