Full Audio Recording: West Sussex Council vs the local residents of the Chanctonury Road area of Burgess Hill
2nd September 2012 By Peter Chapman
On Thursday 30th August, residents living in the Chanctonbury Road area of Burgess Hill finally got an evening with the local West Sussex County Council Councllors and Officers.
The meeting - held in the new Woodlands Meed School - was
dedicated to the traffic and parking issues along the road, the problems that the new Woodlands Meed school will create, and to find out what plans and measures WSCC have put in place to make things better for the residents.
Captured on tape!
Knowing the importance of the meeting and how 'minutes' can be very vague, Burgess Hill Uncovered took their highly expensive audio recorder along and captured the entire meeting to ensure that all the claims by the councillors and officers were recorded. Why not have a listen....
Public Meeting at Woodslands Meed School - Full Audio Recording
Length - 1hr 50 minutes Size - 50mb Direct Download (right click the link and 'save as')
The Burgess Hill Uncovered compiled 'Minutes' from the meeting
00:00 Cllr Heather Ross welcomes us and introduces the panel of councillors and council officers.
01:34 Sue Knight opens the meeting by saying she knows the residents have "had a bit of a rough time" over the past 18 months - 2 years.
thanks the council officers for all their hard work. Nothing but praise with the way the officers have tried to deal with people's problems
02:38 SK claims that all her pledges to the people have been fulfilled with regards to making the consequences of the planning permission as easy as possible on the local residents. The room certainly doesn't think so!
SK and residents are at odds as to whether penalty fines are enforcable for people parking on the grass verges.
05:45 SK - "We cannot solve all the problems" "What we need is at least three months to bed in what has actually happened" Some sort of a joke?
06:15 Local Resident - "The School was a done deal from the beginning and NOW you are thinking about access problems" Classic.
07:45 SK - "I'm not just here to represent you"
08:44 A local resident gets into a heated exhange with the panel, angry that the decision was made by people that don't even live in the area. He wanted to know why the school was built in a busy residential area when there is land by the Triangle leisure centre, earmarked for community use. The panel try to shut him up as they don't want to have to answer him.
Just listen to this part of the recording. This gentleman is spot on with what he said. 100%!
11:45 Anne Jones (acting as a town councillor) reports that she almost had a head-on collision on Wednesday due to poor visability on Chanctonbury road. The audience agree via a round of applause. Anne suggests a one-way system.
14:09 SK - The reasons given by residents for why the school should not have been built on this site were not reasons that the planning officers could accept. "There were no planning reasons, absolutely none, why it could not happen." Really? Hmmmmm.
Sue Knight then rambles on and totally fluffed her lines. What she was trying to say is that WSCC will not buy land to build a school when they alredy own land with space for additional educational establishments. "....and can I just say to you, It's not going to get better, unfortunately it's going to get worse." Is that a hint towards the rumoured Gattons/Southway merger?
15:45 SK informs the residents that as from next week, the parking restrictions come into effect with both the district council and the police having the powers to issue parking fines for those illegally parked. Residents complain about the lines being put down early on a Sunday morning with no notification. Sue Knight claims residents were told and didn't think contractors worked on Sundays. Residents point out the contractors would have got paid double-time. Funded by the tax payers money. Nice work if you can get it.
17:35 A LR asks how the 8:55 bus will get through the road with all the traffic. SK says the new yellow lines are there to solve the issue. We'll see if that's really the case!
The same LR asks... "If the people on your committee were living at that cul-de-sac where this (the school) is built right behind, would they like to live there, with the school here?"
Cllr Heather Ross replies "That's so hypothetical" Is it? A poor reply by Heather.
22:45 SK claims the police will be visiting the road more often from next week and will be clamping down on those parking dangerously. Isn't that down to district council parking enforcement?
25:00 Tim from Highways --- Looking to put in 18 inch high verge markers, if lorries run over them, then they'll plant some trees instead.
A LR points out that if verge markers are put in, then where can vehicles pull up when there is a big traffic squeeze with a bus and a car both trying to get past a parked car on either side of the road.
Tim keeps asking the people to come up with solutions. He's the expert, why do the people need to do his job?!
29:30 A LR raises the issue of the speed of the vehicles travelling along Chanctonbury Road.
30:25 Tim the Highways man "You guys know who these problem people are, people that are speeding"!!! What are you trying to say Tim?
31:10 A local resident suggests the return of speed counters, this was noted by the panel.
The same LR enquired as to the use of local roads by learner drivers. SK says that the DSA Test Centre have been asked to avoid roads by all schools during the start and end of the school day when the traffic is at its heaviest. However, they cannot stop driving instructors using Chanctonbury Road as it's a public highway.
The third point by this particular LR is to ask weather Queens Cresent Car Park can be opened up fully and perhaps for local employers and MSDC to come up with a deal so that workers use the car park and not to park in the residential roads. Cllr Heather Ross asked Cllr Anne Jones to take this suggestion back to MSDC. Cllr Jones pledged to do so, and added that a season ticket is 'very cheap'
1.This suggestion won't get adopted 2. What is Anne Jones' definition of cheap?
38:35 A local resident suggests that narrower buses are used and thus they would pass through Chanctonbury road much easier. The local resident has observed that the buses only seem to carry a few people at a time. A nice idea, does the bus company have any small buses in its fleet?
