Cross in Hand, Horam, Blackboys & Five Ashes

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: Update On Significant Planned Road Works on the M23. Saturday, January 19. Full closure of the M23 between junctions 10 to 8 north and southbound between 10pm and 4am. Diversion for Gatwick via junction 10, A2011, London Road, Airport Way. For M25 via A264, A22 to junction 6 of the M25. All diversion routes will be fully signed. To contact Sussex Neighbourhood Watch please E-mail or visit

WEALDEN ALERTS: Local councils appoint Biffa to provide waste collection and street cleansing services. A new waste, recycling, street and beach cleaning contract will start in Hastings, Rother and Wealden from the end of June this year. Biffa has been appointed to provide waste and recycling collection services to all households in these areas and to provide street cleaning in the Rother and Wealden areas. Hastings will be providing its own street cleaning in-house and all of the new arrangements will start on June 29. The appointment of Biffa follows a robust procurement project conducted by Hastings, Rother and Wealden councils over the last year following a mutually agreed early exit from the current contract with Kier Environmental Services. Under the current contract with Kier Environmental Services, which started in 2013, the nature of the waste and recycling environment has changed enormously. The councils will work in partnership with the new contractor, Biffa to meet the service requirements expected by residents, employing a flexible approach to meet the challenges of the changing waste environment and legislation. Waste and recycling collections and street and beach cleaning services are an essential public service provision. Whilst local authorities are still facing significant financial challenges, the appointment of Biffa on a seven year contract is welcomed by the councils. Biffa is a leading UK-based integrated waste management business. The Group operates across the breadth of the waste management value chain, including the collection, treatment, processing and disposal of waste and recyclable materials, as well as related work in the production and sale of energy derived from waste and the sale of recovered commodities such as paper, glass, metals and plastic. For more information visit

WORKSHOPS: Free Business start-up Workshops in Wealden. Starting your own business is hard work and not without risks. It demands long hours, enthusiasm and determination. It is crucial that you get good sound advice before starting a new business venture. Preparation is key so before you take the plunge access as much help as you can. Edeal is working in association with Wealden District Council to deliver start-up workshops throughout the district. The workshops are free to clients living or starting a business in Wealden. The workshops are interactive so please be prepared to join in. You’ll enjoy support and advice on the essential steps for starting-up so you can get your business off to the right start. The free one day workshop will cover the following: Business reality check, will your idea work as a business? Business planning, why? How much do you know about your business idea? Legal status for your business. Keeping on the right side of the law. Pricing concerns/breaking even. Introduction to profit and loss forecasting and cash flow forecasting. Customer focused marketing. The workshops start at 10am until 4pm Thursday, March 14 in Uckfield; Monday, May 13 in Crowborough; Monday, July 8 in Hailsham; Wednesday, Sept 18 in Heathfield; Wednesday, Nov 27 in Uckfield. Booking is essential so call 01323 641144 to book your place.

CREMATORIUM: Wealden Crematorium’s First Ceremony. Wealden’s Chairman Councillor Chris Hardy laid the final stone in Wealden’s new Crematorium at a ceremony to mark the completion of the building’s structure. District and Parish Council representatives gathered with the site team responsible for delivering the £5 million project. These include Baxall Construction, Clague Architects and MacConvilles Surveying. The modern, multi-faith facility is located south of Horam, along the A267. It boasts a 120 seat chapel, car parking for 150 vehicles, and will provide much needed provision for the 1,200 local people each year who choose to be cremated. Councillor Hardy said: ‘The completion of Wealden’s first crematorium is a landmark occasion for this Council. We are incredibly proud of the results so far. It has delivered a facility meeting the highest standards for a crematorium, whilst giving great consideration to the natural landscape. The results in a relatively short space of time are impressive. The official opening of this new service for the District in March 2019.’ Final landscaping of the site is now taking place along with work to the main entrance. Traffic lights will be in place on the A267 until the end of February whilst the work on the crematorium entrance is completed. Upon final completion, an Open Day will take place in the spring giving the public an opportunity to visit the facility. Further information about the Crematorium and its progress can be followed online via http://www.wealden Crematorium/Web_Wealden _Crematorium.aspx

