January is a quiet month for the Parish Council (PC) as there is no scheduled monthly meeting. However, there is news from December 2023 to report.
We welcome our new Councillor Rodney Warren who was elected by the residents of Five Ashes Ward on 14 December 2023 and very much look forward to working with him.
At the December 2023 Council meeting, the difficult decision was made to raise the precept for 2024/25. Inflation has resulted in increased costs for day-to-day general operations expenditure and an increase in reserves is required for election costs.
The cost of the contested election in May 2023, split between Wealden District Council (WDC) and the PC, was more than £9,000. The by-election for a Councillor to represent Five Ashes Ward in December 2023 has been estimated by WDC as £2,600 for 554 residents. No costs for a by-election are shared with WDC. There is a risk that when casual vacancies arise in the future, 10 or more residents may request a formal election and this will trigger another by-election if there is more than one applicant. Any by-election for Mayfield Ward (with 2,140 residents) will cost in excess of £10k.
It was therefore resolved to increase the 2024/25 budget in respect of general operations from £107,089 to £112,444, an increase of £5,355. This is the first rise in precept towards day-to-day expenditure since the 2017/18 financial year. Please note that there was no increase in budget or precept required for the Mayfield Community Centre project. The annual increase in Parish Council for each Council Tax Band is outlined in the table below. (Remember the annual increase for each band will be split between 10 monthly payments.)
|Parish Council Tax Increase 2024/25
|Annual Increase £
Temporary road closure warnings
Having been informed of scheduled road surface improvement works in Mayfield High Street and Station Road in January, it is extremely disappointing that the work was not carried out. Furthermore, at the time of writing this article no explanation for the cancelled or postponed works had been provided from East Sussex Highways. Hopefully new dates will be arranged as soon as possible as the potholes in the High Street are worsening – this has been reported to Highways.
West Street is scheduled to be closed for 10 days from Monday 29 January 2024 for drainage works to help alleviate flooding to the carriageway and private property. The road will be closed to through traffic between Ashley Gardens and the entrance to ‘Cranesden’ from 9am to 4pm.
Coggins Mill Lane is scheduled to be closed on 16 February from the junction with Lake Street to the junction with Fletching Street to allow BT Openreach to carry out further works at this location.
Lake Street, Mark Cross
Lake Street will be closed from the junction with the A267 to the junction with Tidebrook Road, a distance of approximately 2850 metres.The restriction is anticipated to be in place between 17th February 2024 to 1st March 2024. A safe route will be provided for pedestrians and vehicular access for residents and to properties maintained whenever possible with an alternative route for through traffic signed and maintained for the duration of the works via the A267 Mayfield Road – B2100 Wadhurst Road – Best Beech Hill – Tidebrook Road and vice versa.
Fund offers boost to rural businesses
Rural businesses could benefit from match-funded grants of up to £50,000 to help create jobs increase productivity and adopt new technology. Rother and Wealden District Councils will be using money from their Rural England Prosperity Fund to support a range of businesses, with a £500,000 pot for Wealden and a £300,000 pot for Rother.
Small and medium businesses can apply for financial support for projects including the purchase of equipment and machinery, adaptation of premises, the creation or expansion of rural leisure and tourism businesses and farm diversification outside of agriculture.
Match-funded grants of between £2,500 and £50,000 will be available in communities with a population of under 30,000 and both councils are keen to see non-agricultural applications which will help businesses grow or diversify. The fund closes on December 31, 2024, or when all funds are allocated. More information about the grant scheme and details of how to apply can be found at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/business/support/grants/ruralbusinessgrants
Transition of landline phone technology from analogue to digital
The landline is here to stay, but the technology used to make calls is changing from analogue to digital as part of an industry-wide shift. It aims to address the increasing unreliability of the decades-old analogue network.
BT is rolling out its new home phone service, digital voice, on a region-by-region basis. For most customers, it will be as simple as plugging their existing home phone into the back of their broadband router rather than the socket on the wall. The new digital service provides clearer call quality and will prevent most scam calls. By December 2025, most calls are expected to be made over broadband.
As well as charities and community groups, they are also working with the government, Ofcom and local authorities to ensure customers get the help they need to make the switch. Additional support and services are available, including the ability for customers to nominate a family member, friend, or carer who will receive all the information about switching on their behalf. Also when customers with additional needs start to make the switch, they will automatically receive equipment and an engineer appointment.
For peace of mind in the event of a temporary power cut, BT will provide additional resilience to those who need it most. Free battery backup units are available for customers with additional needs and/or who live in an area without a mobile signal, and the units provide at least one hour’s talk time. For customers without a mobile phone with access to a 4G signal, a hybrid phone that can switch to a mobile network and has an in-built battery is available. Customers without additional needs can purchase a battery backup unit or a hybrid phone.
The very small percentage of the population without access to broadband or decent mobile coverage will continue to use their service the same way they do today. BT will ensure these customers have the connectivity they need and will contact them when they can move to Digital Voice or an alternative service. You can visit https://www.bt.com/broadband/digital-voice/ to find out more.
Sea Road Car Park Toilet Block
Wealden District Council is keen to enhance the community services that are currently on offer from the building that forms part of the toilet block within Sea Road Car Park in Pevensey. They are seeking Expressions of Interest to operate a community-based service from the building in conjunction with the Pevensey Information and Caring Centre who currently occupy an area within the building to run their community services from. They have requested this is advertised through Parish Councils. The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 9th February 2024. More information can be found at: https://www.wealden.gov.uk/news/pevensey-bay-facility-expressions-of-interest/
Violence against women and girls
Sussex Police is dedicated to tackling violence against women and girls. They rely on feedback to improve their services and to continue their efforts they have launched a survey to hear of any experiences. The results will be used to further improve what they do with the aim of making Sussex safer for everyone. They will influence how they make decisions on where they prioritise their policing services and help them to provide better information to victims of crime about the services they provide. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous, unless you have identified yourself within the responses you give. It can be found at:
Office opening hours
Please note that the Parish Council office will be closed on Friday 02 February and for the last week of February 2024.
Parish Council Meetings
The meeting schedule on the website: http://www.mayfieldfiveashes.org.uk/ shows this month’s Council and Committee meetings as well as agendas, minutes of meetings and other meeting documentation
Janna Todd, Parish Clerk
Old Manor House, High Street, Mayfield TN20 6AL
Telephone 01435 873784 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org