Pews News: Tomorrow, Saturday, February 7, there’s a Men’s Brunch at St Peter’s Church Centre at 9.45 for 10 am. The guest speaker is Rev Frank Rowson. The following day, Sunday, there is to be an 8 am Book of Common Prayer Communion service at St Peter’s, led Rev Kay Burnett, and then up the hill at St Andrew’s, there’s Morning Praise at 10.30am. Ken Holmes will be leading the service, with the Rector, Rev Richard Barron, speaking. The theme is ‘Beware complacency; we have a fight on our hands’, based on 2 Peter 2: vv.1 – 22 and Matthew 12: vv. 22 – 30
The Parish Council: met on the Tuesday of last week, after their month off in December. A full complement of Councillors was joined by 36 members of the public, itching to get their views heard even before the Open Forum which always follows the closure of the meeting proper. The reason for the often intense and emotionally charged interest was the proposition that the Parish should invest £30,000 in the proposed community takeover of the village’s Post Office and General Stores, a sum that could trigger the release of a similar amount from Rother. The councillors had only had the financial details and background for a very few days of study, and had not had the chance to consider backing this outlet as against Wakehams Farm Shop, our only other retail shop. It’s well known that every proverb has a matching, total opposite, and the feeling of many of the public present was certainly ‘He who hesitates is lost’, while the Council clearly thought, with considerable prudence, ‘Look before you leap’, with the shadow of ‘Fools rush in’ in the background. The term and practice of ‘due diligence’ has existed for more than 80 years and, while the village shop plan is well researched and presented, more grandiose projects than this have been pursued only to go ‘belly up’, as we must call it in a family newspaper. It is, therefore, most unreasonable to expect the guardians of our money to take precipitous action. What would those members of the public say if a costly collapse ensued? ‘Why weren’t they more careful with our money?’
Money, Money, Money: Why are financial hurdles like buses? You wait ages for one to come along, and then they all come at once. There is already the need for much cash to ensure the Sea Road berm can be joined up and completed, and the calls for community shop cash are upon us. The council now wishes to consider the idea of purchasing the Warren Road estate, which would include those parts of Knowle Wood they do not already own and, in a little noticed sentence within a report on a meeting with the Assistant Chief Constable of East Sussex, it is being suggested that villages may like to consider employing their own Community Support Officers. Meanwhile, the church is pointing out that, within a very few years, each benefice may well have to fund all its own employment costs, for the Rector and other charges, which would be in the region of £70,000 p.a. This would be shared with Pett, of course, so that’s all right. Anyway, the Council agreed to increase the village precept by an apparently massive 28%. But worry not – this only takes the weekly total (for a Band D property) up to £1. An extra £14.56 a year may not cover all the items mentioned above.
Put your heart into it!: Have you ever thought of getting right to the heart of the village life by becoming a Parish Councillor? Now could be the perfect time to start an interesting but not over-arduous adventure on the Council. There is currently a vacancy, and those who’d like to have a go are invited to contact the Chairman, Cllr Andrew Mier either on 814178 or by email to andrewMier@aol.com. Sooner would be preferable to later.
Have your say: was the title of last Saturday’s second meeting about the community purchase of the village shop and Post Office. More than 60 villagers attended, and Heather Black, Chair of the project, spoke eloquently for almost an hour, with an on-screen presentation behind her, and then dealt comprehensively with any and all the questions residents raised. The next steps are to make sure you return your feedback to the committee, which can be done at http://survey.clicktools.com/go?iv=2e0t0onhdq7a3. You can also purchase some community shares, as indeed have several people already, leading to a total of £6,000 raised towards the target of £30,000 in community shares. You can follow the progress of the enterprise on Twitter @fairlightshop or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Fairlightvillageshop/ The minimum investment for community shares is £10 and all monies will be returned if the venture doesn’t proceed. Generating local community support will help to secure funding from Power for Change – Now launched at http://www.thepowertochange.org.uk/ If you’d like to study the business plan and find out more about community shares visit www.fairlightvillageshop.co.uk
Battle won?: Good news for residents comes with the announcement that the planning application for 20 properties on the Market Garden site has been withdrawn. However, the war may not be over, and this could be a strategic withdrawal prior to regrouping and re-submission. We should not forget that this area is indelibly marked for residential use in the planners’ Local Plan. Ridiculous as this may seem to those already only too aware of the limitations of the sewage system in this neck of the woods, the fact remains …
Broadband: Faster broadband is around in the village. One customer gets 35 – 37 Mbps, with TalkTalk as his ISP. I can report an improvement, from 1.78 Mbps to 2.1 Mbps, but I am with BT, who are apparently preparing to increase my monthly fee - to enable them to paint more vans with Fibre Optics logos, of minimal interest to me. If the principal owners of the nation’s broadband infrastructure can’t do better than they do, what real hope have we got?
