Progress on road safety improvements for Leylands Road

At this morning’s meeting organised by local County Councillor Stuart Condie, Richard Speller from West Sussex County Council Highways shared possible community highway improvements for the Leylands Road area which, whilst focused on traffic lights for the Leylands Road/Mill Road junction, also included possible proposals to consolidate the two sets of traffic lights either side of the railway line at Wivelsfield Station, with traffic lights on the actual tunnel which would become single lane, allowing the pedestrian footpaths either side to be widened.

The meeting also looked at the need for improved crossing faculties at the roundabout with Valebridge Road, and at Janes Lane. No firm proposals have been made, this is at an early stage of looking at options and a chance to seek feedback from local residents. In particular the survey conducted by Sheddingdean Primary School as part of updating their school travel plan, and the petition launched by parents at the school are valuable indicators of public support for the Leylands Road/Mill Road junction. Do sign the petition (see a previous post) or feedback to local County Councillors.

Boundary changes make Mid Sussex winnable for the Liberal Democrats

Proposed parliamentary boundary changes for the next General Election mean that Mid Sussex is much more winnable for the Liberal Democrats – the final proposals are out for consultation at  https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/ . These take out Conservative leaning East Grinstead and adds Liberal Democrat leaning Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint to the new Mid Sussex Constituency.

This follows on from already finalised proposals to reduce the number of Mid Sussex District Council councillors from 54 to 48 which effectively loses the Conservatives six seats from their majority and makes the next District Council elections in 2023 more interesting. If you are interested in becoming a Liberal Democrat councillor find our more here.

The proposed changes to remove East Grinstead and add Hassocks/Hurstpierpoint makes sense, as the latter have much closer ties to Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath, for example the Brighton mainline and A273 in common.  The towns in the south of Mid Sussex shares common links with each other and Brighton, whilst East Grinstead has always been an outlier to the area looking more to surrounding areas of Kent and East Sussex with distinctly separate transport links. 

The proposals mean Ardingly & Balcombe and High Weald wards are also put into the new East Grinstead & Uckfield constituency, as well as East Grinstead itself, which is also logical as they are less linked to the southern part of Mid Sussex and their rural nature make them more akin to much of that new constituency.

The projected result below is using 2019 voting figures shows a Conservative vote of just 35% – and this is before taking account of the increasing success at local government level of the Liberal Democrats. Currently there are 16 Liberal Democrats on either Mid Sussex District Council or West Sussex County Council, and the party also controls Burgess Hill Town Council. There are no Labour councillors at any level in the seat, and the new constituency would be winnable for the Liberal Democrats if enough Labour supporters tactically back the Liberal Democrats to defeat MP Mims Davies.

See full figures at Electoral Calculus:

Mid Sussex Constituency (new boundary result using 2019 data):

PartyPredicted VotesPredicted ShareActual 2019 (old boundary)
CON18,71635.0%53.3%
LIB14,51727.2%24.3%
LAB14,02226.3%17.9%
Green3,8517.2%3.6%
OTH2,0023.7%1.0%
Reform3030.6%0.0%
CON Majority4,1997.9%29.0%

Data from Electoral Calculus

Potholes – 83 years before the average road is resurfaced!

Potholes are a daily annoyance to us, however until a pothole is at least 4cm deep or 10 cm wide it is not considered of sufficient priority for a repair to take place – you can report them here.  The reason we have so many potholes and why the situation is getting worse is the lack of ongoing road maintenance, government funding to councils in England for road maintenance in 2021/22 was cut by £390 million on the previous year.  

As West Sussex County Council’s Director of Highways acknowledged in 2020, there had been ‘a significant reduction’ in the Conservative Council’s highways budget over the last ten years.  The £17 million earmarked for road investment by West Sussex County Council in 21/22 is a fraction of the funding required when the average frequency of road resurfacing is every 83 years, which means the situation will only get worse with irregular repairs increasing the likelihood of potholes developing. 

The real culprit is Conservative cuts nationally to local government funding, Liberal Democrats say stop spending on grandiose new road schemes and instead spend the money on road maintenance.  Even the Conservative candidate in the current Dunstall Ward by-election is appealing for more funding, the question is will our local MP Mims Davies and her government listen?

Saturday is Market day with live music and free skating rink

This Saturday 12 Feb is market day in Burgess Hill Town Centre, 9am to 2pm, and the Town Council has organised a day full of fun for all the family. Even better a councillors surgery takes places in the Town Council Helppoint 10am-12am to meet yours truly!

From 11am – 2pm, the last stop of the Town Council’s Love Heart Trail and Quiz, the Help Point will house a completely FREE Valentines photobooth. Come along and get your picture taken in the booth and take away a print!

11am – 3pm you can listen to live music, featuring Danny Dangerously, Georgia Hazelgrove, James Brett, Futurism and more. The local performers will be based from the bandstand on Church Walk.

And from 10am – 4pm you can get your skates on with our free synthetic Ice Skating Rink. The rink will be located on Church Walk, in front of the Town Council Help Point.

