www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Part of the greenway route from Conquest Hospital to Alexandra Park.

Part of the greenway route from Conquest Hospital to Alexandra Park.

Robust response to ESCC’s greenway cuts

Reacting to East Sussex County Council’s arbitrary decision to cut funding for walking and cycling projects, Hastings Greenway Group has sent a robust response to County Hall stating its priorities and how it plans to see them implemented. Meanwhile greenway supporters walked the Conquest Hospital-Alexandra Park section of the proposed greenway network this weekend. Nick Terdre reports.

In its letter, Hastings Greenway Group says that the “fundamental issue” is ESCC’s decision to divert £3 million of funds approved “for walking and cycling infrastructure in Hastings and Bexhill to prop up an overspend on road projects.

“This has caused widespread dismay and anger in Hastings and goes against the local and national social policy imperatives to cut car use, reduce pollution and give people the opportunity to make safe journeys by bike or on foot.”

The group takes issue with the two greenway sections which the county council has made its funding priorities – the Link Road to Silverhill and Alexandra Park to the Conquest. HGG’s priorities are the Ore Valley routes, which “would have far and away the greatest positive impact on increasing walking & cycling for utility, health and leisure journeys; for connectivity; for safe cycle routes and for disabled access.”

If funds had not been diverted, the group claims, it would have been possible to complete the routes selected by ESCC, all but one section of the Ore Valley network, the seafront to Station Plaza route in Hastings town centre and “probably” the best part of the National Cycle Route 2 improvement and green tourist route across Hastings Country Park.

“This would provide over 90% of the core route network in the Hastings Walking & Cycling Strategy as approved by your council and by Hastings Borough Council,” HGG tells ESCC.

From the Conquest-Alexandra Park route.

From the Conquest-Alexandra Park route.

Failure to consult and engage

It criticises the county council’s failure to consult and engage with the community. “…behind this acutely disappointing outcome to years of involvement and input by local walking and cycling groups to help to form the Hastings Walking & Cycling Strategy, has been the failure to create a joint working group to engage with these groups and with Hastings [Borough Council] to discuss, plan, design, cost and agree routes and route priorities.

“This was promised at the time the Strategy was approved in 2014 but has not happened and the views and suggestions of local groups have hitherto been ignored. This has got to change.”

Writing also on behalf of other community groups engaged in the Walking & Cycling Strategy, HGG says it will campaign for an additional £2 million of funds from the ESCC to finance the design and construction of the main sections of the Ore Valley routes, the cycle route from the seafront to Station Plaza and, if possible, the consrtuction of the Country Park route.

Other campaign objectives include the establishment of a joint Hastings task force for walking and cycling infrastructure with representation from both Hastings Borough Council and local groups.

It intends to call a meeting of all interested parties to find a way forward for these objectives.

Following contacts with ESCC officers at a recent meeting of the East Sussex Walking and Cycling Forum, HGG chairman Tony Polain tells HOT he is hopeful that a meeting will be arranged with ESCC to discuss these matters.

poster 300Downhill walk

Meanwhile HGG continues its programme of walking sections of the proposed greenway network. On Saturday members and supporters took the downhill route from the Conquest to Alexandra Park.

The walk took them through the hospital grounds, down Old Roar Road, along Ghyllside Drive and into Alexandra Park, finishing in Harmer’s Layby off Upper Park Road.
Hastings Greenway Group website and Facebook page.

 

Posted 19:00 Sunday, Jul 22, 2018 In: Campaigns

8 Comments


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  1. Hastings Greenway Group

    Thank you to the commentators who have expressed support. Colin Foy – there are some local groups who are working on routes in their areas and two design plans with costings have been submitted to ESCC. It would be good to see more local groups come forward with their ideas.

    Comment by Hastings Greenway Group — Sunday, Jul 29, 2018 @ 12:56

  2. Hastings Greenway Group

    The Alexandra Park route recently passed its second safety audit and work will start early in the new year. It’s a little difficult to understand the objections to cycling in the park as it is impossible to visit the park during the day and not see someone cycling…especially children…and how else are they to learn but in a park? However, we are against cyclists speeding in the park. The route will be designed to inhibit speeding…which is just commonsense.

    Comment by Hastings Greenway Group — Sunday, Jul 29, 2018 @ 12:51

  3. Hastings Greenway Group

    Thank you again to Hastings Onlline Times for its support in our campaign. Hastings has a shockingly bad cycling infrastructure. As Ken Davis says, we need a cultural change to the way developments are handled by our planners and the guidance they give. Hastings is out of step with so many other local authorities such as Ebbsfleet or even Hailsham. We don’t even have a councillor with a transport portfolio, let alone someone to champion cycling.
    There is too much emphasis on cars. The article explains how we are challenging the decision to divert funds from cycling to pay for the road overspend…we need to bring these planners into the 21st century

    Comment by Hastings Greenway Group — Sunday, Jul 29, 2018 @ 12:43

  4. ken davis

    It is absolutely right and proper that the group should object to funds being diverted from the more sustainable means of transport to the less but we should also not forget that the present planning regime, quite unsustainably, insists on providing parking spaces/vehicular access to potential development sites of which there are many in the Hastings area. A specific local plan policy supporting small infill development on sites that cars cannot reach would not only assist the housing deficit but with a policy targeted contribution could also fund the construction of Greenway type routes throughout the town. The rail corridor and the Old Roar valley from town centre to The Ridge are just two obvious routes. Do the planners have enough imagination to see this?…..I somehow doubt it.

    Comment by ken davis — Thursday, Jul 26, 2018 @ 18:16

  5. mike Lushington

    Although I am a 87-year old motorist, not a cyclist now, I see so many occasions when I am driving where a cyclist is in real danger of being injured by traffic. The CC MUST provide extra funds for cycling paths to save lives and injuries.

    Comment by mike Lushington — Tuesday, Jul 24, 2018 @ 16:30

  6. Herbert

    Well done Green way group. East Sussex and Hastings Councils really need taking to task over this. Hastings desperately needs the safe walking and bicycling routes.

    Comment by Herbert — Tuesday, Jul 24, 2018 @ 07:48

  7. Bea

    If the Alexandra Park route is not your priority you could perhaps look at what is likely to happen there. The Friends of the Park are very concerned about safety and will be raising issues from the future safety risk assessment. We will also ask Historic England to reject the proposals on both landscape and safety grounds, as well as how people use the park at present. If HE reject it then all the officers’ and contractors’ time and effort will be pointless (and cost a lot of the money). We walked the route yesterday and there are many serious concerns.

    Comment by Bea — Monday, Jul 23, 2018 @ 13:31

  8. colin Foy

    How much of these routes can be completed by volunteers? As David Attenborough said, we must look after our own environment.

    Comment by colin Foy — Monday, Jul 23, 2018 @ 05:50

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