Wednesday, 12 March 2014

East Sussex roads to benefit from a major increase in investment to tackle pot hole menace and increase the number of full resurfacing projects

Following the recent approval of it's annual budget, East Sussex County Council has recently approved additional* expenditure totalling £57.25m for improvements to the county’s highways. This is made up of the following amounts:
·        £15m per annum of capital expenditure for resurfacing over the three years 2015/16 to 2017/18
·        £5m per annum expenditure targeted at the improvement of our unclassified roads over the two years 2014/15 & 2015/16
·        £750k per annum additional revenue budget for pothole repairs over the three years 2014/15 to 2016/17
* These sums are in addition to the £15m per annum that the County Council is investing in the current financial year and in 2014/15.
County Councillors and Town and Parish Councils were last week sent a draft list of over 400 roads that ESCC are proposing to resurface over the next two years. This totals over £40m including the additional investment for unclassified roads. 
As well as additional investment for resurfacing, the County Council approved an additional £2.25m of revenue budget (£750k in each of the next three years) to help improve response times for pothole repairs. This additional revenue budget will enable pothole repairs to be carried out quicker, and from April ESCC will endeavour to repair all potholes within 28 days.
In response to concerns raised by myself and others about the quality of pothole repairs, the expectation is that from April, the vast majority of repairs will be properly cut out and permanent repairs carried out. There will be occasions when temporary repairs are appropriate; where safety dictates a road closure or a repair at night, or where ESCC have plans for more substantial repairs or resurfacing in the near future. 

On the subject of temporary pothole repairs, the Council's contractor has been instructed that from now all ‘temporary’ pothole repairs should be spray-marked with the letter “T” so those temporary repairs going forward should be obvious to all and will be logged in our Control Hub as temporary with plans identified for a permanent solution. 

In the case of local roads, I will be updating readers of this blog with planned resurfacing works as and when I hear about them. On the subject of Hammonds Drive and Birch Road which I reported last weekend, these have have received temporary repairs but have now been scheduled to be resurfaced so I hope that this will draw a line under the historic problems in this area.

Residents and motorists can report highway concerns via the ESCC Website at or you can also report it viaTwitter which not only increases awareness of probem areas to other motorists, thereby hopefully reducing the risk of potential unnecessary damage to their cars but you also receive real time confirmation of what they intend to do about it, you can report issues via a Twitter at @esccroads

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Raising resident's concerns over Halfway House near Primary School

Parents of children at Pevensey & Westham Church of England Primary School have been expressing concern about plans to open a halfway house for homeless people and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in an end of terrace house in Westham High Street.

The plans by Kingdomway Trust are to provide a project called 'The Bridge' in which six men, who are part way through their rehabilitation process will be given the opportunity to prepare for a fully independent life and you can read more about their aims and ambitions by clicking this link to their website:

On Monday evening, the 10th March, local resident, Kevin Balsdon arranged a public meeting for local residents and concerned individuals to come along and hear about Kingdomway Trust's plans and to have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposals. The meeting was well run and it was clear that the organisers have very sincere intentions, intentions which I think most people would wish them well with in the hope that the individuals who might use the project, are able to complete their rehabilitation and change the course of their lives for the better.

I attended in my capacity of a father to my ten year old daughter and as a local Councillor representing Sovereign Harbour and Langney Point. Whilst Pevensey & Westham Primary School is located in the neighbouring Pevensey & Westham area, I and many of the people I represent in Sovereign Harbour and the surrounding area have the privilege of contributing to village life through the education and afterschool activities that our children participate in at this traditional village Church school.

A number of concerning points came to light during the public questions. Whilst the organisers have participated in the successful night shelter scheme in Eastbourne, where churches take it turns to provide a rotational single night's shelter for homeless people from the coldest of the winter weather, this ambitious project will be the first it has undertaken on a continuous basis and it is intended that residents will remain in the house for up to two years until rehabilitation is complete. Furthermore whilst they have a preferred selection criteria, the organisers were unable to guarantee residents that those who apply to be part of the project would A) not have a criminal record or B) not be on the register of sex offenders and despite these potential and serious risks, 24 hour supervision is only likely to be provided for the first six months with a team of volunteers providing on call support thereafter.

I addressed the meeting on behalf of parents of pupils to say that whilst I didn't doubt the sincerity of the organisers' intentions, with so many young, vulnerable and impressionable young people within close proximity of the intended location of the house, this was the wrong location to be trialling such an ambitious project. Furthermore I have written to Wealden District Council who will be considering if the application is legal by the 8th April and I have also written to the Associate Head Teacher of Pevensey & Westham Primary School to encourage him to do the same.

At this stage, due to the size of the plan, Wealden District Council only have to consider if the plan is a legal application and if they do that, no formal public consultation need take place and the project will become a reality with the very real risks that entails. If the council can be convinced of the danger, they could ensure that the plan has to go before a full planning committee and face the level of scrutiny it warrants. If you would like to make your views known, you should write to:

The Head of Planning & Building Control
Wealden District Council
Council Offices
Vicarage Lane
East Sussex
BN27 2AX