Parish Council Minutes 8 November 2016

Minutes of the meeting of the Council held in Five Ash Down Village Hall, Five Ash Down on Tuesday 8th November 2016 at 7.30p.m.



Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Cox, Hall, Illingworth, Johnson, McQuarrie, Milner, Sheard and Skinner.

Also present: ESCC Cllr Galley, WDC Cllr Lunn and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.


Public :

Four members of the public were in attendance. Graham Midmer updated the council regarding the match funding initiative to reduce the speed of traffic between Ringles Cross and Five Ash Down traffic lights. He reported that, at the relaunch of the Community Match scheme during the Highways Roadshow which he attended, the approved works to reduce the speed limit were put into question due to lack of funding. The parish council had thought that the project had been agreed, but we were informed that the application had to be resubmitted in the form of a business plan. Mr Midmer advised that he is working on the plan and hopes to complete it by the end of the month to ensure it reaches the County Council committee in February of next year. He wished to thank the parish council and Roy Galley for the continued support and will keep the parish council up to date as matters progress. Cllr. Blandford thanked Mr Midmer for all his work on this matter. Cllr. Galley also wished to mention that there are three directors in highways all with different responsibilities. To achieve a ‘yes’ on a project, it means achieving a yes from all three directors – which seems rather convoluted. It is understood that there is a limited amount of money for such schemes, but we remain hopeful that this scheme is supportable as it is such a small amount of money and a very sensible suggestion.


Mr Midmer also wished to mention that working forwards on community match projects, he would be more than willing to share his experiences and knowledge with the parish council should it need it.


Stephanie Vine, residential director of Ashdown Place addressed members regarding the proposal for an additional dog poo bin on the Ashdown Place estate (see minute 05/11/1 below). Residents have expressed a wish for an additional dog poo bin on the estate specifically on or near the footpath leading to Five Ash Down village. A bin in this location would benefit everyone in the village that walks on the estate and not just those who live there. It is hoped that the parish council would support the proposal and agree to a new bin.




Apologies received and accepted from Cllrs Mulvagh, Roberts and Rose





Cllr. Blandford 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.


Cllrs. McQuarrie declared a personal interest in matters relating to the Ionides land (including the surgery/land/hall) by virtue of being a member of the Ionides Trust.


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.




The minutes of the meeting held on 11th October 2016 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.





In addition to the Community Match item mentioned above, Cllr. Galley wanted to add that the County Council is currently looking at the difficult subject of further budget cuts for the next 3 or 4 years. There is likely to be 200 fewer posts in county hall – not all redundancies, mostly coming from social care. The long term plan is to work closely with the health service, using a combined fund from Government. This would allow all services to work together to stretch the money further and reduce duplication of duties to provide better care. More information on this initiative will be available in a few weeks-time.


Cllr. Lunn wished to report on the smallholding known as Binkey’s Field (on the main A272 opposite The White Hart) where a mobile home has been stationed along with other activities. WDC Enforcement has visited the site and since this time further correspondence from the user of the site has been received. The following points have been advised:


  • WDC Enforcement is very much aware of all activities on site.
  • Person on site has clarified issues that the mobile home will be used on a temporary basis to support the lambing season. It will not be lived in and only used to make cups of tea/washing hands.
  • With regards vehicles on site – some relatives have had an accident which has resulted in a number of cars being left on site – this is also temporary until the owner’s insurance issues are resolved.
  • Electricity has been connected for the welfare of animals for heat lamps for lambing.
  • Block work is a kiosk related to the electricity supply.


Therefore, at the present time, all works on site fall under agriculture. There are two sets of gates at the entrance, and one of them should have been removed as part of the previous planning permission. Enforcement are therefore requesting that one of the gates be removed. Moving forwards, Enforcement will continue to monitor the site. Members commented that the site is wholly unsuitable as an agricultural small holding and is situated on a flood plain. Cllr. Lunn suggested that the parish council to write to WDC Enforcement with its continued concerns and if it feels that this site contravenes planning rules.


Cllr. Johnson asked that once lambing season is over, will he be asked to remove the mobile home? Cllr. Lunn agreed that you would expect it to be removed after a certain length of time, and therefore it would be the subject of further planning rules and regulation at this time. It is important that anyone can note any uses/activities at the site, especially if the lambs are no longer on site and the site is still being used late into the night. If residents/parish councillors living near or passing the site noticed such activities it would be worth keeping a diary so the details can be passed onto enforcement officers


Cllr Lunn was asked for an initial response to letter from WDC Planning regarding the Reading Room (see minute 07/11/16 below). He commented that the letter states that an alternative use of the Reading Room could be sought as long as it does not generate any vehicle movements. Surely this would open up the opportunity to have a use that would transfer vehicle movements from one site in the village to the Reading Room – such as affordable units for those already living in Buxted.


Wealden Local Plan – Cllr. Lunn expressed disappointment that the plan could not be considered in November and it is imperative that it is fast tracked to ensure that matters are resolved as quickly as possible. Cllr. Blandford mentioned that one of the vital pieces of evidence that is incomplete is the results of the monitoring of nitrogen levels on Ashdown Forest – surely Wealden Planning would have known this study would not have been ready in time to include in the plan. Cllr Galley also wished to comment that the results of the studies may well result in less development and it may be a bigger problem than first thought.


