Parish News – October 2013

New Councillor: It is with great pleasure that I welcome Gill Weavers to the Parish Council. Gill replaces Jayne Bramwell who left earlier in the year. Two candidates made it to the final round of voting and after a ballot at the last full Parish Council meeting Gill was duly co-opted.

Gill has spent her working life running her own business in London but having moved from Bromley some six years ago now works with her clients from the more relaxed environment of East Sussex. Over the years she has been actively involved in a number of fundraising projects and for a variety of voluntary organisations spanning youth, mental and physical disability and support for the elderly. Gill lives with her husband Robert and has two children, Oliver 29 and Amy 26. Her son Oliver served for 6 years in the 9th/12th Royal Lancers which included active service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Gill says she is keen to take a more active role within the community I’m sure her experience of running her own business coupled with all the management and financial matters that go with it will be of great benefit to the Parish Council.

Welcome Gill, it’s good to have you on board!

Cllr. Jerry Watkiss, Chairman

Refuse Collection: As you can imagine, the Parish Council office has been inundated with complaints from residents concerning their waste and recycling collections since July this year. Numerous requests have been received asking how and why Kier were selected to take on the Joint Waste Contract and Wealden District Council (WDC) has provided Parish Councils with some background information.

There was a 12 month procurement exercise conducted by representatives from the five authorities involved (Eastbourne, Hastings, Rother, Wealden and East Sussex County Council). The objective was to increase kerbside recycling across the partnership and to deliver savings. There was significant due diligence and checks on bidders before Kier were awarded the contract in December 2012. They offered a service on a fortnightly basis with residents receiving separate refuse, recycling and (where chosen) a garden refuse collection service. Recyclable items were to include, glass bottles and jars, increased types of different plastics such as blister packs, bags, film, pots, food trays, batteries and clothing.

Kier took over the waste collection on 1st April 2013 but trouble started on the 22nd July when they changed the routes and started the new recycling service. Their performance dropped to an unacceptable level resulting in too many properties missed, problems with assisted collections and issues with the brown bin deliveries. Kier have recognised that the primary reason is that they did not use enough local knowledge such as which lanes are too narrow for the average sized appliance, which have to be reversed down etc. This has also had a significant impact on WDC due to the unprecedented level of customer contacts and complaints.

There are on-going issues in the more rural areas and narrow access roads as well as pockets of missed bins. Kier have deployed significant additional vehicles, crews and supervisors. WDC are supporting Kier with the provision of maps, local knowledge and researching issues to determine reasons for missed collections and have increased the number of staff in their contact centre.

Penalties for the inadequate service have been imposed and Kier faced a scrutiny committee on 25th September. WDC are not offering compensation to residents because the service is paid for by means of a tax and not by invoice for service. The average cost of the service is 60p per week per household. Any remaining money from the fine imposed by WDC will be returned to the communities as a whole.

Residents have been asked to be patient while Kier increase their level of service, but please do not be too patient! WDC need to be informed of any missed collections within a week so they can continue to monitor the situation to ensure the level of performance we all expect is achieved. The Parish Council is interested to hear of whole streets that have missed a collection so we can pinpoint hotspots and relay the information to Kier.

South Street Toilets: A lot of feedback has been received from residents informing the Parish Council that they do not want the public toilets to be closed as they are necessary for the community and its visitors. I would like to thank everybody who has taken the time to get in touch to tell us what you think. It is essential that we can assess the general opinion of our residents so that we know which services you value the most.

Community Grants: This year’s Wealden Community Grants Scheme for local clubs and community organisations is now open for applications. Grants are being offered through the Wealden Small Grants Scheme (grants of between £500 and £3,000) and the Capital Grants Scheme (grants between £1,000 and £10,000). The closing date for applications is 30th November to enable awards to be made for the 2014 financial year. Applications will need to show that funds will be spent within the next financial year April 2014 – March 2015.

Grants for capital projects and smaller schemes have to be match-funded, but this can be entirely ‘in-kind’ through volunteer time. This will ensure that well supported groups of limited financial means can be helped.

A pre-application advice service has been launched with a limited number of 40 minute pre-application advice which must be booked in advance and should be used to discuss a draft application from your organisation. For more information and an application form, please look for Grant Funding on Wealden’s website: www.wealden.gov.uk or contact Michelle Gray on 01323 443520 or you can email her at:

TN22 Club: At the Wealden Parish Conference a councillor from Hadlow Down kindly informed us of the TN22 Club. Information about it is given at the end of the Round and About section of this edition of the Newsletter.

Temporary Closure of Wealden Citizens Advice Bureaux: Due to essential staff training on a new client data recording system, Wealden Citizens Advice Bureaux will be closed in October at various times:

The Uckfield Bureau will be closed for three weeks from Monday, 7th October until Friday, 25th October. No drop-in or telephone service will be offered at this time, so please do not leave messages. You can however contact the other bureaux in Hailsham (01323 842 336) or Crowborough (01892 655 303).

The Hailsham and Crowborough Bureaux: will be closed on Thursday, 17th October, Friday, 18th October and Monday, 21st October. During these dates there will be no drop-in or telephone service offered by Wealden Citizens Advice but advice can always be accessed online at the Citizens Advice website: www.adviceguide.org.uk.

If you need advice on benefits issues you can contact the East Sussex County Council helpline on 0333 3440681.

Litter Picking: The next litter picking session is scheduled for Saturday, 19th October. If you would like to join the team of volunteers please come along to the Parish Council Office in the High Street where they meet up at 9.30am.

FREE ANNUAL ELECTRIC BLANKET SAFETY CHECK: Wealden District Council are again offering this service at various locations across the district. Whilst the service is offered in Uckfield, Hailsham and Polegate, the locations in Crowborough and Heathfield will be of most convenience to our readers – the date is Wednesday, 16th October at the Fire Station in Beacon Road, Crowborough (between 10.00am and 12noon) and at Heathfield Fire Station (between 2.00 and 4.00pm). For further information contact the Community & Regeneration Team, Wealden District Council on 01892 602757.

and finally….East Sussex police have informed us that they have recently had a number of reports of males attempting to sell power tools from the back of a van. With the increase in the theft of these types of items in Wealden, they are extremely interested in this information.

If you are offered any power tools or garden equipment please call the police immediately with as much information as possible. Please try to include vehicle registration numbers and any descriptions of people Please call them on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Dates of Council meetings in October

Date Meeting Venue Time
7 October 2013 Community Safety & Traffic Old Manor House, High St, Mayfield 19:30
14   October 2013 Full   Parish Council Five   Ashes Village Hall 19:30
21   October 2013 Planning   Executive Old Manor House, High St, Mayfield 11:00
28   October 2013 Finance   & General Purposes Old Manor House, High St, Mayfield 19:30