Residents left angry after meeting with Hastings Council over Old Roar Gill landslip

A meeting between residents affected by the Old Roar Gill landslide and Hastings Borough Council this week left residents feeling ‘angry frustrated and lacking in confidence’.

The meeting took place on Wednesday and involved around 100 residents who live in roads around the Gill that could be affected by the landslip, which the council admits is still moving.

Ralitsa Hiteva’s family have been forced to leave their Foxcote home after tonnes of earth crashed into their garden just yards away from their door.

She attended the meeting and said: “The meeting started badly. We had not been told what to expect and the first thing they did was hand us a six page document that we had no time to read. They did not even have enough copies to go round as it was clear they were not expecting so many people to be there.

"At the start they made it clear that they did not want the meeting recorded in any way and that it would not go ahead if recorded.

"Their modelling suggested it started in people’s gardens and yet they can provide no evidence that can explain that. It is actually mind boggling. They are blaming us for the landslide yet there are so many witnesses who say it started with cracks on the paths in the Gill, which they own.

"We asked them what maintenance is carried out in the Gill and they said it was inspected twice a year to check the signage, with the last inspection taking place in September 2023.

"They kept making platitudes, but these are just words. There was a feeling that this was not the case. They were going back to their nice warm homes and yet there were people in that meeting who are unable to sleep at night for worry. It was heartbreaking.

"People were angry. The Council admitted that communication could have been better, but the general feeling is that it is not a communications issue.

"They are carrying out a survey but there were no details or time scale.

"It was actually shocking to see people responsible for making decisions for this town not actually realising that what they are putting forward is ridiculous.

"There are still 50 trees sitting at the bottom of the Gill that have not been moved and are raising the level of the stream, which could accelerate another landslide.

"This affects every single person who lives next to The Gill.

"I sincerely hope they do something but there is a general feeling that they are working against residents rather than with them. No-one walked away from that meeting feeling confident. If anything it added to the fears and concerns of residents.”

Hastings Borough Council leader Julia Hilton told the Observer: "It was a useful meeting. The council has apologised that communications had not been as good as they could have been. We were honest with them and said that we need to do better.

“These sort of events, such as Old Roar Gill and Caves Road, could happen again and we need a dedicated team to respond to them.

"We plan to use our climate change reserve to create a team that can lead on this.

"It is very scary for those affected and of course for those residents at Caves Road. Letters have gone out to the Caves Road residents and we will be having a meeting with them.

"The council's insurers have appointed surveyors to try and find out what caused the landslip at Old Roar Gill. The worrying thing is that it is still moving.

"The council gets no Government support or funding for incidents like these. We are lobbying strongly."

The Council has clarified that while it owns The Gill, it does not own the footpath which has cracked up. That is the responsibility of East Sussex County Council.