SEAFORD: Call for review over Cuckmere decision

DEVELOPMENTS over the future of the iconic Cuckmere Estuary have left two disappointed residents calling for the issue to be reviewed.

Dr Jill Rosser, from Seaford, and Tristram Hodgkinson, from Litlington, were at a meeting back in June that looked at the community consensus on what people wanted to see happen to the area, with several options to choose from.

The meeting, which was held as part of the Cuckmere Pathfinder Project, came about after the Environment Agency announced it would go ahead with its plan to withdraw sea defences.

It was concluded that the outcome from that meeting waSEAFORD: s to maintain the existing flood defences in the short term and explore the reactivation of the meanders in the longer term.

This was then discussed by East Sussex County Council lead cabinet member for economy, transport and environment Councillor Carl Maynard at a meeting on July 21, who recommended that the council endorses the consensus reached by the community and adopt a policy to work alongside residents and necessary bodies to achieve this.

Mr Hodgkinson, who was part of the Cuckmere Estuary Forum with Dr Rosser, said the views of residents at the meeting back in June were not represented in the outcome.

He said the highest community scores went to maintaining the banks with the second most favourable option being to explore the reactivation of the meanders. He said he was therefore, surprised to find the second option was announced as being the long term option at the end of the meeting.

He said that the two outcomes are complete opposites of each other, adding, “I believed that the option maintaining the banks would be the option for the future. I didn’t think reactivation of meanders which includes a plan to flood the entire estuary would be the short or long term [option].

“There was no majority for this in speeches from the floor, and no show of hands was taken.

“How are we going to raise the money to maintain the banks when the longer term plan is to bulldoze the bank and flood the estuary?”

As a result of Cllr Maynard’s decision to go along with the recommendations he is asking the matter to be called in by the scrutiny committee.

Dr Rosser, who was at the July 21 meeting, said she felt the matter was rubber-stamped, adding, “Cllr Maynard said there had been one or two objections. But he agreed the recommendations.”

A County Council spokesman said, “Members of the Scrutiny Committee have been fully appraised of both sides of the argument and are not calling in the lead member’s decision.

“The over-riding message from the public meeting on June 7 was that the community wished to see the meanders preserved and the best way of doing this was to maintain the existing defences.

“There was also considerable interest in the second favourite option of re-connecting the meanders. In discussion the meeting concluded that the defences should be maintained while this option is explored.

“This is exactly what the report to Lead Member said. Nowhere does it say that any other option might be imposed and it is also quite wrong to suggest that Mr Clubb, Mr Robertson or any other officer has sought to propose or impose any solution.”