Like many of you I was concerned at Council plans to sell off Eastbourne’s Downland Farm estate, which has been in the possession of the town for nearly a century, when they had not established the protections in place nor properly consulted local people. There was such an outpouring of public feeling for this precious land and I made my concerns over the consultation clear to the Council, resulting in the referendum. After a decisive result in favour of retaining the land, the Council rightly backed down.
Now however, we must look to the future. The campaign group and the Council are currently meeting to discuss future management of the land. It is hoped that all the key stakeholders including the South Downs National Park, the Sussex Wildlife Trust and importantly, the Keep Our Downs Public group will be involved. This is a new, positive way forward for the future of our precious Downlands and I intend to be fully involved too.
The group intend to establish further bodies to manage the Downland Estate but these are very early days. Anyone who wishes to keep up to date with the campaign can do so through the Friends of the Earth website: https://www.foe.co.uk/groups/eastbourne and I understand further public meetings and Downland walks will be arranged in due course.
In related work, some time ago I secured a commitment from the Council and have had a series of very positive meetings with the South Downs National Park to advance Eastbournes identity as its Eastern Gateway Town I’ve also been working with Winchester’s MP as they are our Western counterpart. This new designation I believe will enhance the appreciation and experience of the simply wonderful natural environment in which we live.