08 March 2022 - Letter from Sovereign Harbour resident, Jan Weeks
To Chairman and Committee SHRA,
New Benches on Harbour Walkways. Are you disabled with mobility problems? Do you like to rest and have a ‘natter’ with companions? Then these benches are NOT for you.
Walking around the harbour recently I came across the new metal benches, with plaques stating they had been funded and installed by SHRA and EBC. I was surprised, as I couldn’t, as a member, remember being consulted, nor could I remember other residents being consulted, especially those living close to the seating. In fact some residents of Pacific Heights South have expressed concern regarding the bench adjacent to their apartment block.
I initially had no recollection of a consultation of members, nor of other harbour residents who could be affected, in particular residents living close to the locations. I later remembered that in July 2019, almost three years ago, our borough Councillors mooted the idea, having been approached by three residents at one of their monthly surgeries. In September of the same year a petition with twenty names was submitted to the ward councillors and, after being verified on the electoral role, the Borough Council was approached. The petition was accepted with the stipulation that only ‘Heritage Seating’ in keeping with other areas, would be acceptable. However, after identifying suitable locations for installation, and further consultation, which only applied to the chosen areas, the whole issue was shelved due to lack of enthusiasm, and negative feedback from residents in the designated areas.
In October of 2019 the SHRA published a letter from one resident complaining about the lack of suitable seating for elderly and infirm when she was walking around, and this seems to have been the catalyst for the committee to ignore the history. The benches installed are not only out of keeping with the environment, they are totally inadequate and unfit for purpose. It would appear that keeping the cost low was the top priority, rather than public safety.
It also seems no risk assessment was conducted to ensure the seating met the needs of the target users. The seat height is too low and the seat width too narrow which, combined with the omission of a back rest, could pose a danger of falling backwards when “dropping” onto the seat. The omission of armrests, combined with no backrest and low seat height, gives no assistance to infirm users getting back on their feet. Metal seat slats will be very cold in winter, making them uncomfortable, and could result in users’ hand skin being frozen to them. Conversely, in the heat of the summer sun, they could become sufficiently hot to cause burns. It should be remembered that in either of these situations the users could be somebody who finds it impossible to stand up quickly. It concerns me that, if no risk assessment was conducted, in case of injury the SHRA could be liable for damages.
09 April 2020 - Letter from Sovereign Harbour resident, Joe Garcia
Dear Chairman and Residents of Sovereign Harbour,
I am writing to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to all of the residents who have taken the time over the past three weeks on a Thursday evening to take to their doorsteps, balconies and gardens to demonstrate their gratitude for the NHS & key workers.
Listening to the applause, clanking pots and pans, fireworks and air horns is such an uplifting moment at the end of a challenging day.
I work for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust and have been in the Ambulance Service for almost 35 years. I started my career in Eastbourne in 1985 when the Service was a far cry from what it has become today.
An era when keen and energetic enthusiasm to do your best led to the birth of the Paramedic profession and the Service has evolved to become an attraction to the youth of today who are bringing new energy, enthusiasm and a highly educated workforce to evolve the a service to new heights.
Those that stay in this profession have done so through a sense of duty and acknowledgement that this has become a way of life rather than a job.
The accolade that the residents of Sovereign Harbour have bestowed on me, this evening and past evenings as a member of the NHS family, has reinforced my belief that my career, spent trying to make a difference every day, has very much been worth every hour that I have put in.
As I am reaching the twilight of my career, the young women and men who take up the mantle behind me are the generation that will save the day during this time of crisis, just like other past young generations in history who have stepped up to be counted during a national emergency, they will conquer the challenge and we will be so grateful for their commitment and sacrifice.
They will look at your accolade, in their own unique way and recognise that they have come of age, your applause will stimulate them to strive harder, you applause will strengthen their resolve, your applause will mature their souls, your applause will sustain the youth of today in saving the generations most at risk in this crisis.
I salute you all during this uncertain time. Thank you.
25 March 2020 - Letter from North Harbour resident
Dogs on Leads
Both yesterday and today whilst out taking exercise, walking along North Harbour beach and the marina walkways, I encountered several dogs either on extending leads or off lead altogether. Having concerns that there is a possibility of infection from loose dogs running up to people, and children in particular, after making some enquires I was given the following advice.
Legally dogs should be on leads regardless in order to ensure complete control of their dog. A dog on an extending lead in not under full control.
If a person who is contagious with COVID-19 were to touch the dogs fur, and you were then to touch the dog within a short period, transmission is possible. The fur is similar to any surface in that the virus can live for a short period
If this is something that concerns you, call Neighbourhood First for further advice on this and the enforcement of these laws
Best wishes, stay safe
North Harbour resident (name withheld on request).
Advice from VetHelpDirect
What should I do with my pet if I have to self-isolate or be quarantined? There is a chance that your pet may temporarily carry a few viral particles on their coat or in their nose and Public Health England recommend keeping away from pets during home isolation. If that is unavoidable you should wash hands before and after contact.
15 March 2020 - Letter from North Harbour resident, Keith Forbes
Dear Sir, I hope this will be of interest to you to publish as a letter.
It cannot be denied by all fair-minded people that in a number of significant respects there is not one Eastbourne but two. Eastbourne 1 is the fair and biggest-by-far part of the town, comprising eleven of its twelve wards. There, none of the residents have to pay a Annual Estate Rentcharge. In all those eleven wards there are tree-lined streets, parks or recreational areas, beaches recognized as being a key part of Eastbourne, a tourism centre, hotels galore, frequent buses and trains, cinemas, theatres and more.
