An Eastbourne Borough Councillor, who has been reprimanded for comments made to Eastbourne Buzz at the rally to save the downs, has spoken out.
Councillor Barry Taylor was urged by the authority’s Monitoring Officer to publicly retract his comments that the council was ‘bluffing’ about making cuts and that the consultation into the future of the freehold of the Downland farms is ‘illegal’.
Responding, Councillor Taylor said, “I do regret stating that the public consultation was illegal. I should have stated that it was immoral to carry out such a consultation that had a threat of cuts to services if the freehold of farms was not sold. Quite simply the question should have been asked to the residents of Eastbourne as to whether they should or should not sell the freehold of the Downland farms, some 3000 acres. The cuts that were stated had not been mentioned before.
“The budgetary cuts will depend on the income generation, with the demolition of the Wish Tower Restaurant loss of rental income, the Sovereign Centre running a loss – why not refurbish for £10million instead of demolishing the building and building a new one for £25million, which will result in a reduction of borrowing of £15million.
“Also, the value of the freehold was vague, stating £15-30million. Surely the people of Eastbourne are entitled to know the true value of the freehold of the farms? A lot of assurance that the environment of the Downs will be protected by substantial covenants, this will only reduce the value. If we knew the true value, it may prove not practical at all to sell.
“The consultation period has been far too short and rushed. I urge the residents of Eastbourne to fill the voting slips in before Friday 3 March and save the Downs. Ignore the threat of budget cuts.”