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    Last Month in Your Council – March 2024

    With the start of April also comes the start of the new financial year, and the dawn of new targets for businesses and organisations right across the country.

    Uckfield Town Council, as with all levels of local government, is no different in this, and the passing of the Easter weekend has delivered the chance to reflect on our achievements of the previous financial year and to plan ahead for 2024/25.

    This month’s edition of Last Month in Your Council, therefore, reflects on the work of the past 12 months and offers insight into how this feeds into our overall progress in Uckfield.

    It’s a busy edition, so we will crack on with our updates!

    End-of-Year Progress

    After a busy 2023/24, we have had the chance to take stock in our annual progress updates on key targets.

    Our traffic-light system indicates whether progress is either ‘behind schedule’, ‘some progress has been made’, the task is ‘on schedule for completion’, or is ‘completed’.

    For last year, eight of 12 targets were marked as ‘completed’; our targets for Community Grants, Public Events and Anniversaries, Technological Improvements, Elections, Upgrading Grounds Equipment and Facilities, Woodland Management Plan, Grass Verge Cutting, and Town Council Buildings.

    Our Policy Review targets were marked as on schedule for completion after an external auditor’s review was undertaken during March 2024, which proved very useful for all Town Council employees.

    Meanwhile, some progress has been made on Infrastructure Planning, Neighbourhood Plan, and Climate Change targets.

    On all three of these targets, further action is set to be taken in April 2024, proving how the routine of undertaking progress updates is useful for ensuring we keep our focus on key goals.

    The full document disclosing our progress updates is available here: End of Year Progress Update (2023-24)

    Hard work behind the scenes

    Continuing from talk of targets, the Town Council has also been ensuring we remain across all key issues in the community by communicating and consulting.

    During March, a series of meetings and programmes saw us involved in several key policy discussions.

    Councillors Karen Bedwell and Chris Macve attended the Wealden Parish Conference, which seeks to update representatives from the 42 Parish and Town Councils throughout Wealden District on matters relevant to the district. The biggest item on this year’s agenda was the Draft Local Plan.

    We facilitated the Annual Town Meeting on 20 March 2024, which saw the Chairs of the Town Council’s standing committees provide highlights from the past year, the Town Clerk answer questions asked in advance of the meeting, and the full panel discuss their burning questions with residents. It was a very informative evening, which helped to clarify several matters around pavement parking, town centre CCTV, and planning, just to name a few.

    We also hosted a workshop for the new Ageing Well Forum, which saw around 20 representatives attend from local organisations working within the community. The workshop focused on mapping and recording what was available to residents now, and what the Forum could focus on to meet the World Health Organisation’s eight principles of creating an age-friendly community.

    As well as our efforts in the community, we also took stock with a very important event in March.

    We paid tribute to former Town Clerk, Mrs. Joan Stocker, with the Civic Centre hosting her celebration of life after a memorial service at Holy Cross Church.

    Joan was active within the Uckfield community and played a key part in the Uckfield Hospital League of Friends, and Macmillan Cancer Group in more recent years.

    Miscellaneous tasks

    Amidst all the big events the Town Council is involved in, it is easy to forget the smaller tasks that get done day by day.

    In March, plenty of these contributed to the upkeep of facilities or the progress of our work, so it is very much worthwhile giving them praise.

    For example, we continued to complete a programme of periodic Electrical Installation Condition Reports and associated remedial works in all council buildings, to make sure our electrics continue to meet the latest regulations and we consider the safety of our service users, public, and staff.

    We also completed works at The Source site by installing the new UPVC entrance door. This finished the schedule to bring the building back into full use.

    We supported the Uckfield Community Fridge with security lighting at the front of their unit too.

    In addition, it is worth highlighting two events that saw plenty of important discussions being held.

    Firstly, we supported the Department for Work and Pensions’ Job Fair, which saw 19 employers and providers attend the event (including two brand-new Uckfield employers) and 105 jobseekers in attendance.

    We also facilitated a workshop with Town Councillors to start working through the contents of the Draft Wealden Local Plan, which proved very useful ahead of the public consultation event taking place at the Civic Centre on Saturday, 13 April.

    Civic Centre celebrations

    March brought even busier times to the Civic Centre Uckfield, with plenty of external hires, brilliant functions, and exciting performances.

    On 9 March, the Weald Hall was at full capacity to host the amazing We Three Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Three incredibly talented performers paid tribute to the icons of rock ‘n’ roll; Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley.

    There was an opportunity for staff member Lorna to have ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to her by Elvis himself, as well as snapping a few timeless photos afterward.

    Luxfords Restaurant also hosted a wedding reception, which saw a fabulous hot buffet provided for guests following prosecco on arrival, and a bar.

    And of course, the Easter Afternoon Tea saw guests entertained whilst enjoying a selection of sandwiches, cakes, and scones.

    Louise Slaughter, Hospitality Manager, said: “We had a really exciting month; Elvis was in the house along with Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. They played to a full house; it was an absolutely amazing show and a fantastic atmosphere.

    “We also had the greatest honour of hosting the most beautiful wedding reception for Sheila and Bill, who are such a lovely couple. We wish them lots of love and laughter in their new chapter together!”

    You raise me up (lift works)

    Another part of our efforts to ensure Town Council facilities are in the best condition possible is to look at the accessibility of our buildings.

    This is a constant focus for our team, and in the latest set of works, there has been some very important attention given to our lift in the Civic Centre.

     “Following on from the electrical refurbishment of the Civic Centre lift a few years back, we have now started the second phase to ensure the lift is here to assist people to the first floor/council office for many years to come,” said Estates and Facilities Manager, James Hollingdale.

    “Included in these works is a modernisation of the existing lift, which was completed in March 2024 and included a replacement hydraulic tank unit being installed.

    “To follow in April 2024 is a lift cabin refurbishment. These works will include all aspects of the current lift and will give it a real improvement.”

    The month ahead

    April has plenty in store in Uckfield, with the second week of the school holidays on the minds of many residents at present, no doubt!

    As previously mentioned, a key event on Saturday, 13 April welcomes all residents to learn more about the Draft Local Plan and give their feedback on the plans from Wealden District Council. This is a significant event for the town as it is the only in-person chance to offer feedback on the Plan.

    After Uckfield Theatre Guild’s fabulous Oliver! performances this weekend (5 and 6 April), we have a number of further events in the Civic Centre this month, including a performance from folk singer Sam Brothers on the evening of Saturday 13 April.

    We otherwise begin many projects in the new financial year, and step up our planning for two big events this year; the D-Day Beacon Lighting event on 6 June, and Weald on the Field on 10 August.

    We look forward to all our interactions with residents and work in the town this month, and hope to bring you even more positive news soon!

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