SENIOR councillors have agreed to consult on proposals to change the way countryside sites in East Sussex are managed.
The draft Countryside Access Strategy for public rights of way and countryside sites was discussed by East Sussex County Council’s cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, April 26 2016.
The proposals would see management of eight of the authority’s ten countryside sites – including Camber Sands, Ditchling Common and Seven Sisters Country Park – transferred from the county council to other organisations.
Sites would only be transferred to organisations with experience in conservation, working with the local community and welcoming visitors, with strict conditions to ensure they remained open and accessible to the public.
Meanwhile, the county’s 2,000 miles of public footpaths, bridleways and byways, along with two countryside sites – the Cuckoo Trail and Forest Way Country Park – would continue to be managed by the county council.
Cllr Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said: “The countryside is very important to East Sussex and it’s vital that people can continue to enjoy it.
“We looked very carefully at the draft strategy and our view was that it will allow us to ensure countryside sites remain open to all and in fact will be better managed in the future, while making the best use of our limited resources.
“We will only transfer sites to organisations which understand and have experience in conservation, community involvement and visitor engagement.
“We will be launching a public consultation on this shortly and would encourage people to take part so their views can inform how the final version of the strategy looks.”
The draft strategy was drawn up following a survey of the public and other groups, which looked at how the county’s rights of way and countryside sites are used, and other research into how they are used and how effectively they are managed.
It will now be subject to a public consultation, feedback from which will be used to draw up the final version of the strategy, which will then go back to cabinet.
The proposals can be viewed in full in cabinet papers online at https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=133&MId=2601&Ver=4
More information about the project is available at https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/leisureandtourism/countryside/futurecountrysideaccess/