COUNCIL SETS OUT POSITION ON DRILLING SITE
In May 2012 Billingshurst Parish Council was made aware of a planning application relating to the Broadford Bridge drilling site. Initially, the Council chose not to comment, as the site was not in fact located in the parish of Billingshurst, but in West Chiltington. However, the Council acknowledged that the site was accessed by roads which served the parish and that Adversane, which is in the parish of Billingshurst, was close by.
Although the Council did not raise an objection to the planning application, it did raise concerns relating to road safety and highway matters and potential contamination of local freshwater aquifers. The Council also encouraged the then applicant, Celtique Energy to hold a public meeting on the subject, so that local residents could be made aware of the plans for the site, and raise any concerns they may have; this meeting took place in June 2012.
Currently, Billingshurst Parish Council acknowledges that all permits and permissions from West Sussex County Council and the Environment Agency relating to the site are in place. Billingshurst Parish Council continues to wish to have an open dialogue with UKOG in order that it can be kept updated with matters relating to the site. Billingshurst Parish Council will also continue to encourage that all information relating to the site such as planning applications, documents and correspondence and press releases from UKOG, are in the public domain.
Although acknowledging the right to peaceful protest, Billingshurst Parish Council is concerned about the negative impact that protests relating to the site can have on the local road network and the inconvenience that can be caused to people entering or leaving the parish for leisure, school or work purposes. The Council is also concerned about the extra strain placed on other rural roads in the area when the B2133 is closed. The Council is also concerned about the extra strain placed on already over-stretched police resources, and the associated costs.
Billingshurst Parish Council currently retains a neutral position regarding oil and gas exploration and extraction in the parish of Billingshurst, and any methods used. The Council will of course possibly reconsider its position in the light of any future applications.
COUNCIL SLAMS PARKING HIKE
The changes in parking charges in Horsham District Councils (HDC) car parks in Billingshurst have been met with concern by many people. Billingshurst Parish Council raised a number of concerns about these changes, and the effect they could have on local businesses. The Parish Council lobbied HDC to retain the current parking disc system but to make gradual increases annually over a period of time. The Parish Council was keen to point out to HDC that their plans to increase charges contradicted the Supplementary Planning Document for the High Street and Jengers Mead area, which HDC were involved in setting up. The SPD has a central theme of seeking to attract people to the village centre, whereas increasing parking charges could have the opposite effect. The Billingshurst Councillors also raised concerns that card-only ticket machines, online voucher renewal and paying by mobile phone could discriminate against some user groups. There were also concerns that illegal and dangerous parking elsewhere in the village, which seem rarely policed already, would worsen after the changes are introduced.
When HDC first approached the Parish Council in September 2016, they raised the option of the Parish Council leasing the car parks, the Parish Council would then take on future costs and responsibilities of them. The Parish Council was promised figures outlining the likely costs of such an agreement in order to fully consider this option; sadly these figures have never been forthcoming. The Parish Council also felt that while managing their car parks, HDC has maintenance and legal departments etc. and has Parking Wardens to police them; Parish Councils do not have such facilities. The Billingshurst Councillors were also very concerned that if the Parish Council leased the car parks from HDC, it would involve a high increase in the parish precept; the exact degree of this increase would be unknown, given that the running costs for the car parks had not been provided.
In September 2016, the Parish Council was also told that there would be consultation with the local community and other interested groups such as the Billingshurst Chamber of Commerce. Billingshurst Parish Council feels that consultation on this important subject has been lacklustre to say the least. The Parish Council is in the process of getting evidence together for its Neighbourhood Plan. When asking the business community "what improvements in infrastructure would assist your business?" so far the greatest response relates to parking.
It is disappointing that HDC have forged ahead with the increases and changes in parking charges in Billingshurst without proper consultation and seemingly ignoring the concerns raised by Billingshurst Parish Council and local businesses and residents.
Billingshurst Parish Council Chairman
HIGH STREET PLANTER SPONSORSHIP
AN EXCITING NEW INITIATIVE
FOR 2017 !!!
YOUR NAME IN FLOWERS
Billingshurst could be a
prettier and more colourful place this summer, thanks to a new initiative by
the Parish Council.
The Council is offering local
businesses the opportunity to sponsor planters lining the High Street.
Attractive signage either
side will enable firms to promote their names to a wide audience at the same
time as showing their support for the community.
Funds from the scheme will be
used to provide more attractive planting schemes in the troughs, which help bring
colour to the main thoroughfare throughout the spring and summer.
The Council’s Property
Committee backed the suggestion enthusiastically at a recent meeting.
Clerk Greg Burt said “This is
a great way for the Council to work with local businesses to make the village
centre even more attractive for residents and visitors alike.”
For details on availability
and sponsorship rates, please contact Liz Berry on 01403 782555 or