Green Party campaigners have condemned East Sussex County Council for failing to open a brand new footpath and cycle lane which forms part of a controversial road project in Newhaven, despite requests from local families who want to use it for exercise and for accessing Tide Mills beach.
This argument is just the latest to face the controversial Port Access Road, previously branded a ‘white elephant’ by campaigners who argued that the road was a waste of £23 million of public money intended to regenerate Newhaven. They argued there should have been full consultation on the project, as the previous consultation had been 25 years ago in 1996, when the road was planned to connect with a proposed new passenger ferry terminal, which was then not built.
Emily O’Brien ( pictured ) who is a Lewes District Green Party Councillor and was formerly Chair of local group Community Action Newhaven, which campaigned against the road, stated “This is the final straw. This road was built with £23 million of our money. Yet when local people could be making use of this empty space for walking, cycling, and recreation at a time when families are struggling with lockdown and the closure of normal activities, the Conservative controlled county council has bolted the gates.”
“Their flawed business case argued that this road was intended to benefit the community but they are showing their true colours now. I am calling on East Sussex County Council to open up immediately.”
Campaigners say that the business case put for spending the public money emphasised benefits for the community and for sustainable transport, and therefore that the county council cannot justify waiting for a further link road to be opened which would allow vehicle access from the port, and which would mean keeping the footpath and cycleway closed until late June at the earliest.
Emily O’Brien continued, “It’s more clear that ever that a huge amount of public money has been spent purely to benefit two two private companies – Newhaven Port and Brett Aggregates who need this road for their concrete trucks. Without it Brett Aggregates wouldn’t have got planning permission for their unwelcome and unloved concrete plant. If the County Council don’t open up this footpath and cycleway to local people until the concrete trucks move in, I have no doubt that the community will take this into their own hands.”