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Land, Beachy Head (Use)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware that a tract of open downland of about 50 acres in extent, situated between Beachy Head and Birling Gap, has been cleared and ploughed up; and, in view of the importance of this open space to Eastbourne and to the amenities of the South Downs generally, and in view of the fact that rights of way may be prejudiced, whether he will consult with the owners of this land, who are primarily Eastbourne Corporation, with a view to stopping further ploughing up.

I understand that this land, which is an Eastbourne Corporation farm, is being brought back into cultivation as it was before 1942, I have no power to intervene.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend knew this area as a child, but has he been there lately and seen how they are turning this land, which is rather useless from the agricultural point of view, into a productive farm, when it is one of the most beautiful amenities on the South Downs?

That may be so, but if this land was useless—growing little but bushes and so forth—and now is turned into valuable productive land, we have to balance that against the disadvantages the hon. Member mentions. I have, unfortunately, no powers to do anything about it.

Is the Minister aware that my constituents in Eastbourne have considerable confidence in the Corporation's ability to run its own affairs? I want to say, however, that the hon. Member did ask my permission to ask the Question.