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BHLR proposed route, courtesy of ESCC

“Road protests jeopardise jobs” claims CEO

John Shaw, CEO of regeneration company Sea Change Sussex, has joined the debate about the Bexhill Hastings Link Road – speaking out about its vital role and condemning the anti-road protests for putting jobs and regeneration in jeopardy, writes HOT’s Chris Cormack.
The Link Road being developed by East Sussex County Council forms a linchpin of Sea Change’s regeneration programme by providing access to sites which will support extensive business premises and numerous jobs. Road opponents are staging protests in attempts to prevent its construction.

Having observed the protests since site clearance for the road started in late December, John Shaw commented:

John Shaw at BHLR site

“The Link Road is absolutely vital for local regeneration. It will provide access to the largest new development sites in the whole area: 42 acres of land in north-east Bexhill which will support 500,000 sq ft of business premises and 3,000 jobs.

“This land represents the most important, game-changing opportunity for this area. They will enable us to create the scale of vibrant business community which will help local companies and young people to flourish and secure a better future for the whole community.

“The Bexhill sites follow a painstakingly-delivered 10-year regeneration programme that’s seen investment in a new rail and bus hub in Hastings, a new sixth-form college, a local campus for the University of Brighton, two Academy schools plus significant new business centres, offices and industrial units and other sites. All these – including the Link Road – have been submitted to scrutiny through the planning and funding systems and received the universal endorsement of every democratic process.

Creative Media Centre,part of Sea Change regeneration

And one part – a key part – has woken up protestors who’ve never shown any interest in the regeneration of this community for all these years. They’ve decided to oppose a small local road and clearly feel their views should override the economic and job prospects of the whole area.

“Their disruptive activities are costing millions in security measures, for which hard-pressed local tax-payers are having to foot the bill.

Priory Quarter Project

“And the way they’re distorting the facts is an outrage. The Link Road is far from a major dual carriageway, tearing through designated areas of natural beauty or scientific interest as they imply. It’s a short, single-carriage country road that will largely utilise old railway cuttings and follow the contours of the valley, avoiding any designated natural or historical zones.

“The County Council has gone to enormous lengths to minimise its impact on the environment.

“Let’s be clear: this is a road to jobs, business success and a more prosperous future for this community. The sooner the County Council can get on and build it without interference from a disruptive minority, the better.”

The Road to the Future

Posted 09:59 Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 In: Campaigns

20 Comments

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  1. Anton

    Er, first of all you presume an awful lot, Stephen, and, in summary, your presumptions are wrong. How dare you go on and on about poverty when this project is guaranteed only to line the pockets of a priviledged few. How many of the impoverished of Ore do you guarantee will benefit from the link road, and that’s ‘guarantee’, I ask? I will tell you, exactly ZERO. I will waste no more of my precious time on this thread.

    Comment by Anton — Saturday, Mar 9, 2013 @ 15:03

  2. Stephen

    No, Anton, it’s about demonstrating that your alternative, if you have one, is not just bullshit. Easy to criticise others, harder to do the hard work that demonstrates you can actually make a difference to real people in real situations. You’re probably upset at my comment on FE teachers just being sticking plasters, but … tell me how TESL teaching contributes to structural regeneration, creates employment, and reduces child poverty in the long term? I’m sure what you do is worthwhile, but the problem here is one of perspective. Please let’s have a serious discussion.

    Comment by Stephen — Friday, Mar 1, 2013 @ 21:50

  3. Anton

    What exactly is the challenge, to see through all the bullshit?

    Comment by Anton — Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 @ 19:51

  4. Stephen

    We’ve heard much rhetoric from protestors – here are some contrasting opinions, and a challenge for them to think about …

    Poverty diminishes us all, materially as well as ethically. Societies with more inequality are bad for everyone, including the well-off: from life expectancy to mental illness, violence to illiteracy, health to happiness, education to environment, crime to community – all these aspects are worse for all, rich or poor. We all have a stake.

    Poverty is caused by lack of income. Benefits allow people to survive but change nothing. No money means no hope for the future, no autonomy, no confidence, trust, or commitment to society. It grinds you down. And it’s work that gives an income.

    Poverty is a vicious cycle. It’s expensive: small amounts cost more, cheap goods don’t last, most money goes on high-inflation basics like food and energy. The poorer you are, the poorer you get, and the harder it is to get out of.

    To paraphrase Brecht: one major cause of poverty is imagined wealth. It’s not noble or dignified; it’s not a fun life on benefits; it’s not ‘making do’ like your granny did; it’s not the way of an ecological future. It’s ugly, painful and pointless; it’s a life condemned to misery; to paraphrase another ‘it stinks and it’s wrong’.

