A year ago our Saturday independent columnist wrote to Santa asking for eight presents for Uckfield during 2017. Here’s how Observer fared when it came to dishing out the gifts.
In 2017 I asked for:
1. A new train set for the Uckfield Line with a new Fat Controller in charge. If my train set is in the green and white livery of Southern, there will be tears before bedtime.
Sadly there were tears before bedtime. Southern somehow hung on to the franchise as the Uckfield Line service went from bad to worse, from awful to abysmal to downright shameful. And you know what, no-one cared enough to intervene and put things right,
2. A parking warden to sort out those who persist on flouting the rules in the High Street and beyond.
It looks as if we are edging closer to a solution. The wheels of government grind slowly. Wealden District Council was going to make a decision this month but then backed away at the last moment to make sure all questions were answered.
3. A pigeon catcher so we stop tramping through mess on the High Street pavements.
Fewer pigeons, I believe. I know of no reason but there does seem to be less mess.
4. A dog warden to tame the (small) minority who let their dogs foul the pavements, parks and open spaces.
I’m afraid the minority continue to let their dogs foul. There are by-laws but the trouble is – as with many things in Uckfield – there is no enforcement.
5. A real police presence in Uckfield.
Plenty of cars at the police station but never a copper on the beat.
6. A decision one way or the other on the plans for a major expansion of shopping space in the town centre. Next year has to be make your mind up time.
They made their minds up and decided to put the decision off to next year. If they were hoping the economic climate would be brighter by then, I fear councillors are in for a very cold bath.
7. Real action to tackle the hidden poverty and deprivation in what we think is well-heeled Uckfield. Councils should target spending and grants on righting these wrongs and on the population’s general health and well-being.
A hard one to quantify. I would say little progress has been made; my yardstick being that one shop in Uckfield continues to do well – the Foodbank.
8. A real effort to provide affordable housing before our young people are finally priced out.
The construction of 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm gave the authorities the chance to make real progress. They flunked it because the government has given developers a get out – the number of affordable homes can be reduced if there are exceptional circumstances. That’s what the Ridgewood Farm developers claimed and Wealden said: OK.
In summary, a pretty frugal list of presents for Uckfield.
A happy Christmas to you all. Make the most of it, as I expect nothing but thin gruel for Uckfield in 2018.