A Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to all residents of Mayfield and Five Ashes

At the time of writing this article the Parish Council is having telecommunications problems due to the provider inexplicably cancelling the office telephone line and broadband connection. It is hoped that the usual telephone number will be reinstated promptly however, apologies if you have been trying to contact us!

 

New Councillor

It is a pleasure to welcome Tommy Buck who has been co-opted on to the Parish Council. Tommy replaces Johnny Marsh who left earlier in the year. In the end three candidates applied to be considered as Councillor to represent Mayfield Ward at the last council meeting and it was a very difficult choice. Tommy has lived in Mayfield for the last ten years and is currently studying politics with legal studies at Sussex University. As an 18 year old Tommy can bring an extra view to meetings from a younger generation. Welcome Tommy, it’s good to have you on board!

 

Parish Council response to the proposed closure of Mayfield library

“When I became the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism earlier this year I was delighted that this included the portfolio for public libraries in England. During my own life – as a child, a student, and an adult – I’ve experienced how libraries can help support, develop and excite. They provide incredible resources for everyone in our communities: allowing people to discover books and a love of reading; giving access to learning knowledge and research; supporting digital inclusion through free Wi-Fi and computers, and enabling people to live happier and healthier lives.”

John Glen MP (Department of Culture Media and Sport)

October 2017 to celebrate Libraries Week

Mayfield and Five Ashes Parish Council strongly opposes the closure of Mayfield Library for the following reasons:

  • East Sussex County Council (ESCC) has stated that it wishes to focus on areas such as improving literacy and digital skills therefore one has to question how this will be achieved by closing the library in Mayfield given that that it is a valuable community facility which is relied upon by vulnerable residents who cannot afford to purchase books and do not own computers but need internet access.
  • There appears to be little thought for services in rural communities such as Mayfield. The Parish of Mayfield and Five Ashes is in a unique geographical position compared to other library locations earmarked for closure. The supporting evidence suggesting transport links to Crowbrough is not correct, as no regular daily service exists from the village. There is a regular bus service to Heathfield but it is expensive and prohibitive to use – every half an hour and ticket prices of £6.20 per adult and £3.10 per child. Some rural villages have regular bus services every 10 minutes but this is not the case in Mayfield and Five Ashes.
  • The library is a much valued community resource for socially isolated and lonely residents. ESCC actively promotes voluntary organisations to set up Good Neighbour Schemes to help combat this growing problem then contradicts itself by removing a safe and friendly place to socialise in.
  • The computer buddies scheme run by Mayfield & Five Ashes Community Services (MAYFACS) in the library is an important initiative that bridges the generational gap bringing the community closer together. Since March this year, there has been at least one computer buddy session in 89% of the Saturdays in term time to date for 2-4 hourly sessions with different teenagers and elderly residents. 40% of Tuesdays and Thursdays also had an hour’s session with teenagers after school. MAYFACS has recently received a grant from ESCC Building Stronger Communities Fund to develop this project. The library is the only place for residents to easily access public computers and they are crucial to the success of this project. Computer access and assistance is essential to an elderly population and to remove them risks a dangerous divide between the digital haves & have nots.

The Government’s Digital Inclusion Strategy states:

“To make sure the web is truly for everyone, we need to provide more than just access. We need to equip the whole country with the skills, motivation and trust to go online, be digitally capable and to make the most of the internet. There is a lot of great work going on across the public, private and voluntary sectors to help people and organisations go online, but digital exclusion remains a big issue. Maintaining momentum is not enough. We need to bring together and scale up our efforts, more than ever before. No single organisation can tackle this alone and only strong partnership across all sectors will succeed.”

