LETTER: We need a public inquiry

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I have despatched a petition to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, objecting to the amendment to the bylaw which would allow cycling on Eastbourne promenades.

It contains more than 800 signatures of residents or visitors to Eastbourne which were collected predominantly in a very short four-hour period on the seafront. This is already in excess of the 784 total responses collected during a month-long feeble but flawed consultation exercise in January 2014 which purports to justify the amendment.

My fellow Meads councillors and I were elected in May by more than 2,500 Meads residents on an unambiguous platform of opposition to the amendment. Much of the promenades are in Meads, and members of the Meads Community Association unanimously expressed their opposition to it, which is demonstrably the view of the overwhelming number of residents.

The petition contains the following detailed points:

EThe council has yet to come forward with an Integrated Safe Walking and Cycling Strategy as required by both the Government and NICE

EAllowing cyclists access to Eastbourne promenades will have a significant detrimental effect on this precious amenity for residents, visitors and tourism

EThe safety of pedestrians, including children, the blind and disabled, dog walkers and other users is threatened, and the council has a duty to ensure their safety and may be liable for injuries sustained as a result

ECyclists already have shared use of the pavement west of the Wish Tower, but east of the Wish Tower the promenade is far too narrow and crowded

EThere has been inadequate consultation of both residents and visitors

EWe request the Secretary of State to instigate a public inquiry

I have been very impressed with the articulate and thoughtful letters both published in your newspaper and sent to me directly which argue against lifting the bylaw. As I said at the council meeting in July, it is a matter of judgement. Our current piecemeal mish-mash is exemplified by the recent Memorial Roundabout fiasco. On a broader front we need a comprehensive integrated walking, cycling and transport strategy for the town, as proposed by our MP Caroline Ansell.

Councillor Robert Smart

South Cliff

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