Readers’ letters - January 28

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Relocation a waste of cash

Councillor Nicholson’s recent letter to the Express “the devil is in the detail”cannot be left unchallenged, since I believe he is either dissembling or hasn’t done his homework.

Lewes District Council residents receive one of the lowest amounts of government grant per person of any council in the country, for historic reasons. Yet we deliver high quality services.

The suggestion of moving the Lewes District Council offices to the coast has been evaluated many times. Cllr Nicholson knows that a recent study resulted in an estimated building cost of £10 million, not including the cost of purchasing a site. That’s a lot of money to spend on relocating staff whose lunchtime purchasing power is supposed to provide an uplift to the local economy. Some council staff are already located in Newhaven to help residents. None of the costed options for a move have ever been shown to produce savings, over any significant timescale. His proposal is frankly a waste of money.

Newhaven has been and remains a priority for the Lib Dems at Lewes District Council. We have led on the projects to develop and enhance the West Quay, build the Enterprise Centre, made the Fort a successful tourist attraction, used LDC land for and facilitated the building of both the business centre and the nursery on Denton Island. None of these achievements could have happened without us and Lib Dems are still determined to build on those successes in the future, by attracting further investment into the town, to create new jobs.

Cllr Nicholson is also misleading on preparing for change in local government. The Council is always looking for ways to deliver more efficient services. On procurement we are joining other councils to deliver better value for money, but in others eg the revenues and benefits service, independent assessors have twice concluded Lewes District Council would make no meaningful savings, and might provide poorer value for money, for our residents. If there is a sound business case for any service, we will consider it.

This logic was applied to evaluating a joint waste collection, with other councils, to award to a private contractor, but since LDC already runs a service which costs less than any other council in East Sussex, together with the highest user satisfaction level currently, Lewes residents would pay more, probably for less!

Cllr Nicholson’s party’s emerging manifesto pledges for the May elections are becoming clearer, spend money on new offices and opt-in to countywide contracts to deliver local services via the private sector. And, therein lies the rub, the Tories can hardly campaign for “localism” in local government, while delivering services through large contracts that remove any kind of direct accountability for residents. It’s a challenge for the Tory Party to reconcile these conflicting aims, they failed before.

Ann De Vecchi, Leader, Lewes District Council

Why weren’t residents told?

Councillor Gardiner deploys the ‘not on my watch’ argument to defend himself and his fellow Ringmer LibDem district councillor (‘Forges before our time’, January 21). But there is a major Ringmer issue, wholly on his watch, of which virtually all Ringmer residents are unaware.

In September, 2010, Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners produced a report, ‘Employment & Economic Land Assessment (ELA)’. Lurking inside is a proposed industrial site designated ‘P12’.

The report states: ‘sites in Ringmer were also included ... [Site] P12: Land to the South of Gote Lane, Ringmer ... is seen as an attractive alternative for firms unable to find suitable sites in Lewes town’.

Site P12 is highlighted on the above ‘Google Earth’ shot. It is equal in area to one quarter of Ringmer’s existing built-up zone. It sits within the new national park, bounded on two sides by Gote Lane and New Road. Coincidentally, it sits below the proposed industrial turbine.

The ELA was published with zero publicity. The crucial group within LDC is the planning committee whose lead member is Ringmer LibDem district councillor, Professor Emeritus Peter Gardiner. As lead member he could not express an opinion on the site. But it beggars belief that Ringmer residents were not fully informed of this development.

Councillor Gardiner must surely have studied the ELA report in minute detail during September/October? As Ringmer’s elected representative, why did he not share the information immediately and openly with all his Ringmer constituents?

And please – could we be assured that there will be no politically-driven survey telling us that this is something we have long desired?

Dr Tony Parker, Ringmer

Let’s keep to subject matter

I received a parking survey through the post which I am still seething about.

I agree that the public, and particularly motorists, should be consulted on what our local authorities plan to do, especially over the emotive subject of parking in Lewes.

I found the first 14 questions straightforward and have no objection toward them, but I do take exception to the last four (15 to 17 on the survey).

How is knowing my ethnic group, religion and whether I am homosexual or straight going to help with me finding a suitable parking space in Lewes?

Maybe the council plans to have whites only or blacks only parking spaces. Maybe as a Christian, I will get a parking place near my place of worship. Yes, I know this is nonsense but some consultant has decided to ask these ludicrous irrelevant questions and that is why I will ignore that part of the survey and return it blank.

Geoff Fitch, Ringmer

Let’s make it one county

IN the interests of saving public money by sharing local authority resources as the Government is recommending, may I suggest the re-unification of East & West Sussex back to the original County of Sussex?

As the centre of the new/old county would then/again be Lewes there would also be no need to move the council offices to Polegate or anywhere else, thus saving even more un-necessary expense.

Just a suggestion!

M C Young,

Newhaven

Thanks for the kind help

ON 25 November, 2010, at 2.15pm, I fell in Cliffe High Street by North Court Passage breaking my right arm humerus bone. Extremely painful. Eight weeks on and I’m still not out and about.

I would like to thank the two ladies and gentleman who came to my aid, particularly the lady who used her mobile phone to call an ambulance, and stayed with me until the ambulance arrived.

My thanks to the ambulance team for their quick response.

Also my thanks to the lady from the shop who brought a chair for me to sit on.

Mrs C Clout, Lewes