Paving slab wrangle in Lewes after woman, 85, injured in fall

Cllr Stephen Catlin and the damaged paving slab which was repaired by Neighbourhood First this week
Cllr Stephen Catlin and the damaged paving slab which was repaired by Neighbourhood First this week

Two local authorities have been accused of “buck-passing” over repairs to a single paving slab in Lewes.

The dangerously loose slab caused an accident and injury in Cliffe Precinct last week when an 85-year-old woman tripped and fell.

Cllr Stephen Catlin contacted East Sussex County Council which said the site, the route to Waitrose between Specsavers and WHSmith, was not its responsibility.

He then got in touch with Lewes District Council which initially said Lewes Town Council owned the land, although Cllr Catlin knew this was not the case, and persisted in this view.

He said: “The town council checked the Land Registry, an accomplishment beyond the ability of the two strategic authorities, and produced the name of the land owner in less than 10 minutes.”

It belongs to the London-based Debenham Property Trust.

Armed with this information, he went back to the county council hoping it would undertake the work and bill the property trust for it but was refused.

Eventually, after a further approach, the district council intervened and repairs were carried out by its Neighbourhood First team on Tuesday. The bill for the work will be sent to the property trust.

Cllr Catlin said: “The accident happened on January 30. It should not take this amount of buck-passing to get the work done.”

He added: “I think the district council must be commended for stepping in with an appropriate sense of public service, whereas the county council had declined to re-lay and fix one paving slab.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “The damaged pavement is on privately owned land and has never been repaired by the county council.

“There are many unadopted roads and pavements across the county and in every case of this kind we would refer issues to the landowner.”