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Senior planner Kerry Culbert briefs Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum on the area action plan for the town centre and Bohemia.

Senior planner Kerry Culbert briefs Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum on the area action plan for the town centre and Bohemia.

Wanted: action on sustainable transport

The need to encourage action on sustainable transport by the authorities in County Hall and Hastings Town Hall was one of the key themes aired at the September meeting of Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum. Nick Terdre reports.

At its meeting in early September, Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum (HSTF) was given a briefing by senior planner, Kerry Culbert on Hasting Borough Council’s area action plan for the town centre and Bohemia, which is currently out to public consultation.

The plan has a section devoted to promoting sustainable transport in which it proposes working with East Sussex County Council to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians along the A259 sea-front road, reviewing parking management in the town centre to reclaim sea-front space for leisure uses and improve the pedestrian environment, and to implementing a cycling strategy in the town centre in line with existing HBC policy.

The plan also points up the potential of a house-building programme providing more than 800 new homes either side of Bohemia Road, which raises issues such as car parking and public transport provision.

The forum plans to submit comments on the plan, as its constituent groups will also be doing. While it is encouraging to see sustainable transport included, forum members know only too well that aspiration is a long way from implementation, at least in this corner of the country.

The publication of HBC’s Hastings Walking and Cycling Strategy in 2014 should have been followed by the establishment of a meeting-place where authorities could debate sustainable transport issues with community groups and return to their desks knowing what people wanted. That didn’t happen, so last year the grassroots organisations took matters into their own hands.

While the authorities have stayed away, a range of community groups are active participants – Hastings Urban Bikes, Hastings Greenway Group, Ore Community Land Trust, Transition Town Hastings, Hastings & Rother Disability Forum, East Sussex Health Trust and the Green Party all had representatives at the meeting. Two local councillors, Nigel Sinden and Andrew Batley, were also present.

Frustrations

The lack of engagement with ESCC, which is responsible for transport matters in the county, has proved a frustrating business, as exemplified by the recent revelation that officers are pushing ahead with a greenway funding programme for Hastings and Bexhill which prioritises completely different route sections from those proposed by Hastings Greenway Group.

And no one was left in any doubt about the second class status of cyclists and pedestrians at County Hall  in the wake of ESCC’s notorious decision earlier this year to take £3 million out of a walking and cycling programme to cover cost overruns on a new road.

Liaison between the two authorities themselves is also unsatisfactory at times – according to Cllr Batley, on occasions when HBC has requested information from ESCC on transport matters, County Hall has failed to respond.

While committed to a sustainable transport policy on paper, HBC says it is unable to implement it for lack of resources. However there are measures it could take which do not cost. In the opinion of Tony Polain of the Hastings Greenway Group, the appointment of a champion would help to ensure the issue was raised in relevant committees and other council forums.

Another way of making the issue more prominent, and give the grassroots more of a voice would be to have HSTF included as a consultee on all planning applications, Ian Sier of Hastings Urban Bikes suggested.

Ultimately what is needed is for both ESCC and HBC to take sustainable transport seriously, he said. Councils in places such as Ashford and Poole have shown that sustainable transport policies – dedicated walking and cycling networks, cycle lanes, footpaths, and so on – can be put into practice.

Last week Sier and Polain met with MP Amber Rudd who undertook to raise the issue of the diverted walking and cycling funds with ESCC.

The meeting heard of various upcoming events and initiatives.

  • Hastings Urban Design Group is holding walks in the town centre and Bohemia respectively tonight, Wednesday 12th, and tomorrow, setting out from White Rock Hotel at 6pm, to see from close hand what the proposals of the area action plan would mean.
  • Hastings Greenway Group will cover similar territory in their next walkabout on proposed greenway routes on Saturday 22nd. This will start at the station at 2pm, go down to the sea-front, up to Bohemia and back to the station.
  • The Green Party is interested in encouraging more car-sharing along the lines of the Co-Wheels scheme, and is consulting in the Old Town to see what support there would be.
  • East Sussex Health Trust would like to see a demand-led bus service for Conquest Hospital similar to the app-based Arriva Click service being trialled by Arriva in Sittingbourne.
  • Transition Town Hastings is to run a pilot for TalkShop, a place to debate relevant issues, with driverless cars as the topic. This will take place at 7.30pm on 24 September in the Garage behind the Horse & Groom pub in St Leonards.

The next meeting of HSTF will take place at the Isabel Blackman Centre in Winding Street in the Old Town at 7pm on Wednesday 5 December.

Posted 18:22 Wednesday, Sep 12, 2018 In: Campaigns

3 Comments


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  1. Mr Hippolyte Grigg

    1. Have we all not been down this road of consultation by local councils only to be left with the impression that they really don’t give a damn about what we think and go ahead any as though we don’t exist. At lest they ask but that is just window dressing. They use research as though it gives them a let off if we complain. Often this reseach is done with a pitiful sample.
    2. On the subject of cyclist whose safety we must cherish, I see very few of these folk on the roads in the town centre or even out side the town so funding would seem to be premature but not ignored. Press repors of accidents involving them seem to be far and few between thank goodness.

    Comment by Mr Hippolyte Grigg — Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018 @ 16:29

  2. Tony Polain

    Hi Nick

    Really good article – we have been so short-changed by County over the years and as a consequence our cycling infrastructure in Hastings is pretty miserable.

    Comment by Tony Polain — Thursday, Sep 13, 2018 @ 10:26

  3. Herbert Jonas

    It’s encouraging to see community groups moving forward with this. It’s shameful that both ESCC and HBC have such abysmal records on sustainable transport.

    Comment by Herbert Jonas — Thursday, Sep 13, 2018 @ 10:23

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