The Southdowns National Park has been in existence now for 10 years. We were intending to have a little celebration but Covid-19 put paid to that although we have had a full Staff and Member event online and 152 of us logged in. An interesting day with presentations from some who work in the Park.
We also had to say a sad farewell to a few members who were Secretary of State appointees. As I write we are awaiting the names of the new appointees.
One that left us was Margaret Paren who has been Chairman since it’s inception and what a good Chairman she has been. She also Chaired National Parks England for some of the time. I am sure we will be looking to use some of her expertise along with Sebastian Anstruther and Ken Bodfish in the future. We do not want to lose their accumulated knowledge.
This of course means we have a new Chairman – Ian Phillips. I have worked with Ian now for some time and I know the Park future is safe in his hands.
By the time you read this we will have held our first full County Council meeting since February. Please don’t think this means that nothing is being done. Believe me when I say that there have been many virtual meetings and none of our functions have been left to rest.
Because we have had to miss full Council and have had to keep members involved and up to date by other means I have agreed to an extra meeting being put in the calendar for 18th September. Quite rightly members want to be kept up to speed and also as the meeting in July will not be taking motions etc they want and need the opportunity to have their say. It will be a busy summer in more ways than one. In particular, of course, we must and are working towards our Children’s Services becoming excellent and out of its need improvement status. We are still working with the Commissioner put in to work with us and he is happy at the progress County is making with its Children’s Services. Likewise for West Sussex Fire and Rescue our excellent in house team have pretty well sorted the criticism that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate had, so not all bad news.
We are, like many authorities, looking at many millions in financial shortfall and we have already started the process of the way forward for us all. Life is going to be tough financially for all local authorities and we are not going to be able to do all the things that residents would like. As yet we are working towards ways forward. One piece of good news is that we have got an extra 15 million specifically for highways, potholes etc. It won’t cure them all with some 2.1/2 thousand miles of roads in West Sussex but it will go quite some way.
I know Wisborough Green has been concerned about speeding and traffic noise, probably sounding all the more at ground level as there is very little activity in the skies. Alan Sutton, a District Councillor for the Fittleworth Ward, has set up a virtual task force to see what we can do. Gareth and I both join this Group which is also working closely with the 2 MPs for the area.
The job of enforcement on the roads is solely down to the Police but it helps if we all work together and in Wisborough Green there is an active Speed Watch. I have to emphasise though that the Police are the enforcement people, all the rest of us can do is encourage and sometimes come up with ideas. My personal thoughts are that the Government need to legislate for noise emission, particularly from Motorbikes but not solely, because that is the main problem. I am no expert on this but I understand that in Germany there is some such legislation so we will have to see what happens.
Gareth has given the Chichester District Council report so I only need to add that they are also working towards going forward, they are also going to be short of cash but, the saving grace with CDC is that they have been excellent bookkeepers for many years so with care they should be in not too bad a shape as we go forward. To add that all Councils in West Sussex are working together to see us into the future and one of the things I am always saying is that everyone in communities need to work together. It’s the only way for the future. Please take care.
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County Councillor Petworth division
Chichester District Councillor Loxwood Ward.