Chairmans report

Document Sample
Chairmans report Powered By Docstoc

A very warm welcome to all of our guests this evening. This has become a welcome
opportunity to present the work of the Partnership over the preceding year and to
formally express our thanks to the many Partners who have contributed to our

I would now welcome some distinguished Guests who represent organizations that have
particularly worked well with us. The Chairman of the Parish Council, Cllr Peter
Newnham, the Chairman of the Chamber of Trade & Commerce, Mr Trevor Goldsmith
and the Secretary of the Heathfield Area Rotary, Mr George Claydon. Elected Members,
County Councillor Chris Dowling, District Councillors Dick Angel & Niki Oakes. Parish
Councillors, John Kerby, & Jean Holmwood. Sgt Ruth Hammerton in charge of the
Heathfield Police Force.

The Annual General meeting of the Trust Company is where we conduct the formal
Governance of the Company, its annual accounts and the appointment of Directors and
this now traditional annual account by way of the Chairman’s report. I would also thank
Alan Staples of Manningtons who acts as our Auditor who sadly cannot be here tonight.

I would also welcome our Directorate, Deputy Chairman and Company Secretary John
Tolley, Honorary Treasurer, Tim Hough, Directors, Jack Hampton, Alan Powell, Colin
Williams and of course the aforementioned Trevor Goldsmith. Rosemary Mays-Smith
cannot be with us this evening as she is supporting her Husband at an occasion in
London. One notable absentee is former Director, Teresa Blaxland, who stood down at
the end of the summer after many years of outstanding service. Teresa had become a
magistrate a number of years ago and now is undertaking more senior roles on the
circuit. She has also undertaken a Board position, her husband became seriously ill and
she was feeling no longer able to give her absolute commitment to chairing the ICT
Committee and also the Partnership Executive. I have written to her expressing the
Board’s deep gratitude for her length of service but most of all for her intellectual
contributions and strategic thinking which had been invaluable on so many occasions.

I would also like to pay tribute to our Officers who have given such excellent service to
the Partnership this year. Sue Roach who contributes to the Web-site editorial, Karen
Cook who looks after the Sport & Leisure, High Street and Transport Committees,
Sheran Thorpe, who is recording all for us this evening also records the minutes for the
Board, the Partnership Executive, the Police LATs and the Farmer’s Market Committee.
Once again a special mention for Joanne Aldous our Co-ordinator who has had an
outstanding year ensuring that the objectives of the Partnership are executed to greatest
effect. We continue to be an effective operation due in no small part to Joanne’s
dedication and professional approach to all the work we do. She looks after the minutes
for the I.T. Committee, the Inward Investment Committee, completes all of the
Partnership bidding forms, all monitoring reports, manages the Town information
Boards, contributes considerably to the website management, co-ordinates press
releases, produces the shoppers guide and creatively sets up the stands at the Parish
Assembly and Le Marche stalls. She also runs a bus company but more of that later.

Managing me has perhaps been her biggest challenge and gentle reminders pepper my
e-mail in-tray and answerphone most often with needs for text for this report or that bid
or dates and times for meetings. I would thank her for the long suffering patience and
impeccable support that she provides me in my attempts to represent the Partnership
organization as a whole.

This evening is an opportunity to report on the work of the entire operation and its
endeavours over the last year. In almost every case each project will have been a
collective approach with some other organization or frequently several. I will try and
recognize all such contributions when reporting on the individual programmes.

