The recent articles and letters regarding what is becoming known as the East Beach Windowgate affair has been fascinating. It has shown how local newspapers play such a huge part in democracy.
On the one hand, I can appreciate Eastbourne Borough Council’s decision not to grant retrospective planning permission. They are frightened that to do so would open the floodgates and may cause planning anarchy. On the other hand, every resident/friend I have spoken to is calling it nothing more than petty vindictiveness on the council’s part. The one thing missing in the debate seems to be common sense. Before I joined national newspapers 25 years ago I worked for 20 years as a local government reporter, covering everything from parish councils, borough councils, committees of every kind, public inquiries, county councils. I have sat through thousands of hours of debate but have never forgotten the words of a county councillor more than 40 years ago. He told me, ‘WE make the decisions, not some jumped-up official with a job for life. It’s us who have to stand for re-election every three years.’
So, have I missed something, or where are the views of the councillors involved? On the subject of planners, the Herald published an excellent letter from a reader who pointed out that The East Beach Hotel’s windows have to be replaced but they have done nothing about the wheelie bins that pollute our conservation areas and have also allowed the carbuncle housing being built at the bottom of the once stately Kings Drive. Planning officials will always stick rigidly with the regulations but that is not the same as councillors showing a bit of old-fashioned common sense. Why force a hotelier who brings tourism to our tourist town to spend money they cannot afford?
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