Cissbury victory

Mark mark at
Mon Dec 7 10:22:16 GMT 2009

Subject: Fwd: Fw: Cissbury victory
From:    "downlanders" <action4access at>
Date:    Sun, December 6, 2009 6:07 pm

Dear All,
The Worthing land is not going to be sold off, hooray.  See the report
below. Big thank you to the campaigners for all their work and to any of you
who wrote letters / emails.
Keep Our Downs Public!


*4th December 2009*

*Worthing to retain its Cissbury Downland*

*Leadership Councillor Steve Waight supports the improvement of public
access and the enhancement of this public downland*

Worthing Council’s Cabinet unanimously agreed to withdraw the Council’s
Cissbury downland from sale yesterday, December 3rd.

Councillor Steve Waight, the Cabinet Member for Resources and Business
Modernisation went further, though, and, in a prolonged exchange with
questioners, conceded most of what protestors have been calling for.

120 protestors had turned up to demonstrate on the steps of the Town Hall
and crowded into the Cabinet meeting. Their numbers amply corroborated Cllr
Waight’s statement that “more local people had responded to him on this
issue than any other in his 18 years as a councillor”.

*Retaining control not just ownership*

In his responses to SCSO supporters Cllr Waight categorically stated that,
in addition to retaining the freehold, the Council “will also retain control
over the land”. He stressed that the primacy of the issue of public access
had been heard and understood by him and that he had heard the call both to
protect the land as it was and to enhance it.

Cllr Waight and Steve Coe, Worthing Council’s Estates Manager, reported that
a meeting had taken place earlier in the day with officials from Natural
England, the South Downs Joint Committee (SDJC) and the National Trust. In
this meeting there was discussion of the nature of the external funding that
Natural England could make available to the Council, chiefly through the
agri-environmental Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS), and the support
that both the National Trust and the SDJC were able to offer.

Steve Coe indicated that they will have further meetings with these bodies
to address the options available to the Council.

*No sale of long term leases*

Cllr Waight said that the length of any new lease was yet to be determined,
but indicated a positive attitude to the idea of new leaseholds coterminous
with the ten year duration of each HLS agreement. He stated that there had
been interest expressed from farmers and landholders neighbouring the
Council’s downland. He said that it was necessary for the Council to address
immediate legal technicalities with regard to the cessation of the past
agricultural tenancy, as part of the process.

There was no mention by Cllr Waight of the idea of the sale of long term
leases which had been a feature of both the Report to Cabinet and the
accompanying press release[i].

*Continuing public concern and sense of exclusion*

Questioners repeatedly stressed their suspicion of the Council’s intentions
and their opposition to the truncation of the review that had earlier been
announced (circa 10th November) by Cllrs Waight and Yallop, the Council
Leader. They urged that the final proposals for the downland should be made
fully public and consulted on widely, and criticized the opaque nature of
these events. Cllr Yallop reminded the meeting of his action a year ago to
make public the details of the sale. Cllr Waight stated that the review had
been on the issue of sale alone, not on the wider management concerns, which
did not quell questioners concern at their exclusion from the process of
considering this issue.

*A good first step*

This result is a good first step, though taken within the context of these
ongoing concerns.

Stop Cissbury Sell Off will continue to press the views of residents and
users of this downland, and to press for the democratic accountability of
future management decisions over Worthing’s public downland.

A public information meeting is being arranged by us early next year, when
details of progress will be discussed. It is planned to invite Worthing
Council representatives to brief us on what they are doing.


[i] ‘Agricultural Land at Tenants Hill and Mount Carvey’. Report by the
Executive Head of Technical Services, Cabinet 3 December 2009, Agenda Item
9, Para 3.2, and Worthing Council press release ‘Cissbury farmland withdrawn
from sale’ 26/11/2009.

walking and working for a people's countryside

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