LETTER: Firework clue to damage?

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As Secretary of Eastbourne and District Metal Detecting Club I would wish to comment on your article [November 11] regarding the violation of the Butts Brow Memorial.

Firstly, I would say that as a responsible metal detecting club and with our history of working closely with archaeological groups, that our members abhor any desecration of the Second World War crash site or the memorial to those airman who died.

Secondly, members do not condone the actions of any person flouting the Eastbourne by-laws or orders as they relate to using a metal detector on the South Downs without proper authority.

A person with a metal detector was seen and photographed in Butts Brow car park, this person being spoken to by archaeological volunteers who happened to be in the area.

If there was any intention to disturb the crash site or memorial that this person would be in contravention of the Protection of Military Remains Act, that this action would be socially unacceptable and would further be an offence against the by-laws on the use of a detector on the Downs.

It was later assumed that an area of disturbed turf found over a metre away from the memorial was the work of that same person. One of our own members investigated this matter.

The evidence collected indicates that the turf damage alongside the memorial could well be in order to set a very large firework, the discharged firework lying only a few metres away and found with other scattered fireworks abandoned in full view.

The large firework in fact fitted in to the disturbed turf and by its very nature needed to be inserted into the earth before being lit.

There was also evidence of burning nearby in the setting of a fire. This evidence tends to point to a further person or persons engaged in setting off fireworks, possibly as part of the November 5 celebration in this area and thus damaging the turf – this also contravening local orders as they relate to fires on the Downs.

This of course does not exonerate the person seen with the detector and his presence on the Downs was correctly reported to police. Illicit metal detector use on the Downs is a problem and whilst responsible detector users make themselves aware of by-laws and restrictions and seek the necessary landowner permission there are some who are totally ignorant of the by-laws.

Robin Hodgkinson

Hackhurst Lane, Lower Dicker

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