Henfield’s Annual Parish Meeting

Annual Parish Meeting report

Tuesday 3 March 2020, 7.30pm at the Henfield Hall

This year’s APM was once again presented to a full hall with a lively and engaged audience hearing about a long list of achievements and future challenges for our Parish Council and community.

Chaired by Malcolm Eastwood with presentations by Sussex Police and Community Speed Watch, Sustainable Henfield 2030 and the Horsham District Local Plan including the LAMBs (Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl) Chairman, the meeting began with awards for local RBL Poppy Collectors by Mike Morgan, five Henfield collectors who had amassed an incredible 155 years of service between them, one of whom has collected for 50 years (see BN5 news report for details).

Achievements

Re-capping on the 2019 meeting, Malcolm summarised the work of the Parish Councillors, staff members and volunteers this last year. In brief;

  • HPC have applied for a Section 106 grant of £25k for replacing the Henfield Hall roof which is leaking badly.
  • The same sum has been applied for (Section 106 again) for the Henfield Leisure Centre floor.
  • WSCC plan to move the southbound bus stop (opposite Truffles) in April. Busses often stand idle at the stop and due to the location of the traffic islands this causes congestion in the High Street.
  • Two Henfield Trails have been completed and will be launching in the spring.
  • All 15 Parish Councillor roles have been filled with HPC welcoming five new Councillors this year in these voluntary roles.
  • Signage is still pending at the Wantley roundabout for the alternative route to the Leisure Centre following the completion of the Link Road project which was finished in the summer, along with new lighting through the cemetery. Features include an electric vehicle charging point, a covered bicycle rack and new floodlights for football training.
  • Henfield was the most active community in the Horsham District Year of Culture last year, with events ranging from R4’s Any Questions to Car Fest and a new look Henfield Village Show. Funds raised were donated to community projects including the beautiful children’s wood carving Toad in the Hole and planting at Borrer Bank.
  • HPC have established a lease on ‘Barclay’s Square’ outside Hawthorn Vets, with a view to improving this community space for more village use.
  • HPC declared a Climate Emergency and support Sustainable Henfield 2030 in their extensive aims.
  • The new Henfield Parish Council website was launched at the meeting; https://www.henfield.gov.uk .

Challenges ahead

Looking forward to this year in the village, there are several challenges which Henfield Parish Council will be involved with or supporting other community organisations with, including;

  • Work towards a new Scout Hut and improvements to the Henfield Cricket Club Pavilion.
  • A new Henfield Football Club pavilion, incorporating a permanent home for the Henfield Shedders.
  • An extension to the Henfield Cemetery.
  • Replacement of the stile opposite the Bull Pub at Mockbridge with a safer kissing-gate, due to take place this month.
  • Anniversaries for The Henfield Club (100 years) and St Peter’s Church (1,250 years!)
  • Work on the Neighbourhood Plan as well as continual planning challenges including the Mayfield proposal.

Sussex Police

A presentation by Sergeant Ollie Pullen and Rural PCSO Erica Baxter from Sussex Police explained the changes to rural policing and how we now have our own designated PCSO (Alice Moore) who is already spending time in the High Street. Ollie stressed the importance of reporting (online or by calling 101), he asked Henfield people to be their eyes and ears. He said the past few years had been challenging for rural policing due to the cuts, but Sussex Police now have a dedicated rural policy which concentrates on environment, heritage, wildlife and agriculture as well as the usual policing remit.

Erica presented on the PPAF (Police Property Act Fund) which donates from funds of unclaimed and sold property, or property confiscated by the courts, to good causes and charities. Grants of up to £500 are available to local clubs and groups, see link here: https://www.sussex.police.uk/police-forces/sussex-police/areas/au/about-us/charity-and-community/police-property-act-fund-ppaf/ She is encouraging the vast range of Henfield clubs to apply.

Sergeant Steve O’Connell reported on Community Speed Watch, part of the Sussex Safer Roads initiative. In Henfield, one of 276 schemes across Sussex, our Speed Watch coordinator Chris Broadley has been heading up a team of volunteers who regularly patrol points in and out of the village. Offenders are sent letters from Operation Crackdown, at the second offence the letter is more strongly worded and by the third two officers attend in person. As the scheme is collaborative across several forces, it means repeat offenders are more likely to be apprehended. If you are able to volunteer a couple of hours a month to help this important service, please contact Henfield Parish Council.

