Reveal secret documents or face “nonviolent raids”, Transport Department told

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March 1, 2013 by operationdisclosure

Press Information Note
Combe Haven Defenders [1]
1 March 2013

REVEAL SECRET DOCUMENTS OR FACE “NONVIOLENT RAIDS”, TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT TOLD
Local residents to deliver Hastings Link Road ultimatum on felled tree

12.30pm, Monday 4 March, Department for Transport, London: Campaigners against the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) will issue an ultimatum to the Department for Transport (DfT)  [2] next Monday, demanding the release of secret documents about the £100m project. According to the ultimatum, which will be delivered written onto a section from an 87-year-old tree felled to make way for BHLR, if the DfT fails to comply by 5 April then activists will enter the Department to peacefully search for, copy and distribute the documents themselves [3].

In late 2011 / early 2012 Undersecretary of State for Transport Norman Baker asked the DfT for its recommendations on funding the £100m Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) [4] – the ‘first and the worst’ of over 190 new road projects that the Government, big business & local councils are pushing throughout England and Wales [5].

The DfT concluded that East Sussex County Council had “significantly overstate[d] the benefits of the scheme” [6] but its recommendations are being withheld from the public [4], leading many to speculate that it may have recommended against funding the project, which has now secured provisional government funding of £56m.
Among those delivering the ultimatum – which will follow a photocall and public statement at 12.30pm on the steps of the DfT – will be representatives from the Combe Haven Defenders, Bexhill Link Road Resistance, the Hastings Alliance, the Grannies Action Group, and an as-yet-unnamed group of local residents from Crowhurst, one of the villages that will be severely impacted by the Road [7].

The peaceful protests against the Road– which have been running since 14 December, with 28 arrests – have already received national attention [8].

Andrea Needham, a spokesperson for the “Operation Disclosure” inititative, said: “Though the  Department for Transport concluded that there was a “significant” risk of the BHLR achieving low value for money [9], and that East Sussex County Council had “significantly overstate[d] the benefits of the scheme”, the public are being denied the right to see the DfT’s recommendations regarding funding the project. We have a right to see these before work on this environmentally-disastrous white-elephant project becomes unstoppable, and if the Department won’t provide them we will come back and peacefully obtain them ourselves.”

[1] www.combehavendefenders.org.uk
[2] Department for Transport, 33 Horseferry Rd, London SW1P 4DR
[3] The ultimatum, addressed to transport Minister Norman Baker, reads: “Unless the Department for Transport’s redacted recommendations regarding the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road are released by 5 April, we the people will return to peacefully release this info ourselves. www.operationdisclosure.wordpress.com
[4] https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/redacted-did-the-dft-recommend-against-funding-the-link-road/
[5] https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/stop-the-zombie-roads-hastings-halloween-action-on-30-october/
[6] See para. 6 of http://combehavendefenders.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/annex-2b-extracts-from-19-march-submission-to-dft-ministers.pdf
[7] Combe Haven Defenders (www.combehavendefenders.org.uk); Bexhill Link Road Resistance (http://www.blinkrr.org); Hastings Alliance (http://hastingsalliance.com); Grannies’ Action Group (http://tinyurl.com/granniesaction); Crowhurst residents (http://tinyurl.com/crowhurstresidents)
[8] https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/recent-media-coverage/
[9] http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/local-authority-major-transport-schemes/bexhill-hastings-assessment.pdf

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