Action needed on water leaks

Leaks seem to be springing up all over the place, no doubt due to the excessive dry conditions as soil contracts and heaves, bursting underground pipes.  Current leaks I have checked out as outstanding for repair include St John’s Road, Park Road (the actual leak is just inside Park Close) and on Maple Drive (near The Hawthorns) which are among at least eleven currently shown as outstanding in Burgess Hill – reporting is easy via the South East Water interactive map.

A quarter of water companies have failed to meet the targets for reducing wasteful mains leakage which nationally runs at a massive 18% of supply. Mid Sussex faces a hosepipe ban from next Friday, but Ofwat as regulator needs to ensure water companies spend more on maintenance and less on profits returned to shareholders – South East Water doubled its profit in 2020/21 taking a 15% cut of water charges!

Vacant Care Home to get a new lease of life?

Following my last enquiry in December I was advised that the former Ernest Kleinwort Care Home in Oakenfield was being put on the market to be sold, but after chasing the lack of action I now understand the sale has now been halted as the Disabilities Trust is looking to reconfigure the home for care provision following discussion with local commissioning authorities. The home has been left vacant since 2018, and its disappointing that progress on its reuse has been so slow, but I hope now finally we might see this matter progress.

Cyber-attack at Clarion leaves tenants unable to pay their rent

I am concerned that Clarion Housing Association is once again in the news for the wrong reasons, a cyber-attack wiped out some of its IT systems, in particular the direct debit payments for rent payments seem to have been stopped for many tenants, leaving them unclear how to pay their rent. The incident happened on 17th June, but tenants have been left in the dark until recently about what was going on, phone enquiries are only taken for emergency repairs although an online chat facility is now available to take other repairs and payment enquires.

Clarion is the biggest housing association in the country, too big many would say, it manages 125,000 homes and effectively operates using public money without proper representation from its tenants or local communities, given the way such housing association Boards are appointed. It’s the latest incident to affect the housing association, which is already facing an investigation from the Housing Ombudsman after the regulator found severe failings with the recent finding of significant maladministration of leaks, damp and pest infestations, as well as its complaint handling.

This is not in the least unexpected given the problems I have seen locally, Clarion is too big and too remote from the areas it serves. The Housing Minister has been urged to remove and replace the Clarion board with competent Board members by the Social Housing Action Campaign, and I would support this, it needs to engage with tenants and residents over the long-term future of the organisation with a view to breaking up an organisation that has grown far to big.

Stonefield Way Playing Field Secured

A local resident raised a concern that the gate leading to the playing field off Stonefield Way had been left unsecured as pictured but I was pleased the District Council responded the same day when I raised the issue, to secure the height barrier and apply a new mechanism so it has now been locked. If you have an issue to raise about local parks and other recreational facilities do contact me or email the council directly at parksopenspaces@midsussex.gov.uk.

Burgess Hill’s urban beach is back!

The Urban Beach is back, now open 10am-4pm every day until September 11th outside the Town Council Helppoint, bring your own bucket and spade! At the Councillor’s Surgery on Saturday we fielded questions on public transport, schools, and local events. Councillor surgeries take a break in August, and return in September on every second and fourth Saturday of the month.

Conservatives like Mims Davies backed Johnston to the hilt

The chaotic resignation of Boris Johnson and last-minute conversion of Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies to uphold a level of integrity in politics underlines the failure of the Conservative Party to address the rot within it.  Johnson’s character was known when he first elected as leader, with multiple allegations of impropriety and lying well known.  Yet MPs like Mims Davies enthusiastically back him even in the face of the Covid Party scandals when her response to the Sue Gray Report was to blame the situation on the “appalling and inexcusable drunken behaviour by officials and advisors” ignoring the real issue which was the disregard for the rules at the top.

Johnson promised to “get Brexit done” – yet Brexit is deeply unpopular, now only supported by 35% of the electorate, it divides the Union and the agreement he claimed was “oven baked” has become such a liability he wanted to tear it up, breaking international law just as easily as he has broken domestic law.  There is no Brexit bonus, Conservative promises of lower taxes and better public services have all been delivered in reverse and high inflation is threatening all our living standards.

Yet the Conservative candidates to replace Johnson all have unappealing platforms, focusing more on giving away unfunded tax cuts to the better off and big business, and competing for even harder versions of Brexit that involve breaking international law and withdrawing Britain from other international institutions such as the European Court of Human Rights, which would threaten our civil liberties.  

We are facing massive challenges right now – the cost of living, the unsustainable pressures on the NHS and social care, the housing crisis and climate change. We really need our politicians to get serious about addressing these, but it seems none of the Conservative candidates for their leadership seem to have any coherent plan to tackle these problems.

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!