Campaigners outraged at former East Sussex council leader’s appointment as chair of unaccountable Local Transport Board

October 1, 2013 by combehavendefenders

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Press release
Combe Haven Defenders [1]
Tuesday 1 October

CAMPAIGNERS OUTRAGED AT FORMER EAST SUSSEX COUNCIL LEADER’S APPOINTMENT AS CHAIR OF UNACCOUNTABLE LOCAL TRANSPORT BOARD

Local campaigners for sustainable transport have expressed outrage at the news that Peter Jones – ex-leader of East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and one of the prime movers behind the ‘low value for money’ [2] Bexhill Hastings Link Road – has been confirmed as the new chair [3] of the South East Local Transport Board (SELTB) [4]. The SELTB is responsible for allocating funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) for transport schemes in three counties – East Sussex, Kent and Essex.

Currently, decisions about which transport schemes to fund are made by the DfT. However, funding will shortly be devolved to Local Transport Boards, quangos which include unelected business representatives [5]. The initial allocation of funds to the SELTB is £65.9m [6], and the board has drawn up a shortlist [7] of seven schemes which together would cost £183m. Of the seven schemes prioritised, six are car-based (including a park and ride scheme) and the other is a new station near Chelmsford.

Top of ESCC’s wishlist is the Baldslow Link, the proposed new stretch of road linking Queensway directly to the A21 in Hastings. In its 2010 submission [8] to the DfT for funding for the Baldslow Link, ESCC estimated that it would cost £30m, but in the SELTB prioritisation document [7], it is now claimed that it will only cost £15m.

In SELTB documents [9], Peter Jones is listed as representing ESCC, despite having retired as a county councillor in May 2013. It is not clear in what capacity he is representing the county, or if he is being paid for his work. He has personally appointed [10] John Shaw, CEO of Seachange Sussex, and developer of the Gateway Road in Bexhill [11] to assess the business case for each shortlisted scheme.

John Shaw has overseen many projects for Seachange Sussex; at least two of them – Lacuna Place in Hastings, and the Enviro 21 business park in St Leonards – are now in receivership. It is not known whether Mr Shaw was appointed in an open and accountable process, or how much public money he is receiving for his work.

Spokesperson for Combe Haven Defenders, Andrea Needham, said, ‘Having pushed car-based transport on the people of East Sussex at the expense of decent public transport, Peter Jones is now pulling the strings of an unaccountable organisation which will be making decisions about funding for transport schemes over three counties. With his championing of the ‘low value for money’ Bexhill Hastings Link Road, Peter Jones has made very clear his preference for the car over sustainable transport. It is completely unacceptable that he will now be making decisions about how public money is spent on transport in the future.’

Contact 07565 967 250

NOTES
[1] Combe Haven Defenders https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com
[2] https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/rising-costs-mean-link-r

3] http://www.southeastlep.com/south-east-local-transport-board/seltb-meetings-agendas-minutes/event/29-transport-board-meeting. The appointment was made on 6 September.

[4] http://www.southeastlep.com/south-east-local-transport-board/about-us

[5] https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/2637/

[6] http://www.southeastlep.com/south-east-local-transport-board/consultation-responses

[[7] http://www.southeastlep.com/images/LTB/Copy%20of%20South%20East%20LTB%20-%20Prioritised%20scheme%20template%20310713.pdf

[8] http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/264C021F-2085-4B69-8A69-292C974B8D15/0/ExpressionofInterest_opt.pdf

[9] http://www.southeastlep.com/the-board/board-members

[10] http://www.southeastlep.com/components/com_rsevents/assets/files/52246b3354661_report%20with%20appx.pdf (point 9)

[11] https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/stop-the-link-road-to-the-link-road/


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