Pathetic Assembly Decision
Shunning the growing critical press coverage of its questionable democratic role, the South East England Regional Assembly plows on making dodgy decisions.
Latest in the long line, is their rubber stamping of the South Coast Multi Modal Transport Study. This study commissioned by the Government had the brief of taking a fresh look at the south's transport problems and come up with a radical plan to prevent gridlock. And what imaginative scheme did it come up with? Yes you've guessed it, build more roads.
Don't think we're the only ones critical, here's what others have to say. First the South Downs Campaign:
The South Downs Campaign (SDC)  is astounded at today’s decision by the South East England Regional Assembly  to back damaging new roads through the proposed South Downs National Park. Less than a week after the Countryside Agency voted unanimously to sign the South Downs National Park Designation Order  the Regional Assembly has voted through proposals which will scar the landscape and destroy its tranquillity, harming the rural economy.
It supported new roads at Arundel, Worthing, Beddingham, Selmeston, and Wilmington all of which would have a serious impact on the proposed South Downs National Park . Alarmingly, the Regional Assembly also voted for more road building east of Eastbourne to Brenzett in Kent, which although outside the proposed National Park, would be likely to significantly increase traffic levels along the south coast.
Chris Todd, Campaign Officer for the South Downs Campaign said:
“We would urge the Government to ignore this highly irresponsible decision and throw these recommendations out. The Regional Assembly wants to bulldoze some of our most vulnerable national and international landscapes. Its role as the custodian of our future has been severely discredited by this decision.
“The road proposals will mean the Downs are invaded by traffic and their tranquillity destroyed. Where will this all end? If all these roads are built, even more will have to be built to cope with the extra traffic they generate.
“It is quite clear that local authorities pushing for these damaging road schemes have abandoned all pretence of caring for the South Downs. Many have vigorously opposed the proposed National Park. It is abundantly clear that a South Downs National Park is more urgently needed than ever before.”
Notes to Editors:
 The South Downs Campaign is a network of organisations including: National – Council for National Parks, Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), Friends of the Earth (FOE), Open Spaces Society, Ramblers’ Association, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), The Wildlife Trusts, WWF-UK, Youth Hostels Association (YHA); Regional/County – Council for British Archaeology – South East, CPRE Hampshire, CPRE Sussex, CTC South East, FOE South East, Ramblers’ Association Sussex, Ramblers’ Association Hampshire, Society of Sussex Downsmen, Sussex Archaeological Society, Sussex Wildlife Trust, YHA South Region; Local – Ashdown Rambling Club, Benfield Wildlife & Conservation Group, Bricycles, Brighton & Hove and Mid-Sussex FOE, Brighton Urban Wildlife Group, Chichester FOE, Cycle Lewes, Ditchling Society, East Blatchington Pond Conservation Society, East Hampshire CPRE, Eastbourne Ratepayers Association, Emsworth Residents Association, Friends of Lewes, Friends of the West End Henfield, Godalming and Haslemere Ramblers' Association, Keep Our Downs Public, Keep The Ridge Green, Kirdford Conservation Society, Lewes District FOE, Pells Amenity Group, Preston & Old Patcham Society, Ramblers' Association - Beachy Head Group, Ramblers' Association - Horsham and Billingshurst Group, Ramblers' Association - Meon Group, Ramblers' Association - South West Sussex Group, Slindon Common Residents' Association, South East Hants Ramblers' Association, Sussex Pathfinders Rambling Club, Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust, The Brighton Society, The Grace Eyre Foundation, The Kingscliffe Society, The Round Hill Society
 The South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) met today (Wednesday, 20 November, 2002) to vote on its transport strategy and its response to the South Coast Multi-Modal Study (SoCoMMS).
 The Countryside Agency Board voted unanimously to sign the Designation Order for the South Downs National Park at its Board Meeting in Cheltenham, on Thursday November 14, 2002.
 The Arundel bypass is likely to be just outside the proposed South Downs National Park boundary although it is likely to pass through land that meets the criteria for inclusion in the proposed National Park. Nevertheless it will have a huge impact on Arundel and its setting and the proposed National Park.
