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Greenway enthusiasts get ready for a stroll in the Country Park.

Greenway enthusiasts get ready for a stroll in the Country Park.

Walking and cycling funding cut draws protest

Hastings Greenway Group (HGG) has delivered a strong protest against East Sussex County Council’s decision to halve the budget for a package of walking and cycling routes in order to provide more money for road building, the latest in a series of walking and cycling commitments which have failed to materialise. Meanwhile the group has arranged a walk along the Ore Valley stretch of the proposed greenway route. Nick Terdre reports.

Things appeared to be going well for walkers and cyclists in 2014 when East Sussex County Council adopted the Hastings Walking & Cycling Strategy, a network of core walking and cycling routes to the design of which Hastings Urban Bikes and the local Ramblers Association had contributed, along wtih HGG.

Prospects improved even further in the same year when ESCC won £6 million of funding from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (Selep) towards a £12 million walking and cycling package in Hastings and Bexhill.

But as HOT reported earlier this year, ESCC decided, with Selep’s blessing, to take £3 million from the walking and cycling package to help cover cost overruns on two Sea Change Sussex road-building projects, the Queensway Gateway road and the North Bexhill Access Road.

Retrograde step

“This is a hugely retrograde step,” says a letter of protest sent by Hastings Greenway Group on behalf of Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum, Hastings Urban Bikes, the Ramblers Association, Transition Town Hastings and Ore Community Land Trust. “Not only is it a slap in the face to all the local groups and residents who have been waiting for this route infrastructure for so long, it makes no sense on economic or health grounds.”

The letter points out that Department for Transport’s own figures show a return of £5 for every £1 spent on walking and cycling infrastructure, while few road improvement schemes deliver their promised economic benefits.

According to the letter, funding is now only available for three stretches of the proposed Hastings greenway: the link road-Silverhill route, the Alexandra Park route and the on-road/pavement route from Alexandra Park to the Conquest hospital.

Unfulfilled undertakings

The letter also questions why a couple of undertakings have not been fulfilled: an amount collected under a Section 106 agreement from the developer of the Asda store in Silverhill which was earmarked for a cycle route through the top section of Alexandra Park, and funding allocated in the county council’s local transport plan budget in 2014 to the Silverhill-Queensway greenway section. Neither of these projects has been implemented.

The groups call on ESCC to “engage in meaningful discussions with local organisations interested in sustainable transport and with Hastings [Borough Council] over how walking and cycling infrastructure can be provided in the Borough…”

When this article went to press, no response had been received from the county council.

Ore Valley walk

Meanwhile HGG is inviting members of the public to join in a walk along the proposed greenway route through Ore Valley on Saturday 5 May.

Starting at Sandown school on The Ridge at 2pm, the walk will proceed along Victoria Avenue, through Speckled Wood, and via Frederick Road, Deepdene Gardens, Waterside Close, Broomgrove and the woodland below Chiltern Drive to the old power station site which is the location of the Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust’s housing project.

 

Posted 16:18 Tuesday, May 1, 2018 In: Campaigns

3 Comments


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  1. S Archer

    We need action on this. ESCC & HBC are embarrassingly bad on sustainable transport across the board, but particularly with regards to Walking & Cycling.

    Comment by S Archer — Thursday, May 3, 2018 @ 12:19

  2. Anton Hack

    The short-sightedness of constantly funding schemes which encourage car use and discourage the greater long term benefits of walking and cycling routes must end soon. It must be made to end soon by everyone who disagrees with it and sees it not only as a waste of money, but as detrimental to our health and economy.

    Comment by Anton Hack — Wednesday, May 2, 2018 @ 09:04

  3. Zelly Restorick

    Having been involved in and paid close attention to the anti road campaigns (against Sea Change Sussex’s developments, the Queensway Gateway and the North Bexhill Access Road), where local groups vehemently protested that the projects would need more money than the costs suggested, the news that money is being taken from walking and cycling to cover cost overruns seems an ironic travesty.
    I really don’t know how things like this are allowed to happen.

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Tuesday, May 1, 2018 @ 16:27

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