  • The closure of the library will impact on young school children that regularly use the library after school to choose books with their parents. The choice of books that might not otherwise be available to them allows children to develop the literacy, communication and social skills required for their future.
  • The computer services the library provides is an access point for benefit applicants. Universal Credit requires the majority of claimants to make their applications online and libraries are signposted as a nearby location where people can use a computer to make their application and manage their account. The library closure will limit our least wealthy resident’s ability to apply for Universal Credit thus discriminating against the most vulnerable members of our community. It will also deny members of the community digital assistance required to produce a CV and to help find and move back into employment.
  • The consultation supporting documentation provides an unfair presentation of statistics as we feel that the reduced opening hours correlates to the reduction in foot fall – in particular the loss of opening hours on a Monday morning.
  • More appropriate opening hours to include mornings would very likely increase visits to the library especially as the High Street is at its busiest at this time. ESCC has not promoted the use of the village library, even though better signage has been requested, and over the years has gradually reduced the opening hours and therefore footfall serving its own purpose to prove that it is not an essential local village service.
  • The supporting evidence provided for the consultation concerning the running costs is misleading and incorrect. It includes the £2,800 that the Parish Council already contributes annually which reduces the relatively small savings that ESCC can make if they close Mayfield library. One also has to query the statistics for Annual Capital Costs for the refurbishment for such very small premises.
  • In the current climate the population is encouraged to reduce the number of vehicle journeys which ESCC is now contradicting by forcing additional road journeys to access libraries. This is in direct conflict with Wealden District Council’s draft Local Plan to reduce car emissions and nitrogen deposition in Ashdown Forest.
  • Closing the library will be yet another blow to retailers in Mayfield High Street who are already struggling. We have lost our banks and High Street Post Office which has severely affected footfall in our shops. If the closure goes ahead library users being forced to travel by car to Heathfield or Crowborough are most likely to choose to do their shopping while they are there. ESCC will be providing a nail into the coffin for retail in Mayfield High Street.
  • This public consultation appears to be fundamentally a biased paper shuffling exercise with inadequate questions to accurately ascertain the community’s feeling on the closure with a foregone and pre-determined conclusion.
  • In comparison to other county provided services and given the value of Mayfield Library to the community and its low running costs, the savings for ESCC are negligible compared to the impact of a reduced library service.

The Libraries Deliver Report, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, updated June 2017 states:

“Libraries change lives for the better. They not only provide access to books and other literature but also help people to help themselves and improve their opportunities, bring people together, and provide practical support and guidance. As a locally accountable service, they are well-placed to respond to local needs and issues.”

We therefore call upon John Glen MP to intervene to prevent this library closure to fulfill his Department’s role to support, superintend and promote public libraries or the sector will continue to be seen as and easy touch by local councils.

 

Help us keep Sussex safe

With the cuts to local neighbourhood policing that we have seen over the last year we feel it is important that all incidents are reported to Sussex Police so that they have an understanding of the actual crime rate in the area. If you have seen something suspicious or have information about a crime or incident please contact http://www.sussex.police.uk/contact-us/ or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101.

Remember after dark:

  • Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.
  • When you go out in the evening, always leave a light on in a room that cannot be peered into from the road.
  • Fit security lighting – either dusk to dawn energy efficient lighting that will come on automatically as dusk sets in, or infrared activated lighting which draws attention to movement.

 

Steps you can take to ‘Be Winter Ready’ from UK Power Networks:

Know your free emergency numbers: In a power cut dial 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111999.

Prepare your home: Keep a torch handy and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Register as a vulnerable customer: Vulnerable households can get extra support by signing up to the Priority Services Register:

http://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/internet/en/power-cuts/priority-services-during-a-power-cut/

Keep your eyes open: Keep an eye on the weather forecast and, if you have a power cut or a gas emergency, check on your neighbours.

 

A reminder of the Library opening times:

Tuesdays:      2pm – 5pm

Thursdays:     2pm – 6pm

Saturdays:     10am – 2pm

Office opening times in December

Please note that the Parish Council office will be closed on Wednesday 06 December due to the Wealden Parish Conference. It will close for the Christmas period on Friday 22 December and reopen on Wednesday 03 January 2018

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