Church matters: This Sunday, there’s an All Age service at St Andrew’s at 10.30 am. This will be an Informal Family Service with special guest Rod Long, who will introduce us to the children of Colombia, where he sponsors three children. Prayers were offered for Rod earlier this year as he set out on a maiden solo trip to visit each of his children in this dangerous country. He also visited another project amongst poor children. Rod will be telling us about that trip and what motivated him. Later on Sunday, there will be Holy Communion at 6 pm at St Peter’s, Fairlight Cove
Get bidding: At tomorrow’s Auction of Promises, in the village hall at 7 pm. There will be lots and lots of lots, and the whole affair is aimed at raising funds for St Andrew’s Church. We’ve told of many of treats in store for winning bidders, and it will only cost you £1 entrance, a meagre sum that gets you a glass of vino or juice, a programme and a bidding number. If you still require more details, have a word with Pete Jennings on752838. But you’d better be quick…
St Peter’s consultation: Last Saturday morning, 18 people attended the drop-in consultation session on what the future might hold for St Peter’s Church. It was explained that £35,000 has been set aside from St Andrew’s reserves for the development of the Church in the Cove. Reassuringly, there is no question of selling the site for development. Two discussion groups developed, one concentrating on what improvements could be made to the existing building, while the other discussed what activities could take place within the building. The following suggestions were made on what could be done to improve the building. Brighten up the interior, and change all the brown to white; add lower level windows; enlarge the kitchen and increase the equipment and facilities; increase and improve toilet facilities; add storage space, a small room for consultations, counselling and such like, and another small room for small groups; Erection of a large sign outside; improve lighting, heating, air conditioning, curtains and insulation; add a glazed extension on the west side of the building for improved heat, light and visual impact. These next suggestions deal with what activities could take place within the building for local benefit. An occasional café for walkers and locals; bring and buy, a place to bring and buy local produce; a main morning church service; coffee mornings, especially for singles and the bereaved; meals and social occasions; advice sessions; counselling and support services; youth pop in; small group hire, in a cheaper, more intimate alternative to the community centre. There are several really good ideas there for improvement and use, though it is a pity that the vast majority of those attending were ‘church people’, when the rector, Richard Barron, would have appreciated input from all villagers.
A Neighbourhood Plan: is a fairly recent government initiative which allows a community to determine planning policy for its area, as long as it is broadly in line with national and local planning policies. Our Parish Council has been considering whether this would benefit Fairlight, and many readers who attended the Parish Assembly in May will recall the matter being discussed. Following discussions with AirS (Action in rural Sussex) and village colleagues in Sedlescombe, who are going through the process, the Parish Council decided last week that it wants to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. Before making a final decision to go ahead, consultation with residents is planned to explain the process and check that there is support within the village. A public meeting will be held and residents will also be given the opportunity to comment via the village website. As soon as dates are confirmed these will be made known via the Fairlight residents e-mail scheme and posters in the village, as well as, of course, this column.
Paid for out of a hedge fund?: Many may have noticed the marked improvement in the appearance of the village hall car park after the sterling work in reducing the rampant hedging along the east side, which had been threatening to take over much of the parking space. It now stands a trim knee-high, and looks a treat. Great work!
Last week at the Parish Council: 12 members of the public were present, though there was no County or District Councillor available. The salt/grit bin replacement saga rolls on, with a meeting with Highways being the next step to be taken. A speed gun, to be shared with Pett and Guestling, will be discussed with Cllr Roger Bird. A report on the latest meeting of the Preservation Trust observed that all residents will shortly be receiving a newsletter requesting pledges towards the safeguarding of the cliff edge. Visiting the PC meeting on behalf of Hastings Borough Council was Marion Richards, who outlined what would be happening to the Hastings Country Park Visitor Centre, with the new build expected to be completed and open from March 2016. The hastings website has more details. On Wood Field, the cutting back of the notorious leylandii adjacent to the children’s playground comes a t a cost of £1,800. A report on the state of certain trees in Lower Waites Lane shows that five trees need to come down, one oak needs cutting back and other work is essential, at an estimated cost of £850. Gemselect will be notified. A reminder was made about the forthcoming footpath enquiry, which will be on September 10 and 11 at 10 am. Eight of those who sent in comments have been called to address the enquiry
Favourite Things: This month’s Floral Club demonstrator, Sue Thompson, was new to the club, and she easily kept the interest of an almost complete membership with depictions of a few of her favourite things, which included gardening, Strictly Come Dancing, holidays and entertaining friends. There was not a peep about raindrops on roses or schnitzels and noodles, and she created some very impressive artworks. Unfortunately, the hall’s stage curtains do not lend themselves readily to being background for photos, and so none will be submitted on this occasion. Rest assured that a way round the problem will be sought!
The Trefoil Summer Barbecue: Didn’t take place! Last Wednesday’s meeting was preceded by two days of rain, and all were nervous of more coming on the day. So, a change of plan, but not of chef, led to an indoor lunch highly enjoyed by the dozen present.
