Letters

Opinions expressed are those of the letter writer.

16 Oct 2019 - Letter from North Harbour resident Iris Davis

More public bench seats around the harbour.

I find it hard to understand why Sovereign Harbour with its many elderly not excluding disabled residents does not have more public seating. The seats on the front of the new houses in Port Moresby Place have been occupied regularly throughout the summer months. It’s so lovely to walk around both the North and South Harbour but would be so much better if, someone like me, who, get’s very breathless could just sit down for a while and get my breath back.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Harbour Resident – Iris Davis

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SHRA response - That's a good point and we will raise it with the approproaite authorities.

07 May 2019 - Letter from South Harbour resident Diane Campbell

Dear SHRA,
Having just had a walk around the Water Feature, we are appalled at the number of residents who have fenced off the railings and gate to their homes, blocking out the view of the Water Feature, and narrowing the whole landscaping. The fences are ugly and unsightly and should be banned.

I understand people wanting privacy and the way to do it is either by shrubs or at least using organic material or even fake hedging, but NEVER, NEVER wooden fencing. If this carries on the whole area will be contaminated. If people don’t like the lack of privacy they should live elsewhere.

We would like to hear views of others on this subject.

Regards,
Diane and Graham Mortlock
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SHRA response - the matter was raised with EBC Planning who visited the area and concluded that no regulations had been broken.

04 Apr 2019 - Letter from North Harbour Resident Jan East.

I am writing to express my disgust at the amount of litter at the entrance to Sovereign Harbour! Great new signs have been erected to welcome visitors to our prestigious Waterfront but, how disappointed must they feel when they are welcomed by all the rubbish strewn in the bushes and along the roadside!

Jan East, Macquarie Quay, North Harbour.

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SHRA Response. - The local councillors arranged a litter-pick in the area earlier this year and I believe they have plans to hold another one. The area is the responsibility of M&G Real Estates owners of the retail park.

15 Feb 2019 - Letter from North Harbour Member Keith Forbes about the Cycling Strategy.

Dear Sir,
I write in response to your statement you are not disposed to publish any more letters on the topic of cycling following Rick Runall’s latest letter of 12 February.

That comment really concerned me. I assume you said it as webmaster of the SHRA. If so, I think both you and the SHRA are wrong. If the SHRA is truly a Sovereign Harbour Residents Association it should be acting as such to represent the interests of residents. To me, that means both allowing more residents to express their views and taking effective appropriate action to ensure local and other relevant authorities and entities receive those views.

These are what residents associations elsewhere do. But it seems our SHRA merely wants yet again to take a back seat instead of being concerned about, getting involved with and being a principal in resolving those residents concerns.

I welcomed those letters from Rick Runalls and others. But in my view none of those published to date have mentioned specific factors I state below which I believe are not only hugely relevant but overriding. The cycle routes in Sovereign Harbour are clearly defined as merely the shared pavement areas of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. There is no cycle route along any of the walkways of any of the Sovereign Harbours or beachfront areas and their use by cyclists whether considerate or not, is clearly a scourge to many Harbour residents.

I am one of those who believes that for the 2019 Annual Estate Rentcharge we alone in the entirely world of all harbours in the UK, Europe and rest of the world have to pay, we should be entitled to the privacy normally given in every other estate except this one, not seeing any non resident members of the public at any time either walking or cycling using the paths and walkways residents alone have to pay for.

If our Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council councillors want to bow to the wishes of the cycling organisations and have everywhere in the Sovereign Harbour area open to the general public and cyclists, then surely they first have a pressing prior duty to see to it, for the benefit of and to protect the interests of their constituents, that our hated Annual Estate Rentcharge is first revoked. Can they please confirm that in the meantime they will not be allowing cyclists on the beachfronts of North Harbour and South Harbour or any of the inner harbours walkways, and will put up signs to cyclists.

Keith A Forbes

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SHRA Response. We've already published a number of letters on the matter of shared space, which has not yet even been proposed. Keith's idea of shutting off all the walkways to only residents would probably require some sort of policing, gating, passes or access codes that would only lead to an increase in the rentcharge. It could also possibly put an end to EBC weeding and dog poo services - tasks that would then have to be privately contracted and paid for, also increasing the rentcharge.

