Protestors, angry at the proposed sale of the freehold of farms on Eastbourne downland, are calling a poll being run into the matter a ‘sham’.
They are furious that the Borough Council has only given residents a fortnight to read their copy of the Eastbourne Review and vote as to whether they would rather see the freehold sold, or face a cut in services.
Simon Boyle, resident and environmental lawyer in Keep Our Downs Public said, “What the council has produced in the Eastbourne Review is completely biased without any balance and is in breach of the Aarhus Convention which requires a ‘transparent and fair framework.’
“This so-called consultation has absolutely no legitimacy. It is frankly an embarrassment to the council. The people of Eastbourne deserve much better.
“They are deliberately using scaremongering tactics by saying that it is a choice between the Downs or vital public services. But previously the council said that any money raised from the sale would go towards regeneration projects like the new swimming pool at the Sovereign Centre. They could scale back these ambitious projects if they wished to so that the downland farms could be kept without affecting public services.”
The Keep Our Downs Public campaign group believe that there are alternatives saying the council has already raised £5m for Devonshire Park. The group also feel the private sector should be willing to partner with the council and the authority could easily take out low costs loans (with interest rates at a record low) and have it paid off at the turnstiles.