Network Rail is developing proposals to remove the railway bottleneck at Croydon to deliver improved service for the 300,000 passengers who travel to London on the Brighton Main Line. The plans would see the railway remodelled with new flyovers replacing junctions, and East Croydon station rebuilt with two extra platforms and better facilities for passengers. For a copy of the Network Rail Press Release click here
East Sussex County Council set to cut services to bare legal minimum!
As The Guardian said in August when the dire financial situation emerged: ESCC are ‘set to cut services to bare legal minimum’. ‘The Tory-run authority reveals plan to avoid following Northamptonshire into bankruptcy!’
Despite the Chancellor saying in his budget statement that austerity is ‘finally coming to an end’ the Conservatives are ploughing ahead with these cuts!
During the autumn things have moved on considerably and now the Conservative group who run the ESCC have agreed major budget cuts. They have come up with what they consider to be the ‘core offer.’ I don’t know why they call it an ‘offer’ as they aren’t offering any other choices! However, they have put out a consultation document which I recommend everyone responds to. Click here to go to the ESCC’s explanation of the core offer and a link to the public consultation page. The consultation closes on 26 December.
Also a petition (also closing on 26 December) has been raised in protest against these cuts, – click here to sign up.
The Rail Delivery Group (made up of Train Operating Companies) along with the rail passenger organisation, Transport Focus are asking for public comments on how to restructure and simplify train fares. The consultation is open and runs until 10 September 2018. I think it is very important that everybody who uses the railway whether regularly or occasionally makes their comments.
This is the first major review of how train fares are structured and how train fares can be purchased since the early 1990s. That’s before the Internet became widely used and before contactless payments were invented. The rail fare system is still based on a clunky magnetic ticketing system which is very difficult to modify and change.
Recommendations will be made to the government in the autumn following the consultation which could bring about a much fairer, more equitable and easier fare system. However the computer experts and ticket administrators sitting in their offices don’t necessarily have all the best ideas so this is our opportunity to tell them what we want. Please make your comments:
This consultation is not about the quality of service or lack of it, getting rid of GTR in the southern railway network, overcrowding or resolving the chaotic way in which the rail companies introduced timetable changes. Yes, all these things need to be dealt with but I think it is really important to take advantage of making suggestions to improve the rail ticket system. Please do tell them what you think by clicking on the above link.
This week at Lewes District Council’s Full Council meeting I had another go at getting renewable energy higher up the planning agenda when it comes to building new homes. Last October I proposed that all new housing and commercial developments incorporated renewable energy. The proposal was lost by just one vote and so I have had wait 6 months in accordance with the rules of the council to put the motion again!
We won! Now the planning applicants (from the 1st Sept 2019) for housing & commercial development will have to work with the officers of the council to include a renewable energy scheme. Also the South Downs National Park are being encouraged to do the same.
Any form of renewable energy scheme can be proposed to provide all or some of the electrical power supply, heating and hot water. Of course new homes and businesses could power their building from an external renewable energy source but in practical terms there are 3 main systems (see diagram above) which are readily available:
Solar panels which could just provide electricity but also can be used to provide hot water and heating. photovoltaic (PV) cells used on solar panels can also be used in conjunction with power storage battery systems and for charging electric cars.
Air source heating which can be used for both hot water and heating.
Ground source heating which can be used for both hot water and heating. Often this is used for underfloor heating as well.
On 14 June 2018 I attended the National Park Planning Committee meeting, over in Midhurst, and spoke on 5 planning applications concerning (Click here to see the agenda/reports) the land and buildings at the Old Racecourse, Lewes. I voiced my concern on all 5 applications. I asked the SDNPA Planning Committee to refuse them all.
This is an update from Lewes District Councillor Vic Ient for residents in Kingston Ward. It concerns planning matters in the parish of St Ann Without at the Old Racecourse. This blog may also be of interest to people who live in Lewes. 4 out of the 5 applications were refused but there is long way to go in resolving the un-authorised erection of fencing, see the report below from Lewes Eye. Footpath and bridleway rights of way issues weren’t discussed as ESCC are the responsible authority for Rights of Way.
