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    Last Month in Your Council – February 2024

    February may be the shortest month, but that did not stop plenty of activity at Uckfield Town Council as winter came to a close.

    Amongst the estates and grounds teams, the staff at Luxfords Restaurants and all the individuals who keep the Civic Centre and Town Council offices moving, there was a flurry of activity to ensure that progress was made on many projects.

    With some special events celebrated as well, it was an excellent month to reflect upon in our second edition of Last Month in Your Council!

    King’s Award for Voluntary Service

    We were delighted to host the presentation of the prestigious King’s Award to Brighter Uckfield on 15 February.

    On behalf of His Majesty King Charles III, the Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mr Andrew Blackman, presented the award to the Chair of Brighter Uckfield, Mr Roger Isaacson.

    The ceremony was held in the company of the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mr Graham Peters, and Deputy Lieutenants Sara Stonor and Carola Godman Irvine, the Town Mayor, Cllr Jackie Love, the Honorary President of Brighter Uckfield, Mr Ian Smith, and members of Brighter Uckfield and local stakeholders.

    The ceremony took place in the Weald Hall of the Civic Centre and marked Brighter Uckfield’s incredible work in the community.

    Informal hearing for planning application

    The Planning Inspectorate hosted an Informal Hearing on 6 and 7 February to observe the views of local residents for a planning application titled ‘Land at Mockbeggars Farm’ which had been appealed by the applicant.

    The application was made to the local planning authority – Wealden District Council – for 60 homes but was refused by their Planning Committee North.

    The Town Council presented a statement of case for the hearing which provided an overview of the points raised by local residents in relation to:

    • The location of the development outside of the development boundary;
    • The impact on ancient woodland, wet woodland and hydrology;
    • Highway safety;
    • The impact on the ecological value and biodiversity of the site;
    • Finally, the impact on heritage and non-heritage assets.

    The Town Mayor and the Chair of the Uckfield Town Council Plans Committee attended the hearing and we await the outcome.

    To view the documentation considered at the hearing, please visit:
    Land at Mockbeggars Farm Document Library – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

    Grant funding discussions

    Members of the Uckfield Town Council Finance Sub-Committee assembled on 28 February to listen to applicants who applied for funding through the 2024-25 Community Grants Programme.

    16 applications were received by the deadline in January.

    A total of £25,000 was available for funding through the programme, in addition to funding provided through service level agreements to Wealden Citizens Advice and the Uckfield Volunteer Centre.

    The Sub-Committee’s recommendations will be reported to General Purposes Committee on 18 March, for approval. The provisional allocation of grant funding has been set out on our website:

    Wealden Volunteering presentation

    Town Councillors received a presentation from Wealden Volunteering (formerly Uckfield Volunteer Centre) on 26 February 2024.

    The presentation brought Councillors up to speed on the work the centre carries out.

    Wealden Volunteering engage with local businesses and voluntary organisations to match volunteers to their requirements and support businesses with volunteering and away activities.

    They provide office services – including laminating, photocopying and scanning – and provide support for hearing aid batteries, with a monthly hearing aid maintenance service.

    They are celebrating the broadening of their reach across Wealden on Thursday 28 March and invite members of the public to drop into their hub on the High Street between 11am and 3pm to find out more.

    Double bubble lighting win

    In February, there were two big victories for lighting around the town.

    The first was to secure the future of Christmas lights for the winter of 2024-25, as it needed to be ensured that infrastructure was working effectively.

    The Estates & Facilities Manager and Town Clerk met with a representative of East Sussex Highways to inspect the High Street’s lamp columns, assessing for any damage or repairs that may be required before the installation of Christmas light motifs in the autumn.

    There are several contractors involved in the installation and lighting of the festive lights, and to avoid a repeat of the difficulties experienced in December 2023, action has been taken promptly this year.

    These efforts should ensure a bright and festive High Street, particularly supporting Late Night Shopping on Friday 6 December 2024.

    In addition, there were some key works to lighting around the Civic Centre this month.

    Estates & Facilities Manager, James Hollingdale, explained: “Some of the street lights around the Civic Centre were not working. This gave us a perfect opportunity to upgrade the whole set.”

    James added: “Previously, they had 150w halogen bulbs in, which have now been upgraded with more efficient 4w LED lightbulbs.

    “These are more energy efficient, provide a better, more natural light, have a longer life span, and cast less of a shadow when on.”

    Already looking bright and beautiful, the new bulbs (pictured below) are key to Uckfield’s green commitments.

    Breakfast of champions

    The height of Luxford Restaurant’s busy month came when a packed-out breakfast booking from Uckfield Chamber of Commerce tasked the team to perform at maximum efficiency.

    With every seat in the restaurant filled by delegates, the early-morning staff did a superb job of living up to every expectation from the Chamber of Commerce.

    The Chamber’s members were full of compliments upon the conclusion of service, which was an excellent reward for the hard work put in by the Luxfords team.

    “I’m really proud of our team. We have built massively in confidence since Covid,” said Hospitality Manager, Louise Slaughter.

    “I’m pleased we could meet the time restrictions allocated by the delegate to deliver a successful and memorable event,” Louise added.

    The month ahead

    With March now racing on, we are thrilled to have many tasks to continue with to ensure the town emerges into spring in its best condition.

    As the ground dries and new flowers bloom, the grounds team will be out maintaining our sports pitches, keeping fixtures played towards the conclusion of the football season and ensuring that cricket pitches can be returned to come April.

    The Civic Centre will be busy as events and bookings continue in their droves, and a highlight is bound to be We Three Kings this Saturday (9 March), as the sold-out event welcomes over 200 excited audience members. We also look forward to welcoming many residents to the Annual Town Meeting, hosted in the Weald Hall, on Wednesday, 20 March.

    With planning for Weald on the Field 2024 and the D-Day Beacon Lighting event on 6 June to continue as well, and developments to rebrand and expand the town’s Dementia Forum, it is sure to be a productive month.

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