I will start with the IT committee as it has been the leadership of Teresa Blaxland that
has steered this ship for some considerable time. There are two principle dimensions to
its work. Firstly the maintenance and improvement in service of our PiPs throughout the
Town and surrounds. We have 6 machines in total and they are spread out as follows:-
The COOP, the Youth Centre, The Library, The Crown Pub, the Half Moon Pub and the
Wessons Café in Horam. Deliberately diverse locations to be as accessible as possible
to the Public we serve. We still have ambition to find a location in Broad Oak. During the
year these machines have been simplified and some of the supplementary attachments
have been removed to improve the reliability and smooth running of these complicated
computers. In addition we have been piloting a WI-FI service at one of these instillations
and this is now working but again needs a longer trial period before we can offer the
service as we would like to do, at all of our stations. One of the challenges we face is the
protection against inappropriate sites on any of these public services. This calls for
extraordinary programming which takes time and money but the caution is considered
by us, to be the only responsible course of action. I would like here to highlight the
extraordinary support we have had from Stefan Danielczyk and the County Council. So
many technical challenges that he has attended to with calm and professional
assurance and in so many cases not costed the bills to the Partnership.

The second dimension is of course the Heathfield .net web-site. This has undertaken a
monumental upgrade and a revolutionary step forward in sophistication over the last
year. The lay-out and design have changed dramatically, features appear within much
more accessible buttons and the whole operation is far more user friendly. As a
communication tool for the community as a whole it is now magnificent and of course
still improving, evolving and meeting the expressed needs of the general public.
During this year the brand new business and shopping site has been launched which
has been one of the major objectives right from the outset. The sophistication of the
search engine is truly remarkable and usually the jealously guarded asset of only the
richest of global companies. It has taken a lot of work from Sue Roach and most
certainly Joanne Aldous but it has been a labour of love from Nick Potter of 21st
Century. His generous contribution to the programming of this site and its complete
overhaul and new presentation has been herculean and the business site, the absolute

We made the re-launch coincide with Le Marche and took a stand at the show. I would
pay a tribute to the management team behind Le Marche, a magnificent effort especially
Mike Woodhouse. We should also remember Gill Temple and the Twinning Association
for their remarkable support and accommodation programme. The idea for us using this
occasion being that the rural hinterland of Heathfield come to Le Marche in large
numbers and this publicity of their Market Town and a site that broadcasts all about its
assets, services and businesses would be of mutual value. We also ran a game to
guess the number of hits the site got in August (not yet known at that time) as we did not
get the figures until the next week and a second bid for September. All bids were free
and for fun but £50 prizes for the winners of both competitions.

We now have detailed monitoring statistics on visitors, where they came from and the
pages they visited and for what length of time. This is useful as we were earlier in the
year able to identify the number of hits achieved by Scatts which was hugely impressive.
I was very pleased to reach agreement with the Courier Group and their Managing
Director, Richard Karn that we could publish selected Courier photographs on of Heathfield events provided we credited the source. We are delighted to
do that as it should add to the immediacy and impact of our news page.
We launched an “access to advice and guidance” section at the heart of the credit
crunch impact. This provides a single site access to all known services for private
citizens, Families and also businesses to turn to in moments of need. We included
advice regarding the symptoms of liquidation and thank Nick Redman, Financial Director
of Rix & Kay for his professional expertise. This is to help prioritize the most important
factors when businesses are under pressure. I would commend the WDC Housing
department for their immediate understanding and appreciation of what we were doing
and why and their 1st class response and creative thinking.

The History site is now up and running and is a brilliantly researched concentration of all
known history of the area taking us back to Roman and Medieval times. A scholarly
piece of work by Joanne.

The Youth site is now dynamic with a mega gallery of photographs, agony aunt and
recipe features and about to go into a new phase of live bands performing.
The next two sites to get an injection of energy will be the education site with all schools
introducing their profiles and the tourism site where we hope to work with WDC and we
have a meeting coming up with their representative consultant. stickers,
pole tags and window posters will be used during the year to market this now excellent
service. We have car stickers for everyone who wants one this evening. We are also
clearly going to be working closely with Action in Rural Sussex regarding promotion of
Heathfield Schemes and the web-site will be prominent amongst them. I should say a
thank you to Barbara Beaton of AIRS who spent a shift with us on the stand at Le
Marche and John Tolley who stood steadfastly by to the end of the day. Joanne had of
course set it up in seemingly the early hours and ensured it was stacked with
information on a very good looking display. She had wonderful help from her Mother and
they were both dressed in orchestrated outfits as if Glamorous Stewardesses from the
finest of international Airlines. Another vote of thanks to Paul Clark a member of the
Inward Investment Committee and the owner of the Pet Shop who gave us access to his
shop for water and water closets during what turned out to be a very hot day.

Mention of Paul Clark can take us into the work of the Inward Investment Committee.
This committee continues to work tirelessly to promote the business interests of all
enterprises within the Parish Boundaries of Heathfield & Waldron. The Business web-
site is in close collaboration between the IT and II committees. In this tough economic
climate we went out of our way to provide additional assistance to companies wanting
web-links to their own business site. One of the difficulties faced by all small and
medium sized enterprises is that marketing either comes low on their list of priorities or
does not figure at all.

Trying to move a Town of various organizations into a momentum of promotion has
been an interesting challenge. A major triumph has been the initiative set for this
October and lead by the Chamber of Commerce and particularly Trevor Goldsmith and
that is a substantial campaign on Sovereign Radio. I am delighted to say that the
Chamber have backed this with all their might but most impressively 20 local businesses
are pulling their weight and that has not been achieved before. I am also pleased that
the Partnership and Parish Council are also making a contribution and to steal a line
from another organization recently:- the imagery presented will be of Heathfield “all in
this together.” Each business gets 60 x 15 second ads in the month and in turn they will
frame a corporate 30 second advertisement extolling the virtues of shopping in
Heathfield and using By the end of the month, anybody who listens to
that station should be on our wavelength!

The new edition of the Business and Shoppers Guide brochure is currently being put
together and will be launched in the Christmas edition of the Heathfield First. The
Chamber have vowed to keep this going and the Partnership is looking to find ways and
means to sustain it. One triumphant piece of news is the announcement by the Leader
of the District Council that whatever the strain on finances, the District Council face in
the immediate future, car parking charges will simply not be an option. That was
witnessed by Trevor Goldsmith and Graeme Hird and myself as we were attending a
recent meeting with Wealden Chambers of Commerce regarding the viability of our
Market Towns. It was refreshing and shows great credit to Cllr Pam Doodes who clearly
understands the economy of the Market Towns and their importance in the District.

Much of this year we have as a committee, spent a great deal of time working in
conjunction with WDC regarding the new Local Development Framework. This will set
the plan for development in the District up to and surely beyond 2026. Our interests
centre as you would expect within the Heathfield area and we have maintained dialogue
with Nigel Eveleigh the strategic development Manager in person and with
correspondence over the last year. We have contributed a full response to the
consultation on the Core strategy, the spatial development and sustainability appraisal.
We will be maintaining that dialogue over this coming year. In an important
representation it is key to note that the Chairman of the Chamber of Trade and the
Chairman of the Parish Council are both members of this Committee. With regard to the
LDF process I would commend WDC for the exhibition made to the Public in the Youth
Centre and the efforts of the Parish Council to put on a presentation in the Community
Centre and to Councillor Dick Angel for making that presentation. All have constructively
set out to provide as much guidance and information as possible. Now comes the
difficult bit, especially with the proposed housing deployments and then the conflicts of
interests will fly.

Talking of conflict takes me neatly to the Police Local Action Team. This is an
extraordinary committee which tries hard to embrace every part of our community. The
Police web-site is there to ensure a better communication with the Public they serve and
a way of introducing the team which has evolved over the last 8 years from nobody in
Heathfield at all to a Police Sergeant, Ruth Hammerton, a Police Officer, Cathy Codling
and no less than 6 PCSOs. The Station is fully operational and is open to the Public on
Saturdays. We have come a long way in a short space of time and this Committee’s
ability to influence the strategic deployment of its Officers is invaluable. One major
project over the last year was the question of CCTV and what package to employ and
who might fund it. That is now much closer to resolution. Applications for funding are
going forward to the Safer Wealden Partnership and the Parish Council this autumn.

18 months ago we thought we had over-come some of the difficulties caused by some
hooligans in our community. 8 anti-social orders sorted out the gang leaders and the
hangers on found more positive things to do. Sadly each generation wants to stretch the
boundaries and we currently have another gang to deal with. This can be a wretched
and wholly unnecessary experience to ordinary citizens and businesses as well, tired of
debris surrounding or damage to, their premises. CCTV if used wisely can provide an
eye when the Officers themselves are not in sight. For the first time the outstanding
Street Pastors scheme ran into conflict and that simply must not happen for the safety of
those who are trying their up most to bring communication to those who feel most
disenfranchised. The Parish Council who have a major presence on this committee, not
least the Chairman, Cllr Pat Clarke, have also taken the lead regarding a “No cold
calling zone” and all of us will have received a hand delivered briefing from the Parish
Council on this subject very recently. That is much appreciated by the Committee and I
will presume will be supported especially by the most vulnerable to the scams brigade,
who can make lives a misery with one callous call. This is hoped to be introduced later
this year.

Police Sergeant Ruth Hammerton of her own initiative had a meeting recently with the
good guys, i.e. the Youth Centre Youth Council. These inspirational young People are
now seeking to use their influence to move the majority away from the few trouble
makers. The Youth Web-site will be prominent in their ammunition. It is dangerous to
presume a high number of delinquents as yet again Heathfield Community College
recorded its highest ever GCSE and A Level results and it is a privilege to meet so many
of these fine young People.

Talking of Youth introduces one of the great successes of the year. I mentioned in the
introduction how Joanne ran a bus company and from October last year she most
certainly has. In conjunction with Beata Drury the outstanding Manager of the Youth
centre an initiator of the multitude of worthwhile projects for young People to enjoy, the
Youth Express was launched and both have run it ever since. We secured funding for
the first 6 months from the County Council Children’s Services Department and
stretched that to the end of the School year, in reality a pilot to see if it would work. The
project has run better than ever anticipated and the take up has been immense and by
doing so raising the number of young People gaining access to the Youth centre and the
many expeditions now facilitated beyond its initial boundaries. It has also helped the
extended School programme, Skool + where year 6 Pupils from 11 primary feeder
Schools can get in to the exciting programmes laid on by the College. One of the most
sensitive times in all young People’s lives is the transition from Primary School to
Secondary School at the age of 11. By ensuring they spend a considerable amount of
time in their new environment to be, with exciting activities to enjoy, hopefully they will
now look forward to the experience at the once daunting College at the beginning of the
next School Year. The added value of this programme has proven its worth and so
much so that we have just secured a further £10,000 to ensure that this completes the
next education year. Only this time, this has come from the department of Transport &
Environment, recognition that we have joined the big boys and this is seen as being
worthy of being sustained.

There are an immense number of People that are deserving of our thanks. Firstly the
Parish Council and Councillor John Kerby who has supported this scheme from the
early days. There is a monumental amount of administration and the Parish Council
have contributed £1000 in the first year to ensure the scheme can work. We hope that
this may be possible again in the forthcoming year. Geoff Smith at Age Concern, Jenny
Woodhouse at Huffle Nursery and Loraine Alford at the Community College have each
made substantial contributions with drivers and vehicle supplies. However they would all
acknowledge the massive contribution made by another Partner, the Kings Church,
Andy Delves an Elder and Brian Arnott, a Driver. Not only has Brian undertaken various
tests for licenses, he has undergone several extra CRB checks for this unusual new
role. His flexible “can do” attitude has been nothing short of magnificent.

The Community Group scheme which was launched in January of this year has been
slower to take off. I am now pleased to say that the County Council are contributing a
further £5000 to enable this service to be that much more attractive and to enhance the
lives of those without private transport. We will work in close collaboration with Age
Concern to ensure that this is harmonious.

One further commendation goes to the Parish Council who took the lead when the
Partnership research survey into “transport need” undertaken by AIRS indicated the
desperate need for information on what was available and when. Their guide, “Getting
out and about in Heathfield” the new edition only just out, arose from that and their
publication is now also available on and the Partnership notice boards
throughout the Town.

That leads me to talk about the street scene of Heathfield and our longest standing
project, that of the improved appearance of the Town. The enhanced High Street and
Station Road have also since included the Hailsham Road precinct. 15 years on we now
approach our final phase. On Friday there will be a High Street Committee meeting with
all Officers involved and Partners in this project to iron out the detailed schedule for the
execution of the Parade and Banks stretch of the High Street. The Contractors will also
be there to ensure absolute communication. This was initially scheduled to be executed
from the beginning of this financial year but got delayed to July. This then would have
closely followed the completion of the St Barts junction works which probably would
have strained everybody’s patience. That then proposed moving it into the autumn
where the Traders quite reasonably complained about the impact on the most important
season for their business. Hence we now start on January 4th and have to be completed
by the end of the financial year on April 5th. That does help concentrate the mind as to
lose the SEEDA money will scupper everything. The scheme incorporates safer
passages for all users of the pavements especially providing exemplary disabled access
to all premises. The introduction of trees and the designed pastel coloured paving,
subsequently hanging baskets and street furniture will add to an appearance that will
complete our transition from the very tired and desolate street scene of 1994/5 to the
sharp and smart scene of today. Add to that the new mini roundabout at the top of
station road and the new sophisticated crossing and all will look natural and as if it had
all happened at once when we reach this meeting next year. Since we did not have a
clue how we were to find the funding for the first phase on the south side of the High
Street when we started, let alone the million or so pounds raised later, it has been a long
and interesting journey. I would pay tribute to a number of generations of Officers from
the County Council who have supported us with their expertise but throughout it has
been lead by Rosemary Mays-Smith and she has been the driving force of this ambition
to show Heathfield in a better light. Sadly as I announced earlier she cannot be here
today but she has ambition on a Party for all those, still surviving, who have helped
along the way. Look out for April of next year!

Again still with another of Rosemary’s babies, the Swimming Pool project. There has
been some success for the overall strategy of enhanced leisure facilities at the chosen
site at Heathfield Community College. The scheme incorporates three phases, the
indoor swimming pool only being one component part. In addition there is the dry fitness
centre, the appropriate changing rooms for both and finally the Multi-Use Games Area.
Ironically it has been the last phase first as the money required for this scheme was
secured well in advance of the other units. I am delighted to say that after a
considerable struggle over the planning permission that this was granted and the
building should be completed at the end of next month. The huge ambition for the
swimming pool and fitness centre is taking a long time to realize. What may be helping
is that WDC are currently embarking on a comprehensive survey of their leisure
provisions and indeed where they are lacking and we expect that to show a greater light
on the need in Heathfield. The planning application will cost approximately £30,000 to
submit with several survey reports to be included on soil, environment and transport for
example. What has proven frustrating is that almost no grant body we can find is
prepared to help with the question of planning; it is not sexy enough whereas most will
consider the appeal for capital build. We simply have to ascertain whether the planning
is approved before we bid for capital from the various sources we have identified.
Completing the High Street should enable us to concentrate more energy into the
swimming pool programme and that not least for Rosemary herself. With the LIDO
closed at the School and so may Primary School pools now out of operation we now
have a serious problem providing reasonable access to such an invaluable resource all
year round for people of all ages and capabilities.