Bus Cuts: Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings and Rye Sarah Owen led a meeting in the village hall on Wednesday, August 28 to talk through the proposed cuts to our bus service. Also present was East Sussex County Councillor (Labour) Cllr John Hodges. Sarah Owen said that 60% of the proposed cuts affected Hastings and surrounding area compared with the rest of East Sussex, and she held up a hard copy of the official consultation document and asked who had seen it. Three hands went up. Cllr Maynard was quoted as saying that the document is available in libraries, but it seems it has not been in the mobile library. Sarah Owen said that the document was in any case inadequate and barely met the requirement for consultation. The object of the cuts is to save £1.79 million. While the consultation claims that 91% of people will be unaffected by the proposed cuts, but no one knows how this figure has been arrived at. In any event 9% of the population of East Sussex is a lot of people, probably of the order of 50,000. There will be an effect on employment, students and carers. Sarah Owen said there has been no Equalities Impact Assessment, and later Cllr Andrew Mier, Parish Council Chairman, said that older people in Fairlight were disproportionately affected (or “impacted” in the modern idiom) and asked if there was a commitment to taking legal advice and, if appropriate, legal action if legislative requirements were not met. There was a promise of scrutiny from within the ESCC procedures, but no firm commitment to the path towards legal action. Dial-a-Ride is to be cut from 5 days to 2 days a week. This is disastrous for those with mobility problems who rely on it, though the inflexibility and expense involved mean that this service could be better run when compared with other similar schemes elsewhere. Cards were available to complete in response to the consultation and I understand County will consider all representations, however made. Sarah Owen said there was a Stagecoach monopoly. It was necessary to make Stagecoach take a fair share of uneconomic routes in exchange for its monopoly on the economic ones. County should go to Stagecoach and negotiate. In the consultation there is a proposal for a 30% fare increase, though this appears to relate only to home to school fares for children, and a possible increase for these users of 60% is also mentioned. Elsewhere in the document, which takes a good deal of digging to discover, there is mention of fare increases all round, not merely for school runs. Cllr John Hodges also spoke. He said that the Chamber of Commerce was concerned because of the need for people to get to work. Stagecoach were cherry-picking the routes they would operate. Stagecoach had not asked for the cuts, County had. Drivers will be laid off, buses will stand idle and advertising revenue lost. From the public comments, a common theme was that the buses were over-full to the point where they were dangerous or drove straight past the stops. Other services seemed over-provided compared to ours, a fact observed by those waiting for the 344 in Hastings. The consultation contains no option for a part concession on the full fare for older people. Bizarrely, it’s more expensive for a family of four to travel from the town centre to Silverhill by bus than it is for them to take a taxi. It seems the service 100, from Hastings to Dover, through Rye and Folkestone, is commercially viable. Why not the 344? Parish Council Chairman Andrew Mier has, on behalf of the PC, requested a “face to face” meeting with County to discuss the proposed cuts to service 344 and Dial-a-Ride. The ability to have such a meeting is mentioned in the Draft Commissioning Strategy for transport. However, nobody had offered such a meeting.
A tribute to Matt Monro: and maybe some of the Rat Pack, too, in the village hall next Monday for the Wine and Social Club, with Peter Snipp the performer entertaining all, curtain up (or sideways) at 7.30 pm Visitors are welcome, too, on payment of £3, which gives you a great chance to enjoy a super evening, and then join the club for real.
Oompah, Oompah…: The Residents Association invite you to enjoy Papa Schnitzel’s Oompah Band at 7.30 pm on Saturday, September 13 in the village hall. This hilarious band is making a welcome return visit to Fairlight and it’ll only cost you £8.50 a head. Tickets can be had from the Post Office, and you’ll need to take your food, drinks and glasses along with you (to the ‘do’, not to the Post Office!)
Coastal Currents Arts Festival 2014: Two Fairlight artists are taking part in this year’s Open Studios, over the first two weekends in September, Saturday and Sunday 6 and 7, and again on 13 and 14. Visitors will be welcome to meet the artists in their homes, browse or buy works and greeting cards from 11 am to 6 pm on each of the open days. Printmaker Annie Soudain is at 5 Firehills Cottages, Lower Coastguard Lane, TN35 4AD (www.anniesoudain.co.uk) and several locals will no doubt be enjoying Annie’s regular bird studies in The Oldie magazine. Painter Anna Wilson-Patterson is at Spark Cottage, Fyrsway TN35 4BG (www.annawilsonpatterson.com) A visit to both is thoroughly recommended.
The Tuesday Ladies Club: Meet on Tuesday week, September 16, when well-known local speaker Ken Brooks will tell of Hastings Old Town and Rock-a-Nore.
‘Spam, spam, spam and spam’: Internet problems? What with a poor download speed and a pretty reliable and regular drop-out rate, you’d think we had enough to contend with in the village. Now you can add a surfeit of spam. Indeed, in the last few weeks, my overnight spam incidence has risen to 60 or 70 messages. Mercifully, unlike the good old days, not one of them offers to enhance or enlarge any male or female characteristics, but I expect nevertheless they’re all phishing in some form or another, though they’re all deleted unopened and unread. Several appear to come from Tesco, Asda or Sainsbury’s, under the heading ‘Receive 500 GBP worth of groceries’. The giveaway comes from the messages with same heading that have ostensibly arrived from Argos and Currys, neither of whom can be said to have much of a reputation on the grocery front.