BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Richard Bilton
"Improving the congestion in Hastings is important, but it will now not be done by building a new road"
 real 56k

The BBC's Richard Miron
has been canvassing reactions in Hastings
 real 28k

Transport minister John Spellar
explains the reasons behind the decision
 real 28k

Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Hastings bypass ruling splits opinion
Bypass protesters
The bypass proposals have aroused fierce opposition
The government's rejection of plans for the controversial Hastings bypass has delighted conservationists but angered many residents.

Business and community leaders say the road - which would have run through areas of outstanding natural beauty - was needed to relieve congestion and regenerate the East Sussex town.

But the ruling has been welcomed by green campaigners, who saw it as a test of the government's environmental credentials.

A survey of Hastings residents suggested that 80 per cent supported the scheme.

I would like to say the government balanced the view but they haven't. They have got it wrong

Michael Foster
MP for Hastings and Rye
Michael Foster, Labour MP for Hastings and Rye, said: "Ten thousand homes will be affected by this decision, they will continue to have to put up with high levels of traffic," he told the BBC.

"There is no way round it, I would like to put some spin on it, I would like to say the government balanced the view but they haven't. They have got it wrong."

'Condemned to poverty'

John Cosson, chairman of Hastings and Bexhill Integrated Transport Partnership, said: "I am utterly appalled by the decision which condemns Hastings to continued poverty.

He said the Transport Secretary Stephen Byers must now set out plans to regenerate the area, without the bypass.

John Page, 1066 Enterprise
John Page: Decision hits job prospects
John Page, executive director of 1066 Enterprise, a group which aims to bring jobs into Hastings, said the refusal was a "missed opportunity".

He said it would have a serious impact on the area, described as one of the most deprived in the South East.

He told the BBC: "There is just nowhere for [people] to find jobs at the moment and nowhere for our companies to expand into.

"The bypass was our one chance to do that because it opened up industrial land."


Peter Jones, Tory leader of East Sussex County Council, accused the government of being too scared to stand up to "eco-tyrants".

Gillian Bargery, Hastings Alliance
Local opponents say the bypass was not the answer

It had been feared construction could lead to protests like those over the Newbury bypass in Berkshire and the Twyford Down motorway outside Winchester.

Mr Jones warned some businesses may now desert the town. "This decision is a total disaster," he said. "It will deeply undermine the whole regeneration efforts in the Hastings and Bexhill areas.

Local traffic

But Gillian Bargery, who runs the bypass opposition group Hastings Alliance, said the road would not have solved the town's traffic problem anyway.

"Ninety-five percent of traffic is local," she said.

"It would never have been relieved by the bypass scheme.

"For far too long the bypass has been presented as the solution."

She said her group was relieved but would remain vigilant.

Tony Bosworth, transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the decision was "welcome and sensible".

"Building the bypasses would have caused enormous environmental damage and done little to regenerate the town," he said.

"The government must now look to sustainable alternatives to Hastings' problems, based on tackling local transport issues and creating jobs for local people."

The government has pledged to improve public transport and limit private car use.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

05 Feb 01 | UK Politics
'On yer bike', say Tories
15 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
Hastings bypass plan 'flawed'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories