Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday, Remembrance Service at St Peter’s Church Offham. 10.15am Sunday school in the church hall. The Remembrance Service will be taken by the Reverend Ned Binks at 10.30am and will include the laying of poppy wreaths in the church grounds, the playing of the Last Post by bugler Chris Greiff, and the observance of a minute’s silence. As it is also commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I, it would be good to see as many as possible in the congregation, to ensure that the people of the parish who fought in it, some of whom lost their lives to the cause, are never forgotten. Following the service, coffee will be served in the church hall.

HARVEST FESTIVAL: Although it is well over, it would be nice to mention that this year the service was taken by the Venerable Martin Lloyd Williams, Archdeacon of Brighton an Lewes, which included the Eucharist. He is thanked by the congregation and all those involved with St Peter’s Church, Offham for a very meaningful service. The church looked resplendent in its autumn colours, skilfully arranged by Caroline and her team. People in the parish or at the food bank were grateful for the generous donations of Harvest fare. Hamsey School held their own Harvest celebration in church the next day, and pupils and staff alike also contributed generously to the donations. A special thank you should also go to Tesco in Lewes for once again providing a selection of dried goods and a huge box of biscuits. They have been very supportive in this and other fundraising events that have been organised and it is very much appreciated by St Peter’s Church.

HAMSEY CHURCH: Has been open at weekends up until the end of October and hopefully this will continue in November. As I know that lots of people like to know when the Carols Service is at Hamsey, I have mentioned it in advance. Sunday December 9 at 3pm. Hamsey Harmony will be singing at the Carol Service. Reminder nearer the time.

OFFHAM CHURCH HALL: As well as the usual church activities, the ha hosts a number of village activities, such as Yoga, Pilates and the Monday Afternoon Club. The hall is also available to hire at a very reasonable rate for small events, seating around 40 people max. It has a fully equipped kitchen and toilet facilities. Contact Caroline Featherstone on 01273 477151 or email aaf-caf@usa.net for more information.

RURAL CRIME: I have just received my copy of South East Farmer, which tells me that more officers are to be trained on rural crime. It reports that for the first time, hundreds of officers in Sussex Police will have specific training to tackle rural crime. During a visit to Chaites Farm near Haywards Heath, Sussex Police Chief Constable Giles York said 800 officers would be given the training over the next four years. The 800 officers would be made up from 600 who are being replaced because they are retiring, moving on to other jobs or for other reasons. Another 200 officers are being recruited on top of what the force would normally have. They are being paid for by an earlier decision to increase the police precept by £12 a year for council tax payers in an average band D property. Both the NFU and Country Land and Business Association were at the meeting with Mr York at the owners farm in West Sussex. Robin Edwards, the CLA’s South East Regional Director, said: ‘We welcome the commitment by the chief constable to give specific rural and wildlife training to more than 800 officers over four years’. NFU South East Regional Director William White said: ‘We hadn’t seen the chief constable as upbeat about tackling rural crime for a number of years. He described the government’s decision to allow increased precept funding as a game changer.’ Both Mr Edwards and Mr White welcomed the latest Sussex Police rural crime strategy, which was published recently. The document says the strategy ‘has allowed Sussex Police to incorporate rural policing into a business as usual approach, without the need to create specialist teams’. Sussex Police has a number of wildlife rural crime officers (WRCOs) who have had additional training. Superintendent Emma Brice specialises in agricultural, environmental heritage and wildlife crime, support by sergeant Tom Carter. ‘By providing a business as usual approach to rural policing, Sussex Police are seeking to raise the organisational knowledge of rural crime through continuing professional development’ the strategy says. This means that any officer or staff member will provide an effective initial response to rural issues, regardless of whether a WRCO is available. Sussex Police has also launched the Sussex Countrywatch scheme during the Autumn Show and Game Fair at the South of England Show Ground in West Sussex. By signing up to Sussex Countrywatch, subscribers will receive regular email updates from police and partner agencies. Subscribers are encouraged to report crime and recommend others to sign up ‘creating a network of eyes and ears in rural communities’. Rural crime figures from NFU Mutual’s latest report show rural crime cost East Sussex £423,000 in 2017, a rise of 77.6 percent from £238,103 in 2016. In West Sussex the figures were £437,628 in 2016 and £373,168 in 2017, a 14.7 percent fall. Figures from Wet Sussex Police show that at the end of March 2006 the force had 3,127 officers, 2019 staff and 257 police community support officers (PCSOs). By the end of March this year there were 2,569 officers, 1,813 staff and 203 PCSOs. By the beginning of October, the number of officers had climbed back up to 2,711.