Supporting and informing our local communities

Parish Council News – March 2017

Councillor Vacancy

The Parish Council still needs to co-opt a Councillor to represent the Ward of Five Ashes. Any interested candidates will need to forward their CV with a covering letter outlining why they think they would be a valued member of the Parish Council for consideration. Prospective Councillors will then be invited to attend a Parish Council meeting to introduce themselves and speak for up to three minutes before the decision on co-option can be made.

To stand for election on a Parish Council, you must:

  • be a UK or commonwealth citizen, or;
  • be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or;
  • be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union;
  • be a least 18 years old.

To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:

  • be an elector of the parish, or;
  • for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish, or;
  • during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work), or;
  • for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary.

2017/18 Budgets

Budget season is upon us. Our council tax payments are shared between: East Sussex County Council, Wealden District Council, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, East Sussex Fire Authority and your local Parish Council. The Parish Council has approved an increase of 1.99%, for the 2017/18 financial year which means that a Band D rated property will see a rise from £55.26 to £56.13 per annum.

Wealden District Council has approved a £5 a year increase in 2017/18 for a Band D council tax payment to safeguard the District’s services, with proportional increases for other bandings.

 East Sussex County Council has agreed an extra 1.99 per cent in council tax, as well as a Government agreed three per cent Adult Social Care levy which will fund some of the shortfall for adult social care services. There is much less money for services in East Sussex, even though demand for them is rising. This is largely because funding from central Government is shrinking.

ESCC has already had to reduce their spending by close to £100 million this decade and need to continue making savings – with a further £17 million in 2017/18.

 Tree works

At the February Parish Council meeting concern was raised that residents may be unaware that they need to determine whether any trees they intend to do work on are subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or are within the Conservation Area before work can proceed.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 recognises the amenity value of trees, and may protect them by legislation. Trees with a TPO placed on them or trees within a Conservation Area are protected under certain circumstances and require a Tree Works Application form to be completed or a Notification of Proposed Works to Trees in Conservation Areas. Owners of protected trees must not carry out, or cause or permit the carrying out of, any prohibited activities without the written consent of Wealden District Council (WDC).

Tree Preservation Orders may be placed on individual, groups or areas of trees and woodlands. Consent is required from the District Council for the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, willful damage or willful destruction of protected trees. You do not need permission if you want to cut down or work on trees less than 7.5 cm in diameter (measured 1.5 m above the ground) or 10 cm in diameter if thinning to help the growth of other trees. Shrubs are not usually included except where they are grown as part of a historic hedge.

You always need the Planning Authority’s Permission to work on a protected tree, except for:

  1. cutting down trees in accordance with one of the Forestry Commission’s grant schemes, or where the commission has granted a felling licence
  2. cutting down or cutting back a tree:
  • which is dying, dead, dangerous, or
  • in line with an obligation under an Act of Parliament, or
  • at the request of certain organisations specified in the Order, or
  • which is directly in the way of development that is about to start for which detailed planning permission has been granted, or
  • in a commercial orchard, or pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice if the tree is cultivated for the production of fruit.
  • to prevent or control a legal nuisance (it may be helpful to check with a solicitor).

If you are in any doubt, check with WDC.

Except in an emergency you are advised to give WDC at least five days notice before you cut down a protected tree which is dying, dead or dangerous. This is in your interests – you could be prosecuted if the authority thinks you have carried out unauthorised work. It could also decide that you do not have to plant a replacement tree although you are under a duty to do so. You must remember, however, that you will remain responsible for your trees and any damage they may cause.

You must give WDC six weeks notice in writing if you want to carry out work to trees within Conservation Areas. You must not carry out any work during that period without permission. If you deliberately destroy a tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted in the magistrate’s court. In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take account of any financial benefit arising from the offence. For other offences you could be fined up to £2,500.

Planning information

There have been two applications from the Cricket Club submitted to WDC for screening opinions that are registered under WD/2017/6502/SO and WD/2017/6503/SO. ‘Screening’ is a procedure used to determine whether a proposed project is likely to have significant effects on the environment and decides whether the potential project requires an Environmental Impact Assessment. This is not a procedure that is open to Parish Council or public consultation. Planning applications that have been submitted to WDC can be viewed on their weekly list of planning applications via their Planning and Building Control website pages at www.wealden.gov.uk

The new Wealden Local Plan is due to be released for the next stage in the consultation process in March 2017. When the consultation is open it will be advertised in the Newsletter and on the Parish Council website and Facebook page.

