The Annual Parish Meeting: last week wasn’t very well attended which was a shame as there were some interesting updates given and some very tasty refreshments provided!

As mentioned previously in this column the Neighbourhood Plan is moving along albeit a little slower than many would like but we are getting there! The meeting was informed that one of the reasons for the slow pace of getting the Plan in place was due to the uncertainty of what was going to happen with the proposed development of the Warren Cottage Field ‘option’ by the Hyde/Hallam partnership. Once they had informed the Parish Council that they were withdrawing the offer last year, the NHP Committee was then able to move on with the Plan. They have been working closely with Mid Sussex District Council to ensure all their work will stand up to scrutiny and having now employed a firm of consultants to ensure all the information contained in the plan is set out in the best possible way, it is hopeful that everything is back on course. It is hoped that a ‘pre consultation’ workshop will be held in August/September when the parish as whole will be able to see the results of their hard work to date and to comment on it before the Plan can formally go out for consultation. The reason for doing it this way is to hopefully ensure that by the time the official consultation period is with us, everyone will be in agreement with the Plan and it can go on to be voted on in a referendum in the first quarter of 2017, ie sometime between January and March next year without any problem. One very positive point so far in the process is that whilst we are expected to deliver on a certain number of new homes as directed by Mid Sussex District Council, due to how these figures are taken from proposed and completed developments in the parish, we are almost at this number – all the more reason to get this plan in place to avoid over development!

Many will be concerned about the lack of news with regard to the replacement/refurbishment of the Parish Hall. As this is very closely tied in to the proposed development(s) by Hyde/Hallam and the fact that they have ‘dropped’ Option A (the development of the Parish Hall site as well as the land opposite Hoadlands Cottages and behind the surgery), it can safely be said we won’t be getting a new hall in the near future! It would also appear that as Option B (the land opposite Hoadlands Cottages and behind the surgery) is slow to get going, any money that might be made available from this development which could have been used towards refurbishment of the existing Hall, may be some way off. I will try and keep you posted of any developments as and when I hear of them.

Things are, however, moving along with regard to the building of a new community hall in Pease Pottage (about time too, many will say!). Agreement has now been reached with Mid Sussex District Council that the Parish will own any new facility and will only pay ground rent to MSDC, something which had been somewhat of a headache to the Council when thinking about future management of a new hall. Plans have been drawn up and the internal layout and roof have been agreed, the outside of the building has still be to be agreed on (just the landscaping I believe). Tenders have been received from builders and the Council is now looking to appoint a quantity surveyor to take the project forward, so after more than 10 years of discussion, a light is starting show at the end of the tunnel!

The two invited speakers were then introduced, the first being Ian Ratcliffe, Chairman of Help At Hand, a local charity which provides a ‘taxi’ service to those who need to get to medical appointments outside of the village/parish. This is a much used service by the elderly and not so elderly in the parish who don’t drive and local transport aren’t of much use to them. As with all registered charities, it is manned by volunteers and they really could do with a few more drivers to help ferry people around. If you think you might be able to help, you wouldn’t need to commit to any particular day or time, flexibility is the key here, please do get in touch with Ian on 400763. If you don’t drive but would still like to help, how about manning the phones? By this, you would be asked to commit to being available to take calls between 9 am and 12 noon for one morning every two weeks or so to match requests for a lift to a driver. Again, Ian is the person to speak to and he would be keen to take a call from you. Oh, if you do sign up to be a driver, you will be able to claim up to 45p per mile towards your motoring expenses.

The second speaker was Peter Humphrey, Chairman of the Community Bus Committee. After informing us that the Community Bus service had been running for 30 years (yes, that long!) it is about to get a new bus which was being supplied by the Ministry of Transport, at no cost to the community! The Committee had been trying to get funding from the various government departments, both local and central, for some time now so to get one for free, so to speak, is a very good result! The Committee is made up of 8 local volunteers but they would be grateful for any new members as some of the key posts are currently taken by members of the same family, which is never a good thing, I’m sure you will agree, and something the Committee would like to change as soon as possible. As it is a registered bus company, running timetabled routes four days a week, there is a fair bit of administration required so if you are good with paperwork and have some time on your hands, Peter would be very happy to hear from you. They are also keen to recruit more drivers and whilst you will be required to take a driving test, the bus can be driven with an ordinary licence and I have been assured it is an easy vehicle to drive and you can drive it if you are over 70! So if this has piqued your interest and you would like further information on how you can get involved, the number to call is 400212.

On Sunday, 12 June: Brian Funnell will be running a quiz in aid of St Catherine’s Hospice on behalf of Barbara Alderson at 7 for 7.30 pm in The Victory Inn. Teams should be made up of 4 people at £2.50 per head; if you don’t think you can make up team on your own, go along anyway as I’m sure you will be made to feel welcome and invited to join others to make up the numbers. Food will be available from 6 o’clock and there will also be a raffle which always has some good prizes I am led to believe. All in all, these evenings are an enjoyable way to end a weekend so why not go along and see how you get on!

Earlier on in the same day: during the afternoon there will be a peal of bells rung at St Mary’s in Slaugham to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. It will be rung by a team from Sussex and is expected to last 3 hours which should sound fantastic!

Finally: if you are interested in history and in particular the history of Slaugham Place and the ruins, a book has been put together and published using the notes, records and sketches made by Arthur Shopland, a resident of Slaugham who passed away not so long ago, along with archive material from another local historian, Brian Funnell. It is a very interesting book which sold out its first limited run late last year and due to further interest, they are looking to see if there is sufficient demand to do another run. If you are interested and would like more information or to put your name down for a copy, get in touch with John Welch by email at jandpwelch@btinternet.com; from memory, the cost of the book will very much depend on how many copies are printed, the higher the number printed, the lower the cost per copy.

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