Category Archives: Report back

Waste and Recycling

Dear Residents,

Major leap forward in recycling planned for 2018! Trial due this autumn (2017). 

recycleIn the summer of 2015 recycling levels were about 24% (now 27%) for Lewes District whereas the national average is 43% (2015/16 figures). Lewes currently down at 344 on the national list!

When I was first elected in May 2015 to the Lewes District Council I was asked by the Liberal Democrat group if I would ‘shadow’ the Conservative Lead Member for Waste and Recycling. I was glad to accept this role as I have long thought that the Lewes District Council were dragging their heels in this area. So at various council meetings I began to bang on about the disastrous state of recycling levels in the district.

There are multiple reasons as to why recycling rates are low and here are some examples:  outdated vehicle design, outdated recycling facilities and a lack management focus. However, there has been some progress during 2015 and 2016. The long-awaited food recycling bins have been a success but we still need to convince more people to use them. 2015-12-02 12.33.51[See: benefits of food waste recycling]  Also, the garden waste service is now being rolled out district wide. Also during last year the council undertook a survey of householders’ views because the previous Conservative leadership were favouring the idea that normal collections should happen every two weeks and not weekly. My colleague, Steve Saunders (LibDem Newhaven) raised serious concerns about this asking,  ‘how would mothers deal with the problem of having to store dirty nappies for two weeks before they were collected?’.  The following survey of residents’ views revealed that people wanted to keep the weekly collections and the idea of fortnightly collections has been dropped.

However the recycling figures are still very low. The most recent report shows a figure of 27%. When I was elected I got complaints about the limited range of recyclable materials. I call it the ‘yoghurt pot question‘.  I still get these complaints. So,  what’s happening?

Thankfully we have got a new Chief Executive and Director of Service Delivery. Also, we have a new Council Leader, Andy Smith. These people are more receptive to improvements and change.

During the tail end of last year the District Council appointed a project manager to oversee improvements. We are now beginning to get more frequent reports and there are two proposals currently on the table: improvements to the collection service and to the recycling facilities. This is not to do with the stuff we take to the dump. It’s to do with what happens to the stuff after it collected from your doorstep. Radical changes are needed in both of these areas in order to improve the recycling rates.

Vic Ient
Vic Ient

At the recent Cabinet meeting I asked three questions:

  1. The report didn’t include any dates showing when the recycling service would be introduced. So I asked ‘when?’ The answer came back that there would be a trial this autumn and the implementation would be in 2018. I’m certainly going to follow up to make sure that the Conservatives stick to these figures.
  2. The report also was not very specific about improving the range of materials that can be recycled. So I asked a question and got a commitment to a significant increase including things like yoghurt pots and tetra packs. Again, I will be following up to make sure those improvements are implemented.
  3. Thirdly I asked a question about improving and simplifying the containers which householders have to use for recycling. I want the council to learn from other leading councils and implement a co-mingling system so that we only have to have one bin for most of the recycling. (Glass will still have to go in a separate bin). I also want the council not to force everybody to have large wheelie bins. I got a commitment to (a) study what other successful councils are doing and (b) offer a range of containers suitable for the householders’ property.

[see also my report from July 2015]

Here is a copy of the actual questions I asked:

Lead Member for Waste and Recycling, Councillor Paul Franklin:
Question 1: The report indicates some of the long-awaited changes to improve the disastrously low recycling rate within the Lewes District Council area. The one in this report refers to the adoption of co-mingling recycling collections however it does not mention when the new service will be introduced. Could the Lead Member please advise of the programme including target dates for the introduction of co-mingling?
 
Question 2: The move to co-mingling is, as I have said, an improvement and will help avoid the plethora of bags that a resident has to leave outside their house. However no mention is made of any improvement to the range of material that a householder can recycle. There have been previous reports but I think it’s appropriate that with these proposed changes we see some benefits by increasing the range of recycled items. Could the Lead Member please provide members and the public with a schedule showing what new items will be included in the recycling list? 
Question 3: In connection with the adoption of co-mingling the report mentions the provision of recycling containers including 240 L Wheelie bins and lidded bins and later on in the report there is a mention of the possibility of introducing gull proof sacks and clear recycling bags. Thankfully we have moved, in most cases, away from black plastic bags which were often ripped apart by vermin and gulls before the refuse collection team arrived in the area. Therefore I’m particularly concerned to read in the report mention of plastic bags. This is a retrograde step. 240 L bins for mixed recycling items are very suitable for householders who have the room to store them but that does not apply to every householder. Other than the 240 L bin , it is unclear from the report exactly what the range of new bins and recycling containers will be. Please could the lead member review what other successful councils in coastal regions have done in providing a coordinated set of bins and vermin/gull proof heavy duty, ‘heavy lidded bags’ and bring back to the committee a firm proposal for their introduction in the Lewes District? 

