The next meeting of Brightling Parish Council will be at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 8 July 2020 by Zoom video-conferencing.
The joining details will be the same as for previous meetings. If you do not have the joining details and would like to attend, please contact the clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome members of the public at our meetings. There will be an opportunity to speak and ask questions, and of course to view the rest of the meeting.
A number of parishioners have independently written in to complain about the cutting of verges which took place in May 2020. One correspondent wrote “I was distressed to see the verges … being mown by a large tractor today which was chewing up the beautiful bluebells and wild orchids. I spoke to the driver who was very good humoured about it (he has had several people speak to him). It does seem waste of time and resources to be doing this when I would imagine cash is tight at the council? More importantly, this year’s wildflowers were some of the best I can remember and probably cheered people up in these dark days.” Another parish resident came out in her dressing gown and formed a one-woman human shield to stop a verge from being mown.
What are the facts, and what can or should be done? The verge mowing is carried out by East Sussex Highways (or their sub-contractors) using East Sussex County Council budget. Until recently, most of the verges were being cut five or six times per year. Last year, ESCC decided that they could no longer afford to pay for this, and reduced it to two, saying that if parishes wanted more than two cuts a year, then they had the option to pay for more out of parish funds. Some parishes objected to this, stating that they wanted their five or six cuts, and due to the lack of notice hadn’t had the opportunity to budget for paying for the additional three or four cuts out of their own resources. Rother District Council then stepped in, out of the kindness of their hearts, and came up with the money to restore the total to five or six. They didn’t ask parishes individually if they wanted this; they just made a bulk order to restore the total number of cuts. We at Brightling Parish Council were unaware of this and were not consulted. That situation has now changed: Rother District Council (who are under new political control) are not funding the extra cuts, so from this year onwards we are just getting two cuts per year. The problem is the timing of the cuts: May is not a good month for plants that have come into flower but haven’t had a chance to set seed.
Some of our verges in Brightling are “designated wildlife verges”. These verges still get cut – usually once a year – but they can only be cut between the beginning of September and the end of February. This is broadly in line with the recommendations of the Plantlife organization, who have published a comprehensive guide to best practice in grassland verge management. The designated wildlife verges in Brightling are: Long Reach (north side); the whole of Willingford Lane (both sides); Brightling Road between Perrywick and Swallowfield Farm (north side); and a small section of Kent Lane.
We were advised at one stage that Brightling Parish Council had the legal power to take control of the verge cutting in the parish, appointing our own contractors. It turns out that this is not the case. Verges are classified as “urban” or “rural”; we are only allowed to “take back control” of verges that are deemed to be urban; and, not surprisingly, nearly all of our verges are classified as rural.
The remaining option is to try and get more of our verges to be designated as “wildlife verges”. The process here is that the Parish Council (or anyone, for that matter) can ask for the designation by filling in a form on the East Sussex Highways web site, and ESCC then decide whether to accept the request. Having looked at the form, I think a request is most likely to be successful if good reasons are given: eg stating what particular wildlife the verge supports and why it is important. One might well think that one shouldn’t have to justify the protection of wildlife – that it should all be protected unless there is a good reason not to, but that’s not the way the system works. Another problem is that East Sussex Highways’ policy is to demarcate the limits of each designated wildlife verge by hideous metal signs (the ones with a yellow “flower” on top), and no-one wants more of those. They seem unnecessary in any case, since the contractors have satnav that shows them each verge within their contract and sounds a warning bell if they start mowing in the wrong place.
We also have to be careful about road safety considerations. We wouldn’t want – and wouldn’t be allowed – to compromise road safety, and there probably are some verges that do require summer cuts for road safety reasons. This is something that we should think about (I would suggest) before we make any applications. The designation can be very fine-grained: just some sections of a road, or most of a road but omitting certain junctions and bends, for example. Brightling Parish Council will be considering all this in a future meeting. Meanwhile, if any parishioner wants to write in with details of a particular verge that they think merits protection, that would be very helpful.
On 28 June, an outbuilding to a farm in Netherfield was been broken into and a chainsaw and a hedge trimmer were stolen. Also stolen was a Yamaha ATV. Value of theft £3,500.00. Crime reference 0422 of 28/6/20 and 0820 of 28/6/20
On 30 June, premises in Brightling Road Robertsbridge were broken into and 2 Quadbikes and a quantity of tools were stolen, These include a green Yamaha 550 and a child’s blue Honda 90, a Strimmer, a Backback Blower and 2 Chainsaws, value of haul £12,300.00. Crime reference 0281of 30/06/2020
If anyone knows anything about these, contact the police using this link https://www.sussex.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/us/a-crime-that-has-already-been-reported/ or phone 101
I have discovered that meetings of Rother District Council (and committees thereof) are being now streamed live on YouTube for anyone to watch. You can watch meetings as they are happening, or later.
Some forthcoming meetings which may be of interest are:
To get the links for all meetings,
- go to Rother District Council calendar page
- follow the link to the meeting you are interested in; this will take you to its agenda page
- on that page there is a section headed “Media”, with a YouTube link
NB, the YouTube links only appear when the agenda is published, which is usually about a week before the meeting.
Also on the calendar page you can subscribe to updates in order to receive information via e-mail regarding arrangements for particular committee meetings. Never miss a meeting again.
