Minutes of the meeting of the Council held at High Hurstwood Village Hall on Tuesday 10th November 2015 at 7.30p.m.
Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Cox, Goldsmith, Harding, Milner, Roberts, Rose, Sheard and Skinner.
Also present: ESCC Cllr Galley, WDC Cllr Lunn and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.
One. Mr Graham Midmer lives on Coopers Green Road and addressed the parish council in connection with item 6 on the agenda – a petition to reduce the speed from 60mph to 40mph between the Five Ash Down Traffic lights and Ringles Cross. He wished to thank the clerk, the Parish Council and ESCC Cllr. Roy Galley for supporting the petition. He has lived in Coopers Green for 30 years and over this time it has become apparent that increasing amounts of traffic use this road which was reflected in the ESCC report which counted approximately 4500 vehicles in two weeks. It is used as a rat run through to or from Buxted to Uckfield. Having consulted all properties on the road, he had received nearly 100% support and therefore submitted a petition to ESCC which was heard on 19th October. He was not expecting a positive result, but presented a report which touched on the fact there has been 3 very severe accidents with numerous other smaller incidents. A deer crossing on the first bend does not help either. Children use the path from Five Ash Down to Uckfield CTC. At the meeting the case was presented and the lead member agreed to relook at this matter. Highways officer Michael Higgs advised that the extent of the speed limitation could only be from almost the first house from the traffic lights into Uckfield costing approximately £5000. Mr Midmer commented that this seems quite an excessive amount of money, however these are the costs advised. ESCC are prepared to continue with the next stage of the process which is consultation with various agencies on the proviso that Buxted Parish Council will match fund half of the costs. It is very much hoped the parish council will match fund this project. Cllr. Blandford thanked Mr Midmer and advised that this would be discussed in full as item 6 below and also noted Mr Midmer’s offer of volunteering for Speed Watch in this area should it be resurrected in Buxted.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies received and accepted from Cllrs Hall, McQuarrie, Mulvagh and WDC Cllr. Illingworth
DECLARATION OF MEMBERS INTERESTS
Cllrs. Blandford and Skinner declared personal interests in any matters relating to the community hall by virtue of being members of the Hall or Ionides Trusts appointed by the Council.
Cllr. Rose declared a prejudicial interest in any matters relating to the land west of Church Road (Taylor Wimpey site) due to having owned part of the application site and a personal interest in the Ionides Surgery/Hall site due to having a business opposite the land.
Cllr. Cox declared a personal interested in any matters relating to allotments due to being an allotment holder.
Cllr. Milner declared a personal interest in any matters relating to the parish council website due to being a personal friend of the parish council’s website consultant.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
The minutes of the meeting held on 13th October 2015 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.
CO-OPTION OF SIMON JOHNSON TO THE PARISH COUNCIL
Proposed by Cllr. Milner and seconded by Cllr. Rose, Simon Johnson was unanimously co-opted onto Buxted Parish Council. The Chairman welcomed Cllr. Johnson to the parish council.
Cllr. Galley acknowledged the speed limit petition and despite resistance from officers, it has achieved a good result.
We may start to hear rumblings regarding renegotiation of contracts. Negotiations at present are to give a chosen contractor more highway responsibilities e.g. in house planning in addition to the actual on-site works. This move is to save money, but it is felt that this could be successful as long as the contractor remains responsive to local communities. There is no detail as yet, however Cllr. Galley confirmed that, if awarded, any contract would be at least 5 years.
There has been slight confusion regarding the proposed new engineering works to provide a crossing. A site on the A272 opposite Buxted School has been deemed suitable for a crossing patrol person therefore engineering works need to be put in place to assist this which include a dropped kerb. Members remain very concerned that although providing a slightly moved crossing point will give drivers a longer time to drop down speeds before reaching the children, we should not be encouraging crossing this road at any point without a crossing patrol person being in place. Councillors are exacerbated at what to do with this situation and therefore considered involving the school, via its governors.
Cllr Lunn advised that the Electoral Commission is currently conducting a boundary review of WDC which will reduce number of councillors by 10 resulting in one representative per ward. In terms of make-up, there are proposals by WDC, but this is ultimately decided by Electoral Commission. This will take effect from the next District Council election in 2019.
The Reading Room – Cllr. Lunn was asked in October to investigate the current situation with regards the existing 106 planning agreement tying the new community hall to the Reading Room and restricting any future use of the Reading Room. A response has been received from WDC Officer Doug Moss – to be forwarded to the clerk. Within the planning agreement signed by the parish council, paragraph 2.18 states if there is a change in the development plan a clause was included allowing the parish council to request a review of the 106 agreement. Officers have suggested that although there has been a change of policy (namely policy WCS12 of the Core Strategy), the issue relating to the 106 is related to nitrogen emissions, not recreational visits to the forest. Although you can have mitigation on the recreation aspect, you cannot mitigate against nitrogen level increases.
