Horrified local residents watched a farcical meeting of a specially convened Licensing Committee hearing take place at Eastbourne Town Hall last week as the Town Hall Clowns tripped and tumbled their way through the Five Acre Field application and after a staggering 1 hour and 40 minute wait, gave approval for the circus to take place after some staggering failures in process were disclosed.
The decision to stage the circus on Five Acre Field this year was supposed to have come about due to a double booking of events at Princes Park. Residents were understandably furious that the subsequent licensing application appeared to have been prejudged with event advertising already having taken place and other events being planned and marketed throughout the remainder of the season.
Residents have a number of times in recent years, had to contend with illegal traveller incursions which have led to the burning of trees, dumping of rubbish and churning up of the field not to mention abusive behaviour towards residents and increased fear of crime. Until now, there has been a cross party concencous with both main parties pledging to protect and preserve the local community open space. As recently as 2007, Lib-Dems said that they would prevent development and not even allow the circus on the field.
Prior to this licensing application, a small number of residents in Lib-Dem represented Devonshire Ward at Regency Park were consulted about the plans whilst residents in Conservative represented Sovereign Ward who live closer to the planned event knew nothing until the posters went up.
Residents have raised a number of concerns about disturbance, lack of parking, control of the consumption of alcohol, emergency service vehicles not being able to reach residents as circus visitors clog up local streets and the rapidly deteriorated surface on Five Acre Field with its deep ruts and holes along with an open sewer providing a serious risk to members of the public.
Residents have every right to feel cheated, Stephen Lloyd’s unpopular Lib-Dems have broken a cross party promise to residents and could be forgiven for wondering if once they have completely ruined this much loved open space, if they have secret plans for housing and blocks of flats”.
Information and advice is now being put together to support the filing of a likely Judicial Review of the decision and concern was also raised at the performance of Cllr Pat Hearn who asked how late a risk assessment could be recieved if they were to grant permission at the meeting. It is strongly believed by many present that this demonstrated a desire to permit the application even though this information had not been gathered before the application had been submitted as it should have been.