Garden bonfires: the rules

Residents have contacted the office to complain about bonfire smoke that is affecting their day-to-day life. It’s perfectly legal to have a bonfire at home, but you must take all reasonable steps to ensure it doesn’t cause nuisance to your neighbours. A single event of a bonfire for an hour or two is not usually enough to be a nuisance; it must be more than a single event and last for several hours. If the neighbour’s home is engulfed in dense smoke you must put it out as soon as possible.

There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.

Burning domestic waste

You can’t get rid of household waste if it will cause pollution or harm people’s health. This includes burning it. You can get rid of household or garden waste by composting or recycling it.

Danger to traffic by smoke

You could be fined if you light a fire and you allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic.

WDC can issue an ‘abatement notice’ if a neighbour’s bonfire is causing a nuisance and they can be fined up to £5,000 if they don’t stick to the notice.

It can wait campaign

Drivers are urged to remember that “It Can Wait” when it comes to using a mobile phone while driving. Driving while distracted is an increasing problem on Sussex roads with mobile phones now used to make calls, send messages, play music and check road conditions, temptations to use devices while at the wheel are endless.

“It Can Wait” aims to remind drivers that nothing is more important than focusing on driving – and driving alone. The campaign is urging drivers to place their phone out of reach, or set it to silent, before setting off on a journey to ensure they are not distracted or tempted to pick it up while driving.

Tackling elder exploitation in our communities

Katy Bourne, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex, has made tackling elder exploitation a priority in a bid to protect older people in the county from financial abuse.

Fraud against older and more vulnerable residents is a growing issue as the population ages and criminals see that fraud is more profitable and less risky than other crimes. In Sussex, fraud has robbed some older people of their entire life savings and left others destitute.

Sussex Police has developed Operation Signature to help protect and support those most at risk of fraud, and the model has been nationally recognised and is being adopted by other police forces. The problem is that many people don’t realise that they’ve been a victim of fraud – they think it’s just a scam, or they feel foolish and don’t want to tell anyone. But scams are fraud and fraud is a crime so they urge anyone who has been affected by doorstep crime, postal fraud or nuisance calls to report it. You can call the police on 101 or report fraud by speaking directly to the advisers at Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, by phoning 0300 123 2040. They will also be able to give you help and advice about fraud and you can remain anonymous if you prefer.

UK-wide charity Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline on 080 8808 8141 which offers advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse. Trading Standards also want to know about online fraud or mobile phone scams; any information you share may help them shut down fraudsters before others fall victim to them. You can report incidents, whether you’re a victim or have just been targeted, via the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 05 06.

Payment diversion alert 

Fraudsters are emailing members of the public who are expecting to make a payment for property repairs. The fraudsters will purport to be a tradesman who has recently completed work at the property and use a similar email address to that of the genuine tradesman. They will ask for funds to be transferred via bank transfer. Once payment is made the victims of the scam soon realise they have been deceived when the genuine tradesman requests payment for their services.

Protect yourself

  • Always check the email address is exactly the same as previous correspondence with the genuine contact.
  • For any request of payment via email verify the validity of the request with a phone call to the person who carried out the work.
  • Check the email for spelling and grammar as these signs can indicate that the email is not genuine.
  • Payments via bank transfer offer no financial protection; consider using alternative methods such as a credit card or PayPal which offer protection and an avenue for recompense.

The East Sussex, South Downs and Brighton & Hove Waste and Minerals Sites Plan

East Sussex County Council, the South Downs National Park Authority and Brighton & Hove City Council have all agreed the Main Modification and resolved to adopt the Plan as planning policy for waste management and minerals production for the Plan Area to 2026.. The adopted Plan is now available to view on the following website – http://consult.eastsussex.gov.uk

Please note that the Parish Council Office will be closed on Wednesday 8 March and Wednesday 29 March 2017.

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