Maple Drive Fly tipping

I have asked the District Council to remove the fly tipped planks, which were left on the footpath between 183 and 185 Maple Drive. Fly tipping can be a single bin-bag of rubbish to large quantities of waste, but is illegal and costs us all money to remove as council tax payers. If you see someone fly tipping on public land, the Council will investigate and issue fixed penalty notices to offenders, email with details and photographic evidence.

A few weeks ago I highlighted this fly tipped rubble below, which was dumped in the Cyprus Road car park, an all too often occurrence, if you see something suspicious don’t approach the culprits, but do try to get photographic evidence of anyone involved.

Litter pickup

Litter picking today with a bag of rubbish collected from the bottom end of the footpath from Wivelsfield Station and some larger items reported to the District Council for collection – responding to a Fix My Street complaint. Managed to also collect some dumped brambles on Maple Drive. New litter picker put to use was broken in ten minutes (!) so in future will borrow one from the Town Council which can provide resources for community litter picks.

Our planet is precious, we all need to help save it

Soaring temperatures worldwide, flash flooding and increasing numbers of wildfires. These are just a few ecological disasters we are seeing as a result of climate change. It is painfully obvious we must act. Locally we have seen extreme weather events such as with recent flooding.

We need to be ambitious. It is only by working with every single nation across the globe that we can hope to take on this challenge. Climate inaction is simply unacceptable. As president of COP 26, we should lead by example. The UK can lead the world in climate policy. We are hosting the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in November 2021. We must lead the world to do what is required: limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. However, the Conservatives are delaying action on climate change.

They have failed to provide us with a plan to reach net zero emissions. We have watched as they have slashed incentives to switch to electric cars or upgrade homes for greater energy efficiency. Climate inaction is simply unacceptable. As president of COP 26, we should lead by example. Coming out of COP26, we want to see a major shift in energy consumption from fossil fuels to green alternatives.

Locally Mid Sussex District Council needs to lead the way and set its own targets for zero-carbon and to encourage and promote the adoption by businesses and residents of their own targets. We have a District Plan that allows developers to get away with minimal sustainable design requirements and build new houses and offices without targets to reduce carbon emissions or provide onsite renewable energy generation. We need more detailed planning guidance to require developers to estimate baseline energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions, and to commit to emission savings from energy efficiency measures and renewable energy micro-generation incorporated into the development.

At Liberal Democrat conference today, our members voted overwhelmingly in favour of protecting our planet. Here is what we want to do:
Lead with ambition and help all countries aspire to the 1.5 degrees limit for global warming
Keeping our 100bn a year pledge to low and middle-income countries to help with decarbonisation
Increase taxes and VAT on carbon-based activities such as first and business class flights. This will act as an incentive to switch to cleaner alternatives.
Introduce a protection and compensation package for those countries most likely to be worst affected by climate change.
Call for international agreements to phase out coal and protect our forests and work with the EU Carbon Trading System
Read our new policy on COP26
Read our new policy on Carbon Pricing
Using carbon has a price. We want to ensure that the price is fair to individuals and businesses and targets the biggest polluters.
We cannot continue as we are. The damage to our planet has already been done. We must all change our behaviour, change our economy and save our environment.

Three attempts before fly tipped waste bin removed

Flying tipping can be dangerous and annoying, this open bin was full of putrid water next to a children’s playground and I was concerned that it was only after I had reported it the third time directly to the Council officer responsible that I managed to get action to remove it.  The first two attempts using the Council’s online form for fly tipping were unsuccessful, the contractor apparently decided to log it as a missing bin collection despite my report highlighting this was not the case.  The Council’s online form does not give a receipt and feedback is not provided to those that report fly tipping incidents on whether their request has been accepted.  This would be particularly the case if fly tipping is not on public land and therefore the responsibility of the landowner to clear and not the council.

I have been reassured that the bulk of responses to removing fly tipping are within 24 hours but it needs to do better in providing feedback to residents that take the trouble to report fly tipping and improve its digital approach to reporting such issues.   I have been promised a review is taking place to remedy some of these issues so look forward to improvements.  Mid Sussex has one of the lowest reported rates of fly tipping, it needs to ensure this is not because of reporting issues.

Burgess Hill litter pick

We participated in the Great British Clean Up this morning organised by Keep Britain Tidy. The Town Council has arranged seven public clean-ups between 28 May and 13 June, covering your nominated ‘Grot spots’, details here. All equipment will be provided by Burgess Hill Town Council and clean-ups will be led by Ward Councillors.  Thanks to Anne Eves and everyone else who participated in the Leylands clean-up this morning, and I would particularly highlight the need for dog walkers to take their poop bags home if they don’t pass a bin.

Freeks Lane tidy up

Its good to see resident efforts to tidy up Freeks Lane, Liberal Democrat candidate Stuart Condie and myself took some time off from County Council election campaigning to clear up some plastic netting which was apparently left by contractors several years ago and become intertwined with vegetation, so we put some time into removing it this morning. Where possible we would prefer to hold the relevant authority to account but given the time that has passed this is not always possible.

A sustainable economic growth strategy?

Tonight ’s scrutiny meeting focused on Mid Sussex District Council’s sustainability strategy or rather the sustainable economic strategy, as it wishes to merge economic strategy with its sustainability strategy.   It will be challenging to ensure that economic issues do not dominate – I still have my doubts about combining these targets given the different and sometimes conflicting aims – the details now need to be gone through by a working party. 

I was pleased to see the Council take on my suggestion of getting environmental issues explicitly considered when the council makes a formal decision, in terms of a section on any relevant report to outline environmental considerations.   However, the existing Council policy of carbon neutral by 2050 is somewhat unambitious, particularly as West Sussex County Council has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, and my original attempt to get a similar commitment from the District Council in 2019 was not supported by the Conservative administration. 

The Coronavirus has had an impact across all council services including recycling and I highlighted the Council’s current performance on the percentage of domestic waste going to recycling, this has fallen back slightly to 42% when comparing with the target in its strategy of 50% by 2020 and a national average of 45%.  More time spent at home and charity shop closures have perhaps meant more rubbish being generated.  However, the Council has languished at near this rate for several years so further work needs to be done to promote reuse and recycling. 

That is not to deny that positives such as the small electrical waste collection on the same day as the refuse collection, and the possibility of an expansion to include textile recycling would be a good addition, as well as a separate food waste collection, which was timetabled for a pilot to begin last year, but delayed due to the pandemic.   However, there may also be painful decisions to reduce the frequency of refuse collections if the council is to find savings to finance the current gap in its income, although these have not been muted yet.