Pews’ News: This Sunday, December 7, there will be a Benefice Communion service at St Andrew’s, commencing at 10.30 am, with The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Richard Jackson. Then, at the winter ‘evening’ time of 4 pm, there will be Holy Communion at St Peter’s. Clearly, the coming weeks are of major importance in the Church’s year, and plenty of exciting opportunities are on their way. Among them is Spirit of Christmas, at St Peter’s from 7 to 9 pm on Wednesday, December 10. Do go along and enjoy a community evening of fun, laughter, Christmas songs, carols, mince pies and mulled wine. More will be revealed here in due course.

MOPPs: At MOPPs today, Friday, December 5, Keith Osbourne will be providing the entertainment, (and possibly Jim will be persuaded to join in!) Lunch will consist of ham, egg and chips, to be followed by apple pie. Next Friday, December 12, the club will enjoy a Christmas Table Sale, and then lamb hot pot and fruit and custard for pud. As they say – hey, what’s not to like?! Still not made your move to volunteer to help MOPPs in the kitchen? Go on, go for it – you could drop in and make your intention known at today’s meeting if you like!

Village Hall Winter Fair: It’s here again, the second of the Village Hall’s own biannual fund raising Fairs, always popular among the residents. Lunches and mulled wine will be served from the start time of 12 noon, to ready all the visitors for the stalls and games – and to meet all their friends, too. Don’t miss it. It’s not Lord Kitchener but Hall Treasurer Frank James, who’s saying ‘Your Village Hall needs You!’

Much better than fair: While the RSPCA nationally sometimes attracts adverse comment when it appears to have become heavily politicised, at a local level the organisation remains all we have always loved it for. And this fact was amply borne out by the result of the Sussex East and Hastings branch’s annual Christmas Fayre in the village hall last Saturday. The event raised a very well-deserved £742, which will go in support of all those excellent local facets of their operation.

Fairfest Barn Dance: Thanks to the Flat Cat band, and a ploughman’s supper and a bar, Fairfest’s Barn Dance last Saturday evening was a happy affair. Some fifty souls enjoyed the fun.

I can see clearly now: It appears that, at long last, the cat’s eyes are to be replaced along the Fairlight Road. The work is to be undertaken next Thursday and Friday, December 11 and 12, and notices will be circulated prior to the commencement of the work.

Potholes: While on the subject of our roads, potholes in the middle of the road are not too troublesome yet, with probably the worst of the weather waiting in the wings. However, the holes at the sides of Fairlight Road, especially near the Martineau Lane junction, and in Martineau Lane itself, are threatening to eat their way right across the carriageway. What happens if they get to the other side is not recorded, but there must be an old wives’ tale to cover it, like the false one about shingles.

An unhealthy country smell: As a lad, the odour at muck spreading time was always referred to as ‘healthy’. Put up and shut up, I now believe. But the current air quality around Fairlight Gardens and the western end of Lower Waites Lane is noticeably strongly spoiled by the highly unhealthy smell of sewage. Twice I’ve got home and bathed the dog. If you register this pong when in the area, please let Cllr Dave Thatcher know, as he is logging such occurrences ready for presentation to Southern Water. Dave is on 814969. A further 20 dwellings on the Market Garden site will no doubt help whatever the problem may be, though not in any positive way.

The path to Pett Level: The footpath from Fairlight along the cliff to Pett Level had temporary fences and stiles erected back in early June due to a cliff slippage, but it has now been fully re-opened. The stiles have been removed, which is especially welcome news for dog walkers. And for dogs …

