Call for investigation into handling of ‘farcical’ Queensway Gateway Road project

A Hastings councillor has called on East Sussex County Council to investigate the handling of the Queensway Gateway Road project. 

At a full council meeting on Tuesday (May 10), Labour’s Phil Scott asked Rupert Simmons, cabinet member for economy, whether the council would consider launching an investigation into the long-delayed project to connect Queensway with Sedlescombe Road North (the A21) in northern Hastings.

In asking his question, Cllr Scott made reference to the recent resignations of local councillors Kevin Dixon and Paul Barnett (representatives of Rother District Council and Hastings Borough Council, respectively) from the board of Sea Change Sussex, the regeneration company behind the scheme.

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Cllr Scott said: “With absolutely no progress on the road to nowhere and with directors resigning one after the other from Sea Change, clearly distancing themselves from the farcical project, isn’t it time that East Sussex County Council set up an investigation to look at why this project has been totally mismanaged and why the Gateway Road project has failed to be delivered?”

Junction Road seen from Whitworth Road (Google Maps Streetview)

While Cllr Scott’s question had been directed at Cllr Simmons, a response was given instead by council leader Keith Glazier (Con). 

Cllr Glazier said: “I think the questions you are asking, you are asking of the wrong people. You need to ask the people who have resigned at Sea Change why they have done that.

“We continue to work with Sea Change to deliver what is an essential piece of infrastructure in Hastings and I am convinced that this council is doing all it can to facilitate that.”

Originally slated for completion by November 2016, the project has been beset by a series of delays. The majority of the road was completed in March 2019, but the final section, connecting it to Sedlescombe Road North, has so far remained unfinished.

It was originally planned to create a new roundabout at this end of the road, with both Junction Road and a section of Whitworth Road to be closed to traffic. But, despite what is understood to be several years of negotiation, Sea Change has so far been unable to secure the land necessary to build out this roundabout. 

As a result, Sea Change has brought forward alternative plans to create a traffic-light controlled junction between Sedlescombe Road North and the Queensway Gateway Road instead. Once built out, Junction Road would be closed to traffic.

This junction (according to documents presented to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership in February) is expected to be completed by Summer 2022.