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May 30 2012.

Newhaven's MP Norman Baker has warned that the decision taken last week by Lewes District Council's planning committee to grant planning permission for the "Asda" site, and to refuse the application for the "Tesco" site may well constitute "an error of historic proportions" which will have serious long-term consequences for the town.

The MP says: "Newhaven is at a crossroads and the council's planning committee has chosen absolutely the wrong turning."

He argues that by favouring the "Asda" site, the council will:

- Fatally undermine what is left of the town centre in shopping terms

- Damage the prospect for job creation by allowing housing and retail to be built on long-protected industrial land

- Divert scarce "planning gain" resources into a dead-end road, pushed by the county council, which the port says it doesn't want or need

- Pull the rug out from under the port master plan and so threaten the very future of the port

Norman says: "I generally do not comment on planning decisions, as these are properly a matter for the elected local council, but I cannot stay silent on this one. The planning committee has ignored its own officers' recommendation to defer the decision for two months, and taken a bizarre decision which I fear may be very harmful for the future of the town and for the port in particular. They have made an error of historic and far-reaching proportions."

HAVE YOUR SAY - Is Norman right, or is he out of order commenting on a difficult decision made democratically by the people who cared enough about it to turn up at the meeting and consider all the points he is re-making above, and all the points both for and against both proposals?