Wealden District Council

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Ask the Leader

The Leader of Wealden District Council is Councillor Bob Standley. He will be pleased to answer any question you may have about Wealden District Council's policies, or other matters involving the Council, which you think are of interest to people living, working or visiting Wealden.

To ask your question, please use our or Ask the Leader - Submit a Question Form

Councillor Standley is the Conservative Leader of the Cabinet of Wealden District Council and has represented Wadhurst since 2004.

Specific inquiries about particular services such as planning applications, licensing or accommodation can be reported online. Please use our 'directory of tasks on online services' to find the appropriate form. You can also email info@wealden.gov.uk.

We will try to respond within ten working days of receiving your question and your question and the Leader's reply will then be posted on the website. Please provide your name, we don't need your address. If we think the question is inappropriate for publication we will contact you by email to say why.

For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.

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The latest Ask the Leader questions and answers are shown below. To view more questions and answers, use the search above, or the 'In this Section' menu.

Marle Green Woodyard

Question

Dear Mr Standley,  

I used to be a customer of Crouch’s Woodyard in Marle Green near Horam but   sadly I have had to go elsewhere as it has been put out of business by the   actions of Wealden District Council. Despite opposition by local residents   and the Parish Council, and it being outside the development boundary,   Wealden granted planning permission for two large 5 bed homes on the site and   Mr Crouch and his son, who had run a successful firewood and fencing stakes   business there for many years, were asked by the landowner to vacate and   remove all their property. This they have duly done. The derelict site is   currently for sale and has been so for several months.

 

It is very sad to  see Mr Crouch now - an honest and hard-working man who was born and bred   there - unemployed and his place of business redundant and empty, waiting to   be replaced by executive homes, statistically likely to be for non-residents   who will commute out of the district for work. The renewable resources   provided by the business - energy from the firewood and locally-coppiced   chestnut fencing stakes – are no longer available for customers to buy.

 

Why were   Wealden's planning policies supporting local businesses and employment and   encouraging renewable energy ignored in this case? Why was planning permission given outside the development boundary? Why were the local Parish Council and resident's views ignored? Can residents be forgiven for thinking that Wealden's planning is out of control?

Answer

Dear Mr Lovatt Smith

The application was referred to the Planning Committee by the local member. The Committee took account of the concerns raised by local people and some of the consultees before making its decision.  It agreed with the Planning Officer’s view that the benefits of providing a sustainable development of housing on a brownfield site outweighed the loss of commercial use.

The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to encourage the redevelopment of commercial sites into residential use unless there are strong economic reasons to retain the commercial use. Members of the Committee made a specific request that the applicants use their best endeavours to assist the current tenant in securing and re-locating to a suitable alternative site so that this long established small rural business which supplies a sustainable source of fuel can continue to serve the local community in the future.

 

You will no doubt be aware of both the need to provide new housing across the country and concerns closer to home about the need to protect Ashdown Forest which has meant this Council has to be extremely cautious about any new development which could lead to increased traffic use. This does make brownfield sites a valuable asset when looking to provide both new commercial and housing opportunities. I know there are many other suppliers of locally-produced firewood and fencing products in the District.

This Council has a strong track record in supporting commercial enterprises to the District.  The purpose-built business parks along the A22 Enterprise Corridor are providing suitable new premises for local and national businesses, allowing them make the best use of current transport links away from residential areas.

 

Regards

 Bob Standley

Bin collections and council tax

Question

Dear Mr Standley,

The question I would like to ask is this: Wealden District Council have just increased the council tax at a rate of more than double the current rate of inflation. With us and most of the residents of Uckfield having to contact the council virtually every week since Christmas because of either missed bins or them just not emptying the whole road at all, do you as the council leader think that this good value for money that we and you pay for this extremely poor service? 

 

We have never seen such a poor service in waste collections in Uckfield as a whole. And, if you think this is poor value for money as we do, then don't you think you should look at the company who you awarded the contract to. In my opinion they should have the contract revoked or at least be heavily fined. I would appreciate your thoughts on this and what you are going to do to resolve this issue.

 

 

Many thanks and

Best regards

Scott Hare

 

Answer

Dear Mr Hare.

I must correct your statement regarding the increase in Wealden’s council tax rate. This year the council tax, which pays for the services provided by Wealden District Council including refuse and recycling collections, rose by by 2.74% which was below February’s inflation rate of 3%.

 

The overall council tax you pay includes services provided by East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police and East Sussex Fire and Rescue as well as those provided by Uckfield Town Council. Some of these organisations have increased their council tax precepts by above the February inflation rate, so your overall council tax bill will be higher. East Sussex County Council has also included a special precept to help pay for the increased cost of providing social care.

 

By outsourcing our waste and recycling collections in 2013 through a joint waste contract involving neighbouring authorities, we have been able to reduce overall costs, saving over £750,000 a year for Wealden council tax payers. This substantial saving together with other significant organisational changes enabled  the Council to  freeze Wealden’s share of Council Tax from 2010 to 2015.

 

I am sorry to learn that you have had problems with missed bins since Christmas. I know the weather has affected some collections and our waste management team has been very diligent in following up on service failures. The Joint Waste Partnership contract is currently up for renewal and a new contract will begin in June 2019.

 

Through the terms of our existing contract with Kier, we are able to pursue incidents of poor service delivery and we will continue to hold Kier to account for any failure. When you have a missed collection, please report it by 5pm the next working day using your My Wealden account. We do appreciate your efforts in reporting missed bins which provide us with the evidence to ensure the existing contract is properly fulfilled.

 

Regards

 

Bob Standley

 





For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.