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Local Politics in Winchelsea

Local government

Community consultation

Town Meeting --- an annual meeting, held in late April or early May, that is open to all residents of the electoral ward of Winchelsea. Ward councillors report on developments in Winchelsea and the parish council over the previous year, and alert residents to emerging issues. Residents can discuss informally any issue of concern and ask councillors to seek action. It is also an opportunity for proposals for new community initiatives to be broached in order to gauge support, and for outside bodies to consult or inform the community. A recent innovation is the Community Exhibition before and after the meeting, at which local clubs and societies can mount displays about their activities and recruit new members. In 2007, hustings were organised for candidates for the Parish and District Council elections.

Town Plan --- a community consultation exercise on all major issues affecting Winchelsea that will result in an agreed Local Action Plan. A consultation has already been held on traffic and transport issues (probably, the hottest topic in Winchelsea apart from planning). Others will follow.

Local issues and campaigns

Separate parish council for Winchelsea --- Winchelsea is one of four wards of Icklesham Parish. The wards are physically separate and each is home to a distinct community, with a distinct set of problems. The size and diversity of the existing parish makes it almost impossible for the parish council to focus on issues of importance to individual wards, with the result that most issues are tackled by ward-based residents' associations or special action groups, and not by the parish council. A campaign launched in 2000, and supported by two-thirds of residents, has sought to establish a Parish of Winchelsea and restore local government independence after some 120 years.

Traffic --- this is the hottest issue in Winchelsea, in particular, the excessive speed of vehicles rat-running through the village to avoid possible delays on the A259 at Ferry Hill. To tackle this problem, residents have established Winchelsea Speed Watch, which participates in the Sussex Police's Community Speed Watch scheme. To see some of our problems first hand, go to Flickr.

Traffic signs --- like many villages, Winchelsea has been blighted by the proliferation of largely unnecessary traffic signs and other urban street furniture. At its peak, there were over 230 signs in and around Winchelsea (compared to less than 290 houses). A campaign was launched in 1999 to reduce the clutter and has been quite successful, but campaigners continue to have to monitor the situation, as new signs can sprout like weeds.

Verges and pavements --- grass verges and red brick pavements are an attractive feature of Winchelsea. Unfortunately, both are being damaged by inconsiderate parking of vehicles. One particular problem is the verges near the local school, which are being damaged by parents dropping and collecting children. Others are being destroyed by residents reluctant to park their cars out of sight of their houses. The red brick pavements are being crushed, mainly by delivery lorries. Some successes have been achieved. After lobbying, the County Council repaved German Street and Hiham Gardens this year. We have surveyed the High Street and are lobbying for repairs here as well. To see some of our problems first hand, go to Flickr.

Mobile phone masts --- although Winchelsea has some protection by virtue of its status as part of the High Weald AONB and a Conservation Area, Rother District Council's Planning Committee has been rather spineless about opposing the erection of mobile phone masts in sensitive areas. Moreover, the perceived impartiality of the District Council was compromised in January 2006 by the publication of press releases from Orange in the Council's own monthly Bulletin. Assisted by an uncritical Planning Committee and employing the deceitful tactics characteristic of mobile phone companies, T-Mobile managed to sneak a mast into Winchelsea some years ago. Since then, residents have been more vigilant. So far, we have managed to beat off attempts to instal additional masts by Orange and O2. However, we remain on watch for new threats.

Trees --- Winchelsea is losing trees at a rate of knots and there is virtually no replanting. Although the village's status as a Conservation Area should provide additional protection to trees and impose replanting obligations, the local planning authority, Rother District Council, is notoriously timid in its duty. Some concerned residents are trying to stop the needless decimation of the treescape and encourage replanting.

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You can check out the boundaries of the Parish, District, County, Westminster constituencies and European regions on www.electoral-maps.com.


Parish Council election results

On 5 May 2011, the following candidates stood for election to Icklesham Parish Council for the ward of Winchelsea and received the following votes:

Dr Ben Chishick 145 elected
Richard Comotto 137 elected
Mike Terry 95 
Peter Turner 131  
Stephen Turner 152 elected

The turnout was 68.34% (compared with 65.75%).