HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
Draft MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING held on
16th May 2023 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Frances Gaudencio, Sue Hatton, Alex Simmons, Bob Brewer, Bill Hatton, David Bunting, Carolyn Barton, Angus Neil, Kristian Berggreen, Dan Sewell, Paul Shepherd and Peter Richardson.
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
1. APOLOGIES none
2. Minutes – The minutes of the Annual Parish meeting held on the 10th May 2022 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
3. CHAIRMANS ANNUAL REPORT – May 2023 (Cllr Weir)
Good evening and welcome to the Annual Meeting of Hassocks Parish Council. This is not a formal Parish Council meeting, but an annual opportunity for residents to hear what the council has been doing over the past year and to ask any questions or raise any issues. The council is interested to hear the views of residents, but I should point out that the meeting has no decision-making powers.
We will be receiving reports from the council’s sub committees on their individual areas of responsibility, so I will not pre-empt these reviews, but give a general overview of the council’s work in my Chairman’s Report.
This year life has largely returned to normal, yet many of the Council’s Projects have been affected by increased costs and delays due to contractors experiencing increased customer demand. This has particularly affected progress on tackling the flooding in Adastra Park where heavy rains in the winter affect the playing fields, tennis courts and children’s play area.
The Adastra Park is the Parish’s “Jewel in the Crown” and the Master Plan to improve its facilities continues with the Tennis Courts – which will be completely refurbished this summer. The work will include new modern attractive fencing and automatic access arrangements which will make them easier to use.
Hassocks along with other communities in Mid Sussex is taking significant development and the Parish Council has worked hard with Mid Sussex to ensure that the additional homes provide improved walking and cycling routes to allow everyone who doesn’t use a car the chance to travel safely into Hassocks. This has resulted in the new tunnel under the railway at Woodside Grange and will in due course include all-weather routes from the Golf Course through to Ockley Lane intersecting with a new route from Burgess Hill Station to Hassocks Station. Most importantly this will provide safe cycle access to Downlands School from outlying parts of the village.
In the latest Boundary review, Hassocks Parish has retained the three District Councillors who represent us at Mid Sussex Council and I look forward to working with them to ensure our community and its needs are fully understood by Mid Sussex Council.
With Climate Change meaning more extreme weather, and Hassocks suffering from time to time with flooding issues, the Parish’s Flood Working Group has been working with West Sussex Council and the Ouse and Adur River Trust to identify areas where action is needed and this work will form part of a proposal to the Environment Agency for funding. This is focussing on Natural Flood Management, which aims to alter stream flows and reduce the risk of flash flood type events, because this approach has the benefit of being low-cost, easier to deliver and therefore much more likely to be implemented. Finally, I want to emphasise that the Parish Council works to improve the quality of life in our village and we work with many local organisations and support a wide range of local voluntary groups through grants and funding as well as directly facilitating:
1. Hassocks Christmas Lights
2. Hanging Baskets in the village centre
3. Dog Waste Collection bins
As part of our service to the local community, the Parish Office continues to provide the first port of call for a wide range of enquiries from the public handling approx. 4000 enquiries each year. It provides help and information on Parish Council matters as well as directing residents to sources of help for District & County Council matters and advice on issues not related to council activities.
I am constantly impressed by the dedication and time given by my fellow councillors to work on behalf of the community. They are supported by our Parish Clerk and his team – all of whom show equally strong commitment in their work.
To all of you I would like to say THANKYOU.
4. REPORT BY COUNCIL COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN
(a) GROUNDS & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE (Cllr Baker)
Our thanks and appreciation are given to Jane Baker, on her retirement from the Council. Jane chaired this committee for several years and has been a key member of the Parish Council and will be missed.
Extensive discussions with the Lawn Tennis Association have eventually secured funding support for major refurbishment of the playing surfaces, refurbishment of the Courts containment fencing, and a future proof Online controlled booking system.
Works will hopefully finally be able to proceed when ground conditions are suitable in June 2023, and will last for approx. 40 days.
May Day celebration 2022, & “Downs Fest” Comedy and Music festival (July 15th and 16th 2022) The Council supported the organisers of these events held in the park.
Ice Cream Van
The Council approved an Ice Cream van selling from the Pavilion car park and worked closely with the vendor to trial this. Unfortunately following a short trial the vendor decided it was not commercially viable for her to continue which was disappointing for both parties.
A key challenge to the Council is to improve drainage to both fields of the park, as this problem impedes progress of other Park Projects.
A Specialist Drainage report has been commissioned, however a major challenge to this is the control of the discharge rate away from the playing surfaces. The viability and affordability are key factors for such a project to proceed further, research and development of plans is ongoing.
