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All news items after July 2012 are on the Winchelsea News blog.

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Dr Bill Docherty
Last week, Bill was hit by a vehicle while cycling to work. He is very badly injured and in intensive care.
14 July 2012

St Thomas's Church --- dispute with Diocese
Last week, the legal officer of the Diocese of Chichester issued formal notification to David Page and the Rector that a complaint has been laid against them by the Archdeacon under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. David is cited for officiating at services without the bishop’s permission and Fr Howard for having authorised him to do so. This follows a request from David to Bishop Wallace Benn for a new Permission To Officiate licence.
In 2008, the Bishop of Lewes, the Right Reverend Wallace Benn, had refused David permission to minister at St Thomas the Martyr because he refused to answer questions about his relationship with his civil partner. However, the Winchelsea PCC nevertheless invited David to preach and lead worship after an appeal against the decision was ignored.
On Sunday, 8 July, the Rector announced to the congregation that the PCC and parishioners had "agreed that we could not possibly accept Wallace Benn's decision. . . So we allowed him [David], with the support of the PCC and parishioners, to exercise his ministry in all the churches in my benefice." The Rector continued, "Permission... was refused on the grounds that he is in a civil partnership and was not prepared to discuss the nature of their relationship, finding the questioning intrusive. Both he and myself have been cited under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 - David for exercising ministry and me for permitting it."
14 July 2012

Winchelsea Neighbourhood Watch
It is time for the annual update of NBW street co-ordinators. There is none for the western section of North Street and there are no deputy co-ordinators for St Giles Close, Hiham Gardens, Rectory Lane, School Hill or St Thomas’s Street. If you wish to help your street to be part of NBW, please call 225333.

Olympic Torch
On Wednesday, 18 July, the motorcade will follow the A259(T)through Winchelsea, ie along Rectory Lane, Ferry Hill and Tanyard Lane. As it is due to arrive in Rye at 09:44, it will probably come past Winchelsea between about 09:00 and 09:30.

Diamond Jubilee Medal for Dr Ben Chishick
Winchelsea’s Ben Chishick has received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his voluntary work (since 1992) for the charity SIMCAS, which organises a fast response service to road accidents and medical emergencies.

