West St Leonards ward report

Since being elected as Labour Borough Councillor for West St Leonards in 2012 I have done my best to keep my pre-election promise to highlight the needs of West St Leonards and deal efficiently with all matters in a professional and confidential manner. I have had an almost 100% attendance record at the Council, dealing with the many meetings, commitments and policy and service developments that affect all parts of our ward and residents.
My busy casework has included:

  • getting an elderly disabled couple re-assessed for rehousing,
  • dealing with problems emanating from Bulverhythe Depot,
  • advising residents on planning issues,
  • ‘Grotbusting’ and clearing fly-tips, dog and other mess from various roads and paths.

All residents have received a copy of my recent four page Ward Report which includes a wider list – contact me if you have not had a copy!

I have worked with and consulted residents and community groups at either end of Bexhill Road and Seaside Roads, Harley Shute Road and the West St Leonards Community Centre Association where we are trying to save our only currently operating Community Centre in the ward.

In addition, I chair the West St Leonards Neighbourhood Police Panel meetings for residents and am a very active Hastings Borough Council nominated Director on the new Combe Valley Countryside Park Community Interest Company Board – see story below for latest news!


New Discovery Centre for West St Leonards

image300I am very pleased to announce that Friday 25th March and Easter weekend will see the beginning of a new era for West St Leonards with the launch of the Combe Valley Countryside Park
Discovery Centre on Freshfields. To include community & training space, a kitchen, café area and project office, it will herald the first initiative by our new Combe Valley Countryside Park Community Interest Company (CIC) Board. An exciting Development Plan will then evolve from Bexhill Road to Harley Shute, then beyond to Sidley and Crowhurst in the next few years.
During the past year the Board has converted from being made up of local councillors to include an increasingly wide representation from organisations, businesses, local voluntary umbrella group The Friends of Combe Valley and our delivering environmental charity, The Groundwork Trust, to take it forward. If you or your organisation are interested in supporting the initiative, please contact me. [Photo shows me at the Discovery Centre construction site]


Playground Update

Local residents may also be aware of the partnership work between Bexleigh, Hythe & Abbey Residents Association, HBC and me to create a new children’s playground opposite Hastings Garden Centre for all children. With over £18,000 raised we are now awaiting the final grant aid required to fund the total cost.


The Old Bathing Pool Site

OldBathingPool siteRecently Hastings Borough Council held an initial consultation, for local residents, businesses and organisations, to explore the possibility of creating a high quality, mixed development that reflects the iconic location and seascape.
Although the Council could, as landowner, simply try to sell the site to a developer for profit that is not our ethos or strategy for this amazing site. Instead, in co-operation with our local residents, we are looking for a partnership with one or more developers who are interested in helping to create something of which we can all be proud.
Because of stipulations by the Environment Agency, the Southern Water tanks and pipes, which are buried just below the surface, and our seafront, cultural regeneration and other interlinking strategies, we envisage that a significant proportion of the site would be a mixture of imaginatively re-designed open space, a creative community, amenities and some housing, at the eastern end, to pay for it. We hope that this will result in a must-visit destination point for residents and visitors.
I have been discussing the ideas at meetings and individually with local residents, as well as the creative/art sector and beach hut folk on various occasions and the feedback has naturally been questioning but interested.


Grove School site

Residents, particularly those from the Harley Shute Road/Darwell Close/Wishing Tree Lane areas, whom I have met at meetings in the last year, will be acutely aware of East Sussex County Council’s plans to attempt to sell the ex-Grove School site to a developer, with the potential for up to 210 dwellings.
In common with the residents, I have real concerns about the effect of the housing density levels on the need for more infrastructure, such as school places, GPs and, from construction stage onwards, the effect on traffic, with only one way in and one way out via Darwell Close on to Harley Shute Road.
At the Pre-Planning Forum, when Hastings Borough Council asked East Sussex to present their plans to the public, I raised this issue and asked the County to consider a second access to the site, which local residents have also raised as an option.
Currently, the applicants are undertaking additional ecological surveys to add to the planning
application documentation, which will then be referred to HBC’s Planning Committee for decision. I am discussing with residents their local responses to the Planning Committee.


