Cross in Hand, Horam, Blackboys & Five Ashes

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: Stalking Awareness Week April 8 to April 12. Although it ends today, did you know? Statistics show that one in six women and one in 12 men will experience stalking, but this is believed to be grossly underestimated. And when they become victims, they do not tend to report to the police until the 100th incident. Stalking victim Amanda Playle, from Bexhill, is urging people to take stalking seriously and not delay reporting as part of Sussex Police’s campaign in support of National Stalking Awareness Week. Watch the video /news/stalking-victim- amanda-playle-urges-victims- to-seek-help-as-sussex-police-supports -national-stalking-awareness -week-364964

M23: Next full weekend closure, Friday May 17 at 8pm to midnight on Saturday May 18. 36 hour full carriageway closure at Junction 9 Gatwick Spur (into the Airport only). No exit Northbound at J9. Access into Gatwick Airport North and South terminals via M23 J10, and follow signed diversion route. The main M23 carriageway will be open as normal, there will be no access into Gatwick from the M23.

WEALDEN ALERTS: Opportunities await you this summer. Do you feel you missed out on your education? Or would you just like to learn new skills or develop existing ones? Thanks to Street Learning’s free courses, there are opportunities for everyone. This spring there are free courses in Pre-GCSE Maths and Pre-GCSE English taking place at Uckfield and Hailsham. The short courses last 6 or 8 weeks and provide an introduction to a full GCSE course which will start in September.

It is a great way to see if re-visiting your education will suit you. Street Learning is also holding short three week courses at Uckfield and Hailsham to help you learn study skills. It is ideal if you are looking to start a course and want to get up to speed with the latest learning techniques. Returning to learning may be easier than you think. Four IT for You courses are being held across the District at Hailsham, Crowborough, Heathfield and Uckfield Libraries during the daytime. The public libraries at Wadhurst, Uckfield, Healthfield and Hailsham also hold Computer Buddies session. These involve volunteers who at certain times are available at the library to help people out with any problems they may have using computers or the internet. Street Learning also offers people aged 19 or over the chance to take part in leisure-based and personal development courses. These include Working with Wood, which takes place at the Barn in Groveland Road, Hailsham, Experiments in Textiles at East Sussex College, Eastbourne and Summer Flower Arranging at the Tesco Community Room, Eastbourne. There are also Creative Writing Workshops and Felt-Making courses taking place in Eastbourne. At Prospects House, Hailsham, there is a four week Healthy Eating on a Budget course and one on Sugar Craft which teaches the basics about cake decorating.

People who have taken part in Street Learning courses pick up more than just new skills and abilities. They talk about how it has improved their confidence, patience and team working. They also enjoy socialising in class and meeting new people. The new Street Learning brochure can be downloaded from the Wealden website. Or contact ACRES, the Adult College for Rural East Sussex on 01825 761820, or East Sussex College at 030 300 38212.

At East Sussex College there is a four week course, the Strength in You, which helps strengthen your personal resilience helping you to manage your own fears and insecurities.  The College also runs 11 distance learning courses which are free and require 2-3 hours of your time each week. They can result in a Level 2 Certificate Qualification from the NCFE, a national awarding organisation. Courses include Dementia Care, Mental Health Awareness, Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health, Equality and Diversity, Understanding Nutrition and Health, Understanding Behaviour that Challenges, Understanding the Care and Management of Diabetes, Understanding Specific Learning Difficulties, Understanding Autism, Information Advice & Guidance and Understanding Safeguarding and Prevent.

CLEAN BONUS: For Volunteer Groups. Thirty-eight Wealden litter picking groups have been given over £25,000 to support their ongoing clean-up efforts. The grant money has been provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to be allocated before the end of March. Quick work by Wealden District Council and 3VA, the local organisation which supports local community groups, has ensured the money will reach the volunteers in village and town groups who play such an important role in keeping the District litter-free. Local litter picking groups completed a simple application process setting out proposals for how they could benefit from the Government grant money. The Council will keep in contact with the groups to see how successful their clean-ups have been and how the grant has helped, this information will be provided to the MHCLG to help monitor the overall impact of the £9.75million made available nationally to support local clean-up initiatives. The money can be used to buy litter picking equipment and to provide training on how to remove graffiti or tackle fly-tipping. It can also be used to organise events to encourage more families to get involved. The Great Wealden Spring Clean, part of the Great British Spring Clean, runs until April 23. Last year volunteers groups collected 2.5 tonnes of litter across the District.