Buses: Sometimes, there is another one coming. And the most welcome news about the 344 service is that common sense has prevailed and that parking revenues will be used to fund the reinstatement of the Sunday services of the 344.
Raw Sewage: was brought up at last week’s PC meeting. Fortunately, as a subject for discussion, nothing more. As this paper reported last week, we in Fairlight do not have a monopoly on this distasteful matter, but it appears that Southern Water not only has a history of seldom replying to letters, but also likes to pin the blame on the Environment Agency who, in their turn, pin it straight back on Southern Water. It seems likely that they spend their Board meetings on their knees, praying that a 100-year rainfall event doesn’t keep happening every four or five years. The internet can tell you of all the locations at which Southern Water has allowed raw sewage to roam unchecked.
Whist drive: Tonight is time for whist again, organised as ever by the Bowls Club. Aficionados will know what to do by now – arrive at 6.45 for a 7 pm start. And still with the Club, it’s their AGM tomorrow, Saturday, February 7 in the village hall at 2.30 pm.
Mopps: Today, Friday, February 6, MOPPs will have the popular Annie Cryer with Tai Chi, and then sausage and mash plus Bakewell tart for lunch. Next Friday, it will be the turn of singer Ben Glavin to entertain the group, with a sumptuous lunch of roast pork and trifle to follow. Stop just reading about all these goodies, and get signed up as a member!
The Cat and the Canary: The capable cast for the Players’ April production sees Steve Hill as Mr Crosby, Carol Ardley as Miss Pleasant, Keith Miller as Harry Blythe, Pauline Lucas as Susan Sillsby, April Kitney as Cecily Young, Jim Saphin as Charlie Wilder, Tom Miller as Paul Jones, Vicky Veness as Annabelle West, Greg Slaughter as Hendricks and Peter Spencer as Patterson. That’s several old (or not so old!) favourites plus some of those less often present. The Players are glad to see them all, and hope you will be, too, come April. Watch this space – or, better still, get along to a Monday or Thursday rehearsal and get involved!
Trefoil Guild: ‘Don’t believe all you read!’ was the subject of the Guild’s January talk by Margaret Pulfer. The members enjoyed this excellent interesting and entertaining examination of Margaret’s time working for Rupert Murdoch on newspapers in London, especially at the time of the newspaper strike. As usual, Margaret introduced a lot of fun into her talk. In February, the Guild will be Celebrating Thinking Day for Guides and Scouts all over the world. If anyone would like to join they would be most welcome. The cost for visitors is £1.50 which includes light refreshments and any other food that might be available on the day. Be assured - Trefoilers love their food!
The Wine and Social Club: start their 2015 programme with popular local speaker Alan Dinsdale on ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’. That’s on Monday next, February 9 in the village hall commencing at 7.30 pm. Another organisation it’s well worth your while to join.
Jumble in the jungle?: No, the village hall, with the Playgroup and Nursery’s immensely popular Jumble sale coming up of Saturday, February 28 from 10 am to 12.30 pm. Of course, it won’t copy the success of previous years unless you donate as much covetable stuff you no longer need as possible, electrical goods excepted. Nicole, on 814284, can collect any items you have sorted out.
The Residents’ Association: Tickets are now on sale at the Post Office for the Association’s Variety Night on Saturday, February 28 starting at 7.30 pm. They’ll cost you £8.50 each, including supper, with the proceeds going to Stage 3 of the cliff preservation. This promises to be a fun evening of local talent and, if you’d like more information, call Peter on 814328.
Potholes: The biggest pothole in the village, in Waites Lane, has been filled in at last. But, like the Oldest Person in Britain, or the Father of the House, when one goes, there is always another just behind to step up for the vacated title. And you have only to look a bit further back up Waites Lane to find the new contender. The logic of pothole repair is sometimes difficult to follow. A long one in Broadway has been half filled, while its mate, six yards away and fully marked by an aerosol, has been ignored, as has another L-shaped irritant some 25 yards further on, despite its now fading markings. Martineau Lane is another puzzle. Sooner or usually later all the holes in the main carriageway get attention. Not so for the sides of the road, particularly the western gutter, into which the lane’s narrowness forces the unwary to wreck their nearside tyres and rims.