Diary and Comments of East Sussex County Councillor Bob Tidy

JULY 2008:  In June the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Phylida Stewart Roberts, hosted a reception at Herstmonceaux Castle  for the Friends of the East Sussex Records Office. Since their inception  twenty years ago they have raised some £70k for the purchase of valuable local archives that have come on to the market . Several of these referred to properties and events that were based in this County Council Division of Wadhurst.  I look forward to the day when the Council achieves it’s ambition to build “The Keep” a new Archive Centre at Falmer. We and Brighton and Hove along with Sussex University are close to sending a bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund. These and many more wonderful pieces of our local history will be much more accessible when this project is achieved.

The Government has given much more freedom to local authorities to manage and organise their registration services more effectively. East Sussex has decided to amalgamate its four districts into one. This amongst other things will allow people to give notice of marriage and civil partnership ceremonies anywhere in the County and not where they live. Another innovation are civil funerals conducted by some of our specially trained registrars. These are proving very popular.

Last week Councillors were given a very grim prospect of what the increase in fuel and electricity prices would mean to our £7 million annual bill. This excess inflation could exceed £2 million. It was recommended that this should be found this year from the unexpected 3% increase in the rate support grant  from Government. This means another stand still year as far as services are concerned instead of targeted increases. If this inflation continues it is going to bring about some considerable changes in the way local government operates which may be the silver lining to this particular cloud.

Trading Standards have just put into operation a crackdown on people issuing loans with exorbitant interest rates often backed up with threats of violence. Anyone falling victim to this sort of thing or is aware of somebody else who is can get help  from 0300 555 2222 or by e-mail

Wishing you a happy summer                                            Bob Tidy

As a nominated member of the Sussex Police Authority by the County Council one of my responsibilities covers Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) and its synergy with Neighbourhood Policing (NHP).   NHW is thought to be the largest voluntary organisation in the Country with six million members.

Sussex Police are in the final stages of forming a partnership with the Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation to deliver a service that is uniform across Sussex, East and West, and the City of Brighton and Hove. NHW exists to:

  1. Cut crime and the opportunity for crime and anti-social behaviour
  2. Provide reassurance to local residents and reduce the fear of crime
  3. Encourage neighbourliness and closer communities
  4. Improve the quality of life for local resident

As anyone who has watched the NHP teams operating in our villages these four points coincide with their ambitions and achievements.

To achieve this consistency of delivery and synergy Sussex Police will appoint a NHW Manager at the centre to lead matters in Sussex and link with the Federation and also with the fifteen District Commanders. Each District will be required to establish a NHW Committee to oversee activities in their area and nominate a person to County NHW Federation. While this may seem overly beaurocratic, it is the best way to ensure consistency across Sussex.

A new communication system has been developed which will not only record NHW members automatically but will pass messages by email and the internet, text and fax but not voice. East Sussex County Council has made a grant of £15 000 towards the development of this system. Each Community, village or town, will have to organise with the help of its NHP team a Watch system in its area and also a representative onto the District Committee.

Crime across East Sussex has reduced by 7% in 2006 and a further 10% in 2007 and it will, I am confident, continue to fall particularly as a much improved NHW kicks in.

This started for me with a meeting of the Sussex Neighbourhood Policing and Citizen Focus Board. Sussex police have an establishment of 354 PCSOs and a successful bid for growth that will increase Constables by 37 and Sergeants by 10. These will be deployed to allow 75 Neighbourhoods to be established. These will roughly mean one PCSO per District Council Ward managed by a Constable covering three Wards and a Sergeant covering half a District. How these officers relate to the public and their reporting back is now subject to considerable debate.
My next port of call was the Rural Forum to “Rural Proof” the document Pride of Place, a vision of East Sussex to the year 2026. As its terminology is very broad, rural concerns do not differ greatly from urban apart from public transport and affordable housing.
One day was spent at a project known as Creative Partnerships. This involves school children working up artistic projects with involvement of other local organisations. On this day Uckfield Comprehensive collaborated with the local library history section to construct a model of Uckfield in 2057. Whitehouse Primary in Hailsham worked  with a Brighton University Geology department to create models of the evolvement  of the world and its creatures.
Another day consisted of Cabinet meeting, a Governance meeting and an interview by a Home Office Inspector into Neighbourhood Policing in Sussex. Scary!
One of the most enjoyable was escorting a member of the East Sussex Youth Parliament to our Trading Standards Offices in Eastbourne. He was impressed by the wide variety of activity which makes our County a better place to live. That evening he joined Wadhurst residents for the launch of the Wadhurst No Cold Calling Zone. This is run by Trading Standards strongly supported by the Police to protect people from rogue traders attempting to sell on the doorstep. There are notices on the approaches to the village advertising the Zone and stickers to put in door windows warning off pedlars and reminding people to keep their doors chained.
That was 5 fairly typical days which were interspersed by five which were too boring to recount or very political. Then of course there were three of my 4 Parish Councils which I shall talk about next time.

