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Hurstpierpoint & Sayers Common
Parish Council

Minutes of the Council Meeting held on Thursday 30 June 2022 at 7.30 pm at Court Bushes Community Hub.

Members Present:

Cllr Malcolm Llewellyn (Chairman) Cllr Allan Brown (Vice-Chairman) Cllr Michael Avery Cllr Helen Bedford Cllr David EvansCllr Rodney Jackson Cllr Seth Jee Cllr Tony Lank Cllr John Lowman  Cllr Martin Machan Cllr Claire Majsai Cllr Duncan Ranger Cllr Bob Sampson

Also Present:   Sarah Groom (Clerk to the Council).  Cllr Joy Dennis (WSCC). Cllr Alison Bennett and Cllr Colin Trumble (MSDC).

C22/23.036: To receive and accept apologies for absence: Apologies for absence were received before the meeting from Cllr Julia Shorrocks, and it was:

RESOLVED:  That the Council ACCEPTS the apologies for absence from Cllr Julia Shorrocks.

C22/23.037: To receive and record declarations of interest:  Cllr Jee declared an interest in item 10 on the agenda (Community Governance Review), as he was a member of the Sayers Common Village Society.

C22/23.038: To receive and accept the Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council held on 26 May 2022:  Members reviewed the minutes, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES the Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council held on 26 May 2022.

The Chairman confirmed the minutes of 28 April 2022 had been amended as requested by Cllr Jee and also that the attendance had been amended to reflect that Cllr Evans was not present, but that Cllr Lowman was.

C22/23.039: Members considered whether to adjourn the Meeting in accordance with Standing Orders to receive questions from members of the public in attendance: There was one member of the public in attendance who queried the introduction of charges for use of Recreation Grounds by commercial operators, as the Harris Fun Fair had been charged £290 for the use of the South Avenue Recreation Ground during the St Lawrence Fair.  The Fun Fair gave the St Lawrence Fair £500 each year, so now the Fun Fair are offering less.  The Chairman confirmed this was part of a new charging policy that the Parish Council had agreed and would review it.

C22/23.040: Members received update reports from the representatives of other Authorities:

C22/23.040.1 West Sussex County Council (WSCC):

Cllr Dennis asked the Parish Council to respond to the Transport for the South East consultation on works for the next 25 years.  The £17.5million grant for buses is also being prioritised such as raising the age for children/young people to 21 and under to help them access schools and colleges and increasing the frequency of evening services off main routes.  WSCC is leading the way in the supply of electrical vehicle charging points, specifically for on-street requirements for residents.  Cllr Bedford recommended this initiative was promoted more widely.  There have been issues installing the Bolney Data Hub cabling in Gatehouse Lane.  The Highways Manager (Eastern Area) is resolving flooding issues at the northern end of Cuckfield Road.  The Police and WSCC are tackling joy riding on the A2300.  Cllr Avery queried whether all the A2300 street lighting was required throughout the night, and suggested a left turn arrow was added to the roundabout of the A2300 south onto the A23.  The Parish Council’s request concerning woodland at Brown Twins Road is with the Legal Team.  The Chairman thanked Cllr Dennis for her report.

C22/23.040.2 Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC): 

Cllr Jackson confirmed the Site Allocations DPD for the current District Plan has been agreed by MSDC.  The free MSDC play days were confirmed for the Summer including one for Court Bushes.  A business grants scheme is open for bids.  The Civil Enforcement Team are monitoring the use of the new electrical charging points in Trinity Road car park and unauthorised cars will be ticketed.    The Chairman was concerned about the balance of use of the spaces versus demand and the issue of having eight spaces reserved for electrical charging points. Following the queries raised by the Hurstpierpoint Society and the Parish Council, Cllr Bennett confirmed the “reasons for the previous refusals had been overcome” to allow the Alders Farm planning approval.  The possible issue of Ukrainian families becoming homeless after 6-12 months, if hosting did not work out have been considered and although MSDC would categorise them as homeless, Cllr Dennis said alternative hosts could still be considered as there are many volunteers.  Cllr Trumble confirmed the Site Allocations DPD now provided a land supply of 5.95 years which permits certain sites to be refused with greater justification e.g. 140 homes proposed on land south west of Albourne School.  He was confident the process for the review of the District Plan would be open and transparent and that the Leader or Cllr Salisbury (Cabinet Member for Housing & Planning) would be happy to attend meetings.  The Police and Housing Association are addressing anti-social behaviour on Iden Hurst.  The Mid Sussex Applaud Awards are open.  Cllr Evans intends to fight for local gaps between settlements to avoid coalescence.  Cllr Avery queried the lack of a customer enquiry reference number being issued by MSDC.  Cllr Lank was concerned the planning portal had serious malfunctions which prevented councillors preparing for Planning Committee meetings.  Cllr Lowman called for more two way communication between MSDC and local communities over the District Plan review.  Cllr Trumble confirmed this was now underway.  Cllr Sampson called for a greater focus on social housing (both rented and shared ownership) in new developments.  The Chairman agreed this point will be included in the Parish Council’s response to the District Council.  The Chairman thanked Cllr Jackson, Cllr Bennett and Cllr Trumble for their report.  Cllr Dennis, Cllr Trumble and Cllr Bennett left the meeting at 8.30pm.

