LETTER: Sick of being ignored

You are probably aware that Newhaven town mayor, Steve Saunders, has been ‘snubbed’ by LDC and ESCC.

After requesting a joint meeting between the two council leaders, Newhaven TC and other town and parish councils, regarding the volume of traffic travelling daily, through Newhaven and beyond, he hoped to have discussions, regarding application for funding from Central Government, for ‘Towns and Villages experiencing high volumes of traffic, and pollution’.

A successful bid for funding has been achieved by ESCC and Maria Caulfield, for a second Exceat Bridge, to alleviate congestion there. This will be most welcome, and alleviate that congestion, but will mean those travelling through to Newhaven and beyond, will just get to the congestion at Denton Corner, Newhaven, much faster!

A group of us town councillors suggested WE apply for Government funding, (to request a by-pass around Newhaven), as had been suggested both in the 1960s by Rt Hon Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes), and again in the 1970s when ESCC put forward three proposals to solve traffic congestion: one proposal for a by-pass, another for a ring road around Newhaven town, the third a large bridge, over the river (dismissed as too costly).

The Ring Road proposal (the most costly of the remaining two options) had fewest public votes.

The lesser cost, for a bypass, from the A26 across the railway and river, cutting up behind the Valley area, joining Brighton Road by Peacehaven Golf Course. Meaning it would bypass Newhaven completely. That option got the most votes and was the least costly of the three proposals.

As we know, ESCC took no notice of the votes cast, which they had requested! They went for the ring road around the town. It stopped congestion in the town, but helped cause the partial death of the town centre. We STILL HAVE congestion from around 3pm daily! We are not at all surprised by the ‘snub’ to our Mayor, as this happens constantly. I am certain that if we were a Conservative majority council, they might listen to us, but the attitude seems to be “it’s only Newhaven Town Council... ignore them!” As with the Veolia Incinerator, when Dove secured thousands of signatures against it, did they listen? Of course not! We got an incinerator, which has added significantly to the volume of traffic coming into Newhaven. ESCC didn’t have the decency to request Veolia pay for a roundabout, installed at the end of the A26, with a bridge over the railway line, so that vehicles accessing the incinerator, could drive straight to it and straight out again onto the A26... Their answer is that road access already exists to North Quay, via New Road, to the junction under the fly-over, turning right over the Railway crossing (held up every half-hour by trains stopping at Newhaven Station), turn right again into North Quay, and drive to the very end, to the Incinerator. Some 15 mins later, vehicles travel the whole route in reverse, eventually getting back to the A26 for their outward journey.

This means approx 200+ vehicles a day (including Boxing Day!) just going to and from North Quay.

That area is heavily polluted with exhaust fumes, added to by the new bus interchange, immediately adjacent to the taxi rank, and the port entrance, (more heavy diesel lorries) and close proximity to foot passengers leaving the railway station, and youngsters attending the new University Technical College! We are quite frankly sick of being ignored by ESCC. We live here, we know what is needed!

The £million s106 money given over to ESCC by Veolia for allowing the building of the Incinerator, has sat in ESCC bank account for approx four years, before a penny was spent, on planting trees... “to mitigate the impact of the Incinerator”. Only giant redwood trees could ‘mitigate the impact’ and they would take 100 years to reach the height to hide it!

So now what?... ESCC have spent £600k on planting trees! (My guess is they only spent the interest gained in the first four years!) The remaining £400k has sat in their bank account accruing interest, unspent on anything worthwhile for Newhaven.

Now we learn, that under the conditions regarding s106 monies, unspent money after 10 years (?) must be returned. So it has been returned to Veolia!

Were we advised by our county and district Councillors, that this is what would happen? OF COURSE NOT! We are a Lib Dem majority council, and they are Conservatives, God forbid that they do anything for us. Can someone work out how much interest they would have gained on £400k unspent?

Noticeably though, they do not make much effort to get their council tax from Peacehaven Conservative Cllr Robbie Roberston, (recent local press covered this story) who thinks it’s ok not to pay his council tax, as he has better things to spend his money on, and even suggested it be taken out of his council expenses!

Town council councillors don’t get expenses. Perhaps we in Newhaven need to refuse to pay our council taxes... will they listen to us then?

Cllr Diane Hall