Down the Hastings to Bexhill Link Road, Birmingham Christmas capers…

This morning I said to Philosopher: ‘Let’s drive down the new Link Road’, (or Combe Valley Way as we are supposed to call it), so we did.

    Diligent Battleaxe readers will know that I wrote a blog post about this controversial road ages ago – I even won a prize for the piece in the Hastings Writer’s Group journalism competition. (Now there’s a thing – I have not even been placed in a HWG competition this year – first time ever…).
     The road was opened last week – the exact opening time was kept secret until the last minute to deter environmental protesters, but in fact they still managed to sit themselves down in the road in front of the VIPs. Seems a bit pointless to me, when the road is finished…
    Although the original arguments against the road are still valid, and it will have little impact on the local traffic on the sea-front route, it’s here now, so we may as well use it. In fact, for us folk living near the Ridge, it is ideal to get to Bexhill, Eastbourne, Brighton etc.  Also, when we have strokes, ambulances will now at least have a chance to get us to the hospital in Eastbourne within the necessary 45  minutes!
    The traffic along the Ridge is just terrible, and the local council seem to grant permission for constant further residential development along the road, without giving a thought to the impact on traffic. As well as assorted junctions and residential roads, there are three schools, the Conquest hospital, the Crematorium and cemetery, at least one church, the Hastings Centre, two pubs, several care homes and umpteen industrial sites, all of which cause traffic hold-ups of varying severity. In some places, parking is allowed on what is quite a narrow road, for example outside St Helen’s Church.

Queuing to get past parked cars by St Helen’s Church

    Planning permission for another new road (the Queensway Gateway) has just been granted to join the Link Road to the A21, again amidst furious protests from environmentalists. In fact, this is the second time the road has been approved – it was thrown out on appeal, and the scheme had to be resubmitted. While I hate to see loss of countryside, wildlife habitat etc., I do believe that access to the A21 from the Ridge has to be improved – the existing junction is just ridiculous, and vehicles must emit as much pollution sitting in traffic queues as they would on a new road.

Protests against the next new road….

    It does seem a bit crazy, driving down the empty Queensway to join the Link Road past all the  sites forlornly waiting for some far-away, hypothetical developments which would miraculously create jobs. Then here’s the new road, giving access to yet more fantasy-land opportunities…. However, money for these roads is secured on the promise of such development.
     The new road joins the Queensway with traffic lights. Why not a roundabout?
     Actually, I think the road will bed into the landscape quite quickly – if it doesn’t sink into the marshy ground of the Combe Valley before that. The verges looked very boggy.  It follows the contours of the landscape quite pleasingly. The road is quite empty as yet, but then so, always, is the Queensway. Here is a video:

     After the excitement of the Link Road, we stopped at the Hastings Garden Centre for a soothing coffee. Battleaxe does recommend their Christmas scones. Lots of Christmas stuff left….
      I took a few photos of the tropical fish. We thought they ought to put out a charity box for donations from people who just come to look at/photograph the fish…..

Pretty fishes…

     We were in Birmingham at the weekend, seeing family and friends.
     Wow, the city does seem busy after our quiet provincial sea-side backwater. It seems ridiculous moaning about the traffic on the Ridge when I spent I don’t know how long sitting stationery in traffic jams on the crowded bus from Moseley to the City Centre and back, then from Moseley to Kings Heath.
      Philosopher was saying that you develop a ‘shell’ to protect you against city life when you live there, and we have now lost ours. The City Centre felt like a blaring Hades (but it was the Friday night before Christmas!) and I didn’t like it when our bus driver had to stop the bus and go upstairs to sort out some drunken lads who were jumping on the seats…. and apparently drivers don’t usually even leave their cabs, just phone for the Transport Police.
     As ever, we stayed with our old friends Sue and Alex, and spread ourselves thin for a busy round of meetings with friends and family.  Still it is really lovely to see at least some of them, and as I have said before, quite apart from family, friends you have known for 30-plus years are never going to be replaced.

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