Icklesham Parish Council, 11 June 2012
This was the first council meeting after the Annual Parish Assembly on 14 May. Three issues from that event came onto the agenda of this meeting: whether the council should borrow as much as another £100,000; whether the council should turn off the footlights in Winchelsea at midnight; and whether there should be a re-organised parking scheme at the Pear Tree Marsh allotment site in Winchelsea open to all residents of Tanyard Lane.
The meeting once again saw the attendance of both clerks, unnecessarily adding to the council’s cost of administration.
Council borrowing
At the Annual Parish Assembly, the threat of a Parish Poll had focussed the minds of councillors on whether parish tax-payers would accept a proposal that the council borrow up to £100,000, on top of the £40,000 already borrowed, largely to finance additional playground equipment in Icklesham. Councillors know that the hard-pressed tax-payers of other wards, let alone Icklesham, are unlikely to be impressed. Council debt would rise to some 150% of annual revenue, close to the debt/GDP ratios of those other paragons of fiscal prudence, Iceland, Ireland and Italy. That level of debt would also mean that a chunk of about £7,500 of each year’s revenue would be committed to paying off that debt every year for the next 20 years. A Parish Poll was proposed because it was felt that such a massive change in the financial structure and obligations of the parish should be put before voters.
At the Annual Parish Assembly, the Chairman had agreed to ask the council to consult residents before borrowing through a consultation organised by the council. But with no members of the public at the council meeting to hear what they said, some councillors tried to scupper that idea. Cllr Stanford argued that, as there had been no public consultation on the first borrowing of £40,000, there should be no public consultation on borrowing further £100,000. Cllr Warren, normally the voice of commonsense, proposed that any consultation should be ignored unless the result was supported by at least 50% of the electorate. Most councillors still do not seem to accept the principle that voting should not be subject to arbitrary conditions, particularly not conditions imposed by the likely losers!
Councillors then argued that they probably would not need to borrow the whole £100,000, as they expected they would be able to get substantial grants. Neutral observers may ask why the council therefore ever proposed that borrowing figure. Cynical observers might answer that, given the council’s failure to seek grants in the past, some councillors had little intention of trying to get grants in the future.
Cllr Comotto asked why the council had not determined how much grant money it could get before proposing a number for borrowing. He suggested that the council determine how much was available in grants, then fix a borrowing figure and then hold a public consultation. The council agreed.
Winchelsea footlights
The background to this issue is that Winchelsea has 17 footlights. They are not streetlights because they only light the footway, not the road. The parish council pays the bills. In contrast, in Rye and virtually everywhere else in the country, the cost of lighting is paid by the District or County Council. A proposal has been made to turn off the lights at midnight, primarily for environmental reasons. The annual saving of £700 a year would mean that the cost of altering the timers on each footlight would be recouped in less than 18 months. The council put the proposal to Winchelsea residents last year in the form of a questionnaire.
Almost 30% of households in Winchelsea returned completed questionnaires, most in favour of the proposal. However, objections were lodged by a resident, Mr John Spencer, who opposes the proposal. He complained that residents had been allowed to return completed questionnaires via their ward councillors. The insinuation is that there was no guarantee that ward councillors would pass on questionnaires supporting an opposing view. As two of the Winchelsea ward councillors (Chishick and Turner) do not support the proposal to turn off the footlights at midnight, Mr Spencer’s insinuation of dishonesty was presumably aimed at Cllr Comotto, who did support the proposal.
In response to Mr Spencer’s complaint, the council decided to ignore the results of their own questionnaire. Councillors also argued that the turnout was too low, that the public had been given too much information on the questionnaire and that those who had lost the consultation were unhappy with the result! Interestingly, the29% response rate in Winchelsea compares with response rates of 9-13% to the council’s Local Action Plan questionnaire. Yet, the council is adamant that that has given them a popular mandate to spend money on all sorts of projects, including that to borrow as much as another £100,000 to spend on extra playground equipment.
Presumably, in order to allow the losers to have a second bite at the cherry, the council decided to refer the issue to the Annual Parish Assembly on 14 May. This decision was bizarre. Annual Parish Assemblies rarely attract more than half-a-dozen residents, compared to the 60 Winchelsea households (and 120 or so residents) who returned questionnaires.
In fact, 17 residents turned up at the next Annual Parish Assembly. The vote was 10-7 in favour of turning off the footlights! This did not seem to be result that some councillors had expected. In the face of this clear restatement of public opinion, the Chairman was forced to agree to take the matter back to the council on 12 June. And he was warned that, should the council try to dodge the issue again, a Parish Poll would be called.
Ahead of the council meeting on 12 June, Mr Spencer e-mailed the parish clerk to accuse Cllr Comotto of behaviour verging on electoral fraud. He alleged that, in the original consultation, Cllr Comotto had returned a questionnaire on behalf of his youngest daughter, who is below voting age. Mr Spencer has a well-established track record of making untrue and defamatory allegations against Cllr Comotto. On this occasion, the clerk refuted Mr Spencer’s allegation (although it is questionable whether a returning officer should respond to unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud).
At the council meeting, councillors repeated the arguments that the first consultation had been defective because it gave too much information, that questionnaires could have been intercepted and fraudulently amended by ward councillors (or at least one of them), that the response rate was too low and (surprise surprise) that those who lost the vote were unhappy with the result! One councillor even complained that Cllr Comotto had campaigned in favour of the decision, which made the result unfair because opponents had not bothered to do the same!
The debate forced some councillors into political contortions that were a wonder to behold. Then, Cllr Stanford was unhappy that a Parish Poll would allow other wards to vote on an issue which she felt only involved Winchelsea (notwithstanding that all wards pay towards this expense). This line of argument was somewhat at odds with her usual position that Winchelsea is just a unit of Icklesham Parish and all councillors must have a say in its affairs. And in fact, she resumed her traditional line as soon as other Winchelsea matters came up.
Another volte face was performed by Cllr S Turner, who argued that he had been elected to represent Winchelsea, whereas his normal claim is that he has been elected to represent the whole parish (even though councillors are elected only by the voters of their own wards). On the basis of his new-found attachment to Winchelsea voters, Cllr Turner felt he should be making the decision on behalf of his electorate.
But the best was yet to come. Cllr Stanford criticised the fact the Winchelsea residents who came to the Annual Parish Assembly included members of Cllr Comotto’s family (both registered voters). Then, she criticised Winchelsea residents for their “apathy” in failing to come to the Annual Parish Assembly and for failing to respond in greater numbers to the questionnaire. Presumably, what Cllr Stanford actually wanted was fewer Winchelsea residents who were likely to vote in favour of the footlight proposal less and more Winchelsea residents who were likely to vote against.
Cllr Stanford’s complaint about apathy in Winchelsea was also remarkable for its display of selective amnesia. She seemed to have forgotten that residents of the ward she represents (Rye Harbour) have been unwilling to provide a candidate for the council for many years (Cllr Stanford lives in Winchelsea Beach and the other Rye Harbour councillor, Cllr Bronsdon, does not even live in the parish). And Winchelsea Beach has only been able to fill its seats with two Winchelsea residents who cannot get elected in Winchelsea. She also seemed to have forgotten that, of the 17 residents who attended the Annual Parish Assembly, all but two were residents of Winchelsea! Cllr Stanford’s complaints were supported by the Chairman, Cllr Horsman (Icklesham), who felt that more Winchelsea residents should have turned up as the meeting was in Winchelsea and there were Winchelsea issues on the agenda. He conveniently ignored the fact that, when the Assembly has been held in other wards, the turnout rarely exceeds half a dozen, even when there are issues on the agenda concerning those wards.
The council rejected a suggestion by Cllr P Turner for a pilot test and, in the end, voted to run a third consultation using a second questionnaire. This will be circulated only to registered electors.
However, this consultation is unlikely to happen as Cllr Comotto has decided to call a Parish Poll. Mr Spencer’s accusation of electoral impropriety by Cllr Comotto is likely to have tainted public confidence in the ability of the council to conduct a fair poll. Moreover, and perhaps more seriously, it has been suggested that Mr Spencer should be able to view and check the questionnaires from the original consultation so that he confirm that his allegations against Cllr Comotto are untrue. Mr Spencer has served a Freedom of Information request on the parish council to this effect. Giving public access to voting forms of any sort would be an extraordinary breach of the principle that democratic votes and polls should be confidential in order to prevent the intimidation of voters. A Parish Poll will ensure that that there is no breach of voter confidentiality and that no mud can be thrown at the results of the next consultation.
More largesse to Icklesham
In addition to debating whether to spend £60-80,000 of borrowed money on Icklesham (on top of the £40,000 of borrowed money already spent on that ward), the council decided to hire a temporary skatepark in Icklesham for three months over the summer holidays. A figure of £5,000 had been earmarked.
Cllr Chishick asked whether this proposal, or indeed any of the plans for new playground equipment, were based on information about how many children lived in each ward, and what age groups they were in. Cllr Warren explained that the decision for the temporary skatepark was based on a meeting attended by 40 children of various ages, of whom, 38 wanted the skatepark.
The council suggested that the temporary skatepark might be a way of judging whether a permanent one would be used. When asked if the council was therefore going to monitor usage, the reply was no.
The council approved the proposal, despite having secured only one quote, which is contrary to its own Financial Regulations, which requires competitive quotes. The quote the accepted, which was only for 8 weeks, was for £3,800. This means that Icklesham Parish Council will be spending £100 per child in Icklesham for the summer holidays!
Pear Tree Marsh parking
At the Annual Parish Assembly, a resident of Tanyard Lane lobbied for fair access to parking in the allotment site, complaining that, at the moment, it is limited to allotment-holders and their friends.
Cllr Comotto explained that attempts to open parking on a fair basis to all residents of Tanyard Lane who did not have off-street parking had been obstructed by the refusal of the parish council to tackle the covenant which Rother District Council had placed on the site. The covenant says that the site can only be used for allotments. Rother’s solicitor insists that, before Rother will vary the covenant, the parish council will have to get permission from central government for a change of use from allotments to parking. He simply refuses to understand that no allotment plots are to be given up and that the proposal merely seeks to regularise parking that has been taking place for years.
At the Annual Parish Assembly, Cllr Comotto argued that the parish council should simply inform Rother that they intended to re-organise parking at Pear Tree Marsh. It was unlikely that Rother would bother to enforce the covenant, given that their objection was unsound. If Rother did object, then at least it would get them to the table for a serious discussion.
Cllr Merricks was clearly not paying attention. She announced that Rother had imposed a covenant on the allotment! She also seemed to forget that a similar covenant on Icklesham Recreation Ground had been removed with very little problem.
Publication of council documents
The council agreed to a proposal by Cllr Comotto that allcouncil documents, excluding only confidential documents, should be posted on the council’s website.
21-Jun-12

