Have your say on future of East Sussex countryside access

Cllr Carl MaynardPEOPLE are being asked to have their say on the future of public rights of way and countryside sites in East Sussex.

East Sussex County Council is asking people to comment on its draft Countryside Access Strategy, which lays out how its 2,000 miles of footpaths, bridleways and byways and 10 countryside sites are managed in the future.

The plan was put together following an extensive study which included an examination of how people use public rights of way and countryside sites and how well the county council looks after them.

The proposals would see the county council continue to manage and maintain public rights of way and two of its countryside sites – the Cuckoo Trail and Forest Way Country Park.

However, the authority would look to transfer management of the remaining eight countryside sites – including Seven Sisters Country Park, Ditchling Common Country Park and Camber Sand Dunes – to other organisations.

Any transfer of sites would be subject to strict conditions over their use, and would only be to organisations with a track record of conservation and working with visitors and the public, who would be able to take on sites, keep them open to the public and manage them better.

The council says the changes would lead to increased community involvement in managing the sites and help people to improve their health, through exercise in green open spaces.

Cllr Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said: “Access to stunning countryside is one of the great things about living in East Sussex, providing benefits for the environment and health and wellbeing.

“To ensure their long-term future, it’s vital that our public rights of way and countryside sites are managed as effectively as possible.

“At a time when the council is having to make savings of £70 million over the next three years, we also need to ensure all our services are as efficient as possible and make best use of our limited resources.

“The draft plan identifies ways we could improve how sites are managed so they better meet the needs of people who use them.

“It’s important that we seek the views of people who use the countryside, and other partner organisations, before any final decision is made.”

People can view the draft Countryside Access Strategy and take part in the consultation, which runs until Friday, July 29 2016 online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay

Copies of the consultation are also available at libraries and Tourist Information Centres, or on request by calling the contact centre on 0345 60 80 193, emailing scs@eastsussex.gov.uk or writing to Countryside Access Strategy, West B, County Hall, St Anne’s Crescent Lewes, BN7 1UE.

Further info:

The 10 countryside sites in East Sussex are:
Camber Sand Dunes/ Johnson Field
Chailey Common Local Nature Reserve
Cuckoo Trail
Ditchling Common Country Park
Forest Way Country Park
Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve
Riverside Park
Seven Sisters Country Park
Shinewater Park
Weir Wood Local Nature Reserve

Under the plan, two of these sites, the Cuckoo Trail and Forest Way Country Park, would continue to be managed by the county council, as they are more like rights of way in their appearance and use