Fully unedited report on Bexhill-Hastings Link Road’s ‘major risks’ published

Andrea Needham by the Link Road with the previously redacted document

Andrea Needham by the Link Road with the previously redacted document

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Campaigners have this week said a previously redacted document reveals the county council knew the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) ‘should not have opened’ until all planning conditions were met.

The Combe Haven Defenders said the full unedited report was ‘accidentally’ released by the authority.

The document, called Gateway Review 4, produced in March 2015, shows at that time the BHLR was rated ‘amber/red’, meaning delivery of the project/programme was in ‘doubt with major risks’.

Problems identified include ‘compensation events’ of up to £13m, with the report noting ‘the scale of any further cost and funding increase is likely to be significant’. It notes while the road might be completed by December 2015, other parts of the build would not be completed until the following spring. The report states that ‘from a contractual perspective, the scheme is not finished and the road should not be opened’.

Discussing the 26 planning conditions, the report notes that ‘it is quite possible a number of these will have to be negotiated out, waived or reassigned at the point of road opening’.

Campaigners first made a Freedom of Information request for the document in July 2016, and they said they were provided with a very heavily redacted version in September.

Andrea Needham, Combe Haven Defenders member, said: “The full version of this document proves two of the things we have been saying all along: namely, this project was badly managed and over budget. Furthermore, it shows the county council was well aware the road should not have been opened when it was, because the planning conditions were not going to be met in time. It’s high time councillors were held responsible for this environmentally and financially disastrous white elephant project.”

A county council spokesman said: “The Gateway Review was a routine operational evaluation of the Link Road project and was undertaken in March 2015, nine months before the road was opened. The road opened on December 17, 2015, with outstanding work completed in the following months, and has been delivering benefits to residents and businesses, opening up land for much-needed housing and employment.”

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