Uckfield Town Council clerk resigns

Uckfield Town Council clerk Ashley Serpis has resigned.uckfield-town-council-un

The council issued a press release today saying Mr Serpis will be working out his notice with his last working day being January 4, 2016.

The press release said: “We take this opportunity to thank Ashley for his hard work and dedication he has given the town council over the years and wish him the best of luck in his future.”

Uckfield Town Mayor, Cllr Louise Eastwood, who issued the Press statement on behalf of the council said she could not tell UckfieldNews.com why he had resigned.

Town councillors we have spoken to this afternoon have expressed surprise at the news.

Mr Serpis has been town clerk since 2001, taking over from Linda Butcher.

Time to leave

Update on Friday, October 9: Mr Serpis told Uckfield News: “I have been here over a decade and I think we all know when it is time to leave.ashley-serpis

“I will see what there is in my pension pot and see if I can’t find another job elsewhere.”

Looking back over the years Mr Serpis singled out some of the greatest achievements involving the council such as the building of the all-weather sports pitch at Uckfield Community Technology College and the renovation of Bridge Cottage where the Uckfield Preservation Society has received in excess of £1 million to look after and improve a town council asset.

He was also pleased with the amount of work that had been done on the town’s nature reserves.

Green issues

Mr Serpis reflected on an article he wrote in The Clerk magazine about the work done in Uckfield on green issues.

He said you only needed to look at the Civic Centre to see the PV panels on the roof, that bring in income, the bio-mass boiler that brings in income, an electricity saving device that turns lights off when there is nobody nearby, and a water harvesting facility at Victoria. But, he said: “We didn’t manage to get the wind turbine at Victoria.”

He added ‘waterless urinals’ were installed at the Civic Centre two to three years before the same system was installed at 10 Downing Street.

“We have done lots of good things over the years but now it is perhaps appropriate that council members select a new clerk.”

The full article that appeared in The Clerk in September 2012 can be read below:

Progressive council

“Despite the title of the TV series (and of course the Muppets’ song), it is reasonably easy being green.  We do it all the time at home, but it isn’t that hard to extend it to the workplace – as long as you have a progressive Council that sees the value in capital programmes which can provide substantial benefits in the medium term even if they are no longer in office!

“I am fortunate to have such a Council and over the years we have programmed a number of such projects.  These are not ‘grand green gestures’ instead, they are relatively hard-nosed business decisions which have the benefit of being green.

“I am sure in your buildings you all have ‘Hippo Bags’ or the equivalent in your cisterns, possibly dual flushes and push taps as well, but have you thought about going that extra yard and trying waterless urinals?

Water savings

“We installed these some years ago.  Each urinal saves about 150,000 litres of water each year and for us this system is applied to 11 urinals including a public toilet.  I’ll have to leave you to do the calculations and look up the websites as I don’t have the space in this article – but it is worth it as decent savings are generally made from year one.  (The same system was put into No. 10 Downing Street last year.)

“Staying with water; for a few years now we have been putting money into earmarked reserves to install a rain harvesting system in one of our parks.  This will hold 15,000 litres of rainwater and we will be completing this installation in the next few weeks.  All our supplies are on water meters and the savings that this will make will be recovered in hopefully a few years (depending on the weather).  However, the money is not all that matters, as in times of drought, which we are told will be more common, we will be able to maintain floral displays and cricket wickets to a good standard without criticism or dispensations.

Self-policing

“We applied water saving to our allotments as well but this time no gadgets.  Tales of the sprinkler being left on while the allotment holder goes for lunch (or the pub) were reasonably common, so we undertook a major review of our allotment policy and processes which effectively meant lower plot charges for most but we also introduced a charge for water.

“The allotment holders were supportive as using water wisely, installing water butts and employing some self-policing is in their own interests as it makes the charges at their particular site a lot cheaper.

“Along with other energy saving measures already incorporated in our Civic Centre, a solar panel array (a 10kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system) has been installed on the Civic Centre roof.  We anticipate generating in the region of 8,500kWh over the course of a year, saving approximately £3,500 every year.  (We expect to do better than this as any surplus electricity generated is sold back to the National Grid (the Feed in Tariff) and will provide some income.)

Payback

“The estimated payback period is about 8 years or less if the weather would improve substantially.

“We will also be saving 4,575kg of CO2 and just to put this CO2 figure into perspective, to absorb this amount of Carbon would require planting approximately 600 trees per year!

“As well as the PV panels on the roof, the Civic Centre is fitted with sensors in most rooms that will automatically turn off lights if it is too bright or if no movement is detected for a while!

“The existing gas heating system installed in the Civic Centre is near to the end of its life and later this year we will be installing a biomass boiler as the main replacement supported by a small back-up gas unit.

Wood pellets

“The boiler is fed on wood pellets made from sawmill residues such as sawdust, shavings and wood chips.  Burning wood pellets as a fuel is Carbon neutral compared to burning gas so our Carbon savings will be about 15,000kg every year from this installation.

“It is estimated that, with the energy savings to be gained from better insulation and control equipment, we will recover our financial outlay in 5 years.

Wind turbine

“We are also looking at the installation of a wind turbine in one of our open spaces to power and heat a pavilion and again, sell the unused power back to the National Grid.  Unfortunately this is not going as smoothly as we had hoped, as apparently wind turbines are still a new industry with new problems which all seem to occur with our installation, but we are still persevering.

“We are probably not going to save the world by ourselves, but we do feel we are doing our bit to help and help the budget too.”

Uckfield Town Council Statistics

Population                   c14,600

Budget             £1,165,482

Precept                       £777,630

Band equivalent          £135.58

No of staff (FTE)        22

No of Councillors        15

See also:

Heritage railway needs some more help

Uckfield firm helps with new-look Birmingham shopping mall

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com

 

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