Eastbourne charity told to move out of former Fort Fun site after refurbishment works

A charity which has been refurbishing a former amusement park in Eastbourne says it has been told it can no longer have any involvement on the site.

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Defiant Sports, a charity working to make the town more accessible for people with disabilities, took over the Fort Fun site in spring this year in the hopes of transferring its services to the former amusement park.

In a joint operation with Wingrove House, the charity was given permission by Eastbourne Borough Council to restore the site, which closed during the pandemic, as a ‘magnet for family fun’.

It is estimated that more than £75,000 of clearance work was achieved by volunteers and local businesses, according to managing director Loretta Lock.

However, Ms Lock has today (December 29) taken to social media to inform the charity’s supporters that it will no longer have any involvement on the site – a decision that was reportedly ‘out of our hands’ and ‘non-negotiable’.

She said: “Early spring, we began to clear the site with generous help from volunteers and local businesses. We estimate over £75,000 of clearance work was achieved.

“We diverted much staff time and energy into preparing and planning for the site, believing this would be the start to a real improvement in making Eastbourne accessible to all.”

However, she said after months of ‘delays, broken promises, jumping through hoops and agreeing to constantly changing council requirements’ they had been informed just before Christmas that ‘Eastbourne Borough Council have changed their mind and no longer wish Defiant Sports to have any involvement in the site’.

She added: “Sadly, this means our time and efforts, and those of all who assisted us on site, will not be realised in a more accessible Eastbourne."

As a result, the charity has confirmed it will be reducing its services at its Sovereign Harbour hub from six days a week to two, due to staff having to reduce their hours, and that ‘some opportunities will be paused for now’.

Eastbourne Borough Council have been approached for comment.