Town councils could take on more public spaces

Castle Hill nature reserve, Newhaven ENGSUS00120120307165123
Castle Hill nature reserve, Newhaven ENGSUS00120120307165123

Town councils are set to take over the costs of running and maintaining more public spaces as Lewes District Council leaders have agreed to a new wave of devolution.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Monday (July 2), councillors agreed in principle to the transfer of council-owned land in Newhaven and Lewes to the local town councils.

As a result, the Castle Hill nature reserve and public land at Meeching Down is available for transfer to Newhaven Town Council. Three sites – the Timberyard Play Area, the Paddock Play area and the public space at Bell Lane – are available for transfer to Lewes Town Council.

Prior to this meeting, the council had already agreed to hand over five other public spaces to Newhaven Town Council and the transfer of these pieces of land are continuing. They are: Eastside Recreation Ground, Avis Road Recreation Ground, Drove Park Recreation Ground, Lewes Road Recreation Ground and the Valley Road Recreation Ground.

The district council is also in the process of transferring full ownership of Landport Bottom to Lewes Town Council, which is currently a joint owner.

Currently the maintenance of these public spaces is paid for by Lewes District Council through a special expenses charge, which residents pay annually on top of their council tax.

This charge is set to reduce as a result of the devolution process as the maintenance costs are taken on by parish and town councils instead.

However the true cost for local taxpayers remains to be seen as the parish councils may raise their annual precepts to cover the extra expenses.

East Chiltington Parish Council and Peacehaven Town Council are also at the early stages of requesting to take over council-owned land as part of a devolution process.