Councillors on Brighton & Hove Council have supported calls for changes in the proposed boundaries of the South Downs National Park due to come into being in 2006. At least two of the areas they have suggested for inclusion have been specifically ruled out in the consultation responses of the Brighton City Centre Business Forum (BCCBF) and the Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership (BHEP)
Toad’s Hole Valley and Mile Oak Fields have been recommended for inclusion by the local authority but convincing and comprehensive evidence was put forward by the BCCBF to show that neither of these two areas satisfies the criteria for inclusion. The agreement of the Countryside Agency was indicated by the fact that they were removed from the proposed boundaries after the consultation period ended. A Green motion backed by the Conservative group on the council voted 27 to 0 (25 abstentions) to recommend their inclusion.
The BCCBF and the BHEP will be lobbying to maintain their exclusion.
Since there has been no material change in the quality of the Toad's Hole Valley landscape since the end of the consultation period when the council agreed that this area should be excluded, this vote is entirely political (as evidenced by the 25 abstentions!).
However, the Countryside agency has no interest in political manouvering, only the quality of the landscape and the local authority is now in the embarassing position of having to try to find a convincing reason for their u-turn.
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