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NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – JULY  2017.

31 members of the public attended the July Council meeting as they wished to make Council aware of their objections to the licence application by Groombridge Place for extended hours for events and alcohol sales. A spokesperson summarised a number of comments which were being submitted and which related to the four licensing principles

·         Prevention of Crime and Disorder

·         Public safety

·         Prevention of Public nuisance

·         Protection of children from harm

Cllr Kelly advised residents to make individual responses as they would then be eligible to attend the sub- committee hearing.

GROOMBRIDGE PLACE  Councillors had received a briefing paper prior to the meeting giving background to the application After detailed discussion, it was resolved that the parish council should object to the licence application.The clerk was asked to check the status of planning permission for Groombridge Place and to notify Wealden District Council (WDC)  as many fields where camping has taken place, are in WDC’s area.

BRIDGING AGES PROJECT: One of the originators of this project outlined the pilot that had taken place in Forest Row . Following training, young people meet regularly with an elderly person with whom they have been partnered and write this person’s life story. The books are published at a celebratory event. Bridging Ages wishes to work with a parish council to develop and evaluate a toolkit.  Ten to twenty pairs of older and younger people – sourced from school or youth projects- would be identified to work together from September 2017 to April 2018. A co-ordinator, appointed by the parish council and funded by Bridging Ages, would oversee the project and provide feedback. It is intended that by arranging regular visits and encouraging life memories, it will ease the loneliness of older people, help the younger people to think about civic responsibility, and enable them to learn from the previous generation.

The Chair pointed out that the initiative sits well with the 5 year parish plan. Council resolved to run a pilot project subject to appointing a suitable co-ordinator within the budget provided by Bridging Ages.

REPORTS FROM DISTRICT AND COUNTY COUNCILLORS

County Cllr. Whetstone confirmed that the land at the junction of Hendal Hill and Withyham Road is owned by ESCC.

He reported that the traffic lights at Crowborough Cross had been rebalanced. Since then, WPC has heard that the lights on the A26 will remain at the same frequency but the lights on the High Street and London Road will operate alternately without a filter.  This change will take place over the next 3 weeks.

District Councillor Rutherford confirmed that since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, WDC has reviewed approximately 100 blocks of flats that it owns. None have external cladding. WDC has successfully brought a prosecution against a resident of Hailsham for fly-tipping. He pleaded guilty to six incidents and was sentenced to six months in prison. He was also banned from driving for 12 months. If you see fly tippers, please take details of the vehicles involved (without jeopardising your own safety) and report the incident to Wealden’s Street Scene Team on street.scene@wealden.gov.uk

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (NW) REPORT: Council approved the holding of a public meeting involving Our Watch in October/November. This would follow up the successful APA on Community Resilience and focus on personal resilience and Scams which are increasing. Next Door Groombridge has been helpful in sharing information in the area.

WARD REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: Councillors expressed concerns about the number of cyclists using the Groombridge village car park the previous weekend and blocking access for residents with the marshall’s cars and with the cyclists’  racing stands. This will be brought to the attention of the Village hall committee who hire out the hall to the cyclists.  There also appears to be an increase in cycle races on the parish roads which is making it unsafe for other road users. This will be brought up with ESCC Highways.

ST JOHN’S WARD: The grass has been cut at the Lye Green Junction although ESCC Highways cut to just a metre swathe generally. The Chair and Vice-Chair had met with the Headteacher and 2 governors of St John’s primary school to discuss fuding for extra curricular activities such as those associated with  Performing Arts 

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: It is hoped to hold a BBQ at the beginning of September to celebrate the achievements of Withyham Parish Volunteers in bringing about the redevelopment of Balls Green Community Area. Most tasks will have been completed by then, except the seeding which will take place in late Autumn. The Assistant Clerk is to help set up a database of volunteers so that recruitment and involvement in parish projects can be stepped up!

Thank you to those who have devoted many hours to this project, and particularly the very kind neighbour who has provided refreshments and cake!

AIR TRAFFIC COMMITTEE:  Some towns and parishes are adopting drone policies. It was agreed that the Parish Council would monitor usage before considering if a policy is necessary.

GROOMBRIDGE BADMINTON CLUB: A briefing paper had been circulated prior to the meeting requesting support from Council for set up costs and some equipment. This falls under the aims of the 5 year Parish Plan and was supported by the majority of councillors as it was seen as a good opportunity to restart badminton in the area.

Our thanks to Jeevan and to Steven James for taking the lead in this.

GROOMBRIDGE POST OFFICE:  Jeevan, owner of Angel Premier Stores has submitted an updated Business Plan, costs for alterations and an application to become a post office to Post Office Ltd. An interview with Jeevan should now take place, and the parish council has offered support to prepare for this should it be required. The whole parish will be affected should we lose the Groombridge Post Office so we send Jeevan our very good wishes to be successful in his interview,

GROOMBRIDGE PLAYGROUND REFURBISHMENT UPDATE AND RECREATION GROUND LEASE: A successful public meeting took place to encourage residents to help with a project to renew the existing play area which is now 40 years old. A local resident has agreed to lead on the project working closely with the parish council and families. It is not too late to express an interest in helping with this project – just contact the parish clerks! The Clerk has requested that the leases on the Recreation Ground should be signed by the week ending  21st July 2017.

