Supporting the Big Plastic Count

We know that the disposable plastic we use on a daily basis is harmful to the planet and to ourselves, micro-plastic is found in our bodies, in our water and in our food, yet we are painfully slow in providing alternatives to single use plastic. 

This year, the government is starting to decide on legal targets for reducing plastic waste and it’s important to provide a baseline for current usage which is why as a member of Greenpeace I am supporting their campaign to measure the amount of plastic packaging we use.

The aim of the campaign is to reduce single-use plastic by 50% by 2025 by transitioning to reusable packaging and supporting non-plastic alternatives such as our own Scrapless, the plastic free store.  Join the Big Plastic Count for 16th-25th May and measure your plastic use in the next week to provide the baseline for the campaign.  It’s also good to contact retailers or manufacturers who provide unnecessary plastic packaging to highlight your concern.

Burgess Hill review proceeds despite Conservative opposition

Thanks to a massive response from local residents, the petition to call for a Community Governance Review was signed by 3,000 residents and the next stage commenced with Mid Sussex District Council forced to conduct a formal six week consultation with the residents of Burgess Hill and Ansty which ends on 3rd June. When this exercise is completed draft recommendations will be made & there will be further consultation on these in the summer. The final recommendations go to full MSDC Council in September this year.  However the logic is clear that the Burgess Hill Northern Arc belongs in Burgess Hill and the original officer recommendation for boundary changes is upheld.  This exercise has cost tens of thousands of pounds of tax payers money in the notifications sent to residents and officer time, all because Conservative Council continue to take exception to Burgess Hill – do respond to the consultation – see the Town Council’s response here, and the Mid Sussex consultation page here.

Conservative, Greens and Liberal Democrats highlight Mid Sussex’s smash and grab

Not content with demolishing the Martlets Hall without a replacement, turning down proposals last year to improve the “slab” where the demolition site is, and failing to exercise any control as the freeholder of the lease held by New River Retail to enforce its responsibilities to keep its properties under proper repair, the latest insult to Burgess Hill by Mid Sussex Conservatives is to grab the rates income otherwise due to the Town Council.

Burgess Hill has taken thousands of new houses, not least from the Northern Arc, which although it is outside the current boundary of Burgess Hill, has always been intended to be integral to the town. The District Council’s officers had already proposed this would take place with a boundary review to bring the Northern Arc into the boundary of Burgess Hill from 2023. However, it seems Mid Sussex Conservatives want to prevent this, and voted at a meeting last week to keep the existing boundary whilst still expecting Burgess Hill to put up with all the problems from new housing and its effect on local services such as the increasing congestion of our roads.

Tonight all political parties on the Town Council have come together to condemn this move and a petition has been launched which if 2,000 signatures are obtained will force the District Council to reverse this decision. This will allow the Town Council to fund local town wide services for the new housing. As a Conservative member of the Town Council stated of the District Council’s attitude as “local politics in the worse possible way.“ I urge you to sign the petition which will shortly be available on the Town Council’s website to overturn this perverse decision.

Council rows back on Burgess Hill Centre for Community Sport

Whilst welcoming the chance to get a significant investment in new pitches I was disappointed, the District Council seems to have rowed back on the more ambitious proposals previously put forward – the new Centre for Community Sport, which will be located opposite the Triangle Leisure Centre risks becoming solely football, rugby and hockey pitches, with an “optional” cricket pitch. This is despite being granted 9 hectares of land by Homes England and being funded by s106 developer contributions from new housing in the Burgess Hill area – Mid Sussex District Council itself is contributing very little to the scheme.

It seems rather than meet identified local needs as promised on the Homes England website, the initial consultants report makes no mention of athletics and other local sports, and when I asked the Deputy Leader at tonight’s full Council meeting, he was not able to positively confirm that full consultation would take place to include provision for athletics and the wider range of sports originally proposed. We have been promised “extensive public engagement” over the next twelve months to shape and refine the proposals” and I look to a meaningful debate on what is really needed rather than what the Council is telling us is required.

