March 26, 2013 by combehavendefenders
26 March 2013
Combe Haven Defenders (CHD) and Grannies Are In Action (GAIA)
LOCAL GRANDMOTHERS SEND CAKE-BASED MESSAGE TO TRANSPORT MINISTER
Norman Baker told to release Link Road recommendations by 5 April
26 March 2013: GAIA (Grannies Are In Action) have sent Transport Minister Norman Baker a lavishly-iced homemade cake, demanding the release of the Department for Transport (DfT)’s secret recommendations about whether or not to fund the £100m Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR). The cake, featuring a traffic-jam diorama in Regal icing, exemplifies Mr Baker’s Department’s assessment of the Road ie. that it won’t resolve the traffic congestion on the Bexhill Road.
The Lewes MP, who is also a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, commissioned the DfT’s assessment on whether to fund the Link Road, but the recommendations themselves have been withheld from the public . Unless the redacted recommendations are released by 5 April local grandmothers will join the peaceful “document search” at the DfT’s headquarters in London on 8 / 9 April .
Last week Mr Baker evaded a written Parliamentary Question from Brighton MP Caroline Lucas regarding the incompatibility of funding for the Road (which the DfT assesses to be of “low or medium value for money”) and DfT policy (which only funds projects of less than high value for money in “exceptional circumstances”) . He did acknowledge that “Any expenditure carried out to date by [East Sussex County Council (ESCC)] has been at its own risk”, as the Link Road has not yet received final approval for the £56m of funding from central government .
Local grandmother Rosamond Palmer said: “Before £100m of public money is spent on this road, local residents must be allowed to see the Department for Transport’s recommendations. Keeping us in the dark creates the assumption that the department concluded against the building of the road. Grannies Are In Action on 8 and 9 April at the DfT, unless of course Mr Baker sides with democracy and releases the information beforehand.”
 Copies of the redacted documents are available at http://tinyurl.com/redactedletter1 and http://tinyurl.com/redactedletter2. In their letter dated 19 March 2012 the DfT civil servants note that East Sussex County Council has “significantly overstate[d] the benefits” of the Link Road, “double-counting productivity improvements” and overstating by a factor of three the number of jobs that will be created.