Minutes of the Annual Assembly of the Parish Assembly held on Tuesday 29 April 2014 in Sedlescombe Village Hall 19:00 to 20:45

PRESENT: 154 people were present at the meeting including:

Cllr Jonathan Vine-Hall (Chair of Sedlescombe Parish Council) in the chair
Parish Councillors Peter Anson, Roy Chapman, Rod Eldridge, Pauline Glew, Simon Lawrence, John Parsons, John Reynolds
Pauline Raymond (Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer of Sedlescombe Parish Council)
County Councillor Angharad Davies
District Councillor Tony Ganly
PCSO Demetrius Georghiou

There were 12 displays around the hall arranged by the Police, the Garden Society, the Primary School, The Sedlescombe Bowls Club, Community Friends, Royal British Legion, Battle and District Lions Club, Sedlescombe Jobs Network, Pestalozzi International Village, Sedlescombe Parish Church, Sedlescombe News and the Parish Clerk.

1. CHAIRMAN'S OPENING REMARKS. The Chairman opened the meeting with health and safety information. He welcomed all present including District Cllr Tony Ganly, County Cllr Angharad Davies and PCSO Demetrius Georghiou whom he thanked for their work for the community. Parish Councillors around the room were identifiable by their badges.

2 MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PARISH MEETING OF SEDLESCOMBE HELD ON 30/04/13. It was proposed by Pauline Glew and RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Annual Assembly of the Parish Meeting of Sedlescombe held on 30/04/13 are approved. The Minutes were printed in the 2014 Annual Report and Directory. Cllr Vine-Hall thanked all the businesses whose advertising supported the printing and urged use of the businesses letting them know that they were found in the directory.

3. SHORT REPORTS

  1. 2 girls from Sedlescombe School, Mia Shaw and Izzy Lawrence, gave presentations on life in Sedlescombe School which they ably portrayed as busy but yet enjoyable. They ended with a charming song.
  2. Mark Fisher spoke as the new Chair of the Village Hall Management Committee thanking Pauline and Reg Glew, Jenny Mitchell and David Torrance, who had recently retired from the Committee after many years of very active involvement. The new committee will be considering plans such as a new kitchen for the hall and installation of a suspending ceiling. He was pleased to be able to report that the weekly village library that has operated in Sedlescombe for more than sixty years is set to continue supported by County Council staff. He urged residents to make use of it. The Village Hall can now be booked online through the new website (www.sedlescombevillagehall.org.uk)
  3. John Parsons spoke as chair of the Garden Society to inform the meeting that, recently, there was a successful Spring Show. The Summer Show celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Society will be held on the Village Green at the beginning of August. Tickets are on sale for the Question Time event planned for June. John reminded those present that volunteers were being sought to run the 2015 Summer Fayre and Flower Show back at the Sportsfield.
  4. Pauline Glew thanked the Lift Scheme drivers for the help they provide by helping people to get to hospital appointments. She also spoke of the desperate need for new editors who could take a turn at producing the weekly Sedlescombe News. As Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council, she thanked the Parish Clerk and Cllr Vine-Hall for their work for the Village.
  5. Michelle Brister spoke about the Sedlescombe Jobs Network which was launched in November 2013 arising directly from the Neighbourhood Plan Consultation. So far, 22 jobs had been publicised engaging with around 300 people. The aim is to double these numbers. The Network is open to individuals as well as businesses.
  6. Liona Muchenjne, a first-year student from Zimbabwe, who has been at Pestalozzi for eight months, said that she was pleased to be experiencing the advantages of living in a multi-cultural establishment where should could speak with people from other countries. She was impressed by the way members of communities in Britain communicate with each other and hoped to encourage this in her own country when she returned.
    The Chairman reminded the meeting that Pestalozzi is an important part of the community and is one of Sedlescombe's top three employers. He suggested that residents should give the charity their support in any way they can.
  7. PCSO Demi congratulated the Village and spoke of his close connection with the Parish Council. He encouraged everyone in the Village to work with him to combat crime.

4. PARISH COUNCIL CHAIRMAN'S REPORT. Cllr Vine-Hall presented his report to the meeting:

  1. Parking/Traffic Issues. At last year's Assembly, a number of residents brought up highways issues to do with parking, traffic, potholes and speed of vehicles through the village and lanes. Cllr Eldridge, assisted by Cllr Parsons and volunteers, had carried out a detailed traffic survey last summer in The Street and The Green. The headline results were as follows:
    1. Around 5,500 vehicles travel along The Street each working day including an average of 233 HGVs which appears to be a 64% increase over the volume of traffic in 2006.
    2. 16% of these vehicles travel over 30mph.
    3. An average of 450 cars drive along The Green each day.
    4. An average of nearly 2,100 cars travel on Brede Lane each day mostly centred around the School.