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NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – JUNE 2017.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 12th June 2017 at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk  Minutes can also be obtained from the Clerks at the Old Station, Groombridge.  

REPORTS FROM DISTRICT AND COUNTY COUNCILLORS

County Cllr. Whetstone updated the meeting on actions that he had been asked to pursue. One such concern was the timing of the traffic lights at Crowborough Cross, which is affecting drivers travelling from Lye Green direction. Sequences are to be altered to attempt to rebalance queues, and Cllr Whetstone and the Clerk will also be making suggestions about lining.

District Cllrs Howell and Rutherford gave details of some funding opportunities including for homes in danger of flooding. Wealden District Council has a disability group that advises them on accessibility, and would be keen to hear from anyone wishing to join that group.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (NW) REPORT: A public meeting for residents to find out more about joining Our Watch schemes is to be organised – watch this space.

WARD REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: Further tidying is needed at Groombridge Recreation Ground – please contact the Clerks if you are able to volunteer a little of your time.

ST JOHN’S WARD: WPC is concerned about the poor visibility at some of our junctions due to grass not being cut. This will be raised at our meeting with ESCC, and will include other locations affecting our residents. Dog walkers are reminded to keep dogs on leads when walking near livestock as there have been instances of sheep worrying on Ashdown Forest reported.

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: We are pleased that a WDC road sweeper has visited Blackham following requests from our Clerks.

BALLS GREEN COMMUNITY SPACE: Work continues to rejuvenate this space, with Council approving further expenditure on new swings. We would be incredibly grateful for any help from Withyham and Balls Green residents in realising this project!

GROOMBRIDGE YOUTH PROJECT: Continues to go from strength to strength and all young people 10 and over are welcome, as are older teenagers wishing to help. Please contact the Clerks in the first instance for more information.

COUNCILLOR SURGERIES: Councillors will be present at the monthly Community Cafes from July onwards to listen to residents’ comments, concerns and views about the parish. Please do take the opportunity to talk with us.

ROAD SAFETY COMMITTEE: has been busy prioritising projects to recommend to Council. There is still some work to do on costings and feasibilities but we hope to move some projects on soon. The Assistant Clerk will be working on a road safety campaign with other local councils to address speeding.

WDC and ESCC are looking at options regarding unlawful parking as this is not a priority for the police. Town and parish councils have been asked to provide a list of ‘hot spots’ where there are regular issues such as parking on lines and on pavements.

GRANTS: Three applications were approved totalling £1,490 of a remaining budget of £11,575. One application was deferred pending financial statements. Applications can be received at any time of the year by Withyham parish Council for activities benefiting the parish, provided there is budget remaining. For more details please contact the Clerks.

FINANCE: works to 8 of the 11 parish fingerposts were agreed. The other 3 were attended to last year. It was also agreed to undertake maintenance tree works at the Reading Room land, St John’s.

The Annual Return for 2016/17 was presented to Council following scrutiny by the internal auditor, who found everything to be in order. Members of the public can view the accounting records to which this relates until 25th July 2017 by contacting the Clerks.

MEETINGS ATTENDED BY COUNCILLORS: Cllr Jenkins had attended an informal meeting with Forest Row and Hartfield to discuss opportunities for clustering. Dialogue would continue. She had also attended a meeting with around 15 other Towns and Parishes organised by Ashdown Forest Conservators. It was explained that they are undergoing some governance changes and were requesting funding support from Towns and Parishes. Councillors agreed that the most acceptable route would be for them to apply to the WPC grants programme.

Next Parish Council Meeting: Monday 10 July. All are welcome               

Anne Jenkins: Vice Chair.

Clerks at 01892 864557/ clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

 

 

 

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ANNUAL STATUTORY MEETING                                                           15 MAY 2017

STATEMENT FROM THE CHAIRMAN

I would like to thank fellow councillors for placing their faith in me for another term of office.

This last year has been a very busy one for Withyham Parish Council, with so many of you taking on additional activities and initiatives as well as supporting the day to day functions.

We have welcomed two new councillors who have already shown their willingness to invest time in specific activities that draw on particular skills in support of the parish. Stephen and Andrew – thank you for your enthusiasm and commitment. You will have already noted the team work that is the foundation of all our activities, and this runs through the various committees headed up by Nick Anderson re. Air Traffic; Marcus Tarling re. Planning; Anne Jenkins re. Finance and Administration; Duncan Sanders re, Road Safety and Malcolm MacDonnell re ROW. Voluntary work is becoming increasingly important within the community and you have all set a very good example of how this can benefit residents, through the ward chairs and members, Robin, Jill, Jane, Gwen, Keith, and Jonathan, Thank you all of you.

