New cyclepath route for Alexandra Park seem to have surfaced, it seems. So why doesn't the Hastings public know?

From: John Hywels, Hillside Road, Hastings

Monday, 26th November 2018, 9:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:00 pm

How interesting to read in last week’s paper that members of Hastings Greenway Group met to walk or cycle, ’the proposed [cycle] route down to Alexandra Park, and then along the revised route through the park’.

This implies that new proposals for a cycle route through the length of Alexandra Park have emerged and shared with the cycle lobby. But of course not to the rest of us.

You may remember that Hastings Borough Council agreed a 12-month pilot of a cycle route following a ‘public consultation’. In making this decision they chose to discount an online petition opposed to the plans, as well as written objections from various local voluntary groups whose members were regular park users.

The council argued that these objections could not be considered as the consultation concerned the (then) proposed route, rather than the general idea of having a cycle route.

In fact, there has never been a public consultation asking local people whether they agree to a through traffic cycle route in Alexandra Park.

The council agreed the proposals at a meeting where local people were allowed to attend but were not allowed either to voice their concerns or to support the proposals.

As funding was to come via East Sussex County Council the cycle route was therefore considered more or less a fait accompli.

Remarkably, the proposals were subsequently turned down by the County Council as being unfeasible and unsafe, to the relief of the majority of park users.

This decision was made after a great deal of money had already been spent on consultants brought in to assess the proposals prior to the County Council’s decision.

Now, it appears, new proposals have surfaced once again. But are the new plans on public display and park users consulted? No chance!

The Lewes-based County Council has ‘ringfenced’ funding to spend and spend it quickly. Note this is the very same council in dire financial straits and blaming central government because it allegedly does not have enough money to fund far more deserving local causes affecting people’s everyday lives and planning further savage cuts to essential services.

Yes, of course provision for cyclists should be made to ensure a safe off-road route from Silverhill to the town centre. However, the existing wide verges along both Upper and Lower Park Roads are a missed opportunity to provide such a route and which should have been constructed years ago.

Hastings Borough Council, who owns Alexandra Park, could put a stop to this increasingly expensive fiasco and use of local taxpayers’ money. However, I fear both the Borough Council and the County Council will continue to play political gamesmanship and agree plans to the detriment of our beautiful park and to all of us who make use of it.