No more letters about the cycle strategy will be published until there are firm proposals to discuss. We will pass on to Rick any further comments about his article of 25th Jan (below).

12 Feb 2019 - Letter from South Harbour member Rick Runalls in response to letter from Alison Attwood on Safe Cycling of 01 Feb (below)

I was interested to read the recent letter from Alison Attwood in response to my request for opinions on the issue of using promenades on Sovereign Harbour as ‘shared space’. I note her opinion that shared space is welcome.

I think there are some misleading observations that are worth clarifying.

Firstly, that I speak for SHRA. Not so, I’m not on the committee of SHRA and haven’t been for two years. SHRA has not expressed an opinion, or any particular interest in this issue at present. The editor of the SHRA web site and Waterlines kindly agreed to publish my letters as a service to alert residents to an issue that could affect them all and provide a platform for various views, such as Alison’s, to be aired.

The term ‘shared use’ is quite specific and does not include any segregation such as lanes to separate the groups at risk. For example, the length of Eastbourne’s seafront that is ‘cycle friendly’ is not ‘shared space’. It has lanes and some if not all of the seafronts she mentions have similar safeguards.

The potential risk from shared space was amply illustrated by the cyclist who knocked down 4-year old Aaliyah Raj on Eastbourne seafront and ran over her on his bike before shouting abuse at her mother and riding off with his companion. This was a serious event, but anyone walking the seafront on busy days knows this it was preceded by many near misses and less serious events. Since the Councils apparently have no interest in putting safeguards, or enforcement in place and injuries caused by anti-social cyclists cannot be actioned because cyclists tend not to be insured, I am personally concerned that this behaviour doesn’t become a feature of the Harbour residential community. However, the whole point of my letters was to find out if that was, or wasn’t a view shared with other Harbour residents.

I note that Alison’s ‘heart sings’ when she sees families cycling on Harbour promenades, but having raised and enjoyed a family myself I would say that our happiness didn’t rely on cycling where we shouldn’t. Surely families still get enjoyment from walking together, enjoying the Harbour environment and the beach, while allowing others to safely do the same? The idea that one can cycle through pedestrians and safely ‘enjoy the views’ seems reckless at best.

Finally, I take exception to the inference that I cannot be relied upon to represent a balance of resident views at the forum I sit on, rather than just my own opinion. I’m at a loss! Why does she think I’ve gone to the trouble of writing in Waterlines, providing facts and inviting opinions. I could have saved a lot of effort by doing nothing. I can assure her that the cycling activists are not going to local communities to seek views - they are driving their own agenda, but perhaps she already knows that?

Rick Runalls

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SHRA Response. Thank you all for your thoughts on safe cycling. I am not inclined to publish any more on this subject until there are officially confirmed proposals to discuss.

08 Feb 2019 - Letter from South Harbour member Viv Hope responding to Rick Runall's article 0f 25 Jan (below)

Sir,
I cannot walk at all far these days, but on a beautiful clear sunny Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would try to toddle from the lock to the Martello. My word, it was bedlam! Before I had walked not even a 100 yards, approaching me were a couple on cycles with their 2 children who were on scooters 4 abreast. Trying to undertake them on the inside dodging around pedestrians, a Lycra clad cyclist going so dangerously fast, he had to skid to a halt, grab a garden railing and lean on the wall otherwise he would have tipped over.

Alongside me were a couple with a baby in a Pram slowly strolling looking at the seals in fact around me, behind, in front, pedestrians with kids. Behind the oncoming barricade of the 4 abreast scooting and cycling family were people looking over the harbour railings, other walkers, joggers, people with dogs, 3 more cyclists, it was almost gridlocked, the whole part of this walkway was packed to the Martello Tower. Let’s be fair, what a lovely way to spend a Sunday, apart that is, from the danger of people with peddle power...