Garden Waste Collection

Dear Resident,

It has been a long time coming but I’m pleased to announce that as from mid April this year the garden waste collection will be rolled out to residents in my ward which includes:  Falmer, St Ann Without, Kingston, Swanborough,  Iford, Northease, Rodmell, Southease & Piddinghoe. Not only will it save residents’ time and effort of taking garden waste to the tip, but it will reduce car journeys and therefore C02 emissions. The garden waste service is an optional service and so if you want to use the service please sign up for it,  – just click on the image to the left and it will takgarden-wastee you to the Lewes District Council page which explains the service and at the bottom of that page you will find a link to the signup page. That’s the good news! However the service is not free,  like other councils around the country LDC charge for the service which operates currently 10 months of the year.  During February residents will receive a leaflet offering the service which will contain information about signing up.

 

Once signed-up the council will provide you with a 240 litre garden waste wheelie bin and a calendar showing your fortnightly collection dates.  Also if you need help with the wheelie bin you can apply for assisted collections. All details are on the council web page.

 

 

C7 Road Safety Survey Comments!

car-overtakingDear Residents,

Re: Suggestions for improving safety in the Lower Ouse valley along the C7 road:

Following consultations in 2015 and 2016 comments from parishes and members of the public have been collated. They have been marked on detailed plans and are shown on the diagrams and links below. Please also see the notes below.

Regards

District Councillor, Vic Ient

Complete Document (PDF): Click >>  c7-plan_comments_draft-30-12-16

Individual pages. Click the image below to view/enlarge/save:

Summary Page
Summary Page

c7-plan_comments_draft-30-12-16-p2
Kingston-Swanborough

c7-plan_comments_draft-30-12-16-p3
Iford to Rodmell

Southease
Southease

Piddinghoe
Piddinghoe

 

By the way if you wish to report any highway maintenance issues: CLICK HERE

Also you may wish to have a look at the 2 videos which County Cllr Carla Butler and I have made of the journey in both directions along the C7. CLICK HERE

Explanatory notes:

  1. These comments do not form part of any policy by any group or council.
  2. These notes are relating to the C7 and its junctions. It is hoped that they will be updated to include the C324 road (Ashcombe Lane & Wellgreen Lane, Kingston) in due course.
  3. The original sketches I have made are A3 in size but you should be able to print them in A4.
  4. These diagrams and comments can be used in discussions with the ESCC Highways Department and within POLO as part of the process to produce a strategy for the future safety & traffic calming on the road. I have recently met ESCC Highways to discuss what their proposals are in the light of these comments. I will be reporting back to the parishes and to POLO on the outcome and next steps.
  5. It may be that POLO engage a consultant directly or via the ESCC. Indeed, it may be that some safety improvements can be made incrementally by the ESCC reviewing and improving existing arrangements along the road without any major cost. Typically this might include cleaning and replacing plastic reflective bollards, remarking road surfaces with MPH reminders as well as making signage more meaningful and less cluttered.
  6. After I was elected last year I asked the association of parishes (Parishes Of the Lower Ouse, POLO) in my ward if they would set up a working party to develop a strategy for long-term improvements to safety and traffic calming along the C7 road through the villages of Kingston, Swanborough, Iford, Northease, Rodmell, Southease, and Piddinghoe. The proposal was accepted by POLO and a working group was set up. Since then they and POLO have met a number of times. At the request of POLO I have collated the above inputs from parishes and concerned residents.
  7. The plans will be updated and minor errors  corrected in the next stage.

Future of Local Councils?

