Eastbourne MP to meet with council leader and campaigners over downland sale

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell is meeting with council leader David Tutt and downland farm campaigners this Friday (February 10) to discuss the sale of the South Downs farms.

The council has said it wants to sell to raise funds, but campaigners and Mrs Ansell have expressed concerns over the sale, including the future protection of the land.

Mrs Ansell has publicly asked the council to consult with local people over the sale and she says she will again make this point to the council leader at the meeting.

She said, “I thank David for agreeing to meet with the campaigners and myself to discuss this important issue that has led to quite a bit of local concern.

“I have already said I do not criticise Eastbourne Borough Council for looking at the sale of the farms because it wants to raise funds that will undoubtedly benefit the town and it is reasonable for the council to consider all things.

“But this decision would be irrevocable. There remain questions to answer and concerns to address about the farmland protections and future use and these will be raised at our meeting.

“Then, we should be seeking the view of the people of Eastbourne.”

Eastbourne Borough Council announced last year it is selling the farms – a total of 2,900 acres – to raise millions for projects across the town, and will retain 1,000 acres of open downland including Beachy Head.

But the announcement has been met with opposition from the public, environmental groups and the South Downs National Park Authority, with concerns the land and wildlife cannot be protected once it is sold.

Campaigners are holding a demonstration in protest outside the council’s full cabinet meeting at the town hall tonight (Wednesday, February 8).