Seaspiracy highlights ethics of eating fish

Just caught up with this documentary from 2021 (available on Netflix) which highlights some of the truths about the environmental destruction to our oceans caused by human behavior. The film exposes the harm that humans inflict upon the seas and life within it, from plastics and fishing gear polluting the waters, to the destruction of seabed by bottom trawling, the huge numbers of marine animals caught as by-catch, the effects of illegal fishing and other harmful fishing practices, humanity is wreaking havoc on marine life and, by extension, the whole planet. The film challenges the notion of sustainable fishing, and highlights the impact of over fishing and exploitative practices on the world’s seas, and how this effects us all. Effectively another reason to make our diets more vegetarian.

Conservatives are failing on cost of living crisis

Liberal Democrats have been out talking to residents on the doorstep in Mid Sussex talking about the cost of living crisis. It was clear that many people are finding it harder to make ends meet. One person told us that they are changing, “to a more cost-effective menu but it is not as healthy.” Another that they are “not able to afford to take the children out.” Others said that, “our family income does not go as far”. Another person said that their, “wellbeing (was) affected – mental health stress”.

Such comments highlight the growing pressures ordinary working families are under.Increased prices, particularly for food are a worry for us all, and earlier this month the Conservative government’s own advisor on food issues condemned the newly announced national food strategy, saying it means more children will go hungry. His own proposals which included expanding free school meals, and greater environmental and welfare standards in farming, and promoting reduced meat and dairy consumption were all side-lined.

Indeed, the headline from the strategy says it all when one of the most significant aspects is to make it easier for deer stalkers to sell wild venison!Promises to retain high EU standards for food production have been jettisoned and there is no clear strategy for food security when we can no longer rely on imports from other European countries if we are outside the single market.

At the same time, we are seeing support for British farmers reduced, and funding for free school meals has increased by less than 5% in eight years.Liberal Democrats want to see a food strategy that makes it a government responsibility to ensure everyone has a right to safe, nutritious, and sustainable food. We should be supporting our farmers, not undercutting them by allowing unsafe and low quality food imports.

We should be tackling the problems caused by Brexit by developing closer links with our European neighbours who we rely on for a quarter of our food.Locally the Liberal Democrat run Town Council has provided support to the Burgess Hill Food Bank, and local Lib Dems set up and accommodated the Burgess Hill Pantry which helps residents struggling on low incomes to stretch their household budgets further. (For a weekly membership of £4, members of the Pantry can choose a selection of food worth around £20).

Burgess Hill Town Council has also supported small traders such as the plastic free shop, Scrapless, and the Repair Café which repairs small electrical items, clothing and textiles, and some other household items for a donation.We’ll continue working to find ways to support Mid Sussex residents at this difficult time.

Mims Davies asked five times if she has confidence in Boris Johnson

Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies has difficulty confirming her support for Boris Johnson, asked five times before she grudgingly admits her support. The resignation of the government’s ethics advisor is not just one issue but a series of incidents where Johnston has lied and misrepresented. Boris Johnson has clearly breached the ministerial code, yet with Conservative MP’s like Mims Davies he is unlikely to face any consequences – at least until the next election. However with Alison Bennett as the Liberal Democrat’s prospective parliamentary candidate we have a real chance in Mid Sussex to show the Conservatives the door.

Path clearance at Maple Close!

These low hanging branches were blocking a footpath between Maple Close and Valebridge Road, West Sussex County Council has a responsibility to ensure rights of way such as this are kept accessible. To check if a footpath is a right of way see the map provided by the County Council. However in this instance it was simpler to DIY.

Tree branches were covering the footpath
Thanks Suki for your saw!

District Council needs to wake up to plight of Burgess Hill town centre

The Conservatives on Mid Sussex District Council may finally be waking up to the fact that New River Retail are in no hurry to deliver the much promised redevelopment of the town centre, at Monday’s Cabinet meeting they agreed to spend £99k on an “urban park” to provide a temporary public space on the site of the Martlets Hall. Yet the Martlets Hall itself was demolished by the District Council to supposedly facilitate the redevelopment of the wider site by New River Retail. The District Council also supported the move out of the town centre by Lidl to make way for the redevelopment. Yet years later both moves have had a negative impact on the town centre with no prospect of the promised redevelopment. A temporary urban park is welcome if done properly to make that area of town more attractive, but is not the answer to improving the town centre, and is likely to be in place much longer than the suggested six to twelve months.

Burgess Hill Town Council had in any case previously submitted a proposal to provide some facilities on the same site for less than half that cost, and these would already be in place if the Conservatives had accepted the proposals that were submitted to it last year. However, the real issue is the lack of progress on the redevelopment, the District Council as landowner has not sufficiently asserted it authority to get the redevelopment done. That will take a lot more than funding a temporary urban park to sort out if the District Council is serious about supporting the town centre.

