Hoe and Worthing end of year parish update
This is a brief update of some current issues which will be referred to more fully in due course, with other matters, on the parish website hoeandworthing.co.uk, which Danny Danson maintains. You may wish to visit this and the parish archive site maintained by Dick Malt at hoeandworthingarchive.org.uk or join the (closed) group for Hoe and Worthing on Facebook which Carl Watling recently started. You can also make a personal contribution to all three things.
Billingford Lakes. After an extremely unusual action by Breckland’s planning committee, the planning consent to develop 140 acres at Billingford Lakes, close to the Worthing border, was revoked following correspondence from lawyers representing a local group. Despite my best and extensive efforts I have been unable to discover anything from our councillors and council officers, even at the highest level, regarding what action the council now proposes other than that the matter will be returned to the planning committee to resolve again in due course. Clearly I can say no more at the moment but will provide future information to the parish website as it is made available. It is extremely unlikely that anything requiring parish action will develop until next year.
Waterways The Environment Agency (EA) recently held a drop in event to outline a proposal under consideration to transfer management responsibility for the watercourse that runs through Hoe and Worthing from the EA to the Internal Drainage Board; this is part of a wider pilot project. I have met with the project leader and determined that the next step will be to analyse the comments provided at the drop in then send out a full information sheet early in 2018, ahead of a public consultation. I have provided some immediate thoughts to the EA and also insisted that all future correspondence is at least sent to me and our residents with postcodes NR20 5HR,NR20 5HS, NR20 4BQ and NR20 4BH which are within or close to areas designated as ‘flood zone 3’.
Highways I am in regular contact with our highways engineers about our roads and verges and can usually arrange for problems to be remedied within a reasonable period, depending on the degree of urgency. Please let me know if you are concerned about a highways matter and I will ensure it is both reported and followed up. There is an ongoing issue which severely and adversely impacts on the quality of life and safety of a small number of Hoe residents living on one of our busiest and fastest roads near the Dereham parish border. A considerable amount of work has been done already and continues to be done by our parish and I mention this here because the next step is to raise the public profile of the totally inflexible way that the county speed management policy is currently interpreted and secure both the support and action of those who can change that. You may therefore see more about this in the near future and I will of course report on any progress.
Planning. Over time a total misconception appears to have gained some traction that parish involvement in the planning process is required to be combative and obstructive. Nothing could be further from the truth and our parish view has consistently succeeded solely because of the persuasive strength of the cases we make. During the ten years I have been chairman I have found that local planning policies have worked well, both in opposing and supporting proposed development in our villages. Those polices are about to change however and at a time when there is considerable national pressure from government forcing a looser approach to planning control. Our parish has debated the proposed changes a number of times and in co-operation with our local authorities and elected representatives ensured that the new local policies for areas such as ours will be those supported by our parish meeting. There is no doubt therefore that those of us who have the good fortune to live in this beautiful area can look forward with optimism to any development of our future built environment being sensitively managed according to local wishes.
Parish issues I usually state in newsletters that you are welcome to contact me about any parish matters and will do the same on this occasion. I will be very pleased to try to help if I can and even if you intend to pursue something yourself you are welcome to get in touch if you just want to talk it through first or check where the best place is to direct your enquiry. Of course we do have very valuable and valued volunteers who deal with specific things which include Margaret our treasurer handling all things financial and the hall management group, events group and planning committee also having their own specific areas of responsibility. Recently some confusion was demonstrated however regarding the remit of our planning volunteers which is to express an honest, unbiased view without preconceptions about the content of written planning applications received in the village where they reside. There is never any urgency, technical knowledge, written reports and generally no meetings involved in being part of this essential and transparent community service. We are seeking others to join our current volunteers (please call) who are Celia Daniel, Alan Hughes and Danny Danson in Worthing and Margaret Barrett, Dick Malt and Simon Brock in Hoe.
There are 14 parish meetings in the Breckland area and I am informed that ours is by far the most active; that is entirely due to the consistent and enthusiastic involvement of our parishioners in parish activities. Old and new volunteers, those attending parish meetings, coming to events, to local groups and even hiring the parish hall, all contribute to breathing continued life into our community. Please remember that there will be some refreshments and good company available at the parish hall on Wednesday 27th December to round off the next parish event organised by the Events Group, which is a ramble starting at 10.00am at the parish hall.
The last time I checked we also had one of the lowest collected precepts (parish council tax) in Breckland area. As a result those attending both parish meetings next year who have one of the hot drinks and a biscuit that Sue Malt always kindly serves up, will (at Costa’s and Starbuck’s prices) have saved the equivalent of their precept contribution.
The next meeting is on 16th May. I hope to see you there and wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Trevor Wood (Parish Chairman, tel.860326 or email email@example.com)