David Cameron step forward!

From my wife (whom I fully support): “I’m calling for David Cameron to step forward and apologise to the nation for calling the referendum so casually and just to save the Conservative party from UKIP which was infiltrating their support.    He should apologise for not allowing the young people to vote for their future and for not allowing those who already live in Europe to vote. It takes two thirds majority for parliament to call a general election yet he thought it was acceptable for the referendum to be on a simple majority – that is only one vote could have swung it either way! This is not how serious matters are considered!  David Cameron should appear on television, in tears, to admit these shortcomings and beg the people of the UK to reconsider now that all the facts have been properly laid before them”.  #PeoplesVote #ExitFromBrexit #DavidCameron

Improving bus facilities along the A27 between Falmer and Polegate

Consultation on improving bus facilities along the A27 between Falmer and Polegate

To kick the consultations off a workshop style meeting has been set up for a public consultation  next Friday, 18 January, starting at 10 am. It will take place at Lewes town hall, and if you would like to attend please click on the link below.


If you can’t attend, contact the consultants directly on this link: https://bettertransport.org.uk/contact-us

The consultation will last until early February.   

The Campaign for Better Transport are holding a consultation during January and early February 2019 to capture views on the physical facilities and highway design aspect of bus provision, looking at the A27 corridor, from Falmer to Polegate via Lewes. The feedback will help Highways England assess the need for bus infrastructure.  You can also right to me with your suggestions  of how bus infrastructure can be improved along the A27.  I will pass on the information. Please send emails and photographs to: sussexcampaign@gmail.com

Buses and Highways England don’t seem to go together, but maybe that’s about to change!  It seems that at last some sensible projects are coming out from this multibillion pound road building government department.    Highways England have a series of ‘ring fenced’ funds designed to address a range of issues beyond the traditional focus of road investment. It seems that some money may be allocated to facilitating better bus services by improving and building bus lay-bys and other bus related infrastructure.

Info: The Campaign for Better Transport is working with Transport Focus and Highways England to understand stakeholders’ views on bus provision on England’s motorways and major A roads – the strategic road network.

Highways England and the C7 Lewes to Newhaven?

Is the government’s road building division constructing cycle paths?

Yes, it looks as though at last some sensible projects are coming out from this multibillion pound government department which is awash with money. Highways England have a series of ‘ring fenced’ funds designed to address a range of issues beyond the traditional focus of road investment including one for cycling and safety.

Over the last 4 years I have been trying to get ESCC to fund safety improvements for the C7 but as you will see from the background notes below the ESCC cuts have prevented the allocation of funds. However, I’ve been looking at alternative sources of funding and strangely enough there is a possibility of gaining significant funding from Highways England. They have ‘designated funds’ which are designed to provide landscaping, footpaths and cycle paths near trunk roads and motorways. In 2016 I attended a southeast regional Highways England workshop and asked them to allocate some of their designated funds to our local area. In 2017, I was contacted by Highways England who said they were looking at the possibility of providing a cycle route between Newhaven and Lewes. Of course, I suggested that such a provision could be made in conjunction with the safety and traffic calming proposals for the C7!  

Currently I understand there are internal negotiations going on in Highways England to select a few new cycle routes in this corner of the southeast. The C7 could be one of them. However HE requires the support of the County Council insofar as they would not object or obstruct a detailed engineering survey which is the forerunner to formal estimates being prepared for final approval. I have met with Nick Bennett, the Lead Member for Transport at the County Council, and I have asked him to ensure that his officers will not object to the preparation of these estimates and surveys.

Highways England has been allocated billions of pounds by the government to build motorways and dual carriageways. I’m hoping that a few crumbs will fall from the table to provide cycle and footpath provision near the A27 in our area in conjunction with their environmental fund. What happens next? I hope that Highways England will approve monies for our area and if you want to support this. Please contact them:

Highways England: Email: info@highwaysengland.co.uk

Or write to:
Highways England
National Traffic Operations Centre
3 Ridgeway
Quin­ton Business Park
B32 1AF

Background notes:

No joy from ESCC

For some time a number of us have been trying to improve safety along the C7 between Lewes and Newhaven.  Shortly after I was elected in 2015 I was optimistic having had feedback from the County Council.   They seemed to be cooperating and were happy to work with myself and other volunteers in Polo (parishes of the Lower Ouse) to assemble a list of low cost to higher cost improvements for the C7 road.

The work continued into 2016 but then we were told that the officers working on this project with us would no longer be able to help us as they had to prioritise urgent road safety improvements elsewhere in the county where there had been recent deaths.  No doubt this decision was associated with County Council cuts.

Unfortunately, as many of us would have seen in the press, the County Council announced severe cuts in their services earlier in 2018. They have announced a regression to core services, in other words this means those that are the minimum that they would legally need to provide. All this is very depressing.

POLO initiative for the C7

Personally, I was very upset when we heard that the ESCC couldn’t provide funds for the C7  but luckily a new volunteer had appeared on the scene, Joe Atwood, and he was prepared to develop a ‘Vision for the C7’ for safety and traffic calming. He produced an excellent document which has been circulated to the parishes and it has been adopted as a POLO initiative. He has potentially secured a grant for turning out more detailed design work, which is excellent.

BBC – Can tech save the world?

Even if you are only mildly interested in what can be done about tackling #PlasticPollution and #PlasticOcean pollution this video broadcast is worth watching!  Click the image below  There are some fascinating solution! As the @UN Climate Conference #COP24 conference conclude in Poland BBC Click asks if policy or technology will save the world.

