Cross in Hand, Horam, Blackboys & Five Ashes

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: HMRC Scam Alert. There has been an increase in the reporting of malicious calls, voicemails, text messages or emails purporting to be from HMRC. The fraudsters state that as a result of their non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable to prosecution or other legal proceedings such as repossession of belongings to settle the balance but can avoid this by arranging for payment to be made immediately by bank transfer or by iTunes gift cards. If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs or in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin; deportation. Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using ta known email address or phone number. No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher.

Fake TV licensing emails. Action Fraud has received more than 5,000 reports about fake emails and texts purporting to be from TV Licensing. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information. Please remember to always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

HEATHFIELD ABOUT TOWN: Winter woes. Well we now have had a first taste of winter last week so how did we all cope? Social media was awash last Thursday and Friday with news of accidents due to black ice conditions. Apparently cars were skewing around all over the place, finally coming to rest and blocking Battle Road and the A265 near Burwash. I had to go out on both nights and experienced black ice even in the High Street and along Mutton Hall Hill. I know we go on about gritters, but where were they? I didn’t see one. If any of you had gritter sightings then do let me know and I retract these statements. And now onto potholes. Mrs PP almost lost a tyre in a gigantic pothole at the junction with the road leading from the Cuilfail tunnel in Lewes and the A27 on Monday. There are a host of new ones down Mill Road and driving down the B2102 down to Blackboys and some shockers along Mayfield Flat. Once again we must ask, just what kind of road surfacing is used that cannot stand up to two days of snow and a night of freezing temperatures?Yes, the frozen rain seeps into cracks in the tarmac but these potholes are monsters and once again the bodyshops and tyre replacement guys will be rubbing their hands with glee. Yes, we had a car completely written off and a near fatal crash a couple of years ago which involved a police call-out and saw several other vehicles slew into the same pothole. But ESCC quietly wash their hands of the whole matter. Shame on them. Perhaps we should threaten a court action? Others have and won the day. Next time.

THORNTREE CLOSE: Families living in Thorntree Close, a cul-de-sac off Tilsmore Road, tell me their last waste collection was Wednesday, January 16. That was recycling. The residents have repeatedly phoned Wealden regarding missed collections and have been fobbed off with numerous excuses and promises made that never materialise. As of writing this scenario has been going on for over three weeks. As you can imagine the landfill contents, due the following week, are now ripening nicely. One hopes that this is not a portent of things to come when Biffa take over. Their road is quite accessible so drivers have no excuse. Can someone tell me when and how we must start paying for our green waste collection? If a separate charge is involved I hope collections will not be missed.

CAFE STYLE: And finally Huw Merriman, Battle, Bexhill and Heathfield MP is formally opening a new cafe in Heathfield, It’s called Cafe Style. It occupies the mews-type shop opposite the town’s Sainsbury’s and will be a welcome bolthole after an exhausting grocery shop. Supplying cakes to the cafe is young mum of two, Charlie Carey who lives in Cross in Hand. Charlie’s Christmas speciality was a chocolate cake with Rudolf’s red nose and a pair of antlers. Cross in Hand is becoming a bit of a cake mecca, we also have Bonney’s Cakery, a splendid shop run by Nicola Bonney, a former fine arts student who makes bespoke cakes for special occasions, some of them towering ‘naked cakes’ with layer after layer, flowers, fruit - you name it, Nicola can do it. Considering Cross in Hand is just a scattering of houses, the village is quite lucky with its entrepreneurs. And unlike many MPs, we do see a lot of Huw who gives enormous support to our farmers, local schools and businesses.

WEALDEN ALERTS: Hailsham Regeneration Scheme. Wealden’s Cabinet has given the go ahead to start consulting about exciting new proposals to regenerate the Vicarage Field area of Hailsham town centre. The proposals include creating a new retail format for the Vicarage Field shopping centre which the Council bought in 2017, with an emphasis on cafes, restaurants and entertainment. They also include plans for up to 280 apartments and town houses aimed at younger people, a multi-storey car park merging in with the gradient of the site and new leisure facilities. There will also be public service offices, and re-provisioning of existing facilities including the Bowls Club and Charles Hunt Centre. This re-configuration of the site will open up access and views to the town’s High Street shopping, conservation area and historic church. (Image shows a preliminary representation of how the proposals may look). Wealden’s ambitious proposals have been welcomed by Hailsham’s Mayor, Councillor Nigel Coltman. The next phase of the regeneration proposals will include an engagement exercise with the town centre’s stakeholders and members of the public to hear their initial reaction and learn what they would like to see incorporated in the town centre. This is expected to begin in February. It also involves commissioning architectural and consultancy services to look at design options, highway works and conservation implications. A further study will assess likely energy demands arising from the scheme to help formulate a green energy strategy. It will look at harnessing modern energy technology to create a District Energy Scheme.

