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Road protesters

Road protesters

What’s happening at Combe Haven?

The battle for Combe Haven continues, with the latest concern for the Combe Haven Defenders being ‘The Queensway Gateway’ – a plan to build another road, which will link Queensway with the A21. This will be built through virgin woodland. HOT’s Erica Smith rounds up some of the latest Combe Haven stories.

Sea Change Sussex representative flees questions
at Link Road exhibition

A spokesperson for Sea Change Sussex fled to the toilets and called the police after being asked some basic questions about his company’s projects at a Link Road public exhibition last Thursday (28 November). A key promoter of the Bexhill Hastings Link Road (BHLR), Sea Change Sussex is now the main driver behind at least two more road projects related to the Link Road: the Bexhill Gateway Road and the Queensway Gateway Road.

The representative for Sea Change Sussex refused to answer any questions regarding the costs of either project, how much public money was involved or whether Sea Change Sussex CEO, John Shaw, two of whose previous projects are now in receivership, was a suitable person to be spearheading two huge new development projects.

The spokesperson did eventually re-emerge from the toilets after 45 mins – and having removed his company name badge, but left the exhibition early. Sea Change Sussex have since removed a document from their web-site inviting ‘expressions of interest for the provision of engineering services’ to support its £2m ‘Queensway Gateway Road’ project – and is refusing to make public the results of a preliminary ecological study that has already been completed for the project. [Video footage of these exchanges can be seen on the Combe Haven Defenders website here.]

Sea Change have denied that the £2m ‘Queensway Gateway Road’ is the same as the Baldslow Link Road – a project that East Sussex County Council said would cost ‘a minimum of £30m’ in its submission to the Local Authority Major Schemes Development Pool in 2010.

A spokesperson for the Combe Haven Defenders said: “Despite being responsible for a string of local projects that are now in receivership, Sea Change Sussex CEO, John Shaw, is now spear-heading two new road projects, each with an associated business park, whilst acting as an advisor to the South East Local Transport Board – the body that will be making decisions about public funding for (at least) the Queensway Gateway Road. We urgently need to know how much these projects are going to cost, how much public money is going to be involved, whether or not these are purely speculative endeavours and what steps are being taken to prevent any potential conflicts of interest.”

Operation Disclosure trial goes on – and on….

Continuing the theme of endless adjournments during the Combe Haven trials, Emily Johns’ trial for her arrest during Operation Disclosure (a demonstration outside the Department of Transport in April 2013) was adjourned yet again on 30 October. The first time she appeared for trial, one charge had been dropped, but there wasn’t enough time to hear the second charge. On the second occasion, there was plenty of time, but the prosecutor had gone AWOL, so it had to be adjourned yet again. The judge commented that this was ‘completely unacceptable’, but said he was unable to dismiss the case at this stage. The trial is now scheduled take place on Monday 13 January, 2pm, at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court.

The illustration here of Emily Johns, drawn by Erica Smith, was for the ‘Shape and Situate’ zine, published this month.

Standing our ground: a short film about the Combe Haven campaign

A short film by film maker, Marta Lefler, about the past year of the campaign against the Link Road, has now been released. It covers the extensive protests against the road and situates them in the context of George Osborne’s national road-building programme. The film includes interviews with campaigners and shots of beautiful Combe Haven, as well as footage of actions including the tree occupations, building a road at Osborne’s country retreat and the Granny tree. The film can be seen here.

Roadbuilding mania (and resistance) spreads

All over the country, there are plans afoot for new roads, along with people coming together to resist them. If built, the new roads will cost a minimum of £28bn, almost certainly much more, as road projects often inevitably overrun on average by 40%. Some of the roads currently being resisted include a new motorway across the Gwent levels, the Silvertown tunnel in London, which would hugely increase traffic and pollution levels, the South Bristol Link Road and the Norwich Northern Distributor Route. As with the BHLR, promoters of many of the new roads are claiming they would bring huge economic benefits to the local community. Evidence shows that in fact the economic benefits claimed for roadbuilding are in fact almost always exaggerated and can rarely stand up to scrutiny.

More information about the national road development plans can be found on the Campaign for Better Transport’s ‘Roads To Nowhere’ campaign here.

Spooky tales and spicy curry fundraiser

Come and enjoy tales of the supernatural from East Sussex, from professional readers, with an interval for curry, and help raise money for the Combe Haven 19, on trial for resisting the road. Entrance is £5, plus small donation for curry (curry at 1066 Cakestand event only). Donations of raffle prizes appreciated.
Fri 6 Dec, 7 for 7.30: 1066 cakestand, Queens Road, Hastings. Facebook.
Sun 8 Dec, 7.30 for 8, The Beacon, St Mary’s Terrace, Hastings.
For more information, call: 01424 532103 or read the indepth story on HOT here.

For more HOT information on these issues, type ‘Bexhill Hastings Link Road’ and/or ‘Combe Haven’ into HOT’s search engine.

Posted 12:52 Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 In: Campaigns

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