HEATHFIELD ABOUT TOWN: Heathfield and Waldron Parish Clerk Retires. All good wishes for a happy and well earned retirement to Diana Francis who leaves her post as Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council clerk after 25 years. We’ve just received a note from the parish council which reads as follows: It is with considerable regret that I have to announce the impending retirement of Diana Francis, Clerk to Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council (HWPC). This month Diana completes 25 years of service with the Council as Clerk. Diana has been a key member of staff for a very long time serving under eight chairmen. Under her supervision the Council has become one of the primary councils in Wealden, highly regarded by not only the local government sector but also by its parishioners too. The Council gained recognition as a ‘Quality Parish Council’ when the scheme was launched in 2003, and remained as such until the scheme finished in 2014, successfully passing regular audits of its processes and procedures. Diana’s local knowledge and her vast network of colleagues and Government sector officials has been instrumental in HWPC remaining at the centre of decision making in Wealden. As a continued sign of her professionalism and commitment, Diana has agreed to support the Council through the elections in May and also with the selection process to find her successor. Diana’s last day with the Council will be June 28, 2019. Diana has been in post since we moved to Heathfield 15 years ago. Her role in public service began when she joined Wealden District Council’s engineering, architectural and technical services division before taking up the clerical post at the Parish Council in 1994. In those days she had no office - just a room upstairs in Trading4U up two flights of stairs, which she confesses was very hard on older, possibly stiff-kneed residents who wanted to talk to her about some important matter. In 1995 the council moved into offices at 94, High Street (on the opposite side of the road from where they are now.) She has a wealth of funny stories, including the tale of how one man came into her office with a cereal box. He said: ‘There’s a hamster inside, can you look after it please?’ On more serious matters she has presided over myriad improvements to the town and the council itself, many of which latecomers to the community might not be aware of. I remember vividly, in my early days in Heathfield, attending parish council meetings and being impressed by not just Diana but that wonderful chairman Peter Newnham (who could be seen in the High Street every day listening attentively to people’s troubles) and also the late Nikki Oakes, a former council member who worked tirelessly with Diana and Peter to make the High Street accessible to wheelchair users. Nikki herself used a wheelchair but that didn’t prevent her being here, there and everywhere, also thanks to Peter who escorted her and helped push when the gradient was steep. Diana explained how during her tenure the Heathfield Partnership was started, the Twinning Association got off the ground (thanks to input from the late Gill Temple.) Another amusing anecdote - the French and British contingent played each other at a series of sports such as tennis and even show-jumping. When the Brits turned up in Forges Les Eaux, suitably clad in jodhpurs and riding hats, the French ‘twins’ assigned each an extremely lively horse - many of which ran out of the jumping ring scattering crowds to four winds. Heathfield became a Quality Parish Council and retained the honour for more than ten years until the system no longer operated. A community warden scheme was piloted (forerunner of PCSOs) and various walks and trails were drastically improved. There were major refurbishments to play areas such as Jubilee Park, land at Theobalds Park was acquired and is now home to successful allotments and the council’s own community hub was created.

There’s a lot more to report but as always space is a constraint. So all I can say Diana is thanks for your input to the community and I am sure you will be much missed. I believe you are looking forward to a quiet retirement but I am sure we will be seeing you around the town. The Parish is now seeking a new Clerk.

STEAMER TRADING: It is sad to report that Steamer Trading in Station Approach has gone into administration. The well known chain of high end kitchen utensils and equipment is Heathfield’s first New Year casualty. When Mrs PP and I had a business in Alfriston we knew the Phillips family at their company’s birthplace Steamer Trading in Alfriston High Street. On many occasions I used to talk to Ben Phillips, the son, when he took over running the business. In those early days his vision was to create Steamer Trading as a high end brand with an extensive roll out programme in major towns. At the time my advice was where possible to buy the freeholds of the targeted shop, possibly in secondary locations, where the business rates were realistic. This strategy would take him out of the hands of greedy landlords and high business rates. The brand grew so fast and large, opening in prime locations, so obviously my advice was not heeded! Hopefully we will see a new trader in the vacant shop soon.

