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This Saturday, with the help of Barry Marlowe of Wealden Bus Alliance, NWCTP Ltd has arranged for Nus Ghani our MP to formally launch the service from Uckfield Bus Station between 12:00 and 12:30. Hopefully the press & Uckfield FM will turn up.
The service is advertised on the NWCTP web site........................
Maresfield Parish Council - Chairman's Letter - June 2016
The annual Parish Assembly was held last month and a summary of my "Highlights Review" follows:
Following the elections last May we had ten Councillors, and after two resignations, two co-options and a further co-option proposed at the May Council meeting we are three short of our full complement of fourteen Councillors. It has been a busy year during which the Clerk was without assistance but our new Assistant Clerk, Chris Arnold, has been in post since the beginning of May and we wish him well.
Planning has continued to be a major concern of the Council:
Notably in Nutley we supported the new design of the replacement house for the fire damaged Old Bakery in Nutley High Street but emphatically recommended refusal of the redevelopment plan for two small Forest cottages in Nursery Lane as a care home annexe for Nutley Hall.
Maresfield has seen planning applications for over 50 new houses to provide the 50 homes allocated to Maresfield Village in the Wealden Core Strategy. Three of those applications are for the three sites recommended by our Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group and of these to date Wealden has approved 25 homes for land south of Wellington Gate and has turned down (but likely to go to Appeal) the application for 20 homes on the site off High Street/London Road adjacent to Bonners School. An application for up to 8 homes at Mill House Farm is still being considered by Wealden. It is very pleasing after so many years to see the progress on the construction of the depot for John Lewis at the Ashdown Business Park in Maresfield and hopefully this will encourage further projects so that the Park becomes fully occupied.
The status of our Neighbourhood Development Plan is that it is 95% drafted and the Sites Assessment Working Party concluded their work; but because the draft Plan allocated specific sites for development Wealden judged that (and contrary to our Consultant's advice) the Plan should also include detailed environmental and Habitats assessments which they would prepare for us. However they are not proceeding with this work pending any final determinations of the applications for the twenty and up to eight homes referred to above because if these are eventually approved then our Plan would not need to allocate sites and therefore not require the aforesaid assessments.
Nevertheless an immense amount of good work has been done by our NDP Steering Committee and working party members for which we are all grateful. The documentation on the NDP section of the Parish Council website is well worth reading.
Road safety and speeding are the issues most frequently brought up by parishioners and the Parish Council has responded by setting up a Road Safety Committee and by raising project funds to enable the Council to finance appropriate projects which the County Council either cannot afford or are not high enough in its countywide priorities.
We seem to have agreement in principal from County Highways that the B2026/Crowborough Road junction and the B2026 past Fairwarp Village are dangerous and will be addressed and that creating a footpath along Crowborough Road towards the A22 could help with the safety issue here.
Last year saw the welcome installation of the traffic calming scheme for Maresfield High Street which the Parish Council and others had supported for many years and this is achieving both speed and traffic volume reductions but it is not without its problems around drainage and the absence of double white lines.
There has been little activity around Community Speed Watch during the year and our innovative proposal to use a mobile average speed camera system to enhance the effectiveness of CSW is still being pursued with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sussex Police and the East Sussex Safe Roads Partnership but there seems to be a reluctance to try any new ideas. The wheels have been put in motion to introduce a 30 mph speed limit for the residential stretch of Nether Lane and this will be subject to consultation if County agree this project.
The Environment Committee continues to be busy particularly with the upkeep of play areas in Maresfield, Nutley and to a lesser extent in Fairwarp. The roundabout in the Nutley play area at Fords Green was replaced with new safety surfaces, and new fencing and equipment have been installed at Parklands in Maresfield. Plans are well advanced for the complete renewal of the equipment at the play area at the Maresfield Recreation Ground. Parishioners will hopefully have noticed that all the finger sign posts and Parish gateways have been refurbished and we have some new and refurbished Parish notice boards
The Finance and Administration Committee monitors the finances of the Council and continues to review the effectiveness of its administration. Progress towards meeting with neighbouring councils to discuss areas where we could work together has been slow, but this will be pursued as we search for further efficiencies and economies in our operations. An unchanged precept for 2016-17 was recommended to the Council, and subsequently approved, and this includes a further £30,000 of Road Safety project money. Our auditor is happy with the levels of general and earmarked reserves carried in the Parish Council's accounts.
In conclusion I wish to thank my fellow councillors for their very considerable contributions to the work of the Council; many hundreds of voluntary hours are put in especially with the workload being shared by significantly fewer than our full complement of Councillors. Grateful thanks are also warmly extended to all those non-councillors who serve on our Committees or contribute in other ways to assisting with the Council operations. Lastly our thanks are extended to our Clerk who has ably served the Council without an assistant over the last year.