The Worthing bypass could be in a tunnel or tunnels but if this is being reviewed could mean the resurrection of plans for a bypass through the South Downs near Cissbury Ring, an Iron Age Hill Fort at the heart of the proposed South Downs National Park.
The flyover and new section of road between Southerham and Beddingham, just east of Lewes would also be in the heart of the proposed National Park and would cause huge damage.
The Selmeston bypass would be in the proposed National Park.
New roads around Wilmington would probably be just outside the proposed National Park but would nevertheless impact upon it.
Changes to the junction layout at Slindon Common are likely to involve land take from the proposed National Park.
Park & Ride around Brighton, part of the SoCoMMS proposals could increase traffic through the proposed South Downs National Park. The car parks themselves would also have an impact on the landscape.
Robin Crane (Chairman) on 01730 812935
Chris Todd on 01273 563358 or 07889 302229
Now what the Green Party said:
Once again an un-elected body has rubber stamped a decision that will effect
thousands of peoples lives and have serious consequences for the
environment. That body is of course the Regional Assembly.
Their decision to recommend to Government that the proposals contained in
the South Coast Multi Modal Transport Study - which could cost taxpayers
over £2 Billion - is deeply suspect.
How many of the people comprising this Regional Assembly are transport
experts. Indeed how would an Assembly member living in Buckinghamshire have
an in depth knowledge of the problems along the A27, let alone have read or
understood the technical report.
If it weren't so serious it would make a good farce. Recommendations
contained in this transport study - if approved by Government - will map out
the way we travel for the next 50 years, yet so far the public have not had
the opportunity to comment on it.
Clearly Democracy has been by-passed again. Is it any wonder people think
it's a waste of time voting?
West Sussex Green Party
And finally what we said when the report was published:
Despite costing the tax payer a small fortune, the long awaited government study into Transport Solutions for the South Coast has proposed little more than our own study produced on a shoe-string budget in 1994 called 'Travelling Light' (1). The South Coast Corridor Multi Modal Study (SoCoMMs) - to give it its official title - has tried to please all sides in the transport debate, and in doing so is unlikely to produce a long term solution to congestion.
Faced with a predicted 28% increase in traffic over the next 15 years a radical new approach was needed, yet SoCoMMs has fallen into the trap of recommending selective road building, an approach discredited by historical experience. However to be fair there are measures in the study we are happy to support. Namely Investment in walking, cycling and public transport, together with a levy on all private workplace parking spaces in urban areas and at all out of town retail parks. But what is lacking is congestion charging.
Of course proposals on rail track improvement along the south coast make sense. The new stations, new chords and passing loops will go a long way to providing a fast through service between Southampton, Ashford and Europe.
However no attempt has been made to reverse the present number of vehicles on the roads. All the report will say is that the proposed measures will "reduce the growth in car usage across the study area from 28% over the next 15 years to 20%". We say this is not good enough. An increase of 20% in traffic is not sustainable. For those unfortunately enough to live near to a main road, normal life will be impossible.
SoCoMMs has missed the opportunity to incorporate the Road Traffic Reduction Act and get to grips with car culture. The study places strong emphasis on providing businesses with faster journey times by removing so called bottle-necks with massive road building at Arundel, Chichester and Worthing.
But I wonder if they ever gave a second thought to the chaos their traffic generating plans will cause at Fontwell.
We reject their approach and we are not alone. For none other than the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has said in their study Building a world Class Region 'Even with only modest population growth, the demand for car travel in the South East is predicted to increase by 50 percent in the next 30 years. Attempting to meet this demand fully is simply not sustainable, and the link between economic growth and the growth in road traffic must be addressed'.
(1) Copies of
"TRAVELLING LIGHT" are still available (£5 + p&p) from:
Brighton & Hove & Mid-Sussex Friends of the Earth, 38 Queens Road, Brighton, West Sussex.
SCAR's submission to SoCoMMs
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