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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.

Roadside litter

Question

Sir, I had cause to do quite a bit of travelling around the district over the last few days. I could not help but notice the disgusting state of the litter on at least 75% of the roads including several main roads. I have lived in Wealden for the last 25 years and have always regarded this as a fantastic area to live in and it's always been well looked after until now. This must be as a direct result of the council trying to save money by outsourcing the service again compromising the residents by having a cheap service run by idiots who cut corners all the time to make money. I also see that the workers have again been let down by Kier and are now considering industrial action does the council not have a any concerns over this ? As a tax payer I do we have nothing but a reduced service with maximum disruption since Kier took over as we all know you pay peanuts you get monkeys and that is what we have since you took the disastrous decision to further your political beliefs and force it onto us the tax payer. I would like you also to tell me why they are going to change all the refuse collection rounds again but this will not take place till after the elections so you can all keep your seats and then upset us all I am sure you won't let the voters know about this until you are all safe again.. Can you please let me know the answer to that and what you intend to do to sort out the litter problem and the concerns if any you have over the workforce you sold down the river. Regards Julie

Answer

Dear Julie Harmer, We are aware of problems with litter, especially on main roads and we have highlighted this to Kier and asked for additional resources to clear priority areas. A crew has been out litter picking on the A22 and A26 recently. A new code of practice came into force on 1st October 2014 in relation to working on roads and highways. The aim of the code is to enable persons undertaking street works and road works to safely carry out their activities with particular regard to signing, lighting and risk assessments. This new process involved new signage and training for Kier staff which took time to implement. Regarding your point about the possibility of industrial action: The Council is aware of Unison concerns about the treatment of staff in the Wealden area. We have been in touch with Kier on this matter and their management have admitted that there was an administrative error by their payroll team regarding back pay which should have been paid in January. They have agreed to correct this. As Kier is now the employer for the waste collection and street cleansing workforce, pay is a matter for that company, but I note that their staff were given a 2.2% pay increase, whereas the Council staff were awarded a 1% rise last year. No decisions have yet been made about any changes to the refuse collection rounds structure and the Council will work with Kier to ensure that their crews can deliver a high quality service to residents. The contract, across four Local Authorities in East Sussex, did have considerable problems at the start of the contract but is now delivering higher rates of recycling with a wider range of items collected from the kerbside. To return to your original point re litter, it would of course be beneficial if motorists and their passengers took the rubbish home instead of littering our countryside. Regards Bob Standley

Aircraft pollution

Question

Dear Sir At www.wealden.gov.uk/Wealden/News_and_Events/News/News_029NPPFsupportsAshdownForestprotection180486.aspx It states; “The Ashdown Forest - stretching across 6000 acres of the High Weald - is an internationally-recognised environment, and is designated as both a Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area as well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It currently enjoys the highest levels of protection. Safeguarding this internationally important habitat has been a key element in influencing Wealden District Council's submitted Core Strategy, the document which directs where strategic growth should occur within the District. A key factor is managing the levels of harmful nitrogen deposition which are produced as a result of traffic generation. The Habitats Directive and National Regulations relating to Habitats Assessments mean that additional growth in housing numbers, employment and community projects in and around the Forest, can only take place if such growth does not contribute to harmful nitrogen deposition caused by traffic movements. Where such a case can be shown to be possible, development must also contribute to the provision or improvement of suitable green spaces elsewhere to ensure that the overall level of visitor numbers to the Ashdown Forest does not cause damage through increases in recreational pressures.” Specifically that the SPA “currently enjoys the highest levels of protection.” The SPA has been set as a boundary of 7 KM, as the crow flies and yet according to The “guidance to the civil Aviation authority on environmental Objectives relating to the exercise of its Air Navigation Functions” The Unenforced airspace overflight envelope for AONB and habitats is less than 2.1336Km. According to its’ engine maker Rolls Royce, uses as much energy as 3,500 family cars, equivalent to six cars for each passenger. It is also generally accepted that driving would generate about 104 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2)—a leading greenhouse gas—per typical medium-sized car, regardless of the number of passengers, while flying on a commercial jet would produce some 184 kilograms of CO2 per passenger. If one commercial flight over the SPA produces the equivalent NOx of more than 1000 vehicle movements across the same distance. Please explain how a 7 Km SPA enforced by Wealden Planning department to mitigate recreational visits by dog walkers has any effect whatsoever when there are up to 100 flights per day entering the 7KM SPA at a height of between 1 Km and 7 Km. Please also explain why aircraft movements do not appear to have not been factored into the calculation s upon which the decision to impose the 7 KM was made? Mr Paul March

Answer

Dear Mr March, Thank-you for raising this point and it has been one which has also been raised by other residents. I will begin by pointing out that Ashdown Forest is covered by two types of European conservation designation: Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Conservation Area (SAC). It is the SAC designation which has raised concerns about the effect nitrogen pollution may be having on the habitat of Ashdown Forest. The best estimate of the effects nitrogen pollution from aircraft is having on the Forest comes from the Department Food and Rural Affairs. This indicates that on average, aircraft emissions contribute to approximately 0.5% of total ambient NOx concentrations in the Ashdown Forest SAC. In comparison, information provided by the UK Air Pollution Information System, a web database, indicates that contributions from road traffic emissions account for around 10% of the total dry nitrogen deposition in the SAC at locations away from the roadside. It must be noted that contributions from road transport are typically greatest within 200 metres of the roadside, which will mean the relative impact on nitrogen deposition is higher at these locations. Approximately 20% of the SAC area is within 200m of an ‘A’ or ‘B’ road. For this reason our ongoing monitoring of nitrogen pollution in the Forest is being targeted to measure road emissions. In contrast aircraft emissions generally dissipate to background levels due to the height of the aircraft and have considerably less impact on the nitrogen deposition on the Forest. The monitoring the Council is undertaking will pick up the background levels of air pollutants whatever the source, including any caused by aircraft. More information about how we are monitoring the effects on nitrogen deposition in Ashdown Forest can be found on our website, http://www.wealden.gov.uk/Wealden/Residents/Planning_and_Building_Control/Planning_Development_Management/Agents_and_Parish_Council_Information/Planning_Agents_Ashdown_Forest.aspx The mitigation we are introducing through Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGS) and the Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS) are to address concerns for the Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area, with regard to effect increased human recreational activities, brought on by new development, will have on the flora and fauna of the Forest. Regards Bob Standley




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