The main area of the racecourse falls within my ward, – the parish of St Ann Without. The reason I spoke on these applications is because the planning and enforcement situation have become very confused as has the footpath and bridleway issues. I opposed all 5 applications and if you click on the link below you will see me say why. You will hear me speak on the 1st item. To hear the others please just pull forward the timeline at the bottom of the screen to see each item once you have seen the first item:
Item 8: Application Nos: SDNP/18/00138/FUL
Proposal: Retention of crucifix (Approved)
Please click HERE and the recording should start at this item where I speak (at 00:43:27)
Item 9: SDNP/17/00340/HOUS
Proposal: Proposed erection of 5 loose box stables (Refused)
See my submission at: 01:10:25
Item 10: SDNP/17/05255/FUL
Proposal: Renewing existing and installing new fencing work with access gates
See my submission at: 01:36:30 (Refused)
Item 11: Application Nos: SDNP/17/02082/FUL
Proposal: (Retrospective) Retention of temporary erection of electric fencing using chestnut stakes (Refused)
See my submission at: 02:09:30
Item 12: Application Nos: SDNP/16/06136/FUL
Proposal: Construction of manege, fenced surround and shallow earth bank (Refused)
See my submission at: 02:26:00
Planning Committee June 2018 – Thu, 14th Jun 2018 – 10:00 am – South Downs National Park Authority Webcasts
Chris Smith of the Open Spaces Society has given an excellent report on the current situation following the SDNPA meeting on Thurs 14th June in his Lewes Eye blog. He has kindly allowed me to publish this summary:
LEWES RACECOURSE NEWS
By Chris Smith: The South Downs National Park planning committee has turned down a load of planning applications at Lewes Racecourse including plans for loads of fencing and a cinder road, much of it already in place.
The National Park also turned down plans for a manege (a surfaced training rectangle for horses)
The only thing that they agreed to was the retention of a crucifix that has been put up near the main track up to the racecourse.
Vic lent, the district council member for the area and Robert Cheesman of the Friends of Lewes spoke strongly against the applications being granted. The Open Spaces Society, the South Downs Society and many others submitted written objections.
But do not get too excited. Speakers for the applicants were able to allege that some or all of the application was existing fencing that had been authorised in the 1980s and 1990s and officers were unable to contradict them because they had not brought the relevant information with them. Expect new applications for fencing that is alleged to be “existing” and legally erected. If you can remember the area in the 1980s and 1990s and can say where the fences were, please get in touch. At firstname.lastname@example.org
But there is no reason why the road shown in the picture should not now be taken up.
You can see which applications were discussed here and by copying and pasting the application numbers and pasting them into the search box here. You can see the web cast of the meeting here
Chris Smith for the Lewes Eye
In most planning applications and enforcement cases, connected with the Old Racecourse, we have seen recently the land ownership is spread across 3 parishes, Hamsey, Lewes (Lewes Town Council) and St Ann Without. I believe that the local authority should consult all 3 parishes. This has not been the case to my knowledge. Hopefully in future planning applications the National Park and Lewes District council will ensure they notify all 3 parishes of future planning applications.
Today I was interviewed by BBC Radio Sussex where I commented on the rail timetable changes. I said that GTR had not paid attention to the detail of which services would be affected in the Lewes area in their efforts to produce more trains on the Brighton mainline. Stations like Plumpton, Lewes and Berwick are suffering with less train services than before. You can listen to my broadcast by clicking below:
The new Southern Rail timetable which comes into force on 20 May sees extra trains, new carriages, new connections and other welcome improvements to train services for commuters. The good news seems to be spread right across the country – except in Lewes, which loses out under the new timetable.
Vic Ient, Lib Dem District Councillor and transport spokesperson said: “It seems the rail network is to see big improvements all over the place except for rail travellers in the Lewes constituency. Here, far from improvements, we are going backwards.
