Why not hold referendum over water park?

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At the start of the public meeting on 18th October, many locals were pleased to hear both Cllr James Page (Leader of Lewes District Council) and Jenny Rowlands (Lewes District Council Chief Executive) acknowledge that mistakes were made and lessons learned in regard to the sale of the Lewes Road recreation ground and adjoining land. Our focus must now turn to the credibility and intentions of the site’s new owners, KEH.

LDC has assured Newhaveners that they will ‘have the final say’ on whether or not the development goes ahead. The town that has been dumped upon time and time again is encouraged to get involved with the consultation process and that their voices this time will be listened to. Many, quite understandably, will feel that given the level of opposition to the incinerator and ignored support for the initial Arrowcroft proposal, efforts to engage are futile.

If LDC really wishes to deliver on its promise to the people of Newhaven, then it should stage a yes/no referendum for Newhaven residents at the end of the ‘consultation process’ when plans, if they come to fruition, are firmed up. That way, everyone in the town will be able to make an informed choice and the outcome will be clear for all to see and difficult to manipulate

Newhaven needs development that is sympathetic to its location, environment and history and exciting things are already happening for the town such as the Rampion and University Technical College proposals. A water park however would be a huge internalised complex which would bring little footfall beyond its own parameter. A water park would put a water park ‘on the map’ and wipe Newhaven from it. Promises of jobs, regeneration and investments need to be weighed carefully against the loss of Newhaven’s identity, character and true potential.

Given the impression made on me by KEH so far, I find it hard to believe that their water park proposal is any more than pie-in-the-sky. If they’re serious however, and LDC are certainly taking them seriously, then a referendum is the least Newhaven people deserve as they are the ones who will have to live with a water park when individuals at LDC have long since moved on to pastures new.

Jo Pettitt