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Tony Polain of Hastings Greenway Group explains the benefits of the concept at the public meeting.

Join the greenway rail corridor walk

Hastings Greenway Group’s campaign to make the greenway a reality takes a further step forward with a public walk on Saturday 18 February along the rail corridor stretch in the town centre. The group attracted an interested audience to its recent meeting, including two local councillors but no one representing East Sussex County Council. Nick Terdre reports.

Some 20 members of the public attended the meeting in early February. Following presentations on the greenway concept and its history, a couple of lively Q&A sessions took place with lots of good ideas coming from the floor, Tony Polain told HOT. Together with Tim Jemison he is joint chairman of Hastings Greenway Group (HGG).

The meeting was attended by local councillors Nigel Sinden and Tania Charman, both keen supporters of the project, the proposed route of which goes through Silverhill and Tressell, their respective wards. Ms Charman is also a director of Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, which has begun work on the greenway section which passes over their land in Ore Valley.

ESCC “intransigent and arrogant”

She is also a county councillor, but there were no representatives from East Sussex County Council although they had been invited. “People found the presentations very informative and useful but were shocked at how intransigent and arrogant ESCC are,” Mr Polain said.

The next public walk will follow the railway corridor link through the centre of town – from Holmesdale Gardens just west of the station as far as Mount Pleasant tunnel to the east, a distance of 1.6 km. Both Railtrack and its successor Network Rail have been supportive of the project which at points goes over railway land, providing assistance with feasibility studies carried out between 1995 and 2008.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and Hastings Borough Council also participated in the studies, but the present administration in County Hall has given HGG the cold shoulder, according to Mr Polain. HGG would like to see the Ore Valley greenway section funded from the £6 million pot recently secured by ESCC from the Local Enterprise Partnership for walking and cycling routes.

Formal complaint mulled

“We are likely to make a formal complaint against them and also take them to the [local government] Ombudsmen regarding their administrative failings,” Mr Polain said. The group will also seek a meeting with local MP Amber Rudd, a supporter of the project.

After a period in the noughties when funding was available for planning activities such as the feasibility studies, the campaign ran out of steam and campaigners became disillusioned, according to Mr Polain. “If pressure is not kept up on the councils, the same thing will happen again”, he said.

Hastings Greenway Group Public walk along the greenway rail corridor link on Saturday 18 February, assembling at 10.30am at the greenway sign on Holmesdale Gardens.

See also Greenway group calls open evening

Posted 12:47 Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017 In: Campaigns

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