    Tolerating poverty is unacceptable. In parts of Ore, child poverty runs at 40%, the worst in the country; that is, **almost every other child lives in poverty**. That’s intolerable. A fundamental value of all societies is to look after your own kind: we don’t eject the elderly when they are no longer economically productive, we don’t leave children to fend for themselves, nor should we abandon the poor to deprivation. We have a moral duty to act to change it.

    Economic regeneration is about fundamental change. It’s a long, hard road. Creating sustainable employment, even if relatively slowly, puts money in workers’ pockets, and by spending it, into the local economy; the multiplier effect creates more jobs over time. More people working means more paying tax, and less demand on support services, so that councils can afford to improve local facilities. More job security encourages young people to stay in education, improving the skills base, which in turn attracts higher paid employment creation. It gives people back their autonomy and independence, and allows them to take more control of their own lives. It starts to create virtuous cycle.

    Restoring benefit cuts won’t do it. The £100 million road cost is less than one tenth of one percent of the 2012 Welfare budget which totals £119 billion; it would keep welfare spending going for an extra 7 hours.

    Quick-fix non-sustainable jobs – filling in potholes, insulatings lofts – won’t do it. They just fritter resources away, and change nothing: soon the money runs out, the workers are back on the dole, and tomorrow the potholes re-appear. How depressing!

    More youth workers, social workers, or FE teachers won’t do it – they’re just sticking plasters.

    Education alone won’t do it: just improving the supply of skilled labour does not magically create new employment – ask any recent graduate about getting a job.

    The local economy has been in decline for years. The state has a responsibility to step in where the market has failed; but it has neither resources nor appetite to employ directly. Instead it can make a targeted investment in the local infrastructure which changes the terms of the equation: an intervention that catalyses development and growth, based on experience of what works.

    Derided by protestors as a ‘road to nowhere’, in fact it links some of the more deprived local communities with sites for new employment: Sidley with Hollington, and via Queensway and The Ridge, to Ore. I suppose, to many protestors, these places are nowhere much, or just plain invisible.

    Some complain that between 1-3,000 new jobs is not enough value for money. There are just over 3,000 registered JSA claimants in Hastings: so it’s the equivalent of reducing this by between 30-95% – not a bad start, perhaps? That, at a cost of between £100,000 (i.e. about 4 years worth of average annual salary) and £33,000 per job. If you think that’s too expensive, what price would you put on an opportunity to escape poverty: £50/25/10,000? The price of a car, or a gap-year of travelling?

    Some complain that the jobs will be too low-paid and boring, and therefore poor value. Certainly, investing the same amount of money in one area (Cambridge, say) where it would create 1,000 jobs paying salaries of £80,000, would give a much better return than investing it in another area where it creates the same number of jobs paying only £18,000 salaries. By this logic, we should only make public investments in prosperous thriving areas which already have highly-paid jobs and a highly-skilled workforce.

    But society is not a business, and most would disagree (and that’s why ministers temper technical analyses with accepted social values when deciding policy). We mostly think, as a matter of social solidarity, that we should work to tackle poverty, even if it costs a bit more. It would be immoral not to, when the opportunities are there. We have a duty to act.

    Yes, there will be some environmental costs. But we make choices like this all the time: the device you are reading this on was probably manufactured in some smog-ridden Chinese city, poisoning the local population, and using rare earth minerals plundered from developing countries; digital social networks run on vast banks of servers, consuming enormous energy and producing a huge amount of heat pollution. It’s just an easier choice when you can’t see the consequences yourself; like telling the poor to rot away quietly in their ‘nowhere’ estates.

    Yes, some people will lose out: the privileged will lose some access to a bit of countryside, and a few people will be inconvenienced for a while, and not have such a good view from the window – until the new trees grow up again. It’s a price worth paying.

    The logic seems clear. The case for regeneration is unanswerable. If you oppose the road, you have a responsibility to produce practical and realistic proposals (not wishes and dreams) that will be sure to deliver a better level of benefits for the disadvantaged. If you cannot do this satisfactorily, you should stand aside. If you will not do it, accept that your opposition is based on self-interest and ideology.

    To my mind, what is truly immoral, is to be prepared to sacrifice the innocent on an altar of sanctimonious self-interest, whilst claiming this as a virtue; or to an ideology that claims a higher knowledge , available only to a self-appointed ‘vanguard’ that is cynically prepared to dispose of others’ lives in its service. We know all too well where that kind of thinking leads.

