Sussex woman, 90, chains herself to railings in protest


A Sussex woman spent her 90th birthday chained to railings in a protest against her county council.

Sylvia Westley, of Hailsham, said East Sussex County Council was holding up the development of a residential care and learning centre in Eastbourne.

The council, which leases the Ocklynge Chalk Pit site, said it could not leave until an alternative had been found.

Ms Westley, who spent an hour chained at the site, accused the council of "cruel behaviour".

Campaigners said they had raised more than £800,000 over the past seven years to build a residential care and learning centre for 24 people with severe learning disabilities at Ocklynge Chalk Pit.

The plans were drawn up by local charity JPK Project and approved by Eastbourne District Council in 2009.

But Sussex County Council leases the proposed development site from Sussex Downs College and uses it as a depot to provide grounds maintenance to local schools and other council buildings.

A council spokesman said: "When the college approached us following their agreement with the promoters of the project we explained that we would be happy to vacate should the college find us suitable alternative premises at no extra cost to council taxpayers.

"This remains the position. However, so far the college have not identified suitable alternative premises.

"We want to be able to help the overall objectives of the JPK Project but we also have a duty to the schools and other services that receive our school grounds maintenance service and we also need to ensure we protect council taxpayers."

Ms Westley, who also unfurled an 8ft banner during her protest, said: "I may be 90 but I will not lie down on this.

"I would go to jail over this because I think it's absolutely cruel behaviour. What the council is perpetrating is man's inhumanity against man."

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