Council’s Five Acre Field plans come under fire

Five Acre Field
Five Acre Field

ANGRY residents attended a lively public meeting on Wednesday evening about the future use of Five Acre Field.

The meeting comes after Eastbourne Borough Council applied to allow the annual circus, fireworks displays, markets, fairground rides, drive-in movies and other similar events on the field in Lottbridge Drive.

The council says its licensing application for Five Acre Field relates primarily to arrangements being made for a circus which will be in town between Thursday, August 2 and Tuesday, August 7, because the Princes Park site will already be in use with Olympic celebrations.

However, Five Acre Field is surrounded by homes on three sides and resident packed into the ‘mediation meeting’ at Strollers in Princes Park to raise their concerns on the plans.

Mike Marchant, the council officer responsible for the town’s event programmes, was there to answer questions and he told residents the circus would make around £7,000 for the council.

But objections about noise, alcohol being consumed on the site, litter problems and parking issues were raised.

Lin Wilkinson, the manager of Queen Alexandra Cottage Homes, said she had often escorted young people associated with the fun fair off her premises and felt the situation would worsen if events moved closer.

She said, “We have people who are very elderly and they have come here to feel safe and secure.

“What we don’t need is more rubbish, more noise and people wandering around our gardens.”

Kareen Plympton, the council’s licensing manager who chaired the meeting, told the objecting resident they had the chance to try and negotiate with the council.

She put various options to the residents and around 40 per cent agreed to a one-off license for the circus in 2012 without alcohol by raising their hands.

The rest of the objectors remained firm and said they did not want any events to be held on the field.

Cllr Patrick Warner attended and said approving the application would set a ‘dangerous precedent’.

He added, “The residents in this area have put up with a multitude of travellers there over the years – trashing the field and in some cases their homes.

“Five Acre Field is not an events field, it is a community and amenity space.”

Cllr Warner accused the Lib Dems of a policy change and said the field was being turned in to a ‘cash cow’.

After the meeting a council spokesperson said, “The council called a public meeting to allow local people to raise any concerns they had and allow officers to explain the rationale behind the proposal to use Five Acre Field.

“The meeting was well attended and a wide range of views were put forward by residents.

“The council is grateful to those people who made the effort to attend.”

All comments on the plans must be submitted to the council before June 5.