Road works on A259 Tanyard Lane
The Highways Agency will be cutting down two large trees and some smaller ones on the embankment adjacent to the westbound carriageway of the A259 Tanyard Lane. The trees will be cut to the ground level, left untreated, which will allow them to grow back to provide the ground cover. The work is due to take place on Saturday 23 June, subject to weather, with between 8:00pm and 11:00pm. The westbound lane will be closed and temporary traffic lights in place, with road users escorted past the works at 10mph. Ward councillors have asked Rye Police to conduct speed checks in German Street and the High Street during the work.
15-Jun-12

Winchelsea Diamond Jubilee Street Party
We held our Jubilee Street Party on Saturday. It was a huge success. Over 300 residents and guests attended the event. There were lots of people that we don't normally see at local events. So the Street Party did what it was supposed to to do, bring the community together! Many people are saying that we need to do something like this every year.
We managed to avoid most of the bad weather, even basking in sunshine in the afternoon as we set up, although a brisk wind made things a little chilly in the evening and impending rain meant that the party finished earlier than planned.
German Street was closed for the evening. Decorations were strung up and residents set out chairs, tables, barbeques and gazebos in the road and along the verge. The New Inn also set out chairs and tables outside, as well as hosting parties inside. The place looked great!
The event started at 4:30pm with a childrens' party run by local mums and entertainment (to children of all ages) provided by Jimmy the Juggler. He was brilliant.
The main party started at 7:00pm with local singers, John and Jacki Pattenden, featuring a selection including many 1950s classics. They were super and we need to see more of them in Winchelsea.
At 9:00pm, the Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex, Mrs Kathy Gore DL, proposed the loyal toast. This was followed by a particularly rousing rendition of the national anthem, led by John and Jacki, and a salvo of rockets fired by the Winchelsea Bonfire Boyes.
Then, the rains came! But fortunately, too late to spoil a wonderful evening.
We held a raffle that raised almost £650. Plus a grant towards insurance and road closure signs from the Police Property Fund, courtesy of Rye Police, we have enough to cover all costs. Raffle prizes were kindly donated by the Paul Andersen, Tina and Graham Alexander, the Lodge at Winchelsea, National Trust at Bodiam Castle, the National Trust at Bodiam Castle, the New Inn, Rye Retreat, the Rye Sanctuary and the Strand House Hotel.
4-Jun-12

The Red Slipper
You may or may not have heard about this little piece of Winchelsea history. It was related by Katharina Forbes Dunlop in 1988 and concerned an incident that occurred in 1899, when she was a child in Winchelsea.
One day, while playing outside her house in Friars Road, Katharina and her little sister were called to look at troops marching down the High Street and through the Strand Gate on their way to Folkestone or Dover to embark for South Africa. The girls joined a crowd of townsfolk standing on the Look Out, shouting and cheering as the columns of men passed by. The soldiers were singing and whistling. All was excitement. So carried away was Katharina’s sister that she snatched off one of the scarlet felt slippers she was wearing and threw it to the soldiers. One of them caught it, called out, “My mascot!” and tucked it into his pocket. Katharina said she often wondered what happened to the slipper and hoped it had brought the soldier good luck in faraway South Africa.
A memory of this small but poignant episode in the town’s history will be commemorated by a panel of drawings that will go on display in the summer at the Look Out. This is one of a series of local historical remembrances commissioned from Winchelsea artist Julian Hanshaw by the Rother Arts Development Officer and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
In addition, the incident of the red slipper will be recreated and filmed exactly where it took place. The film is being produced by Winchelsea Moving Pictures, which stages Winchelsea Film Night, with funding from the HLF and others. Filming and post-production will be carried out by local youth training charity, Entertainment Workshops, who are of course also filming “The Diamond Jubilee Year in Winchelsea” (which will include film of the filming). The music is being composed by the American great-niece of Katharine Forbes Dunlop, Margaret Bernstein, who will be visiting Winchelsea in August to join the cast. The shoot is scheduled for Sunday, 19 August.
All the actors in the film and those helping with the organisation will be local volunteers. Would you like to act in the film, either as a soldier, one of the townsfolk? Costumes will be provided.
Or would you be willing to help with the hundred and one tasks that need to be done on the day, such as wardrobe, make-up, catering, marshalling traffic and so on? It will be great fun and everyone who helps will feature in the credits! The film will be premiered in Winchelsea later in the year.
If you would like to take part or help in any way, e-mail film@winchelsea.net.

