Eastbourne Herald downland poll results revealed

Downland Farm campaigners celebrate their victory outside The Town Hall in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170803-110558008
Downland Farm campaigners celebrate their victory outside The Town Hall in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170803-110558008

The poll conducted by the Herald has massively reinforced the decision not to sell Eastbourne’s downland farms.

We asked: Should they be sold by Eastbourne Borough Council or not?

You, the residents of the town, came back with a resounding NO.

Nearly 250 readers responded to the poll, a remarkable figure for a weekly newspaper.

Particularly so given that, just three days after our voting form was published, the council abruptly announced that it would not be proceeding with its plans.

That decision, following the council’s own vote published in the Eastbourne Review, honoured the public response that the farms – amounting to nearly 3,000 acres of downland – should not be sold.

It rendered the Herald’s poll immaterial. But not irrelevant. Because it demonstrates the depth of feeling, of passion, generated by the issue.

A total of 249 respondents said the farms should not be sold. Just one said that they should.

The council climbdown was quite clearly the right thing to do.

A major gripe among Herald readers was that they had not received their copy of the Eastbourne Review, and therefore had not been able to have their say on the issue.

Many of those who responded to our poll took the trouble to write brief explanations for their decision.

Jean Barron, of West Close, Polegate, said, “I live outside the boundary now, but I am an Eastbournian by birth as were my parents and grandparents before me.

“We have always loved the downs. They are part of our heritage. We should be looking after them for future generations, not selling them off for short-term gain.

“Perhaps the council should trim back its grand ideas for Devonshire Park and the Sovereign Centre, all of which will need expensive maintenance over the years to come.

“Where will the money be found for all of that? The family silver will be gone.”

Another reader said, “I was ambivalent on this issue and might have voted ‘yes’ if there had been an unbiased setting out of the pros and cons, but the ‘sell or doom’ tone of the Review was dishonest and patronising.”

Michael and Maureen Churchward, of Meads Road, Eastbourne, said, “We vote ‘no’ because the land in question is for all people – which it will not be if it is sold. History confirms this.

“The borough council poll was not a ‘choice’.”