Our5 year Parish Plan has been in situ a year and our recent evaluation of our progress indicates some excellent initiatives arising from the Plan.

We have     

Set up a Volunteers group (WPV) to work under the direction of WPC – to undertake various projects within the parish such as clearance of hedgerows, the establishment of a  Community Cafe; and  Amblers; and other tasks that are fitted into a work schedule by the WPV Committee.
Members of WPV have worked hard to establish a Community Space in Balls Green.
Set up an Asset register, ensured these are maintained by our parish maintenance man and bought mapping software to allow locations to be captured
Worked closely with a local retail owner to explore how one of the community’s greatest assets,  Groombridge Post Office , may continue to run within the parish
Produced our 10th Issue of the WPC Newsletter
Produced a directory of local groups, organisations and associations
Supported the building of a Neighbourhood Watch network
Researched and identified two projects that should increase Road safety in the parish and for which we may need to seek match funding with Highways
Expanded the routes of communication for the pubic to use to contact WPC – improved website, social media and newsletters
Set up a Youth Initiative in Groombridge
Promoted Community Resilience in times of natural and manmade disasters
Promoted Faster Broadband in the area

Our targets for 2017/2018

Forward for 5 Year 1 evaluation shows the tasks achieved and those to be targeted. The next Annual Parish Assembly will focus on supporting local businesses.
Public meetings are to be held to identify support for a new Playground in Groombridge.
WPC continues to seek the lease of land owned by the Rosemary Newton Trust
The Blackham community will be encouraged to get involved in bringing ‘The Missing Link’ project to fruition, thus enabling young people to get to the ABSA pavilion safely. .
Balls Green community area will be opened
The need for a Neighbourhood Plan will be under constant review.
St John’s councillors will be supported in raising the profile of the Council in the ward through activities such as the Amblers walks, Litter Picks etc

WPC cannot work in isolation to achieve these targets which is why we strive to touch base regularly with the churches, schools, organisation and associations in the parish and with ESCC and WDC through their councillors –  my thanks to County Cllr Whetstone and to District Councillor Rutherford and Joanna Howell for their advice and support.

I mentioned team work amongst councillors at the beginning of this acceptance. None of this could take place without the dedication and commitment of the team who cover the office between them every day of the week.  I would like to thank both Debbie and Natalie for all their hard work in dealing with not only the day to day running of the council but with all of our projects which we generate, but I know they love. I wanted to circulate a list of ‘Things to do’ that Debbie gave me last week just to remind us of the many tasks with which the clerks are involved. Like all majestic swans they glide through the action to be undertaken without letting on how they are paddling furiously underneath. I couldn’t operate without them, and I know you have all had cause to be thankful to them for their willingness to help. We are the envy of many parish councils with whom they network through their clerks. Every penny spent on their training is so worthwhile. We now have Natalie undertaking her CiLCA under the guidance of Debbie, who achieved hers last year.

On a personal note I would like to thank Anne in her capacity as Vice Chair, for her cheerful and consistent support to me. It has been so rewarding working with her and knowing that she shares my enthusiasm for the projects WPC undertakes and for getting the processes right so we can pride ourselves on being fair and democratic in our approach.

Now I need to draw your attention to the Code of Conduct adopted by Withyham Parish Council and assure you that I will abide by it.

I would like to say that I am fully committed to continue to undertake the duties of Chairman of WPC to the very best of my ability and in accordance with the guidance given by the National Association of Local Councils on a non-political basis.

Diana Kelly 

 

 

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NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – MARCH  2017.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 13th March 2017 at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParishCouncil.  Minutes can also be obtained from the Clerks at the Old Station, Groombridge.  

Two members of the public joined us –one who was interested in becoming a parish councillor and also Trevor Wells, the Parish Council representative on the Uckfield Railway Line Committee, who outlined possible proposals for future expansion of the network. He was invited to return to a future meeting.

Andrew Fane was co-opted as a Councillor to Groombridge Ward and warmly welcomed to the Council.

REPORTS FROM DISTRICT AND COUNTY COUNCILLORS

District Cllr Rutherford informed the meeting that the revised draft Local Plan consultation will begin after the WDC meeting of 22nd March if it is approved.  Headlines include an allocation of fewer houses due to the shorter life of the plan, this is the result of heightened nitrogen deposits being identified on the Ashdown Forest necessitating further investigation.

There is a Fire Safety event at Crowborough on 12th April.

POLICE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (NW) REPORT: HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has found Sussex Police to be requiring improvement for small scale crime, rural policing and protection of vulnerable people. A new District Commander is in place Cllr Anderson has distributed information on NHW in Corseley Road, Groombridge. There will also be a stand at the APA giving information on how to set up or join a scheme in your area.

WARD REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: the Groombridge litterpick saw a disappointing turn out but special thanks go to Ben Slater for his hard work and several sacks of rubbish.