Winchelsea Historic Graffiti Survey
To most people, the word ‘graffiti’ is associated with vandalism, yobs and urban dereliction. They would be shocked to hear that the ancient buildings of Winchelsea, including St Thomas’s Church, are covered in graffiti!
However, Winchelsea’s graffiti is medieval. It has been scratched onto stonework and wall plaster since the 14th century. Most of the graffiti is now so faint that it is hard to see and therefore tends not to be noticed. But there is now growing archaeological interest. And the more that archaeologists look, the less certain they are that these graffiti were just random acts of vandalism. Some, particularly in churches, may have had an accepted role in medieval society.
Interest in historic graffiti in Winchelsea has been spurred by the discovery of a veritable fleet of ship graffiti in one of the cellars under the ruins of Blackfriars Barn. These are being recorded by archaeologist, Matt Champion, who has been pioneering the study of church graffiti in Norfolk, and by members of the Winchelsea Archaeological Society (WAS). The sheer number of ships is unusual. The ships themselves appear to be medieval. If this confirmed, the graffiti will be of national importance.
While Matt was in Winchelsea, he discovered a mass of graffiti in St Thomas’s Church. This has prompted WAS to launch a project to survey and record historic graffiti in Winchelsea.
The project will start with a training day for volunteers on Saturday, 9 June. This will take place in St Thomas’s Church in Winchelsea and will be run by Matt Champion. The day will run from 10:00am to 12:30pm and 2:00pm to 4:30pm, and will start with an introductory talk on historic graffiti by Matt, after which he will run hands-on training sessions on surveying and recording. Entry to the talk will cost £5. The rest of the day will be free for volunteers.
WAS hopes that the project might, in due course, be extended to Rye and perhaps the Romney Marsh churches. For further information, contact WAS at was@winchelsea.net.

Diamond Jubilee Street Party in Winchelsea - Saturday, 2 June 2012
This will be the centrepiece of Jubilee celebrations in Winchelsea. We hope as many residents as possible will take part. You are welcome to bring family and guests.
The event will take place in German Street, which will be closed for the afternoon and evening. For safety reasons, the upper section of the High Street and part of Hiham Gardens will also be closed late afternoon. The party will start at 7:00pm.
The idea is that everyone looks after themselves. That means bringing your own food, drink, chairs, tables, gazebos, candelabras, wine coolers, barbeques and whatever else you feel you need, and setting up in the street for the evening. You can set up any time after 2:30pm. Alternatively, you could buy a meal and drinks at the New Inn, which will be at the heart of the event. John and Declan will be setting out chairs and tables in front of the pub for those who just want to turn up on the evening and join in the party. If the weather turns nasty, we may all have to retreat into the New Inn!
The Street Party will be entertained by a duo of excellent local singers, John and Jacqueline, who will perform on a stage that will be set up at the junction of German Street and High Street. There will also be a juggler-cum-magician-cum-fire-eater, Jimmy the Juggling Jester, who will wander round the tables. At about 9:30pm, there will be a loyal toast by Mrs Gore, Deputy Lieutenant of East Sussex.
The Street Party is free. But we will have to cover the cost of insurance, diversion signs and the entertainment. We have some funding already (from the Police Property Fund) but more is needed. To raise funds for the Street Party, we will be holding a raffle during the evening. You are of course more than welcome to make donations as well. There will also be fund-raising events during the year. Please note that donations to the Diamond Jubilee Project will not be used for the Street Party.
The road needs to be re-opened by midnight. That means everyone clearing up after themselves. So, the timetable is:

  • 14:00 German Street closed to traffic.
  • 16:30 Upper High Street & lower Hiham Gardens closed to traffic.
  • 19:00 Party starts.
  • 21:30 Loyal toast and national anthem.
  • 23:00 Time to pack up.
  • 24:00 Roads re-open.

If you have any questions, please ask any member of the Diamond Jubilee Committee (Tina and Graham Alexander, Lorna Challand, Richard Comotto, Alison Davies, Sandra MacKenzie-Smith, Michael Melvin and Paul Williams).

Winchelsea’s Diamond Jubilee Project
The Chairman of the Diamond Jubilee Committee writes:
"Hopefully, you’ll know something about this project by now. Its aim is to mark the Jubilee by supporting local youth in these challenging times. We have commissioned an innovative local vocational-training charity, Entertainment Workshops (charity reg. no.1146124), to produce a short film of the life of the town over the Diamond Jubilee year. This will provide an interesting memento of the Jubilee and will also pay for youth training in some of technical skills required by the film, video and TV industry (one of the fastest growing sectors in the modern economy, even in a time of recession). Many of the youngsters being trained by Entertainment Workshops are in danger of leaving school without qualifications and with little or no hope of a job or further education (they are often described as NEETs --- Not in Employment, Education or Training). Some youngsters also come from difficult backgrounds and are at risk of drifting into trouble. Entertainment Workshops has an admirable success rate in turning round their lives.
"The project will involve a film crew of young trainees attending and recording events in Winchelsea throughout 2012 (with the permission of organisers). At the end of the year, they will edit the material into a short film, which will be launched at a premiere in Winchelsea early next year. Every resident will be offered a DVD of the film and copies will be lodged with the Museum and the County Records Office for posterity.
"I hope you will agree that helping youngsters is an appropriate way of commemorating the Queen’s Jubilee. As we look back and celebrate 60 years of selfless service by Her Majesty, we will also be looking forward and helping to build a better future for the next generation. You can support this project by making a personal donation, small or large. Your contribution will only be used to fund the Project (we are fund-raising separately for the Street Party and tree-planting). Donors will be fully acknowledged in the credits of the film. Cheques should be made payable to “Winchelsea Jubilee Fund” and can be sent to me at 4 St Giles Close, Winchelsea TN36 4AB, or given to any other member of the Diamond Jubilee Committee (Lorna Challand, Richard Comotto, Alison Davies, Sandra MacKenzie-Smith, Michael Melvin and Paul Williams), or dropped off (in an envelope addressed to the Diamond Jubilee Committee) at the Post Office.
Thank you."
Tina Alexander (226382)
Chair, Diamond Jubilee Committee