    So my challenge to protestors is this: where are your counter-proposals for regeneration? I don’t mean generalised weasel-words about a ‘green economy’ or an idea dreamed up in the bath in five minutes. I mean practical proposals that can be shown to work in the Bexhill-Hastings context, which are properly researched and thought through, with a realistic business/economic case, that explains where the investment will come from, and how jobs will be generated, and that is sustainable in the long term. I mean proposals that have been tested in the real world with real people, and that have substantial and demonstrable local support. Something that can be shown to work. You have had since the 2009 public enquiry to work on these, so I am expecting something very concrete. Point us to where this work is published, and let’s subject it to the same level of rigorous critique and peer review testing.

    Well, we’ll see …

    In the public consultation, 84% of respondents supported the road and 16% were against. Opponents had many opportunities to air their views in public debate, but in the end the 16% lost the argument; and since then, we have heard little but petulant rage. Time to get over it.

    Let’s face it, the road will be built now anyway. Isn’t it time to stop carping and cavilling from the sidelines and make a positive contribution instead: keep the County Council up to the mark in delivering on what they have promised; agitate for a living wage in Hastings and a rent cap on private landlords; cast yourself as a social entrepreneur and create some jobs; or just refuse to be misled by the cynical and opportunistic. Just don’t preach about saving nature on behalf of all humanity, or throw around accusations of immorality, if you can’t tell me, credibly, how you’ll tackle poverty and inequality and deliver a better social justice for all.

    Comment by Stephen — Monday, Feb 25, 2013 @ 20:19

  5. Stephen

    Well, I didn’t expect to change minds already made up, but since we have started talking about morality, I feel I have to respond. I’ll do in this two parts: first, let’s be precise with the facts …

    On FoI: Andrea, you seem confused about how the Freedom of Information Act works. It’s a law, a set of legal rules, which sets out citizens’ right to public sector information, limitations on those rights, and some principles and procedures for implementing both. It’s administered by public officials: bureaucrats whose job it is to always follow the rules (the literal meaning of bureaucracy – sometimes infuriating, but anyone who has lived in a country where unelected officials really do arbitrarily apply rules to suit their own interests will appreciate it). Limitations include a set of 23 exemptions, cases in which some types of information may be withheld – such as national security, personal privacy, commercial in confidence, and (Section 35), the formulation of government policy, including advice to Ministers. This exemption is subject to a public interest test, not meaning “is the public interested?” but rather “is it in the wider public interest to release or withhold this information?” The arguments are complex, and case law is evolving, but the weight of legal opinion remains that cases were public interest overrides the exemption are extremely few, and very exceptional in nature. This one is just routine. So, the default is to withhold policy advice: no-one bothers to ask “What harm would it do to release it?” they ask “Does the public interest test apply?” and the answer is almost always “No”. Anything else would set a precedent. Section 35 has always been controversial, but like it or not, that’s the way the Act works just now.

    We have to be realistic: for DfT officials, this a small, local matter; their careers will depend on getting much bigger issues right – rail franchising, HS2, London airports – so they just do their job and get on with the next thing. There’s no motivation for the kind of conspiracy or cover-up implied. In any case, civil servants offer analysis, options appraisal, and sometimes advice; Ministers decide, listening to a whole range of voices, of which those views are just one. That’s a good thing: unlike government ministers, no-one elects officials, and they are not accountable to the public. It’s called ‘democracy’, imperfect though ours is.

    “… Osborne strong-armed the DfT …” Why do you think he would want to do that (and how)? After all, he’s not exactly a natural Keynesian. Who do you think benefits?

    On VfM and Risk assessment: Let’s look at what the documents actually say. The 14 March report to Minister says: “Given the size of these impacts [local regeneration benefits and environmental impacts] the range of plausible VfM conclusions is high – e.g. you can construct a reasonable argument that the scheme represents either high or low VfM” [because ” Estimates of the value of these impacts are not as robust as other parts of the appraisal and subject to a high level of uncertainty”] (para 25). The 19 March report concludes “Our review of the economic case is that the scheme is likely to offer either low or medium value for money. The risk of the scheme offering poor value for money is low unless you assume the worst case on landscape impacts (in which case this is a significant risk).” (para 5)

    That is: the level of the identified risk, that the scheme will deliver poor value, is a low level of risk; which means that it is most likely to offer medium value. But if the negative landscape impacts that do result are the highest possible, the level of risk becomes significant. This is because these negative impacts would subtract from the positive benefits of regeneration, reducing the overall sum of benefits returned on the money invested. It’s conditional: IF the minuses turn out to be higher, it takes more away from the pluses; but at this stage we don’t know exactly, only within a range, and it is more likely to fall towards the medium rather than poor end of the scale.