    The Parish Council had been told by East Sussex County Council that speed limits on country lanes are unenforceable unless traffic calming cues are also introduced. The new white line around the corner of Brede Lane has been very successful in nearly eliminating parking problems on that corner but, generally, the feeling is that more lines should not be introduced. The Parish Council together with the County Council are looking at the area around the shop to see what can be done to improve access for pedestrians, stop cars clogging up the road on the shop side, parking all day outside the shop or using The Green as a cut through.

    Cllr Eldridge had conducted a survey amongst residents of The Green to determine if they had a preference for The Green becoming one way and in which direction but the consensus was that it should remain two way.

    Cllr Eldridge had used volunteers to do 17 days of speed camera work and aimed to continue this work once a month in different locations of The Street during the coming year. The Parish Council is planning to purchase its own speed gun to give more flexibility in times of use.

    Although figures show that the revised road layout at the intersection of Paygate Road and the A21 has improved the safety record, after a recent meeting with our MP and the Highways Agency, the Agency will be positively reassessing the junction for a roundabout. This has been brought about by the offer of considerable funding towards both a roundabout and crossing from the owner of Blackbrooks in connection with housing development proposed at the rear of Blackbrooks Garden Centre in the Sedlescombe Neighbourhood Plan and proposals to introduce average speed limits on the A21.

  2. Parish businesses. The Chairman mentioned and congratulated two businesses in the Parish who had had Gold success during the year. The first was Sedlescombe Vineyard for its products and the second was Kester House B&B for its service. Kester House has also been short-listed as one of five finalists across the whole of England for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2014.

  3. Local Author. The Chairman mentioned Patrick Roper's book called Brede High Woods which is about Woodland Trust land that partly lies within Sedlescombe Parish. Copies are available through Ralph Dellow.

  4. Volunteers. The Chairman thanked the 80 volunteers who have been involved with working with the Parish Council during the last year. The work varies from delivering directories and bulletins to keeping the children's play area well maintained. Cllr Chapman has been instrumental in managing a team of maintenance volunteers who have saved the Parish around £5,000 in the last year. He drew the winner of this year's Volunteer prize draw which was for a dinner for two at the Queen's Head. The Queen's Head was thanked for providing the prize.

  5. Neighbourhood Plan. The Chairman explained that the Government is making an unprecedented demand for houses to be built across the country. In order for local decisionsto be made on what properties should be built and where, the Parish Council has undertaken a Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan has reached the consultation (Pre-Submission) stage. Examination should be reached by the end of August with a vote on the final Plan in a referendum by October.

    The Chairman reminded the meeting about the Neighbourhood Plan process and the advantages of having a Neighbourhood Plan where parishes with Plans will receive 25% of the community infrastructure levy on each new house built to be spent on infrastructure projects (not yet introduced in the Rother area). It was stressed that the Plan must conform to government policy. The majority of the Sedlescombe Plan will provide investment for charities, the Church and main employers. The current stage is the first official consultation period as opposed to what is considered the informal consultation of the exhibition last year. Currently, a large majority of residents who have responded are in general agreement with the Plan with the main objectors focusing on the proposed development at the rear of Gregory Walk. Cllr Vine-Hall explained that the Gregory Walk site is partially within the existing development boundary and that the landowner could, if he wished, apply for permission to build houses on the site and still leave the Parish to find sites for 35 properties. He promised to discuss with the owner whether he is prepared to reduce the number of houses and to propose a different layout which could address the concerns.

5. FINANCIAL OFFICER REPORT. Each person attending had been given a copy of the Parish Council Financial Statement for 2012-13, draft 2013-14 and the budget for 2014-15. Mrs Raymond reported that the Council had been involved with two main projects during the past year. These were the completion of the tennis court refurbishment and the Neighbourhood Plan. Both had received grant aid. The Neighbourhood Plan grant from Government of £7,000 was entirely for the employment of a Planning Consultant. The Chairman had mentioned projects being undertaken in the coming year re traffic. Two other projects are in early stages. These are future use of the public conveniences in Brede Lane car park and provision of a small parking area next to the MUGA and playground.

6. ELECTORS' QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION. The Chairman welcomed County Cllr Angharad Davies, District Cllr Tony Ganly and PCSO Demi to join him on the stage for the Q&A session. In brief, questions were asked on the following subjects:

