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 met with himself* to make the decision to dispose of two sites in our area. s 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 to 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 has 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 adverts have been placed in local media for the disposals, as the law requires, but it is understood that agreements with the organisations are in place.
*. 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