Group 2 Feedback


Group 2 Feedback

This is what Group 2 discussed.

Part 1:  Community

The Council need extra money.  Revenue coming in is falling and services need to produce to stay constant or deal with increasing demand.  You need better use of resources.  In the past RDC's policy has been to allow the Police to enforce parking restrictions.  But it is not in the Police's best interest to do so and they don't do as much as they could.  Civil parking enforcement would manage traffic flow, assist pedestrians to walk in safety and raise income for Rother.

The mechanism is there.  ESCC and RDC and Rye Partnership have looked at it.  However, in Rye, local people believe the town would die, businesses would suffer.  People should discuss this issue.  It can only be enforced by traffic wardens and wardens can only be paid for if on-street car parking is charged.  Also, the legislation requires that any revenue made must be spent in that community.

In Hastings it works.  Towns would not die, they would be a more pleasant place to go.  More accessible.

Resilience: I was pleased to see the word in the Corporate Plan.  It is a good word to use for RDC and for local communities.  Helping them be more self-sufficient and provide for themselves.  We have to address problems for the elderly, isolation.  Transport.  One asset is the village hall.  They are the crucial place to develop and nurture these venues.  Help and support volunteers to keep these fit for purpose and open.  HRS provides an advice service to village halls that is paid for through their subscriptions for funding.  They still need advice and support.  Community grants should be focused on village halls with both capital and advice and support.

I have found that for village halls revenue is the problem, never capital.  Getting someone in place, employing somebody to make sure the venue runs.  All the parishes in my patch manage their village halls.  Some are thriving and others are not part of the community.  When one thrives it can draw people from neighbouring communities.  For example, Pett's draws people in but as a result the venue in Fairlight suffers with less use.

We have to make a trade off.  Balance the support.  Perhaps some revenue.

Problem of continual volunteer input - they need to know they are seen and valued as an asset.  Small communities need halls and meeting places.

How do you make things happen?  About a real willingness to work in partnership and that is the real difference and agreeing what does that partnership want to achieve?  [Shared objectives.] The Plan needs clarity on its objectives and then the Council needs to get working with the partners as equals.  Example.  We were able to bring all outcomes the funder needed even as a voluntary organisation.  We are getting some capital money.  Please, in this time of constraint, turn to voluntary partners and help them fulfil their objectives as often they serve the same population.  We all need to win and gain.  How do you focus and bring to bear all the players in that?

Village halls, who do they belong to?  Is it RDC?

No, the Council does not own any.  They are mostly owned by charitable trusts.

A successful village hall is down to people.  A successful committee, engagement in the communities.  But also they can generate resentment, like over access.  The way we work together is not just money.  You can't take millions out of a budget without changing.  Some innovative work is going on.  This can't be about money.  It has to be about the objectives of the community.

I know it is not like that, it has moved, but need to be a partnership that works.

There are mature voluntary organisations out there that can model and model to others.  We as an organisation are absolutely committed to the same people you are.  We need a mature, equal partnership.  How do we support resilience, innovation in our communities?  How do we get these things done together?

I would echo that.  In addition, the video shown, it would have been improved by showing what the partners did as well, some of the smaller organisations.  For example, Rother CAB has the highest quality advice of all the CABs in East Sussex.

We know, that is why we fund you.

Is CAB a statutory advice service?


We are talking about investing the time in partnerships to make that work.

We have to address the demographic challenges.  We have an aging society.  These are long term conditions.  There is not much reference to that in the Corporate Plan.  For example, we are going to need more extra care housing.  Example (Sidley partnership RDC, ESCC, housing association, Department of Health.)  The community said they wanted the facilities in a new extra care housing facility to have communal public areas and that is what is happening.  Further scheme in Rye and second in Sidley.  We work with the Seniors Forums to discuss what they need.  This is the environment, we need to engage people and share what we know, not pull wool over their eyes.  Also, there was no reference to the link road in the video.  I was surprised at that considering the contribution RDC had made.

