There has been much public anger in recent months at the ‘secret’ decisions made by Lewes District Council councillors to sell off publicly owned assets such as the Buckle Car Park on Seaford Seafront and other publicly owned sites within the Lewes District Council area to property developers on the pretext of providing much needed affordable housing within the district.
It emerged that these decisions were taken in secret some two years ago and kept from the public presumably because the Lewes District Council councillors knew what the public reaction would be.
Indeed, none of these proposals ever had any mention in any of the party manifestoes for the May 2015 council elections.
It wasn’t until after the elections of earlier this year that these proposals came to light.
Lewes District Council then embarked on a damage limitation exercise by holding public ‘consultation events’ at which these proposals were presented as an apparent ‘done deal’ with even the chosen property developers represented at these sham ‘consultation events’.
The proposals for the Buckle Car Park on Seaford Seafront and other publicly owned sites within the Lewes District Council area were even publicised in Lewes District Council’s own publication ‘District News’, still pushing the ‘affordable housing’ carrot as the reason behind these proposals under the heading of ‘Beautiful, Affordable, Local’.
There is nothing ‘affordable’ about the so called ‘iconic development’ proposed for the Buckle Car park site.
The local residents of Seaford lodged a petition of almost 3,000 signatures with Lewes District Council expressing the strength of feeling locally against these proposals.
There was also the ‘leaked’ email apparently penned by the then Leader of Lewes District Council, himself a Seaford councillor, expressing very controversial views. This ‘leaked email’ quite rightly led to his eventual resignation as Leader of Lewes District Council.
And still Lewes District Council councillors just don’t get the message.
It subsequently emerged that at the council meeting of Wednesday 14th October 2015 Lewes District Council attempted some damage limitation regarding the Meeching Down site in Newhaven. This exercise was quite rightly criticised by a Newhaven councillor who pointed out the acknowledged lack of open public spaces in the town and that the site was also a much valued nature reserve and a designated Site of Nature Conservation Importance.
It is a very great shame that the Newhaven councillors did not exercise the same response during the campaign to save Tide Mills from the Newhaven Port and Properties plans which will see not only the loss of the only remaining publicly accessible sandy beach by the East Arm but also the destruction of the western end of Tide Mills which is also a designated Site of Nature Conservation Importance.
The councillors of Lewes District Council planning committee approved the Newhaven Port and Properties plans earlier this summer.
Yet a further example of the councillors of Lewes District Council ignoring the local electorate who voted them into office to represent local people and instead siding with commercial enterprise at the expense of local amenities and the local environment.
When are the councillors of Lewes District Council going to realise that it was the local people that elected them to represent local people’s interests and that they are accountable to the local people.
What we have at the moment is a situation where the councillors of Lewes District Council are telling the local people what is going to happen rather than a situation where the local people are telling the councillors what they wish to happen within the district. The ‘tail wagging the dog’ comes to mind.
Lewes District Council is broken, it is unaccountable and out of control.
It is to be hoped that the councillors of Lewes District Council will realise that ultimately they will have to face the ‘ballot box’ again at some point and ask for the public to vote for them.
Lewes District Council is not fit for purpose and my message to the local electorate is to be very careful just who you choose to vote for at any future council elections.