Build in resilience to extreme weather

Heavy showers are having an impact on our roads so take care, flooding and drain covers blown out (this one by the entrance to Worlds End Park on Valebridge Road), and flooding in Freeks Lane and nearby houses in Dumbrills Close, as well as the previous mentioned flooding at Wivelsfield Station. Some of these issues are just the effect of heavy rain, no doubt made more extreme due to global warming, but it also highlights shortcomings in drainage infrastructure which needs to be remedied, and the need to plan for and build in more resilience to extreme weather. A particular issue is the poor drainage in Freeks Lane which has to cope with water flowing down Mill Road and swamping householders in Freeks Lane itself, local County Councillor Stuart Condie is pressing West Sussex County Council to take action to remedy this.

Wivelsfield Station approach flooded again

Flooding on Leylands Road at the west side of Wivelsfield Station has been a longstanding issue, with accumulated water after heavy rain leading to commuters being drenched as they walk along Leylands Road towards the station, due to spray from vehicles, indeed accumulated water has at times topped the pavements. A key cause has been water flowing from a spring that develops after heavy rain on the south side of the road but now the new paths just being completed under the Place and Connectivity Programme channel increased water volumes to this point.

A new culvert on the south side of Leylands Road has been excavated as part of the current works, but it appears the drains under the Leylands Road have been left untouched. This may be why the two parallel road drains on Leylands Road are currently blocked (which I have reported) and with the recent rainfall the road is currently flooded. I have asked for urgent clarification on how this additional drainage will be managed to resolve this problem.

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.

Action needed on empty residential home

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Oakenfield closed in 2018 and has been left unused since, despite being a modern purpose-built residential facility built with charitable funds, I have raised concerns about the delay in reusing the site with the Disabilities Trust and have been told that proposals for the site will be brought forward shortly – I look forward with interest to see if promises that the site would continue to provide services for people with complex disabilities are met.

It’s a hat trick in Mid Sussex!

Thanks to everyone who supported the Liberal Democrats in yesterday’s County Council elections, it seems again the Tories have been wiped out, at least in Burgess Hill!   Existing Burgess Hill and Hassocks Cllr Kirsty Lord increased her majority from just 20 votes to 1,634 votes, and our new Liberal Democrat Councillor for Burgess Hill East is Richard Cherry; and for Burgess Hill North, Stuart Condie, both gaining seats from the Conservatives.   This caps a day which has already seen the announcement of massive support for the Liberal Democrat Town Council’s proposal to build a new arts and entertainment venue, with plans for the Beehive receiving a thumbs up by 2,616 residents – 94% of those participating, and 88% supporting the application for a loan.  Well done Burgess Hill!

Nationally Liberal Democrats held their own against the other parties. However, to put the results into context, reviewing the share of the vote, Liberal Democrats gained 17% of the projected national vote, with 36% for the apparently dominant Conservatives. Progressives have a majority in this country but our electoral system actives favours the Conservatives unless opposition parties work together.

Council votes down more openness in Scrutiny

At a time when sleaze and dodgy deals are in the headlines as our Prime Minister battles questions of who paid for his curtains and why Conservative donors with his private phone number were far more likely to receive untendered contracts, Johnson’s commitment to improving standards in public life has been undermined by his appointment of a new standards adviser who cannot initiate his own investigations and can be overruled by the PM.  

At tonight’s Mid Sussex annual council meeting we had our own version of this where attempts to elect opposition councillors to become Vice-Chairs of the three Scrutiny committees were voted down by the Conservative administration.  Scrutiny needs to be conducted openly and honestly, on the District Council we saw the decision last year to close Clair Hall where the Conservatives tried to close down debate, and which ended up leaving the Council taken to court for making an unlawful decision, and facing legal fees of £27k. 

Liberal Democrat leader Alison Bennett also raised the need to reinstate later start times for council meetings given issues for those with children or in work to attend early meetings.  Typically one Conservative didn’t see the issue as he managed three companies and didn’t have a problem attending meetings !!! We need councillors in touch with ordinary life not millionaires with their castles in the sky.

Action on Marle Place footpath

Pleased that after I raised the issue, that the District Council has clarified with the contractors to ensure the footpath through Marle Place is kept open as far as possible whilst the current work takes place, they have apologised to those inconvenienced when it was closed off over the weekend.  The route will need to be closed again this coming Wednesday morning until mid/late afternoon to allow for the final surfacing to be made. I understand the Council has reminded the contractors to ensure that clear closure signs are put in the appropriate places so people can divert before reaching the point of closure. The work is taking place to increase the width of the path and is part of the Place and Connectivity Programme to improve foot and cycle paths in the town.

Moss away?

Following concerns that I raised about the state of some of our smaller play areas I have been reassured by the District Council that work to improve some of our smaller play areas like Forge Way is underway, the extended closure due to the pandemic left it and some other play areas covered in moss and with minor repairs needed.  I understand the moss and toadstools has been treated and the hard areas will be swept this coming week .