LETTER: Forebears had more foresight

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I am alarmed by Eastbourne Borough Council proposals to sell, without prior consultation, the freehold of its downland farms, which are currently leased and earning revenue for the council. Cllr David Tutt’s article in the Herald [November 25] did nothing to reassure me that this wasn’t a naked attempt to increase EBC receipts through the disposal of yet more family silver to alleviate future politically uncomfortable council tax increases.

In return for what – £1m worth of signs and the rest earmarked for regeneration, which I interpret as being a number of potentially ill thought out and ephemeral schemes as EBC does not have a glorious history in such matters. That would be a poor outcome compared to the retention of a solid, income generating, appreciating asset from which all residents benefit both materially and aesthetically.

Our forebears had far more foresight than David Tutt. They wished to secure in perpetuity all the glorious downland aspects we know and love and this has been achieved for the past 90 years and there is no real reason why the situation cannot continue. His confidence in covenants as adequate protection against inappropriate development is misplaced. Covenants need to be enforced to be effective. Ownership is what counts, which explains EBC’s historical compulsory purchase!

I suspect the vast majority of Eastbourne council tax payers do not support the sale of farmland to bolster council coffers, and have some questions:

1. What mandate is there for these sales. I do not recall this being a matter raised at the time of the last election;

2. What is the proposed timetable for the sales;

3. What is the current annual income to EBC generated from all the farms;

4. What is the current total valuation of the farms;

5. Where is the impetus for these proposals coming from. Is it the ruling Liberal Democrats, the Executive or the leaseholders.

6. Will the ruling Liberal Democrats grant residents a vote on the matter. If not is there a case for them to be re-branded as the Undemocratic Liberal Democrats.

Bob Watts

Vancouver Road

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