2 March 2008   Road traffic incidents between motorists and deer are becoming only too frequent but finding a solution is very difficult. The road between Lamberhurst and Bells Yew Green, much of which is through woodland and very straight and fast, has a rapidly increasing number of incidents. During January there were nine reported collisions and only last week a member of staff at Uplands Community College was seriously injured when he swerved to avoid a deer on the outskirts of Wadhurst.

The only solution so far seems to be warning signs for motorists to take care but unfortunately experience on Ashdown Forest does not appear promising. The accidents in spite of warning notices are in the hundreds annually and increasing. I fear that before long it will not only be deer fatalities that are concerning us.

The Conservative sponsored but not political “Meet and Greet” held at Uplands Community College yesterday was a huge success with fifty organisations connected with Wadhurst in some way or other displaying their wares and opportunities. Those organising the morning waited with baited breath for the good burghers of the village to arrive and most certainly they did. Between ten and eleven o’clock moving between the stands was an interesting experience! I was amazed at the variety of interests catered for in Wadhurst from a race horse syndicate to poetry, from history to dentistry and bell ringing to flower arranging. As one moved amongst the stall holders the common theme that they most wanted was more and better car parking. In some cases groups were meeting outside of Wadhurst because attendance was deterred by the problem. The Parish Council is continuously thinking about the problem and looking for some development in the village that extra parking can piggy back onto.

24 Feb 2008:  By way of introduction I represent the Wadhurst Division of East Sussex County Council which consists of the villages of Wadhurst, Frant, Mayfield and Rotherfield, an absolutely fantastic part of the County I hope you will all agree.

At the County Council I am a Cabinet Member responsible for Community Services and E-Government, a very wide ranging portfolio.
Some of the activities include Community Planning (Local Strategic Partnerships and Local Area Agreements), Community Safety including the Sussex Police Authority, Trading Standards, Libraries, the Record Office and Archives, Registration and last but not least Gypsy and Traveller affairs. 

For me the 4th of February was a real landmark in that a decision was taken by the New Hailsham Market Partnership to build a business case to pursue an outline planning application for a new Market to the west of the Diplocks Roundabout on the A22. The Farmer’s Action Group having purchased on option on 10 acres of land has brought a whole new lease of life to the project.

Next day as a member of the Sussex Police Authority and Lead Member responsible for Neighbourhood Policing (NHP) at the NHP Board the future of NHP  was discussed and how this much appreciated service could be improved. At the moment there are 56 teams across East and West Sussex and the City of Brighton and Hove and  the areas are far to big for adequate cover. It is felt that 75 would be desirable. A team would consist of a Sergeant, 2 Constables and 4 to 5 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and cover approximately 20,000 residents which is about the size of 2 County Council Divisions. This was approved last week at the Budget meeting of the Authority  when a Police precept increase of 4.98 % was agreed.

T he County Council at its meeting on the 12th approved a Council Tax increase of 3.9% for 200-9 in line with its prediction in 2005 to reduce tax increases from 4.7  then to 3.5 in 2009-10.  This is against a background of  an average Rate Support Grant increase from Central Government of 1% for the last 5 years when other Counties outside the South East on average receive 5%.

I will endeavour to update this news letter about once a fortnight and hopefully be a little more local. However all of the items mentioned will have a effect on the lives of the residents of the Wadhurst Division. If anyone wishes to make a comment or ask a question I can be contacted by e-mail                                                        Bob Tidy