Eastbourne at a crossroads

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The future of Eastbourne over the next 20 years is now being planned in offices in Eastbourne and Lewes.

Next summer will see publication of a document which shows how our Borough Council has responded to representations on how its new Local Plan should guide future development of our town. Also, of great importance to us all, this new draft of the Local Plan will show how East Sussex County Council believe the transport arrangements serving the town should be changed, or remain broadly along the lines they are now.

Some really big decisions need to be taken. We can all see how travel within the town has changed over the past 10 years. Congestion along key corridors enabling the town to function has worsened. Queues at important junctions are bad and bus journey times are some 40% longer. Traffic delays in Hampden Park, arising from its level crossing, are at a stage which damages the interests of this important part of Eastbourne and the health of the local community.

Is this all hopeless? What can be done?

First and foremost, Eastbourne Eco Action Network (EEAN) believes that the time has arrived when more needs to be done to encourage greater use of the bus services in town. Put simply they have to be given sufficient priority along key bus corridors to enable them to offer more reliable and faster services. With the greater use that will follow, bus companies will need to offer further improvements such as greater frequencies, better buses and the best fare deals that can be managed economically.

This is the only way that Eastbourne’s current dependency on use of the car can be turned around. Other measures can help, and more will be said later, but improving bus services is fundamental.

Brighton and Hove have managed this with a 50% increase of bus use over the past 10 years.

What has gone wrong in Eastbourne?

Eastbourne does not yet have a transport strategy. It needs a good one, just as soon as that is possible.

Ten years ago, East Sussex County Council published a plan which identified four key bus corridors where it would support a Quality Bus Partnership focused on improving services and infrastructure:

A259 Seaside (town centre to Sovereign Harbour)

A2021 Kings Drive (town centre to District General Hospital/Sussex Downs College)

A259 Seaside to Langney Shopping Centre, and

Eastbourne to Old Town and Polegate/Hailsham.

 

What has been delivered in those last 10 years? NOTHING!

Indeed the latest advice we have had is that, for the one corridor where plans were developed, that is now to be reviewed! This is not a route to future prosperity, let alone carbon reduction! It is a route to growing congestion. Congestion damages the economy of the town, increases the town’s contribution to climate change and pollutes the air we all breathe.

The Government are set to publish a seminal Transport Decarbonising Plan for the country in the spring of 2021. The Chancellor has welcomed bids for a vital ‘Levelling Up Fund’. We now look to our leaders and their officers to determine the way forward for our wonderful town.

Eastbourne Eco Action Network (EEAN), Transport Group