There were questions at the Uckfield Annual Town Meeting last night about policing, High Street roadworks, the 1,000 homes development at Ridgewood Farm, and whether Uckfield Community Technology College would be able to cope with increasing numbers of students.
Uckfield Community Technology College
Mrs Jane Eastwood said nobody ever talked about whether Uckfield Community Technology College would be able to cope with increasing numbers of students once the development of 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm began.
She was concerned because it appeared the college was at capacity already. Her granddaughter who lived in New Barn Lane had already been told she couldn’t attend the school because there were too many students.
Cllr Helen Firth, who is a district as well as town councillor, said the college always said they didn’t need a bigger school. “We keep saying they do, they say they don’t.”
Uckfield Mayor Cllr Louise Eastwood said this was an issue that concerned her and she would speak to the principal Hugh Hennebry about it.
Mr Charles Mears-Lamb from Noble Wines asked whether it was true there would be no police or PCSOs at all in Uckfield in the future.
Cllr Louise Eastwood said she had been to a meeting a couple of weeks ago where she learned there would be “huge” changes to the policing system.
Within the whole of Wealden there would be four PCSOs and that was because the police had to make savings of £56 million.
She said the police were still looking to have hubs around Wealden but at the moment nothing had been identified. She confirmed Uckfield Police Station would be sold off and said she had made her concerns clear to the police.
See a previous Uckfield News story about closure of Uckfield Police Station: Chief inspector explains Uckfield police station changes.
Double yellow lines
Former Uckfield town councillor Jim Molesworth-Edwards said people were ignoring new double yellow lines in Mill Drove. “It is very, very bad there and as a result no emergency vehicles would be able to get round there.”
Cllr Eastwood said she had asked the police about double yellow line enforcement and was told that was not a priority for the police.
• Mrs Pamela Howells asked how restricted parking times would be monitored and enforced in Uckfield High Street. She was told discussions about options were ongoing.
Dr Emma Furlong asked whether it would be possible to open the High Street to two-way traffic at any stage during the roadworks because she thought the one-way system was putting people off coming into town.
Uckfield Mayor Cllr Louise Eastwood read out a response from East Sussex County Council which said the road would be opened to two way traffic as soon as possible.
What the county didn’t want to do was to frequently make changes to the direction of flow because that would create confusion for drivers and lead a potential safety issue.
• Mr Charles Mears-Lamb owner of Noble Wines asked if cones could be removed from outside his shop so that people could park there.
He said the cones took up the width of cars and traffic was easily able to move past.
Cllr Ian Smith said the cones were there for good reason to allow fire engines and ambulances plenty of room to use the High Street during the roadworks.
• Dr Furlong asked for bins in the High Street and was told new bins would be installed as part of the works.
• Mrs Pamela Howells whether the new High Street pavements would have to be dug up to allow trees to be planted and was concerned about roots from the trees reaching buildings.
She was told the pavements would not have to be dug up again and the trees would be planted following the completion of each side of the High Street. Information about tree pits was circulated in the meeting. There’s more information in a previous Uckfield News story here: Tree pit drainage system could help with Uckfield flash floods.
• Mr Arthur Firth said he had waited 40 years to see Uckfield High Street improved and he was pleased to see it being done. “If people would only be patient until they finish the work it should be all right.”
Mel Sanders from New Town asked what was the town council’s response to the Ridgewood Farm planning application for 1,000 homes which had been approved by Wealden Council.
He was concerned that the plan had been opposed by highways and Southern Water but still it had been approved.
He said it had been estimated there would be in the region of 2,300 cars from the development using town roads and as there would also be additional cars from other developments in the area he couldn’t see how the by-pass would cope when in 2009 the county council had said it had reached capacity.
Cllr James Anderson, who chairs the town council’s planning committee said he understood there was now a solution to issues that had previously concerned Southern Water and South East Water, which included the smell from the sewage works next to the development. He said he would check that.
He said the current High Street works were aimed at improving congestion.
He said the town council had opposed the planning application last year and made suggestions on how infrastructure could be improved and that feedback was considered by Wealden Council.
• Cllr Paul Sparks said he was concerned about a reduction in the number of affordable homes which would be provided on the development. Initially it was thought about 35% of the homes would be affordable, that would be 350 out of the total.
Now, he believed, the figure was closer to 15%, which was 200 affordable homes. He thought the council should fight to have the number increased.
Cllr Eastwood said the council’s planning committee had registered strong objections to the reduced number and would continue pressing for it to be raised.
Mr Arthur Firth asked why the town’s council tax kept going up. He said elderly people could not afford the rises and queried why sports clubs were subsidised by council tax payers. Charges for using playing fields should reflect the cost of their maintenance, he said.
Cllr Ian Smith, who chairs the general purposes committee which covers finance said the council tax was kept to a minimum but costs increased and the council had to maintain its assets.
He knew it was harder for some people than others to afford the tax but there was no easy solution to this problem. “We are just trying to run this council and keep the town looking like you want it to.”
Other issues raised
• Mrs Pamela Howells asked if it would be possible to place double yellow lines opposite the Oasis Dental Practice in New Town to enable a bus to stop next to the kerb rather than in the middle of the road next to parked cars.
She was told the county council had agreed to add this to a list of potential places where double yellow lines could be installed.
• Steve Corbin asked whether planning permission had to be sought for banner advertising increasingly seen around the town. He was particularly concerned about the amount at the Copwood roundabout. He was told this would be investigated.
• Carol Broom of Church Coombe asked whether bins could be provided on the estate. Cllr Mick Dean, who chairs the council’s environment and leisure committee, said he would look into that.