HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING held on 10th May 2022 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Jane Baker, Sue Hatton, Kate Bailey, Alex Simmons, Bob Brewer, Clare Tester, Leslie Campbell, Bill Hatton, David Bunting and Carolyn Barton.
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
1. APOLOGIES Cllr Kristian Berggreen, Cllr Frances Gaudencio
2. Minutes – The minutes of the Annual Parish meeting held on the 4th May 2021 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
3. CHAIRMANS ANNUAL REPORT – May 2022 (Cllr Weir)
During the year, the Parish Council along with everyone else transitioned from virtual meetings back to face-to face meetings which meant that staff had to include social distancing into the arrangements to protect the more vulnerable amongst our community.
All meetings, except Planning where often significant numbers of people wish to attend, are now held in the Parish Centre.
Continuing from last year when greater use of our Footpaths and Bridleways prompted the Parish to review where improvements could be made, the Parish has delivered improvements south of Crossways Lane and on the junction of the cinder track with Clayton Avenue whilst planning in 2022/23 for two significant improvements close to the village.
We have also worked with West Sussex Council to ensure that two well used paths within the South Downs National Park that are in a dangerous condition will also be upgraded this coming year.
The big news is the opening in late April of the new tunnel under the railway at Woodside Grange. The replacement of the dangerous and challenging climb up and over the railway has been on the Parish wish list for many years and is the culmination of work by many groups within the community to ensure that the new developments actually deliver benefits to the local community. Tied in with this the Parish has worked with West Sussex to ensure that the footpaths on either side will be upgraded to bridleways to allow safe non-car routes for cyclists to travel into the village centre and schools.
In August 2021, the final stage of the Hassocks Parking and Traffic Scheme was delivered, with the aim to improve access and traffic flow on a number key roads within the village,
and in Late April the first Electric vehicle charging points were installed at Orion Car Park.
Hassocks Parish has three District Councillors who represent us at Mid Sussex Council – In 2021 the Boundary Commission Review proposed reducing councillor numbers at Mid Sussex and splitting Hassocks Parish down the middle such that councillors would be responsible for other parishes as well. The Parish Council submitted a strong case for maintaining Hassocks as a single unit retaining our three existing councillors and the Boundary Commission agreed with us.
With Climate Change meaning more extreme weather, and Hassocks suffering from time to time with flooding issues, the Parish has created a Flood Working Group which has already identified areas where action can be taken. Future work will focus on Natural Flood Management which aims to alter stream flows and reduce the risk of flash flood type events. This approach has the benefit of being relatively low-cost, easier to deliver and therefore much more likely to be implemented.
With the District Plan currently being reviewed, the Neighbourhood Planning Committee has focused on updating the evidence relating to infrastructure needs within the Parish and is considering the preparation of a ‘community-led plan.’ This will be informed by Community engagement on the local issues expected over the next 20 years including actions to achieve zero-carbon emissions by 2030. It is hoped to launch this plan next year.
I have focussed on a selection of the many things the Parish Council does on behalf of the community, and yet with this being the Queen’s Jubilee one further item is planned for early June – the planters on the traffic island opposite Orion Parade will be refurbished and replanted in bright colours with two additional planters sign written to commemorate this unique event.
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:
- Hassocks Christmas Lights
- Hanging Baskets in the village centre
- 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 and 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 Thank You
4. REPORT BY COUNCIL COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN
(a) PLANNING COMMITTEE (Cllr Berggreen)
The Chair of the Planning Committee was unfortunately unable to attend but had submitted a report on behalf of the Committee which the Clerk read out.
For the Planning committee the past year has again been a busy one.
Due to the covid pandemic, we have again had to conduct most of our meetings online.
It is hoped that this is now coming to an end and we will therefore revert to face to face meetings in May 2022.
I would like to thank our deputy clerk Tracy Forte for ensuring the online meetings ran smoothly and expertly presented the application details electronically, as well as advising the committee on appropriate wording for reasons for objecting to an application.
It appears more residents, than ever, are deciding to extend their properties, rather than move.
The Parish council currently has two vacancies, and the planning committee will have two less members. It is my hope that the vacancies will be filled and that we will be able to bring the planning committee up to strength again.
The coming year will no doubt present new challenges. Our green belt continues to be vulnerable, and we will have to consider the new zero carbon regulations, for new build, coming into effect in June 2022.