Cabinet also agreed to look at putting forward a bid to the Government’s Future High Street Fund. The Government is making £675 million available to support the transformation of Britain’s high streets to enable wider economic growth. The Cabinet report can be read on the Council’s website…

MAYFIELD AND FIVE ASHES: Parish Council News. The parish council does not meet in January therefore it tends to be one of the quieter months of the year. At the December meeting the Parish Council approved its 2019/20 budget and voted for no increase in precept for the next financial year. Another decision that was made was to approve the tender to refurbish the play areas in Mayfield. The work will be funded almost entirely by Section 106 money received from the housing development at Love Lane. It is hoped that the refurbishment will commence in spring this year and it will include new fencing and in the toddler area new surfacing with ‘shipwreck scramble,’ a den and a slide. The horse will be refurbished and there will be improvements to the gymnastic rings in the multiplay equipment that are currently rather too high to be enjoyed. There will also be improvements to the swings.

WEST STREET: The county ecologist recently reviewed candidate wildlife verges and has agreed to add the embankment on the south side of West Street to the designated wildlife verge schedule. Apparently they found an interesting population of ferns and other native wild flowers. This designation will enable East Sussex Highways to cut and clear the vegetation once a year in autumn.

LOCAL ELECTIONS 2019: The District and Parish Council elections will take place onMay 2 this year. If you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor you must: be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union (yes, this still will apply; be a least 18 years old. be an elector of the parish, or; for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish, or during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary. You do not have to be connected to a political party. The timetable of events for the local elections in 2019 is below for residents who are interested:

Event Date (deadline if not midnight). Publication of Wealden’s Notice of Election Monday March 18 pm; Delivery of nomination papers, on any working day during the hours stated on the notice of election until 4pm on Wednesday April 3; Deadline for delivery of nomination papers 4pm on Wednesday April 3; Deadline for withdrawals of candidature 4pm on Wednesday April 3; Publication of statement of persons nominated 4pm on Thursday April 4; Deadline for receiving applications for registration Friday April 12; Deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications, and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes 5pm on Monday April 15; Deadline for receiving new applications to vote by proxy 5pm on Wednesday April 24; Publication of notice of poll Wednesday April 24; Deadline for appointment of polling and counting agents Thursday May 2, 7am to 10pm; First day electors can apply for replacement postal vote Friday April 26; Polling Day 7am to 10pm on Thursday May 7.

If there is an insufficient number of valid nominations but the Parish Council is still quorate it will be classed as an uncontested election after which Members may co-opt any person or persons to fill the vacancy or vacancies remaining unfilled. If the new Parish Council is not quorate a new election has to be called within 35 days of the original election date. Please contact the Parish Council office if you would like more information on what is involved if you become a Parish Councillor.

NEW WASTE CONTRACT: A new waste, recycling and street 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. The appointment 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. Wealden District Council has confirmed that it will introduce customer charges for garden waste collections when the new Joint Waste Contract for refuse and recycling collections starts. A charge of £50 a year will be introduced from July 1. The level of charge is apparently well down the list of the authorities across the whole of Sussex that charge for garden waste services with all except Rother charging more. More information about how the scheme will operate will be available soon.

BUS SERVICE: 227 Bus Service from Five Ashes to Crowborough. The new operator of the service, which will operate to an unchanged timetable, is now confirmed as Seaford and District Motor Services.

ST DUNSTAN’S CHURCH: Welcome note from Father Nigel. If you haven’t visited us at St Dunstan’s before, you are assured a warm welcome. The Church is also open every day for private prayer and you can light a candle at our prayer board at the entrance to the Lady Chapel. Many of you will know, locally, of our problems with the restoration and repairs needed for our South Aisle Roof. It has been something of a saga, to date, and our costs have nearly doubled to the tune of £212,000 and that is a huge sum in anyone’s book. As well as saying a little bit more in the February edition of the Mayfield and Five Ashes Newsletter, please see below the report from our architects to the PCC in November which gives a little bit more detail:

Report from our Architects. Our Appeal to all those who value the important history of our beautiful Grade I listed Church ‘on the top of the hill’ has now gone public. If you are able to help us with a donation, of any size, please do use our Gift Aid form, if applicable, otherwise please make any cheques payable to Mayfield PCC c/o The Parish Office, London House, High Street, Mayfield TN20 6TU.