HEATHFIELD ABOUT TOWN: Is it time for a change. If they’ve already not done so, residents will soon receive flyers from the local party candidates representing their wards, canvassing for your support and asking for their votes in the local elections on May 2. Over the years Wealden families have seen changes to the services their councils provide; for example, rubbish collections and inexplicable planning decisions made which appear to go against all logic. I understand the limitations faced by our local councils, but in my opinion, instead of taking a robust stance, some elected members have just stood by and let it happen. I do not have to preach to the converted but our current planning laws are a farce. Developments have been approved with very little thought as to how the infrastructure; roads, public transport, water supply, education, healthcare will cope. Developers are wised up to what appear to be Government approved loopholes in planning legislation. The main problem is that if an application is turned down and the developer decides to appeal, Wealden does not have the funds available to contest. There is also the issue of developers deciding (post approval) a scheme is ‘non viable’ in terms of profit, and they can remove the affordable content. I understand that the planning authority’s hands are tied, but even a token objection would be welcomed by people who are seriously affected (families living adjacent and opposite to the cramped Coachworks or the Windmill Place schemes are already trying to sell their properties.) Well done to those robust few members who have expressed their concerns effectively. We are aware that some have done so but there also seems to be an attitude of ‘fait accompli’ amongst others, and possibly the fact they are standing on a party ticket assures them of re-election. Perhaps the Brexit hoo ha might have wakened some rebel souls and encouraged them to speak out when they feel something is awry? To close the High Street at a peak Christmas trading period was insane and has seriously affected the viability of many shops, albeit traders put a brave face on it. Although the Parish Council will say otherwise, their communication machinery was non existent. Likewise there was little information coming out of Wealden or East Sussex County Council. There were no support mechanisms either, such as events organised to bring visitors to the town. Even the so-called Christmas party took place too late and in the wrong place. Just ask the traders what they thought, they told me no councillors bothered to call in and ask. So readers, before putting your cross on the ballot paper, please give your decision some thought. Do you want the same old medicine from the existing incumbent, or is there a candidate standing who does not simply sit back on a party ticket but is pro-active, communicates with the community, gets out to meets the people, and most of all stands up and gives 100 percent support to the older folk (we have plenty locally, East Sussex has one of the highest percentages of people over 60 in the UK). What about one of them holding a ‘surgery’ in one of our High Street stores? Will they dare? The choice is yours. By the way, why are parish, town or district councillors politically aligned? Likewise our police and crime commissioner? A friend used to work for the old Police Authority, the Crime Commissioner’s precursor. She is horrified at the changes, increased cost and reduced effectiveness of the service.

COMMUNITY WARDEN: It has been announced that Forest Row and Crowborough already share and part fund a Community Warden. The job description is wide ranging and the candidate works full time between the hours of 8am and 11pm, 37 hours per week. The job purpose is as follows: To enhance community safety for residents, visitors and businesses, through the delivery of community safety, advice, education, intelligence and support. The principal duties are also very far ranging and he/she works in partnership with Sussex Police. So come on Heathfield Parish Council. Would it be possible to divest loss making vanity projects and see whether savings could be sensibly used in appointing a local warden, particularly now PCSOs have been withdrawn to a static office in Hailsham? If Forest Row and Crowborough can find the funds so should Heathfield.

MUSINGS: Mrs PP and I have thrown around the idea of ‘downsizing’ maybe moving to one of our pretty, medieaval villages, a little two up, two down cottage, courtyard garden, roses round door - you know the sort of thing. And then we thought. Medieaval village, have to get the car out to drive to the nearest shop. Car out to get to the doctor. Car out to get to the supermarket. Car out to walk the dog. Car out to get to a local council office, or library. We live close to the town centre. We can walk everywhere. Once we have paced out the few hundred metres to the High Street, we have our greengrocer, butcher, hardware shop, all purpose housewares shop, a plethora of takeaways. We have a choice of supermarkets. There are two GP surgeries within reach, an ophthalmic optician, a chiropractor, a physio, a chiropodist (yes, we are getting older so we need them all). Mrs PP often rhapsodises about the joys of living in central London when she was younger. Later we lived in the middle of nowhere for a bit which looked lovely when the sun peeped over the top of Ditchling Beacon but once again the car had to come out if we needed a bag of sugar and the school run was a nightmare. Heathfield might not boast 15th century beamed cottages, ancient thatched inns, a village pump - but it has just about everything else. Even a superb bus service to reach those places that need a weekly check in (Tunbridge Wells for example). One thing that would be useful would be an east to west bus service to take us to Lewes - train station, niche shops, brewery even a bit further to the Amex and Brighton? Then it would be complete. No, downsizing can wait for another day.

FARMERS MARKET: Heathfield Farmers Market, Saturday, April 20. The next Market will be held on Saturday, April 20, Co-Op car park, Heathfield High Street. As it will be Easter Saturday there will be an Easter Egg hunt between 10am to 10.30am, find the hidden pictures hidden in the market and win Cream Eggs. Easter hat parade and competition 10.30am arrival for 10.45am judging. Open to all local primary school children, girls and boys. The winner in each category (years R, 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6) will win a large egg. Judging by Huw Merriman, MP and a Co-op member of staff. Easter eggs are kindly sponsored by the Co-op. There will be all the usual stalls selling: fresh fish, vegetables, meat, game, sausages, chicken, eggs, bread, cakes, olives, cheese, cold Indian food, spices, jams, plants and flowers. Also on sale are dog treats, children’s books, cards, candles, stained glass suncatchers and wood bird boxes. Please come along and buy good food and local arts and crafts and support your local farmers and produce

BONFIRE SOCIETY: Heathfield and District Bonfire Society. On having a chat with representatives of the bonfire society at the recent Parish Assembly It is good to know the Bonfire Society is being resurrected after being dormant since 1957. Other than Le Marche and the Christmas lights other community activities seem to be very sparse. This is a wonderful opportunity for the youth of the town and surrounding areas to join the society. I am sure they would be very welcome. Membership adults £15, juniors £5. The membership gives you the following. A new set of friends, participation in the annual event, participation in out meetings up to 12 per year, social events, fund -raising events. But most of all activity in the community to resurrect a defunct tradition in the town.

