THE FOUNDER of a residents' association has hit back at suggestions from the council that a sinkhole in a public garden is not linked to a Christmas festival.

Gary Farmer of the Old Steine Community Association said that it cannot be coincidence that a hole has appeared at the Old Steine Gardens in Brighton where one of the fairground rides was placed during the Christmas festival last month.

In an email to councillors shared with The Argus, Mr Farmer urged them to "draw your own conclusions as to its appearance directly under the heavy machinery".

He said: "I do not believe it is unrelated. It did not just happen by coincidence."

A council spokesman said that it is "incredibly unlikely" that the Christmas festival caused the sink hole and that Southern Water has confirmed that it has also not been caused by leaking pipes in the area.

He said: "Sink holes form a number of different reasons. One common factor is rock erosion underneath the surface of the ground.

"Even though sink holes appear to form suddenly, usually the underlying causes of them have been happening for some time.

"It's therefore incredibly unlikely that the Christmas festival and market caused the sink hole.

"Now that Southern Water has confirmed that the sink hole in Old Steine Gardens isn't caused by leaking pipes, it will most likely be filled in as part of the works.

"This is a standard procedure."

However, Mr Famer has called for the "unstable grounds" in the gardens to be investigated before work on the third stage of the Valley Gardens project begins.

"The truth behind the reason for the collapse should be made public and not buried until the next collapse," he said.

The third phase of the Valley Gardens project, approved by the council yesterday, will see a new cycle lane and an additional taxi rank installed, along with improved public transport, to regenerate and improve the city centre.

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