LETTER: Safeguards that may be diluted

Eastbourne Borough Council proudly stated in its leaflet published around 1996 that the purchase of downland was the result of a “special Act of Parliment, The Eastbourne Corporation Act of 1926”, and the Mayor agreed ‘absolutely’ that “it is the deliberate intention of the Corporation ... to secure the public the free and open use of the Downs in perpetuity.’’

The strength of public opinion was so great that the purchase took place in the middle of an economic recession.

The sensitive management of the downland farms is crucial to the wildlife, landscape and tourist value of the area. The council has ensured so far that the species-rich grassland areas containing up to 40 plant species per square metre and the habitat of the rare and mysterious Moon Carrot (which only has a few sites in three counties nationwide), has been conserved. Our drinking water quality has been conserved.

If sold, any management covenants may be broken and safeguards diluted leading to destructive agricultural methods and ultimately inappropriate developments such as caravan sites. The thin end of the wedge.

Our downland farms are integral to the local distinctiveness of Eastbourne. The local population is STILL adamant that they should be OWNED and managed “in perpetuity”. Not just flogged off for short-term gain.

FIONA DURLING

Rattle Road, Westham

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