The LR also says that he finds it "bloody offensive" that Tim the Highways man is blaming local residents for the speeding.
The LR says the people that he's seen speeding down his road are people that he's never seen before. This local resident was spot on to say this!
Another LR added "There is going to be a fatality down here, and nothing will get done until somebody dies."
41:45 Tim the Highways man states that speed checks are done with the police and when they pull drivers over and ask for their details, the majority of drivers live...... within a three mile radius! That's a big difference from making out it's people living in the Chanctonbury road area!
46:25 Penny, some WSCC schools person starts talking and seems obsessed with mentioning 'Operation Crackdown' as much as possible.
Penny said that if residents see anti-social driving behaviour, i.e speeding, parking, driving while using a mobile phone, then report it to the police.
50:40 A local resident calls for a major design rethink in Chantonbury Road and for the council to commit money to making it happen. This chap gave a nice little 'speech'. Well done to him.
53:50 A local resident complains about potholes in the cul-de-sac, pointing out that the road hasn't been properly resurfaced for around 25 years!
Sue Knight responds by saying "In all probability, it won't be touched for another 20-25 years"
SK also added that "Actually, £1000's of pounds has been spent on this road"
58:00 Multiple arguments kick off against Sue Knight regarding the lack of money spent in the area. SK said that WSCC didn't deem it necessary to make improvements to the road as part of the planning permission. There were disagreements about the time scale of the building's construction, why Newick House was being condemned for safety reasons, only for the building to later to be found to be fit for rennovation. A LR stated that he felt the council had lied about the state of the Newick House building as a way to justify building the new school.
Note for Sue Knight - If the local residents say government money is actually taxpayers money, do not constantly disagree with them, all this achieves is to make the people in the room even more against you.
01:04:05 A local resident talks about the flaws in the yellow lines installed by WSCC. He's another person to warn that there will be a fatality on the road sooner than later. A very good point is made about why aren't there double yellow lines all the way down the hill to stop people parking? The gentleman calls for rumble strips to be installed to stop cars speeding. Sue Knight claims there have been no accidents down the road and that the council have no practical plans in place to stop the speeding. Other residents speak up to say that there have been accidents already.
The local resident then refers back to the adjudicators meeting at newick house where WSCC had said that all the traffic problems had been sorted ahead of the school being built! hmmm, really....
Another resident joins in and says that the traffic survey was carried out during half term!
You couldn't even make this stuff up! It shows WSCC to have been less then truthful and seemingly underhand *shock*
01:07:05 A local resident mentions Burgess Hill Uncovered and the video we shot highlighting the issues of navigating the road during school pick-up time. If you've not seen the video, here it is...
01:07:25 Penny - the WSCC officer, talks about the joint travel plan for the three schools. Penny says Burgess Hill is 'different' and if we were Horsham, the whole road would be be a controlled parking zone. But Penny, the residents of Burgess Hill weren't stupid enough to vote yes to the CPZ's and get ripped off by WSCC!
Penny claims that you cannot write a plan for something that isn't yet in operation. Hmmm, didn't the city of London have a travel plan in place for the Olympics before the games started?
Penny says that parents are copying the bad parking habbits of local residents. Ouch!
Each school will have a 'near miss' book for parents to report any incidents that will then get passed onto WSCC, or you can call.....Operation Crackdown!
01:13:10 From September, the school drop-off for London Meed will be monitored.
WSCC are seeking parent volunteers to wear high-visability jackets and to escort pupils from their cars to the school building to avoid a train of vehicles blocking the road. Hmmm, good luck in getting the youngest children having a strop to vacate their cars on arrival!
01:15:20 Local residents ask if the scheme for parents to use Queens Cresent car park still exists. Penny says that is does, but the problem is persuading the parents that it is of walkable distance to the school.
Penny will be going into the school to help make a newsletter about considerate behaviour when travelling to school. It will be written by the children, some posters will be created by the children too.
A local resident raises the issue of 'walking buses', Penny says there has been a lack of interest from parents to do it.
01:23:05 There will be a footpath at the back of Woodlands Meed running through to Oakmeeds that will be open at the start and the end of the school day for pupils to use, This was poorly explained and will probably be much more simple in its operation than what Penny made out.
01:25:35 Penny gives her opinion on some of the suggestions made on how to slow down the traffic on Chanctonbury Road.
01:31:05 A local resident suggests that a news item be published to make parents more aware of the need for Walking Buses.
01:38:15 Penny is suggesting the afternoon buses get rerouted. Easy for her to propose that, she doesn't live here!
01:40:25 Penny "We do take your problems seriously, we desperately need you to give us three months" ....because we didn't bother to do much forward planning
01:41:15 Sue Knight's husband Graham conveniently gets to make some nice points at the end.
How do you spell plant?
01:49:17 Cllr Heather Ross "I think lots of things have been put in place and let's hope they will work'
Erm? The panel spent all night saying 'give us three months' and 'WSCC won't do anything in a hurry'
(If you have appreciated the huge effort that went into writing these 'minutes' then you are welcome to send cake in the post!)
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Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
Did you attend the meeting? What did you think? Were you surprised at the lack of forward planning? Is it right that the council should be given three whole months to access the impact of the new school? What happens if it's a disaster from day one? Do you think Sue Knight will still be your district councillor in 2013?