At the Annual General Meeting of Wadhurst Parish Council held on 10th May 2018, I was elected as the Parish Council Chairman for the forthcoming year, with Anthony Dunnett as my Vice Chairman.  I begin my term of office by thanking Felicity Harvest for all the hard work she has put in over the last three years.  Although I know many people in Wadhurst, I thought it might be useful to give others some idea of how involved I have been in the community since I arrived here in January 1983 as Deputy Principal of Uplands Community College.  I became heavily involved with the PTA and Community Education, through Youth Clubs, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Oasties & Sticky Fingers Adult Education and Uplands Sports Centre.  I am currently a Governor of both Wadhurst CE Primary School and Uplands Community College.  My charity & fund raising began with Wadhurst Round Table, of which I became chairman, and continues through Wadhurst Rotary Club.  I retired from teaching 11 years ago and was persuaded by a previous County Councillor to put myself forward for election to Wealden District Council.  I have served as your local District Councillor since May 2007.  I joined the Parish Council 4 years ago and was Vice Chairman to Felicity.  I have 3 grown-up children who all went to Wadhurst Primary School and then Uplands Community College before going on to University.

Just to update you on the campaign to keep Wadhurst Household Recycling Centre open, since the deadline for responding to East Sussex County Council consultation will have finished by the time you read this.  We had 2,634 signatures on the petition to save the recycling centre.  Cllr Bob Standley, our local County Councillor, is working hard to influence the politicians not to close the recycling centre.  Cllr Anthony Dunnett has managed to persuade BBC SE News to run a story on Saturday 5th May which featured 3 highly articulate and passionate Uplands sixth formers.  This was repeated with Meridian News on Saturday 12th May.  There have also been articles and pictures in the ‘Courier’ and ‘Kent Online’.  Thank you to all of you who signed the petition and completed the East Sussex County Council online consultation. More residents have rejected the proposals than the total number of people who have responded to the ESCC online consultation.  Uplands Community College held classroom debates and 95.5% were against closure.  Wadhurst Primary School have had a similar response.  Also thank you to those who tweeted  ‘selfies’ whilst recycling to #wadhurstrecycles.  I do not think we could have done much more to stop ESCC closing our community’s recycling centre.

Over the last 7 years various schemes have been proposed to improve the High Street to both increase the safety of pedestrians and improve the look and workability for residents, visitors and traders.  Detailed drawings of the intended scheme were made available at the Annual Parish Meeting on 15th May for residents to see and give first impressions.  The formal East Sussex Highways consultation with the community will start in June.  The scheme is scheduled for implementation during the 2019 school summer holidays to minimise affect on residents and traders.

A Neighbourhood Plan sets out a vision of what we want Wadhurst to be like in 10, 20 or 30 years time, identifying what needs to happen in order to achieve it.  Wadhurst NP must work alongside the Local Plan for Wealden.  Our neighbouring Parishes are also creating their own Neighbourhood Plans.  There are some key issues to be considered, for example, where we live, where the children play, the shops, offices, housing, leisure and healthcare facilities you use, allotments, public transport, roads, cycle and footpaths as well as the surrounding environment.

We have already started and a steering group under the chairmanship of Jonathon Bishop has been established, with professional help, to begin to organise how to get ideas from our local community fed into the creation of a Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan. The formal launch is on 23rd June, although we are hoping that you will have brought lots of ideas to the Annual Parish Meeting on 15th May.

The Steering Group has already had input from Uplands students and people with passions and interests that they want to see reflected in the Plan.  Neighbourhood Plans must be developed by the local community, so we are looking for more volunteers.  You can get involved by

  • Bringing ideas to the Formal Launch on 23rd June
  • Inviting a member of the steering group to a meeting of your club or society to tell you what we are doing and ask your opinion
  • Joining the Steering Group
  • With like-minded people, working up an idea for consideration
  • Delivering leaflets, running stalls, use of social media
  • Filling in the questionnaire which will come through your door

It could take up to 2 years to produce an agreed Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan, so please get involved and make your voice heard.

Finally, just to remind you that our new website has been in place for nearly a year, so why don’t you check it out for more information from your Parish Council ?

Graham Wells

Chairman, Wadhurst Parish Council

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