So, will someone please explain to me how can it be safe to cycle and scooter and self propel oneself on wheels, along any of the allocated pedestrianised walkways of the harbour, with absolutely no care or attention for people on 2 feet. Had any home owners who are lucky enough to have their houses accessing the path, have stepped out without looking, they would have been injured, It’s madness.

The cycle route is clearly signed around the harbour, cyclists are using walkways as a short cut, and mixed up with scootering kids, toddling kids, old hobbling people, pedestrians and dogs, it is just dangerous. Should someone stumble and fall, who is to blame for injuring a person by riding, bumping into or over him/her?

The cycling public must adhere to defined cycle routes, it’s clearly signposted around the harbour, there is actually a map online somewhere (perhaps SHRA can put this on their website)? Currently not good enough, therefore clearer signage for a Pedestrians only walkway to enable pedestrians to just stroll without fear, just has to be implemented. People banging on about cycling slowly and how lovely it is to do so, is just not helpful. Riding a cycle on pedestrianised pathways, is not and must not be permitted. Simple as that.

Viv Hope

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SHRA Response. The outer harbour prom is a popular area and does get a little busy occasionally. The SHRA website has always carried a map showing the cycle routes - you'll find it on the "Maps" page.

07 Feb 2019 - Letter from South Harbour member Marjorie Pratt responding to Rick Runall's article 0f 25 Jan (below)

Letter to the Webmaster at SHRA

Thank you for publishing Rick Runall’s informative article and letter about the consultation re; Cycling on the footpaths of The Harbour. Unlike Rick and Alison I am neither a keen walker nor a cyclist although I have given both a try... without enthusiasm. And I don’t give a hoot about the safety of cyclists when they persist in riding where they are not permitted.

Being lucky enough to live on the Outer Harbour I have seen it develop from a dirt track. A few years ago it was a safe walking space for pedestrians, disabled people, dog walkers, push chairs etc., but there has been a huge increase in the number of cyclists using the space for commuting and for their own pleasure. These days there are very few polite and considerate happy families to make Alison’s “heart sing”, instead there have been many close shaves and unpleasant confrontations with careless, usually uninsured cyclists.

Fuelled by lobbying from cycling organisations, cycling has steadily become the norm on our footpaths. The authorities refer to it as “shared space” but really it is an unequal division of the space available. Pedestrians cannot be sure of safe walking spaces and cyclists should not assume that their rides will not be impeded by unforeseen events or that they have the right of way. Sovereign Harbour already has a network of cycle paths and it is simply not fair that pedestrians should have to “move over” to accommodate more.

I can’t think of any other stretch of promenade in Eastbourne where access gates to properties open directly onto a footpath where dogs can run around off the leash or anywhere else where cyclists, residents and pets can collide before they have seen or heard each other approaching. There are hundreds of anecdotes of near misses but the dangers of mixed spaces are so blindingly obvious that promoting them on this stretch of the prom should not be considered outside of a hospital for the criminally insane.

Residents, concerned about their safety, have been in touch with the authorities and asked for “no cycling” signs to be displayed..... they would only be endorsing their own regulations. ..but the answer was that nothing will be done until there is serious accident.

Well, before there is a serious accident can we please show some common sense and stop wasting money on schemes which are derided in other parts of the country? If we do nothing the problems for pedestrians will only get worse as electric bikes and scooters become more popular and there is a continuous seafront path to tempt these unregulated riders. There may be other antisocial activities on the Harbour footpaths but there will be no going back to safe walking once these spaces have been stolen and turned into a velodrome.

Marjorie Pratt

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SHRA Response. We wait to see what any new strategy may be agreed and proposed and what areas of the Harbour it will cover.

06 Feb 2019 - Letter from South Harbour member Carole Penney responding to Rick Runall's article 0f 25 Jan (below)

Unfortunately this problem is growing and not in a divided share. The outer harbour, The Strand, walkway is an extremely well used walking area. At all times there are is mixture of people walking up to the sea front. There are a lot of disabled people brought to the see front to help with their disability both physically and mentally. There is no space for cyclists.

