Sidley’s worry over impact of link road works

Sidley traders who fear for their future want to know what help is available to them.

They aired concerns at a meeting yesterday attended by Cllr Michael Ensor, representing the county council, and local Rother District Councillors Jimmy Carroll and Maurice Watson.

The aim was to find out if they are entitled to compensation and how to go about claiming it.

Jay Carroll told the Observer that longterm benefits have been promised - such as new employment - but worries in the meantime traders could lose out, or even be forced to close, because so many people are passing through as quickly as possible or avoiding the area altogether.

He cited one local taxi driver who estimates he’s losing two to two-and-a-half hours every day sitting in the queue, and said while Sidley was “lucky” to have many fledgling businesses, there was real concern they are not established enough to survive.

“No-one is coming here,” Jay said. “They are all going somewhere else because Bexhill is in chaos.”

He felt the newly-formed Sidley Traders Forum was a positive to come out of the crisis, with the business community joining together, but added: “I know it has affected Bexhill traders as well. People are not coming this way at all. Yes, they say a lot of jobs will be created, but I am worried a lot of jobs will be lost before we get that far. It is having a massive impact. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work it out - you just stand in the street and see there is no-one around, and cars can’t get out of here quick enough.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Every aspect of the Link Road scheme has been meticulously planned, but with any project of this scale there will inevitably be a degree of disruption.

“The traffic lights near the Ninfield Road bridge are manned at peak times, allowing us to react instantly to any traffic problems, while outside peak times the junctions is monitored allowing us to quickly deal with any issues arising.

“Work remains on schedule despite the fact we have just been through the wettest winter on record, but with such a complex scheme there has to be a degree of flexibility as circumstances change.

“We totally understand that on the occasions where there is some disruption, this is frustrating for residents, but we’d ask people to bear with us while the work goes on.

“This is a scheme which is vital for the future prosperity of Bexhill and Hastings and will have huge benefits for the area, creating more than 3,000 new jobs and bringing economic benefits valued at £1 billion.

“We have just carried out letter drops to 14,000 homes in Bexhill to make them aware of forthcoming works and we will continue to keep residents updated as work continues.”