Garden of Remembrance
Additional seating has been provided within the area; improvement works are continual. The members of the Volunteer group, managed by Cllr Jane Baker, continued to assist with the ongoing maintenance of the gardens. The Council are very grateful for their hard work and dedication over the past years.
Barriers and gateways
The faulty bollards and ageing wooden gate at the entrance to the South Field were replaced with a new metal barrier gate.
The Council gave permission for a local skate boarding company to offer skateboard lessons to children on the Skate Park. The same company will also be running a Skateboarding competition in July 2023.
Due to problems with temperature controls and outdated showers, new shower heads and push buttons were installed in the home and away changing rooms of the showers, along with new pipework.
The increasing energy costs have impacted considerably on the running costs of the building.
The Council supports the present plans for extension of Adastra Hall.
Hassocks Burial Ground
The path network within the burial ground requires major improvement.
The Council has approved funds and a design to achieve this. Works are expected to begin during May 2023.
Lost Woods Project. An Ancient Woodlands restoration survey was undertaken in May on behalf of the Woodlands Trust as part of the Lost Woods Projects. A report was produced which identified threats to the Woodland and remedial interventions to manage the threats and resilience. The Council has agreed to participate in the project which will fund and organise several elements of the work identified.
To assuage the increased demand, and help reduce the extensive waiting list, the Council approved increasing availability by splitting further plots as they become available. Additionally, the Council also agreed to the submission of a planning application to MSDC to increase the number of permitted sheds on the allotments from 40 sheds to 60 in total. Planning permission was granted for this increase.
The Hassocks Allotments were again included in the “National Gardens Scheme”, (N.G.S.) “Open Gardens Trail”. This event demonstrated the excellent works of the Allotment Holders association, and its positive relationship with the Parish Council.
The Parish Council owns this field, and works closely with The Woodland Flora and Fauna Group, who undertake extensive conservation work on this ecologically valuable site. The Group provided a detailed report of their work to the Committee which was shared at the meeting in September 2022.
For safety reasons a large Oak Tree had to be felled to eliminate the risk of it overhanging the Hurst Road, new trees were planted in its place.
Public Rights of Way
The Network Rail Tunnel footpath under the Railway Line opened on 25th May.
The Council continues to encourage a partnership working with WSCC to support improvements to PROW around the parish. Substantial surface improvements were completed by WSCC contractors in August 2022 to PROW 13C, the cost of this work was part funded by Hassocks PC.
Light Up Hassocks
The Council is responsible for the funding and organisation of the festive lights in Hassocks. Additional funding was given for repair and refurbishment of the Hassocks Christmas motif light. The Council is working closely to support Hassocks Community Organisation who are organising the Light up Hassocks event in 2023.
The Planters in Orion Parade were refurbished and re-planted in May 2022.
In acknowledgement by the Parish Council on behalf of the Village for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration, two new special “Jubilee Celebration” Planters were installed to supplement those already in position. Additionally, a new wooden planter was erected in Adastra Park adjacent to the Village Sign.
The Council again supported the provision and maintenance of the Lamp Post Baskets and Hanging baskets throughout the High Street and on Keymer Parade.
A Coronation bench is to be installed in Ockley Lane, and two new rose beds in the Garden of Remembrance to commemorate this event.
(b) PLANNING COMMITTEE (Cllr Berggreen)
For the Planning Committee the past year has again been a busy one.
We were pleased to be able to revert to face to face meetings at the end of May 2022.
I would again like to thank our deputy clerk Tracy Forte for ensuring that our committee meetings have run smoothly.
The majority of the applications we have dealt with, during the year, have been extensions to existing properties. The planning committee is likely to have two less members, for the coming year, but I hope we will be able to bring the committee up to full strength.
The coming year will no doubt bring new challenges. Until the government publish the awaited changes to the national policy planning framework, we will still have to work with the existing laws and local district plans.
We are not the planning authority, we can only comment, but our area is likely to face increasing pressure from developers and it is still important for our voice to be heard.
(c) NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN COMMITTEE
The main focus of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee’s work this year has been the preparation of a Hassocks Priorities Statement.
This sets out what the community thinks are the most important issues for Hassocks, Keymer and Clayton and was based on community engagement including a public survey which went to all households and businesses in the parish.
The draft Hassocks Priorities Statement was agreed by the Committee at its last meeting in April for recommendation to the new Parish Council in June.
There will then be a further consultation with the community and wider stakeholders before it is formally adopted by the Parish Council. The Statement will inform the Parish Council’s work plan and how it spends its resources. It will also guide how it responds to consultations such as Local Plans. We hope that it will also help other organisations understand what Hassocks parish residents and businesses need and take that into account when providing services and facilities.
5. OPEN FORUM: OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO RAISE ANY ISSUES.
No members of the public were present therefore the Chair formally closed the meeting.