Cross in Hand, Horam, Blackboys & Five Ashes

PARISH ASSEMBLY: I attended the annual Heathfield and Waldron Parish Assembly April 9. Although well supported unusually there were a number of empty seats. A number of local residents have commented that the assembly has now become too stage managed and that they preferred when presentations were made by the chairs of the parish committees. Dale Poole from East Sussex Highways gave a talk He gave a brief run-down on overview and reporting procedures. He explained how Highways had issued a new contract on May 1 last year which switched highway responsibilities from Kier to Costain James. There is a different team of four contract managers and 110 of East Sussex County Council contracting staff were transferred, receiving new contracts from the employer. Kier employees also received new contracts. As one ESCC contracting staff told me on his transfer ‘he had now reverted from gamekeeper to poacher’. The contract for road improvements will be funded by a lump sum from County and Mr Poole said better value will be achieved that way. A member of the audience queried this, but was told the work will be closely assessed and monitored throughout all processes. He said: ‘This way we get more bang for our buck.’ Replying to questions from the floor he assured townspeople that priorities would be potholes and resurfacing, but major through routes would inevitably come first. This caused concern to some local residents, including those living in Tilsmore Road and Pook Reed Lane. And he stressed how little money there was overall to deal with the ‘massive’ problem of road surfaces breaking up following bad weather. One questioner asked whether the techniques used by contractors were adequate, querying the quality and durability of tarmac used. If you have any queries regarding potholes or any other highway matters that have not been attended to please contact the Parish Council as they have a direct line to Mr Poole.

AIR AMBULANCE: David Mantz described the work of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, saying operators now have use of three helicopters, two new craft and one, older smaller craft which is used to take patients needing non-urgent treatment to specialist centres across the South East. They also ferry essential medical supplies such as blood plasma. Each aircraft carries a trauma doctor, critical care paramedic and two crew members. The service now operates 24/7, taking patients, often injured in road crashes or riding accidents, to the nearest A&E unit. Worryingly, he said most night injuries to young people result from stabbings, even in the rural countryside. A grant from the Government’s Libor fund enabled the lease of a new large helicopter. They operate from airports at both Redhill and Rochester. And he said donations were welcome, however small, describing how just £1 can pay for enough bubble wrap to keep a patient warm on the journey.

MEN’S SHEDS: Bill Philps from Age Concern, Heathfield described the work done by the charity which includes the use of minibuses, now in their 27th year, which ferry more than 4,000 passengers a year, saving 1,200 car movements on the road per annum. More volunteer drivers are required. He went on to describe a new project, called the ‘Men’s Shed’ which originated in Australia and is now spreading widely here. There are ‘Sheds’ in Tunbridge Wells and Hellingly where participants join forces to create rustic planters and other street furniture for the community. He described how, because men work long hours until retirement, they do not make the social contacts their wives do, and find time hangs heavily when they have nothing specific to do. The Men’s Sheds aim to bring them together to work on projects which could be large or small; from mending faulty electrical equipment to construction. Their talents would be put to use, and they could help each other with vital projects. The project is supported by the town’s U3A and Action for Rural Sussex. A place to meet in Heathfield is urgently needed and he appealed to the meeting to come up with suggestions as to where that could be. I wonder whether it might be possible to use the Community Centre, which is leased by the Parish Council? Or even the Parish Council offices? If anyone can help, in any capacity, he would like to hear from them.

VOLUNTEERS: Leigh Lonsdale from the Heathfield and District Volunteer Centre described the way the Centre operates. It is open for two hours a day on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Parish Council offices. Anyone who has time to spare (can be just an hour or more) can go to the Centre and describe their interests. The Centre has a list of volunteer requirements so would-be volunteers can be told: ‘Yes, you could work with animals here,’ or ‘tackle an accounting job here,” instead of contacting the charities directly. Any essential suitability or police checks would be carried out by the charities themselves so the Centre is simply a referral point. This was interesting, but I wonder whether, for example, if you wanted to work with horses, you would contact Sussex Horse Rescue, or - in the case of dogs or cats - you would automatically get in touch with an organisation like Raystede? I will be very interested to hear how this works out.

As I have said I was disappointed to note there were fewer people at this meeting and wonder whether the decision to allow speakers to talk first, taking up the bulk of the time, might have dissuaded others from attending? There were also few questions at the end. Usually there is a lively debate when the meeting finishes, but as this was quite late I fear people just wanted to get home! But there was a vote of thanks from a resident who expressed his appreciation at the work done - entirely voluntarily - by councillors who give up their time.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS: The Parish Council chair twice mentioned the fact that Saturday opening at the High Street Parish Council offices is still being ‘trialled.’ How long will this trial continue? We believe it has been going on for at least a year. It’s a good idea, but will it continue? We hope so. I noted that police were no longer represented at the Assembly. We used to welcome our much-appreciated PCSOs, who manned a small display and were happy to describe their work to everyone who attended. They also used to give a small presentation. They are much missed - as is their presence on the streets of our town.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: In the early hours of Monday April 16 an attempt was made to steal a Land Rover Defender in Firgrove Road, Cross in Hand. Thankfully the vehicle had a very loud alarm system that deterred the culprits who ran off.