PS I don’t want to hear any more complaints about people being short of interesting things to do during lock-down.
Tom Miles from UK Power Networks who spoke at the Parish Council meeting in March has sent the following update regarding the recent power outages in the Brightling area.
“A lot has changed since we met & I wanted to let you know I’m dealing with the recent outages that have most likely affected some of the Brightling community and surrounding area. As I’d promised we are looking at cutting additional circuits that are affected by falling trees however we have had some land owner refusals (as expected), & the bulk of the work hasn’t yet started, however I did chase this today. The most recent fault cased a much wider outage, 2000+ customers were off during the night, eventually we narrowed the fault down to an overhead 11kV section at Darwell Downs, the repairs are now completed there (not tree related this time).
I wanted to let local residents know that the recent fault has allowed me to request further investment to this network so I hope to share some good news with you regarding new “remote control” equipment that will allow us to quickly switch the network reducing some of the outages in the area.”
Tom Miles, UK Power Networks
Remember the easiest way to get updates during an outage is to ring 105.
Church services have resumed, by Zoom video-conferencing.
Services are currently scheduled for
Jun 28, 2020 09:30 AM
Jul 5, 2020 09:30 AM
Jul 12, 2020 09:30 AM
Jul 19, 2020 09:30 AM
The joining details for these services are the same as for the services that took place on 14 and 21 June. If you don’t have the joining details, please email the vicar at email@example.com
If you would like to do a reading, please email the vicar and she will send you one.
Message from Sussex Police:
Sussex Police has launched a new rural crime team, whose overall aim is to crack down on unlawful behaviour in isolated communities.
This team, launched on Monday (1 June 2020), has been made possible with the precept increase, as acquired by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne at the start of this financial year. The new funding will allow for more enforcement and greater local policing presence, part of which is rural crime.
The team will have a specialist focus on agricultural, equine, wildlife and heritage issues, and it has been brought together to serve the rural community, to increase confidence and encourage reporting through preventing crime and carrying out more proactive investigations.
Made up of two sergeants, eight constables and six police community support officers (PCSOs), the team will be operating out of bases at Midhurst and Heathfield.
The impact of rural crime has become more apparent in recent years, and this is reflected with the implementation of the national Rural Affairs Strategy in 2018, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
Sussex Police’s own Rural Crime Strategy aims to make rural communities feel safer by building long-lasting partnerships, responding to the community’s needs, and provide an effective policing service. In turn, this work aims to increase confidence in the police in our more isolated areas.
With 62% of Sussex’s area dedicated to farming, and a significant proportion being in the South Downs National Park, Sussex is defined as ‘significantly rural’ by DEFRA (2011).
Recently, Sussex Police have arrested a trio near High Hurstwood, Wealden, on suspicion of burglary and going equipped for burglary. This is just one example of the force’s approach to disrupting rural crime in the county.
Chief Inspector Steve Biglands, Sussex Police’s Rural Crime lead, said:
“We are keenly aware of the significant impact that these types of crimes have on our remote communities, and the implementation of this new team is designed to provide a direct link between those more isolated and the police. We want to encourage reporting of rural crimes, because with this insight, we are able to deploy the team to where they are most needed in order to protect the most vulnerable. We have a substantial number of rural residents and businesses in Sussex and they deserve our protection.”
Deputy Chief Constable for Sussex Police Jo Shiner said:
“It is so important to have a dedicated team for this area of policing, which quite often can go unnoticed. We want to reassure the residents of Sussex that we are here to disrupt rural crime, to catch those who think they can get away with it, and to ensure our more isolated communities feel safe in their own homes.
“There have been cases recently of animal thefts, quad bike thefts and numerous other countryside offences. We understand how destructive these are to people’s livelihoods, and how damaging they can be emotionally to the victim. We want perpetrators of these crimes to know we are here to catch them: do not consider committing the crime because we will bring you to justice.
“Working closely with partners, we can draw on expertise and resources from all over the county: together, we can provide the service needed to prevent rural crime.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said:
“Through my ongoing consultations with local residents and organisations, including the National Farmers’ Union, I know that our rural and village communities in Sussex can sometimes feel ‘abandoned’ and ‘forgotten about’.
“Rural crime is particularly worrying and, since the Covid lockdown, there have been many disturbing reports of fly-tipping and expensive equipment theft. I want to reassure our rural residents that these crimes will not be ignored and are being taken extremely seriously.
“This expanded team will have the specialist knowledge, skills and training that is vital to police our rural communities, successfully investigate and prosecute crimes made against them and keep people feeling safe where they live and work.
“I know that this will be welcome news to many residents and organisations across Sussex”.
Message Sent By
Sussex Police (Police, Force-wide message, Sussex)
As you will know, the national Big Lunch is officially this Sunday and we usually have our village picnic to coincide with it. However, Sunday looks as if it is going to rain, so if you want to join in Saturday may be a better day to hold you own picnic. You may like to join in with a neighbour or a close friend (keeping the regulation distance, of course and bearing in mind the maximum number of people allowed). Whatever you do, it would be good if as many people as possible could join in and let me have a photograph by Wednesday 10th June so that I can put them all together in the hope that Mel can do a composite to put in the Messenger. We can’t let a virus stop our traditions!
Jane and Geoffrey