why sell the land that “feeds our health & well-being”?

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We are very pleased to reprint here a letter that was sent yesterday to Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council. We think it’s an excellent summary of the case for an immediate halt to the proposed sale by the council of most of Eastbourne’s public downland. We are grateful to Sally Willow for her permission to reproduce the letter here:

Dear Councillor David Tutt; cc. Caroline Ansell MP,

I have just returned from a packed meeting of the Eastbourne Society with well in excess of one hundred people in attendance on the subject of the proposed sale of Eastbourne Downland.

Councillor Tutt has provided responses to the questions proposed to him on this matter and has indicated that he can find no reason to halt the sale of the Downland.

However, in the light of legal advice sought by Eastbourne Friends of the Earth and the Keep Our Downs Public campaign, which states that covenants will not sufficiently protect the Downs from intensification and development, I am urging you to halt the sale immediately. At tonight’s meeting this information was further clarified, and the extent to which landowners will need to maximise the return on their investment for the purchase of the Downs will certainly put the land at risk from intensification of its usage in a variety of ways.

The Eastbourne Downland is a source of clean, safe drinking water for the people of Eastbourne and the surrounding areas; it is an area of internationally important biodiversity; it is the site of abundant archaeological interest; it is land of sacred connection and historical importance: it is the land that feeds our health and wellbeing on a multitude of levels. The proposed sell-off would threaten the Downs for all of these reasons and more. Eastbourne Downland is publicly owned and publicly open Downs that the council does not hold the right to sell.

It is not good enough to say that you will continue the sale while you investigate people’s concerns. The sell-off must be halted immediately.

The ownership of the Downs provides an annual income to the public purse and the uses of the publicly owned land can be enhanced to generate additional income while retaining public ownership and a successful management strategy.

This sale must be scrapped immediately and alternative, long-term strategies for the continued public ownership of the Downs explored.

The people of Eastbourne will not support this sale. We urge you to Keep Our Downs Public.

Yours sincerely,

Sally Willow

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