The majority of planning applications the parish council deals with are extensions to existing buildings and here the planning law is less clear. We will continue to make our voice heard with the district council, but we are not the planning authority, we can only advise.
(b) GROUNDS & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE (Cllr Baker)
Adastra Park– As with any public space there are issues with antisocial behaviour, litter and dog poo. We have addressed this by liaising with the police for regular visits, providing new litter bins with greater capacity and by replacing the outdated signage with modern attractive notices.
The Park suffers drainage issues during the winter which affect the Paths and football pitches, so the council has employed a consultant to advise on suitable remedies and awaits the report.
The adult fitness equipment, which was not well used, became unsafe and has been removed.
The next stage of the Park Master Plan is to upgrade the tennis courts through co-operation with the Lawn Tennis Association and with wholly external funding was going well until the Government devised a new scheme which has delayed progress by 6 months.
Garden of Remembrance – The Pergola forming the centre-piece of the Garden became unsafe during the year and has been fully restored with new pillars and timberwork and the reseeding of grass areas has been completed. We are fortunate to have a team of volunteers who lovingly tend the Garden of remembrance and I wish to thank them for all their work.
Hassocks Parking and Traffic Scheme – After almost 10 years from the first resident’s requests for something to be done about parking in Hassocks the final stage of the scheme was completed in August 2021. The Parish fought a long battle to get West Sussex to accept that the residents knew what was best for Hassocks and this resulted in the scheme being split into stages with the Parish having to fund work beyond the funds West Sussex had available.
In Late April, the first Electric vehicle charging points were installed at Orion Car Park after a concerted effort to ensure Hassocks, as a tourist and visitor destination, was included in the initial roll-out phase.
Flood Working Group – West Sussex recognise Hassocks is a priority area for surface flooding and this volunteer group has reviewed the existing documentation and strategies and produced a number of recommendations. Besides getting West Sussex to implement drainage improvements which took place near Spitalford Bridge during December, they are also exploring Natural Flood Management strategies which are effective in other areas yet fairly inexpensive to implement. The group needs more members to continue this work and is to set up a team to watch over the integrity of local streams and ditches.
Footpaths – Improvements this year include a new surface on Path 11C from Crossways Lane south towards The Downs; repair of the junction of the Cinder Track where it links to Clayton Avenue and a Community Payback repair by Balfour Beaty and Hobarts to the path and stile on Path 8K to Ditchling. In 2022/23 West Sussex will upgrade the Footpath from Clayton to the Windmills and in a jointly funded project with Hassocks Parish, a dangerous section of Path 13C near Coldharbour Farm. The Parish will separately fund the upgrade of two paths close to the village.
Talbot Field – The parish owns and manages this area with support from the Woodland Flora & Fauna group who provide bat boxes, bird boxes and wildflower plants and who watered critical plants during the heatwave in 2021.
Trees – As part of its responsibility for public safety the Parish Council has commissioned a tree safety report for all spaces it manages and carries out a tree maintenance and inspection program. Whilst many trees have received attention, the most noticeable change will be the urgent removal of a dangerous tree in Talbot Field adjacent to the main road to Hurst.
Street Tree planting is sponsored by the Parish and each year approx. 20 trees are installed in our verges. This year the cost of new trees has jumped by 33%.
Village Sign – After many years of debate the Parish now has a new Village Sign at the entrance to Adastra Park – it was commissioned locally using two local artisans (blacksmith and artist) and shows key aspects of the local area.
Burial ground – The flower beds in the Memorial Garden area had become overgrown and volunteers spent several sessions removing old growth and plants, weeding and replanting with new shrubs and bulbs.
Allotments – These are managed through a holders-association and are well maintained. Their popularity is confirmed by the waiting list for new members.
Queen’s Jubilee – Two additional Planters, sign written to commemorate Queen Elisabeth II‘s Jubilee, are being placed opposite Orion Parade. They join the four existing planters which are being refurbished and all will be planted with a colourful red, white and blue display in honour of the event.
The Parish also provides Hanging Baskets to enhance the Village Centre and Christmas lights to support the Light up Hassocks event and brighten the village during the gloomy winter period.
Finally, a special mention to our groundsman who looks after Adastra Park and to the many volunteers who help to keep Hassocks looking great. Thankyou
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.