My Hastings online now

Is dog mess, a missed bin collection, fly-tipping or dumped street litter causing offence?
You can now report a range of matters, 24 hours online, at Hastings Borough
Council’s new service My Hastings.

You can register, include information, locate the problem on a map and your report will go straight through to the service to deal with it, with email acknowledgement.
I have successfully had a dumped fridge freezer and mattress removed recently from the bushes on the South Saxons/Conquerer Road path via this method and know it works!
Of course if you don’t have access to the internet you can still phone the Council on 01424 451066 and speak to a member of staff who will do their best to help you.


Casework

Here are some of the wide and varied range of casework that I have carried out as your ward Councillor since you elected me in 2012.
ABBEY DRIVE
Fly tipping and overgrown foliage and blocked back alley. Also arranged for Caseworknew c notice board.

ALBOURNE CLOSE
Dealt with Network Rail over flooding from their land.

BEXHILL ROAD
Overgrown foliage, matters relating to businesses, flooding, traffic, parking and rights of way, unlawful on-street sale of cars.

BEXLEIGH AVENUE
Parking, street lighting, waste bins and planning issues.

BRIDGE WAY
Parking problems.

BULVERHYTHE ROAD
Traffic movement and safety problems, Bulverhythe Depot problems taken up and dealt with, fly tipping, overgrown foliage by river.

CINQUE PORTS WAY
Removal of unsightly plethora of advertising signs on hoarding wall.

CLIFTONVILLE ROAD
Parking, traffic, overgrown foliage, fly-tipping and problems for elderly resident.

CONQUEROR ROAD
Solved route termination problem with No. 22 bus, reported empty property and had dumped fridge freezer and mattress removed.

EDINBURGH ROAD
Maintenance and usage of recreation ground, path lighting and upkeep, complex housing case.

FERNSIDE AVENUE
Traffic management representation at County Council, pest control and overgrown foliage near shops.

FILSHAM ROAD
Path lighting and overgrown foliage across Filsham Valley. Traffic management representation of area near St. Ethelburga Church.

GROSVENOR GARDENS
Problems with antisocial behaviour, toilets, flooding and camper vans.

HARLEYSHUTE ROAD
Traffic management problems, particularly by West St. Leonards Primary School, and individual casework including housing and blocked drain management.

KEYMER CLOSE
Traffic management representation regarding parking problems.

REEDSWOOD ROAD
Individual case regarding unsafe pavement and party wall.

SEASIDE ROAD
Uneven pavements, rubbish by childrens playground and campervan problems.

ST. SAVIOURS ROAD
Resolved Council Tax payment issue and stopped trade misuse of road near St Ethelburga Church hall.

ST. VINCENTS ROAD
Resolved refuse waste collection from new houses.

WARREN CLOSE
Individual confidential case relating to trade.

WEST HILL ROAD
Issues relating to waste, noise and parking from retail car park.


Former West St Leonards Primary School/South Saxons site

WSL Community Centre Easter Bingo Mayoral visitResidents will probably be aware of the joint proposal by East Sussex County Council Adult Social Care and Amicus Horizon to build a development centred around Extra-Care sheltered housing and a mixture of other general accommodation. [Photo shows Mayor’s visit to the Community Centre bingo club]

From the off, I have been very concerned for the future of our only community centre in the ward – West St Leonards Community Centre – because although HBC’s stipulation for this site says that any developer must “Provide for the replacement of the Community Hall” and that “The Hall is to be provided prior to the completion of the housing development”, there is no definition of what comprises a community centre and Amicus/ESCC believes that their proposed ‘Community Hub’ within the sheltered housing, satisfies the requirement.

Because West St Leonards Community Association (WSLCA), and I, do not accept
that the facilities in their proposal meets HBC’s definition or the CA’s needs, I set up meetings with ESCC and Amicus officers at the Community Centre, where we left them in no doubt that we would, at every stage, be arguing that they provide a replacement building with equivalent facilities, that is still independently run by WSLCA.

All has been quiet since those meetings around a year ago, and at the time of writing I understand, from HBC Planning, that they are still awaiting an Environmental Statement from Amicus that would need a full consultation, with the public/statutory bodies, before the application is even considered by the Planning Committee.