There always seems to be something going on with one or other of our eight wooden signposts, and I am glad to be able to report that we do now have permission to re-erect the recently smashed-up Darwell Hole crossroads signpost on the other side of the road to where it used to be, and our contractor has been instructed to go ahead Half the cost will be paid by East Sussex County Council, and half by the parish.
East Sussex County Council (who are responsible for maintaining all our public roads in Brightling) have a new system for reporting problems. For all problems with potholes, drains, and verge maintenance, you can now visit www.eastsussexhighways.com and report the problem. You can also use this site to view planned works, including when they plan to do the drains and verge cutting. The system is smartphone-friendly, so if you see a problem while driving along, you can report it then and there (I feel compelled to add: stop the car first or get your passenger to do it).
Your parish council clerk has tried this system on your behalf, and we can say that it works! A problem was reported, and action was taken. What more could you want?
www.eastsussexhighways.com is mobile- and tablet-friendly, and you can also subscribe for emails with updates on planned activities. They even have a Twitter feed: @esccroads, which I imagine most Brightlingers will want to follow (warning: this might tell you more about highways activity than you really want to know).
That covers physical maintenance of our roads and verges. Fly-tipping continues to be the responsibility of Rother District Council, and these problems should still be reported at fixmystreet.com, ideally with a photograph. Again, recent experience is that a problem reported through this system did result in prompt action.
We do encourage self-reporting of all problems. If you report a problem by one of these means, and nothing happens within a reasonable time, then do contact a member of the Parish Council and we will chase it up.
In the course of reporting road problems, we have also learned that all roads have numbers. Motorways, A-roads and B-roads are classified and numbered through a national numbering scheme; other roads are described as “unclassified” and here it is up to each council to assign numbers. We don’t, as far as I know, have any motorways in Brightling, or even any A-roads, and only one B road (the B2096 from Squirrel corner to Heathfield). All our other roads are unclassified. If a road is classified as unclassified, it may either be a C-road or a U-road, where “U”, presumably, stands for unclassified, and “C” stands for something else (but not classified, I assume). A couple of examples should make this clear: Kent Lane is the U6413 while Sheepshaw Lane is the C603.
I think it is fair to say that this numbering scheme is not has not really caught on with the general public; in fact even the council themselves do not seem to refer to these numbers, which makes the whole scheme satisfyingly pointless. For the purposes of identifying problems and plans, the council usually refers to roads by name: so – although the numbers may be useless – it would be useful to have some clarity, consistency and completeness regarding the names of our roads.
The Parish clerk has obtained a map which has the following names: Brickyard Lane, Brightling Road, Deer Park Road, Fontridge Lane, Kent Lane, Ludpit Lane, Observatory Road, Penhurst Lane, Sheepshaw Lane, and Willingford Lane. All these are wholly or partly within the parish. From my own knowledge I can add The Street and Hollingrove Hill, but this still leaves a few roads un-named. Is there a name for the road between Twelve Oaks and Hollingrove? What about the road from the Triangle at the Mount down to Perrymans, the road from Darwell Hole crossroads up towards Brightling Park, and the road from the Darwell Hole crossroads towards Heathfield? Is there a name for the junction at the top of Long Reach, where you can fork right up Sheepshaw Lane or left down Deer Park Road towards Woods Corner? Are there any other local names that people remember?
The official addresses from the Post Office are nearly all of the form “House name, Brightling, Robertsbridge” – they rarely use the road names round here at all. I’ve also looked at the Electoral Roll to see if this sheds any light on road names, but this seems to have so many internal inconsistencies and obvious mistakes that I don’t think that one can draw any conclusions from it. For example, Park Pale (near the reservoir dam) and all the surrounding houses are said to be on Brightling Road, which is clearly wrong.
Incidentally, in Wealden, I am told, the council provides physical road name signs for all roads. Rother obviously do not. I would hesitate to suggest adding to the signage clutter (not to mention the expense), but if there was a strong feeling that we should have signs with our road names, then this would be something that the Parish Council could consider providing.
Fortunately, you don’t need to know the number of a road, or even its name, to report a problem using the above systems; they all use interactive maps.
We have decided to ask contractors for fresh quotes for refurbishing the four remaning un-refurbished finger posts (the three round the observatory plus the one at the top of Rectory Hill). This is slightly back to the drawing board – quotations have a time limit, and the fingerposts may have deteriorated since we originally inspected them. Somewhat slow progress, but we will persist.
The fingerpost at Twelve Oaks (Cock and Hen) has suffered the indignity of having one of its arms drop off. (Unlike Greek statues, we do prefer our signposts to have a full set of arms).
At our first meeting on 18th May 2015, Brightling Parish Council resolved to put the repair in hand. We also resolved to replace the signpost at Oxleys Green, which is beyond repair. The parish clerk has instructed our chosen contractor to go ahead with the work.
In the long run, as I have mentioned before, we want to have a rolling programme of refurbishment so that signposts are repaired before they get to this point. Each year, East Sussex County Council will give us a 50% subsidy for work on the signposts, to a maximum of two per year. So that is our two for this year – the rest will have to wait until May 2016.
NB the missing arm at Twelve Oaks has been taken into safe custody by Caroline Croft until the repair takes place; it is not lost.