Is that not taking credit for what mainly another partner had achieved?  How much should the Corporate Plan be about what RDC can do and mainly delivers and how much where RDC is one partner making a small contribution in a project?

Link road bid was Task Force; joint, same ratepayers.  RDC was in the Task Force.  Without any one of those elements it would not have worked.

Link road, gateway roads are opening up opportunities to build something fit for the 21st century as the rest of the town was built for the previous centuries.

Discussion on the benefits to businesses in Sidley.  We need to sit people down and explain the benefits to local businesses and jobs.  The strategy is ok but people need to understand the benefits for them.

Pushing if we as an organisation need a catalytic collaboration that can link to these other opportunities - training, etc.  Need the markers:  Interested in youth employment.  Get people round the table. Catalytic role.

Is that a Rother issue?  Rye Harbour - creating new workspace and talking to the local college on courses, having breakfast meetings.  That is the role of the Rye Partnership.  RDC is not needed to get involved.

So, RDC needs to find a way to link in without holding up the process of any project.

It is not just about money, county assets, engagement and getting people involved.

Resources become a lever.

We don't demonstrate social value and we need to start piloting things and doing that, demonstrating the social value.  Work out what those values are: by stakeholders.

Where do you get that balance?  How much of this is the Council's responsibility and how much is this the people's responsibility?  Others responsibility?  Are we still doing too much centrally and not locally?  People would much rather shut their front door and not get involved in their community.

You have to have someone bringing people together to do it.

Not enough recognition of people doing things and that it is happening at a local level.  We need to be creating active communities.  We need local leadership and local people.

What makes the person think they can't do something?  We have a responsibility to change that.  Yes, changing service delivery is a financial imperative but we should do be doing it anyway.

Example: public meeting and crime, drug dealing.  Always someone else's problem, and never mine.  People report something but they won't clear it or do it themselves.  We all have duties.  Society thinks it is not in their own hands but it is in somebody else's hands.  Expectations are that other people will do it.

To make unfavourable decisions is really hard.  The quality of the decisions around it is what makes the difference.




There was a discussion on what people would like to discuss further.


These included

  • The assets of Rother
  • Demography, the stability of communities, the link to education and young people.
  • Aspirations
  • Education
  • Children
  • Skills
  • Housing need
  • Community safety
  • Community spirit and cohesion
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Environment
  • Culture
  • Housing Needs


We agree that the rented sector is under pressure.

Not just about housing it is about homes: protection, sustainability, conditions, legal rights to stay, morale.

In the 70s when Bexhill decided to change the profile of its residents, they built lots of bungalows.  The Corporate Plan implies looking to build smaller homes.  Could get a different demography.  Build homes that attract a different demography rather than just boxes to rent out for buy to let.

Respond to the need on Housing Strategy.  Owner occupier is declining.  The quality of housing associations is an issue.

Demand - best use of existing stock - public and private.  Still people living in large family accommodation they no longer really need.  Because they have no option, don't feel safe to move or need assistance.

Evaluate need and make best use of existing resources.

There is always going to be a grant lag.

What is our role?

Housing need is district based for decision making.  If you go down any level below that its 'not in our village, build them next door'.  What are the real aspirations?  Need to fulfil existing housing need or do we need to produce houses to attract new, more affluent, people into the area?  After 7 years we will never get all the provision needed, even if the building started now.  We will get nowhere near the target.  Even housing association rents are not affordable if you don't have a job.  It is an enormous challenge.  Change - why would you want to move out of your home if you've lived in your house all your adult life?

Inheritance, asset to pass on to the next generation.  From a rural perspective this issue is very divisive, but there are success stories.  There are examples of local people getting involved in the design of schemes, of really explaining the need and why they are being built.  Most communities with one successful scheme want, ask for, another scheme.  When you can prove it was for local people and met local needs.

Social cohesion - there are issues, people staying in their village.  Private housing stock is a major issue.  Conditions, tenure, instability for households.