Eastbourne 2, in sorry comparison, specifically Sovereign Harbour (part of Sovereign Ward) is the unfair part of the town.
Sovereign Harbour, however, is a major asset of huge economic benefit to the whole of Eastbourne. Yet others in the town now with over 100,000 residents do not pay a penny for it. Only 3,119 Sovereign Harbour residents do, so massively unfairly. When I contacted Eastbourne Tourism I was informed that of the 5.4 million people who visited the town in 2019, more than 3.5 million visited Sovereign Harbour.
Unfortunately, what Sovereign Harbour residents have that all the other wards in Eastbourne do not, is a financial expense not found in any other seaside attraction and marina in the whole of the UK or Europe or the rest of the world. It is the hated Annual Estate Rentcharge.Nowhere else in the UK or Europe or the world has to pay this kind and price of Annual Estate Rentcharge. Nor does anywhere in the UK or Europe have to pay such a surcharge to the Environment Agency.
As an alternative to making it clear upfront to would-be new buyers of Sovereign Harbour property that the Annual Estate Rentcharge applies, a fair solution to change this inequity, to right a long-established wrong, would be for both residents from other Eastbourne wards and the 3 .5 million or so annual visitors to Sovereign Harbour to pay a token fee of £1.00 each time they visit Sovereign Harbour, given it is of such major economic benefit to the town.
There are precedents for this, for example in Portmeirion in North Wales, the third most popular visitor attraction in Wales, where the per-day visitors fee is £10 a time. The result of this proposed change of direction of Sovereign Harbour’s hated Annual Estate Rentcharge could in fact, after some appropriate adjustments for collection of the new harbour charge fee by the collecting agents, the Sovereign Harbour Trust and its Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) CIC, be to the advantage of these two companies. Instead getting a revenue stream in 2020 of £263.55 from only each of 3,119 Sovereign Harbour resident property owners, they could likely collect in 2021 £1 or more apiece from each of 3,500,000 visitors.
It is well-known by the Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council and those 3,119 Sovereign Harbour owners or lessors of residences, but probably not by others, that those Sovereign Harbour residents, who alone have to pay the entire cost, are not the only beneficiaries of the Environment Agency payments. Living in the same flood plains, potentially liable to the same flood damages, are the owners of over 14,000, possibly as many as 17,000 properties in nearby Pevensey, Pevensey Bay and all the 9 miles east to Cooden Bay in Bexhill on Sea. But to date they have been exempted from payment.
Why! In future they must be made to pay their fair share. Or the complete Annual Estate Rentcharge has to cease, be repealed with the help of our Member of Parliament and other MPs. Mr Hew Merriman is the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, which includes Pevensey. It was written in Issue 154, Winter 2019-2020 of The Parish Pump magazine of Pevensey Bay, Stone Cross, Westham, Pevensey, Normans Bay and Hankham on page 5 that “The sea defence contract is of course a concern for local people and we continue to maintain strong links with the Environment Agency and other statutory organisations to ensure that the defences remain secure and that the current contract which expires in 2025 will be replicated.”
Our MP is Caroline Ansell who has stated publicly earlier that the Annual Estate Rentcharge is unfair. We expect her to be fighting in our corner to ensure that the gross unfairness of Sovereign Harbour residents only, not those of Mr. Merriman’s constituents as well, paying the charges is changed so that all residents in the same flood zone pay an equal share, if the charge is not repealed entirely.
One of the above two options surely has to be accepted by our Member of Parliament, her fellow Conservative MP in the Pevensey Bay and Bexhill area, other MPs, Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council, and U.K. government ministers. It will then represent a significant new dimension to Eastbourne’s Direction of Travel: Issues and Options for Eastbourne. Incidentally, I wrote about all this for that initiative but never got an acknowledgement. I also replied to the recent Housing survey and made a point of stating how the Annual Estate Rentcharge is a poison chalice, not a credit, to Eastbourne and why Eastbourne in general, Sovereign Harbour in particular, is the Annual Estate Rentcharge capital of the world. Also without acknowledgement.
It is such a shame that we have two Eastbourne’s, one fair and the other so unfair. It warrants those of us in Sovereign Harbour going international and also reconsidering the merits of a Parish Council over the demerits of constant stony indifference to our concerns by our councillors at EBC and ESCC. I hope you find this noteworthy, quote worthy and newsworthy.
10 February 2020 - Letter from North Harbour resident, Angus Bannerman
Came across this is old You Tube footage by chance, filmed & commented on some 13 years ago, on the early stages of the controversial build of the harbour.
It still really concerns me if its now possible with climate change, unusually excessive storms and high tides coming in from the Atlantic hitting this part of the coast in future, which could cause enormous damage & flooding to residential properties?
I wonder if sea defences have been improved sufficiently now to withstand any unusual high storm weather (like today [Sunday's storm Ciara]), as defences on this coastline nearby must weaken over time,( Pevensey Bay for instance, has been breached not long ago in the past with heavy damage!)........ & is our money being well spent contributing to the Harbour rates on sea defences, & if not, collectively, we know who to sue if the inevitable may happen!?
Yours & SHRA members comments would be appreciated if you decide to publish?
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 gets very breathless, could just sit down for a while and get my breath back.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Iris Davis07 May 2019 - Letter from South Harbour resident, Diane Campbell
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.
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.
15 Feb 2019 - Letter from North Harbour Member, Keith Forbes, about the Cycling Strategy.
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.
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?
08 Feb 2019 - Letter from South Harbour member Viv Hope responding to Rick Runall's article of 25 Jan (below)
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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