Link road security bill of £690,000

Protestors and security guards at the link road site
Protestors and security guards at the link road site

THE COST of evicting protestors from the link road route and securing the site has spiralled to £690,000 in less than two months.

Twenty-eight activists have been arrested since contractors moved in on December 14 last year to prepare the way for the £94 million Hastings-Bexhill Link Road.

Security teams, police and bailiffs have been drafted in to remove them from camps, trees, tunnels.

In one case a protestor had locked himself to a contractor’s vehicle.

Last week, campaigners were removed from the third protest camp in Crowhurst so that trees could be felled.

An East Sussex County Council (ESCC) spokesman said: “To secure the site and remove protestors from trees and tunnels has required highly trained specialist staff at a cost of nearly £690,000 so far, an unnecessary additional cost.

“This is a significant sum but this was a significant protest which culminated in the arrest of 28 people.

“To remove safely people who have locked themselves in tunnels and to trees requires very specific skills and expertise. We will continue to work with security and the police, where appropriate, to ensure any preparatory works can continue to be carried out safely.

“While we recognise the protesters do not support plans for the road, they should recognise this has followed the proper democratic process and has been subjected to legal challenge through the courts.

“It is absolutely essential we are now allowed to get on and build the link road which is so vital to the regeneration of one of the most deprived parts of the south east.”

But protestors remained defiant about their actions and the costs involved, claiming they could be preventing much more public money being spent if they succeed in preventing construction work going ahead.

Andrea Needham, of Combe Haven Defenders, said: “If by protesting we stop the road we will save a huge amount of public money. I would also say that ESCC has not yet got funding from the Government. But it is going ahead, and taking a big risk by doing all this preparatory work when it has no guarantee it will get the money. It was prepared to take that risk with our money.”