C22/23.040.3 West Sussex Association of Local Councils (WSALC):  Nothing to report.

C22/23.040.4 Mid Sussex Association of Local Councils (MSALC):  The most recent meeting had been delayed.

C22/23.041  To receive the minutes and where appropriate, consider the recommendations of the following Committees.

C22/23.041.1 Planning & Environment Committee (10 June 2022) No recommendations.

C22/23.041.2 Community Engagement Committee (16 June 2022) Two recommendations were considered:

CE22/23.005.2 Hurst Festival Grant Application: RECOMMENDATION: The Committee recommends to Council that the Parish Councils pop up banners should be used on the Village Garden on the Super Sunday event and posters placed on the noticeboards saying that the Parish Council proudly support the event, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES that the Parish Councils pop up banners should be used on the Village Garden on the Super Sunday event and posters placed on the noticeboards saying that the Parish Council proudly support the event.

CE22/23.006.7 Annual Parish Meeting: RECOMMENDATION: The Committee recommends to Council that a portable sound system including two mics should be purchased with the guidance from Cllr Bedford and Cllr Sampson. It was recommended that an improved projector/screen set up should be investigated and purchased and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES that the purchase of a portable sound system should be investigated with the guidance from Cllr Bedford and Cllr Sampson, and that the purchase of an improved projector/screen set up should also be investigated.

C22/23.041.3 Finance & Governance Committee (23 June 2022) No recommendations.

Members considered the minutes of the following Committees, and it was:

RESOLVED:  That the Council RECEIVES the minutes of the following Committees:

  1. Planning & Environment Committee (9 June 2022)
  2. Community Engagement Committee (16 June 2022); and
  3. Finance & Governance Committee (23 June 2022).

C22/23.042: Councillor Co-Option:  Members noted that the advert for a vacancy for parish councillor had not received any applicants.  The closing date was 12 noon on 22 June 2022.  Members considered readvertising the position for a further six weeks, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES to readvertise the Councillor vacancy for a further six weeks.

C22/23.043: Committee Membership: Members considered Cllr Martin Machan’s request to join the Finance & Governance Committee and confirmed the Sayers Common representative on the Strategic Policy & Resources Panel as Cllr Bob Sampson, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES that Cllr Martin Machan joins the Finance & Governance Committee and that Cllr Bob Sampson will be the Sayers Common representative on the Strategic Policy & Resources Panel.

C22/23.044: Future Council Meeting Venue: Members considered moving future Council meetings back to the Village Centre Conference Room starting in October 2022.  There is no Council meeting in August 2022 and the September 2022 meeting is at Sayers Common Village Hall, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES to move the future Council meetings back to the Village Centre Conference Room starting in October 2022.

C22/23.045: Community Governance Review (CGR):  Members considered a response to the second round of consultation on the draft recommendations published by Mid Sussex District Council.  The Chairman wished to draw Member’s attention to Point 5 first where MSDC’s has indirectly instructed the Parish Council to examine dissatisfaction by residents of Sayers Common with the Parish Council.  There was concern that MSDC had assumed this to be true without any investigation of the facts first, however, if there were matters to be corrected then the Parish Council wished to address them.  Cllr Majsai felt the claims were unfounded as the communications and engagement of the Parish Council with residents has never been higher.  Cllr Bedford felt subjective comments were not helpful without evidence to justify them.  Cllr Sampson had not received any complaints from residents.  The Chairman said he had also always had positive dialogues with residents of Sayers Common.  It was noted MSDC had not corrected factual errors such as MSDC owning the land at Berrylands Pond.  Also the complaint about residents of Sayers Common having to fund their own Village Gateway was incorrect.   Cllr Jee did not recognise the issues raised and confirmed if he ever meets people who do not feel updated, he will defend the Parish Council.  The Chairman asked if the Parish Council noticeboard, bench and village sign were in the right place now the village shop had moved?  The Chairman confirmed there was no differentiation between Sayers Common and the rest of the parish in governance terms.  The Parish Council must operate within legislative boundaries and a great deal more work is being delivered. Residents do not always understand which local authority is responsible for what and can be blamed for delays by WSCC and or MSDC. 

The Chairman ran through the other six items in the final recommendations: 

Point 1 – Noted. MSDC feel the change of Governance arrangements seems premature due to the potential development of 3,803 new homes in the local area. 

Point 2 – Noted. A proposed budget for a new Parish Council is the responsibility of the petitioners.

Point 3 – Noted. It is a challenge to recruit new councillors from across the parish.

