Comment by Observer
Facing in two directions at the same time is an uncomfortable position for anybody to be in.
But that’s where Uckfield Town Council finds itself over its handling of Selby Meadow in Newtown.
I read with interest the report here on Monday’s meeting of the environment and leisure committee when members tried to balance two diametrically opposed thoughts.
One the one hand they heaped fulsome praise on the work of the Newtown Action Group for its achievement in creating a wildlife haven on a derelict piece of land.
However, the councillors reiterated the position of trying to ensure the land could be developed for housing at a later date by seeking to get access to the land when homes are built next-door. I see it was termed a “long-stop” position by this website.
‘Tricky balancing act’
It is a tricky balancing act.
I think we should accept the town council must protect its assets and would be remiss if it did not ensure that it could – if it ever needed – gain the best value from the land.
The council is also right to lavish praise on those who have created Selby Meadow.
However, nothing the council does should discourage those who have brought this transformation about and who tend so lovingly for the area.
Licence terms will the key
The key will be in the terms of the licence given to the Newtown Action Group to continue using the land.
The licence should be for a sufficiently long period of time to inspire the action group and prevent them from always “looking over their shoulders”, fearing the developer’s bulldozer is in sight. It should be on terms which encourage them to get on with the job of maintaining and improving the meadow.
If the action group were to fall by the wayside in the longer term and the Meadow returns to a derelict state, the council could have a clause in its agreement where the land once again came back under its direct control.
‘Recognise the value of Selby Meadow’
The decision would be then to either (a) try and sell for housing or the council to add it to the area of land which it is responsible for; such as the West Park and Hempstead nature reserves.
The key for the town council is not to end up looking as if they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Wise heads will ensure Selby Meadow continues to be the jewel in the crown on Newtown.
It was interesting to see last Saturday that Uckfield Foodbank was able to offer the family of the lightning-hit house on Manor Park help if they had needed it. It proves what an asset we have in the town.
The owner of UckfieldNews.com has told me last Saturday’s column here has been quite a “hit” on social media with Foobanks across the country taking a look at what was written.
See you next Saturday