Groombridge Youth Project had received a grant of £1,500 from Abbeyfield, and the donation of a table tennis table. It will be moving to Groombridge Village Hall where there will be more space to help it grow

ST JOHN’S WARD: St John’s litterpick was also not well supported, but there was also not a great deal of litter! Summersales Hill is currently being resurfaced.

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: There is a consultation underway on the future of Chafford Sluice at Fordcombe, with drop in sessions on 25 March and 30 March at Fordcombe Village Hall. The Parish Council will be making a response as it understands that without the sluice the river flow would be detrimentally affected at Blackham and Ashurst.

BALLS GREEN COMMUNITY SPACE: Council agreed expenditure on phase 1 of the works allowing Withyam Parish Volunteers to begin in April. Offers of help from Withyham and Balls Green residents would be gratefully received!

GATWICK – TO CONSIDER CONSULTATION: ‘REFORMING POLICY ON THE DESIGN AND USE OF AIRSPACE’: Withyham Parish Council will be making a response.

YOUR ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY: Saturday 25th March 10-1.30 at Groombridge Village Hall: Please keep the date free as it will be full of interesting information and exciting activities for residents young and not so young on the subject of Community Resilience! It will coincide with the Community Café in the morning, hosted by Groombridge Bowls Club

POST OFFICE: Good news, Post Office Ltd has approved the hours for Groombridge Premiere Store to take on the post office counter. The owner, Jeevan, can now progress his application. And we hope that Post Office Ltd will continue to abide by their other previous assurances. The Parish Council continues to support Jeevan and Rosie in this transition.

TREE WARDEN: Sadly, our volunteer parish Tree Warden has resigned from the role and we thank him for all his help and advice over the years.  If there is anyone else who is interested in giving a little of their time to this very important role, please contact the Clerks for more information

Next Parish Council Meeting: Monday 10 April. All are welcome               

Anne Jenkins: Vice Chair.

Clerks at 01892 864557/ clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

 

 

Previous blog entries are listed below

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NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – JANUARY  2017.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 9TH January 2017  at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParish Council.  Minutes can also be obtained from the Clerks at the Old Station, Groombridge.  

Two members of the public joined us – one to observe how we operated with a view to applying to become a councillor, and the other to request assistance from WPC to explain that the woodland beside Newton Willows road is private land with no public right of way, and to remind dog owners of their responsibilities regarding dog waste.

WELCOME TO OUR NEW COUNCILLOR! Councillors were delighted to approve the co-option of Stephen Whittaker to the parish and to Blackham ward.  He is already a regular walker with the Amblers and has attended council and planning meetings before offering his time and energy. We are really looking forward to his participation in activities that will help us to realise our ‘ Forward for 5 ‘ Parish plan.

WELCOME TO OUR  NEW ASSISTANT CLERK ! We are delighted that Natalie Brett has joined our admin team. It doesn’t seem possible that she only joined us two weeks before Christmas, as she is already involved in clerking meetings and leading on various projects, one of which is the production of a Welcome pack for residents who are new to the parish.   Do drop in to the parish office to meet her.

REPORTS FROM DISTRICT AND COUNTY COUNCILLORS

County Cllr. Whetstone explained that ESCC is having to make hard decisions to achieve a balanced budget for next year. Although County Councils can increase their budgets by 4% to assist in adult social care, this is not enough. He said that Ladies Mile is not on the gritting list because it is a ‘C’ road. He agreed to look into the feasibility of displaying ice warning signs.  

District Cllr. Rutherford confirmed that WDC is to build a crematorium at Horam. The WDC Local Plan is beginning the process of consultation again and the first draft will be available in March. East Sussex has taken in 22 Syrian refugees (primarily family groups) from Syrian camps. WDC is having difficulty identifying private rented accommodation to place more families.  It would welcome information about this.

POLICE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (NW) REPORT: Cllr Anderson will be leafleting roads in Groombridge to invite residents interested in forming NW Groups to meet up at the parish office. He would also like to involve residents in other parts of the parish. Do please contact the parish office if you would like to know more about NW.

WARD  REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: Cllr Jenkins reported that a change in post office personnel had caused some issues with the progress of locating the post office in The Angel Stores, Groombridge. WPC is doing all it can to  support  Jeevan in achieving a successful outcome to his application.

Council were delighted to hear that Will Bayley, whom we had supported, with your agreement, to go to China to train for the   Paralympics, had had his determination and medal success recognised by being awarded an MBE. We will be checking his availability for a celebration and more challenges on our outdoor table tennis table!

Japanese knotweed near the border of Old and New Groombridge has received the second of six sprays that will be required to get rid of it. 

ST JOHN’S WARD: Cllr Clare will be interviewing Dr Paul Redparth, the new vicar for the next newsletter.

Fly tipping at the old Cares Garage had been removed by WDC

Signs for a nursery remain at the top of Gilridge Lane without planning permission. The clerk will be contacting the owners. 

