Town centre march against council sale of Eastbourne’s downland farms

Campaigners protesting the sale SUS-170224-173242001

Campaigners protesting the sale SUS-170224-173242001

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Hundreds of people are expected to join a march tomorrow (Saturday, February 25) in protest against Eastbourne Borough Council’s plans to sell the freehold of 3,000 acres of South Downs land.

The rally will assemble at ‘Bankers Corner’ on Terminus Road from 2pm and march to the bandstand.

Members of Eastbourne Friends of the Earth, East Sussex Ramblers, Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs Society and other groups are supporting the cause.

A spokesperson for The Keep Our Downs Public campaign said, “The council’s latest move to address its failure to consult the public about the sales has only angered people further.

“It is using its residents’ newsletter to set out the case for selling the downland but then giving local people only two weeks to respond.

“Apart from a one-sided presentation of the facts, people are upset by the choice they’ve been presented with: frontline service cuts or continuing with the sales. There are no other options to vote for.”

Lyn Core, Old Town resident and spokesperson for Keep Our Downs Public, said, “I am very upset about the Eastbourne Review poll.

“Previously the council said the income from the sales would go to ambitious regeneration projects such as a revamp of the Sovereign Leisure Centre and an upgrade of Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club.

“It has now changed its story on how the sale money could be spent in what looks like an attempt to affect the outcome of the poll.”

Sally Boys, Meads resident and member of Eastbourne Friends of the Earth, said,“Rare chalk grassland on the downs needs careful, coordinated management.

“Once the farms are in private hands I’m worried that the land could change irreversibly.

“We are getting so much support for the campaign as people are waking up to what could happen. The rally is a chance for people to find out more and make their voice heard.”