The BBC tech news programme, CLICK reviews the challenges faced by every country in the world in tackling everything from plastic pollution and recycling to pollution in the air we breath and plastic in the oceans. It reviews the desperate need to meet #ClimateChange targets to stop sea temperatures rising. It also shows the innovation in recycling and in floating solar energy generating stations! See the polar vehicle made from 100% recycled plastic and powered from 100% solar energy! Also have a look at the piece about the recycling plant – automated recycling of just about everything!

Consultation for Lewes and South Coast area rail commuters/passengers – removing railway bottleneck at Croydon

The consultation events will be held on Monday and Tuesday, 10 and 11 December 2018, 4-8pm, at theBrighthelm Centre, North Rd, Brighton, BN1 1YD.

You can also take part in the consultation on line at: www.networkrail.co.uk/Croydon until Monday, 17 December.

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

Lewes Council and National Park Local Plans in focus!

Both the South Downs National Park Local Plan and the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2 are in focus as 2018 closes: 

Lewes District Council area with boundary of SDNP show in red. CLICK TO ENLARGE

The District Council have just approved their controversial in parts,  Local Plan Part 2. Now it will be sent to the Secretary of State for examination. A planning Examiner will be appointed, who will hold public hearings later on in 2019. Residents will have an opportunity to submit evidence if they are opposed to the plan, either wholly or in part, and there will be an opportunity for the public to attend the Examiner’s public hearings.

The National Park are one stage ahead of the Lewes District Council as their plan is already being examined by the government, and there are currently public hearings taking place where those who wish to give evidence against the plan policies, either in part or wholly, will be able to submit their views. I asked the Government’s Examiner to ensure that there would be public hearings local to the Lewes area and not 45 miles away in Midhurst! He agreed with me. This local hearing  will take place between the 11th and 12th of December. Click here for more information.

Here are my comments on the district council’s local plan, part two, and some further information on the National Park plan:

Continue reading Lewes Council and National Park Local Plans in focus!

ESCC consult on their planned cuts + sign the petition!

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.

Safeguarding our community amid Brexit chaos!

From District Councillor Vic Ient:

Despite the Prime Minister’s announcement on 15th Nov that she has negotiated a ‘deal’ and whether or not we agree with it; there is still much uncertainty around the ‘Brexit’ issue. Amidst ministerial resignations, Conservative MPs apparently signing ‘no-confidence in the Prime Minister’ letters, including the MP for Lewes who, by the way,  is also saying she will vote against her own government on the proposals, chaos reigns in Parliament! Thus, we still don’t know how the Conservatives will take us out of the EU. The possibilities still range from ‘crashing out’ through to various forms of ‘soft exit’ only just over 4 months before the ‘leave’ date!

The currently designated date for leaving the EU is March 29, 2019. There has been much talk about the effect on our airports and at the port of Dover. However, to my knowledge, there has never been any discussion on what risks affect the local people in Lewes District caused by an exit. I am especially concerned with Newhaven port. I believe we need to form a Task Force jointly with:

  • TheCounty Council
  • AppropriateUK government departments
  • The UK Border Force and Police
  • Quasi-Governmental Local Organisations, like theLEP’s
  • Business organisations like the Newhaven Port Authority – Newhaven Port & Properties Ltd

This Task Force is to look into the risks and what can be done to alleviate the problems for the residents of this district.

Motion relating to the EU by Lib Dem Cllr Vic Ient which is to be debated at the Lewes District Council Full Council Meeting on the 26th November 2018:

I propose:

 “The Lewes District Council form a Task Force and invite the County Council and other appropriate public & commercial organisations to participate in assessing the risks and developing proposals to limit the difficulties which may be faced in relation to the import-export location of Newhaven”.

Lewes District Recycles More! Recycling up from 22% to 38%!

The new recycling scheme in Lewes District is having a real effect! At the recent Plastic Free Lewes event ‘The Truth About Plastic’ (Lewes Town Hall, 24th October), Scot Reid (Head of Customer and Neighbourhood Services at Lewes District Council) announced that the new recycling scheme, introduced in the past year, has significantly improved recycling rates in Lewes District, they are now up from 22% to 38%.

The new scheme was introduced following a long campaign by Lib Dem District Councillor, Vic Ient. Cllr Ient said “It’s great that we have been able to respond to public calls for better recycling and I will continue to push the District Council to be more ambitious”.

Cllr Vic Ient with Oli Henman at recycling site

Environmental campaigner Oli Henman said “The improved recycling rates provide very welcome news given the challenges of plastic pollution in our countryside and our seas; we hope to see this level grow further. Now, we are calling on the District council to get on with rolling out the on-street recycling bin pilot which was put forward by Lib Dem Council Group Leader, Cllr Sarah Osborne.”

Cllr Sarah Osborne with a new on-street recycle bin in Seaford

Local campaigner Kevin West said, “Lewes residents are very active on the issue of recycling and have responded in a really positive way to the new scheme. According to Viridor, the contractor who sorts the recycling, we have very low rates of ‘contamination’ – only 2% of the recycling is rejected,making the quality 98%. This shows that small changes can have major effects,we should all be proud of this achievement.”

Lib Dem Campaigner Kevin West with on of the new garden waste bins

Plastic Free Lewes is a campaign group in Lewes that raises awareness of the impact of plastic pollution and helps people to take real action to resolve the issue. It is supported by multiple political parties as well as the Town Council. Lewes Lib Dem campaigners Kevin West and Oli Henman have been key members of Plastic Free Lewes since its inception

Fairer Train Fares?

Lib Dem County Councillor Philip Daniel (Left) with District Councillor Vic Ient

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:

Click HERE to give your views

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.

Continue reading Fairer Train Fares?