Mims Davies admits “real anger in local party” whilst side stepping responsibility

Mims Davies in her response to the Sue Gray Report seems to blame the situation of COVID rule breaking in 10 Downing Street on “appalling and inexcusable drunken behaviour by officials and advisors” seemingly sidestepping the responsibility by politicians and the Prime Minister, despite the report including nine photos of Boris Johnson breaking lockdown rules at No 10 Downing Street, and Sue Gray herself highlighting that “the senior leadership at the centre, both political and official must bear responsibility for this culture.” Davies however seems to be fundamentally backing Johnson regardless.

When questioned in Parliament on whether a party had taken place on one of the occasions where he was photographed, Johnson said, “No but I’m sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed, and the rules were followed at all times.”  This did not stop the police fining him for attending one of these events, and fining others for attending other events at which he was photographed, as well as allegations that he lied to parliament currently being investigated by the House of Commons Privileges Committee given guidance at the time had clearly not been followed.

Yet rather than tighten up the rules governing how ministers behave, Johnson has announced plans to overhaul the way the ministerial code is policed, which includes allowing ministers to escape resignation for “minor infractions” as well as preventing any power of the ethical watchdog, the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests to launch his own investigations without the prime minister’s permission.  All this smacks of a continued view from the Prime Minister and Conservative government ministers that normal rules don’t apply to them, or actively changing the rules to favour themselves, Mims Davies as a minister sitting alongside Boris Johnson does nothing to assuage this view.

Burgess Hill’s Jubilee Festival 1st-5th June

Marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Burgess Hill Town Council ‘s Jubilee Fest will run from the 1st to the 5th of June, with a range of activities for all ages over  the five days. Highlights includes Wednesday 1 June inflatables in St John’s Park, 11am – 3pm, and Skate Fest, from 2 – 4.30pm which includes DJ workshops, art activities and music. Thursday 2 June on-stage in St John’s Park from 7pm – 10pm, live music featuring The Spinettes, a piper performance of ‘Diu Regnare, and the beacon will be lit. The French Market will return to Church Walk from 9am – 5pm, with its traditional French food stalls. Friday 3 June Wheels Through the Years sees a classic vehicle from every year of the Queen’s reign, in Fairfield Recreation Ground, 11am – 4pm. Saturday 4 June Party in the Park will return in St John’s Park with an afternoon of live entertainment from local bands, 12 – 8pm. Food will be available from Burgess Hill Bonfire Society and a bouncy castle for the kids.  Sunday 5 June, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men will perform Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ Other ticketed events are also running, see the Burgess Hill Town Council website for further details.

Mid Sussex District Council urged to highlight housing need

Cllr Simon Hicks at Fairbridge Way

At tonight’s District Council’s Scrutiny Meeting I highlighted the doubling of the number of people in Mid Sussex on the waiting list for social housing since 2018, and proposed the Council include the statistic in its regular review of performance indicators. Earlier this year I had highlighted this information was not even included in the annual Housing Services Delivery Plan, and I am pleased the Council agreed to rectify this.

Buying their first house is a struggle for most people, and for an increasing number it is just not feasible, and with an expensive private rented sector, the demand for social housing can only increase. Whilst too many of the new housing being built locally is beyond the reach of local house buyers, the new Abbeville Park development at Fairbridge Way is a welcome change, being built by Placesforpeople it will provide 100% affordable housing.

The District Council rightly focuses on the homeless, and reducing the increasing numbers in temporary accommodation, but we also need the wider context of housing need to remind us that for new housing to benefit local people more affordable homes need to be built. The District Council’s Housing Team provides support for the homeless or those in housing need.

New mayor for the Town Council

Good to see Cllr Peter Chapman elected as the new Mayor of Burgess Hill at tonight’s Town Council meeting, with Cllr Janice Henwood joined by Cllr Tofojjul Hussain as joint Deputy Mayors with unanimous support from all political parties. The Liberal Democrat controlled council tonight gave its support to providing funding for Sussex Clubs for Young People and the Escape Youth Club, who in conjunction with the Town Council have submitted proposals to West Sussex County Council to manage the Park Centre. This would safeguard and enhance youth and community facilities for the town – although still waiting for a formal decision from the County Council on the proposal. The outcome of a tender to demolish the British Legion building was also agreed, which is the first stage of the Town Council’s proposals for the Beehive, which aims to provide a new performing arts centre for the town.

Mill Road hedge cutting!

Thanks to Dan for helping me cut this hedge which was blocking the pavement on Mill Road near Firtoft Close, this was following a resident raising the issue at this mornings Councillors Surgery at the Town Council Helppoint (10-12 every second and fourth Saturday of the month). I also took the opportunity of his help to remove the dead branches partially obstructing the pedestrian bridge at Fairbridge Way!