A demonstration was held on the Town Hall steps last night (Wednesday) to protest at Eastbourne council’s plans to sell off downland farms.
The demo, attended by more than 100 people, was ahead of a full council meeting of Eastbourne Borough Council.
Protestors are upset at the council’s intention to sell off four farms on the Eastbourne Downland Estate, comprising more than 3,000 acres, or 75 per cent of the total estate.
They say there should be no sell-off, and the farms should remain in the care of Eastbourne Borough Council to manage for the benefit of all Eastbourne residents, for all visitors to the Downs, and for the protection and enhancement of the downland wildlife that makes visiting the Downs such an enjoyable experience.
Jenny Shorter, a spokesperson for the Keep Our Downs Public campaign group, said, “People really care about keeping the Downs in public ownership.
“The council has been ensuring the downland is effectively managed for decades and there will be no guarantees on what happens to these farms if the sales go through.
“Once they are in private hands there are less controls on the use of the land.”
The protest was called by the Keep Our Downs Public campaign and Eastbourne Friends of the Earth.
During the protest, Eastbourne council leader David Tutt made an offer to the protestors of holding discussions with him and his colleagues about the proposed sale of the farms and expressed his willingness to listen to concerns about the sale.
That offer, say protestors, will be taken up by the Keep Our Downs Public campaign, although they say the need for such discussions can be avoided if the council immediately halts its proposed sale of the farms.