West Sussex Highways shake-up presses on

editorial image

A WEST Sussex County Council (WSCC) committee has debated a new highways and transport ‘super hub’ facility.

The county council’s environmental and community services select committee has outlined £1.3m of cuts to its highways staffing budget, as well as selling off its highways depots at Broadbridge Heath and Midhurst to private developers.

WSCC plans to sell the highways depot in Midhurst, currently used for the storage of salt, to raise part of the funds needed for the construction of the ‘super hub depot’.

A report said the super hub: “Will be the single biggest change in our transformational plan, but will allow us to realise huge benefits to staff, contractors, sub-contractors, other service areas and partners and, ultimately, our customers.”

Although the location of the depot has not been revealed, it is set to be ‘at a location with convenient main road access links to all parts of the county’.

The council intends for highway workers to be based in the areas in which they work, so the super hub would be for office-based staff and storage of materials.

It is also hoped to agree joint operations with Hampshire County Council, with hopes for winter operations in the northwest parts of the county to be delivered from the nearest depot – in Petersfield.

However, Labour councillors have condemned the cuts, claiming the cuts in staff will be the equivalent of reducing all highways employees by one fifth.

The depot at Broadbridge Heath, which serves as the office for highways issues in the northern part of the county including Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex, would be closed and land sold off to housing developers.

A Labour spokesman said: “The ‘super depot’ will not be built for at least two years, during which time those residents affected in the north of the county will have to put up with ‘interim arrangements’, where staff and equipment will either be based at the remaining far-flung depots, or the council claims the staff may be able to hotdesk if there are spaces at council offices.”

Director of highways and transport, Geoff Mee, said the hub would provide significant capital revenue benefits across the county and provide ‘cutting-edge flexibility’.

He added the aim was for a ‘customer-focused structure’ with a ‘more visible presence in the county’.