I have watched the way they treat pedestrians. I watched one man who was cycling very fast meet up with a family who had spread themselves across the walkway, the cyclist drove right up to them and had his bike almost in the small child's backside trying to get past. The people actually apologised to this rude man. I have many times asked the Lycra clad speed hogs to slow done and been told to fuck off or called various names. They show no consideration to pedestrians so they don't even think about shared space!!!! The cyclists are a mixture of young and old and most of them cycle very fast. What also needs to be thought about is our back gates open on to this walk way and we could easily walk out and be run over. They have no insurance so the injured person would be stuffed. I think you also need to consider all the tenants along this walk way.

Carole Penney

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SHRA Response. Most cyclists are not as inconsiderate as those Carole mentions. It is like the dog-owners who don’t pick-up after their dog, a minority giving a bad name to the majority.

1 Feb 2019 - Letter From SHRA member Alison Attwood in response to article on Safe Cycling

Sirs, I read with interest Rick Runalls’ article in Waterlines, also published in full on the SHRA website letters page on 25 Jan [below], concerning the Council’s safe cycling & walking strategy. I thank Rick for drawing this to the attention of harbour residents.

Like Rick, I am also a keen walker and cyclist, but I have a different opinion on this as I am in favour of shared use of the harbour promenades. Shared use works in Shoreham, Brighton, Seaford, Bexhill-On-Sea, St Leonards and Hastings so why not Eastbourne? Although perhaps not officially permitted, the harbour walkways are in practice already shared by cyclists and pedestrians, and the vast majority respect each other and get along fine. My heart sings when I see families with young children cycling along and enjoying the harbour; if only they could also enjoy the whole of Eastbourne’s seafront!

I appreciate Rick’s article outlines his personal opinion, but I wish Waterlines had covered this issue more objectively and not just published one article from one perspective. I hope this letter goes some way to presenting an alternative view.

Rick says he sits on the local forum and welcomes feedback via SHRA. I would like to be assured that, if Rick speaks for SHRA, he will represent all harbour residents’ views and not just those that support his own personal position.

Kind regards

Alison Attwood
North Harbour Resident

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SHRA Response. SHRA will objectively cover this issue when we know what is proposed, and we won't know that until after the strategy document is agreed and published. Rick is writing in a personal capacity, and expressing his personal views; he does not represent SHRA on any forum. We are happy to publish alternative views.

1 Feb 2019 - Letter From SHRA member Rick Runalls -Why Shouldn’t Cycling Rights be Extended to All Harbour Promenades?

I have been contacted by some residents following my letter [below], recently published in ‘Waterlines’. Their interest centres on why advocates of cycling think their rights override the interests of pedestrians on promenades established for pedestrian use?

To get a feel for what has been going on a little background is useful. After Sovereign Harbour Residents Association (SHRA) campaigned over the years to restrict the excesses of developers, achieve the facilities needed by the harbour community and generally to protect it, it was agreed that a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) would be produced. SHRA contributed to this and an agreed position was struck with the Borough and County Councils. Amongst other things the SPD specified and protected the rights of pedestrians and cyclists by defining existing and proposed pedestrian and cycling routes. Nowhere did it propose shared use on Harbour Promenades. The SPD was formally adopted in February 2013 and ratified by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government shortly afterwards.

As I mentioned in my previous letter there are two principal advocates working with the County and Borough Councils to extend cycling provisions. The first of these is‘Sustrans’ who run the focus group developing strategy and whose major interest is to extend the National Cycle Network.

The second advocate is ‘Bespoke’, who are a local pro-cycling organisation founded, in part by an Eastbourne councillor in June 2010. It has very few members, but a big advantage being that it is LibDem based and consequently has the ear of EBC. Later that year the leader of the Council promised cycling along Eastbourne’s seafront to extend the existing cycle path.

So, why should this be a problem for Sovereign Harbour?

EBC had a history of ignoring the needs of the Harbour as a residential community. To them it was a source of attraction and income, but little more than an extension to Eastbourne’s promenade. As a consequence, Bespoke’s ambitions have been supported by EBC while the SPD, which was to provide protection for the Harbour, is being ignored.