Cllr Lunn left the meeting at 8.00pm.




Prior to the meeting the clerk circulated a report to members which requests a new dog poo bin to be situated in Ashdown Place, Five Ash Down. This requested was received from a local resident following consultation with other residents of the estate. The full report can be viewed on the parish council website at:


Members discussed this and agreed that an extra bin is justified in this position. A new bin will also be located at Buxted Recreation Ground given the recent complaints regarding increased dog fouling on the playing field. Each bin will be at a cost of £500 for installation and £240 per year to empty.


It was resolved that:

  1. A new dog poo bin should be situated in Ashdown Place in the position as indicated in the report
  2. A new dog poo bin should be situated on the Buxted Recreation Ground half way along the line of the football pitch.


Specifically, in relation to the fouling on the Buxted Recreation Ground, the clerk posted a comment on the Buxted Talk Facebook page and was advised that most dog walkers use the site between 8.30 – 9.30am and at about 4pm. A Wealden Enforcement officer will visit the site at those times to try and find any perpetrators. He will also erect some new signs informing the public that it is an offence to let your dog foul in a public space..




•           High Hurstwood Road, High Hurstwood

•           Outside the Pig and Butcher, Five Ash Down


The parish council has received notification the BT intend to decommission and remove the BT boxes as mentioned above and that the parish council is able to adopt them if it wishes.


The decommissioning of these two boxes comes at a time when the parish council has committed to installing defibrillators in all three villages in the parish. The Buxted defibrillator is now in place on the wall of the Buxted Inn, the other two villages have not yet had one installed. It was the original intention of the parish council to install the equipment on the walls of all three public houses as they are normally lit in the evenings, when the defibrillators would most likely be used in an emergency. The decommissioning of the BT boxes, in their positions outside of each of the public houses in Five Ash Down and High Hurstwood therefore provides the perfect opportunity for the parish council to not only retain part of our local heritage but to use them to great affect by refurbishing and installing a defibrillator in each box.


Some investigation has taken place to the costs of refurbishment, which can range from nothing (if local volunteers are found) to just under £300. A cost the parish council feels is well worth investing to ensure the longevity of the boxes in our communities.


Councillors Milner and Cox will approach the public houses/brewery’s in Five Ash Down and High Hurstwood with a view to assisting with costs for refurbishment. Clerk to advise Maggie at the Five Ash Down Post Office of the intentions. Clerk to also put something in the next Buxted Messenger and High Hurstwood Review. Clerk to advise Wealden of the parish council’s wish to adopt the boxes and to ensure that the electricity remains in the telephone boxes to supply the defibrillators. These boxes could also be used by the community for additional purposes such as book swaps/local information. It is hoped that someone from the local community will come forward to help with ideas for other uses and help keep loved, tidy and clean.


Therefore, the parish council resolved to adopt the BT Box in High Hurstwood Road, High Hurstwood and outside the Pig and Butcher public house, Five Ash Down with a view to installing a defibrillator in each box.





Public footpaths: Nothing to report.


Trees: Nothing to report.


Road Safety: Prior to the meeting, the chairman displayed some images of footway between The White Hart and Buxted School which shows that up to 0.5m of footway has been lost by dirt and debris. It is not suitable to have volunteers to work this close to the road. The hedge will be cut back hopefully soon, by the owner.. Contact has been made with Highways Community officers to ascertain if cutting back the bank is a project which could be undertaken under the new scheme. The clerk is awaiting a response.


See public speaking session above regarding speed reduction from Ringles Cross to Coopers Green traffic lights.


The clerk is also asked if the reduced pavement at Pound Green could also be considered under a similar scheme.


Ionides New Play Equipment: Nothing new to report.


New community hall – letter sent to WDC regarding the Reading Room

As members are aware, in granting planning permission for a new community hall, Wealden District Council required the parish council to enter into a planning agreement which stops any use or any redevelopment of the Reading Room once the new hall is in use. The effectively sterilises the site and makes the development of a new hall very difficult as it was the intention of the parish council to sell the Reading Room to help fund a new hall.


To this end, and given that Government planning policy is ever changing, the parish council resolved at its last meeting to fund a planning consultant to view all relevant documents and contact Wealden District Council planning department to ask how this situation can be moved forward to assist the parish council on how it can realise its aims of developing a new community hall.


Planning consultant, Lindsay Frost wrote a very detailed letter requesting that Wealden positively engage with the parish council and work together to find a solution to the situation. A response has been received and unfortunately Wealden do not see any benefit of meeting with the parish council as it will not make the Reading Room an exception to policy to allow a new hall to be built. So effectively, we have a planning permission which cannot be implemented due to the very restrictive Habitat Regulations policy.


Cllr Johnson believes that the parish council should challenge the Section 106 agreement on legal grounds given the change in planning policy which removed the 7km rule from the Core Strategy. In addition to this, he also asked if it would be worth sending an open letter to WDC to propose low cost housing for residents who require housing and need their own property, thus challenging the restrictive stance that Wealden is taking given a small-scale development is proposed.


