Help keep our Downs public
Campaigners are trying to stop local councils from selling off parts of the South Downs National Park. Help protect Eastbourne's public downland.
In these cash-strapped times it’s no surprise that 2 south coast councils want to sell off land that they own. However local campaigners say that this is “selling off the family silver” and will be a short-term gain at the cost of greater control over how that downland is managed in future.
Friends of the Earth groups in Brighton and Eastbourne are part of the Keep Our Downs Public campaign, which is trying to halt the sales of land in the South Downs National Park. Although the proposed sale of land around Brighton has been halted for the moment, land at Eastbourne is still under serious threat.
Eastbourne Friends of the Earth is asking people to sign their petition to show how much people care about keeping the land in public ownership.
There will be no guarantee what happens to these farms if the sales go through. Once they are in private hands there are less controls on the use of the land.
Jenny Shorter, Eastbourne Friends of the Earth and Keep Our Downs Public
In a further twist, Eastbourne council has to offer first refusal to the private landowners, who the council originally bought the land from in order to protect it “in perpetuity”.
There is a job to be done here to reconnect councillors to their heritage and responsibilities to manage this downland for public benefit.
Dave Bangs, one of the founders of Keep Our Downs Public
We can win
People in Worthing won a similar fight with land near Cissbury Ring and Keep Our Downs Public stopped Brighton council selling off downland in the 1990s. So we can take inspiration from the fact that this kind of reckless action by councils has been stopped before.
Recently Brighton and Hove council bowed to public pressure and agreed to revisit their decision. But locals are remaining vigilant.
This cannot be allowed to happen again, the downland estate is too precious to be sold off.
Chris Todd, Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth and Keep Our Downs Public