CAMPAIGNERS say it is "ridiculous" public toilets at a beauty spot have been shut for more than a year.

The Exceat Visitor's Centre and public toilets in Seven Sisters Country Park were closed last year due to Covid-19.

Signs in the area state the closures are due to the need for "suitable social distancing" and this decision would be "kept under review" by East Sussex County Council.

But the South Downs Network conservation group say it is unfair for the toilets to remain shut at such a popular walking spot, when others around the county have been reopened.

The Argus:

Vic Ient, campaigns officer for the South Downs Network, said: “The toilets here have been closed for well over a year now.

"I have previously written to East Sussex County Council asking them to be reopened, to no avail.

"On Saturday, I witnessed many people, in a period of a few minutes, approaching the toilet, only to find them locked – including a pregnant woman.

"It is ridiculous when toilets at Seaford in the Lewes District, as well as in the Eastbourne Borough, have been fully open for many months.

"The signs on these toilets says they are closed because of Covid restrictions. How can that be so when other council toilets are open?"

Mr Ient added that despite the toilets being closed, the parking charges remain the same, at £4 a day, and there are still signposts directing people to the toilets.

The Argus: The car park at the Exceat Visitor Centre The car park at the Exceat Visitor Centre

He said: "In the face of government advice for people to get out and enjoy the health benefits of being in the countryside, this closure only brings disrespect for local councils, when so many individual officers and councillors are trying their hardest to help people through the Covid situation.

“It is ironic that nearby, East Sussex County Council want to spend £6 million on a bridge, based on a somewhat doubtful justification.

“Why can't the County Council contract a cleaner for a few pounds and open the toilets?”

The South Downs Network has written to the South Downs National Park - who are due to take over the management of Seven Sisters Country Park - to urge the county council to reopen the toilets.

The transfer was due to take place in March, but has been delayed.

The South Downs Network understands the negotiations are "being held up by the County Council's lawyers".

An East Sussex County Council spokeswoman said: “To reopen the toilets in line with government guidance, we need to arrange for ‘enhanced cleaning.’

"Unfortunately based on the quotes we have had, and due to the relatively isolated rural location of the toilets, we do not have the budget available to pay for that additional cleaning.

"We have therefore made the difficult decision to keep the toilets closed, and we have displayed that information at the toilet facility and on our website.

“A great deal of work goes into maintaining all 280 hectares of the Seven Sisters Country Park on a limited budget. The money from the car park helps to support that work."

The council confirmed the transfer of the freehold ownership of the Park to the South Downs National Park Authority will be happening "very shortly".

The spokeswoman added: "The SDNPA will be investing around £1.4m into Seven Sisters which will go into improving visitor experience and facilities and ecological management.

"We understand that the reopening of the toilets is a high priority for the SDNPA.

“The replacement of the Exceat Bridge, which will be supported by funding from central government and other partners, is essential to tackle the congestion created by the single lane bridge currently in place and is not related to the management of the country park.”