Dear Residents,

The Future of Local Councils – ‘Combined Authorities’ – So called ‘Devolution’

I attended the LGA conference on this subject this month (17th Oct, 2016). I think I was the only representative from Lewes District Council. We had a fairly detailed presentation about Cornwall and Greater Sheffield. In addition, there were a number of other speakers. I was particularly interested in the talks by:

  • Prof Jane Wills of Queen Mary University of London
  • Neil Cleeverley of NAVCA (National Association for Voluntary and Community Action)
  • Judith Edwards, CEO of the Citizens Advice Bureau

Judith Edwards said the CAB has amassed a lot of statistical information about the UK. She presented some of the sats in her presentation. I also was interested to talk to the representative from NALC. They are developing a toolkit for local councils to help them deal with these new combined authorities.

Click here for the full list of speakers and attendees: LGA – Seminar Oct 2016

It’s interesting they weren’t just talking about the main subject of this conference but lots of other things to do with the state, the citizen, neighbourhoods, participation, scrutiny, data about communities to name just a few. I also attended the workshops where there was much more participation with other council officials and councillors from around the country. I attended the Democratic Engagement and Scrutiny workshops. Here is the link to copies of the slides used in the main presentations: Click here  Also you may be interested in the main LGA devolution website: Click Here

It seems to me that the so-called government ‘devolution’ via ‘combined authorities’ is a juggernaut moving inexorably on without any consultation with local residents. I wanted to find out more, so I attended and indeed what I did find out was very concerning. We had a detailed presentation about ‘Greater Sheffield’ which has been working at their set up for over four years. I met a councillor from Gloucester County Council who said they had been working at it for 18 months and seem to be getting nowhere. The only new combined authority that seemed to be operating currently is Cornwall.

Words like: confusing, time-consuming, potentially undemocratic and without significant benefits for the local community come to mind when thinking about this government’s approach to this so-called ‘devolution.’

If you would like any further information about this conference please let me know.

Notes:

  1. The joint arrangements between Lewes and Eastbourne councils should not be confused with the government’s proposals for ‘combined authorities’ and ‘devolution’. Both councils maintain their sovereignty. The objective of the exercise with Eastbourne is, amongst other things, to share staff and resources this reducing overheads for both councils.  Click here for details (as of May 2016)
  2. For completeness, I summarise below, the current local situation:

Three Southern Counties (3SC): There are a number of ‘partners’ in the Three Southern Counties (3SC), (East Sussex, Surrey and West Sussex) devolution group. The aim is take ‘greater control’ over their road and rail network, provide confidence in housing delivery, pioneer new digital technology and launch University Enterprise Zones to support high-tech businesses. The ‘devolution’ prospectus, was submitted to the UK Government in Sept 2015. There appears to be 44 ‘partner’ organisations. These include 23 district and borough councils, three local enterprise partnerships, 12 clinical commissioning groups and two police forces, as well as the South Downs National Park and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. A formal ‘concordat’ with neighbouring Brighton and Hove Council is also being/has been drawn up. Click here for more details. The main 3SC website is:

https://surreyandsussex.wordpress.com/

Greater Brighton City Region: A ‘City Deal’ for the Greater Brighton City Region was agreed with government in 2014. For more information click below:

The joint council web page

The Government’s document

 

 

 

Report back September 2016

Dear Residents,

Here is my report back for Sept 2016. I hope you find this newsletter and my website useful. (Click here for previous reports). There are quite a few subjects covered  so here is the index (just click on a title to go straight to the item)

New Chief Exec at the Council    —    Rail dispute    —    Planning     —      Planning complaints

Local Plans   —      EU    —     Funding for Footpaths & Cycleways    —       C7 Road

Rodmell school   —   Bus services   —     Falmer bus   —    Parliamentary Boundary changes

Kingston school  —   A27  —       Broadband   —    Liberal Democrat Conference

Climate change   —   Linked to my reports   —    Questions?

Continue reading Report back September 2016

DfT & Govia to be questioned by the Lewes District Council

Update Fri 9th Sept:

southern-railwayLib Dems win motion calling for the Department for Transport and Govia to come to Lewes to be questioned by the Lewes District Council over the train service delays and cancellations

 Yesterday (Thurs 8th Sept) at the Scrutiny Committee of the Lewes District Council Lib Dem councillor Vic Ient proposed that the Committee invite the Department of Transport and Govia/GTR to come down to Lewes and meet the members of the committee so that they can present their plans for a resolution of the dispute currently running with the RMT as well as providing information on what steps they will take to significantly reduce train cancellations and late trains whether or not there is a dispute with the union.

