Controversy over seafront plans sparks forum debate

Controversial changes to the Oasis garden on the seafront sparked lively debate at Bexhill Town Forum attended by some 100 residents.

Cllr Simon Elford told the meeting at St Peter’s Community centre that following objections and a public consultation there were now new plans.

He highlighted two issues - the pathway too wide, and not enough grass.

Under the new plan, part of the proposed wide path through the garden would move westward into the De La Warr Pavilion car park recycling area, and the path would be narrower. There would be more grass and planting in the garden, and the path lined up with the pedestrian crossing in Marina which will not now be moved.

An overwhelming majority wanted the garden kept as it is, but Ron Storkey pointed out in November members had backed his alternative proposal for a path that would take up only a small section of the garden – instead of half of it – and this was contained in the new scheme.

Jim Milne, however, accused Rother of destroying the Oasis and said: “That is disgraceful. You have compromised a bit but there is no real change on the part of the council to preserve the old Oasis which is a marvellous place.”

Ian Hollidge commented that people enjoyed sitting in the garden and asked if there would be seating there. He was told there were no plans for seating within the grass area itself.

There was applause when Cllr Deidre Williams expressed concern that what was planned was a loss of the garden and what was being proposed was no replacement. Jacqueline Bouchard said: “If this is what we want we have to fight and that means not giving in.” She suggested that people write individually to the council rather than send in petitions. Other residents said improvements should be appropriate for a conservation area, and that extensive roadworks were affecting cellars under properties.

Paul Courtel, who chaired the meeting, concluded the overwhelming feeling was that there hadn’t been enough change.

At the start of the Forum, founder Margaret Jones announced chairman Paul Plim and vice-chair Nick Hollington had resigned. There had been disagreement between them and others over the length of the proposed agenda for the meeting. The committee thanked them for “good work” they did while in office.