Mayoring
On Easter Monday, a new mayor will be “elected” in Winchelsea. This ceremony has apparently happened every year since the 1290s. The new mayor will be former mayor Roger Neaves.
The ceremony, held since the 16thy century at the Court Hall, attracts mayors from other Cinque Ports, all of them elected councillors, and elected representatives from Rother District Council and East Sussex County Council, and often the local MP.
Most of these attendees think that the mayor in Winchelsea is elected by the townspeople and that he and the rest of the "corporation" represent the town. In fact, the mayor in Winchelsea is picked by just 19 “freemen” of the town.
Moreover, the mayor and corporation in Winchelsea have no civic role whatsoever. Until 1886, the corporation was the local government of Winchelsea. In that year, the corporation was replaced by a parish council. However, the abolition of the corporation would have meant the disappearance of one of the members of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports (this is a purely ceremonial body that is a remnant of the historical alliance of some Kent and Sussex ports: it now provides a grace-and-favour appointment for some retired politician, public servant or member of the Royal Family). Therefore, in order to ensure that there is someone from each of the seven Head Ports at ceremonial meetings of the Confederation, the corporation in Winchelsea was preserved as a charity by Act of Parliament. In addition, all the civic assets of Winchelsea (money, land, buildings and regalia) were transferred to the corporation, in other words, transferred from public to private ownership. And although the corporation was converted into a charity, it is not required, like other charities, to publish its accounts or be publicly accountable in any way whatsoever. Moreover, the rules for electing the mayor were changed. The democratic process re-established during the 19th century (which returned Winchelsea to something more akin to its original medieval proto-democracy, where all tax-paying resident male adults had a vote) was abandoned. The corporation reverted to the “rotten borough” which had emerged in the 15th century. The qualification to be a freeman and have a vote was no longer just fulfilling criteria like paying taxes and owning property. Prospective freemen had to be voted in by existing freemen! By means of this system of blackballing, the number of voters was kept down to a ‘manageable’ number. In fact, for several hundred years, the number of freemen/voters was kept to between nine and 13. So, every Easter Monday, the corporation elects itself!
6 April 2012


Rector to retire
Canon Howard Cocks has announced his retirement.
6 April 2012


New Inn
Greene King, the brewer that owns the New Inn freehold, has submitted a planning application and request for listed building consent to repair the stables at the back and convert them into a function room.
5 April 2012


Appeals against refusal of permission for solar panels on listed building dismissed
An application to install solar panels on the roof of Grade II-listed Castle House, Castle Street (RR/2011/1841/L and RR/2011/1842/P) was refused in October 2011 by Rother Local Planning Authority. Appeals (APP/U1430/A/11/2166112 and APP/U1430/E/11/2166109) were made. The Inpsector identified that the main issue is whether the proposed works would preserve the special architectural or historic interest of the listed buiding. She decided they did not, because the traditional form and materials of the roofscape are important to its significance as a nationally-designated heritage asset. The substantial scale, colour, modern materials and engineered form meant the solar panels would be out of keeping with the largely uninterrupted traditional plain-tiled roof slope, which contributes poistively to the special archictectural interest of the listed building. The installation would be incongruous and dominant, and unacceptably detract from the significance of the heritage asset. The fact the installation was not visible from the public domain was not relevent, in part, as it could be repeated too often, to the detriment of the historic environment. Moreover, it would be visible to neighbours and to current and future occupiers. Although Rother did not raise Conservation Area concerns, the Inspector considered that the harm the proposal would cause to the listed building would, in consequence, fail to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. The fact that the panels would reduce carbon emissions in line with national policy, and a condition could be imposed for the panels to be removed and the historic fabric made good when the installation ceased to be used, did not, in the view of the Inspector, outweigh the harm in the meantime.The Inspector also felt that there was insufficient clear and convincing justification to show that the installation would have a clear public benefit that would outweigh the harmful loss of significance. The proposal was therefore judged contrary to PPS5 and Policy GD1 of the Local Plan.
15 March 2012


Cold calling
Winchelsea Neighbourhood Watch have warned of a new wave of telephone cold calling. One source is an Asian-accented caller claiming to be an insurance claims investigator. The other is Irish and says they are looking for people who have been mis-sold card protection insurance by banks. The first is a scam. The second is probably legitimate but official advice is that the services being offered are a waste of money.
10 March 2012


Marshlink trains
This is due to re-open tomorrow.
10 March 2012


Early morning noise nuisance from scooter
Several residents have complained about a very noisy scooter than drives through Winchelsea at around 06:30am. It would seem to have no muffle on its exhaust. The scooter's number and description was passed to polic, and it is reported that they have stopped and spoken to the rider.
10 March 2012


Lead theft from New Hall
It has just been discovered that the lead dressings under the windows at the rear of the New Hall have been stolen. While many houses in Winchelsea and the Chuch have been protected with DNA-impregnated markers, the village hall has not. Winchelsea Neighbourhood Watch is offering marker to the hall and a warning sign.
9 March 2012


Icklesham Parish Councillor served second planning notice
A S215 repair enforcement notice has been served by Rother District Council on the owner of 9 Barrack Square, an 18th century Grade II*-listed property, Anthony Moore, Icklesham Parish Councillor, member of Winchelsea Corporation and former Deputy Mayor. Mr Moore is required to clear vegetation away from the front door, repaint and repair windows, and replace missing tiles from the side and rear elevations. This is the second such notice served on Mr Moore. The previous one, in 2005, when Cllr Moore was a member of Icklesham Parish Council's Planning Committee, was ignored and resulted in the criminal conviction of Mr Moore. However, the Rother taxpayer had to pay the emergency repair bill of some £3,000. A charge was put on the deeds to the house but, until it is sold, Cllr Moore has an interest-free loan from public funds.
9 March 2012


