ONLY a few months since work started on the Link Road, costs have already risen by £13 million, to a total now of more than £113 million.
Of this, £57 million will be paid by East Sussex County Council - in other words, us.
With almost two years of construction ahead, it is inevitable that costs will rise and rise, as campaigners have been saying from the very start of this project. The National Audit Office has found that road building projects on average end up 40 per cent over budget, so we are likely to see our coffers raided for many millions yet.
Amber Rudd - a cheerleader for this doomed project - states that: ‘Of course I hate costs going up but as long as this still represents value for money, that is what is important.’
I find it hard to believe that she is not aware that the link road never represented value for money, even before the latest cost increases.
It is clear that the link road should never have been funded. In its own assessment, the DfT stated that East Sussex County Council had ‘significantly overstated’ the economic benefits of the scheme, and said that rather than the 3,000 jobs ESCC claims, the more likely figure was 900. Of these, 40 per cent would go to people outside the area, leaving just 540 for local people. Not much of a return for £113 million.
In his report asking the county council to approve the funding increase, director of economy, transport and environment Rupert Clubb admitted: ‘Clearly, if the money was not transferred to the BHLR, it could in principle be used for other projects’.
This admission came days after a meeting in which the council agreed to ‘consult’ on the future of several vital services for older people, including the Isobel Blackman Centre and Mount Denys.
That they are considering closing these crucial services at the same time as they can agree a further increase of £13 million for the road - money which could be spent on services for vulnerable people - is shameful.
It is not too late to stop this road. By stopping now, rather than continuing to throw good money after bad, the county council could save tens of millions of pounds - money which could be spent on life-enhancing services rather than on this destructive, pointless, road to nowhere.