Therefore, if the parish council feels that although planning policy has changed sufficiently to warrant a review and thus challenge the existing 106 agreement, any application would have to justify that development of the Reading Room would not have any further negative impact on the air quality of the Ashdown Forest.
Hadlow Down have a similar problem at present and are looking at an application on the existing village hall site of 3 no. one bedroom flats. Hadlow Down PC has undertaken a housing needs survey that identifies people already living within village (with parents etc) who would not increase nitrogen levels any further by living in the new dwellings as they are already part of baseline of air quality impacts. If Buxted PC were to carry out a housing needs survey and are able to successfully justify a redevelopment that met existing housing needs without having a negative impact on nitrogen levels of Ashdown Forest, then there is a slim possibility of successfully challenging the current stance. Or we wait until 5 years from when the section 106 was first signed when there will be an automatic review of the policy.
PETITION TO REDUCE SPEED LIMIT – RINGLES CROSS TO FIVE ASH DOWN TRAFFIC LIGHTS
In January of this year, the parish council was approached by Mr Graham Midmer with regards the speed of traffic along the road between the Five Ash Down traffic lights and Ringles Cross. It was suggested he contact Cllr. Roy Galley as our representative from ESCC.
A petition was raised by local residents which was considered by the Director of Transport at East Sussex County Council in October at which it was agreed that further investigation and consultation could take place with relevant authorities once confirmation had been received from Buxted Parish Council that it would be prepared to match fund any engineering works required to put a 40mph speed limit in place (i.e. signs, road markings).
Estimated costs are £5000 in total (but this is only an estimation at this point). Cllr. Blandford advised that we have known for some a while that a time would come when funding would have to be part provided by parish councils given ESCC budgets have been significantly cut. We are currently in a position where Ear Marked Reserves can support this but any further spending on future schemes have to be suitably budgeted for
Proposed by Cllr. Roberts and seconded by Cllr. Sheard, resolved to financially support this scheme match funding up to £2500.
POTENTIAL NEW STATION PARKING – DOES THE PARISH COUNCIL WISH TO FUND INVESTIGATING THE VIABILITY AND COSTS OF NEW CAR PARK?
The parish council has the opportunity to use a field nearby the station to provide extra station car parking as the roads around Buxted are inundated with commuter parking which only appears to be increasing with parking moving further and further away from the station.
In the November Buxted and High Hurstwood newsletters, the clerk wrote an article asking if there would be support for such a scheme given that funding would initially have to come from the parish council. From the responses received, all bar one are fully in support of a scheme.
Therefore, the parish council are now asked to consider if it wishes to fund further investigation into the possibilities of providing a car park.
Cllr Lunn suggested setting up a meeting with WDC Officers to ascertain if this is a potential scheme. Members agreed, but in the meantime resolved to allocate money in the next financial budget for further investigation works.
Gatwick: Nothing to report
Public Footpaths: Nothing to report.
Trees: Nothing to report.
Road Safety: Buxted School Crossing – As per Minute 05/11/15 above. Since the previous parish council meeting at which this matter was discussed, notification has been received from ESCC that engineering works are due to take place to provide a crossing point on the A272 in preparation for a school crossing patrol (although to date no one has applied for the position).
A letter has also been circulated by the school to all parents advising that permission has been given by the cricket club that parking is allowed its car park, but if using the crossing, please use hi viz vests provided.
The parish council remain concerned about the safety aspects of the new proposals and, therefore
It was agreed that the parish council should make contact with the governors of Buxted School with a view to attending the next available meeting to discuss all concerns relating to this matter and how we can all work together to improve the long-term situation.
There are also concerns with regards the increased parking on the white lines on the north side of the A272 east of the village shop. Although parking on white lines in not illegal this particular area is considered dangerous as the road narrows further east which restricts two cars passing. It is also impossible to see cars approaching when pulling out to drive around the parked cars. Without parking enforcement signs or other such prohibited parking markings there is nothing the Police can do. The clerk has already contacted ESCC Highways to ask if anything can be done to resolve this potentially serious situation.
Uckfield TC are investigating funding policing areas that have parking restriction notices in place. Clerk to investigate if this is still going ahead And whether it would be possible to adopt a similar policy.
New Community Hall: Cllr. Blandford updated that the groundworks are moving forward. Hopefully these will take place before the planning permission expires.
