Funding for controversial £100m road violates new Transport guidelines

March 18, 2013 by operationdisclosure

Press Release
18 March 2013
Combe Haven Defenders [1]

Release secret documents or face “nonviolent raids” campaigners tell Transport Department

Recent guidelines from the Department for Transport (DfT) strongly suggest that it recommended against funding the £100m Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) in documents which are being kept secret from the public.

In its recently published guidance for the Local Transport Boards (LTBs) – the bodies that will manage bids for major road projects from April 2015 – the DfT notes that “The overwhelming majority of local major schemes funded in recent years were assessed by the Department as offering at least “high” value for money”, and states that the LTBs will only be expected to fund schemes with lower than “high” value for money “in exceptional circumstances”[2].

The BHLR has been assessed by the DfT as offering “low or medium value for money” [3], but its recommendations about funding are being withheld from the public [4]. Dozens of campaigners will try to enter the DfT next month to release the documents themselves if the Department has not done so by 5 April [5].

The Road has been the focus of major direct action protests over recent months [6]. East Sussex County Council has been working on the road since December, despite having not yet received final approval and release of the £56m government funding required [7].

Andrea Needham, a spokesperson for the Combe Haven Defenders, the group that is organising the “document search” said: “According to the Department for Transport, East Sussex County Council has “significantly overstate[d] the benefits” of the Link Road, “double-counting productivity improvements” and dramatically overstating the number of jobs that would be created [3]. These guidance documents provide further evidence that the Department recommended against funding the project. The public must now be allowed to see these recommendations while it’s still possible to terminate this environmentally-disastrous white-elephant project.”

[2] See for more info, including links to the original documents. Of the 17 major transport schemes funded by the DfT in 2011, 63% were ‘high’ value for money, and the remaining 37% were ‘very high’.

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