St Anne’s: Let’s talk

Letter sent to residents and associations

AS you may be aware, I have given my personal assurance that East Sussex County Council will discuss with the local community the interim community use of the former St Anne’s school site within seven days of the illegal occupation ending.

I am writing as one of the clearly acknowledged local community leaders and organisations with two requests so that we can initiate that open discussion, once we have a chance so to do, as effectively as possible. I am also seeking the valued advice of County Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe.

First, I would welcome your advice on who else you think I should invite to give views as to the possible options and preferences for interim local community use.

This is in addition to the general invitation to the public to attend the meeting. Second, in advance of the first meeting, which we all hope can be soon, I would be very happy to receive your own suggestions on possible options for interim community uses for the site.

The first task will be to gather ideas, and then to be guided by the community on how those ideas are prioritised.

I hope also to enlist the assistance of specialist independent advice to assist us all through the process.

In many ways this could be a genuinely exciting and rewarding community conversation.

I can only hope the occupiers leave peacefully and soon so we can begin the discussion.

I am very conscious of the disruption and inconvenience to the immediate residents by the continued illegal occupation.

If we are forced to evict it will be an unnecessary cost for all of us as taxpayers. The cost and disruption will reflect the necessary precautions that we, the high court enforcement officers and Sussex Police will have to take to ensure a safe operation depending upon the level of obstruction that is encountered. We know the protesters have erected defences such as tripods, tree houses and possibly tunnels.

Once we have possession of the property, we will have to deal with the immediate public health issues such as the prevention of any risk of asbestos contamination.

Unfortunately, we also suspect we will have to carry out significant clean up operations as a result of the occupation, including the removal of other materials or substances that may represent a risk to visitors to the site.

This will not interfere with my promise for an open meeting within seven days of the occupation ending.

If I may finish on a positive note – when we can initiate the promised discussion, I really do think we have the chance of securing an innovative and exciting community conversation and outcome.

Sean Nolan, Director of

Corporate Resources, ESCC