Uckfield mayor promises to listen to the people

New Uckfield Mayor Cllr Louise Eastwood and deputy Mayor, Cllr Duncan Bennett
New Uckfield Mayor Cllr Louise Eastwood and deputy Mayor, Cllr Duncan Bennett

For anyone who has lived in Uckfield for more than ten years, the picture of Cllr Louise Eastwood donning the mayoral chain will be a familiar sight.

Cllr Louise Eastwood was mayor of the town in 2006 and at a Town Council meeting on May 18 this year she was once again elected to serve the community as mayor. Her deputy is former deputy mayor, Cllr Duncan Bennett. Louise succeeds Cllr Ian Smith in the role.

Louise told the Express: “I’ve always represented the town but I’ve been in the background for a number of years. I was in a state of shock after being nominated as mayor. I want to pay tribute to the fantastic work that’s been done by Cllr Smith. He’s given amazing service to the community and he’s a hard act to follow.”

What are her priorities for the year?

“There are all kinds of things happening now including the huge issue of the 1,000 new homes in Ridgewood. I think it’s important we work alongside the right people. A problem we’ve had in the past is the feeling the council has not listened to us. I want to make sure we do listen and make sure everyone’s views can be put across. I aim to work with residents and find solutions to their problems that are right for them.”

Another big issue for the council’s new team of independent members is High Street parking. Louise went on: “I believe we must have parking on the High Street. I’ve no objection to losing some spaces - after all it’s important the pavements are safe - but we must make sure there is not too much disruption to traders. We don’t want to lose businesses which attract customers to the High Street. But we do need a revamp - a bit of a spruce over, new pavements, that sort of thing. The biggest threat to traders is losing parking outside their shops so we must aim to retain at least some of that.”

She said a review of High Street improvements - including parking - is due to finish in May. East Sussex County Council will meet members of the Uckfield Chamber of Commerce on June 11 to discuss various options. That is before the final plans are revealed to the public.

The High Street issue is proving so controversial that only two town councillors put their names forward at a meeting on Monday to be on the Regeneration Joint Committee. They are Cllr Keith Everett (independent, Ridgewood) and former mayor and current committee member Cllr Ian Smith (independent, Ridgewood.) Former joint committee chairman Cllr Mick Harker stood down as a council member at the May 7 elections.