Eastbourne Borough Council still appears to be progressing the controversial seafront cycle route on the basis of a mandate from “73 per cent support as part of the public consultation”. As has been pointed out before, the facts are that only 784 questionnaires were returned. Returns largely resulted from those visiting exhibitions (296 people) or able to respond via the council website. Given Eastbourne’s population of 99,412 (2011 census), there is no way that this could be considered as “the majority of the public voting in favour of Route 3 (Seafront)”.
On such a controversial matter impacting the quality of the “Eastbourne experience” for both residents and our core visitors, the council must make it easy for the whole population to “vote” on the proposal, ideally by a postal referendum using either the Register of Electors or Council Tax Database. This has been done before in such situations elsewhere. Yes, it is expensive, but this needs to be set against the possible adverse financial effects of reducing Eastbourne promenade’s appeal for our core visitors.
Also, much has been made of “our neighbouring towns allowing cycling on their proms”. The facts in this case are that although Worthing, Brighton, Seaford, Bexhill and Hastings are also all on National Cycle Route 2, in their cases the route passed along dangerous sections of the A259. This needed to be tackled. The Eastbourne situation is quite different.
Even so the decisions of our neighbours to allow seafront cycling were only made after trial schemes. In Worthing the narrower sections were not included in shared use and in Brighton cycling is restricted to clearly marked cycle lanes, with regular patrols and fines for those breaking the byelaws.
A plea to our council: Please don’t rush into this decision without genuine consultation and a fair trial. A relevant political quote is perhaps “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant”. There has been enough ranting from both sides, now let’s seek out some facts.
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