Sunday, January 27, 2008

Improving Local Policing in the Ward - Volunteers wanted

Sussex Police recently briefed the Rother Valley Forum on its new policing strategy. It wants to form ward based groups to advise it on the type of crimes it should be focusing on. While a little more bureaucratic (setting up a new body rather than trying to work within the established local government frameworks of County, District and Parish), I think we should give this new initiative by Sussex Police a fair chance.

It would be nice for local police to be better able to understand our crime fighting needs and the more we talk to the police, the more likely the force's officers are to spend time fighting the crimes and general anti-social behaviour which we want dealt with rather than wasting time on the Home Office's politically correct paperwork.

I'm liaising with the police on the establishment of this new group which would probably meet once every 12 weeks or so. Please give me a shout if you'd be interested in joining -

Quiet Lanes ?

Two entrepeneurial Rogate residents have suggested making all the roads in our ward North of the A272 (as well as Stedham, Iping, Chithurst, and Trotton to the East) into a network of quiet lanes. I think their intentions are admirable, in seeking to reinforce what a special area we live in and to make the roads more friendly for those using horses, cycles, and pushchairs.

They have some clever ideas (originally developed in Holland) such as removing all road markings to encourage drivers to drive more carefully - they are not simply interested in plastering lots of horrible new suburban signs alongisde rural roads. I'm not sure to what extent such things are legal in the UK, but to the extent they are, they are certainly worth considering.

Where I have an issue with the proposal is if it reduces speed limits for motorists in Milland and Linch. Milland (unlike Rogate and Rake) is quite a long way from any main roads and were all the busy residents of Milland to suddenly find that they weren't able to drive at more than 30 miles and hour to get to a main road, I think they might find they wasted a lot of time or routinely broke the traffic laws and ignored the new quiet lanes speed limit - neither are good outcomes.

In essence, I oppose the proposal if it is likely to reduce the current speed limits on the main roads the residents use to get to and from Milland to the local main roads to the North, South, East and West. I support it to the degree that some of the good ideas proposed to encourage people to be generally more considerate can be enacted without freedom reducing blanket speed limits.

If you'd like to discuss the proposals further you may like to write to Mairi Renne at

South Downs National Park - January Update

Just a few lines to let you know that I hope to be speaking to the new South Downs National Park enquiry on the 20th March. As most electors know, I believe that if we are to have a National Park (a near certainty unless Gordon Brown's government totally implodes as the going gets tougher economically) we need a large park which includes the Western Weald.

I am not reassured by the legal advice West Sussex County Council has procured in support of the Western Weald continuing to be an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty outside the South Downs National Park once it is formed. As I read it, the legal advice says that we could (if ministers and civil servants wished it) remain an AONB outside the new national park. Sadly, it does not say that we must. You will appreciate there is a huge difference between what is legally possible and what actually happens.

To save you writing to ask, I voted against the Chichester District Council leadership when it voted to support a park even smaller than that with the government's inspector has proposed. I continue to oppose the official Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council position because I believe our very special environment in Rogate, Milland and Linch will be under grave threat if we are outside the park.