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: The pantomime had been very successful and enjoyed by packed houses. Our own Councillor, Jill Pardey, and her husband Richard, stood in for the Earl and Countess de la Warr, to play the King and Queen with great aplomb!

BALLS GREEN COMMUNITY SPACE: Plans for this were circulated for comment. Councillors supported the installation of swings, seats, BBQ and picnic area, pathways and raised beds. In keeping with the requirements of the grant, an open sided shelter should be provided for Bushcraft activities.  Withyham Parish Volunteers will be working on this shortly. 

THE BUDGET AND PRECEPT FOR 2017/2018

The Finance and Admin. Committee recommended approval of a budget for 2017/18 of £108,552 with a budgeted income of £6,374 resulting in a net expenditure of £102,178. Based on the provisional tax base for 17/18, this would be £78.59 per band D property, which amounts to an increase of 5p per week to support a Precept of £102,178. This and the proposal that the reserves budget should contain Ear Marked Reserves of £103,200,  was approved by Council unanimously. 

YOUR ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY:  Saturday 25th  March :– Come and check how we are progressing with the five year parish plan  ‘Forward for Five ‘. One of the pledges implicit in the plan is to ensure the parish is prepared for emergencies. Were you without water before Christmas? 4,000 households suffered as a result of a broken main. Palettes of bottled water were made available from outside the parish office. Let’s hear what plans the services have in place to support us in flooding; snow and ice; major accidents and incidents; etc

Look out for your invitation to join us at    ‘ SOS ‘ .

MORE IN THE SPRING ISSUE 7 OF OUR WPC NEWSLETTER WHICH SHOULD BE WITH YOU IN FEBRUARY   

Natalie Brett will be contacting some of you for contributions and masterminding the layout!                                                                                 

Next Parish Council Meeting: Monday 13 February. All are welcome               
Diana Kelly: Chairman.
Clerks at 01892 864557 & clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

 

NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – JUNE  2016

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 13th   June  2016  at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParish Council.  Minutes can also be obtained from the Clerks at the Old Station, Groombridge.  

 WE HAVE A NEW  ASSISTANT CLERK!

Councillors gave a warm welcome to Dennie Tanner, who started in her new role as Assistant Clerk on Monday 6th June and was plunged straight into preparations for the ‘Now We Are 90’ celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday. Dennie will initially be working Monday 9-5pm and from 9–12.30pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. She is looking forward to meeting members of the community as and when they drop into the Parish Office.

COUNTY AND DISTRICT COUNCILLORS REPORT: Cllr. Whetstone confirmed that the Japanese Knotweed near the border of Old and New Groombridge had been sprayed and cut back.

The transition to the new Costain/CH2m Highways contract had resulted in some delays in the grass cutting schedule. Councillors voiced particular concern about the lack of grass cutting at major junctions which is causing visibility problems. A councillor’s suggestion of having a man with a strimmer in the back of his car going round all major junctions to cut down the very high grass was not taken on board!

District Councillor Rutherford informed the meeting that WDC had raised concerns with MP Greg Clarke, Minister for Communities and Local Govt. about the nature of the process of the Local Plan. The Affordable Housing Strategy has been adopted by WDC.

BOUNDARY COMMISSION RESPONSE: Cllrs. Obbard, Symes and Tarling presented the final draft of the response to the proposed adjustment of the ward boundaries in the parish and were thanked for their meticulous unpacking of the proposal and constructive suggestions. We now await the decision by the Boundary Commission.

POLICE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (NHW) REPORTS: Future PCSO walkabouts have been cancelled due to changes in their roles. Cllr. Anderson urged that people interested in joining NHW or setting up in new areas should now do so via the website rather than the PCSOs.

WARD REPORTS:

Groombridge: Residents of Cherry Gardens Hill are drawing up a petition to lower the speed limit to 40 mph, which will be presented to ESCC

St John’s: The clerk will be reporting the traffic signalling problems at Crowborough Cross. The owner of the land at Phie Forest has until 20th June to remove the dilapidated cars.

Withyham/Blackham: Cllrs. J Kelly and K Obbard are looking for volunteers to help develop the Balls Green play area into a Community space.

NEWSLETTER: We are very pleased that Issue 8 has been produced and, along with The Parish Plan, ‘Forward for 5’ is being delivered to all households in the parish. It was very heartening to have a pedestrian bump into me as we passed on a pavement because he was engrossed in reading the Newsletter! The clerk will be pleased to receive any ideas for future articles. Thank you to our folders and deliverers for such sterling support.      

YOUTH INITIATIVE: A Youth Club is to run monthly with two distinct age groups (11-14 and 15-18) thanks to the efforts of the young people’s Steering Committee, working with Steven James, Paula Cooke, Chris Boorman and Cllr. Anne Jenkins. It is proposed that WPC funds a youth worker for the first 6 months which will enable the group to identify other funding or make an application to WPC’s Grants programme. Fliers and posters will keep people informed about future events.