    Now clearly, Andrea assumes the worst case on landscape impacts, and that therefore the risk is significant. But the report does not say this, or that the landscape impacts will be high: it offers a framework for evaluation and says that there is a great deal of uncertainty, because these things are hard to measure or predict, and partially subjective. Andrea is making a personal judgement, and applying that to the DfT’s analytical framework, reaching a conclusion consistent with her own world-view. Another person, applying a different value set, could make a different judgement, and reach a different conclusion (and that’s exactly the DfT’s point). I’m sorry to be so pedantic, but since protestors have made this such an issue, we need to clearly distinguish between what is actually written in the documents, and how they are brigaded as an argument supporting fixed points of view. When you can no longer distinguish between what you would like someone to have said, and what they actually did say, it’s time to step back and re-appraise the difference between fact and opinion.

    A risk is something that might happen, rather than will happen. Because doing something is risky, does not mean we should avoid doing it – else little would get done at all. It means that we should understand the pitfalls, and how to avoid them. The point of identifying a risk is to be able to manage it. The severity of a risk is worked out by multiplying the likelihood of it occurring by the impact if it does. Managing a risk means taking measures to reduce either the likelihood of it coming about, the impact if it does, or both; and thereby reducing the severity of the risk. For example, a number of environmental measures have been attached as conditions to the scheme to mitigate the effects on loss of habitat; and on the regeneration side to strengthen delivery of benefits. For instance, see the associated email correspondence of 16 March: “we cannot be certain of that [unlocking regeneration and development] happening at this point therefore we would like to see the two more clearly linked with LA taking some degree of ownership in facilitating making this happen” followed by a list of actions to make sure the associated development activities actually get done. It’s about reducing uncertainty (and thereby the level of risk) by management actions which will make the scheme more likely to successfully deliver medium value.

    Again, these documents just show officials doing their job – questioning assumptions, doing rigorous analysis, challenging uncertainties, identifying issues, and suggesting control measures – in order to independently assess and improve the project shape.

    It’s a very long way from the reported recent claim by a Greenpeace director that the DfT called the scheme “a waste of taxpayers’ money”! Those who hope to occupy the high moral ground must be absolutely scrupulous with the facts, or risk losing their credibility.

    I’ll make a few other comments, separately, on how thinking about poverty, job creation, and moral values are also a part of value assessment.

    Comment by Stephen — Friday, Feb 22, 2013 @ 16:17

  6. Ian Baker

    Muddy, mosquito ridden yes sounds like most of the countryside. lets get rid of those untidy looking trees & unkempt meadows that attract mosquitos, tarmac over all that horrible mud. Put a nice neat & tidy industrial estate with a road for lots of cars oh yes & build hundreds,
    no thousands of those little baratt boxes with their incy wincy windows that they call houses. now isn’t that better ?.

    Comment by Ian Baker — Sunday, Feb 10, 2013 @ 22:47

  7. Alison Cooper

    Stephen- if you want to give more people jobs why can’t that happen within our town, thus saving those ‘deprived’ people money on petrol and car use costs?

    Also, it sounds like what you are saying is “if this road is built it will, as if by magic, mean that the thousands of NEETS, under-educated, unskilled and illiterate people will suddenly get employed? That’s amazing…because I thought those people were struggling due to having been let down by an inefficient education system?
    Maybe that’s where the road money should be put…. into giving people a better education and more work skills to get jobs, in the first place.

    Comment by Alison Cooper — Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013 @ 16:48

  8. DAR

    The arguments against the road are all here – and I agree with them. Essentially, this is mostly about lining the pockets of property developers and building firms. The construction of so many houses is virtually criminal when there are plenty of properties to be upgraded in Hastings, and where the population is already too large. Indeed, that is why Bexhill Road has become so congested with traffic, and the addition of these new properties will clearly generate MUCH MORE TRAFFIC. Pretty obvious, really. What do we get next – another link road to relieve the Link Road? Sickening.

    Comment by DAR — Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013 @ 16:02

  9. Andrea needham

    QUOTE (from ‘stephen’ in chris cormack’s comment): “I suspect that the documents Andrea Needham is referring to are those published at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bexhill-hastings-link-road which include some email correspondence, the DfT reports to their Transport Minister, and the Evidence Review. It is standard practice to redact policy advice to Ministers in all released government documents, because it is exempted within the Freedom of Information Act: I stress, it’s done every time (it would be a bit of a give-away to just cross out the embarrassing bits, don’t you think?). No implication can be drawn from this except, I suppose, by those who seek conspiracy everywhere.’

