Press release: funding for walking and cycling slashed as money used to cover Queensway Gateway road 100% cost increase

February 13, 2018 by combehavendefenders

Press release
Combe Haven Defenders [1]
Wednesday 14 February 2018
Contact 07565 967 250

Photo: Queensway Gateway road construction: http://bit.ly/2FM8dky

More information: http://bit.ly/2E11E1b

Funding for walking and cycling slashed as money used to cover Queensway Gateway Road 100% cost increase

Local environmental group warned two years ago that cost projections used to secure funding & approval for two local roads were unrealistic

The projected costs of two local road projects, paid for with taxpayers’ money, have begun to soar – as was predicted two years ago by local opponents of the schemes. In order to cover the rising costs, money will be taken out of the budget set aside for other transport schemes including walking and cycling in Hastings and Bexhill.

According to a document from East Sussex County Council (‘Local Growth Fund – amendments to spend profiles’), the cost of the QGR has risen by £6m, whilst the NBAR has gone up by £2m [2]. This constitutes a 100% cost increase for the QGR, whilst the NBAR has risen by 12.5%.

Both roads are being built by local ‘regeneration’ company SeaChange Sussex. The QGR was originally granted £15m in funding by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), but in November 2015 SELEP reported that ‘SeaChange now think [the QGR] will be delivered for £6m’ [3]. Local environmental group Combe Haven Defenders (CHD) raised questions about the sudden drop in funding [4] but their request to SELEP to see the budget for the road was refused [5], whilst SeaChange failed to respond to the same request. Now the predicted cost has gone up by £6m, an increase of 100%.

SeaChange asked in 2015 for the ‘excess’ £9m from the QGR to be transferred to the NBAR [3], bringing the funding for the NBAR to £16m. CHD again questioned the funding, pointing out that even at £16m, the per km cost of the NBAR would be a third that of the Bexhill Hastings Link Road [6]. The group suggested that the likely cost had been deliberately downplayed by SeaChange in order to secure funding and that once construction had started, it was likely that costs would rise. However, in a response to a Freedom of Information request about the road costs, SELEP insisted that the budget was ‘robust’ [7].

But by last summer, there were signs that costcutting measures on the NBAR were already beginning, with SeaChange making a planning application to replace a bridge with a much cheaper culvert [8]. Now costs have risen by £2m, an increase of 12.5%.

The ‘Local Growth Fund – amendments to spend profiles’ document [2 – see point 3.5] shows that the total increase of £8m for the two roads will come from two sources. Firstly, £6m will be moved across from money allocated to various other transport projects, including walking and cycling improvements in the Hastings and Bexhill area [2 – see point 3.3]. A document from SELEP shows that the budget for walking and cycling will be cut from £4.7 to just £2.7m [9]. In addition, a further £2m will be taken from ‘reserves’ held by SeaChange Sussex [2 – see point 3.5].

Combe Haven Defenders spokesperson Andrea Needham said, ‘We’ve been saying for some time that SeaChange could not possibly build these two roads for the price they claimed. The massive increase in costs, particularly for the QGR, show that we were right. And it’s simply outrageous that some of the overspend is going to be paid for by taking money out of the budget for walking and cycling in Hastings, an area which desperately needs improving. This is public money, being wasted on hugely destructive white elephant projects which, going by SeaChange’s previous record, will not create the jobs that SeaChange claims. It is high time there was a lot more oversight of SeaChange projects, and a lot less willingness by councils to believe the frankly fantastical claims that they make in terms of costs and job creation.’

Contact 07565 967 250

NOTES
[1] https://combehavendefenders.org.uk/

[2] http://bit.ly/2HdpR28 – see points 2.5 and 2.9

[3] http://bit.ly/2E3P9C0 – see p40

[4] http://bit.ly/2E53eva

[5] http://bit.ly/2BVzheZ

[6] http://bit.ly/2FL7CQk

[7] http://bit.ly/2BX7fj5

[8] http://bit.ly/2EeDIXp

[9] http://bit.ly/2C05Dd7

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: