A26 safety improvements

james_maccleary02_cropped_1000.jpgUpdate on A26 safety improvements from Councillors James MacCleary and Sean MacLeod.

As your local councillors we wanted to get in touch about work taking place on the A26. In recent months we have been pressing National Highways, who are responsible for the road, to make various improvements to enhance safety for road users and residents.

We have been particularly focussed on making the junction with Avis Road (B2109) safer as it is very dangerous. There have been a number of accidents there in recent years and we have been prominent in the local press calling for action.

We are really pleased to be able to tell you we have been successful!

To their credit, National Highways have been happy to engage with us and are taking the issues seriously. We have already got them to cut back overgrown vegetation to improve sightlines for instance.

We are now very pleased to be able to confirm a major programme of work is commencing that will take place over the coming months to upgrade the entire stretch of the A26 as it comes into Newhaven and make the junction with Avis Road much safer.

sean_macleod_cropped.jpgWork is already underway to upgrade lighting along the road and that work will continue along different stretches of the road for the next couple of weeks. All residents affected should have received a letter from National Highways with details of the work. There is more information available via their website: www.nationalhighways.co.uk

The next job will be the junction itself. They have made it a high priority due to the number of serious accidents there and pressure from ourselves and local residents. They plan to install permanent traffic lights to allow traffic to flow safely on and off the A26 making the junction much safer for all road users.

National Highways covers the entire country so we are really pleased to have got this project on to the list. The work will not happen immediately, but they have told us they expect to get started within the next year.

We will keep pressing on local highways issues and are always happy to take up issues on behalf of residents so please get in touch.

With best wishes

James and Sean


Decision date looms for 86 houses at Nolands Farm in Plumpton

A controversial application for 86 houses on a greenfield site in Plumpton is set to be decided at Lewes District Council's planning committee on December 8th. Council officers are recommending the committee refuse the application.

rob_banks_ditchling_road_plumpton_600_head.jpgPlumpton's Lib Dem District Councillor, Rob Banks, who has objected to the application, said: "The development would mean unacceptable impact and pressure on the open countryside and the intrinsic rural character of Plumpton Green and nearby area.

"A previous application for 45 houses was rightly rejected. The only reason the developers are trying to get away with 86 houses is a change in government rules which encourage these speculative bids"

"The pressure on the existing infrastructure - which cannot cope with the existing housing - includes sewers which frequently fail, a poor power supply and narrow rural roads. Indeed the rural road which serves the village would be urbanised.

"And you would see hundreds of extra car movements a day on local roads as the village has no essential services like a GP surgery - that's not good for the environment.

"This development is outside of the 2018 Neighbourhood Plan which was voted on by local people - and allowed some new housing in the village but this site was rejected. Democracy should be respected."

sarah_osborne_02_600_cropped.jpgCounty Councillor Sarah Osborne, who also wrote to object, added: "The site was rejected for 45 houses in 2019, for very good reasons including impact on the countryside and landscape. So 86 would be really devastating. I also fear the damage to people’s well-being and mental health resulting from the loss of yet more green space."

In the officer recommendation to the planning committee, the report states: "It is considered that this extensive development to the east of the village, extending the built form of the village onto an area of undeveloped countryside would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the wider landscape setting of this part of the village and wider countryside. Overall, it is considered that the proposed development would have an unacceptable impact on areas or assets of significant importance, in this case the character of and visual amenity associated with the wider countryside and result in significant harm".

The report recommending refusal can be seen here.


Barcombe Bridge

BarcombeBridgeHRE400.jpgWhen there was a railway running through Barcombe, there was a bridge. The railway is gone, but the bridge is still there. Where the rails used to run is now a vibrant wild space full of immensely diverse life, and much loved by walkers. It is in a conservation area. The bridge has seen better days; it now has a maximum weight capacity of 20 tonnes and is in need of repair work.

This is the responsibility of National Highways, who decided to support the bridge by infilling – in other words to pour an estimated 1800 tonnes of aggregate and concrete underneath it to shore it up, thereby destroying the valuable wildlife and recreation area running beneath it. Lewes Liberal Democrats support the campaign by local residents to prevent this and to secure an environmentally friendly solution.

On Oct 15th Liberal Democrat peer Jenny Randerson asked in the Lords about the fate of the bridge. The reply gave nothing away, but the fact of the question being asked means that National Highways know that their actions are being vigorously scrutinised, including the fact that a contract for the infilling has already been awarded. Baroness Randersen has made it clear that she will continue to pursue this case.

BarcombeBridgePoster600.jpgAs well as Lewes District Council, residents have been strongly supported by national campaigning body The HRE Group, an alliance of walking, cycling and heritage campaigners, engineers and greenway developers who see the Historical Railways Estate as an asset for future good.

Thanks to the efforts of the community, work has now been paused to allow for reconsideration, but it is unclear what the intentions of National Highways are. More news will follow as we hear it.

More detail in this BBC report: Barcombe: Campaigners fight to save disused railway bridge

and a video with the current deputy leader of Lewes District Council, James MacCleary

This is one of a number of sites around the country where a similarly heavy handed approach has been taken.

Image credits:

Bridge: the HRE Group

Poster: Zel Ouse


Ed Davey: Draft COP26 agreement is "kicking the can down the road"

key_eddavey.jpgResponding to the draft COP26 agreement calling on countries to strengthen their carbon-cutting targets by the end of 2022, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey MP said:

“I fear this is more about kicking the can down the road and expectation management after a disappointing conference.

“We can have as many COPs as we like, but until the West convinces China to cut emissions more quickly, these summits will continue to fail.

To keep the 1.5 degree target genuinely alive requires greater political will, stronger leadership and far more serious domestic and global action.

“Otherwise beating the existential threat of climate change will be a pipe dream and the greatest failure of global leadership ever.”


East Sussex Conservatives are failing our children

key_primary-school.jpgChildren in East Sussex are being failed by the Conservative government and the Conservative county council.

It has been revealed that in East Sussex, children with significant and profound learning difficulties are being made to wait up to 3 years to be assessed so that they can get the help they need to achieve their potential in school. That affects not only their learning, but also their future ability to live fulfilling, independent lives.

This is a crisis.

This Conservative government talks about “levelling up” and yet it is leaving the most vulnerable children in our area behind. Evidence shows that without appropriate support, children with additional needs are less likely to do well in school, less likely to stay healthy and less likely to be able to support themselves as adults. But without an assessment they can’t access the help they need.

Parents locally say they are pulling their hair out with worry. They are worried about their children’s health, their future and their ability to get on in life. But the Conservative county council don't seem to prioritise our children’s mental health. They say it's an NHS problem - yet education and the well-being of children in East Sussex are a core part of the county council's responsibilities.

We know that NHS and school staff are trying their hardest to make the most of a broken system, but they are being let down by a Conservative government and county council who seem unwilling to take action to solve this crisis.

We call on the leader of East Sussex County Council to urgently meet with NHS bosses, school leaders and concerned parents, and take action to help the most vulnerable children in our community access the support they need to thrive.

District Councillor Sean Macleod, who is a local campaigner on this issue, said: “I have brought this issue to the last two East Sussex County Council (ESCC) full council meetings and was passed off by the lead member for special educational needs. They firmly laid the blame at door of the local NHS, even though not all assessments experiencing delays are carried out by the Sussex Partnership Trust, some are contracted by ESCC such as Kent NHS Trust. ESCC says their targets are being met, but a simple chat with parents and schools show this to be very much not the truth.

"Our children are being let down by a county council which is too quick to pass the buck and does not appear to want to address the issue our children are facing. This really is a crisis. It's about time they started treating it like one.”


We're halfway through COP26

We're halfway through COP26. The Guardian has a very useful summary of what has been achieved - and what hasn't - so far.

The LibDems want to Save Britain's Nature. Back the plan here.

  • Four in ten British species are in decline and the UK is failing to meet 17 of its 20 biodiversity targets.
  • The Tories are missing even the modest targets they’ve set themselves on tree planting and biodiversity recovery.
  • Liberal Democrats want to restore the UK's natural environment by cleaning up our waterways, restoring peat bogs and planting 60 million trees each year.

key_nature.jpg


Lewes MP Votes For Raw Sewage In Rivers

Recently promoted Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, clearly hasn’t read the job description as she joined 264 of her Conservative colleagues to vote down an amendment to stop private water companies from dumping raw sewage into the UK’s rivers and coastlines.

CL_Beach_huts_600.jpgLiberal Democrat Councillor Carolyn Lambert comments: “This is astonishing hypocrisy on the part of the Conservative government who claim that they care about the environment. Maria Caulfield constantly reminds people of her background as a nurse, yet she seems not to understand the health dangers of raw sewage in our rivers.

"With COP26 coming up shortly, it is difficult to see how anyone can continue to claim that the Conservatives have the first understanding of environmental issues”.


Conservatives Allow 20 Minutes To Save The Environment

manik-roy-92vbv8ARIkk-unsplash.jpgOpposition parties at East Sussex County Council united to angrily condemn a last minute change of heart by Conservatives on a cross party Notice of Motion on climate change which councillors were given a 20 minute adjournment to consider.

Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Cllr Colin Swansborough explains: “Cllr Nick Bennett, the Lead Member, agreed with the Notice of Motion that asked the County Council to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. However, when this came to full council for debate on 12 October, Cllr Bennett issued a last minute set of recommendations that were completely different to his initial response.

"This kind of political skulduggery has no place in this council and also raises warnings for COP26. Will the Conservatives change their mind nationally as well as locally?”

Labour Cllr Chris Collier agreed: “This was a cynical and hypocritical misuse of the democratic process. It was extraordinary that a substantial change like this should have been thrown at Council at the very point at which this item was about to be discussed. We had no notice of this substantial change and no opportunity to give it proper scrutiny.”

Green Cllr Wendy Maples added: “We were sorely disappointed in our Conservative colleagues who seem to think point-scoring is more important than the planet.”

Green Cllr Georgia Taylor noted: “This could have been an historic moment of cooperation in the interests of people and planet”.

Independent Cllr Stephen Shing agreed: “We should stick to the 2030 target.  The Bill has cross party support and party politics should be put aside with an emphasis on the future of the planet.

"Opposition parties at the Council demanded an adjournment but realised that more time was needed to consider Cllr Bennett’s recommendations fully.  A proposal to defer discussion to the next County Council was voted down by the Conservatives."

*Photo by Manik Roy on Unsplash


Filth

Sign our petition on sewage here: https://www.leweslibdems.org.uk/sewage

Update 1st Dec

It has also come to light that Southern have accepted an investment from Australian megacorp Macquarie. According to Southern Water this is good news.

Macquarie owned Thames Water between 2006 and 2016. They used their ownership to raise Thames’s debt and siphon billions out in dividends while almost entirely avoiding corporation tax. Macquarie also had a relaxed attitude to pollution, culminating in a then record £20m fine for discharging raw sewage into the Thames.

And this is what Southern Water call good news.

 

Update 25th Nov

Companies across England and Wales issued more than 5,500 sewage discharge alerts in the last year. And the biggest polluter of them all is...

 

drumroll....

 

you guessed it...

 

Southern Water!!!

 

with 1,949 notifications of sewage discharges in the year to 30th Sept 2021.

 

Update 26th Oct:

@mariacaulfield's excuses for not voting to stop water companies pouring sewage into our rivers and sea are:
a) unpayable bills for customers
b) Baldrick like: we have a plan

But neither of these actually answer the problem.

To get to the full answer we have to go back to the dawn of time - for privatisation of water, that means 1989. What had up to that moment been viewed as a public health provision became a market issue. Why? Because markets work best, we're told. But where is the market in water?

With most big service provision you get at least some sort of choice. You can choose your electricity or gas supplier. But with water there is no choice. You get the supplier for your region. They are supposedly held in check by a regulator - Ofwat.

To some extent Ofwat has worked. There is a price cap - so the argument about unpayable bills for customers is non-existent. But in other respects Ofwat has been failing consistently for thirty years. It is supposed to see to it that providers deal with leaks, build new infrastructure and don't make too much profit. But it has enabled providers to ignore leak management, to avoid building new infrastructure, and to pay dividends of more than £57 billion pounds to its shareholders.

Let's just say that again. £57,000,000,000 out of the bills of hard pressed customers and into the trousers of shareholders.

57billion.jpg

Nothing much is going to change. The government plan is to make the providers give us more data about sewage. Apparently, that will embarrass them into behaving better. But we already have such provision. that is what enables us to say how many discharges there have been and for how long.

It enables us to produce maps like this.

southern_water_dumping_Oct_2021.jpg

They haven't been embarrassed yet. They just keep discharging and laughing all the way to the bank. This is how it is. More than that, they're called "storm discharges" indicating that they are supposed to be exceptional events. But they have become routine.

To quote Sarah Ludford "even moderate rain, not storms, cause discharges because of lack of investment in treatment capacity, that govt has allowed in order not to eat into dividends" https://twitter.com/SarahLudford/status/1452384882622091271

Part b is the cunning plan. It will be statutory and it will be by Sept 2022. But there is no substance, other than the sound of a can being kicked down the road the same way it has been kicked down the road for the last thirty years.

Remember - this government is led by a man terrified of responsibility.

When it emerges, we're betting, the plan will say "We plan to investigate urgently the relationship between rainwater and other aspects of the environment with a view to..." We're also betting it will contain the phrases "world beating" and "British water is happy water".

No. We need action now. Not a plan to have a plan. The water companies have been avoiding action for thirty years. Even one more year is one too many.

On BBC Politics Fay Jones asked "Who is going to pay… to dig up a Victorian sewerage network?" As one of our elected MPs, it's her job to answer that question, not to ask it. She could maybe learn from our Victorian forebears.

When it became obvious that a solution was needed, they got on with it. They used public funds and bent all their energy and ingenuity to solve the problem.

The water companies and most of Ms Jones' colleagues are spending their energy and ingenuity defending profits, while the rest of us swim in s**t.

 

Update 24th Oct:

Just a reminder that one of the reasons we're here is Brexit. "Government says polluters can dump risky sewage into rivers as Brexit disrupts water treatment" (report Sept 7th)

 

Update 21st Oct:

And that, dear reader, is just what they did, including our MP, Maria Caulfield: "Here’s a list of every MP who just voted to ALLOW water companies to continue dumping RAW SEWAGE in our rivers".

 

Update 21st Oct:

But the government doesn't care: MPs set to reject move to make water firms cut sewage discharges - Government opposes proposed amendment to environment bill designed to protect rivers

 

Update 21st Oct:

Southern Water dumping sewage at 60, sixty, different locations along the south coast of England.

southern_water_dumping_Oct_2021.jpg

 

Update 16th Oct:

Southern Water described as having high level ""institutionalised culture of cover-ups" at Environment Agency enquiry. BBC report "Southern Water: Illegal spills the fault of a 'small number' of staff".

 

12th Oct:

We're going to talk about filth now.

Pay attention at the back. We said talk *about* filth, not talk filth.

400,000. That's the number of times water companies let raw sewage into English waters in 2020.

400000.jpg

The overflows are supposed to be used only in extreme weather but they lasted altogether for more than 3.1 million hours.

3100000.jpg

The law needs to be strengthened but the govt is failing to enforce the laws it has. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/13/government-failing-to-stop-sewage-discharge-into-english-rivers-says-charity

"sewage and wastewater discharges by water companies into rivers account for damage to 36% of water bodies."

Meanwhile in Sussex: Southern Water has already been fined £90,000,000 for illegal discharges.

£90000000.jpg

(While their chief executive trousered a bonus of £550,000.)

£550000.jpg

Lewes District Council has passed a motion calling on Southern Water to say how it will put a stop to illegal discharges of sewage in the River Ouse. https://www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/lewes-district-council-news/council-motion-targets-southern-waters-shocking-track-record/

Then there's the business of allowing them to discharge even more legally if they can't get the chemicals, due to the shortage of truck drivers (<irony on>which is absolutely NOTHING to do with Brexit </irony off> - see here https://twitter.com/Lewes_Lib_Dems/status/1442584289363759108)

For an idea of the scale of the issue - there are 35 major sewage treatment works beside the Ouse and its tributaries.

35.jpg

In 2017 there were 64 discharges from Barcombe Sewage Treatment Works: more than once a week. In 2018 there were 98 incidents covering a total of 635 hours. That is nearly twice a week, for a procedure that is only supposed to be carried out during “exceptional rainfall”.

98_times.jpg

Increasing amounts of water are extracted for human use, meaning the proportion of effluent is greater than otherwise. It is estimated that in summertime about 60% of the river water at Barcombe Mills is sewage effluent. You are swimming in poo_emoji.jpg.

Who owns the companies that deal with our water and sewage. Answer:
- Australians own Southern Water (Macquarrie)
- Australians own 50% of South East Water.

Who do they answer to, their customers or their shareholders? Have a guess.

(Much of the above from motion introduced by LibDem Guy Earl at Lewes Town Council, based on work by John Lamb and Mary Parker https://lewes-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Agenda_Council_7th_October_2021-Inc-late-papers.pdf see page 30). Well done, all.)

 


Jon Freeman

jon_freeman_02.jpg

Seaford Liberal Democrats were saddened to hear of the sudden death of former County, District and Town councillor Jon Freeman.

Jon Freeman made a huge contribution to the life of Seaford and to the local Lib Dems. He was a fantastic campaigner, helped a great many local people in his role as a councillor, and did more than anyone else to turn Seaford into a Lib Dem town. He was quirky, funny, and a real one-off. Jon guided many of the local Liberal Democrat Councillors past and present. His advice was invaluable. It is very sad that we have lost him. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family.


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