The Parish Council wishes a Merry Christmas to all residents of Mayfield and Five Ashes and a Peaceful New Year.

Respecting the Countryside Code

Sadly the Parish Council has been contacted by a local farmer who has informed that over the past three months gates have been left open by ramblers or dog walkers resulting in cattle or sheep getting out of their fields. Pregnant ewes were found four fields away from where they should have been and heifers found heading towards a road. The Countryside Code states that you should leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths. A farmer will normally close gates to keep farm animals in, but may sometimes leave them open so the animals can reach food and water. So leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs and when in a group, make sure the last person knows how to leave the gates.

You must also keep dogs under effective control. When you take your dog outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you should:

  • keep your dog on a lead, or
  • keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
  • ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you and your dog have a right of access

Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs.

It is always good practice (and a legal requirement on ‘open access’ land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog that is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner. However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.

It is very upsetting to hear that the local farmer tested their cattle and found that a considerable number of them have neosporosis. This disease is now thought to be responsible for the highest percentage of all cattle abortions reported in the UK. Once neosporosis infection has occurred in a cattle herd it can persist within the herd due to the transmission of the parasite between cows and calves. Even if a foetus survives it will be infected and so should not be kept for breeding. Neospora eggs are produced by infected dogs and excreted in their faeces. The cattle become infected when they eat food or drink water contaminated with Neospora eggs and then will have to be destroyed. There are no drugs currently available to control this disease in cattle or to cure infected animals.

Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly – ‘bag it and bin it’. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people. Also please remember that dogs only have the right of way on official paths and do not have the right to run around the fields.

Co-Option

Wealden District Council has confirmed that no election was called by ten electors to fill the vacancy for Five Ashes Ward therefore the it will be filled by co-option. If you would like to help develop, improve and protect your local community for the future, why not consider joining the Parish Council as a co-opted councillor?

To be eligible you must qualify under one of the provisions of Section 79 of the Local Government Act 1972, i.e.

  1. a) be on the electoral register for the Parish;
  2. b) have owned or rented land in the Parish for 12 months;
  3. c) have worked in the Parish for 12 months;
  4. d) have lived in the Parish or within 3 miles of the Parish

boundary for 12 months.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or over.

Prospective councillors wishing to represent Five Ashes Ward must provide a letter or statement outlining what you would bring to the Parish Council and a copy of your CV by 31 January 2017. These will be circulated to councillors for consideration at the following meeting. Prospective councillors will be invited to attend the Parish Council meeting on 13 February 2017 to speak for three minutes.

Telephone Kiosk Consultation

BT is carrying out a consultation exercises on the removal of low usage telephone boxes within the District and there are 72 telephone boxes that they wish to remove. Included are the phone box on Mayfield High Street near the bus shelter and the one outside Five Ashes Village Hall. The Parish Council has no objections to the removal of these telephone kiosks, however, if you disagree please contact the Parish Council Office with the reasons for your objection by the end of December 2016.

Smart meter campaign

The Government is running a Smart Energy GB campaign to roll out the new generation electricity and gas meters across the country.  Wealden District Council has been awarded funding to reach 10 rural parishes to inform people about the programme and let people know how to go about sorting out a new meter with their energy providers. Luckily the Parish of Mayfield and Five Ashes has been selected.

They will be hosting the ‘Wealden Smart Energy Event’ on 14th January 2017 in Mayfield at the Memorial Hall and on 21st January 2017 at Five Ashes Village Hall, to which everyone in the community is invited. In addition, if you wish to seek advice on energy switching all you need to do is bring along your latest energy bill to that event and one of the trained Big Energy Saving Network Champions will discuss it with you. If you are belong to a local group society or organisation that has several members that you feel may benefit from an separate session hosted by Wealden District Council please telephone 01435 873784.

Update on Wealden’s Local Plan

At the end of October, Wealden District Council informed that the current stage of Wealden’s Local Plan, which will guide development in the District until 2037, is being extended for three months to allow for the completion of a number of key studies. These are necessary to ensure the most appropriate proposals are put forward. They had hoped to be putting forward the Revised Wealden Local Plan this December for further representations but delays in some of the reports from their consultants and the need to allow for them to be accurately assessed, means that they will be aiming to bring forward the Revised Local Plan document by the end of the first quarter of 2017. Given the scale of development they are expecting during the next 20 years they want to be sure they have the best information at hand. The Council is drawing up a comprehensive picture of what development will be possible across the District whilst continuing to protect Ashdown Forest. The revised timetable will still see the Council aiming for final Wealden Local Plan adoption in 2018. The extended deadline will provide an opportunity to share some on-going elements of the work as they emerge.

For further information please contact Nigel Hannam, Director of Planning Policy & Economic Development: Telephone: 01323 443230 or email: nigel.hannam@wealden.gov.uk

Vehicle Safety

With the onset of autumn and winter bringing potentially poor visibility and slippery road conditions, Sussex Police urge all road users to take extra care, to remain within the speed limits, share the space safely and respectfully with other users and above all, to pay extra attention to any oncoming road users when making any kind of manoeuvres.

Breaking down is never a pleasant experience. It’s even worse if you have to wait for recovery, outside your vehicle, in cold and wintery weather. You’ll also want your vehicle to be in the best condition to handle difficult driving conditions in severe weather. So it’s a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before the winter to reduce the chance of problems.

 Car emergency kit

  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and spare batteries – or a wind-up torch
  • Warm clothes and blankets – for you and all passengers
  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump start cables
  • Food and a warm drink in a thermos
  • Shovel
  • Reflective warning sign
  • Road map
  • Sunglasses – the glare off any snow can be dazzling
  • Mobile phone charger

Thefts from vans

Sussex Police are appealing for witnesses and public vigilance following a number of van breaks across the district. In seven days Sussex Police received a total of 16 reports of trades vans being broken into at locations around Wealden. High value items, including power tools have been stolen from inside. Areas that have so far been targeted are Hailsham, Hellingly, Cowbeech, East Hoathly, Heathfield and Horam, Mayfield and Wadhurst.

In nearly all cases the vans, which were parked on residential driveways or nearby streets, had been left locked but were broken into through windows being smashed or door locks broken. In all cases, the incidents took place after dark between the hours of about 6pm and 7am. They urge people to take extra precautions with the security of their vehicles, possibly in the form of an alarm or some sort of noise deterrent.

 Consultation goes live for Sussex Police Precept

Residents can now take part in Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne’s consultation for the Sussex Police Precept 2017/2018. This proposes to increase the police element of council tax rise by around £5 per household to fund over 100 new police officers and specialist staff.

The web address is https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/priorities/budget/

Please note that the Parish Council office will be close for the Christmas period on Friday 23 December and will reopen on Wednesday 04 January 2017.