I said last year that this was the smoothest of all our operations and along with the High
Street, one of our longest standing. As usual with all projects, they are dependant on the
quality of leadership and here we are blessed with the very quiet spoken Colin Williams.
That image belies a very determined man in achieving his objectives and hence the
absolute success of this operation. I believe that Saturday October 18 th will see a
magnificent 30 or more stalls on parade and this will reveal the health of this market.
Sadly, not the health of Colin who has endured a very tough year and is only now
springing back to his old self and dynamic energy. We owe him a great deal of gratitude
as he has gone on supplying direction from afar when not well enough to attend. To Sue
his wife who is an essential part of the team especially in assisting the Traders on
Market day, to Joanne who stepped in on one occasion and to David and Erica Turton
who are a driving force as Traders, our heartfelt thanks. The policy of the committee was
to withdraw from the Heathfield Show this year and this has reduced a good deal of
management time for Colin. Long term I am sure Colin would welcome some full time
assistance with this invaluable project which is a big draw factor for Heathfield.
Volunteers will be very much welcomed.

During the year, recognition should be made of Rotary’s excellent Carnival festival in
July. This again was magnificent and showed the good humour and creativity of the
residents and associations that are alive and kicking in Heathfield. This was again
outstanding and much to the credit of many Rotarians notably Graeme Hird, Jack
Hampton and Trevor Goldsmith.

On Saturday November the 28th we will once again launch the Christmas Festival. This
is a splendid amalgamation between the Chamber of Trade and the Partnership in trying
to highlight the Christmas shopping season in Heathfield. So much of the detailed
preparation has been undertaken once more by Trevor Goldsmith. Again the Parish
Council contributes a great deal with some of the inevitable costings for this now
traditional occasion. The Christmas lights will be set to go live at 4.30pm, no doubt
under the military command of master of ceremonies, Jack Hampton. Please come and
join us on that day.

Last May, Ray Bassingthwaighte stood down after three years as Parish Council
Chairman. I was able at the time of the Parish Council meeting to show my appreciation
for the grace and dignity with which he carried out this important role. The spirit of
cooperation that he showed in the working with Partners for the benefit of Heathfield
was exemplary. He has been followed by Cllr Peter Newnham who has worked closely
with the Partnership since he joined the Parish Council in 1997. We will look forward to
continue working in harmony.

With that in mind I would record my thanks to all the Partners that we have worked so
successfully with throughout this year. Our closest colleagues, the Parish Council,
Chamber and Rotary. The County Council and Wealden District Council even the South
of England Economic Development Agency. The Community College behind us on the
Swimming Pool agenda and leaders on the MUGA and supporters of the Transport
project. Alan Powell has also hosted all the Board meetings at the College with great
generosity. Beata Drury and the Youth Centre Youth Council, a great credit to the Town,
have been instrumental in several projects. Sgt Ruth Hammerton and her Police team,
the Street Pastors, Churches together in Heathfield have all lead to greater community
cohesion. The Kings Church have hosted all the Transport meetings and the Executive
Partnership meetings that happen every other month. We need to build up our

attendance at these meetings now Chaired by Director, Colin Williams, as they give all
Associates involvement and information on all ongoing projects.

Next year sees the completion of the High Street, hopefully the raising of prosperity and
prospects for all Heathfield Businesses. We look forward to the attraction of more inward
investment for Heathfield, for the take-up of all vacant shops and the increased
community security of good Policing. We also look forward to working with WDC towards
a strategic plan for Heathfield that will help this Market Town sustain its purpose in this
ever evolving modern world and continue its regeneration. Our biggest challenge
perhaps is the final submission of the planning application for the Swimming Pool and
Fitness centre. All progress will be found on as it evolves and reflects the
community it serves.

One thing all will know is the constraints that are going to be found in all public funding
throughout this coming year and no doubt beyond over the foreseeable future. That is a
tough environment for any Public Body to face. I would pay tribute to the discipline of our
financial affairs and the leadership given by Tim Hough in that respect.
The Heathfield Partnership is a vibrant operation driven by Volunteers with a proven
track record of delivering its objectives. By working well with Partners in all of its fields of
interest, it has found the professional solutions and the necessary resources to realize
its ambitions. Long may that continue to happen.

Cllr Rupert Simmons


Shared By: