MINUTES of the ANNUAL PARISH MEETING held on Monday 22 May 2023 at 7.00 pm at the Village Centre
Present: Cllr Malcolm Llewellyn (Chairman of the Parish Council). Also Claire Majsai (Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council & Chair of Community Engagement Committee), Julia Shorrocks (Chair of the Planning Committee), Duncan Ranger (Chair of the Finance, Governance and Estates Committee), Michael Avery, Helen Bedford, David Evans, Rodney Jackson, John Lowman, Bob Sampson and Lindsay Thompson. Also in attendance: Clerk, Assistant Clerks, Estates and Facilities Manager and Maintenance Officer and approx. 65 members of the public
1.1 Helen Bedford opened the event, welcomed everyone to the meeting and ran through the housekeeping matters. Cllr Claire Majsai explained the format for the evening and that the theme was volunteering. Cllr Majsai described the reasons she enjoyed volunteering as a councillor as the sense of achievement, the new things she learnt and the opportunity to meet lots of people. In addition, regular volunteering gives a structure to the week and it had allowed her to get more involved with nature, particularly through helping managing Hurst Meadows. She pointed out that volunteering is great for teenagers as it helps them develop skills that may possibly develop into a career. The Parish Council had four vacancies for councillors, and anyone interested should contact the office. Last year’s Annual Parish Meeting had identified that most of the local groups and organisations all needed more volunteers, so this theme was chosen for the meeting.
- Welcome from the Parish Council Chairman
- The Chairman, Cllr Llewellyn welcomed all those present to the meeting and explained that in the past the meeting had been very much an opportunity for the Parish Council to update residents on its budget and projects but now the focus of the meeting was very much on listening to the local community and celebrating the work of the local voluntary groups.
- The Chairman listed the facilities and services that the Parish Council was responsible for including the two main venues for hire i.e. the Village Centre and Court Bushes Community Hub. The hirings were returning to normal levels at the venues but the increase in the cost of the utility bills had been significant.
- A large programme of work had been undertaken including redecoration, new lighting, and additional cycle racks at the Village Centre and South Avenue. Court Bushes Community Hub has new WiFi throughout, a newly surfaced and line marked car park and new directional signage arranged by the Parish Council. A new native hedge has been planted at Reeds Lane Recreation Ground to eventually screen the new development and work with drainage consultants continues, to overcome the drainage challenges caused by previous development and poor maintenance. An improved footpath connection has been made between Bramble Park and Tilley’s Copse and with the support of the Hurstpierpoint Society 840 tree whips have been planted in Walnut Tree Field and with the support of the Woodland 360 whips have been planted in Hovel Field.
- The Parish Council has continued to support major community events like St Lawrence Fair, the Big Jubilee Picnic, the Hurst Festival Super Sunday, Santa’s Fun Sunday and the Remembrance Sunday Parade. As a statutory consultee we have also commented on nearly 200 planning applications.
- The three main issues were highlighted:
- The Community Governance Review, which involved a number of Sayers Common residents calling for their own Parish Council. Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) had concluded that would not happen until at least 2029.
- The Review of the Mid Sussex District Plan by MSDC, which sets out the policies and sites for development up to 2038. The Plan proposed some 4,000 new homes in the local area. The Parish Council submitted a robust response to the proposals as part of the (“Reg 18”) consultation and will closely follow the “Reg 19” consultation later in the year.
- The Parish Council was able to keep the increase in its part of the Council Tax bill, called the precept, at 5.05% for an average Band D type property. Some increase in the precept is required to cover the growing costs such as the utility bills, and for example, the maintenance costs for Hurst Meadows. When ownership of Hurst Meadows was transferred to the Parish Council a Section 106 sum was received from the developer of Bramble Park. That works out at about £17,000 per year for 20 years. This year the Parish Council has had one of the three yearly tree surveys which has resulted in that budget being committed to tree works before even funding all the other works such as grass cutting. Thus the need for volunteers to continue to support and maintain the site, and for external funding to be secured as per the Hurst Meadows Management Plan.
- Finally, the Parish Council has four vacancies for councillors in the Hurstpierpoint ward (out of a total of 15 seats) and anyone interested should contact the Clerk. The Chairman opened up the floor to questions:
Q1 – The High Street is full of dangerous holes and something must be done. In response, the Chairman explained that he agreed with the comment and will continue to use any influence he can to pressure West Sussex County Council Highways to improve the road surface. The community had shown how it was able to influence WSCC to improve the road surface outside St Lawrence School, so it is important that all residents report their concerns to WSCC.
Q2 – Who is responsible for emptying the bins in the play area in Bramble Park and why aren’t there more bins/dog bins? In response to the question, the Chairman explained that the new homes in Bramble Park were on private land that was the responsibility of the Management Company for Bramble Park. The Parish Council had taken great care to understand who is responsible for the land, culverts, ditches and drainage in these area for future reference. The Parish Council has also installed new bins/dog bins where it was permitted too, in Hurst Meadows and just on the boundary of the private land at Iden Hurst, but the difficulty was also in arranging collections of the waste.
