April 2, 2016 by combehavendefenders
Combe Haven Defenders have launched a new petition: No more public funds for the North Bexhill Access Road.
The North Bexhill Access Road (NBAR) is another project from ‘regeneration’ company SeaChange Sussex. It will run to the north of Bexhill, parallel to the A269 (Ninfield Road) and once built, will allow SeaChange to infill a vast area with housing and – of course – yet more business parks (because the ones they’ve built so far have been so successful – see here and here).
£16.6m for the NBAR: cheap at twice the price
The South East Local Enterpriser Partnership (SELEP) – the unelected, unaccountable body set up to distribute funds from central government, which has already thrown tens of millions of pounds at SeaChange – has allocated £16.6m to the NBAR. Sounds a lot? Yes, until you do a little maths.
The link road is 5.6km long, and so far the cost is £124.3m – that is, £22.2m/km – this figure is very close to the average cost per km of new roads calculated by the Campaign for Better Transport. The NBAR would be 2.4km long, and at £16.6m in total, would work out at £6.9m/km – that is, around a third of the per kilometre cost of the link road, and around a third of the average per kilometre cost of other new roads.
At 2.4km, the NBAR would be expected to cost somewhere in the region of £55m. That SeaChange is claiming it can be built for only £16.6m is extremely suspicious – in fact, we just don’t believe it.
Playing down the cost, coming back for more?
We believe there’s a very strong case to be made that SeaChange has deliberately downplayed the likely cost of the NBAR in order to secure funding from SELEP. Once construction has started, and it’s too late to abandon the project, we expect them to come back, cap in hand, for more public money.
Our petition, addressed to Christian Brodie, the newly appointed ex-investment banker chair of SELEP, demands that SELEP refuse to allocate any more public money to the NBAR. If SeaChange runs out of money, they can hold a jumble sale: not one penny more of public money should be spent on this destructive road. Please sign and share!