Fourteen members voted, at an emergency meeting at Uckfield Civic Centre, in favour of returning the money while 11 voted against.
Thirty-eight people were present at the start of the meeting at 6pm and later at the stage when the vote about returning developers’ money, was taken, but by 7.20pm only 26 remained, including the president Fiona Monson and secretary Ian Blackaller.
The Chamber has more than 200 members but Fiona said, after the meeting, that only the views of members present at the meeting could be taken into account. All had been invited to attend.
After the vote about returning developers’ contributions the meeting went on to discuss options for traffic management should the works go ahead.
Members rejected proposals for one-way traffic and total road closure. They wanted to press for two lanes to be kept open while work proceeded. This option was ruled out by East Sussex County Council.
The meeting went on to discuss detail of improvements drawn up by the Uckfield Town Centre Regeneration Joint Committee.
Talks began about which High Street parking spaces should be kept but Fiona suggested that was something the Chamber executive committee could consider at a meeting next week.
Shows of hands were invited on whether trees should be planted in the High Street and whether bus shelters should be provided. The votes went against trees and against bus shelters. It was suggested members of the public could shelter under shop awnings if it rained while they were waiting for buses.
Members also voted in favour of a “quicker and cheaper” pavement surface than the York stone proposed. A permeable tarmac-type surface was favoured.
Council officers and councillors have already said that the latest plan for the High Street would not be further negotiated.
They indicated that if there was overwhelming opposition the High Street improvements would be dropped. See a previous Uckfield News story here: High Street works at ‘take it, or leave it’ stage in Uckfield.
But Fiona said after last night’s meeting that it was important to ensure that members’ views on the plans were reported back to the regeneration joint committee, particularly when they would have such a major impact on retailers.
• Uckfield Town Council is to hold an extra meeting tomorrow, Friday, July 10, at 7pm, to “consider the second phase of the High Street improvement works”.
Members of the public will be able to watch the meeting but not take part in the discussion. At the start of the meeting statements from members of the public may be considered “at the mayor’s discretion”.