Car park doubts

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Uckfield and Buxted commuters face a double whammy of bad news this New Year

As well as an inflation-busting 4.1 per cent fare increase, they learn that a new car park proposed for the old Uckfield station site has been kicked into the long grass by the Rail Minister.

A report just released following a December meeting between new Rail Minister Simon Burns, local council representatives and Wealden MP Charles Hendry states: ‘The Transport Minister welcomed the plans for a new car park and said he would support the transfer of land from current owners, the British Rail Board Residuary to Network Rail at ‘open market value’. The figure involved is between £3 and £4 million but Brian Hart, BLM2 project manager pointed out Network Rail could never make a business case for a 130-space car park at a cost of £30,000 per bay.

This scotches hopes by both commuters and businesses in Bell Lane (where travellers currently park) that Uckfield could be provided with space to match the level of rail service to the town.

Brian Hart went on: “Given the warm words we had from the Conservatives when in opposition, I’m appalled they’re now attempting to sell off public assets.

“Clearly it’s in the nation’s interest that Uckfield is handed over as soon as possible to Network Rail and I hope our Lib Dem Minister, regional MPs, councils and public will make their views known in the strongest possible terms.”

Warnings had been given. In 2006 BRBR’s chairman Doug Sutherland told Brian Hart the land would be marketed on a competitive basis.

More recently it was said planning approval would be given for ‘residential or commercial use’ to reflect the town centre location.