What is county lines? Children as young as 12 are being put in danger by criminals who are taking advantage of how vulnerable these young people are. Criminal exploitation is also known as ‘county lines’ and is when gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs. How many young people are affected by ‘county lines’? No one really knows how many young people across the country are being forced to take part, but The Children’s Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity. It is estimated that at around 4,000 teenagers in London alone are being exploited through child criminal exploitation, or ‘county lines’. Tragically the young people exploited through ‘county lines’ are often seen by professionals such as police and social workers as criminals. However, police want these vulnerable children to be recognised as victims of trafficking and exploitation. They want them to receive the support they need to deal with the trauma they have been through. How are children being exploited? Gangs are deliberately targeting vulnerable children – those who are homeless, living in care homes or trapped in poverty. These children are unsafe, unloved, or unable to cope, and the gangs take advantage of this. These gangs groom, threaten or trick children into trafficking their drugs for them. They might threaten a young person physically, or they might threaten the young person’s family members. The gangs might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation, it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status – but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter. However they become trapped in county lines, the young people involved feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the gangs want. What are the signs of criminal exploitation and county lines? Returning home late, staying out all night or going missing; Being found in areas away from home; Increasing drug use, or being found to have large amounts of drugs on them; Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going; Unexplained absences from school, college, training or work; Unexplained money, phone(s), clothes or jewellery

Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour; Using sexual, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know; Coming home with injuries or looking particularly dishevelled; Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.

No child should feel alone. If you think a young person you know could be in danger call 999, or if you have non-urgent information to share with the police, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you are concerned about a child’s welfare, contact your local social care department.

CRIME SUMMARY: On April 6, a distraction burglary occurred on London Road, East Hoathly, this involved targeting a vulnerable person by offering them help to do some gardening, once the victim went to pay the male, he insisted that someone had just rang the door bell. Once the victim had left the room the male stole between £300 and £500 in cash and exited the property (Ref: 47180049569). On April 11, a burglary occurred on Parrock Lane, Hartfield in which access was attempted to be gained to an outbuilding but was unsuccessful (Ref: 47180050704). On April 11, a burglary also occurred on Glessing Road, Pevensey, in which car parts and tools were stolen (Ref:47180051719). On April 11, a burglary also occurred on Folkington Lane, Polegate, in which jewellery and cash was stolen (Ref: 47180052341). If you saw or heard anything, or have any information about any incident in this message please contact us online, email us at 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101, quoting the reference number provided. Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

WEALDEN ALERTS: Community Grants help local organisations. Wealden District Council is supporting more than 50 local organisations through its community grants scheme this year. Supported by Wealden District Community Grants. Wealden grants are helping community organisations like Rotherfield St Martin, the Uckfield Housebound Club, Wealden Talking News, the East Sussex Association of Blind and Partially-Sighted People and Crowborough Darby and Joan, as well as local sports clubs, scout troops, drama groups and outdoor enthusiasts. They are being helped through awards totalling £20,000 in Small Grants for short term projects and £50,000 in Capital Grants to support buildings and facilities. Among those benefitting from this year’s Wealden Small Grants include 2nd Hailsham Scouts who have received money for camping equipment, a Wealden-wide community basketball initiative, a community play in Mayfield, and Wealden Talking News who are receiving money to help buy equipment for blind and partially-sighted service users. Community centres, spaces and sports clubs have been the chief beneficiaries of the Wealden Capital Grants. They include Groombridge Tennis Club, Horam Village Hall, Ninfield Bowls Club and Rotherfield Scout Hut. Projects include a portable stage which will be shared by groups in East Hoathly, toilet refurbishments, kitchen improvements, new windows and insulation. The Council has also approved £201,000 worth of Three Year Service Level Agreements this year including annual grants of £15,000 to 3VA, the local Council for Voluntary Services, which provides support for voluntary and community organisations across the District and £7,000 for People Matter to provide employment support, training and coaching for long term unemployed and vulnerable people in Uckfield, Heathfield and Hailsham. Wealden Citizens Advice receives an annual grant of £165,000 for essential advice services across the District, and at its offices in Crowborough, Hailsham and Uckfield. Full details of all this year’s Wealden Community Grants can be found on the Community grants pages of the Wealden website.

HOUSE PRICES: Some good news, according to a recent report highlighted in the national press, Heathfield comes second in a list of five towns in the UK where house prices have risen fastest. I assume that applies to Cross-in-Hand as well? It appears we are on the map at last.