Gift Aid form. Our weekly pewsheet can be found above and we are very excited that our new weekly e- Newsletter is receiving such a great response. If you would like to be included in our mailing list, please contact Nicky in the Parish Office to give your permission to receive it:

BELL RINGING: St Dunstan’s bell ringers. The bell ringers of St Dunstan’s Church, Mayfield meet every Tuesday evening for practice from 8pm to 9.15pm and ring for Sunday morning worship from 9.30am to 10am. They also ring for weddings and other special events. New members are always made welcome and full training is given. For further details please contact. Graham Holland tel: 01435 872163 or email:

COFFEE AND CHAT: Takes place on the first Friday of every month between 10am to 11.30am in London House. Coffee and Chat is not a fund-raising event but it is an opportunity to pop in to London House on the High Street, to rest your legs, exchange and catch up on local news and enjoy a delicious cup of Fairtrade coffee, teas and biscuits. There are usually a few cakes and other produce for sale. On some occasions there might be fund raising for a specific cause such as Hospice in the Weald, when a notice to this effect will be posted outside the door.

ROAD CLOSURE: Scotsford Hill Closed, February 12. Scotsford Hill is scheduled to be closed for one day on February 12 from the junction of Piccadilly Lane to Witherenden Road to allow BT Openreach to carry out works.

HORAM: Downwood Veterinary Centre. It’s the end of an era. Robin Hooper has stepped down as Practice Principal of Downwood Veterinary Centre. Customers need not worry, the practice is remaining an independent practice. Jo Bellis who has worked at the practice for over six years is stepping into Robin’s shoes. Robin qualified from The Veterinary College, London in 1977. He studied for his PhD and gained his qualification in 1981. He then spent many years in various practices around Hampshire and Sussex. He returned to East Sussex in 1989 in his last post as an assistant before opening up his first surgery in Horam in 1995. Downwood Veterinary Centre started off at number 1 High Street and has gradually moved up the high street to larger premises as it got busier. Finally in 2005 the practice moved to the current purpose built surgery at number 6-8. Robin retired from being practice principal in December 2018. He sold the practice to Jo so he can enjoy his semi retirement. Robin still plans to work at Downwood providing the practice with locum cover occasionally when he isn’t enjoying spending time with his wife and their dog Tia. He has plenty of things planned to keep him busy. Mrs PP and myself wish Robin a happy retirement and thank you for looking after our two wonderful Cyprus rescue dogs. Robin will not be retiring completely and although he will not be working regular hours he will still be doing some consulting and looks forward to seeing your pets. Robin would like to say a big thank you to his clients for supporting him and his team over the last 24 years. He has thoroughly enjoyed his time looking after all your beloved family pets. We would all like to say a big thank you to Robin for creating a fantastic practice to work in. A brief resume of Robin Hooper PhD BVetMed MRCVS and Downwood Veterinary Centre. Robin qualified from The Veterinary College, London in 1977. He studied for his PhD and gained his qualification in 1981. He then spent many years in various practices around Hampshire and Sussex. He returned to East Sussex in 1989 in his last post as an assistant before opening up his 1st surgery in Horam in 1995. Downwood Veterinary Centre started off at number 1 High Street and has gradually moved up the high street to larger premises as we got busier. Finally in 2005 we moved to our purpose built surgery here at number 6-8. Robin retired from being practice principal in December 2018, he sold the practice to Jo so he can enjoy his semi retirement. He still plans to work at Downwood providing us with locum cover occasionally when he isn’t enjoying spending time with his wife and their dog Tia. He has plenty of things planned to keep him busy.

FAMILY HISTORY: With the success of Who Do You Think You Are and Danny Dyer parading around in Tudor costume having discovered he is descended from William the Conqueror (together with many of us I’m sure) a terrific lady called Alison Standen is holding new Family History classes in the village. Alison is a family history expert and has inspired so many people to embark on tracing their own ancestry, a fascinating area of study. This series of classes is called Family History – New Delving Deeper course and takes place from 12.45pm to 2.45pm on Tuesdays at The Horam Centre. It begins on Tuesday, February 26. For further details and to book contact Alison via: or on her mobile 07929 830189. She also teaches French and Spanish. Mrs PP takes part in a regular French class and has got so good I can now only pick out culinary references like courgettes, pommes de terres or raies en beure blanc from their increasingly fast conversation. The grammaire passes me by.