Icklesham Parish Council meeting 13 February 2012
The meeting kicked off with Public Questions. A youngster from Winchesea Beach, aged 11, asked the Council for a skate board facility in Winchelsea Beach. The Chairman asked the youngster to consult residents.
Mr Spencer from Winchelsea, who claimed to speak on behalf of the Church Wardens of St Thomas’s Church, said that the Church wanted a grant towards churchyard maintenance. Total maintenance costs the Church £170,000 a year. It currently gets a grant from the Council for grass cutting but used to receive more until councillors from other wards objected to splitting the grant to churches in proportion to the relative costs (they now all get different percentages of their costs). The Church made no objection to the cut. Then, when the Rector approached the Council through a ward councillor for help with the cost of new central heating and with a proposal that the Council take responsibility for the War Memorial in the churchyard, a non-resident churchwarden turned up at a Council meeting and objected! When the Council was asked by a Winchelsea ward councillor to contribute to a new sign for the Wesley Chapel, one of the ostensible objections was giving money to places of worship.
District Councillor Osborne read out a letter that he had received from the owners of Look Out Cottage claiming that the damaged wall by the Strand Gate belongs to East Sussex County Council. The former have just repaired the wall, after a delay of over year while they argued about its ownership. The letter was critical of both ESCC and Rother. The latter was about to serve a notice on the owners enforcing repairs. ESCC are adamant that they are not responsible for the wall and that it belongs to Look Out Cottage.
Cllr Stanford proposed that “factual inaccuracies” in this blog be included as an item on future agendas.
Icklesham Recreation Ground car park continues to benefit from the Council’s largesse. It was resurfaced by the Council and they will now be paying for lighting. The Council will also buy a padlock to secure the gate. In contrast, the Council refuses to do anything to bring the unofficial residents’ car park at Pear Tree Marsh up to a reasonable standard (no repairs to the surface or further clearance of rubbish and undergrowth) and it has lost interest in regularising the status of this car park (the Council is in breach of the covenant on its deed of purchase by allowing parking). Nor will the Council lock the allotment, as it used to, despite having splashed out on an expensive lock and uncopiable keys.
The subject of the conduct of Council meetings was discussed. There have been complaints of poor chairmanship leading to meetings over-running. Recommended best practice is a maximum of 2 hours, because long meetings dissuade members of the public from attending and deter working people from standing for councils. The Council decided it would limit meetings to 2 hours and 15 minutes, or 2 hours and 45 minutes, if the Chairman thinks a longer meeting is necessary.
A proposal to hire a graphic designer at £40 an hour to maintain the Council’s newsletter was rejected.
The Council adopted a revised complaints procedure. It is difficult to know whether members of the public will give it much credence, since the Council acts as its own judge and jury. And Icklesham Parish Council has yet to deal with its last complaint, lodged several years ago by Mr Jasper of Winchelsea.
The Diamond Jubilee did not receive a positive response from the Council, at least as far as Winchelsea went. Cllr P Turner opposed the planting of a Jubilee oak in Winchelsea. In his opinion, “the oak is a forest tree” whereas Winchelsea is a “suburb”. But if there was little enthusiasm for a Diamond Jubilee Street oak, there was even less for the Street Party in Winchelsea. Several councillors expressed concerns about the impact of the related road closures on local businesses. These included Cllrs S Turner and Stanford (both currently or formerly employed by local businesses). Cllr P Turner on the other hand was worried about the disruption to Winchelsea’s busy bus service, even though the bus stop will be moved only about 20 yards, as it has several times in the past.
9 March 2012 (contributed by Cllr Comotto)


Public toilets in Winchelsea
Rother District Council has decided to rebuild the toilets in Monks Walk within the next 4-5 years but within the next 12 months. In November, police issued warnings to two men behaving suspiciously in the public toilets and placed markets agsinst their names and vehicles in the police national computer.
11 January 2012


Southern Railways' "shanty town" in Winchelsea
More on winchelseanews.blogspot.com.
10 January 2012


Southern Railways' "shanty town" in Winchelsea
Apologies to Network Rail. It's all down to Southern Railway.
According to Southern Railways, the shanty town is in fact not for ticket staff or rail workers! It is purely for Southern Railway staff who will be there only to answer questions from bus passengers about the timetable (not even to sell tickets). It will be open 24 hours a day! The generator and two portaloos are therefore for the staff. There will also be security guards.
Giant portacabins, portaloos, generators, fuel tanks, security fences and security staff have also been installed at Doleham Halt, Three Oaks and Ham Street.
6 January 2012


Network Rail's "shanty town" in Winchelsea
Residents will have noticed the sudden arrival in German Street of a huge windowless metal portacabin, two portaloos, a very sizeable diesel generator and an equally sizeable fuel tank, soon to be surrounded by a security fence, all parked on the verge between the Town Sign and Wesley's Tree, in the centre of historic Winchelsea. This is all courtesy of Network Rail and Southern Railways, who plan to keep, what one resident has already called a "shanty town", here for 9 weeks during the closure of the Marshlink between Hastings and Ashford.
We are told that the portacabin is intended to provide an office for Southern Railway staff to sell tickets to people getting on the occasional buses which will call at Winchelsea as a replacement for trains while the Marshlink is closed. It is also intended to be a waiting room for bus passengers. And there is a separate section for the rail workers to take breaks and to provide a "prayer room" for Moslem rail workers. As the ticket office/waiting room/rest room/prayer room and attached toilets will be open 24 hours a day, Network Rail are employing security guards! And all this is being repeated at Doleham Halt and other stations!
But is it likely that rail workers will bother to use their restroom, given that the railway is almost half a mile away, down a hill and along a winding lane (by the time you got from the railway to Winchelsea, your break would be over). And toilets up in Winchelsea are hardly very convenient (pardon the pun) for rail workers taken short on the railway line. Why not give rail workers a rest room and toilets near to where they are working? To place portaloos in Winchelsea is anyway ridiculous, given that there are 24-hour public toilets 100 yards or so down the road. Moreover, why not let bus passengers getting on at Winchelsea wait at the existing bus shelter? And instead of employing extra ticket staff and security guards to get bored at Winchelsea, selling perhaps a dozen tickets a day, why not have someone at Rye Station to come out with a ticket machine when the bus arrives there or have someone selling tickets on the bus (like they do on the train)?
As Daffy Duck said, What a way to run a railway! If anyone wonders how British railways can cost 30% more to run than elsewhere in Europe, look no further than the gold-plated, over-the-top and nonsensical arrangements at Winchelsea!
If you like to discuss how all this came about, call Roger Orpin of Network Rail on 020-8920-8959 or 07891-525496. Or call Graeme Lake at East Sussex County Council, who signed the required licence but forgot to give any public notice. Let's hope he has at least arranged for the verge to be repaired and re-seeded.
6 January 2012