MAYFIELD AND FIVE ASHES: St Dunstan’s Church. Raise the Roof and Save the Roof. The Mayberries will be giving a concert in the Memorial Hall on Saturday, April 20. It’s a fundraising gig in aid of the St Dunstan’s Church Roof Appeal. Door and cash bar open at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £10, are available from Pink Cabbage and Mayfield Chiropody Clinic. Please come along and join in the fun.

BUS ROUTES: During Road Closure. Information on the bus routes for the High Street and Station road while Tunbridge Wells Road is closed from April 23. The buses will access the High Street from the A267 roundabout and turn round at the entrance to Mayfield School just south of Little Trodgers Lane then exit Mayfield via the roundabout. Service 251/252 buses will observe the stops they normally serve to pick up, i.e. on the north side of High Street/Station Road for Tunbridge Wells (before turning) and the south side for Heathfield and Eastbourne. Amongst the instruction that Stagecoach will give drivers is to exercise discretion around this, eg passengers from Tunbridge Wells could be dropped off on the north side rather than waiting for the bus to turn and drop on the south side. Obviously there will be impact on timings for buses as they will have to negotiate the High Street twice on each journey as well as turn and travel further overall. The UP6 school coach for Uplands Community College at Wadhurst will make the same turning manoeuvre but will only stop at its usual stops on the south side. The Service 226 will be unaffected by the road closure.

We are most grateful to Mayfield School for their co-operation in what was becoming a difficult situation.

PARISH ASSEMBLY: The Resident’s Annual Parish Assembly will be held in the Memorial Hall on May 20 at 7.30pm. This is not a council meeting but a meeting of the parish residents that has to, by law, take place between March 1 and June 1 each year. Organisations, societies and residents can contribute to the agenda and debate current issues in the community. If your organisation or society would like to report to the meeting or if you have any current issues that you believe should be added to the agenda for discussion, please contact the Parish Council office before May 8.

BEWARE OF LOCAL SCAM: Please be aware if you are approached by a vehicle with an occupant, purportedly with an Italian accent, asking for directions to Gatwick airport. This is a scam as they go on to ask the resident if they would buy good quality clothing that is ‘just their size’ such as suits that they do not want to take on the flight with them. They seem to be targeting elderly residents. The clothing turns out not to be what was described to them and completely the wrong size. They have been seen on three occasions in Mayfield by the same local resident.

CROSS IN HAND: Isenhurst Petrol Station. There has been a lot of criticism of the petrol station on social media of late. It does seem the main beef is the high cost of their fuel. The annoying thing is how the prices fluctuate, one day diesel is £131.9, the next £1.28.9. Why not find a mean average and charge one price or just charge £1.28.9 per litre? The current structure confuses the motorist and must have a marked sales impact on the Spar supermarket.

HORAM: Horam Podiatry and Chiropody. Mara Ragaiolo, the resident chiropodist at the Horam Therapy Centre is going from strength to strength. As well as performing routine podiatry she also carries out biomechanics, nail surgery, verrucae treatments all at very competitive prices. Mara BSc (Hons) Podiatry, MChS, LA POM, HCPC is a registered and a fully insured member of the College of Prodietry. She has thirteen years NHS and six years private experience. She now offers a professional and friendly service in Horam and the surrounding areas providing a full range of podiatric treatments for all foot related conditions. If it is difficult for clients to visit the Centre, please contact Mara to arrange a home visit or for any queries. Special Offer Mara is offering a £5 off your first initial treatment Contact Mara 077031 56799 email mention Sussex Express to claim your £5 off.

BLACKBOYS: Blackboys CEP School news. This is taken from the school’s website and it’s an interesting development. One would hope that children would NEVER witness domestic abuse, but sadly episodes like this do happen, even in a lovely, rural environment like ours. Here goes with the school’s story: Operation Encompass In conjunction with Sussex Police we are informing you that we have been given the opportunity as a School to take part in a new operation that will run jointly with Sussex Police. Operation Encompass has been designed to provide early reporting to schools / colleges of any domestic abuse incidents that occur in which a child was present, ordinarily resides at the incident location or with an involved party. We know that children can be significantly affected through witnessing or being exposed to domestic abuse and this operation will allow us to better support our pupils and their families. A nominated member of staff, known as a Key Adult, has been trained to liaise with the police. At Blackboys our Key Adult is the Designated Safeguard Lead and Headteacher, Mr Sullivan. They will be able to use information that has been shared with them, in confidence, to ensure that the right support is available should it be required by a child and / or their family. We are keen to offer the best support available to our pupils and we believe this is going to be extremely beneficial for all those involved.