It must be stressed that unlike the rest of Eastbourne’s seafront Sovereign Harbour is a residential community with many properties relying on access directly to the promenade. SHRA wrote to the CEO of ESCC in 2015, but ESCC was unwilling to take up the Harbour’s cause. A Freedom of Information Request was made by SHRA to have sight of the risk assessments that should underpin changes to promenade use, but were told that none have ever been carried out by EBC, or ESCC.

It seems beyond belief that the Councils are washing their hands of issues so important to our community and instead giving priority to a small group of activists, however this is the situation in which we find ourselves. It underlines why it is so important for residents to take part in the consultation on the walking and cycling strategy when it is published.

The Chairman of ‘Bespoke’ recently wrote to me to explain where, in his view cyclist rights come from and his position with respect to the Harbour. This was as follows:

‘Use of the areas that have been adopted as public highway is ultimately controlled by the relevant legislation. The areas in question were adopted with full highway rights. This essentially means that, if the highway is built to a standard and of a character that it can accommodate cycles, cyclists will be able to use the route. Use of the highway is controlled by the Highways Act 1835 and in this case Section 72, which is still in force, is the relevant part. This creates an offence for cyclists to ride on footways (i.e. a path at the side of the carriageway), but there is no offence caused by cyclists riding along a footpath (i.e. a path not at the side of the carriageway). Cyclists cannot therefore be prosecuted for riding on footpaths away from roads.’

I realise his apparent enthusiasm to put cyclists interests first, but found his argument unconvincing, as explained in my reply on behalf of ‘Afoot’, an organisation seeking recognition of pedestrian rights.

‘The main point you appear to be making is that because various routes on the Harbour have been adopted as ‘Highway’ and the Highways Act of 1835 does not create an automatic offence if a cycle is ridden along a footpath not at the side of a carriageway, it’s OK to cycle along Harbour promenades. I have problems with this.

Now I do appreciate that the content of statute is a serious business, but even so its interpretation and relevance goes beyond the words. In 1835 the modern bicycle didn’t exist and wouldn’t for over 30 years, Cars were 60 years away and roads were roughly metalled, if at all. As a consequence I think that most people would agree that context is a major issue. In reality I would expect factors such as technology, environment and above all safety of the groups at risk to predominate in determining the most appropriate outcome. In terms of enforceability the Council can enact bye-laws and apply PSPO’s to restrict access and use of pathways and promenades on the harbour, should they so wish. In fact they have already used their powers in respect of dog control on some Harbour promenades.

It is apparent that you place significance on the fact that the Council has adopted Harbour routes as ‘Highways’ and consequently this underwrites the argument that cyclists have rights to pedestrian promenades. I of course recognise that the Council has adopted certain routes as Highways, but I don’t accept the consequence that has been assumed. In law, what constitutes a ‘highway’ is only loosely defined and describes it as any public road, track or path. I would argue that this generalisation is not a basis for inferring automatic rights for bicycles, or any other vehicles to use a route just because it has been adopted as ‘Highway’. This is apparent from actual examples such as the inclusion of stretches of path as ‘Highway’ that barely allow two pedestrians to pass each other, let alone cycles, or other vehicles.

I would expect that in making proposals to implement shared use schemes on Harbour promenades, for example, the Council will give prominence to factors such as:

• Risk from mixing pedestrians with vehicles moving 4 – 5 times faster

• Risk from bicycles passing at speed through residential areas with access gates opening directly onto promenades.

• Increasing risk to pedestrians and cyclists when there is no need, since adequate cycle ways and ‘traffic calmed’ roads already exist on the Harbour.

As a final point your views, which appear to reflect Bespoke’s map on the internet seem to promote an attitude on the part of cyclists that they have a right to use promenades because, in law cycling is not an offence. I find this disappointing since it circumvents a consultative process and is essentially trying to implement shared use without recognising the needs of, or risks to pedestrians. It gives much credence to the view that cycling activists only care about cyclists to the exclusion of everyone else.

