Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, 8am Holy Communion, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Parish Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

ADVANCE NOTICE: The village Remembrance Service at St Peter’s Church is on Sunday, November 8, at 10.30am.

PROTECT YOURSELF: From becoming a victim of fraud. Message from banks. Please be aware that fraudsters are contacting customers via phone, email and text pretending to be from the bank, the police or a reputable company who they may have an existing relationship with. The fraudsters convince customers into handing over security details for to send payments to another account, often purportedly for safe keeping or holding. You can check on your bank’s website for more information on this and other current fraud trends.

IMPRESSED: I am sure that many who live around the area, especially the residents of Plumpton, must be very frustrated over the shameful way that Network Rail are behaving over the issue of the railway crossing. I am sure they must be pleased at the way our new MP, Maria Caulfield, has taken on Network Rail and persuaded them to hold a public meeting to enable residents to raise their concerns and to try and find a way forward. She has also kept in touch by letter with an update on her actions, not just with Plumpton residents, but all those around who are being affected by the road closure who are becoming very frustrated by having to make detours around our country lanes. I have been told that Novington Lane is being used to get from A to B and many people are worried that an accident will happen with all the extra traffic. Although we don’t live in Plumpton, my son does have reason to go there regularly because of his pest control business. Like me he is most impressed to have received letters from our MP who is giving support to her constituents.

BEWARE: Having recently written about my strange plant, which I have had many phone calls and letters about, I have just read in one of my magazines about a tree where the writer’s reports: Have you seen this tree? Beware. She goes on to say that her neighbour had a tree fall onto the road leading to the hamlet where she lived. When her son went out to check the stock next morning, he had to remove the fallen tree to enable himself and neighbours to go about their daily duties. Four days later, her son was covered in a most aggressive and what has now turned out to be a long-lasting skin allergy. After emailing photos to a friend who studied at Kew Gardens, they were told it was poison sumac (Toxicodendron Vernix) and not native to this country. Apparently it must have been planted in Victorian times. Should anyone have such a tree they are told to beware when handling it. Visit to find out more. Following the letter from Jim Smith and all the calls I have had my creepy plant dug up and burnt.

BIRDS: As I have such a wonderful variety of birds here I am amused to read that Blackcaps refer British grub. The article goes on to say: Good restaurants here for the first time, BTO research shows that the feeding of garden birds can influence migratory habits and species distribution. Blackcaps feasting on wild berries breeding in Germany and Austria are now spending the winter in Britain rather than southern Spain and the BTO thinks this is down to our enthusiasm for putting out bird food. Milder winters are influential too, but the birds’ increased presence coincided with the rise in commercial bird foods. Interestingly, Blackcaps that winter here have longer, narrower beaks than those in Spain, suggesting they are adapting to their wider diet. The bird’s cheerful trilling members of the warbler family, particularly enjoy sunflower seeds and fat balls. I seem to be doing something right as I have already been seeing Blackcaps around for the last month and it is giving so much pleasure to see a family of sweet little nuthatches coming to the nut feeders this year. It is the first year that I have seen them so close to the house and on the feeders, which means they must be living here and have bred this year. Unfortunately the buzzards also breed around here which are a constant danger to small birds.

RURAL CRIME: Last month the National Rural Crime Network published its first survey of the true cost of crime in rural areas. The overall figure for the cost of crime to rural communities is £800 million, equivalent to £200 for every household in the countryside. This is far higher than any previous estimates from organisations such as the NFU Mutual. The average cost to households who are victims of crime is £2,500 and it is £4,100 for rural businesses. More than one in four did not report the last crime of which they were a victim, this means that against Home Office figures of 294,000 rural crimes between April 2014 and May 2015, the actual number of crimes could be as high as 403,000. The survey has a number of recommendations, including a review of the funding formula to recognise the costs of policing rural areas. Policing must be targeted better too and rural communities need to report all crim incidents. After many years of prevarication, we finally have evidence for what is happening and what needs to be done about it. Email your views, letters or opinions to

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