LETTER: In contempt of land transfer

I was somewhat surprised and appalled by the recent article on the Eastbourne Borough Council plans to sell off some of the downland/farmland on Beachy Head.

In the early 1970s, I was involved together with the Eastbourne Natural History and Archaeological Society in converting a cottage known as ‘The Chalet’ which was situated almost opposite the Beachy Head Hotel and close to the bus terminal. The purpose was to convert this to a Natural History Centre with a natural history display and accommodation for visiting naturalists, and we also drew up a nature trail walk with an illustrated leaflet. The council owned this property and agreed to rent it to us at a peppercorn rent.

On opening day, we invited the Mayor and other council officials to perform the launch ceremony and they informed us that the downland and farming areas on Beachy Head had been passed to them by the freeholder, who from memory I believe was Patience Harding, in perpetuity for the residents of Eastbourne to enjoy. The council felt that the conversion of the Natural History Centre on Beachy Head was in keeping with the integrity of this legacy. Unfortunately, one evening the centre was broken into by vandals and was burnt to the ground.

I am therefore surprised that the council has the right now to attempt to sell off some of the downland/farmland areas on Beachy Head which surely would be in contempt of the terms and conditions of the original transfer of land to the council which from my understanding was to be held in perpetuity on behalf of the residents of Eastbourne.

John Cooper

Copestake Drive, Burgess Hill

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