As we recently remembered the terrible events of 24th February 2022 and the brutal, unjustified and unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, I would like to take this opportunity to once again say a huge thank you to all Wealden residents and volunteers who continue to be involved in local support for our Ukrainian guests. Hundreds of East Sussex residents have shown great kindness and generosity by opening their homes to those fleeing the war since the Homes for Ukraine scheme began last year and I am immensely proud that Wealden has led the way in providing support and is hosting the most arrivals in the county.
I appreciate that what our Ukrainian guests want most is to return home safely and reunite with their loved ones. The United Kingdom has stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine from the outset and we will continue to do so. 🇬🇧🤝🇺🇦
It has been a busy couple of months, filled with lots of visits and meetings to address local issues, celebrate successes and support Wealden communities. Here’s a summary of just some of the things I have been involved in over the past few weeks:
💦 Holding water companies to account 💦
💦 Update on South East Water: South East Water (SEW) have failed Wealden residents in the run up to Christmas when water supply was disrupted for several days, and they are failing them now by overcomplicating the compensation system. I have had many angry exchanges with SEW staff including the Chief Executive and I have been campaigning for full financial compensation for those impacted. While it has been forthcoming for many, I was most concerned by reports that some residents have either not received compensation or have been told they were not eligible for it.
I launched a dedicated platform on my website (available here) to gather evidence, and was shocked to receive several hundred submissions. As a result, I recently convened another meeting with SEW directors to demand answers about the compensation chaos. I was pleased to learn that my campaign has had some success and that nearly £1m worth of compensation payments has already been distributed to impacted households and businesses, but there is more to be done and I have also requested that a review of all postcodes is conducted so that Wealden customers do not miss out on compensation payments. 👉🏽 Read more here.
💦 Update on Southern Water: Further south in Wealden, residents of Hailsham and Hellingly faced the opposite problem in January, when heavy rainfall resulted in severe flooding and sewage discharges into people’s gardens. I convened a meeting with representatives of the Parish Council, Wealden District Council, and East Sussex County Council including Highways directly on site in Hellingly to hold Southern Water to account. I share everyone’s frustration at the lack of preparation and the speed of response when such disruptive events take place in Wealden. I continue working with Hellingly Parish Council to push for better performance, faster response rate and more investment in critical infrastructure from Southern Water, and for regular updates on resilience and future planning with local communities. 👉🏽 Read more here.
🚂 Celebrating the newly refurbished Crowborough train station 🚂
I am proud to have secured multi-million-pound improvements to ensure step-free access at two Wealden train stations and I was delighted to officially open the newly-refurbished Crowborough train station, following the installation of a new lift and footbridge. This £4.7m project follows the £1.9m improvements at Eridge train station completed last year, and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all the contractors and volunteers involved in delivering this vital project and ensuring that the station is accessible to all Wealden commuters. 👉🏽 Read more here.
🏥 Championing Crowborough and Uckfield health services 🏥
Last month, I hosted a meeting with local NHS leaders including the CEO of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, CEO of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Chief Delivery Officer at NHS Sussex, and secured a visit to the fantastic facilities in Crowborough and Uckfield to discuss the delivery of primary care and emergency services in Wealden. The Crowborough and Uckfield Minor Injuries Units are key services for our local communities, helping to relieve the pressure on A&E departments in nearby hospitals and I was keen to discuss opportunities for expansion of healthcare provision in the area to enhance local services. 👉🏽 Read more here.
🚜 Celebrating prestigious award for Tablehurst farm in Forest Row 🚜
I am incredibly proud that Tablehurst farm has put Wealden on the map by being recognised by the BBC Food and Farming Best Producer of the Year Award, where they were praised for their methods of biodynamic farming, soil management and preservation. The farm is an outstanding asset to Forest Row, not only providing fresh produce of the highest quality, but also contributing a great deal to the community through education and job opportunities. 👉🏽 Read more here.
🎨 Supporting new Community Start up in Crowborough 🎨
Bev Pashley, the founder of Artytime is spearheading an exciting new project which would turn an unused part of the Crowborough train station building into a multi-use community hub for residents of the Jarvis Brook and Alderbrook areas. Community hubs are valuable spaces for residents across Wealden and it would be fantastic to have this great facility at Crowborough train station, bringing people together over a shared interest. I am pleased to support the project and I look forward to watching it progress over the coming months. 👉🏽 Read more here.
💡 Help for Households 💡
Most households will have received a £400 discount on their energy bills automatically, but park home owners and others who pay for energy through their landlord will not have received this automatically. I am pleased the Government has now launched a new portal for those households who have not received the £400 automatically. It is open for applications and you will need to visit the official Government website and fill in a short form which will start the process. 👉🏽 To apply, please click here.
🚌 £2 bus fare scheme 🚌
Buses play a crucial role in our transport network, so please don’t forget to make the most of the opportunity to get around for £2 this winter and spring! Almost all single bus journeys have been capped at £2 until 30 June 2023, as part of the Department for Transport’s £60 million scheme to ensure affordable transport and connect communities across England. Stagecoach and Brighton & Hove bus services across Wealden and East Sussex are participating in the scheme, and any single tickets previously cheaper than this will remain the same price.
🤝 Wealden receives funding to secure more Changing Places toilets 🤝
Changing Places are larger accessible toilets, designed for people with severe disabilities who cannot use standard accessible facilities. These new state-of-the-art facilities come with additional equipment such as adult-sized changing benches and space for carers. I am pleased that thanks to additional government funding, Wealden will be able to deliver more Changing Places locally and help make the district more inclusive.
🔌 £150k investment in EV charging infrastructure in Wealden 🔌
Forest Row, Crowborough, Uckfield, Wadhurst and Hailsham are some of the areas set to benefit from the first phase of improvements as part of the grant of £156,800 from the Department for Transport. The installation of these additional charge points will play an important role in ongoing local efforts to support the transition to low carbon transport, and builds upon the 33 chargers currently available in the district.
☎️ Contact ☎️
Please note that this is a regular update on my activities in Wealden and in Parliament, and any correspondence received in direct reply to this email will not be responded to.
📞 Casework is undertaken daily and surgery appointments for Wealden residents continue taking place in person, over the phone, or virtually.
✍🏽 Please email me at email@example.com if there is anything I can assist you with.