I believe you are of the view that the Council has always intended promenades to be ‘shared use’ on the Harbour. I’ve been actively involved with SHRA since 2005 and am familiar with original planning documents. I can confirm that I have never seen anything to suggest the general intention of shared use on promenades. If this was the case then it would already be implemented. The only shared use intended was on the existing cycle route that was planned and implemented. If you have seen other documents to the contrary then I would appreciate sight of them.

Afoot seeks a safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists alike, but this isn’t achieved by forcing those groups together. Since cyclists have already been provided with a safe cycling environment on the Harbour, Afoot will continue to campaign for Harbour promenades to remain safe havens for pedestrians, as was originally intended at the Harbour’s inception.’

This essentially reflects the two points of view regarding the rights of cyclists on the Harbour promenades and will hopefully inform readers when considering the issue prior to the ‘Safe Walking and Cycling Strategy’ document being released for public consultation.

Rick Runalls 28.01.19

25 Jan 2019 - SHRA member Rick Runalls wants to alert residents to what he believes is a threat to safety on the Harbor Proms.

Threats to Safety on Sovereign Harbour Promenades

Residents may know that our councils have been discussing existing and future cycling and walking provisions across the county under the umbrella of the East Sussex Cycling and Walking Forum. Eastbourne’s particular intent is being developed by Eastbourne Borough Council, through a local forum, into a ‘Safe Walking and Cycling Strategy’ document. The development of this strategy is informed by views from groups representing both cyclist and pedestrian interests, although cycling groups heavily outweigh those representing pedestrian safety / interests. The forum is being managed by Sustrans, a UK charity that promotes cycling and whose flagship project is the National Cycle Network, which has created over 14,000 miles of signed cycle routes throughout the UK.

The next meeting of the local forum will take place in February and it is anticipated that the strategy document will be released to public consultation soon afterwards.

The purpose of this article is to alert residents to the proposals and in particular the way they are likely to affect cyclist and pedestrian safety on Sovereign Harbour, as well as to encourage residents to make their views known to EBC, whatever they may be.

Unlike some areas of Eastbourne the Harbour was developed with the needs of both cyclists and pedestrians in mind. We have cycle paths, which run through the Harbour and integrate with the wider cycle network and which also provide access to the Waterfront and locks, both attractions to visitors and residents alike. Additionally, for cyclists who do not wish to use those paths our ‘traffic calmed’ roads contribute to safe cycling in the Harbour environs. Safe pedestrian movement was provided by dedicated promenades and the combination of these separate facilities has resulted in a relaxing and safe environment for all users.

However, this environment is under threat from the proposals in the Council’s strategy document and if you enjoy the use of the Harbour promenades it is important that you recognise this and take a view one way or the other when considering the strategy.

The threat arises because the Council are focussed on demonstrating extended cycling provisions across the area with the minimum impact on Council expenditure. The way this will happen is by taking dedicated, safe pedestrian routes and re-categorising them as ‘shared space’, which allows cyclists to use them without restrictions. Sadly, even though this strategy has not yet been enacted there is an increasing tendency for some cyclists to adopt an aggressive attitude to exercise ‘their right of use’ to the detriment of pedestrians. There can be no doubt that mixing pedestrians walking at 3-4 miles an hour with cyclist moving 4 – 5 times faster will increase risk to both pedestrians and cyclists alike.

One might reasonably expect the Council’s ambitions for government grants and the wish to claim a few more miles as ‘National Cycle Network’ would take second place to the needs of the Harbour as a residential community and tourist facility, but there is no evidence of this so far.

I am both a cyclist and a walker, so I have an interest in both ‘camps’, but I see what is being proposed as a threat to the Harbour community that is being driven by short sighted dogma that has no interest in the Harbour environment.

I realise that not everyone will share this view, but I sit on the local forum and would appreciate your feedback through SHRA, so I can take it forward. Above all please look at the Strategy document when it is released (you will be notified through the SHRA web site) and make your views known to the Council, whatever they are.

R.H.Runalls 21.01.19

Comments for Rick on his letter may be emailed to SHRA at:webmaster@shra.co.uk

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