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.

Litter on the A26

Question

The whole of the A26 from Uckfield to Tunbridge Wells is still looking like a third world country.  Do Keir only have one set of litter pickers ??

Phil Ireland

Answer

Dear Mr Ireland,

I have made enquiries and the stretch of the A26 from Eridge to the Boars Head was litter picked three weeks ago as the street cleaning crew progress south towards Uckfield. This stretch of the A26 was cleared again last week.

This is a main route through the district to the South Coast and there does appear to be a lack of concern for the appearance of the countryside among some motorists. It is difficult to prosecute unless we have clear evidence, including the identity of the person throwing litter from a vehicle.

Kier’s crews consist of eight employees, and in the course of their duties, can be re-deployed to deal with other litter hot spots.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Regards

Bob Standley

Empty rooms

Question

 Dear Councillor Bob Standley,

 I have a further question regarding empty property, this time concerning under-occupation of homes. According to reports I have read, the English Housing Survey estimates that there are around 25 million empty bedrooms in England and that 37% of houses are under-occupied (two or more bedrooms un-used). Statistically, I calculate from these figures that that in Wealden District there should be around 67,000 empty bedrooms and 23,000 under-occupied homes.

 “Reduce, Re-use, Re-cycle”. This is WDC’s excellent slogan concerning waste and refuse but it seems to me that it should equally apply to new housing. Considering the need for more housing, the council’s prime objective of sustainable development, and the environmental destruction caused by development on greenfield sites, what is the council doing to encourage new homes to be made from our huge resource of un-used existing property.

Paul Lovatt Smith

Answer

Dear Mr Lovatt Smith

Thank you for your email re empty rooms. As far as the Council-owned properties are concerned, we encourage residents whose properties have more bedrooms than they need to move to smaller accommodation. There is no compulsion but assistance is given with regard to moving costs and the new property being smaller is normally cheaper to rent.

As you probably know the Government also introduced the Empty Rooms Policy whereby housing benefit is reduced if the recipient has more rooms than they require. This policy, not without some controversial elements, does encourage residents to have the correct size property for their needs. The changes do not include any cost for those over pensionable age but for those of “working age” then number of households affected by the changes have been 170    in our Council-owned properties totalling 3000 and a further 151 in a similar number, 3000 which are owned by Registered Social Landlords within Wealden. This suggests the number of empty rooms in Wealden may be less than your own estimate.

With regard to private owner-occupied property then this is a matter for the property owner(s) who can decide if the live in a home with more bedrooms than they need and pay the extra running costs accordingly.

The Council does encourage empty properties to be occupied and empty properties pay full Council Tax after 1 month (exceptions such as empty following bereavement)  and after 2 years there is a 50% Council Tax surcharge on empty properties.

Regards

Bob Standley