Nearly half the acreage of our borough is downland, acquired in 1926 under an Act of Parliament especially promoted by the then County Borough Council and purchased at a cost in today’s money of £5.4 million.
The council now proposes to sell the downland farms, comprising about one-third of the entire borough, without public consultation and so discreetly that there is no mention in the Eastbourne Review, the 16-page publication just circulated by the council to every residence in the town. The council are guardians for this treasured downland and it should not be sold for a short term solution to the council’s current financial needs. The entire proceeds from the sale of our heritage might just cover the costs of upgrading the Sovereign Centre.
Whoever may be the first purchaser of our downland, the near certain risk is that we find the eventual owners to be international speculators with wealth, sufficient to blast ways through any agencies for environmental protection.
Take for example the results of Donald Trump’s purchase of the estates in Aberdeenshire. Despite opposition from all Scotland’s environment agencies Trump has been allowed to bulldoze through a third of the Foveran dunes complex, a legally protected Site of Special Scientific Interest. The longer term risks of selling the unique feature of our town must be assessed and shown to be fully supported by Eastbourne residents before any sale takes place.
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