  1. Proposals for future use of the public conveniences and car park at Brede Lane - District Council wishes to relinquish responsibility and the Parish Council would support reduction to one public toilet with the remainder of the building used as a PCSO Office.
  2. Gregory Walk -
    1. Why has building in the floodplain been proposed? - Confirmed that after a detailed survey has been carried out by the owner, the flood risk zone will be amended by Environment Agency on 01/05/14. Both Sunningdale and Powdermills will then be excluded from flood risk zone 2.
    2. Why has a site i.e. Sunningdale, without Powdermills and with different access and egress to that shown at the September 2013 Exhibition, been included in the draft Plan when Council Minutes suggest that new sites would need a new consultation period? - Plans evolve and change and the current consultation on the Pre-Submission Plan is the one that counts.
    3. Is Rother District Council likely to grant planning permission for houses on the land if the site is not within the Neighbourhood Plan? - Planning permission is more likely to be granted if the land is within the development boundary. District Cllr Ganly supports what the community wants.
    4. Most people didn't even put the Sunningdale and Powdermills joint site which was shown at the Exhibition in their top five and so why has it been included in the Pre-Submission Plan? - So far more than 94% of the community who have filled in a consultation form agree with what is in the draft Plan.
    5. Who will pay for the legal advice that Gregory Walk residents are being forced to obtain? - Those obtaining the advice will have to pay. (Following this question, PCSO Demi stepped in and reminded the meeting that the Chairman must be respected and questions on different subjects should be heard and not just be focused on one subject.)
  3. Can the Church Hill footway be improved? - Parish Council has in hand and hopes to get volunteers to undertake some improvement.
  4. Can Brede Lane be resurfaced, particularly Gammons Hill where the road is breaking up very badly? - Cllr Davies was not aware of the problem in Brede Lane. Potholes are now repaired within 28 days of being reported. 12,000 Area 1 potholes were filled in during 2013. The County Council will be spending £15 million over the next two years with resurfacing and Cllr Davies suggested that efforts should be made to get Brede Lane onto the list.
  5. Who was asked concerning making The Green one-way? Those living in The Green. It was acknowledged that the traffic and parking situation in The Green was bad and sometimes made worse by parents waiting for or dropping off their children despite the efforts of the headteacher at Sedlescombe School to get parents to be more considerate. A comment was made from the floor that at least the advantage of having The Green two way was that traffic can only move slowly. It was noted that secondary school children are also dropped off at The Green.
  6. Why can't we have a pond on the Village Green for the geese as goose husbandry appears to be a reasonable pastime? The SSALC lawyer advised that a pond would not conform to the Commons Act 1876 and, therefore, the Parish Council did not agree to the request it received for permission to install a pond on The Green. The flagpole situation was similar.
  7. How much does vandalism cost the Parish Council? Most vandalism issues can be dealt with by our volunteer group keeping the cost to a minimum.
  8. How would those on the panel engage young people in politics? The Parish Council has this year as part of the Neighbourhood Plan process engaged with youngsters from Pestalozzi and Claverham. The County Council has a successful youth parliament and there is quite a lot of competition for the twenty seats available. The District Council has had an event where students were able to ask an individual question to a district councillor. Bexhill has a Youth Council.
  9. Could the footway in Sandrocks be extended to Hurst Lane? This new path has been on the County Council schedule of new footways for many years and is supported by the Parish Council. The path has not been provided because of lack of funding.
  10. What is the view of our County Councillor re the changes to the Fire Service in Battle? Cllr Davies supports Option 2A as do many others in the area.
  11. What can be done about the traffic congestion at the bottom of The Green? Every village has problems. Making The Green one way will cause problems as well as solving them.
  12. Can the bushes and trees on the boundary of Scotch Down be cut back? For referral to East Sussex County Council.
  13. What is the reason that the Village cannot obtain the ex-car lot land in The Street and use it for parking? This has been considered by the Parish Council but the asking price is high and, if the Parish Council were to buy it, there would be an additional enormous debt to create about 16 car parking spaces. An attempt was made by local residents to buy it but insufficient funds could be found.
  14. Why was Chapel Hill left as it was following the changes made to the Chapel Hill/B2244 junction? This is an East Sussex County Council matter and they will be asked to reassess the situation.
  15. Can anything be done to stop parking on the grass verge and path at Sandrocks? The Police are unable to take any action without double yellow lines or other restrictions. For referral to East Sussex County Council.
  16. Could there be a restriction on the time lorries can enter Pumphouse Yard from Gammons Way so that school arrival and departure times are avoided? The Chairman agreed to talk to the owner and users.

7. CLOSURE OF MEETING. The Chairman informed the meeting that the Parish Clerk is retiring having worked for the Parish Council since 1975. He gave her a voucher for tea at Kester House to thank her for all her work on the Council in the past year. Pauline gave a short presentation highlighting some of the major events that the Parish Council has been involved with during this time. Included were purchase of the sportsfield, construction of a new sports pavilion, purchase of the land for a new village hall, Best Kept Village, Best Kept Village Green, South East in Bloom and Village of the Year Competition wins and being the first Quality Council in Rother and the first to do a Parish Plan and now the first to do a Neighbourhood Plan.

Pauline Raymond drew the name of the winner of the door prize. (The first name to be drawn was the same person who won the door prize last year and, therefore, another name was drawn.) The Chairman thanked Brickwall Hotel for supplying the prize of a dinner for two at no cost, Pumphouse Designs for providing the posters to advertise the meeting and Sylvia Beaney, Margaret Hudson and Rosemary Farley for organising tea and biscuits.

Those attending stayed on to chat to neighbours and friends and to visit the display tables. The Hall was cleared by 21:30.

To be signed by the Chairman at the next Assembly of the Parish Meeting.