Press release from Southern Railway on Marshlink disruption
"Work starts on 9 January 2012 on a major upgrade of the railway between Hastings and Ashford which will provide more reliable journeys for passengers and be the first step in potentially reducing journey times in the future.
The nine-week programme centres on essential maintenance work in Ore tunnel to improve the drainage and repair lining to the inside of the structure to prevent water seeping through. In order to take full advantage of the track closure, Network Rail engineers have re-scheduled a wide range of other improvement works to avoid further disruption in the future and allow better services for passengers in the years to come. These include:
- Renewing the track through the tunnel and around the Ore area; ¾ mile of track between Rye and Winchelsea; and around one mile of track between Ashford and Ham Street. This will result in old, noisy jointed track being replaced with smooth continuous rails.
- Refurbishment of three sets of points to improve reliability
- Replacement of rail-over-road bridges at Doleham and Three Oaks
- Surveys and maintenance of an embankment between Ashford and Ham Street
- Maintenance of 18 bridges and culverts between Ashford and Hastings
- Track improvements (tamping) to enable the line speed to be increased in the future between Rye and Hastings
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route managing director for Kent, said: “The maintenance work in Ore tunnel is vital for us to continue running a safe and reliable railway. We appreciate the impact this will have on passengers’ journeys which is why we have programmed so much other work to be done at the same time to reduce the amount of potential disruption in the future.
There is never an ideal time to carry out this scale of work and after seeking the views of community and business representatives we were keen to avoid the summer months which are so important for the local economy. We thank passengers in advance for their patience while we carry out this important work and are confident the improvements we are making are the first step towards cutting journey times which is great news for passengers in the long term.
During the work there will be no trains running between Ashford and Hastings. Southern has been working with Network Rail, highways and local authorities to put a rail replacement bus and taxi service in place.
Work is scheduled for completion on 9 March 2012."
4 January 2012


Winchelsea councillors win appeal in victory for freedom of speech
"We've been rather quiet in 2011. This blog explains what has been occupying us.
In February 2010, Cllr Bronsdon of Rye Harbour, supported by the other councillors from Icklesham, Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach wards --- Cllrs Bates, Drew, Horsman, Lyward, Merricks, Moore, Stanford, Sutton and Thompson --- lodged a complaint against the three ward councillors from Winchelsea -- Cllrs Chishick, Comotto and Terry --- for criticisng the adequacy of the Local Action Plan (LAP) questionnaire provided by Rother District Council and adopted by Icklesham Parish Council, protesting about the way in which Icklesham Parish Council had forced the questionnaire on Winchelsea, and calling on residents to boycott the questionnaire. He claimed that their actions had brought Icklesham Parish Council into disrepute, contrary to the Councillors' Code of Conduct.
A separate and very lengthy complaint was also made by Cllr Stansford of Rye Habour ward against Cllr Comotto alleging bullying of other councillors and the parish clerk, and failure to declare an interest at a meeting in August 2009.
All Winchelsea councillors were accused of making misleading and untruthful statements.
It is worth noting here that the August 2009 parish council meeting was held to discuss (in secret) a proposal to sue the Wincheslea website www.winchelsea.net for defaming Icklesham Parish Council by referring to "a history of incompetent chairmen" and "a dysfunctional council". The curious circumstances surrounding this meeting will be reviewed in another blog. Suffice it to say here that councils do not have the right to sue for defamation, as judges have felt that the threat of such action (even where it was unlikely to succeed) would intimidate critics and have a "chilling effect on democracy"! So, the whole discussion was pointless. However, under the Code of Conduct, Cllr Comotto should have declared a prejudicial interest, rather than just a personal interest, and left the meeting, as he is involved with the Winchelsea website. Cllr Comotto apologised for this error but argued that the breach was immaterial, given the pointlessness of the debate and the fact that he would have been aware of the resolution, whether or not he had attended, which meant he could have derived no material advantage.
Rother District Council commissioned a firm of solicitors to investigate the complaints. During this investigation, further complaints were made against Cllr Comotto. It is not possible to reveal these complaints as Standards Committees operate largely in secret but it is possible to say that the additional allegations made by Cllr Merricks would, if they had been made publicly, have been libellous. In the event, all the complaints bar two were dismissed by the investigator but she did conclude that the three Winchelsea councillors had brought Icklesham Parish Council into disrepute by making untruthful statements about the parish council's handling of the LAP. She also judged the language used by the councillors to have been intemperate.
At the hearing held by the Rother Standards Committee, the evidence provided to the investigator, by Cllr Stanford, purporting to show that Icklesham Parish Council had been preparing a LAP since 2005 --- and that Winchelsea councillors had therefore made untruthful and misleading statements about the suspicious suddenness of the council's proposals and demands --- was shown to be utterly incorrect. At this point, the Standards Committee decided that the issue was not the untruthful of statements but the intemperate language. The words that appeared to cause concern were "ambush" and "sham". On this basis, the Standards Committee concluded that the Winchelsea councillors had breached the Code of Conduct. The sanction imposed was a censure.
Winchelsea councillors appealed against the Standard Committee's decision on the grounds that the judge infringed their right to freedom of speech and obstructed their duty to defend their electorate against poor council decisions, and that they had not made untruthful or misleading statements and had not used intemperate language. On 12 December, an appeals tribunal chaired by a High Court Judge agreed with the Winchelsea councillors, citing a long list of legal precedents, and quashed the judgment of the Rother Standards Committee. The judgement is worth reading:
"The Tribunal has determined that the three Appellants did not fail to follow the provisions of the Code because:
1 They were legitimately exercising their right to free speech.
2 The language employed by them had not been hostile, intemperate, ill-judged or misleading.
3 They were entitled to write to local residents informing them of matters they considered of particular relevance. The councillors’ actions were within the legitimate boundary of a local councillor defending local interests.
4 Residents had not been instructed to do anything unlawful and it was open to recipients to accept or reject the guidance issued by the councillors as to how to show their opposition to adoption of a parish-wide questionnaire.
5 The Code does not preclude a councillor from opposing council policy provided he uses legitimate and reasonable means. Local councillors are often involved in, or indeed lead, local opposition to locally sensitive issues. For instance, a planning matter which has a far greater impact on a defined locality than the rest of the district. This will, of necessity, bring councillors into opposition with local or party policy."
The tribunal could not have been clearer. The judgement is also forthright about the right of councillors to freedom of speech and the nature of the democratic political acitivity. It also made crystal clear that Winchelsea councillors had not been untruthful or misleading.
In addition, the tribunal dismissed, as inappropriate, the censure imposed on Cllr Comotto for failing to declare a prejudicial conflict of interest.
The question that need to be asked, in view of this judgement, is why did Rother, despite employing two solicitors and spending well over £10,000 of tax-payers' money, not see this one coming and allowed the complaint to proceed? As the tribunal made clear, there is a well-developed case law on the underlying issues.
And Rother's blunder is a serious one because, if they had won, it is difficult to see how genuine political activity could have continued in local government or how it could ever have been held to account. How did this happen? Perhaps, Rother has been a virtual one-party state for so long that it has just lost the hang of democracy. Some of the statements made by the legal adviser to the Standards Committee revealed a very restrictive view of elective democracy and the role of councillors. In effect, Rother's lawyer implied a collective responsibility on councillors that meant they could not seek to reverse decisions of their council, even where they considered these decisions to be utterly wrong, and could not campaign against unacceptable policies even in an election.
Rother also needs to reflect on its own undeclared conflict of interest. The first complaint centred on crticism of the questionnaire which Rother produced! This makes them something of an interested party.
And what about Icklesham Parish Council? Who can dispute its dysfunctional behaviour now? There have now been three complaints to the Standards Committee against Cllr Comotto. In response to the first (by 11 other councillors), Cllr Comotto was merely asked to send fewer e-mails to the then parish clerk. In response to the second complaint (by Cllr Merricks), it was explained that Cllr Comotto had been conducting normal political activity. And now, despite throwing a huge quantity of mud at all three Winchelsea councillors, a third vexatious complaint has also failed. The net result has been to waste everybody's time and provide employment to lawyers. No wonder, Eric Pickles is junking Standards Committees!"
You can read the full decision.
Cllr Comotto
22 December 2011


