County has failed to learn lessons from first stage of Uckfield roadworks, says Observer

Comment by Observer

East Sussex County Council has clearly not learned the lessons from stage one of the Uckfield High Street roadworks.

Its consultations with the town as a whole were non-existent before a shovel was lifted on the project and it doesn’t need me to remind you that chaos followed.

The roadworks also sparked off a huge debate in Uckfield, a referendum, and the establishment of an Uckfield Trust Independent group which now has eight out of the 15 members on the town council.

The big demand by people is transparency from the authorities and a democratic wish for full and proper consultation on what’s going to happen.

So what does East Sussex County Council do?

I was shocked yesterday (May 22) to read on that the council has planned a “closed meeting” with Uckfield Chamber of Commerce executive committee next month.

Please note the word committee; ie: a tiny group of people.

It is the first public statement that we have that the county council has seemingly drawn up new “plans” for the High Street. They’ve been promised but this is the first the public knew that there was something to talk about.

The council is repeating the same mistakes as it did last year of talking behind closed doors to what it regards as “stakeholders” .

East Sussex County Council must be made to understand that everyone who lives in Uckfield and surrounding villages is a “stakeholder” when it comes to what goes on in the High Street.

What is happening to our High Street is far too important to be decided and chewed over in private before the council comes up with a “done deal” for the public to consider.

Everyone in the town should be told – at the same time – what is planned and be allowed to comment in a sensible manner. A public meeting/exhibition must be held so everyone who is interested and concerned can find out what is going on.

Utterly inadequate

I warned the authorities last year that their public consultation on the roadworks between Boots and Framfield Road were utterly inadequate. I was exactly right about that and I warn them again that this piecemeal approach will only lead to more division and rancour.

It also seems from where I sit that such a private meeting is a slap in the face for our newly elected town council where Trust members argued before, during and after the election campaign for openness and transparency; particularly with regards to town centre regeneration.

The county council must be made to understand that what happened last autumn, in the referendum and in this year’s elections have changed things irrevocably in Uckfield. Townspeople will not allow the council to continue with its failed and discredited policy of piecemeal consultations.

See also:

Rector of Uckfield’s sudden death – tributes to Canon Martin Onions

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