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.
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
These comments do not form part of any policy by any group or council.
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.
The original sketches I have made are A3 in size but you should be able to print them in A4.
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.
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.
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.
The plans will be updated and minor errors corrected in the next stage.
Strike days continue despite the fact that the RMT has agreed to let its members sign up to become On-Board Supervisors as opposed to continuing their role as Guards. Strikes will continue until 8 December but there seems no end to the dispute.
So, the misery for commuters continues! I hope everyone in our local area will pressurise both parties to end the strikes. For my part, back in July, I successfully got the Lewes District Council to support the Mayor of London’s proposal that the Southern franchise should be operated by Transport for London. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, chose to ignore this plea by our Council which was also supported by Wealden and Eastbourne councils. At the September meeting of the Lewes District Council’s Scrutiny Committee I proposed a motion, which was passed, inviting both the Department for Transport and Govia/GTR to come to Lewes and explain to the committee how they propose to get services back to normal. Govia/GTR have agreed to a meeting which will take place on 10 November 2016. Click here for more info
More recently the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee issued a report cited the “woeful” experience of Southern passengers, who have faced months of industrial action and staff shortages. The committee urged Transport Ministers to “get a grip” on monitoring rail franchise agreements amongst other things. The committee have an inquiry underway titled ‘Improving the rail passenger experience.’ Click here to see their report
Pressure continues from other quarters: A group of commuters have raised more than £24,000 to launch legal action against the Department for Transport. For more information click here
Transport focus by Cllr Vic Ient:
In March 2016 at I attended Amber Rudd’s Transport Summit Hastings – this was before the current dispute started. This was a rather glossy event papering over the cracks of all of the rail problems we have in the south-east. Speakers included many of the great and good of the rail and bus industry in the south-east including Charles Horton the CEO of GTR. For more information on this event click here
Ever since I was a councillor on Kent County Council in the 1970s I have been interested in improving our transport solutions in the UK. I am an active supporter of the Campaign for Better Transport (http://bettertransport.org.uk/ ). I have researched the 2002 South Coast Corridor Multi Modal Study and have tried to get the government to implement this instead of just building roads. In 2016 I attended the Transport Summit in Hastings. Early in 2016 I attended the Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking Strategy workshop in London. As a member of the South Downs Society I working with my colleagues to reviewing the current government proposals for an A27 road only solution along the south coast between Polgate and Chichester. I also follow Railfuture’s campaign (http://www.railfuture.org.uk/ ) for better rail solutions in the south-east especially restoring the rail link between Uckfield and Lewes.
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)
In my ward there are 5 parishes and I work with them on local issues. Parishes have annual residents meetings. This not only provides an opportunity for a ‘report back’ but for residents to air their views and concerns. Last Saturday I was invited to give a talk at one of these parish meetings in the beautiful village of Southease. The village meeting was held in the lovely ancient church on the village green. The meeting started early so it was possible to see the village on a lovely sunny evening.
I was asked to talk about the role of the ward district councillor. This this gave me an opportunity to also report back on what’s been going on in local government locally. I have written up my talk and if you would like to read it please follow the link below. It has got local updates and news – so I hope you find it useful:
It was a very pleasurable experience to attend the parish meeting in Southease. Clearly they are a very active parish and for such a small population they seem to do quite a lot. It was also a social occasion for people to get together and I enjoyed meeting catching up with residents.
Since being elected in May last year there have been a series of full Council meetings. Previously I have reported on these in this web site but in this report I include some video footage from the full District Council meeting on Thurs 25th Feb 2016 and recent District & County issues:
Click on any of the headings below to go to sections of my report:
As you may know there has been a lot of controversy over the North Street development in which Lewes District Council is a partner with Santon. Now that the redevelopment has been given planning permission the businesses which are located there have to find alternative premises either permanently or temporarily while building works go on. Lib Dem Council Group Leader Sarah Osborne proposed that the Council implements a package of financial assistance amounting to some £50,000 to assist the businesses in relocation and moving to alternative premises on the condition that they stay in the district. This money will only be available to District Council commercial tenants who have been caught up in the plan to develop the site. The motion was supported by the Council and is aimed at retaining the services which the companies provide and employment in the Lewes area. CLICK HERE for a video of the debate which starts with Vic Ient supporting the motion.
Flood protection for the Ouse River
Lib Dem Councillor Prof Peter Gardiner proposed a new programme of flood protection and water retention works for the Ouse River above Lewes at the Lewes District Council meeting held on February 25, 2016. Over the past few years Peter has put in many hours to develop a scheme for the Ouse valley above Lewes. Peter proposed and the Council voted in £300,000 worth of work over three years being financed from the repatriated ring fenced Environment Agency levy in the Council’s general fund. The work will include tree and hedgerow planting together with flood storage ponds and other flood mitigation and river enhancement work. Some monies have also been set aside for education and awareness sessions. All of this keys into the larger Environment Agency capital works. The detailed research for the project has been carried out by the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust together with the Sussex Flow Initiative.CLICK HERE for a video clip of Vic Ient speaks in support of the project.