MAYFIELD AND FIVE ASHES: Mayfield Local History Society Friday, April 27, 7.30pm for 8pm. Scout and Guide Hall. Jute and Saxon Settlement of Sussex and Kent. Simon Mansfield’s interest in the subject started when he tried to find out the meaning of village names and realised that these place names seemed to reflect the progress of the Saxon and Jute expansion into Kent and Sussex. Once the Romans left, Jutes and Saxons started to invade Britain as they were pushed westwards by Visigoths, themselves under pressure from Huns from further east and moving into Saxon territory as a result. Among the earliest arrivals were Hengist and Horsa, mercenaries hired by the British King Vortigern who had taken over from the Romans in Kent to help him maintain and strengthen his hold on the region. The languages spoken by the invaders were similar to each other and this emerges clearly from the similarity between place names in Sussex and Kent. In Sussex, the Saxon King Aella and his three sons Cymen, Wlenca and Cissa landed at what is thought to be Shoreham. He will also consider the origins of other place names, particularly those with ‘ham’ or ‘ton’ in them. They seemed to mark a second phase of settlement.

THE SCOUTS: Supporters Committee. The Mayfield Scouts Supporters Committee are holding a massive Jumble Sale on Saturday, April 28 in the Memorial Hall from 11am to 1pm and all profits from this are going to support the Scouts who are venturing onto the canals again this summer. This will be such a worthwhile cause to support to allow our youngsters to have a fantastic and fun-filled summer break so please dig through your jumble and bring it along on the morning and then come and buy some back! We can also collect jumble for you from April 1. Please ring either 01435 872057 or 873112 for collection. Nicky Higgins Secretary, Scouts Supporters Committee

MAYFIELD ARTISTS: Open Studios Art Trail. For the second year local artists from Mayfield, Five Ashes and the surrounding areas are taking part in an Art Trail and opening their studios and homes in order to display a wide range of art. This includes paintings, prints, mixed media, ceramics, furniture, woodwork, jewellery and batik. The dates run parallel to the Mayfield Festival of Music and the Arts and cover three long weekends: April 27 to 29, May 4 to 6 and May 11 to 13. Fifteen venues will open between 11am and 5pm with approximately 30 artists taking part, providing the opportunity for visitors to observe and talk to the artists in their own creative environments. Artworks will be for sale, 10 percent of the proceeds of which will be donated to the Hospice in the Weald.

MAYFAIR: Saturday, May 12. The schools have already started to practice their Maypole dancing, so organisers are looking forward to their usual enthusiasm, skill and enjoyment which are at the heart of the Mayfair each year. The shops are getting involved, there is a high demand for stalls and plans are coming together for crafts and entertainment for all the family. It looks as though the High Street will be packed with activities from one end to the other. Information: Roger Stone 01435 872764 or 07776 144056.

CROSS IN HAND: Isenhurst Junction. By the number of skid marks at the junction a number of vehicle near misses must have taken place last week. John Plant raised the subject of the junction up at the Parish Assembly to Dale Poole ESCC Highways. Mr Plant gave chapter and verse of the dangers to motorists due to the poor layout of the junction. Mr Poole said he would look into the matter. Hopefully it will go to the top of his priority list before somebody is severely injured or even worse killed.

CROSS IN HAND PRIMARY SCHOOL: I am pleased to say that copies of the first prizewinning poster in the Sheepsetting Lane Neighbourhood Watch art competition are now displayed in town. You can see them in the lane itself, in the Co-op, in the Parish Council offices and also in AB Dance School, High Street. When we called into the school with a copy of the poster, we were delighted to hear that our clever winner, Amber Tambellini, is a member there. Members of staff there were also pleased. We hope this competition will run every year although it will change direction a little as new ideas are considered.

EXTRA POLICING: Good news. Sussex police are recruiting 200 extra police officers and will be deploying them in the local constituencies.

PICKING UP STICKS: If you enjoy using the woodland, we ask you to give up a small amount of your time to help us with its maintenance. We need help to tidy the ground where we cleared the rhododendron so that we can create a new path alongside the stream and sow grass and wild flowers. Starting the third Sunday of every month. May 20, June 17, July 15 , August 19, September 16 and October 21. Come along anytime between 11am and 4pm. No machinery is involved so it will be safe to bring along children.

HORAM: We hear that the Parish Magazine is no longer being distributed in Horam. Readers have contacted me to say they will miss it, and fear advertisers will not bother to support a magazine which has a severely reduced circulation. However it is always difficult to find people to step up to the plate and offer to take on a task, often outdoors and in bad weather. We don’t know the reason for this pull-back but I know the excellent little Mayfield Newsletter is available, free, in town shops and can also be read online. With Horam expanding, I dare say the task of distributing the magazine might just have proved too much. If any reader has a view on this, or any other topic locally, do get in touch. We are quite happy to use the column to appeal for helpers for any community or charitable scheme. There is no charge.

HIDDEN SPRING VINEYARD: Tours and Tastings. Discover Hidden Spring are now doing weekend vineyard tours and tastings. For further information contact 01435 813078.