Sustainable Henfield 2030

SH2030 is only six-months old and yet they have achieved a huge amount and set up several working parties. Tony Baker and Vas Siantonas reported on progress to date, including the formation of a biodiversity group who have planted 600 trees in the village, all pollinators; the start of a Repair Café launching next month; the progress towards Plastic Free Henfield; and litter picking week (starting 4 April) where working parties will join residents and litter wardens to pick up litter in the village, including the harder to reach hedgerow and stream litter. They have been enormously successful with their ‘hard to recycle’ plastics scheme, you may have seen the depositaries around Henfield for this. Volunteers sort for recycling every Tuesday afternoon, 4.30pm at the Haven if you want to join in.

Vas spoke about lifestyle changes and investment in greener ways, 40% of our UK emissions come from the household so SH2030 are keen to help people take individual responsibility for their carbon footprint. They can help with a switch to greener electricity and BHESCo surveys (Brighton and Hove Energy Survey Company) of households which cost £75 rather than £250. Please contact SH2030 if you would like to participate and save money on your household bills. He also spoke about the initiative to make Henfield’s community buildings greener, five of which at the moment generate the same carbon footprint as 60 households.

Horsham District Local Plan

Malcolm Eastwood presented on the Horsham District Local Plan and stressed the importance of all local residents getting online and having their say about the proposals, particularly the Mayfield site for 7,000 homes on the outskirts of the village. https://www.horsham.gov.uk/planning/local-plan/have-your-say 16 Parish Councils are collaborating (under the umbrella of the Inter Parish Group) and voicing their objections to the proposals. Deadline is 30th March for comments on the Local Plan, which is proposing 17,000 new homes in the Horsham District before 2036 and could be as many as 1,400 per year (24,000 in total) if Horsham need to take on overspill from other districts. Amongst the nine other strategic sites is the Buck Barn development of 3,500 homes.

Malcolm stressed that local people should all use this one and only opportunity to comment, the more responses Horsham District receive the better. At the moment the Local Plan is out for consultation in the community, so this is our chance to speak out; ask four friends or neighbours to comment and ask them to ask four more.

There are implications to our transport and roads, landscape including the South Downs National Park, flooding, the environment and many other factors (go to www.lambs.org.uk for more information, and see the IPG article on page 27 of March BN5 magazine), each factor is given a rating from green to red, depending on the favourability of the site. If you don’t have internet access or would like some help to comment, please go to the Henfield Computer Club on a Wednesday morning from 9.30-12 where someone will be able to help you get online, alternatively you can register your views by post.

Malcolm also reported that several of the IPG signs and banners have been ripped down, damaged or removed. This is criminal damage, if anyone has seen any activity please report to Sussex Police on 101, preferably take pictures of the perpetrators or their vehicles. Malcolm has suffered two attempts to intimidate him, in the latest incident he was approached when walking home through Henfield in darkness after HDC’s Local Plan exhibition by an unidentified male, who made threatening comments to him regarding the Mayfield development. It was made clear that this type of intimidation is not going to be tolerated and had been reported to Sussex Police. Please be vigilant and report any criminal activity or antisocial behaviour.

Geoff Zeidler, Chairman of LAMBs (Locals against Mayfield Building Sprawl) explained about the public meeting taking place on Friday 13th March, 7pm at the Henfield Hall attended by Andrew Griffith (Arundel & South Downs MP) and Mims Davies (Mid Sussex MP) as well as community leaders and planning experts. Everyone was encouraged to come along.

Comments and questions

The meeting was then open to the floor with the majority of comments and questions on the theme of the Local Plan and the Mayfield proposals. Additionally, one resident asked if the footpath to the Downs Link from the Guide Hut could be officially adopted and there was a request for white speed gates at the entrance points to the village, while one other resident said she was concerned that gates could look dirty and would prefer not to have them. Ray Osgood updated the room on the Neighbourhood Plan progress and Steve Bailey (Campaign to Protect Rural Henfield) said that in light of Fairfax once again seeking planning permission in Sandy Lane and Seward Property’s proposal for 60 houses off Hollands Lane that the village remains focussed on smaller planning proposals as well as the strategic sites in the Local Plan.

Emma Osman

A response from Mayfield Market Towns Ltd regarding Cllr. Eastwood’s comments published above:

“As Chairman of Mayfield Market Towns Ltd. I was concerned by the suggestions made by Councillor Eastwood at the Henfield Annual Parish Meeting that someone working for or acting on the instructions of Mayfield has (i) in any way threatened him; and (ii) has deliberately damaged banners put up by LAMBS.

“The Mayfield team would never condone any such actions. For the avoidance of doubt, I confirm Mayfield Market Towns Ltd. has played no part in any such incidents nor would we ever. The matter having been raised, we have been in contact with Sussex Police to offer our help with any enquiries. I have also written to Cllr Eastwood expressing my concerns and offered a meeting so that they can be discussed further.”

Peter Freeman, Chairman, MMT Ltd.