Eastbourne Tories, Labour, and now Greens condemn plan to sell off local downland

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The Eastbourne Green Party has recently expressed its unequivocal opposition to Eastbourne Borough Council’s plan to sell off 75% of the Eastbourne Downland Estate,  a rare, fragile, wildlife-rich and much-loved landscape that has belonged to the town of Eastbourne since 1929. This coincides with the recent expression of unequivocal opposition to the sale that was made by the Eastbourne Labour Party, and the decision of Eastbourne Conservative councillors to come out in open opposition to the sell-off.

Here is the full text of the statement issued by the Eastbourne Green Party:

Green Party candidates will stand in all Eastbourne wards in the forthcoming County Council election, in opposition to the Eastbourne Council’s plan to sell the Downland farms.

The Green Party believes that the duty of councillors is to manage our town’s assets with care for our environment, now and for the future, for the greatest benefit of all residents and visitors.

The Eastbourne Green Party protests strongly against the use by Eastbourne Council of a large part of its publicly distributed ‘Review’ residents’ paper, to justify their intentions. To avoid decisions that are their own responsibility is wrong in principle and the case presented is biased and misleading.

Eastbourne Greens call on the Council to:

1. Accept that sales of Downland assets must not be considered under any circumstances, and that the Council cannot justify its lack of integrity by any sort of opinion poll, or by a referendum.

2. Put the blame for a lack of funding for essential services firmly on government ‘austerity’ cuts and the council’s own incompetence.

3. Understand that the statement ‘the land is held by the Council in trust for the public benefit’, is exactly the original intention when special powers were used to compulsorily purchase the farms.

4. Stop claiming that ‘restrictive’ covenants alone could protect the land or control standards of current and future land management or that effective covenants would be enforced against subsequent buyers.

5. Abandon promises of an ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ without any statement of acceptable terms of reference or commitment to acting on its recommendations.

6 Avoid threatening and confusing ‘options’ and unrealistic figures. A good example is the use of ‘£15 -£30m capital value’ for sale of farms. Without unrestricted development opportunities the sale price of the farms based on current rental income would be unlikely to raise more than £2m.

7. Examine other options for profitable use of their considerable portfolio of land and buildings and hotels.

Notes for information

1. Contact: Eastbourne Green Party Co-ordinator.

Ivor Hueting 31 Elm Grove, Hampden Park BN22 9NN

ivor@impax.org.uk. Or call 01323 400313 at any time

2. More information on the local authority land disposals and the value of downlands from

https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/campaign/local-authority-land-disposals

3. More on the local campaign as an open letter to Clr. Tutt

https://eastbournefriendsoftheearth.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/plea-to-save-eastbournes-public-downland/

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