Bexhill-to-Hastings link road protests 'cost £690,000'

Bailiffs and an activist at the Bexhill to Hastings road site Activists locked themselves in trees and tunnels at the site near Crowhurst

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Nearly £690,000 has been spent dealing with protesters at the proposed £93.8m Hastings-Bexhill link road, according to East Sussex County Council (ESCC).

Scores of bailiffs and security staff evicted anti-road activists from trees and tunnels in Combe Haven Valley near Crowhurst between 16 and 30 January.

Sussex Police said 28 people had been arrested over the protests.

Opponents claim the road will destroy the valley and is a waste of taxpayers' money.

'Skills and expertise'

A spokesman for ESCC said: "To secure the site and remove protesters from trees and tunnels has required highly-trained specialist staff at a cost of nearly £690,000 so far, an unnecessary additional cost.

"This is a significant sum but this was a significant protest which culminated in the arrest of 28 people.

"To remove safely people who have locked themselves in tunnels and to trees requires very specific skills and expertise.

"We will continue to work with security and the police, where appropriate, to ensure any preparatory works can continue to be carried out safely."

He added: "It is absolutely essential we are now allowed to get on and build the link road which is so vital to the regeneration of one of the most deprived parts of the South East."

However, Andrea Needham, from the Combe Haven Defenders, said the whole link road was an "unnecessary cost".

"The cost of the link road is vastly more than the cost of the protest," she said.

"And to say that people shouldn't protest because of the costs, is wrong. If there's an injustice then the thing to do is to remove the injustice and not blame people for protesting against it."

Of the 28 people arrested, 18 have been charged and seven given a caution. The majority of the charges are for obstruction, assault and aggravated trespass, according to Sussex Police.

Activists have been trying to delay the building of the road - which will link the A259 and B2092, crossing Combe Haven Valley near a site of special scientific interest.

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