Wealden District Association of Local Councils


Minutes of a Meeting of the Wealden District Association of Local Councils held at the Civic Community Hall, Vicarage Lane in Hailsham on Wednesday 17th January 2024 at 7.00 pm

1. Present: Councillors Keith Stevens (Chairman, Wartling), Kay Moss (Crowborough), Diane Ward (Uckfield), Patrick Coffey (Heathfield and Waldron), Martyn Garrett (Crowborough), Martin Cooper (Willingdon and Jevington), John Castle (Hellingly), Andy Watkins (Willingdon and Jevington), Douglas Murray (Polegate), Jane Alford (Laughton), Steve Tolhurst (Chiddingly), Shirley MacKinnon (Pevensey), Chris Magness (East Hoathly), Deveda Redman (Mayfield and Five Ashes) and Penny Lawne (Withyham).

Also in attendance; Councillor James Partridge (Leader of Wealden District Council), Chris Bending (Director of Place, Wealden District Council) and Alison Stevens (Honorary Secretary).

2. Apologies for Absence: Apologies for absence were received from: Geoff Sambrook (Isfield Parish Council and the Wealden Group Against Over-Development), Beryl Smith (Berwick), Sally Carnie (Berwick), Graham Knight (Horam), Martin Craddock (Maresfield), Lolita Reeves (Maresfield), Susan Cole (East Hoathly with Halland), Long Man Parish Council and Warbleton Parish Council.

3. Draft Minutes of the Association Meeting held on the 4th October 2023 – Councillor Mackinnon referred to minute 8 at the last meeting and said that had she been present she would have said that responses to dog issues need to be addressed proactively and not reactively as they are now.

Mr Bending re-iterated what he said at that meeting and added that whilst it is comparatively straight forward to deal with instances of dog fouling it is more difficult to deal with reports of loose and unrestrained dogs because they are contested more but he agreed that more needs to be done. He said reports need to be made through the official channels with evidence so there is no middle ground and that it would also be helpful to know if there is a pattern to any behaviour.

Councillor Watkins pointed out that it was agreed at the last meeting that councillors would discuss how the District Council can improve sports facilities in its parishes. This was covered later on in this meeting under ‘Wealden Updates’ but will also be an item on the next WDALC agenda. He would also like the Association to arrange a meeting for parishes in the south of the District so they can discuss it further.

The minutes of the Association Meeting held on the 4th October 2023 were read, approved by all and signed by the Chairman.

4. Draft Minutes of the Management Meeting held on the 13th September 2023 – The minutes of the Management Meeting held on the 13th September 2023 were read and adopted by all.

5. Updates from Wealden District Council

Councillor Partridge said the key points from Wealden are:

  • The first draft of the Wealden Local Plan is being released to the public on the 22nd January. It will be included with the meeting papers of the Local Plan Sub-Committee Meeting which is being held on the 29th January, and it will then be considered by Full Council on the 8th February.

A public consultation will run for eight weeks from mid-March and the Plan will also be discussed in more detail at the Parish Conference on the 14th March. Events are also being planned in Horam, East Hoathly, Uckfield, Crowborough, Hailsham, Heathfield and Frant. There will also be a virtual village hall.

Whilst he couldn’t say what is in the Plan he did say that it does not meet the government housing requirement because of the constraints here and he stressed this is very much a draft plan which is going out for public consultation. He said the consultation is not a ‘done deal’, it is part of the statutory process and is something the District Council is committed to.  

  • The new Sports Hub at Hailsham has been approved by the Full Council and will now be submitted to Planning Committee South for a Decision on 25 January. The Council is working with the Football Foundation to deliver the project. Construction is expected to start later this year.

He also asked parishes and towns to look at Wealden’s Playing Pitch and Open Spaces Strategy and report what state their facilities are in so the District Council can see if it can help.

Councillor Castle pointed out the new Sports Hub is in Hellingly not Hailsham and asked if Councillor Partridge was aware it is going to be built on a flood plain. Councillor Partridge said the part being built on is not a flood plain but that will be checked.

Councillor Mackinnon pointed out Pevensey Parish Council will need financial help with its Recreation Ground because it does not have any Community Infrastructure Levy.

  • Residents are being encouraged to have their say on its budget consultation for the financial year 2024/25, which Wealden District Council has launched for consultation.
  • The District Council has updated its Housing Allocations Policy. Homelessness is less of a problem here than it is in Hastings and Eastbourne but Wealden is still supporting Eastbourne’s drive to reduce its numbers.
  • Councillors are also reviewing the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2019 which will be out for consultation soon.
  • This year’s Parish Conference will be held on the 14th March at the Civic Centre in Hailsham.

Councillor Mackinnon:

  • Said Pevensey has six social housing properties but 56 applicants are on the housing register. One of the criteria they have to satisfy when applying to live elsewhere is that they have a close relationship with the parish they are applying to, but they usually don’t have.
  • Is concerned about the long term maintenance of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) and their potential to contaminate the Pevensey Levels. The District Council is aware of the problem and can only request a Management Plan at the moment, legislation is needed for it to be able to do more.

Councillor Garrett pointed out the attenuation pond on the A26 is only ten metres away from the road and that it only has a single rail fence round it. He is concerned about safety and asked that such matters are taken more seriously.

6. Overdevelopment in Wealden

Councillor Sambrook (Chair of Wealden Against Over Development Group), was unable to attend this meeting but Councillor Tolhurst (Vice Chair) reminded everyone the Group is holding a meeting at Horam Village Hall on Wednesday 31st January to which all Parish and Town Councils and Parish Meetings have been invited. The meeting will start at 19:00 and the intention is to also invite local MPs and Wealden District Councillors.

7. Reports from Outside Meetings

Councillor Stevens has been re-elected Chair of NALC and will continue to:

  1. push the Civility and Respect agenda.
  2. make sure Central Government is aware of the views of Parish and Town Councils.

He also said:

  1. that NALC is currently applying for funding to set up a Board which will help identify councils before they

get in trouble.

  1. he will be attending the East Sussex Association of Local Councils’ Board Meeting on the 22nd January

and offered to raise any questions councillors have.  

  1. the police have stopped their Community Safety Action Group Meetings (CSAG) without any discussion. The

       CEO of ESALC is taking the matter up with them.

8. Next Association Meeting: The next Association Meeting will be held on the on 3rd April 2024 at 7pm in the Civic Hall, Hailsham BN27 2AX.

There were no further questions and this meeting ended at 7.50pm.

Categories: Wealden