    Oh, come on. The DfT is asked to produce a report on whether the road should be funded, and when campaigners ask to see it, the only bits that are redacted are the recommendations??? The Hastings Alliance has appealed this, I have tried to get the information from other sources, and we’re just told we can’t have it.

    Now, if the recommendation said, ‘This is a great scheme, the Treasury should definitely throw £56m at it’, why redact the information? The only conclusion one can possibly draw – and I draw it as one who is as far from a conspiracy theorist as you would ever be likely to find – is that the recommendation was that the road should not be funded. And ‘Stephen’ is wrong about the DfT’s conclusion on value for money – the report actually said there was a ‘significant’ risk that the road would represent low value for money.

    It’s clear that this road stinks, from top to bottom, that the only reason it’s going ahead is because Osborne strong-armed the DfT into some kind of half-hearted agreement, after they’d produced a report saying the opposite of what he wanted to hear. It’s wrong, it’s immoral, and it has to be stopped.

    Comment by Andrea needham — Monday, Feb 4, 2013 @ 11:00

  10. Lorna

    Who are going to take these 3,000 jobs in the industrial estate? The aging population of Bexhill? All the people in the new housing estates? Everyone in Hastings? Do the Conservatives really plan to create a nation of shelf stackers? Is this what our country is going to be known for? Have any of you actually worked in these places? By design they are awful, soulless places, dead at night, not friendly to anyone who isn’t in a car. Are you going to raise the wages of the people who are working in the industrial estate so that they can afford the housing and the car to get there? Will you John Shaw and all your colleagues be happy to spend your working day there?

    I heard on the radio that there needs to be a more modern way for people to have access to their MPs, a way we can all have direct access to all the facts about plans such as this one. Especially women who probably lead the busiest lives, juggling work, childcare and possibly also care of elderly relatives. A simple solution would be for MPs to set up office in somewhere like a shopping centre. You could have a large board with photos and plans and costings. A questionnaire on the table. You could get to know us all personally. I and my busy friends found this approach to be very useful when there was the proposal for the new children’s play ground on the seafront. We were happy to look at the plans and we were very happy to have been given options. while I was there a number of very important issues were raised which may have been missed. A mother of a disabled child was able to give advice based on her real experience. If we had been consulted about the link road in the same way there wouldn’t be so much confusion as to who is for it, who is against it. I am a Hastings resident. Most people I speak to only heard about the road when they saw it on the news. It was on the news because people (many of them respectable older women – who have been treated awfully in some instances incidentally) were sitting in trees. Thank goodness they took that action.

    I have worked with a number of children and adults from the deprived communities that you talk about in Hastings. There are serious long-term emotional and mental problems due the horrendous lives these people have been forced to live, not to mention drug and alcohol addiction which is the only way some people can cope. Many people have worked very hard to help them improve their lives, heal their problems. The austerity cuts have pushed people further into poverty and deprivation and have taken away many of the support systems that are vitally needed. This reason alone is why the link road proposal is so obscene. Our schools, health care, recreational facilities and support systems are failing. These are the heart of a community and a society, affecting our future more than anything else. When you have fixed all of those (as well as the pot-holed roads mentioned previously) then talk to us about roads and new houses, schools and shops. And at least have the decency to make sure you do talk to us about it first.

    Comment by Lorna — Sunday, Feb 3, 2013 @ 22:24

  11. Chris Cormack

    Stephen has just commented on my previous article as follows:

    “I come rather late to this discussion, not having previously had strong feelings about the road initiative. The protests stimulated me to look at the arguments in detail, and I am now a strong supporter of the road.

    “Andrea Needham is completely incorrect to say that DfT did not recommend proceeding on the proposal. The documents are very clear on this. It is the job of DfT officials to subject such proposals to a very rigorous critique to ensure value for money (vfm) and they have done this. They categorise the project as delivering medium to low vfm, with a low risk of it falling at the low end of the scale (i.e it’s likely to be medium value): the majority of government projects are in this medium vfm range. They detect a degree of optimism bias (i.e. some overestimation of benefits, and underestimation of risks), find the environmental factors hard to quantify, and in particular identify that it is the planned complementary activities (to successfully create jobs and housing) which will deliver the actual benefits, and these must not be allowed to slip. They recommend some risk mitigation measures, brisk and regular progress reviews, and say that on balance the initiative should proceed.