All members agreed that the response letter from Kelvin Williams of the planning department is unhelpful, unprofessional and considered rude.


Chairman and clerk to discuss further with the planning consultant and report back to the parish council with a proposed way to move forward. In the meantime the clerk to draft a letter to WDC regarding the tone of the letter received from Kelvin Williams regardless of the decision.


(Cllr. Illingworth joined the meeting at 8.20pm)


Defibrillators: See minute 06/11/16 above. Claudine also wished to mention that weekly checks are being carried out on the Buxted defibrillator. We now need to arrange a plaque to display next to the equipment, in recognition of the donation which made the purchase of this defibrillator possible


Wealden Local Development Framework – Local Plan: In the last week, Wealden has advised that the new Local Plan document will not be presented to Full Council in November as expected due to a lack of suitable evidential documents. A publication of early next year is therefore expected.


Property issues – Grass Cutting on Buxted Recreation Ground: In September, the parish council resolved to assist Buxted Football Club with the maintenance of the Buxted Recreation Ground. As part of this, Mr Woodley, who currently cuts the grass on the adjoining Ionides Trust land was asked for a quote for grass cutting the land outside of the football pitch. Mr Woodley quotes £45 per cut at 26 cuts per year (maybe more to start with to get the grass under control). In normal circumstances, more than one quote would be sought. However, in this case, Mr Woodley already carries out the grass cutting and general maintenance of the adjoining site, therefore it was considered common sense in this case that he continues through to recreation ground if he is already on site. His work is always considered excellent and he is more than willing to carry out any other maintenance required.


Proposed by Cllr. Cox and seconded by Cllr. Hall it was resolved that Mr Woodley to carry out the grass cutting of the Buxted Recreation Ground from immediate effect.


Communications Matters: Website: Nothing to report.





P1 Wealdlink: Request for 2017/18 financial contribution: Proposed by Cllr Johnson and seconded by Cllr. Illingworth – resolved to continue to support the Weadlink Transport scheme.


P2 Sussex Police: Any volunteers for Sussex Police People’s Panel? Cllr. Skinner has joined the panel as an individual (not on behalf of the parish council), but with no other volunteers, she has agreed to report back when necessary.


P3 Buxted Community Hall Trust: Request for parish council to pay invoice for engineering modelling (£4,050)


The Chairman suspended Standing Orders to ask George Claydon of the BCHT why the parish council should pay for this invoice.


George Claydon, Treasurer of the BCHT responded that the existing £24,000 in the bank would preferably be used to implement the planning permission (match funding/planning consultants/quantity surveyor). Until building actually commences seeking match funding fund is unlikely to take place and it would not look good if the BCHT then has no money of its own to seek match funding or other investors. The parish council has a sum of money set aside in Ear Marked Reserves (£33,000) that could help towards invoices such as this. Additionally, this invoice is part of the planning consent, which the parish council committed to obtaining.


Cllr. Milner proposed the parish council pay the invoice out of the Ear Marked Reserved for the hall. Cllr. Johnson however asked how it could be perceived by parishioners if the parish council pays for the invoice when the BCHT has funds – if the hall does not get built it would seem to have spent public money when other funds were available. Surely it would be better to use the BCHT funds first before using money set aside by the parish council. On the other hand, Cllr. McQuarrie suggested that the parish council has supported the project thus far and should continue to show support by paying this relatively small amount, as has the Ionides Trust. Cllr Milner advised that very soon, the quantity surveyor will be advising the overall cost of the scheme at which point the reality of starting the groundworks will be realised.


After taking a vote, the majority of parish council members were in favour and resolved to pay the invoice as requested.








i)    Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. McQuarrie, seconded by Cllr. Illingworth, payments totalling £6,970.64 covered by cheque numbers 826 and 844 were approved, including the annual grants.


ii)     Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed a reconciliation for February which were signed

iii)    Date for Annual Finance Committee – it was agreed that it should take place on Monday 12th December 2016 – venue to be confirmed. Agreed that in May 2017 Cllrs. Milner and Johnson wish to swap membership of committees. Cllr Milner property, Cllr Johnson finance.




Ionides AGM – Cllr. McQuarrie advised that she had attended the Ionides Trust meeting at which the new hall lease was discussed. Solicitors are still holding onto the details to transfer the management of the site to the PC and are awaiting land registry details.

Hall Trust – Cllr. Blandford attended the BCHT and the Highways Roadshow which was enthusiastically presented, but seem ineffective when it comes to actually responding to local issues.




Cllr. Cox advised that the subject of the verge opposite The Hurstwood has come up again. Cllr. Cox had previously applied to Highways and been granted a licence for work in order for the HHVHC to then carry out the works to tidy the verge. The parish council has been asked to attend a meeting with HHVHC as it would appear that the works fall out of the remit of the hall charity. Once a meeting has taken place, with both clerks, Cllr Cox would report back to the parish council.




Festive drinks after next meeting.


The meeting closed at 9.05p.m.


Posted in Parish Council Minutes