‘Benefits’ of link road are just propaganda

Your pages have recently featured articles (Observers, August 1) featuring the supposed great benefits that the link road has already brought and will bring to Bexhill and Hastings.

Worryingly, the information within these is simply made up of evidence-free assertions by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and some spokesmen of the ‘business community’. There is a complete absence of editorial qualification: the content of the articles is no more than propaganda.

We are told in both Observers:

‘The road will bring 3,000 new jobs and £1 billion of investment’:

That’s conjecture, not backed up by any evidence. The Department for Transport put the estimate at 1,000 – 40 per cent of which would go to people outside the area.

‘The A259 between Hastings and Bexhill ... has been clogged up for nearly 40 years’:

Well, traffic rarely ceases to move, and the situation in school holidays is characterised by free flowing traffic. ESCC has failed to provide high quality bus infrastructure for decades and is blocking a railway station at Glyne Gap/Ravenside – a major generator of road traffic.

In a current consultation (see ESCC website) it is also proposing to dismantle many supported rural and urban bus networks. Great for the motor trade and petrol and diesel sales. Bad for further congestion and carbon emissions. There is also no information about alternative transport that will be available on day one of the link road opening.

And the ESCC Your County magazine – delivered to all households – repeats the jobs propaganda, and tells us that the 750,000 tonnes of soil moved to build the link road have given unprecedented access to the secret history concealed below the earth. It was always known that the valleys now being degraded and ‘redesigned’ contained a 4,000-year record of unbroken human habitation, and had already given up finds of national importance.

ESCC had itself described the Combe Haven as essentially a medieval valley and the ‘finest medium-sized valley outside of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. The valleys will never now be places where the archeology might be enjoyed in a proper, tranquil and beautiful setting, so to pretend that the archeological value is enhanced by the massive scale of destructive earthmoving to build a poor ‘value for money’ link road is a breathtaking manipulation of facts.

The Bexhill Observer itself offers coverage to a story around the efforts of the director of the Institution of Civil Engineers to encourage volunteers from the project to visit schools and colleges in East Sussex to promote interest in civil engineering. That’s not in itself a cause for concern – we need engineers.

But what does give cause for concern is that this particular link road focussed initiative appears unlikely to include any reference to the major doubts about the need for the road or its benefits as expressed by Department for Transport experts and many others. ESCC should give assurances that schoolchildren and students are not being propagandised.

Young people should be apprised of the fact that alternatives were never fully considered: sustainable civil engineering projects were also always on the table

Derrick Coffee

County officer

Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex