Church Matters: This Sunday, April 3, there’s a 10.30 am service of Family Worship at St Andrew’s Church, and a 6 pm Informal Communion service at St Peter’s.

MOPPs: Today at MOPPs, it will be a Clothes and Cards Day with Bonmarché and Sandra Stunt, and there is also promised a Star Prize for the Raffle. Lunch will consist of roast chicken, with banana custard to follow. Next Friday, April 8, the members will be enjoying Celia King’s chair-based exercises, and they’ll be rewarded for their efforts with ham, egg and chips, with a sweet of upside down pudding.

The Pantomime Group AGM: will take place in the village hall at 7.30 pm tonight, and all members are invited to attend. This is a good opportunity for all those involved to review the last production, and to anticipate the one coming up in January 2017.

The Gardening Club’s April meeting: The speaker on Monday next, April 4, will be Christopher Rudd, and his subject the Sussex coastline westwards from Winchelsea. This will be in the village hall starting at 2.30 pm. Christopher proved to be an excellent speaker when he last visited the club, and has a repertoire of 30 subjects on which he can speak – just drop your hat! Non-members are welcome if they part with a humble £2.

The Conservative Spring Buffet Lunch: is next Saturday, April 9 in Pett village hall. The guest speaker is Huw Merriman, Battle’s new MP. Tickets are £12 each, including donated wine, and can be obtained by calling Jacqui Lait on 814251. Call her soon if you’d like to go.

Fairlight Players on stage: Only three weeks now until the Players take to the boards once again, on this occasion with ‘The Time of my Life’ by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by Charlotte Eastes. If you haven’t actually seen signs of tickets being available yet, don’t worry – they’ll be at the Post Office and they’re imminent!

Wine and Social club AGM: The club’s AGM will be held on Monday, April 11 starting at 7.30 pm. A quiz follows the business end of the evening, and all members are urged to attend.

Something unusual to do tomorrow?: There’s a sale of plaster moulds tomorrow, Saturday, April 2, at Skyscape in Channel Way. It starts at 10.30 am. Small moulds are priced at £2 and large ones £5. You might be pleasantly surprised and find something really interesting to get involved in.

Much news from the March meeting of the Parish Council: It was time for the Councillors to consider the award of grants for the coming Financial Year, and these were allocated as follows: MOPPs £1,500, which is an increase of 50%, going a little way towards covering the loss of £4,000 of the ESCC grant;

Village Hall £1,000; Activate Youth Club £300; Fairlight Nursery and Playgroup £450; Pett Level Rescue Boat £250; Fairlight Open Gardens £50; St Andrew’s Graveyard upkeep £1,800; Sussex Air Ambulance £50; Rother Rural Trust £100; Victim Support £50; Fairfest £250 and The John Lutman Award £150. Most of these grants are identical in terms of recipient and amount to those previously awarded.

A newcomer: The Council has co-opted a new Councillor and is now up to full strength! He is Mick Jones, who lives in Briar Close. Mike’s photo and contact details are already on the Fairlight website, and he was warmly welcomed to the council.

A borrower be: The Clerk to the Council, John Edmunds, explained the arrangements for borrowing to support Phase 3 of the Cliff Preservation Scheme. The money can be obtained quickly from the Public Works Loans Board once the final approval is given for the scheme. Councillors have already agreed to support the project but the final sum to be borrowed has yet to be fixed, and will be between £75,000 and £90,000. The Fairlight Preservation Trust is still accepting donations towards the scheme. With a fair wind, work could start as early as this August.

No Through Way: There is a new notice board at the top, or sea, end of Channel Way, arranged at modest cost by John Edmunds, and he has also ordered a notice to divert walkers away from the dead end eastern section of Channel Way. This section is still shown on some hiking maps, although the path fell into the sea some years ago!

The John Lutman Award: It’s time to think about the John Lutman Award for Community service. In memory of John Lutman’s 30 years’ service to our community as District and Parish Councillor, Fairlight Parish Council has established an annual award of £150, ‘The John Lutman Community Service Award’

Residents of Fairlight are invited to nominate individuals for this award on forms from the Post Office or by e-mail to the Council Chairman, Cllr Rev Val Gibbs, whose email address is valerie.gibbs971@btinternet.com. The closing date for nominations is Monday, May 2. The Award will then be presented at the Fairlight Parish Assembly on Friday, May 13, starting at 6.30 pm. ‘Community Service’ has a wide meaning, and all who have served Fairlight in any capacity are eligible, except for serving Parish Councillors.

Lighting up the beacon: The beacon, which stands in the field at the top of Peter James Lane, halfway up Battery Hill, will be lit to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday on April 21. Cllr Andrew Mier is co-ordinating the task and already has some volunteers to help, plus welcome advice from George Hensher – a vastly experienced beacon builder and igniter! There may well be other celebratory activities too, perhaps including a street party.

The best laid plans: Neighbourhood Planning is progressing well under Cllr Stephen Leadbetter, who reported on a meeting the Parish Planning Committee had the previous day with a Rother planner (Norman Kwan) and our consultants, Action in Rural Sussex or ‘AiRS’. Sites for development which were put forward in response to the recent request to the public will be considered along with others previously identified. This assessment will be against objective criteria.

A fun day and a twitten: The Council agreed that St Andrew’s Parochial Church Council could use Wood Field Recreation Ground for a fun day on May 14.

There was an update on the twitten running from Woodland Way to the part of Knowle Wood owned by the Parish and thence to Wood Field. As County have made little progress towards having the twitten dedicated to the public, the PC decided to revert to trying to buy the twitten from its current owner.

A nature reserve?: Cllr Gibbs reported on a meeting with the agent for the owner of land approximately opposite the Post Office. Although the idea is only embryonic, the owner would like to create a nature reserve and preserve the land in perpetuity. Cllr Gibbs said that there were rumours the owner wanted to build on the land, but this was far from being the case. In the public forum, some residents living near the land expressed concern that there would be disturbance to their quiet enjoyment of their properties, and Cllr Gibbs sought to reassure them.

Pump room: There have been some concerns that Rother’s contract with specialists for the maintenance of the Rockmead Road pumps (which remove water from the ground as part of the cliff preservation works) had not been renewed. However, Rother had explained that all was well, and the contractors had no problems, but the Council will speak to the Preservation Trust for clarification. It would appear that a possible cause of pump failure is sewage contamination in the groundwater. This will have to be taken up with Rother and, of course, Southern Water.

Trust in change: The Council noted with regret that Paul Capps had stood down from the Chairmanship and trusteeship of the Preservation Trust, and recognised and appreciated his work and achievements over many years and, though neither was present, they wished Paul and his wife Mary well. The Trust’s new acting Chairman, David Shortman, was present and was warmly welcomed.

Appealing behaviour: Haydon Luke, our representative on the Country Park Visitor Centre Board, stated that the Board had not met since his last report to our Council. Murray Davidson, the Hastings Borough Council official who so impressed when he visited an earlier Parish Council meeting, has issued a positive update on how matters stand with regard to two major funding stream applications. The first is with Interreg, an EU facility with three main strands of grants. Groundwork South, who are managing the visitor centre project, have been invited to progress through to the next stage. This is a major achievement, as only 21 out of 79 projects have been so blessed, and is, in fact, one of only 4 projects under the Low Carbon funding stream that has been invited to submit further detail. The bid is based on public buildings constructed of straw bales. The bid timing parameters will be known shortly, and the size of the bid is £330,000. If successful, construction could commence this coming September.

The second major bid is to the Heritage Lottery South, but not as originally thought to the ‘Parks for People’, and the Board has been redirected to apply for general heritage funding. Advice received suggests a further six months work on the application will be necessary, after which Groundwork South hope to be in position to submit a significant bid – of some £500,000 – to the Main Heritage Grants Fund in early June for a decision in September.

Some readers may be aghast at these vast sums for a simple Visitor Centre, and wonder why we are having to work so hard to try to get Phase III of the Cliff Preservation Scheme under way, but they should realise that, even in these straitened times of austerity, substantial monies are available for various different projects, but access to each different ‘pot’ is restricted to the declared aims of that ‘pot’. It seems to be a matter of knowing who to ask, what to ask for, and what details you state to enhance your bid. Getting or not getting the Visitor Centre built will not conflict with Phase III one iota financially.

Not wishing to give offence, I hasten to point out that I mean the Centre is relatively simple, not that Firehills visitors are intellectually challenged...

Thanks be…: Many thanks are due to Cllr Andrew Mier, who supplied me with the bones and most of the meat for the preceding twelve paragraphs, though I may have prepared and cooked that meat slightly differently!

M’aidez!: Well, quite possibly before May Day, as it seems likely that I shall have to abandon the Fairlight Voice for some four or five weeks, starting soon but on an as yet unspecified date. Is there a brave soul out there who’d like to have the chance of getting as much of Fairlight into print as possible each week, and thus probably ensuring that more people turn up and participate at events than might otherwise have been the case? If you’d like to have a go, please call me, on 813631, or email me at keefiepollard@btinternet.com

Long term regular readers of this column will recall that, during my similar health-based absences some years ago, Carol Ardley proved a willing and able deputy. At present Carol has her hands very full, and has had, reluctantly, to decline to fill the imminent temporary vacancy.

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