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Combe Haven Valley (photo: Oliver Tookey)Sussex spring? BHLR latest

Is this a Sussex Spring?

We’re familiar with the Arab Spring. Do we currently have a Sussex Spring happening within our own country, (albeit a relatively tranquil one thankfully), emerging around the issue of the Bexhill Hastings Link Road?, asks HOT’s Zelly Restorick.

In Crowhurst earlier this week, local people gathered at the parish meeting to pose a number of questions regarding the road.  Representatives from ESCC, the police and the Combe Haven Defenders also attended.

Issues raised concerned the fact that work was started by ESCC without the promised notification; environmental concerns re the Department of Transport’s report that the road is ‘the most polluting’ of the roads proposed by The Chancellor, George Osborne and ‘poor value for money’; concerns that speculators and property developers were gaining more from the plan than local residents; current legal action regarding the site of the Battle of Hastings; flooding issues; disagreement regarding the number of jobs to be created, when there are many industrial units currently empty on the locality [estimated figures range from 900 to 4,000] and the purpose of the link road being changed by ESCC from relieving Bexhill Road traffic to jobs and regeneration.

BLINKRR, the group in Bexhill who claim that the BHLR will be built across the site of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Invasion, have also been busy. English Heritage have agreed to investigate the site and legal proceedings have been instigated to stop work on the road.  Bexhillian Michael Bernard is seeking an injunction to protect a possible world heritage site.  ESCC have been given until 1 February to consider their position and respond.  A court order confirms this.

A meeting of the Council is due to take place on 29 January at Lewes Town Hall.  It’s possible for people interested or involved in this issue to attend.

By the way, to date, I’ve not heard from Peter Jones in response to my letter which I dropped at his home address re the Combe Haven Defenders claim that ESCC had met in secret to agree further funding for the road.  To be fair to him, I imagine he currently has far more pressing matters on his mind.

Protectors in the trees at Comba Haven with security and police etcOut of the three camps in Combe Haven Valley located on the route of the link road, one remains, Decoy Pond; the others were evicted in the last week or so.  Protectors, police, the protest police team, private security guard companies, chain saw gangs, specialist teams of tree climbers and those with skills to dig people out from tunnels were all involved in the evictions and had to endure the often harsh weather conditions.

I visited the Decoy Pond Camp yesterday, sitting around a camp fire whilst the freezing sleet and howling wind lashed at my back.  Blue tarpaulins flapped astoundingly high in the trees, where tree houses have been built. I have no idea how the protectors and other people involved are able to withstand the weather conditions and still be motivated and be able to function.  However, spirits at the camp seemed to be high and I heard that people were working well together, sharing tasks, united in a mission and leader-free.

Decoy Pond Camp

Decoy Pond Camp Photo Combe Haven Defenders

News also emerged this week that the daughter of Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies, Natalie Hynde, has been taking part in the protest to protect the area.  She’s local and has been on site from the start.  A new experience, she found herself up a tree on Day 1, spontaneously defending the trees about to be cut down by the chain saw teams and has been on site more or less full-time ever since.  She feels strongly that the road shouldn’t be built through the valley, her primary reasons being the increase in carbon emissions from the road.

Local, national and international media have recently covered the BHLR issue from a wide variety of perspectives – with many reports being filed on TV, radio, in the papers and on-line.

Opinions amongst the local community also range across a wide spectrum, coming from many different angles, some in support of the road, some in opposition and some indifferent.  It seems that the journey of the link road project continues to stir some people’s hearts and souls, as it has for decades.

At this time, it appears that the link road plan is not, as many people – both those in favour and those against – seem to have believed, a ‘done deal’.

What do you think?

Posted 12:44 Friday, Jan 25, 2013 In: The HOT Planet

3 Comments


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  1. David Stevenson

    I can’t see the Council stopping now. This is a joint project between them and Central Government and between them they have far more physical power than a few individuals in trees. Politicians don’t care what is legal or illegal and have no sense of right and wrong. They merely change the law or fiddle the system so that they get their own way. Yes, it is clear that Peter Jones is now on an ego trip. When the promised jobs don’t materialise, will he have the decency to admit that he was wrong?

    Comment by David Stevenson — Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 @ 13:31

  2. Ermie

    I am shocked that ESCC has even considered spending the huge amount of money this project is going to cost and then tells us on a regular basis that jobs and services have to be cut. This road has now clearly become Peter Jones’ vanity project and ESCC seems determined to go ahead regardless of cost or lack of local support and against all the evidence that determines that this is a waste of time and money. However, it is clearly no longer a done deal – people should be aware that the camps are only the thin (and highly visible)end of the wedge – there is an entire army of protestors outside the camps who are lobbying, writing letters and contacting the press. Most people I speak to feel that this project is an obscene act of vandalism and that ESCC has no mandate for its construction. Shame on you Peter Jones and your self-aggrandising cronies….!!!

    Comment by Ermie — Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 @ 01:25

  3. Anton

    I agree that it no longer seems like a ‘done deal’, Zelly. I have been visiting the camp area fairly regularly and talking to a lot of locals and people in the immediate area of the proposed road. There is a real groundswell of support for not going ahead with this road, you can feel the momentum building. There has also been a lot of flim-flam written about the subject, and I am really pleased that your article cuts through that and manages to clearly list many of the main reasons why this road project is in question. There are so many better things that our councils should be doing with this sort of amount of cash!

    Comment by Anton — Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 @ 10:47

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