    “In a former career, I spent many years reviewing such government projects, and this DfT advice is quite normal practice to apply to viable initiatives; it is just saying that the project should be properly managed to deliver results; positive criticisms to ensure success not a debunking. The suggestion regularly made by protestors that, as the Greenpeace director stated last week, the DfT said that it is “a complete waste of taxpayers money” is either naive or specious – a piece of black propaganda. Indeed, I can’t imagine any situation in which one government department would say that about another – just doesn’t happen.

    “I suspect that the documents Andrea Needham is referring to are those published at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bexhill-hastings-link-road which include some email correspondence, the DfT reports to their Transport Minister, and the Evidence Review. It is standard practice to redact policy advice to Ministers in all released government documents, because it is exempted within the Freedom of Information Act: I stress, it’s done every time (it would be a bit of a give-away to just cross out the embarrassing bits, don’t you think?). No implication can be drawn from this except, I suppose, by those who seek conspiracy everywhere.

    “Protestors make much of the amenity value of Combe Haven for walkers, dogs and horse riders, etc, along with supposed “desecration” of the mysterious ‘sacred springs grove’. As a resident of Crowhurst, I’ve always found it a quite muddy, mosquito-ridden place, overlooked on one side by the county waste disposal site (which no-one seems to mention), but each to their own I suppose. More to the point, there’s been little if any recognition by protestors of the socio-economic problems in the area that regeneration aims to tackle, or any realistic counter-proposals from them for doing so. Here’s some facts to consider:

    “Hastings is the most deprived community in the South East.
    28& of children live below the poverty line; almost one third of people live within neighbourhoods that are among the 10% most deprived in England, and 2 of those are in the 1% most deprived neighbourhoods; a child born in Hastings can expect to die five years earlier than one born in Lewes, 25 miles away.

    “It has the highest unemployment rate in East Sussex at around 6% registered JSA claimants, and over 8% among young people; researchers suggest the hidden rate of real unemployment is more like 13%. There are 10 applicants for every vacancy, twice the national average, and 1 in 5 homes have no adults in employment. Much of the employment that exists is part-time, casual, and precarious minimum-wage work.

    “Contrary to Andrea’s conclusion, it seems clear that the protestors have lost the argument, but are now attempting to impose their thwarted will by force. They have had many chances to put their point of view, and their arguments have been considered and rejected in the democratic process; although the predominantly middle class among the protestors are an articulate, educated bunch, who know the media ropes and have the necessary contacts, it is not true that those who shout the loudest have the most valuable things to say – often the reverse.

    “Time for them to get over it, and stand aside. My sense is that the road has widespread local support; it’s just that those people don’t shout about it much. Let’s hear more about helping those trapped in poverty and deprivation to get out of it, and less about the denial of their modest hopes and dreams for a decent life by a privileged elite.”

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 @ 15:27

  12. Karl

    Could John Shaw (via Sea Space) remind us how much money was wasted on the plans for the hotel on Hastings seafront that was also very unpopular and never got built? http://www.fosterandpartners.com/News/124/Default.aspx I seem to remember in the ‘consultation’ there was no option to oppose the building of it. There seems to be a pattern emerging here… ‘Top-down’ regeneration simply does not work, and is expensive; as by it’s nature ignores the people it claims to help. Establishing a pot of money for the people of Hastings and Bexhill to bid for would be a far wiser way to work.

    Comment by Karl — Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 @ 10:53

  13. Anton

    Can I just add this petition address here for those who haven’t signed as yet – it is a new petition from today, in light of the Campaign for Better Transport announcing that the money has not yet been given for this road: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45254 Thanks.

    Comment by Anton — Friday, Feb 1, 2013 @ 14:16

  14. Chris Cormack

    Dear Ernie
    I have edited out some of the more gratuitously abusive parts of your comments.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Friday, Feb 1, 2013 @ 13:50

  15. Ermie

    I was going to write a long, well thought out response to John Shaw’s misinformed piece but Anton, Erica, Patrick and Vanessa have all set out the true situation very eloquently. Many of us are sick and tired of hearing Peter Jones, John Shaw and their ilk spouting their arrogant and ill founded view that ‘most people in Hastings support this road’ there is no evidence for this. Your argument that “The Link Road is far from a major dual carriageway, tearing through designated areas of natural beauty or scientific interest as they imply. It’s a short, single-carriage country road that will largely utilise old railway cuttings and follow the contours of the valley, avoiding any designated natural or historical zones.” is not supported by the Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace, the RSPB (and many other local and national groups) – all recognised as legitimate experts in their fields. This project has yet to be financed – ESCC granted itself permission to start work before funding had been given by the Government, presumably so it could stop as much wildlife as possible nesting and raising families. ESCC does not yet own much of the land on which the road is to be built but has decided to press on anyway. Shame on you for trying to demonise legitimate protestors and trying to paint everyone who doesn’t agree with you as Luddites who want to hold back progress – I believe there is not a single person who objects to this road who would not want to see more jobs and better housing in this area. Shame on you for being so short-sighted to believe this is the only way to do it.