Q3 – Who is responsible for dog bins in Sayers Common? In response to the question, the Chairman explained that again the new Sayers Meadow estate is on private land and bins will be the responsibility of the Developer/Management Company. Elsewhere in Sayers Common, the Parish Council will confirm the utilisation of the existing bins and establish whether some can be either moved or added with the agreement of MSDC.
Q4 – The footpath behind Kemps has been narrowed by the landowner and is muddy and the Parish Council has washed its hand with it. In response, the Chairman agreed that it was not in a good condition and that it is one of the paths that the Parish Council has previously raised with WSCC who are responsible for maintaining the wearing surface. The landowner is responsible for keeping the growth on either side in check. The Parish Council is aware that The Monday Group have planned some work at the western end of the path but will also continue to highlight the state of this path to the WSCC Public Rights of Way Team for them to improve the path surface. Again, it is important that all residents report their concerns to WSCC.
Q5 – Why was there no “No Mow May” on the Village Garden this year? In response, the Chairman explained that previously a number of complaints were made about the appearance of the Village Garden when 50% was given over to “No Mow May”, so this year it was agreed that Court Bushes Community Hub would participate but not the Village Garden.
Q6 – There is nothing for teenagers to do. In response, the Chairman explained that he had met with MSDC to press for a master plan for Court Bushes so that an improved skate park and pump track could be included in new designs for the site. The master plan from MSDC is awaited.
Q7 – Who is responsible for drainage at Reeds Lane Rec? In response, the Chairman explained that land owners are all responsible for their own land drainage and to ensure it can flow freely to adjoining land and on into watercourses. The Parish Council has cleared its own ditches and is in the process of designing an improved drainage solution for the Recreation Ground including an ephemeral pond to replace some of the drainage routes lost through adjacent developments.
Q8 – What can be done to help respond to the Mid Sussex District Plan Review? In response, the Chairman thanked residents for their responses to the Reg 18 consultation and stressed how important it is for them to watch out for and respond to the Reg 19 consultation later in the year. Development is currently being led by the developers and is not joined up or providing the amenities that will help support self sufficient communities The Burgess Hill Northern Arc development was taken over by Homes England to deliver a strategic vision, and that appears to be delivering results.
Q9 –Cuckfield Road/High Street Roundabout needs a crossing. In response, the Chairman agreed that the location was difficult to cross and the Parish Council had agreed to submit an extended village centre 20 mph plan to WSCC Highways for consideration.
3. Introduction to the Presentations by Chair of the Community Engagement Committee: Cllr Claire Majsai introduced Police Community Support Office, Chelsea Greenfield who gave an interesting and informative talk on the role of the PCSO’s and stressed how keen she was to talk to businesses and residents to build partnerships. PCSO Greenfield had recently given a fraud prevention awareness talk at the Village Centre, due to the rise in frauds like cold callers, scams and romance fraud, and was happy to return. All residents and businesses were encouraged to sign up to the “Sussex Alerts” emails which alert you to local crime incidents.
- Why We Volunteer Presentations: Claire Majsai then introduced the following people who gave one minute presentations on why they volunteer:
- Charlotte Wilson – Hurst Re-think
- Lottie Green – Hurst Meadows Volunteers
- Bob Sampson – Hurst Players and Parish Councillor
- Rev. Will Kemp – Melting Pot Café / The Point Church
- Shaun Hole – Sayers Common Village Shop
All groups welcomed new members and volunteers to help run their groups.
- Volunteering Opportunities: Claire Majsai then introduced the following people who gave one minute presentations on volunteering opportunities in their groups:
- Martin Sadler – Hurstpierpoint Horticultural Society
- Lindsay Thompson – Councillor/Hurst Traders
- Lyn – Paws & Claws Animal Charity
- Nick Constantine – St Lawrence Fair
- Bridget Hamilton – Cycling without Age
- Marcus Martin – Sussex Vale Rotary Club
- Michael Nailard – Woodland Flora & Fauna Group
- Sue Elrick – Holy Trinity Church Bell Ringers
- Avril Roberts – St Peter & St James Hospice
- Bob Sampson – Hurst Players
- Donna Willis – Community Engagement Co-op Group
- Gail Millar – Befriended
- Shaun Hole – Sussex Vale Rotary
All groups and their representatives were thanked for promoting their volunteering opportunities.
Cllr Claire Majsai thanked everyone for attending and encouraged them to all stay and chat informally. Formal thanks were paid to Shirley for providing the refreshments in the kitchen and to Hurst College for providing a free mini-bus to and from the Sayers Common Village Shop. Cllr Helen Bedford and Cllr Bob Sampson and Helen Valler were thanked for arranging the evening as well as the other Parish Council staff.