District Council overpromised on gigabit fibre but its potential remains

Hopes of the early adoption of a gigabit capable Full Fibre digital network have been dashed, as it seems it will still be some time before the service will be commercialised for small businesses and domestic residents.  The announcement in 2020 that the District Council would “deliver gigabit speed broadband to more than 6,400 homes in Mid Sussex” has yet to materialise despite the Council announcing last May that the “network in Burgess Hill is now ready to use and will soon bring dramatically improved broadband connections to homes and businesses within the town”.

Although the bare bones of the network have been successfully delivered, and ‘dark fibre’ connections will be made available to provide broadband, network services and digital services, wider use is dependent upon operators assessing a business case to make the required investment to provide a service for small businesses and domestic consumers.

The Council now says the completion of the fibre link between Brighton and Burgess Hill, and for its Rural project, will be tested and completed in Spring 2022, and that connections will be available “based on suitable demand in each area from Autumn 2022.”  Businesses and domestic consumers can register an interest at https://cni.coop/ and this is particularly important as the level of interest will be used to assess potential demand.

We are lucky in Burgess Hill to already have fibre broadband delivered by Virgin Media, however the new network has the potential to bring faster, cheaper broadband connections, not just in Burgess Hill but Haywards Heath and some surrounding rural areas.  The Council needs to be careful not to over promise on the benefits to end users, as the ultimate service delivery is dependent upon its commercial partners, but I look forward to the expected benefits of this project being finally realised.

Housing developers still behind the curve on domestic energy generation

Visiting the Thakeham housing development at Woodgate in Pease Pottage highlights good “place making” with well-designed buildings focused on a village green, a new primary school and community facilities.  However, although the developer can provide ready fitted kitchens and furnishings as part of the package, it seems it is not currently willing to provide any solar panels or heat pumps, even as paid for extras.  To be fair, Thakeham did highlight their plans for new homes to be carbon neutral in lifetime operation by 2025, but it seems terribly short sighted at a time when energy prices are skyrocketing that home buyers cannot currently purchase new houses with these fitted even as optional extras.  

SID is back!

The Town Council’s Speed Indicator Display (SID) is back in action after getting new batteries. Complaints about speeding traffic on Sussex Way were raised with me at the Town Council’s Councillor Surgery, and it has now been temporarily installed to monitor traffic speeds on Sussex Way and deter speeding. This is a problem for pedestrians trying to cross Sussex Way between Howard Avenue and Saxby Road and I have asked Liberal Democrat County Councillor Stuart Condie to look into improved road safety measures. The SID is available for use across Burgess Hill – contact the Town Council if you have any suggestions on where to place it in future.

SID is currently in Sussex Way

Boris Johnson the tip of the iceberg, not the main problem

Our MP Mims Davies acts more like a backbencher rather than a minister at the heart of Boris Johnson’s government, however she cannot escape the fact that she presents as fully supporting a Prime Minister whose least misdemeanor is lying about partying at Number 10 whilst the country was in lock-down.  Boris Johnston led us into a Brexit that has proved to be an utter disaster, the country is now facing a cost of living catastrophe as inflation soars, and April’s national insurance increase will hit working people the hardest whilst letting the rich off the hook.  These are not isolated incidents but a series of policies promoted and agreed by a Conservative Party which has lost touch with ordinary people, that is the real problem.

Similarly on the District Council, the Conservative Party last month put forward proposals to massively increase local housing sites, giving Councillors a week to consider the proposals, and only withdrew them after it was clear opposition spearheaded by the Liberal Democrats was picking up support even from their own Conservative members.  As it was the Conservatives tried to close down scrutiny of the proposals, the meeting called to review them ended without any discussion of the plans, and it was only after Liberal Democrats proposed a working party to review them was passed by the committee with the help of renegade Conservative Councillors, that any proper scrutiny was agreed.

Proposals for the new housing sites

Rather than defending their policies, as the last Mid Sussex Council meeting highlighted, the Conservatives spent more time attacking the Liberal Democrats than defending their own policies.  At every meeting it seems Conservatives point out with glee that the Liberal Democrat policy is to build more houses than their own party.  However they miss the point, unlike the Conservatives, these targets would not be forced onto local authorities, which as their own leader acknowledged, gives developers too much power to pick and choose sites when there are already a million planning approvals which have not been used.   Too often the Government sides with developers, and no wonder when they have provided a fifth of the funding for the Conservative Party.

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 wastematters@midsussex.gov.uk 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.

Waitng for gigabit capable Full Fibre broadband

At Wednesday’s Council meeting I raised the issue of when local small businesses and domestic customers might get access to the much-trumpeted gigabit capable Full Fibre digital network.  The District Council has successfully obtained millions in funding from the Government to install the infrastructure to provide full fibre broadband, and for Burgess Hill this was completed last May, but it seems the commercial roll out which originally promised for last summer has been delayed. High speed broadband will bring significant benefits for local businesses as well as consumers and I have asked the Council to confirm when the service will be available.