Point 4 – Noted.  There is an evolving community identity for Sayers Common.

Point 6 – Disagree. Dates for a further review in 2025 or 2029: The Chairman felt the short time scales leave too much uncertainty for the Parish Council which has held back on recruiting extra staff so we wouldn’t need to make anyone redundant. We need more certainty to invest in our community.  LAA and LAB were artificial boundaries established in 2000 to enable ward councillors posts to be created for the respective villages and the CGR review should acknowledge the new geographical features/boundaries.  Cllr Bedford suggested the CGR is aligned with the outcome of the District Plan Review as the area will not look the same place in future. Cllr Brown said new Burgess Hill CGR should also happen at same time. The Chairman thanked everyone for their input, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES a draft response to the MSDC Community Governance Review will be brought back to the 28 July 2022 Council to meet the deadline of 1 August 2022.

C22/23.046: Review of the Annual Parish MeetingMembers considered feedback on the Annual Parish Meeting held at Court Bushes Community Hub on 17 May 2022.  The Chairman thanked the organisers, both councillors and staff for an excellent event.  All agreed it was a success and the format was very well received.  There had been lots of positive feedback and the community said they had enjoyed the format with lots of good networking opportunities provided.  Cllr Majsai confirmed that the Events Working Group and Community Engagement Committee had started to discuss plans for next year’s event to build on the good work done this year, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council NOTED the success of the 2022 Annual Parish Meeting and the positive feedback from all who attended.

C22/23.047: Hurstpierpoint Village Action Plan:  Members noted the report produced by The Retail Group on behalf of Mid Sussex District Council to support the safe reopening of High Streets following COVID, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council REQUESTS the Community Engagement Committee to review the detail of the Action Plan at their next meeting and make any recommendations as to which, if any, actions to take forward.

C22/23.048: MSDC District Plan Review:  Members received a verbal update on the review of the District Plan (2023-2038) by Mid Sussex District Council.  The Parish Council had written to our District Ward Councillors to express our dissatisfaction with the initial part of the process when the 2038 Plan was announced and the mistakes made by MSDC.  It also highlighted the use of ONS figures from 2014 (which were now out of date) and the affordability algorithm.  The Leader of MSDC had written to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP to query the use of these figures and has now apparently received a reply which has not yet been published.  Cllr Salisbury, MSDC Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning has confirmed he will take a scientific approach to the review of the District Plan and the proper process will be followed.  However, policies have been reviewed to allow sites previously ruled as out of scope to now become suitable.  The other key issues apart from the ONS figures and the algorithm is “water neutrality”, the future use for our Neighbourhood Plan and what defines a sustainable settlement.  Developers of the brickyard site in Sayers Common talk about how easy it is for residents to get a bus to Crawley!  Cllr Majsai was also concerned about the development of fields next to Hurst College and the ancient woodland of Tilley’s Copse.  The staging of a public meeting is an option but there is also the risk of raising the expectations for residents that the numbers can be altered.

C22/23.049: Councillor Representatives on Outside Bodies: Members received updates from representatives on external organisations.  Cllr Lowman had not been able to attend the last meeting of the Hurstpierpoint Society.  The Clerk is waiting for confirmation from the Sayers Common Village Society as to whether they agree to have a parish Councillors representative on their group.  Cllr Evans reported his two groups, the Mid Sussex Flora and Fauna and the Green Circle, had not met in three years.

C22/23.050: Members were asked to note any further information items, correspondence received or requests:

C22/23.049.1: Police and Crime Commissioner’s Focus Group Meeting: Cllr Lank had provided a written update on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Focus Group meeting (hosted by the Communication Manager) with town and parish councils on 26 May 2022.  Cllr Lank felt it was useful to understand what issues other town and parish council’s were experiencing.  Some had had good attendance from the Police at their Annual Parish Meetings.  It was noted that the Police had given their apologies for our APM, at which some 80 people had attended.  Cllr Majsai confirmed an alternative fraud awareness event was planned to cover what was intended for the APM.

The Committee is asked to RESOLVE that in view of the confidential nature of the following item, the press and public be excluded under section 1(2) of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960.

Confidential Matters:

C22/23.038: Woodland at Brown Twins Road:  Members received a verbal report on the progress of the purchase of the woodland from WSCC.  Cllr Dennis had previously advised the matter was now with the MSDC Legal Team.

C22/23.038: South Avenue BT Wayleave:  Members considered the proposed British Telecommunications Ltd wayleave agreement for South Avenue.  Members also considered directing the £591.22 to the South Avenue Earmarked Reserve, and it was: 

RESOLVED:  That the Council AGREES to authorise the signing of the British Telecommunications Ltd wayleave agreement for South Avenue by two Councillors, witnessed by the Clerk, and the transfer of the £591.22 receipt into the South Avenue Earmarked Reserve.

There being no other business, the Chairman closed the meeting at 10.06 pm.