With the Scottish Referendum behind us we now need to look forward to the General and Local Elections on 7th May 2015. For the parish of Mayfield and Five Ashes there are fifteen seats to be contested: three for Five Ashes, eleven for Mayfield and one for Rushers Cross. A little background information may help residents to start thinking about whether they would like to become a Parish Councillor next year.

What are Parish Councils? Parish Councils are local authorities, first created by statute in 1894, that make decisions on behalf of the people in the parish.  It is the level of government closest to the people, with the district authority (ours being Wealden District Council) above it in the hierarchy. Parish councils are invariably the first place people will go with concerns or ideas and for this reason they are a vital part of any community.

Why become a Parish Councillor? A Parish Councillor is someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support and a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve.  Seeing your community change for the better, as a result of decisions you have helped make, is something that can give you a sense of achievement and pride.

What decisions do Parish Councils make? Parish Councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the local community. One of the most common topics that parish councils get involved with are planning matters as they are statutory consultees. Others include community safety, traffic, managing open spaces, community development, right of ways and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities for the community. Although the powers Parish Councils have to make decisions are limited, they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, those other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as East Sussex County Council, Health Authorities, Police etc).

How long does a parish councillor serve for? Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years.  If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.

To stand for election on a parish council, you must:

  • be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or;
  • be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or;
  • be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union;
  • be at least 18 years old.
  • To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:
  • be an elector of the parish, or;
  • for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish, or;
  • during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or;
  • for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary.

You do not have to be connected to a political party. More information can be found on the Electoral Commissions website: www.electoralcommission.org.uk .

Hawkers: Unfortunately some hawkers trading without a licence were reported to be in Mayfield last month and concern was raised that the elderly might feel threatened or pressurised in to buying something they have no need or desire for. Our PCSO is asking residents to report them immediately by dialling 101, there is more chance then of them being intercepted and removed from the area.

If you have any concerns on any local matters that you would like to discuss, PCSO Julie Pearce-Martin will be holding the following street meetings:

Five Ashes: Thursday 16th October at 5.00 pm at Criers Lane

District Commander’s Message: I am pleased to report we are maintaining a reduction in break-ins to local businesses, sheds, garages and outbuildings. In the last few weeks, thanks to thorough investigative work, we were able to charge a local man with a number of these types of offences. Your Neighbourhood Policing Team will continue to work hard to further reduce these crimes and catch the criminals who choose to offend in our district. Property marking is also an effective tool in bringing criminals to justice, so as we move towards autumn consider reviewing security around your home and outbuildings. If you would like further guidance, advice and support with this please contact your local PCSO. I also want to take this opportunity to make you aware of a free service that allows us to contact you with regular messages to tell you what’s happening in your local area. By signing up to Community Messaging you will receive messages and alerts by email. If you also provide your mobile number we may use this to text you in an emergency. Information from the public is a major help in the fight against crime and we need your help to make Wealden a safer place in which to live and work. By taking a few moments to fill out a simple form, you become more informed about what’s happening in your community and you can help to drive down crime. Please speak with your local PCSO if you would like to take advantage of this service, or sign up online here: https://www.sussex.police.uk/my-account/sign-up.

Car crime is something I would like to reduce further in our district. We have a number of tactics we’re using to prevent break-ins to vehicles and to catch those responsible, including Operation Fleece (focusing on beauty spot vehicle crime) and the use of bait vehicles. A number of these offences happen because people leave valuable items on display when they go shopping, walk the dog or even leave their car insecure on the driveway. Our advice is simple; empty your vehicle whenever it’s left unoccupied. NPT officers are trained on speed devices, enabling them to support groups and train up volunteers on their own areas. If you are interested in setting up a CSW group in your area, please contact your local PCSO. Please remember that anyone can report anti-social driving via the Op Crackdown website: http://www.operationcrackdown.org/

Wealden continues to be a low crime area and your neighbourhood policing team is committed in dealing with the issues that affect you. Please help us in the fight against crime by reporting anything suspicious to us on 101. Every call of suspicious activity is discussed at a daily meeting where possible links to crimes in the area are considered. Your calls really do count, so thank you for your continued support.

I am aware that speeding is a concern for many residents and is a local priority in many areas. We have an increasing number of Community Speed Watch (CSW) groups in Wealden, run by volunteers who are dedicated in reducing the number of speeding vehicles in our towns and villages. There have been some recent changes to our policy which simplifies the process of setting up groups and approving sites where speeding can be monitored.

Operation Blitz will be running over the next few months, with neighbourhood officers patrolling hotspots on a Friday and Saturday night, specifically tasked to deal with anti-social behaviour and underage drinking. If you are signed up to Community Messaging, you will automatically be sent an email prior to each operation, advertising a contact phone number so you can speak directly to the officer on patrol.

We are also running Operation Magpie in Sussex to help make Sussex a ‘no go’ area for burglars. By registering your items on immobilise.com (a free website where you can register your property) it gives my officers better information, not only to help us to get a better picture of where burglaries may be part of a series, but it also greatly increases the chance of us being able to reunite stolen property with its rightful owner. The site isn’t just for mobiles and electrical items with serial numbers; you can register absolutely anything using a photo and description.

Electric Blanket testing: This year’s electric blanket testing will be carried out at the following dates and venues:

Wednesday 15th October at Crowborough Fire Station, Beacon Road, TN6 1AF, 10am – 12pm and on Wednesday 15th October at Heathfield Fire Station, High Street, TN21 0UP, 2pm – 4pm.

  • SE Shared Services Portal: Wealden District Council is encouraging local businesses to sign up to a new and completely free website which will give them access to millions of £s worth of contract opportunities with councils across the region.

The new website is designed to cut the red tape and cost of bidding for contracts from councils across the South East and support economic growth in the local area.

In addition to being able to access contracts for Hastings, Rother and Wealden Councils, the SE Shared Services Portal includes opportunities to supply East Sussex County Council, Surrey County Council, West Sussex County Council and Waverley, with plans to include more councils in the coming months.

The new website can be found at: www.sesharedservices.org.uk/esourcing. By registering businesses will get free e-mail alerts when councils are looking to buy goods and services. Find out how we are making it easier and more efficient to do business with councils by visiting: www.wealden.gov.uk/procurementhub