West Beach IS a village green!

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The Court of Appeal has upheld the rights of local people to access Newhaven’s sandy West Beach in its judgement handed down today.

The three judges who sat at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for three days at the end of March have upheld the appeal of East Sussex County Council and Newhaven Town Council against the decision made by the judicial review in November 2011. This means that the beach can be registered as a village green.

Town councillor Carla Butler said ‘I am over the moon that the court has ruled in our favour. We still believe passionately that Newhaven port can be regenerated at the same time as securing leisure access to the sandy beach for the people of Newhaven. This is a victory for people power!’

The owners of the beach, Newhaven Port and Properties, have immediately announced that they will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The town council is disappointed with this reaction and would very much like to co-operate with the port authority to find the best way to get the beach open quickly, safely and in a way that benefits both the port and the people of Newhaven.

The Mayor of Newhaven, Councillor Graham Amy said:  ‘The beach has been used safely by tens of thousands of people over the years. Its closure has ruined several Newhaven businesses and denied a generation of children a good time with the only beneficiaries being both sets of lawyers. One wonders what the many soldiers who lost their lives, fighting on the beaches to liberate France, would think of this desperately sad situation. Let us hope that common sense eventually prevails.”

Councillor Steve Saunders added ‘This is great news for the town, the residents and all the people that enjoy the West Beach. I am looking forward to working constructively with the Port to ensure that everyone is able to benefit from this decision. We have many ideas for the area, to make it a safe and accessible resource that we can all enjoy. It has been a long and difficult road, but the journey appears to have come to an end and the right decision has been reached. Thanks should go out to all those that sent photos and evidence in support, to the officers and team at the town council and the patience of the local community. Let us all now work together and enjoy our beach once again. This is not a victory, so much as an opportunity to draw a line under an unfortunate time for the town and the residents—a chance to go forward in partnership with the Port.’

Adds Nicola Hodgson, our case officer, who helped the town council with its fight: ‘We are delighted that the court of
appeal has found in favour of the village green applicants and  that the land will be protected for use by future generations. We urge the landowner to work with the council and local people in the public interest.’

Read the full judgement here.

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