    Comment by Ermie — Friday, Feb 1, 2013 @ 13:22

  16. Vaness Fowler

    Erica Smith’s reply makes perfect sense. I thought one of our main problems in Hastings and surrounding areas was supposedly related to the bad links with London via train and road. Isn’t it more important to develope jobs for the people who already live here and don’t have job opportunities. Making use of empty spaces in industrial areas should be a priority, with little or no enviromental impact.

    The building of new homes at this precise moment seems short sighted when there are so many empty properties which, with careful and sensitive refurbishment would lift up the area. Most of the new building in Hastings and surrounding area is cheap and unattractive. With money being tight at present the chances are these developments are going to be no better and end up as ghettos. I can almost see it – clusters of houses with some mini supermarkets or even larger ones for people to do their weekly shop. No soul or heart. Why do we want to attract more people into the area when the services can’t deal with the rising population as it is. Who are we trying to attract anyway? People will chose to come here, like its always been, young families from London who are looking for a friendly town which has its own character, not moving into a new estate with no identity. Haven’t we seen all this before, new towns with new problems?!!!

    This road is a total waste of good money and will just fill up with traffic like all the others. You should be aiming at finding way for people to stop using their cars, like a decent regualr bus service and trains. Aren’t we going to run out of oil in the forseeable future?

    I seriously think that planners haven’t a clue. They put things down on paper, massage each others egos and actually don’t look at the bigger healthier picture. Just take a look at all the unneccessary traffic lights along the seafront. When they are out of action the traffic flows much more smoothly. Too much money wasted on unnecessary very expensive rubbish.

    Sorry I have deviated. The surpise addition of 2 or is it 4 or is it 5,000 homes will ruin the area. Think again.

    Comment by Vaness Fowler — Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 @ 18:24

  17. Patrick Nicholson

    I disagree with you John, and find some of your comments offensive and ill-informed.

    You claim anti-road protestors have “never shown any interest in the regeneration of this community for all these years”. Well, I’m one of many local protestors who have lived here for many years and consistently put our energy and time, often unpaid, into a whole host of grassroots initiatives, community projects, and small businesses that are most definitely contributing to the regeneration of our towns.

    We are opposing the BHLR for a host of sound reasons. The jobs argument is trundled out again and again but where is the evidence for your claims? Isn’t it true that the DoT thought the figure for jobs was more like 1000, not 3000. And what about all the empty spaces on existing business parks? Who are these companies just itching to move onto new industrial developments around Sidley?

    And if the key argument is about jobs, should we not be looking to encourage job creation in and around the struggling town centres, where people already live, and hence avoid more and more car use by promoting out-of-town development? And why not directly invest in job creation and target jobs that actually make sense in terms of a sustainable future for our area: green jobs, renewable energy, public transport and an upgraded rail system, the creative industries, tourism based on the stunning natural assets of the area, and so on.

    Finally, it’s curious that a road that was initially justified in terms of alleviating congestion is now being pushed as a magic wand yielding housing and jobs. The congestion argument was always flawed: new roads just shift traffic problems from one place (A259) to another (The Ridge) and encourage more car use. The jobs and housing claims are equally suspect.

    It is clear to anyone that £100m on 3 miles on tarmac is an utter waste of money and an insult to a community that has been starved of resources and creative, forward-looking, environmentally-aware ideas for decades. Peter Jones and others like you who share this blinkered vision of our future have had your day. The signs are that the tide is turning, locally and nationally, against the BHLR and the whole £30bn national road building scheme.

    Comment by Patrick Nicholson — Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 @ 17:36

  18. Erica

    How long before the new road clogs up at the Queensway end and the junction with the A259 in Bexhill? And causes even worse congestion along The Ridge? Let’s wait and see!
    I think the protestors are right to use their legal right to protest because the new road does not address unnecessary car use – it is just going to encourage more! Most of the journeys along the A259 are local traffic. That won’t change with the new road.
    And it is being built to service more unnecessary development at the edge of Bexhill. We already have empty business units and potential for conversion of existing buildings to make new housing nearer the town centre (the old hospital in West Hill Road, St Lens… the poor old Observer building… there are lots of options.
    The Link Road and the proposed housing/business development at the Bexhill end is more ‘Cheap and Nasty’ offers – as Hastings always gets.
    SeaSpace hasn’t done much positive to improve Hastings yet. If my understanding is correct, one of their buildings even got repossessed by the Bank that financed it!

