Bexhill Down left “like a mud pool” by event

14/1/15- Mud on Bexhill Down following a  recent cross-country race. SUS-150114-120448001
14/1/15- Mud on Bexhill Down following a recent cross-country race. SUS-150114-120448001

Residents angry at the state of the Down are blaming Rother District Council for allowing a huge annual cross country event go ahead.

They claim the Sussex Cross Country Championship left soggy churned mud which is a problem for locals and dog-walkers, and could become worse when the ground dries out.

However the council is saying if damage was done the organiser of the race will pay to put it right.

The race took place on Saturday January 3 in wet conditions and the fear is once the ground dries out, bumps and ridges will form which will be even more difficult to get across.

Ian Blake of Reginald Road contacted the Observer to say: “How the hell can a council let this take place on community ground which is used by the public?

“The environmental damage done to the Down is going to take some time to mend, and at what cost to the council tax payers?

“Whoever has done this should be brought before the courts and be made to pay for the environmental damage to the Down.

“But as I said, the council is run by fools and nothing will be done and these people will get away by doing this again.”

Linda Haffenden commented she was “so surprised” that “in the pouring rain and the Bexhill Down already being like a mud pool” the run was allowed to take place.

She said: “This has resulted in more mud than ever being spread everywhere, it is now impossible to walk over there. Surely the race could have been cancelled or moved somewhere else? This is not the first year this has happened and when the weather dries up we will be left again with hard lumps to walk on and stumble over, the Down is used by many dog walkers all year round, and I am not the only one to think this is wrong.

“This area has been severely neglected over the past couple of years and it seems the council just doesn’t care anymore.”

The championship is held by Sussex Athletics which told runners that conditions underfoot should be firm but added: “Bexhill does have a tendency to turn into a quagmire just in time for the Champs.” It is thought 1,000 runners will have taken part - separate races are held for categories such as under 11s, under 13s, under 15s, under 17s, senior athletes and ladies.

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “When we give permission for events to be held on areas we manage such as Bexhill Down, we take a deposit from the organiser in case of any damage to the land.

“We are monitoring the situation at the site and if any work is necessary to rectify damage to the land the cost of this will be taken from the deposit.

“The current wet weather means it’s not feasible to carry out any work on the site at present, so in the meantime we’d ask people to exercise caution when using this area.”

A similar event in Eastbourne - which was a marathon across the Downs - was recently postponed until October to allow the ground a chance to recover from heavy rain.