Greens claim credit for halting downland sell-off

Posted On 23 Nov 2016 at 6:01 pm

The Green group of councillors said that it had successfully intervened to halt the sale of land in the downland estate owned by Brighton and Hove City Council.

The Greens were among campaigners calling for the proposed sell-off to be suspended – a move now agreed by officials although the council said that it was only a temporary reprieve.

Land in Poynings and at Plumpton Hill has been earmarked for disposal. The Greens said: “Although most of this land is protected under national and environmental law, sites that had been identified for sale were branded ‘non-core assets’ and so were not subject to the same public scrutiny as other parts of the estate.

“However, as a result of ongoing pressure from the Greens, council officers have now acknowledged that plans for disposal of the land should be brought to a halt.”

Green group convenor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “As soon as the detail on this was brought to our attention, we intervened and called for the sales to be suspended.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

“It is right that as a result of this pressure, proposed sales in areas of the downland estate will be put on hold and hopefully shelved altogether.”

Councillor Mac Cafferty added: “We are glad that the city council is talking to the downland campaigners and sharing information with them about what is going on.

“We are now calling for much tighter scrutiny on any remaining proposals to sell land.

“We call on all councillors to fully examine how we treat our incredibly important downland – the most unique part of our city’s natural heritage.”

The Green group is now seeking to amend the council’s policies over the disposal of land in the area and will propose further protection for sites at the next meeting of the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee.

Councillor Ollie Sykes

Councillor Ollie Sykes

Councillor Ollie Sykes said: “As councillors we must be prepared to take steps to preserve this vital land, and I welcome the news that current sales will be put on hold. There are lessons to be learned here.

“We will be working with colleagues across the council to increase protection of our estate which not only provides our water but is also unique for its biodiversity, heritage and landscape.”

The council said: “The sales of a very small part of the downland estate, equivalent to 1 per cent, will still take place as previously agreed by the all-party Policy and Resources Committee.

“We were asked by a few councillors to pause the process while we answer some questions but we will be continuing with the sale of the land.”

  1. Hjarrs Reply

    Once Labour was a party proud to introduce freedom to roam legislation that allows us access to the downs, now our local Labour Party are happy to work with the Conservatives to massively increase council tax costs for thousands of those on low incomes, cut services and sell off our precious Downland inheritance.

    The Local Labour Party members have been let down by an executive desperate to cling to power, to such an extent that the Labour Party elections were suspended when the membership didn’t vote the right way!

  2. Gerald Wiley Reply

    And perhaps the Greens can come up with a proposal to balance the budgetary needs of the city – just like when they wanted to have an annual increase in council tax of 6% to fund all their various vanity projects?

    Oh yes – and in the end they too had to limit increases to the 2% that the government allowed.

    Unfortunately the Greens seem to have no idea about financial matters and assume that an endless stream of money, usually from the EU, can be provided to support their ideological dreams.

    So come on Philip and Ollie – rather than just whinging and causing problems – what is your solution?

    What is wrong with “selling off” land that the council doesn’t need if there are restrictions on what the land can be used for?

    Why doesn’t the council use the land for something more profitable for the city as a whole?

    • Rolivan Reply

      I got an absolute blasting for saying that the land is protected and could not be built.A lot different from cutting down acres of Trees and Shrubs at Wild Park.The Council has a huge Property and Land Portfolio but continues to plead poverty.Also the Land proposed for sale is in other Councils so why not sell it to them?

    • Hjarrs Reply

      Labour and Conservatives combined to block a 3.5% council tax rise in 2012, which has led to council cuts over the years. This is the same Labour Party that, last year, raised council tax by 4%.

      It must not be forgotten that the Greens raised council tax by far less than any B&H council since introduction and, despite savage grant cuts and maintaining a higher level of service than comparable councils, they balanced the bugdget. I realise that is very inconvenient for the naysayers.

      Labour have shown themselves to be out of their depth, difficult to work with, without vision and seemingly only too happy to pass on government cuts with barely a peep.

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        Good to see the official green party spokesman refusing to answer the points I raised and instead, typically, trying to change the argument and attempt to use misinformation to make it appears that the greens did a good job running the previous council.

        I would like to point out to my “learned” colleague that each year the left of the green party councillors, which I recall includes Phelim and Ollie, wanted to increased council tax by 6% each year. It was only the late “ambassador” KitKat, as leader of the council, who realised that to get the budget plan approved, and to avoid being put into “special measures” by the government, that the council was FORCED to reduce increases to 2% – within the government limits. The increase last year was 4% which was within the then current limits.

        If the left-wing green councillors had had their own way I guess we would have seen a 24% increase in council tax over the term of the council and this spent on even more failed vanity schemes.

        You must stop trying to re-write history in a vain attempt to make it appear that your councillors were ever effective in running the city.

        Now, perhaps you’d like to ask Phelim as lead “convenor” (why can’t you have a “leader” like proper parties?) to explain what you would do differently?

        • Hjarrs Reply

          Noted that you can’t refute my points.

  3. Joe Stains Reply

    ‘Greens claim credit for halting downland sell-off’

    Oh, this is too much! It’s almost too rich!!!

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