Criticism as link road costs jump by £3.4m

BHLR. Link Road. SUS-151217-145827001
BHLR. Link Road. SUS-151217-145827001

The cost of the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road has jumped by £3.4m since it opened – and that figure could be set to rise further.

East Sussex County Council has approved the extra funding, pushing the overall cost of the Link Road, now known as the Combe Valley Way, to £124.3m.

It is the fourth increase since building work got underway in December, 2012, when the cost of the project stood at £100m.

This included a £56.85m contribution from the department for transport.

But the cost has increased a number of times since, including a huge £13m increase in July, 2013.

Despite the latest cost increase, neither the greenway – for pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders – nor the landscaping have yet been completed.

And East Sussex County Council says the final total could be even higher after finalising legal and financial settlements.

Combe Haven Defenders spokesman Anthony Bradnum said: “We believe there is a very strong case to be made that ESCC deliberately underestimated the likely costs of the link road in order to obtain funding.

“Had the real costs been revealed at that stage, the road would never have been funded.

“This road has been a disaster for Combe Haven, a disaster for the environment and a disaster for the people of East Sussex, whose vital services are being cut at the same time as more and more money is being squandered on this road.

“We hope that lessons are learnt from this sorry episode and no more such destructive vanity projects are given the go-ahead locally.”

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “The Bexhill to Hastings link road, known as Combe Valley Way, will bring an estimated £1bn of economic benefits to the area and deliver up to 2,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs.

“It is also expected to reduce congestion on the A259 by up to 40 per cent.

“The latest budget of £124.3m was confirmed and approved at East Sussex County Council’s full council meeting on February 9, 2016
 – this takes into account the additional costs of dealing with protestors and completing the extensive archaeology work.

“As with any scheme of this size, there is a seven-year period in which legal and financial settlements must be finalised.

“A final cost of the scheme cannot be confirmed until the end of this period.”

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