HOUSING FOR THE YOUNG: Just back from North Cyprus; a state which has had its problems, but also shows an enterprising spirit when it needs to sort out an important issue. In this case, housing for its young and expanding population (birthrate here is high.) In the past the island’s north was riddled with large, glamorous, so-called executive homes sporting balconies, swimming pools and bougainvillea-shaded terraces. Not now. The island is hell-bent on building low-rise apartments (starting prices £50,0000 starting price for a two-bed starter home on the main road at Windmill Place, Cross in Hand is £375,000. Agents say the price has just been reduced!) Right across the main cities, Kyrenia, Nicosia and Famagusta, builders are constructing attractive blocks of flats, many surrounded by communal gardens and play areas, and all available to rent with options to buy. The idea is that their young should be able to get onto the housing ladder as quickly as possible. I had a long chat with the former chief planning officer for Kyrenia who confirmed this is a deliberate government strategy. Perhaps, unencumbered by layers of buereaucratic red tape, they can make fast decisions and implement them. I’ve also read that our government plans to shape UK planning law in such a way that relaxes legislation over strict zoning, business use here, community use there, housing in the corner. The idea is that shops and offices in city centres, now empty of tenants and creating tumbleweed-infested open spaces devoid of humanity in our towns, could be converted for use as housing. This solves two problems in one swift move. These converted properties would be cheaper and therefore more accessible to young buyers, towns would get their ‘souls’ back and shops would have neighbourly customers. It also avoids the mushrooming impact that housing development on the outer rim of our country towns (talking about you again Hailsham) delivers. In the old days yes, I have vague recollections of pre 1950, normal people lived in the middle of towns, even London, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds. My wife, then a humble would-be trainee reporter on a North London weekly, was able to live in a West End mews flat with enough cash left over at the end of the week to treat herself to a slap-up supper in an Italian eatery, complete with Chianti bottle candle holder, for about £3 a head. She still yearns after London life but knows (as I keep reminding her) those days have gone. Cities are for the wealthy, the expats or the lucky oldsters who bought those Teddington semis for £20,000 and are now happily parting with them for a couple of mill. It just takes a bit of original thinking, if politicians wired up over Brexit have any brain space left.

MAYFIELD AND FIVE ASHES: New youth groups. Homework Club will soon be launching in London House on Tuesdays between 4.30pm to 6.30pm as a drop-in club for those aged 11 to 16 years to come and get advice or practise group work after school. The cost will be £1 per person per session. Natalie Thomson was a secondary school teacher, so come and test her brain. The club are looking for more volunteers to run this so please contact me details below. If you are looking to spend time working alongside children or think you could be of benefit to the group. The club will shortly be launching a Youth Group on Wednesday evenings for 14 to 20 years old in London House. This will be an opportunity to chat, have discussions, watch films and be social. The cost will be £1 per person per session. Look out for posters for the start date. If you would like to volunteer or know more about any of our groups please contact Natalie Thomson or 07889780531. Please remember all volunteers are required to undertake a full DBS check. Whatever you come along to, you are guaranteed a smile.

WALK: Mayfield Footpaths January Walk Sunday January 27. The regular monthly walk. Meet at 10am for a ramble along local public footpaths and lanes, approximately 3 to 4 miles. All walks start from South Street car park, the walks based on recent weather conditions. Everyone is welcome and there are opportunities for taking a shorter option if required.

LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY: Mayfield Local History Society Friday, January 27, Jack Cade, Mayfield Rebel? Will look at the broader context of the unrest in the period, the controversy surrounding this rebellion and the possible role of one of the local moated houses. We will look at records dating from the 15th century, though members will not be expected to use their rusty school Latin. Rather there are texts in English such as this, ‘disguised in a strange attire, he privily fled into the wood country, beside Lewes in Sussex, hoping to escape.’ Where indeed in the woods did he attempt to hide.

HEARTH AND HOME: Friday, February 22, Hearth and Home. Dr Geoffrey Mead will look at the sources of Sussex building materials, both local and imported. The geology of the county dictated the vernacular styles, from Wealden sandstones to coastal cobbles, while the long coastline, accessible rivers and creeks plus the proximity to the Continent, saw imported materials in many of the coastal communities. For more details contact Brian O’Connor, Chair 01435 873477; Rob Foster, Secretary 01435 873215; John Buddle, Treasurer 01435 872229.

CROSS IN HAND: Dog Anti Social Behaviour. Recently there have been a number of dog-on-dog attacks in Jubilee Park and Darch’s Wood. Some of the attacks have caused serious injuries to the victim’s pet. Please, this is a timely reminder to all dog owners. If your dog has a behaviour problem or is unsure or aggressive with others, please put your dog on a lead when others approach so as not to cause unnecessary suffering to the victim and the usual very high vets’ bills.

HORAM: Crematorium Update. Please see the report above in Wealden Alerts.