Conservative government U-turn on renewable energy & CO2 emissions
As you may know, after the election in May 2015 the Tories lost no time in reversing much of the good work which was done under the coalition agreement. They have slashed support for renewable energy systems and, according to the energy monitoring organisation Carbon Brief, the new regime has serious consequences for the development of renewable energy in the UK. The Conservative government’s focus is now on other forms of fuel including gas from fracking (hydraulic fracturing). This means that we are now further away from getting rid of polluting forms of energy and dealing with climate change. At the District Council meeting there was a debate on two items relating to CO2 emissions, pollution and renewable energy.
Secondly, there was a debate around a motion aimed at trying to keep a focus on renewable energy in the Council’s own building programme. I supported Cllr Susan Murray’s proposal but I’m afraid the motion was lost. The Conservatives voted it down. Whilst the Council are in a difficult position as grants are now virtually non-existent for solar panels, air source heat pumps and other forms of renewable energy, I do think the Conservatives could have tried harder to keep a local programme of renewable energy alive. I appealed to them to consider implementing new building programmes including solar tiles (much less unsightly than panels), air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Installing renewable energy in a new building is only fractionally more expensive than upgrading an old building. I was supported by Cllr Prof Peter Gardiner who pointed out the government’s focus on fracking for gas in Sussex which could be geologically unsafe to the area. CLICK HERE for a short video of Vic Ient speaking
Council Tax going up!
For the first time for a number of years the council has voted in a council tax increase of 1.9%. Why is this? In previous years there has been government support during the recession years to avoid councils having to increase their Council tax. The Conservative government has ended that support and introduced more cuts to local authority funding. We are now beginning to feel the effects of the Conservative Chancellor’s financial measures. However this is only the District Council’s portion of council tax. The County Council is also suffering from government cuts and in their case there also having to accept some of the burden being transferred for funding from central government to local government. I can’t speak for the ESCC but I think you’ll find that the increases will be 3.99% (2% of which relates to the Adult Social Care) for the ESCC. Separately to this there will be increases in council tax levied by the police Commissioner. I see that the Police & Crime Commissioner web site report that their precept will be increased by 3.47% and finally parish councils and town councils depending on where you live will levy their own precept.
What the average adds up to for your council tax bill depends very much on the overall budget for each authority. As usual will see bills going out before the end of March that will show you the bottom line.
New housing legislation will badly affect the less well off!
The leader of the Lib Dem Group at the District Council, Sarah Osborne proposed a motion at the Council meeting to try and minimise the effect of the Tory Government’s Housing and Planning Bill 2016 for local council & housing association tenants.
The Conservative government has put forward a complicated piece of legislation which will have far-reaching effects on the local authority housing and the planning system. Amongst other things the Conservative government proposes to force housing associations to sell off their most expensive housing stock. This new legislation will also force rents up for social housing (Council houses) for those earning over £30,000 per annum. A family earning over this amount will have to pay much increased ‘market’ rents. Perhaps the Tories don’t know that social rents are not subsidised! The so called ‘Pay to Stay’ will see rents for a 2 bed property in the Lewes District double from approx. £100 pw to £200 pw if they are charged at the Local Housing Allowance Limit and go up to £269 pw if at market level. Also the Government’s proposals would remove the flexibility of councils to offer different kinds of tenancies in response to local need.
Proposals on planning in the Bill including national interventions in local plans whilst taking away local community influence. Other proposals on affordable housing developments are likely to cut £3 billion of investment from the supply of affordable and social rented properties. This Bill also effectively transfers powers to the Secretary of State who will have 34 new powers under this Bill. There has been a lack of democratic debate on the entire bill with many amendments being slipped in ‘under the radar’ late into the night in Parliament during the debate.
Councillor Sarah Osborne’s motion was passed! The principles of the motion were:
To work with other neighbouring authorities to oppose the current government proposals to force councils to sell off high value stock.
To write to local MPs, asking them to support the Council’s position and to speak up in parliament.
Tory led County & District councils under financial scrutiny
With all the checks and controls that have been implemented for local government over the recent decades you would think that big mistakes couldn’t happen! However here are two examples of the Conservative run County and District councils operating in a way that certainly doesn’t help our tax bill! –
A potentially valuable housing site lost to the Lewes town and potentially millions lost in council’s income!
ESCC decision to grant a 999 lease of the former St Anne’s School in the heart of Lewes to the Subud organisation came under further scrutiny this week. Questions are being asked as to why the deal has not gone through 2 ½ years after the tender was accepted by ESCC! At the Council meeting on February 9 2016, calls were made for the sale to be reconsidered. Lib Dem Councillor Carolyn Lambert, who spoke at the meeting in support of Lib Dem Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre, is quoted by the Sussex Express as saying “I fail to understand why we are still apparently waiting for an organisation to complete a transaction 2 ½ years after their tender for the site was accepted by the County Council. This was a controversial decision at the time and is more so now, given the pressure on local authority budgets and the need for affordable housing in Lewes”.