After a lengthy debate it was clear that the majority Conservative members of the committee were not going to support Vic Ient’s motion. In the end the committee agreed a watered down version:

That the Scrutiny Committee of Lewes District Council invite both the Department of Transport and Govia/GTR to attend a meeting with members of the Scrutiny Committee so that they can present their plans to significantly reduce train cancellations and late trains.

Read more on this here:   rail-dispute-update-9th-sept

More news and information – click below:

Continue reading DfT & Govia to be questioned by the Lewes District Council

Rodmell School success – but it’s not over yet!

There was good news back in July for Rodmell School. The all powerful ESCC Cabinet agreed not to close the school.  Thanks to the efforts of parents, governors, members of the public and ward councillors Rodmell School won a reprieve! However we are not at the end of the road yet, the County’s decision has a specific condition:

Extract from ESCC Cabinet minutes:

Rodmell School (2)

Rodmell School (3)

As you will see, there is a requirement for the governors to produce an acceptable long-term plan during term 5. That means they have to submit a plan between 18 April and 26 May 2017!  I’m sure this will become a hot topic during the county council elections which are due to take place in May 2017.

2015-09-05 11.57.06In the meantime, I would like to thank County Councillor Carla Butler for her hard work to keep the School open.  Here is what she said after the decision:

Carla Butler Article
Extract from Sussex Express article dated 22 July 2016 by Reporter Joshua Powling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click below to see my plea to the ESCC:

Cllr Vic Ient 27 May 2016 Submission to the ESCC on Rodmell School

 

Rail Dispute

2016-07-19 14.55.29 (2)
Lib Dem Cllrs Olivia Honeyman & Vic Ient reviewing the rail despute at Seaford

Unless there is a major breakthrough this week the strike called by the RMT Union will go ahead next week affecting commuters and thousands of people who use the rail network every day across Sussex. Talks started yesterday (Wed) according to the Guardian.

Things don’t look good as the  ticket workers’ union to ballot over co-ordinated train strike for ‘maximum impact’ according to The Argus. This dispute has been a long time in the making and I have taken this opportunity to look back into how we got here and at the same time put some proposals forward to resolve things.

In this article you can see my proposals and a review of the background to the dispute:

Continue reading Rail Dispute

Kingston School expansion get the go-ahead!

As many may already know, the planning application for improvements and expansion of Iford & Kingston School got the go-ahead at the May meeting of the East Sussex County Council Planning Committee. Whilst I’m sure we all support better facilities for the children at the school, I was saddened by the County Council’s decision not to include any significant funds for highway and footpath improvements to try and alleviate the traffic problems caused by parents from outside the village having to drop off and collect their children. The County Council’s policy of expanding the school will add even more rush-hour traffic problems to Kingston. (click below to read more)

Continue reading Kingston School expansion get the go-ahead!

Countryside Rights of Way and Public Access

ESCC CountrysideGive East Sussex County Council your views on future plans for public rights of way and public access countryside sites.  In East Sussex there are  2,000 miles of public rights of way (PRoW), made up of footpaths, bridleways, byways and restricted byways. The ESCC are also involved in managing ten open access countryside sites across East Sussex.

ESCC  have produced a ‘strategy’ document which, when approved, will guide their investment and policy plans over the next three years. Click the image  to the left to go to the ESCC consultation page. For anyone that is interested in the countryside I recommend reading this document. If you want to submit your comments you can do so from now and until 29th of July 2016. 

 

You can also phone or email ESCC on this consultation:  0345 60 80 193
scs@eastsussex.gov.uk

I believe it is important to comment now in order to show the County Council what are are our priorities for maintaining public rights of way (PRoW) over the Downs and in the countryside as well as for open access countryside. The report also covers ten special areas of access including places like the Seven Sisters County Park and Riverside Park (in the lower Ouse valley between Piddinghoe & Newhaven). For a map of PRoW click HERE

If we don’t comment and budgets get cut then there won’t be money there in future years to carry on this important work. To see the full strategy document click: countryside-access-strategy