Group 4 Feedback

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Group 4 Feedback

This is what Group 4 discussed and told the Council.

Q.   What is good or not good about working in Rother?

  • Nice place to live and work, beautiful environment - this encompasses not just Rother but also the Eastern end.
  • Cheaper housing rents, though this is not good for new businesses.
  • Roads are a nightmare.
  • Need to attract bigger businesses into the area e.g. Saga etc. - the rural aspect of the area can attract certain types of businesses but not all types.
  • Changes to the transport networks will improve things for the future.
  • North Bexhill will provide big opportunities in terms of business and jobs.
  • Road improvements are needed to attract either localised businesses serving the community or bigger high value added businesses e.g. aircraft manufacturing.
  • Focus also needs to concentrate on strategic routes and coastal links.
  • A21 would be better if it were not duelled all the way.
  • We have good road and rail transport links with proximity to London and Gatwick Airport.
  • Culturally, we need to be comfortable with what we are currently.
  • Rother is a peaceful location but also has the element of being close to other areas e.g. Eastbourne, Hastings, Brighton and Hove, Maidstone etc.
  • Transport issues remain a concern i.e. reliability of rail and bus routes.
  • HS1 will have a potential advantage.
  • Need to focus on getting young people trained in work skills to encourage them to remain in the area.

Q.   Name one thing that would help to improve something in Rother?

  • High speed rail.
  • Gatwick Airport - closer links for Bexhill and Hastings area need to be established.
  • Area in rural terms - land ownership needs to be viable - need to preserve the beauty of the countryside whilst tying projects into land viability.
  • A27 and A21 improvements - need to be careful where we put our investments here.
  • Need the right targeted investment with good quality land management and diversity.

Q.   Travel-To-Work - 70% of half of the workforce population travel outside Rother to work.  How can we change this and how does this figure compare to other local areas?

  • Consider what sort of jobs people are working in locally such as catering, supermarkets, residential care homes, etc.
  • Wage levels in Rother are the lowest in the South East.
  • Rother has a low value wage and employment economy.
  • There is a good percentage of investment from wealthy people who buy properties here to retire or invest in building new family homes.
  • Need to be more flexible and tolerant about Planning permissions and regulations.
  • Need to welcome a growing commuter belt and find ways to develop this.
  • Need to work with the environment to encourage people to come and work in the communities.
  • Communities need to be flexible to attract distinctive businesses.  People with businesses want involvement with the community.
  • Broadband is essential.
  • Need to consider a number and combination of different aims wherever the opportunity presents itself in terms of attracting big businesses.

Q.   Where do we accommodate new businesses and where can we build more business space?

  • Need to ensure business spaces are used for the right purposes - lots of business spaces are currently being used for storage rather than active manufacturing and engineering spaces.
  • Encourage visitors from London to Bexhill to stay longer in the area rather than just for one-off events at the De La Warr Pavilion etc.
  • Encourage and help new businesses to develop ideas for better tourism and cultural opportunities (NB - be aware of declining funds).

Q.   Lack of skills in the area?

  • Low provision of skills and education for jobs in Bexhill - this could be developed.
  • Bexhill does not have an industrial/manufacturing industry history.
  • Difficult to employ people with the right skills for manufacturing businesses.
  • Education attainment - it is very important to invest in preparing and equipping young people with basic skills in readiness for the job market.
  • Huge lack of soft skills, which is tragic in terms of young people.
  • Need to expand apprenticeships - we have a skills strategy, so opportunities here to help young people in the future.
  • Improve capabilities of businesses.
  • 2 good universities in the area, though not all young people can afford a university education.

Q.   What are your views on the housing shortage ratio between affordability and wage levels?

  • Local indigenous residents etc.
  • Local demand.
  • Need to ascertain where people get their money to buy houses and where these people come from.
  • Housing construction leads on to apprenticeships and learning a trade.
  • Where do we place influx of people coming into the area?

Comments noted during discussion on list of key aims and projects:

Jobs and Skills

  • Need more apprenticeships to improve links with educational and soft skills.
  • Need for innovation and capability for businesses.
  • Better opportunities as a result of Broadband.
  • Prosperity will ensue through sustainability.

Planning Issues and Development Framework

  • Attitudes differ between Members and officers in relation to Planning matters - there needs to be more flexibility from officers around planning application procedures by applying judgement and not just blocking things. A can-do, friendly approach from officers is what is needed.
  • Need to look at the viability of land ownership and management - farmers are willing to offer small areas of land to businesses.
    • AMENDMENT:  "The above actually related to Affordable Housing and provision of land with a possible trade off of open market housing or commercial. The crucial point being the land for affordable housing being at minimal cost and the housing remaining affordable in perpetuity."  Received from a member of the group.
  • Physical environment is key.

On-street parking

  • Lack of free parking in Bexhill - too many traders/workers taking up space.  Need to reduce the amount of congestion in the town by introducing short-term parking restrictions.
  • Town centre needs re-inventing.

Anti-social behaviour

  • Need to eliminate, rather than reduce anti-social behaviour.

Infrastructure

  • Need to continue to promote the line at Glyne Gap.

Tourism

  • Is there a disconnection between the 1066 brand of East Sussex and how things operate?
  • Need to develop and explore the accommodation side of tourism for expansion and not lose track of developing the branding of this.
  • How do we define the area of Sussex and East Sussex in terms of branding?

Development of key sites

  • Development of Robertsbridge Mill - look at how private enterprise can be developed for housing.
  • Brookland Road in Rye - this is a significant link - commitment is needed from the County Council to push for this.

Discussion Group: Community Perspective

  • Need for strong partnership working and understanding around affordable housing e.g. fixed ownership, housing needs requirements.
  • There is an expectation in terms of the housing market - how will we have adjusted to the demographics by 2020?
  • Remote working and people working from home - will this increase in the future and how valuable will housing accommodation be to future generations?
  • Is it the role of the Council to develop these types of provisions?
  • Education provision is needed to encourage the influx of families.
  • Adult social care - the ageing process is getting higher for those on low incomes - how do we cater and pay for this?
  • Changes from agricultural to business accommodation - this is a good move but neighbourhoods need to develop an acceptance and understanding of the benefits of this type of change in order to move with the times.

Community Resilience

  • Safer communities and roads - less money from Local Authorities but money may be found form other sources.  Need to educate residents in how to take ownership and work together in order to draw in match-funding.
  • Need to get smarter about how we communicate with residents about match-funding initiatives.
  • Communities need to engage with each other in order to sustain initiative.
  • Devolution to Parishes - risk here for people who lack the knowledge, expertise and understanding of Local Authorities.
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