The consultants “recommended layout” comprises the following:

Football:1 x 3G Football Turf Pitch and Ground to FA Step 5 Floodlighting and viewing stand. 2 x football changing rooms in a pavilion shared with rugby. 4 x grass youth football pitches.

Rugby: Regulation 22 World Rugby compliant artificial turf pitch. 2 x rugby changing rooms in a pavilion shared with football. Floodlighting and viewing stand

Hockey: Full sized floodlit hockey pitch (Gen 2 multi-sport surface) to beprovided at the Triangle Centre site. Parking for 120 vehicles with drop off, coach parking

Optional Facilities: Artificial wicket and cricket pitch, to the natural turf pitch area to the south of the site. Small cricket pavilion and parking.

Spring into March in Burgess Hill

This Saturday 12 March, Burgess Hill Town Centre sees the normal monthly market, as well as Spring into March special events with a drop in children’s crafts at 83 Church Walk from 10am – 2pm. There will also be a free Climbing Wall, Strike a Light reaction game, and street entertainers from 10am – 2pm. No need to book for any of these activities, just turn up and enjoy. And perhaps not quite as entertaining there is even the regular twice monthly Councillors Surgery 10-12 at the Town Council Helppoint!

Shoddy groundworks left after utility installation

Have raised the issue of these shoddy groundworks left on Maple Drive from installing this grid, this is a clear trip hazard, particularly when it is so close to the entrance of the Hawthorns Play Area. Following my complaint, the County Council’s Inspector “has raised several defects against the licence issued for these works and this site will remain on our Streetworks Inspection cycle until full remedials are carried out to the required standards”. Information on current street works can be found here.

Action needed on Burgess Hill redevelopment

At tonight’s District Council budget meeting I highlighted that the original planning application for the Martlets redevelopment was made seven years ago, and Burgess Hill has still not seen any progress made on the planned redevelopment. Indeed even the current revision of this plan is currently likely to be unviable. Former local Conservative Councillor Pru Moore said a few years ago that the Martlets redevelopment was a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, she was right but not in the way she meant it, it seems to be taking all our lifetimes before any work even commences.

In the meantime, residents are left with neglected empty shops and vacant plots, the Liberal Democrat proposal was to ask the District Council to give a clear commitment to improving the Town Centre, to enable the Council to take action to improve the street scene and make use of the vacant land from demolition of the Martlets Hall.It’s good to hear the District Council has finally agreed to a meeting with the Town Council to discuss what action could be taken and the Liberal Democrat amendment provided a £100,000 budget heading to pay for this – unfortunately defeated by the Conservatives.

The Town Council previously submitted a bid for £16,000 for a project to provide an urban garden on the Martlets Hall site, which was refused, and has already refitted several shops (Scrapless, Burgess Hill Pantry, The Repair Café, etc), and would like to see further proposals to refit and rent out other empty shops, and to improve the street scene with better lighting and improved street furniture.

The District Council ultimately needs to take responsibility for the development, as it owns the freehold of the Martlets Centre, and agreed the terms of its lease with New River Retail. We all want to bring back more shoppers to Burgess Hill Town Centre and this proposal would have shown a clear commitment by the District Council to take action to achieve this. Despite this defeat the Town Council will continue to work with the Conservative controlled District Council and I hope we can work more productively together in the future.

Misguided Conservative denial to refugees

Astoundingly the Home Office is still maintaining that Ukrainians fleeing the invasion need to apply for a visa related to close family or specific work opportunities, effectively denying any legal route to refugees. Every other country in Europe has said it will take refugees without the need for a visa. Liberal Democrat MP’s have written to the Government urging them to change this callous policy and withdraw the wrong minded Nationality and Borders Bill which is currently going through Parliament because it would criminalise refugees coming to the UK to seek asylum. The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those escaping war and persecution, just as we supported those fleeing Hitler and Stalin, so we should be supporting Ukrainians fleeing from Putin’s invasion.