    Comment by Erica — Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 @ 16:55

  19. Andrea needham

    Quote: ‘The Link Road is far from a major dual carriageway, tearing through designated areas of natural beauty or scientific interest as they imply. It’s a short, single-carriage country road that will largely utilise old railway cuttings and follow the contours of the valley, avoiding any designated natural or historical zones.’

    Nobody has said the road would be a dual carriageway (although in some sections it will be 3 lanes wide). However, it is utterly wrong to imply it would have no impact on the valley. If built, it would carry 30,000 vehicles a day across what is currently a pristine, and very tranquil, valley. It would not ‘largely utilise old railway cuttings’: it would run in the railway cutting for a very short distance as it exited bexhill, and from then on would tear across the valley, far from the old railway line. It would run yards from an SSSI and ancient woodland, and destroy what even the county council has admitted is one of the finest valleys in east sussex.

    As for these 3,000 jobs: that is ESCC’s figure, based on 100% occupancy of the business premises from day one. Who are all these companies clamouring to move in? ESCC has been strangely quiet about them, insisting they exist but refusing to tell us who they are.

    John Shaw lists ‘a painstakingly-delivered 10-year regeneration programme that’s seen investment in a new rail and bus hub in Hastings, a new sixth-form college, a local campus for the University of Brighton, two Academy schools plus significant new business centres, offices and industrial units and other sites’. All these have arrived in Hastings without the link road, so his argument that the road is vital for regeneration falls a bit flat.

    We don’t need this road. It will do little for congestion, merely moving it around, it will cause more carbon emissions, it will destroy the combe haven valley. It is not about making life better for the people of Hastings and Bexhill (of whom I am one). It is about land speculation, and making life better (richer) for the developers. It’s not too late to stop this madness and I would encourage anyone and everyone to join the campaign against the road.

    Comment by Andrea needham — Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 @ 16:38

  20. Anton

    I hope John Shaw can see my reply here, as I am going to pick his little piece to pieces. Actually, I will email it to him anyway.

    John, I hope you don’t mind me calling you John, you call this ‘a small local road’ and a ‘short, single-carriage country road’….why is it going to cost around £100 million if it is so tiny?
    John, why don’t you prioritise revamping and filling the significant numbers of empty houses and empty industrial spaces instead of, or at least before, building new ones?
    John, you call it a ‘game-changing opportunity’….how nice for you to be able to consider it a game. I personally think it is much more important than that.
    John, why don’t you prioritise maintenance of our pot-holed roads in and around Hastings and Bexhill, instead of building a new one which will be equally pot-holed in a few years time? Have you driven these roads recently? They are in an appaling state.
    John, why don’t you walk the route of the proposed project, like I have done, and see how the wildlife and trees have already been decimated. Many of the felled oaks were hundreds of years old – these will take hundreds of years to replace, and what about the flood mitigation that they provide the Combe Haven valley with? Tarmaccing the countryside moves water and traps it, increasing run-off and causing floods, it doesn’t suck up 1,000s of litres of rainwater like old oaks do. You say that the link road is not going through a SSSI or AONB, but it is going NEXT TO it, and the construction work therefore disrupts and endangers these important areas. They are designated sites for many reasons.
    How the construction company are getting away with fencing badger sets and putting in one way doors to let them out and then effectively have them roaming around homeless I don’t know. This is illegal and there is plenty of evidence to prove this practice is going on, and how do the county council get away with it? They give themselves a license to get the badgers out. They are a protected species…unlesss you are East Sussex County Council. Shame on everyone involved.

    This road was abandoned as a project two or three years ago, and then mysteriously resuscitated. Why was it revived at this time of great economic crisis and cuts? Even the Department for Transport consider it to be of ‘low value’ (http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/local-authority-major-transport-schemes/bexhill-hastings-assessment.pdf) so what on earth has prompted you to back this horse John?
    Give us the jobs by all means, lower pollution levels on Bexhill road by all means, give us something nice to look at by all means, give us some good roads, but don’t give us any more bullshit or bullshit projects like this one please. £100 million investment to become worth £1 billion? Pull the other one.

    Receiving the support of around 2,500 people in an area affecting around 250,000 people is hardly ‘local backing’ is it now?
    Finally John, as a local and part of this ‘disruptive minority’, as you call it, I can assure you that our numbers are swelling as the local population discover more and more about this project. I think you would have a lot more support if you were to find some better, more viable, cheaper, more effective and less environmentally damaging options.

    Comment by Anton — Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 @ 13:14

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