The Parish Council: The Council met ten days ago on the Tuesday of last week. A late afternoon appointment in London made it impossible for me to attend. As they do not meet in December I shall have had no meeting to report in person for three months, and I anticipate severe withdrawal symptoms early in 2015. Parish Finance is soundly on track for this financial year 2014-15, though some money had to be transferred from headings showing a surplus to those in deficit. The Precept for 2015-16. It would be just possible to get by with existing precept, even allowing for a substantial contribution to the cliff in 2016, assuming such borrowing would be authorised. However, that would leave no leeway at all and would deplete reserves. There are greater demands on parishes these days, with more being pushed down from County and District, and items like Neighbourhood Planning; the cliffs, where the more the village can contribute the greater the chance of the scheme going ahead; professional fees, for which the Council has had no heading. In short, to represent adequately and effectively the interests of parishioners there is an argument for an increase. Councillors deferred a final decision until the January meeting, but there was feeling in favour of an increase, subject to consultation with the village. At present a Band D household pays 72p per week towards the civil parish which raises £32,000. This is modest by other Rother town and Parish standards. Out of 33 Rother Town and Parish councils 23 charge more than Fairlight and only nine less. Poor old Rother DC is the collecting authority and they get the blame for everyone else’s bills!

Grit and bear it: Good news! The nice man at ESCC Highways has authorised concrete bases for our new grit bins, so the project to replace the defective yellow ones can go ahead. And two of the new bins will be paid for by county. The black dog bins will be replaced by ones of a better design, similar to the one opposite St Peter’s, and will have a chute so the muck goes where intended and not down the back of the inner receptacle. My Council informant assures me these black dog bins are actually for use by dogs of any colour, not just for black dogs. Thank you, Andrew.

Open Spaces Society: It is proposed that the village should join the Open Spaces Society at a cost of £45 per year. Benefits include advice on footpaths and, er, open spaces.

Grants 2015-16: Don’t forget, as appeared last week, that Cllr Mendelson is inviting organisations (and, exceptionally, individuals) working for the benefit of the parish to put in claims for next year’s grants. The budget is currently £5,500 per annum. Much goes to the usual suspects, but if you have a cause worthy of consideration now is the time to come forward so the Council can budget for everyone’s needs.

Speedwatch: Cllr Rev Val Gibbs reported that the Marsham Speedwatch would be coming to Fairlight very soon. Volunteers will detect speeding vehicles and the owners will receive warning letters from the police. It gets a lot tougher for repeat offenders, even down, ultimately, to seizure of the vehicle. And, indeed, they came, they saw, they reported. Four cars were speeding down Battery Hill, some travelling at 49 mph. Many more vehicles spotted the observation and slowed down as a consequence. Like you do.

Firehills Visitor Centre: Cllr Stephen Leadbetter had attended a Hastings BC open meeting about this. Some concerns were expressed about competition with the Coastguard Tea Rooms, but it is likely the catering aspect will be only light snacks for school parties.

Land Management: Cllrs Tony King and Jennifer Annetts reported on proposed replacements for the leylandii removed from the Play Area, possibly Escallonia and flowering cherry. ’twere well it were done quickly, before the ground dries out, as a famous Scot said. No, not you, Alex.

Water gorse: There had been correspondence with Hastings and Natural England over gorse removal on the Firehills. The parish has concerns about water run-off towards Channel Way and ground stability, and you have only to consider the mess at Ecclesbourne Glen. So far the response has not been satisfactory and it is proposed to involve Amber Rudd MP. The Preservation Trust, in the person of Paul Capps, is pressing Hastings and Natural England to reinstate old drainage ditches which would help direct water away from Channel Way.

Keep walking?: Following the Inspector’s adverse decision, from a Fairlight point of view, on the Woodland Way to Warren Road footpath, it was agreed to authorise expenditure on counsel’s advice. Informal advice from a local lawyer indicates the Inspector erred in law. Pro Bono advice may be available via the Environmental Law Foundation.

The Clerk is ticking: Wednesday, November 26, the day after the Council meeting, was the big birthday with a zero on the end for Clerk John Edmunds. He was presented with a card and present by the Chairman, and there was, unsurprisingly, a spontaneous round of applause for this popular, efficient officer.

Cove Quiz: The latest in the Cove’s series of quizzes will be starting in the pub at 8 pm on Thursday next, December 11. Be there and show off your superior knowledge … !

Keith Pollard

Brookfield, Broadway