MP calls for new Lewes–Uckfield study

The Chancellor should use the opportunity the Budget presents to take forward the case to reopen the Lewes-Uckfield railway line. That’s the view of Lewes Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, who has lobbied the Treasury accordingly.

Norman says:It has become clearer than ever in recent weeks that there is a need for an alternative line from the Sussex Coast to London. A reopened Lewes-Uckfield line would provide exactly that, enabling through trains to run from Seaford and Newhaven via Uckfield, and also freeing up space on the Brighton main line for more Brighton trains. It would also strengthen the resilience of the railway which at the moment is very vulnerable to problems with either the Balcombe Tunnel or Balcombe Viaduct.

“I have been lobbying for this reopening for over 25 years and the case gets stronger with every passing year. The coalition government, thanks to the Lib Dems, has a good record on rail expansion. Taking Lewes-Uckfield forward would be the icing on the cake. I hope the Chancellor will heed my call in tomorrow’s Budget.”

MP Launches A259 action plan

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An Action plan to improve the A259 along the south coast has been launched by local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker.

Under the plan, interventions will raise safety, improve traffic flow and help the environment.

  • At Exceat Bridge, Norman wants to see traffic activated traffic lights to improve flows.
  • Along the Eastbourne Road in Seaford, he is calling for a new pedestrian crossing to help pedestrians and slow traffic along the straight stretch.
  • West of the town centre, Norman proposes traffic lights at the staggered junction, at Hill Rise and Marine Parade, and the reinstatement of the slip road at the turning to Bishopstone.
  • In Newhaven, he has asked for changes to the ring road, so that all through traffic uses the northern section on a two-way basis, thus helping to reconnect the town centre to the south and giving relief to the houses along the southern section
  • West of Newhaven towards Peacehaven, he is calling for the early creation of a proper cycle track along the abandoned section on the north of the road.

Norman says: All these points along the road regularly generate emails and letters to me from constituents. What I am proposing is a package that will improve the road for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. I am know asking the county council, who are responsible for the road, to consult on these proposals with a view to taking action over the next 12 months

Local MP slams “Poor pothole performance”

 Bishopstone potholes

Norman Baker MP is demanding a review of the operational practices ESCC is following to repair potholes across the county.

The Lib Dem MP says East Sussex County Council are “wasting money” having received complaints from constituents across the area about the council’s poor performance over pothole repairs, and is writing to Transport Director Rupert Clubb to ask for a root and branch review of operational practices.

Complaints received by the MP have included:

  • Reports of ESCC visiting sites multiple times in three years, putting down lots of chalk marks but ultimately no works completed. In Bishopstone, for example, holes have been marked 8 times in 3 years without any repairs having been carried out.
  • Repairing a marked pothole but leaving surrounding potholes because they are not on the job sheet, resulting in repeat visits, as reported by Seaford residents.
  • Reporting of potholes via the councils “fix my street” site on their website but having been logged no works have been completed up 2 months later, such as Gilda Crescent in Polegate.
  • Potholes reappearing in the same place shortly after thy have been “mended”.

Norman said:To repeatedly go out to a site and do nothing, like in Bishopstone, or a jobs worth attitude to repair one pot hole but not one next to it is just a waste of time and money.

“Road users and residents want repairs done in a timely, effective and efficient manner, but what I am hearing is that this is not happening. It is high time they were.”

MP dismayed at all the wrong signals given in Polegate signal box sale

MP for Polegate Norman Baker was surprised and disappointed to learn from Polegate Town Council that the Signal Box in Polegate is once again under threat as a community resource. The MP is now asking Network Rail to think again and commit to their original promise.

Network Rail had offered the signal box at Polegate to the town council after a decision was made to automate the signals, thus making the box redundant, however Network Rail have now changed their position as it is not now being allowed to remain in its current location for “health and safety reasons”, particularly due to high voltage cables.

Norman says:This is particularly disappointing given the fact that nothing about this was mentioned in any previous correspondence

“I am now told that Network Rail is willing to pay for the dismantling costs. However, the costs of reassembly in a new location to be arranged will have to either be borne by Polegate Town Council, or other parties”.

Discussions are ongoing and Network Rail have recently met with the Mayor of Polegate, Michael Clewett, who has been involved with this project for some time, as the intention is for the Signal Box to become a museum for the public to visit.

Norman added:I find it difficult to understand how these “health and safety” matters can only have arisen at this late stage. Moreover, the signalmen who have been operating the box appear to have been able to work with this hazard.

“The Polegate Signal Box is very important to the town and clear undertakings have been given, and a great deal of time expended.

Norman has written to Network Rail to urge them to find a way to deal with this alleged health and safety problem, if it exists, and which allows the signal box to remain in situ as previously agreed.