I run a painting and decorating business and get lots of landlords who want to make it barely habitable.  A lot are not fit for purpose.  We should discuss change of use from retail to residential, especially in town centres.  Shrinking town centres into smaller areas by changing use.

Planning policy is now more enabling to do that.  However, the Council has been fighting to retain employment, especially in rural areas.  Converting businesses premises, any of them, to something that doesn't provide local jobs is debatable.

I've seen that Planning has done a lot of work.  Every potential development site has been identified.  Rother are on the case and ahead of the game.

There is a role of partners to inform.

Has Rother embraced Neighbourhood Plans?

There are 2 in Rother now, a few more 'light' versions.

In them communities accept some development, could unlock probably of lack of housing sites being started.  The community have to look around, have a say in what can go where and its design, materials, and end up with buy-in.

The problem is buying in.  Some of the more elaborate bits of developments are costing the developer, including affordable housing on every site that has section 106 requirements.  They can end up making a site not deliverable.  Rother has taken its foot off the pedal for villages, and I think that is because of North East Bexhill.  Rye Neighbourhood Plan only has an addition of 150 houses because they've been told by RDC they are not looking for any more because of a big provision planned at NE Bexhill.  But villages, rural communities, should not accept that without considering the impact on them being able to keep local services going if they don't build more local homes.

In villages, as the population ages they can only stay in a village in their own house, there is no land identified for sheltered housing schemes.  So many older people find themselves having to go and live in Bexhill, where there are schemes.

We also need to consider the impact on the next generations, such as where there was care and support for the grandchildren.  Moving people out of their community creates a ripple effect.

We have a unique generation for home ownership.  In the past with bigger families homes were generational.  Now we expect our children to have their own houses.  The last generation never expected to own their own home, their focus was on keeping good health and keeping their job.  But, now we have to face that we can't always have what we want.  What do you need, not what do you want.

Health Inequalities

One of the things in the Corporate Plan is to put an emphasis on addressing inequalities and needs.  It is all about inequality - not affordable equality but the inequality of poverty and how the solution is community strength and cohesion.

Public health and social care come together and work more closely.  Still some duplication.  They need to understand what each other are doing.  They are running their own, separate, mapping initiatives and should be doing one mapping initiative together.

Please - AIRS/Health and wellbeing and access to green open spaces.   A lot of work on positive impact, on play, on mental wellbeing, on physical wellbeing.  Cheap, particularly for income deprived.  Not just about healthy walks.  Not just the preserve of dog walkers.  Some of our communities have a fear of going over boundaries, going on land that doesn't belong to them.  We need to be promoting and encouraging activity that doesn't cost anything.  Commission and contract.

Continuing sport into old age by adapting equipment and venues?

Clinical commissioning groups need to be involved in getting people more active in green open spaces, social prescribing.

7 years is too short a timeframe for the Plan.  A lot of these plans can't happen in 7 years.  For example, in 2009 there was a commitment to build a cycle network but since then only 100 metres has been added with 40 more miles to go.


Part 2 - Sustainable Economy Discussion

People like to work here because it is countryside with no motorways.

This is the issue - the countryside versus better access and better roads.

There is a trend in home-based businesses precisely because people are able to work from home more and entrepreneurs are able to set up a business.  Then they go up to London once a week.  We need broadband, definitely, it is the way of the world.  Transport but not detract from the environment.

Need to bear in mind growth is environment, culture, heritage rather than availability of big factories and business estates.

Value of jobs, wages are low.  Disparity of buying a house in Rother is 7 to 1, 7 times income for one home.

The two biggest local employers are Hastings Direct and Saga.  Here because they are able to employ relatively cheap labour because local wages are so low.

Link road, it will bring more residential areas and places for people to be working there.  In terms of the type of premises in NE Bexhill, we need higher scientific and industrial. We need places for these businesses to relocate.  Pebsham business site has high tech businesses.  This is the way to address low pay.  Build bungalows to attract retired people. Build the right homes to attract the wealthy.  Don't build houses that are too cheap because that is the sort of worker you will attract.

There is a tension here.  The majority of Rother businesses, East Sussex businesses, are under 5 employees.  In creating opportunities for larger employers, we must not forget that the reality is the majority of businesses are very small.  We must have good broadband and also networking opportunities.  The local population are not all employees of these small businesses, many are moving out of Rother to where the employment is.  We need a mix - local entrepreneurial space and transport access to economic productive areas.  The tension is on the rural environment.

As Ashford grows, with High Speed 1, people will just go to London.

Rother, northern Rother, has a lot of commuting to London.

Even with lower paid, lower paid jobs, there are not enough coming out of colleges for those jobs.  We need young people coming out with the skills that will produce a job, get where we can blend people into jobs.

Schools are changing to become more academic.  There is a national move to making schools follow that path, reducing the number of BTEC courses in favour of academic courses and GCSEs.

The way is university technical colleges, producing a generation with high quality technical skills.  New programme on youth employment, more support for getting the skills needed.  It is a pattern we've seen.

Not coming through with the same skills they used to, reading and writing.

Businesses need to make an effort, too.

Also, voluntary and private sector have a role to support people into employment and training.

Also encourage schools to do the same.  At the top of primary school age.  Take a look at what local businesses are there.  Get some links going.  Help young people understand range of job options and what they'll need to learn to get into the job they are interested in.

Ability for small skilled manufacturing industry.  Link with small businesses.  Lack of soft skills - Saga reported they had people who couldn't even present themselves at interview.

Town Centre improvement.  Serving their purpose or having a re-think on that purpose and changing to different uses - other employment in the same area.

Linked to that is traffic issues, parking, traffic, evening economy and cafĂ© culture that other towns are looking for are about management and access such as pedestrianisation, street furniture and areas being made welcoming.

Battle:  how do you create a different economy there other than tourism?

Tensions - rurality and employment.

Corridor - lot of focus on north/south but we need to address east/west.

SMEs look to Gatwick, but the Plan has no recognition of that, is not promoting it.  Bexhill has road and rail links to Gatwick.

Ashford link - a housing link.  It has affected the cost of living in Kent.  Lots of people live in Ashford but work in London or on that line.  What impact is that going to have on prices and housing supply here?

We need to watch it.  The HS1 diversion is going to have a great effect.  It could lead to a displacement of issues that are currently in Ashford and other places.

Marketing and brand is quite debatable, is it East Sussex, or 1066 country or by town?  What is the business destination brand?

The local cultural offer, the key venues like DLWP and Jerwood, are used now for branding.

Development of hotel accommodation in Bexhill, particularly, is going to be more important because not only for visitors but also the NE Bexhill business park.

The national cycle network. We need to develop and promote that this is a destination cycle route from Pevensey to Hastings, the 1066 Cycle Route and its links to the Cuckoo Trail.  It is destination now but it could be much more if we get more development.

Need joined up thinking of the sustainability of what is created.

East Sussex organisations need to link up to what is happening: trails, training.  Look and join up and strengthen each other.

Local Plan

  • Viability of land ownership and sustainability of farms and permitting farms to go about diversification
  • Affordable housing
  • Need a cheap and cheerful start up business venues.

The need for cheap business sites should be linked to Neighbourhood Plans - that issue comes out when talking about employment.  Those small, run down, back lane, premises need to be endorsed and we need to create follow on space.  Villages are willing to consider that along with their housing needs.  We keep missing the need for employment space under the big issue of housing.  Neighbourhood Plans are a good vehicle for this.

Don't have to be posh office space - a lock up garage type of thing.

We need both.  A lot of businesses are coming in now because of the recent increase in spaces created.  Local businesses need room to grow.  This is why I continue to say that Rother should push on villages and not put their growth on the back burner, not make it easy on them because NE Bexhill will deliver Rother's quota, not say relax, we can make our numbers.  It is not addressing making villages more sustainable.

Balance between housing and employment, getting communities to look at that together.



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