‘NOW WE ARE 90’ It was so encouraging to have members of the community turning up to select their picnic area well ahead of the opening of the celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday! So many people dressed up in red, white and blue to mark the royal occasion and the picnics were elaborate and delicious enough to grace any of Her Majesty’s tables!

The Mayfair Silver Band added a genteel atmosphere, the WI added a bit of naughtiness with their Pimms and Prosecco tent ,Trug and Trowel brought us bangers and burgers and The Junction kindly donated finger food.  

In addition, Mel and Molly Byford and Oliver worked tirelessly to organise the wonderful games of yesteryear that filled us with nostalgia – wheelbarrow race, three-legged race; dressing up race etc and all leading up to an energetic Tug o’ War!  Our thanks also to Paul Midcalf for his stalwart PA system and Sue Obbard and Malcolm Brown for creating the ‘Snap a Royal’.

We especially want to thank Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, for attending and joining in the fun in her Union Jack bowler hat and Pipp Hamilton for his vision that he presented to Council about a year ago and his efforts in working with the team of volunteers and councillors to bring it to fruition.  

After the final rousing cheers and National Anthem, everybody ran to take down their gazebos before the rain set in – which it did but at least it held off until the end. 

VACANCY: We are looking for a suitable community spirited person who lives in the Withyham/ Blackham ward to fill a councillor vacancy. If you are interested in making a difference in your neighbourhood and the parish, we would love to hear from you.

The next Parish Council meeting is on Monday 11th July at 7.30 pm                   Diana Kelly: Chairman.  Clerks at 01892 864557                                          clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – MAY 2016.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 16th May 2016 for the Annual Statutory Meeting at The Old Station, Groombridge

Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman
Mrs Diana Kelly was duly returned as Chairman and Mrs Anne Jenkins as Vice Chairman. The Chairman signed the Declaration of Acceptance of Office.
Statement from the Chairman
Cllr Kelly thanked her fellow Councillors for all their support in the previous year, and especially the continuing enthusiasm and hard work of Cllr Anne Jenkins as Vice Chairman and the hard work and commitment of the Clerk. 
In accepting the position Cllr D Kelly outlined the following short, medium and long term targets for 2016/2017 as described in the Parish Plan document ‘Forward for 5’ .    TO:

  •  Set up a Volunteers’ group to work under the direction of WPC to undertake various projects such as the Community Cafe; Amblers; Film Club, etc
  •  Promote Faster Broadband in the area
  •  Facilitate the installation of The Missing Link in Blackham to enable  youngsters to get to the Ashurst and Blackham Sports pavilion safely
  •  Finalise the lease for Groombridge Recreation Ground; Cricket Club and Guide Hut
  •  Support the establishment of a Community Space in Balls Green and encourage its use by the community
  •  Support St John’s councillors in raising the profile of the Council in the ward
  •  Maintain, sustain and increase community assets; eg Groombridge Post Office
  •  Promote initiatives such as ‘Now We Are 90’ – the Queen’s birthday celebration
  •  Support local businesses through such initiatives as the Spring and Winter markets and production of a Local Business Directory
  •  Work with schools on such projects as Safe Travel to School (Park and Stride) and collaborate with churches and residents’ groups on joint community projects
  •  Facilitate youth club provision across the parish
  •  Undertake a Neighbourhood Plan
  •  Increase ways of communicating with the community- social media; website; newsletters

And talking of Newsletters!: Issue 8 will be ready for delivery from 6 June onwards, and our team of voluntary ‘postmen/women’ are preparing to provide you with a good read over your coffee/tea  or glass of wine!
Parish Activities: There have been two very successful parish cafes held in Groombridge Village Hall. Guidelines have been drawn up to assist the societies that take it in turns to run it. The first Amblers walk has taken place which was well organised by volunteers and took in the sights and smells of wonderful bluebell woods. Look out for adverts about all of these on your Parish noticeboard. Well behaved dogs are very welcome on the walks! 
‘Now We Are 90’ celebrations on June 11th are being publicised around the parish. Eat your picnic under your own gazebo, if you have one, and decorate with bunting to add to the festivities on Groombridge Recreation Ground. Fly the flag with your red, white and blue accessories! Cheer on the children as they try the three legged race! Sample red, white and blue cup cakes!
Council Minutes have more details about further contents of the Council meeting. These can be accessed on the website or hard copy at the parish office. As you know Debbie, our clerk, is always happy to respond to your requests. Hopefully we will soon be able to introduce our new Assistant Clerk who has been appointed, subject to references.  The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Monday 13th June 2016 at 7.30pm at the Old Station, Groombridge, All are welcome. Diana Kelly, Chairman: 01892 864557 clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – APRIL  2016.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 11th April  2016  at The Old Station, Groombridge

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParish Council.  Minutes can also be obtained from the Clerks at the Old Station, Groombridge.  

PUBLIC CONCERNS

Barry Agutter used the first ten minutes of the meeting, under the 10 minute opportunity, to bring to the Council’s attention the issue of noise and air pollution caused by the trains used by Spa Valley Railway (SVR) at Groombridge. Specifically Mr Agutter was concerned about the over use of horns and signals  which should be only used as warning signals, and the air pollution caused by several diesels which stand stationary for up to 20 minutes at a time turning the air blue with their emissions. The impact of SVR’s increased popularity now regularly subjects residents to noise and fumes especially at weekends. It was agreed that WPC would set up a meeting with the General Manager of SVR to explore measures that can be taken to minimise the effect of the diesels in particular.

REPORTS FROM DISTRICT AND COUNTY COUNCILLORS

County Cllr. Whetstone was disappointed about the article in the Courier which was critical of ESCC’s approach to the A264 Missing Link in Blackham.  He assured Councillors that ESCC were considering every possibility to achieve a safe footpath for youngsters to access the Ashurst and Blackham Sports Pavilion.  Councillors queried why a Safety audit was not undertaken earlier in the process and were frustrated that ESCC was reviewing it without reference to the Parish Council and without, therefore, knowing which scenarios might be acceptable to the community. Cllr Kelly informed Cllr Whetstone that the Courier would be interviewing a Blackham resident and a parent of a youngster affected by the inability to travel safely to the sportsground. The Parish Council was still waiting for the results of the Safety audit which ESCC said would be completed by the end of March.

District Cllr Rutherford reported that in West Cheshire, the Supreme Court had upheld a developer’s appeal to build on a green belt because their local plan was not in place which showed a housing allocation over the next 5 years. Wealden District Council is currently in a vulnerable position as Wealden Local Plan is still being drafted. Hopefully protection could still be afforded by AONB restrictions but there could be implications regarding the Ashdown Forest exclusion zone.  

POLICE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (NW)  REPORT

Councillors have been attending meetings held by the Police to explain the new policing model. As you may know we have ‘lost’  our PCSO, Sarah Roberts, who became a familiar figure around the parish. From 1st July, there will be 12 PCSOs for the Wealden area, but they will have to log on at Hailsham for each shift even if they live in our parish! They will have a new job description which will give them investigative powers.   

Cllr Nick Anderson is circulating NW information regularly via email. It would be good to expand Neighbourhood Watch across the parish. 

WARD REPORTS

ST JOHN’S WARD: Concerns were raised about the repeated filling of potholes on Summersales Hill rather than resurfacing. Cllr Kelly reported that at a meeting with Highways that morning, Summersales Hill was on the list for resurfacing in the next 6 months.

It was noted that it had taken 25 minutes for an ambulance to attend an accident on Gillridge Lane and unfortunately First Responders had not attended either  Such timescales will be monitored.                

GROOMBRIDGE WARD:

NOW WE ARE 90! Please put 11th June in your diary to join us on Groombridge Recreation Ground with your picnics to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. There will be games, a Pimms tent run by the WI, a chance to be photographed with the ‘Queen’, a children’s hunt for her corgis – commemorative medals for all entrants- and an opportunity to enter the Tug o War! The Junction will be open and offering finger food alongside its pints.  Get your Gazebos and bunting ready and look out your red, white and blue clothes for this happy occasion. 

Post Office; Nus Ghani MP has written a letter to the Director of Network Transformation endorsing the one from the Parish Council supporting the post office remaining in Groombridge. Results of the survey undertaken last month are being analysed to evidence our request. (Nus Ghani is also supporting WPC in its quest for the A264 Missing Link, better and faster broadband and a petition for lowering     the speed limit on Cherry Garden’s Hill.)        

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: Dates are still to be coordinated for work to take place in the Balls Green Play area to turn it into a Community space, incorporating some play equipment but with a view to residents using it for community gatherings.  

BIG EVENTS FOR THE PARISH IN 2016!

23rd April: Withyham Parish Amblers gather outside Groombridge Village Hall at 8.45 for a 9 am start to a gentle walk for one and a half hours before returning to .......

The Community Cafe: 9.30 am  – run by the WI this time. WPC’s thanks to Steven James and all his team for running the inaugural cafe which brought in 50 visitors.

Sadly we are losing Kathryn Scott, our Assistant Clerk, to an HR post in Hospice in the Weald, so we are advertising for someone to fill this role

(see advert elsewhere in this magazine). Kathryn has been with us for four years during which she has provided support for so many activities. Thank you Kathryn for all your good ideas. We will miss you.              The Annual Statutory Meeting is on 16th May 2016                        Diana Kelly: Chairman.  Clerks at 01892 864557                                          clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk

 

NOTES FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL – JANUARY  2016.

Withyham Parish Council (WPC) met on Monday 11TH January 2016  at The Old Station, Groombridge

 

Action from the last meeting is on our website www.withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk and Facebook on www.facebook.com/WithyhamParish Council.  Minutes can also be obtained from the Clerks at the Old Station, Groombridge.  

REPORTS FROM DISTRICT AND COUNTY COUNCILLORS

County Cllr. Whetstone reported that the Ofsted report on the Schools Improvement Service was ‘Very Good.’

Parish councillors reported a number of areas affected by water in the parish and requested ESCC action to clear drains, ditches and roads. Cllr. Whetstone agreed to seek clarification on who should be clearing ditches. 

Following a recent accident on Cherry Gardens Hill, Groombridge, the need for a speed limit will be discussed with ESCC Highways representatives.

District Cllr. Rutherford updated council on issues relating to Ashdown Forest and clarified that the Boundary Review will make no changes to the Parish boundaries only to the responsibilities of district councillors. St John’s ward will become the responsibility of the District Councillor in Hartfield. WPC expressed its concern about this change. 

POLICE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH REPORT

Two new PCSOs now cover the parish until the results are known of the consultation with police employees on neighbourhood policing. Although not able to continue in a reassurance role, Marion Keeton and Paula Gatward will be holding street meetings and doing a walkabout in Groombridge on 13 February; 16  March and 13 April. WPC has written to Sarah Roberts, our previous PCSO, thanking her for all her support over the last few years.     

Chief Inspector Robert Leet met Cllrs. Di Kelly,  Anne Jenkins and Mary Symes to discuss the proposed new policing model. He has agreed to speak at WPC’s Public meeting on 10 February. There will be an opportunity for residents to give their views on policing in the future.  

Neighbourhood Watch is expanding across the parish.

WARD REPORTS

GROOMBRIDGE WARD: Potholes are an issue particularly on Station Road on the way to Broadwater Forest. Highways have been informed.

Before Christmas, WPC met with the owners and contractors for the new property on Eridge Road. They have accepted liability for the impact of their vehicles on the verges and road but making good will have to wait until work is complete

ST JOHN’S WARD: ESCC Rights of Way has surveyed the damage to Gillridge Lane by off- road vehicles, and accepted that there is an issue with a collapsed culvert. The Environment Agency has been alerted to the flooding in St John’s Lane.                           

WITHYHAM/BLACKHAM WARD: The drain grating outside Blackham Village Hall has still not been replaced by Highways and is a hazard. The clerk would be contacting ESCC.

 Exciting proposals to rejuvenate Balls Green Play Area were approved by Council. It is hoped that these will be completed by the summer with the help of volunteers. 

THE BUDGET AND PRECEPT FOR 2016/2017

The Finance and Admin. Committee recommended approval of a budget for 2016/17 of £131,268 with a budgeted income of £14,363 resulting in a net expenditure of £116,885.  At a meeting with the Internal Auditor that morning, he had confirmed that the resulting proposed precept was prudent. Based on the provisional tax base for 16/17, this would be £75.91 per band D property, which amounts to an increase of 6p per week to support a Precept of £98,636. This and the proposal that the reserves budget should contain Ear Marked Reserves of £57,500,  was approved by Council unanimously. 

TWO BIG EVENTS FOR THE PARISH IN 2016!

10 February : PUBLIC MEETING – An opportunity for you to come along and discuss with councillors and speakers, policing in the parish; how you would like us to respond to developments at Gatwick airport; the effects of devolution of services  from ESCC and WDC and our vision for the parish over the next five years, which includes the setting up of a Volunteer workforce. Do join us for a cuppa or a glass of wine. 6.30 for 7pm until 9pm Groombridge Village Hall.   

19 March : YOUR ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY – Come and get your  free copy of ‘Forward for 5’ the next five year parish plan; join WPC in the launch of a Spring Market and ride in style on the Spa Valley Railway at reduced rates. All at The  Old Station Groombridge.

CLEAN FOR THE QUEEN. We are organising a LITTER PICK across the parish as part of a national initiative to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. Look out for details about dates and times in your area. In Groombridge, this will take place on 5th March. Litter picks, sacks gloves etc will be provided.

AND TALKING ABOUT THE QUEEN. We hope you have put Saturday 11  June in your diary to join us on Groombridge Recreation Ground with your picnics to celebrate ‘NOW WE ARE 90.’ This parish party will involve an egg hunt; an art competition, games, live music from our local CREATE choir and cupcakes. We are already having fun looking out for something red, white and blue to wear – why not join us?

MORE IN ISSUE 7 OF OUR WPC NEWSLETTER WHICH SHOULD BE WITH YOU SHORTLY.  

Our thanks to the Parish Plan Working Group and especially its chair, Richard Thirkell,  for bringing us to the point of being able to show case the content  of  ‘FORWARD FOR 5’ with you on 10 February in Groombridge Village Hall. Information on posters around the parish.                                                                                          

Next Parish Council Meeting: 8 February. All are welcome                Diana Kelly: Chairman. Clerks at 01892 864557                                          clerk@withyhamparishcouncil.org.uk