Local Liberal Democrats are so concerned about the County Council’s decision they have reported the matter to the District Auditor for independent investigation. A member of the public was also reported in the Sussex Express as saying “the 4.4 acre site, plus the grant of access across the County Hall car park, had been valued at a ‘conservative’ £3.5m by a trusted Lewes agent, while the site was sold to Subud for just £525,000”! According to the Evening Argus, estate agent Charles Wycherley has put forward his own “conservative” estimate for the ESCC site, which sits behind County Hall in Rotten Row, of at least £2.75 million with planning permission for housing. Whatever the figure it is clearly a site worth more that £525,000!
Recently I wrote to the ESCC and asked them why they had chosen to sell the property at what seemed to be a very reduced price. I haven’t received a very satisfactory answer but what I have found out is that the Suhub sect (who are the ‘agreed’ purchasers) would have to make it available to the whole community. Click the image below to read what my Lib Dem colleagues are saying:
‘49 Sites’ shambles is over but at a cost of nearly £600,000!
After months of campaigning by local residents and Liberal Democrat Councillors, the Conservative-run District Council voted today to drop the ’49 sites’ proposals.
The cost of of the flawed programme has ended up costing the tax payer nearly £600,000. Lib Dem Councillor Sarah Osborne said “We consistently called for an open and transparent process and when it became clear the Tories wouldn’t listen, we challenged for the Leadership twice, failing only because the Independent Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe abstained. Consequently this sorry saga has led to years of uncertainty for many residents and a great deal of expense for us all”. Read more: http://www.leweslibdems.org.uk/news
Thank you – more reports at: https://sussexcampaign.com/
Also covered in this report: Highways and road problems – Report a planningthreat – Check bus times – On street parking in Lewes.
It has been a busy summer and there’s still more to come. Not only has there been the usual high level of planning applications in the area but we have had three planning appeals to contend with. Two are over and we have one yet to come. This is about the game bird breeding activity at Iford farm. This appeal will be heard on Wednesday, 23 September in Lewes. Click for full report.
It has been a busy summer and there’s still more to come. Not only has there been the usual high level of planning applications in the area but we have had three planning appeals to contend with. Two are over and we have one yet to come. One yet to be heard is about the game bird breeding activity at Iford farm. This appeal will be heard on Wednesday, 23 September in Lewes.Click here for more information. Click any of the titles below for more information:
A story of good news (well a small amount!) and bad news. The bad news is that the 130 bus service, which runs once-a-day from Rodmell to Brighton, will be withdrawn unless subsidies can be found. The good news is that there is to be a small, but useful improvement made to the 123 bus service which runs between Lewes and Newhaven.
This month, in August, I met with the Managing Director, Chris Chatfield, and the Transport Manager, Barry King, of Compass Travel. I am pleased to advise you that the services, in both directions which run just after 9 o’clock, will now take concessionary fares. Great news! This new arrangement together with some other minor modifications will come into operation from about 11 September. New timetables will be available shortly. NB: The new printed timetable omits to note that concessionary fares are available after 9am but I have had an assurance from the MD of Compass Travel that this was a printing error and will be corrected. The web version will be amended asap.
I was pleased hear that the two hourly bus service is now currently operating on a commercial basis with only very minor aspects of financial support from ESCC. Basically this means we don’t have to fear further government and council cuts to the 123 service.
Subject to the agreement of the parishes I have agreed to act as liaison between Compass Travel and the parishes. Hopefully this means we will be able to coordinate ideas and issues amongst ourselves leading to productive meetings with the bus company. However this doesn’t mean that members of the public and parish representatives shouldn’t raise individual problems with the bus company directly. Please continue to do that.
ESCC are proposing to end subsidised transport to those age 16+ from low income families to access Further Education or training.This is a cruel and idiotic cut that will have far reaching affects for those children who may now have to drop out of FE and yet saves very little money for ESCC. This will especially hit those who live in rural areas.
More details here and a link to questionnaire, please respond to ESCC consultation:
Yesterday, I have just been to my first council meeting; – it was the AGM of the Lewes District Council. The council voted in the chairman, the leader, members of the ‘Cabinet’ and the membership of the committees.
The political composition of the council is 24 Conservative, 11 Liberal Democrats, 3 Greens, 2 Independent and 1 UKIP councillor.
In an unusual move, the Conservatives and the Independents proposed and seconded an Independent for the chairmanship. Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe was duly elected. Cllr O’Keeffe’s partner Nick Robinson, was appointed as her consort. This was the chap who stood against me as a Conservative in the Kingston ward.
The deputy chairmanship went to a Conservative, Councillor Robbie Robertson. The Conservatives also elected Councillor Rob Blackman (Conservative) as the Leader of the Council. The Conservatives elected a wholly Conservative ‘Cabinet.’ The Cabinet is like a super committee, which deals with all the main policy and key decisions. When I was a councillor, some years ago, we didn’t have this system and in my humble opinion, I think it unfairly concentrates power in the hands of a few councillors rather than giving the whole council an opportunity to agree or disagree matters. The ‘cabinet model’ was introduced following the Local Government Act 2000. Continue reading Report back – 21st May 2015→