Ditchling Common

In an effort to avoid the ongoing cost of keeping them going, East Sussex Council is offloading as many  country parks as it can.

On Monday 17th June lead council member for environment Nick Bennett will meet with himself* to make the decision to dispose of two sites in our area.  The item is number 10 on the agenda and the public will be excluded because it is secret for some reason.

However the council has issued a press release which reveals that Ditchling Common Country Park will be handed over to the Sussex Wildlife Trust on a lease and Newhaven Town Council would be given the freehold on the Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve and a long-term lease on Riverside Park.

The Council is still trying to find someone to Chailey Common nature reserve off of its hands.

Newhaven Town Council is far more committed to the town than the County Council  but it has to be asked whether it has the finance and the run a nature reserve.

Although the Sussex Wildlife Trust already runs a number of reserves, Ditchling Common is quite big compared with  many of these.  It also has its own issues.  A search of the internet will reveal that Ditchling Common is a well-known dogging site * It is not known how much expertise the Trust have in handling this sort of thing or whether or not it meets their definition of wildlife.

We have to ask where how these smaller organisations will find the running costs that the County Council is unable to find.

A key issue in breaking up of the Council’s Country Park estate is that the expertise built up within the council will be lost and smaller organisations may find it difficult to access this sort of know how.  The problem is not just confined to the places the council owns.  The Eye understands that other nature reserves such as Markstakes Wood are dependent on the management expertise provided by the Council’s staff.

NOTES

*. Instead of committees, East Sussex Council has lead members who take decisions on their own, advised by officers, in much the same way as council committees used to do. The “meetings” are minuted.

*. Dogging is the practice of having sex in your car in a public place while other people watch. The group “Fascinating Aida” has a song about it

article date 11/6/19