At a time when many people’s minds will be occupied, or saturated, with views and opinions about the upcoming elections (General, District and Town/Parish), I wonder how many will have spotted the official notice which appeared on the Public & Legal Notices pages of the Sussex Express on April 24 under the heading of “Harbours Act 1964 (As amended)”?
Then, how many will have ploughed through the official language of the notice to try to work out what it means for our local beaches? The notice declares that “The draft order and accompanying documents can be examined at the Port Administration Offices in Newhaven”, (not exactly neutral territory), or that local bastion of easily accessible information, the “offices of the MMO in Newcastle, by appointment” (it doesn’t say whether that’s Under Lyme or Upon Tyne - either way, hardly local to Sussex!)
To get the information from the internet you have to carefully type in a 69 character reference, (or is that 70 - I lost count). If you do you successfully pass that test you appear to be faced with an attempt by Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd, (NPPL) to tighten their stranglehold over a large parcel of beach and sea which runs from approximately the position of the Promenade Steps at the Buckle, Marine Parade, Bishopstone, following various “imaginary straight lines”, to approximately the position of Barrow Head/Castle Hill Cliffs.
Of course I accept that the harbour authority need to establish clear guidelines about the harbour and the way it is used, and I may not understand the legalese, but these powers appear to be potentially draconian, yet as far as I can tell, there has been no attempt to clarify or explain them, beyond the statutory notice.
Is it any wonder that local people find it hard to trust the words and actions of NPPL? We need clear, locally distributed information now. All comments have to be received by the MMO within 42 days of the date of the notice, 24th April, so time is short, and oh yes, there’s a few elections between now and then which might pre-occupy some of our civic leaders. Now could that just be a coincidence?