The organiser of a controversial sign at the foot of the South Downs Way which sparked a wave of complaints has apologised – because it was installed four metres away from its intended location.
The South Downs National Park Authority says it believes that the criticisms – which included it being ‘hideous’, ‘a waste of money’, ‘not inviting or helpful’ and ‘looking like a tombstone’ – will be resolved when the sign is in the right place.
Andy Gattiker, South Downs Way trail manager, said, “We are sorry if the incorrect positioning of the sign has spoiled anyone’s experience of the trail or the wider National Park.
“We’ve had a positive response to a similar sign installed at the Winchester end of the South Downs Way last year and lot of requests for a clearer marker here at the eastern end. “We hope that people will similarly appreciate the Eastbourne sign once it is in its correct position.”
The sign, which was unveiled during the Eastbourne & Lewes Walk Fest, will be moved to the correct location before November 14, he said. The cost of the move will be covered by the contractors who installed it.
Mr Gattiker added, “The sign as it currently stands isn’t the final version, which is why the old sign remains in place for the time being.
“An additional finger post clearly showing the routes of the footpaths and bridleway into the National Park was delayed ahead of a final decision on proposals for a 31-mile section of the new England Coast Path from Shoreham to Eastbourne.
“However, following comments from the local community this will be installed at the same time as the sign is moved. Natural England is currently preparing a report on this section of the England Coast Path for submission for the Secretary of State’s consideration which may result in small changes to the start of the South Downs Way and these will be incorporated into the sign as and when necessary.”
The catalyst for the criticism was a letter to the Herald from Marilyn Milton, who said she was ‘outraged’ and ‘upset’ by the sign. The majority of the subsequent complaints slammed the sign’s appearance and effectiveness, rather than its location.