“The shortened journey times from Lewes to London, down to 61 minutes in the off-peak, which Norman Baker secured, have been reversed, with journeys now lengthened to 70 minutes. And the Ashford service, which Southern have long wanted to cut but which Norman fought successfully to keep, has been chopped, now he is no longer there to stop them.
Sarah Osborne, Lib Dem Group Leader on the District Council said:
“It is clear that the Tories, including our Councillors and MP Maria Caulfield have been asleep on the job. While in other areas, local representatives have been successfully fighting for their patch, here they have let this series of cuts go through. This is another sign of how the Conservatives are not listening to the needs of the people of Lewes.”
From 20 May the town suffers the following:
* The ending of through services to Ashford International
* The halving of trains to and from London Bridge
* Lengthened journey times
* Connections between Glynde and Berwick severely cut
* Reduced weekday services to other neighbouring villages including Plumpton
* No end to the splitting of trains at Haywards Heath, although splitting has been much reduced elsewhere
For residents in Ouse Valley West and Downs county division: (North: – Ditchling; Plumpton; Streat; Westmeston; South: – Falmer; St Ann Without; Iford; Kingston; Rodmell; Southease; Piddinghoe and Newhaven
Sadly the news from County is grim. The Conservative administration put up council tax by almost 6% and there will be cuts of over £17m this year and even bigger cuts in the following 2 years at least. The Chief Executive (Becky Shaw) summed up the challenges: “The reductions being put forward for 2018/19 and beyond will increase the longer- term demand and costs facing the East Sussex public sector. They are, therefore, not those Chief Officers would choose to make; If there are no new resources from Government, by 2021/22 the Council will be left with a minimum service offer”
This means that central services will be reduced to a democratic core with minimum support for departments and more self-service. County will not be able to fund early intervention or prevention services in Adult and Children’s Social Care or support schools to improve attainment. Also, management in highways will be towards more reactive maintenance, leading to long-term deterioration of condition.
My grave concerns
I am really worried about the proposed major cuts to community-based support services, refuges for those experiencing domestic abuse and to the Discretionary East Sussex Support Scheme, which supports the very poorest residents. I fear the enormous cuts will not only increase the suffering of those residents in our area that need our help most but will result in a false economy as many people will instead need help from other higher cost services (such as the health and adult social care and children’s services sectors) These vital community support services currently enable people to continue to live independently and without them many will not be able to manage.
Examples of cuts already decided or being consulted on presently or in the near future:
Library Closures: ESCC are to close 7 libraries
Cuts in funding for The Stroke Association.
Cuts in Day Centres: We are awaiting decisions on cutting or closing 4 day centres for the elderly and disabled including The Phoenix Centre in Lewes.
Cuts to support services for carers.
Cuts in funding for the Home Works service by 50%: Home Works is a crisis support service for people and families in East Sussex, aged 16 to 64, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Cuts in funding for STEPS: This service plays a key role reducing demand support with many of our customers continuing to live independently despite significant health problems rather than requiring care.
Cuts of 70% proposed for the Discretionary East Sussex Support Scheme (DESSS): The main cause of homelessness is the termination of private tenancies with most people becoming homeless through no fault of their own. A large number of those who become homeless do not have the savings required to meet the demands for rent in advance and deposits and are completely reliant on the loan schemes supported by the DESSS.
Given that the Centre for Public Scrutiny considers it ‘best practice’ for Scrutiny Committees to be Chaired by members of the opposition I proposed a motion to Council that ESCC should follow the advice. Unfortunately, even though the Conservatives have a large majority and Scrutiny recommendations are only advisory, they still voted it down.
In my role on The Health Overview Scrutiny Committee, I have raised the difficulties we are experiencing locally in retaining and recruiting staff in the health and care sectors because of Brexit.
I have continued to raise and successfully resolve problems for residents faced with problems with Adult Social Care, got the restoration of school bus transport for several families and lost count of the number of highways problems I have reported!