Wealden Local Development Framework: The Issues and Options consultation paper has been released (see priority correspondence P1), however the parish of Buxted has not been allocated any further development due to its location close to the Ashdown Forest and any impact that development would have on nitrogen emissions.
Property Issues: Noticeboards – The clerk updated that a meeting had taken place with the managers of The Hurstwood to ascertain if the noticeboard in High Hurstwood could be relocated to the side wall of the pub. However, it soon became apparent that the noticeboard could not easily be accessed by readers as cars are parked in this location for the majority of the day/evening. It was therefore decided that the noticeboard should remain where it is but that the mud underneath the board be levelled and two paving slabs are laid to at least allow someone to stand in front of the board without getting muddy feet.
Iron Railings from the pound green triangle – now in Cllr. Rose’s yard. It is in such a poor condition and is only good for scrap. Cllr. Rose will take them for scrap and a cheque can be made out direct to Buxted Parish Council.
Bench at Entrance to Ashengate Way: A new bench has been installed at the entrance to the new estate with substantial paving (suitable for a helicopter pad). However, the highways engineer needs to be advised how the Parish Council would prefer the edges of the paving to be finished. It was agreed to ask for the sides of the paving to be built up with top soil and seeded. The clerks would then plant some crocus bulbs, supplied through the Rotary Club, which will keep the site easy to maintain. Clerk to advise highways officer.
Adoption of BT Phone Box: Nothing to report.
Communication Matters: The clerk speak to Austin with regards the calendar as it does not currently work.
WDC: Wealden Local Plan Issues, Options and Recommendations Consultation Document – See minute 08/11/15 Above
Mayfield and Five Ashes PC: Does Buxted PC wish to support a letter of objection to the redeployment of PCSO’s? – Due to budget cuts in the Police, there is a new move to introduce Community Wardens funded by parish councils which would eventually replace PCSO’s (although to date, this has not been confirmed). Community Wardens would have very little powers other than fining for dog fouling. The Parish Council therefore resolved to support Mayfield and Five Ashes.
Pizza Van: Positioning in Buxted? – The parish council has been approached by the owner of a mobile pizza van to ask if there is anywhere in Buxted it could park. Due to lease restrictions, it cannot be positioned in the Ionides car park or the surgery car park. The Reading Room is used on Tuesday evenings. Since initial contact, the van owner has advised that the preferred day to visit would be a Thursday. Therefore, it was resolved that the van could park at the Reading room on a Thursday evening (apart from when it is booked) for a trial period to assess impact on neighbouring properties and provided that the site is always left clear of any rubbish. Clerk to advise.
Anonymous: Concern regarding Police actions following stopping for speeding and seizing of car. Response now received from the Police explaining the situation. – The parish council received an email from a resident of Buxted who had their car seized after being stopped for speeding and not being able to produce a driving licence. Following further investigation, it would appear that the car was not seized because a licence was not produced. The clerk would not respond any further.
i) Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. Roberts, seconded by Cllr. Rose, payments totalling £10,870.53 covered by cheque numbers 689 and 708 were approved. Grants are issued this month and works to improve the drainage at the recreation ground in Buxted totalling £4,436.80 was included, but this particular cost is being financed from the developer contributions from the Taylor Wimpey development site as agreed by the Ionides Trust.
ii) Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed a reconciliation for October which were signed
Cllr Cox attended the AGM for the High Hurstwood Village Hall Management Committee at which it was noted that there are currently £54,000 in bank account reserves. There was also some discussion regarding the triangular verge opposite The Hurstwood and some reference that the parish council could have some responsibility for works. However, following previous discussions, it was ascertained that ESCC Highways own this land and any changes would have to be directed to and agreed by Highways.
Works have started on the extension to the High Hurstwood hall.
Cllrs. Skinner and Blandford reported that they had attended the AGM of the Ionides Trust and with two hats on, feel that the Trust should be congratulated on keeping the grounds so well kept which is only made possible due to the income from the surgery
Cllr Roberts asked what is the relationship between the Hall Trust and the parish council? The parish council agreed to secure the planning permission but it had to be a community decision to build the hall so a charitable trust was formed to move the project forward.
As the next meeting is in December, mince pies and a drink will be available at the end of the meeting, so all are welcome to attend.
The clerk advised that the British Heart Foundation are currently running a grant scheme to apply for up to 5 defibrillators free of charge. Claudine to investigate possibilities of funding for defibrillators at all three parish halls.
The Clerk attended a WDC event with regards the Issues and Options consultation and although Buxted are not being allocated any further development, many other towns and parishes are very concerned at the amount of development, especially in the south.
|The meeting closed at 20.46 p.m.|