Taxpayers foot bill for council’s bungled attempt to sell Downland farms

Downland Farm campaigners celebrate their victory outside The Town Hall in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170803-112442008
Downland Farm campaigners celebrate their victory outside The Town Hall in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170803-112442008

The cost of Eastbourne council’s controversial bid to sell off the Downland farms has been revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

The authority was forced to do a dramatic u-turn earlier this year – and in the run-up to hotly contested county council elections – over its plans to sell the farms after a public backlash and a referendum.

An FOI has shown the total cost to taxpayers was £177,608.25 which is made up of £107,992.05 in legal fees and £63,176 paid to agents Strutt and Parker.

A council spokesperson said the council did not employ any staff solely for the project, nor did any staff work solely on the project full-time. “Work associated with the project was undertaken as part of council staff normal working duties,” said the spokesperson.

The Liberal Democrat administration came under intense pressure to reverse plans to sell the farms after a massive protest campaign.