Winchelsea Town Sign
This elegant oak sign, designed by resident John Haddock, was erected to commemorate the Millennium. Unfortunately, against advice, the base of the oak column was simply sunk straight into wet concrete, with no waterproofing and water running off the adjacent pavement soaking the ground around the base. Consequently and predictably, the base has rotted and become dangerous. John Haddock prevailed on the Millennium Artefacts Committee, who are responsible for the sign, to bring in the man who carved the sign, Pat Ballard, who knows all there is to know about oak. Pat has stripped away the rot, impregnated the base with preservative, coated the exposed section with waterproofing and installed four galvanised steel props (stainless steel would rot the wood further). He will be refitting a plinth facade around the base to protect it from the weather and hide the props, and is digging a drainage channel around the sign to divert the run-off from the pavement.
27 November 2011


Council budget and precept meeting
This will take place at 6:30pm on Wednesday, 30 November, at Rye Harbour.
26 November 2011


New tenants at the New Inn
New tenants, Declan Clancy and John Towler, take over the New Inn tonight (20 November). The pub will be closed from Sunday night until Friday, when Declan and John are inviting residents to a welcome drink from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Can the New Inn be saved? This will be the fifth landlords in as many years, but everybody is hoping for the best.
Thanks are due to young Jay Hare, who has run the New Inn for the last few weeks and who made a real difference in the time he has been there.
20 November 2011


Icklesham Parish Council breaks the rules again
At its meeting on 14 November, Icklesham PC made a grant of £360 to the unelected Winchelsea Corporation for repairs to one of its properties (the Lookout by the Strand Gate). Contrary to legal requirements on expenditures by parish councils, there was no proper resolution and, contrary to the Council's own policy on grants, the Corporation was not required to fill out the standard grant form and provide supporting documentation, notably a set of audited annual accounts. The latter would have shown the Corporation to have about £60-70,000 in its bank account and about £20,000 available from its fund-raising arm. The council was so keen to give money to the Corporation that the Parish Clerk secured an estimate for the work to the Corporation's properties. All other grant applicants have to get their own estimates. Two members of the council are members of the Corporation.
20 November 2011


Damaged wall near the Strand Gate in Winchelsea
One sensible decision of Icklesham Parish Council at their last meeting was to agree to a proposal from Winchelsea ward councillors to repair this section of wall, provided that the insurance company of the driver who damaged it will pay and on the basis of accepting no future liability.
20 November 2011


Footlights in Winchelsea
At the Icklesham Parish Council meeting on 14 November, councillors from the wards of Icklesham, Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach voted to defer a decision on turning off the footlights in Winchelsea at midnight until the Annual Parish Assembly in May 2012, despite a clear majority (64%) in favour in the recent council consultation. One argument appears to have been that the response from 66 households was too low. However, 66 households represent 24% of Winchelsea, much larger than the response rates received from the wards of Icklesham, Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach to the Icklesham Parish Council Local Action Plan questionnaire (to which no more than 13% responded) on the basis of which the council is making major expenditure decisions. It would also appear that some councillors have decided to give more weight to an objection voiced by an individual at a council meeting than to the majority of residents who responded to the so-called consultation.
20 November 2011


Highway maintenance
From 14 November, 12 "Community Highway Stewards" will be patrolling areas in East Sussex to find any problems with the roads and help solve any issues local people have with the highways maintained by East Sussex County Council. Each steward will patrol their patch in their van which has a “Community Highway Steward” logo. Not only will they report any potholes or other problems with the road, but they will get to know their patch and keep an eye on its condition so that can keep highways engineers informed and they can deal with any issues before they become defects in the road. For more information about the Highways Stewards or to talk about a problem in your area contact our Highways Contact centre on 0345 60 80 193 or you can register a fault in the road online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/reportafault. The Highway Steward for Winchelsea and Rye is Paula Warne, who can be contacted on 07712-841438.
20 November 2011


Bridge Inn
This has just gone on the market at £335,000.
3 November 2011


Halloween
If you do not want Trick-or-Treaters calling on you on Halloween (Monday 31 October), you can download and print a notice produced by Sussex Police asking them not to knock. This can be downloaded from the Winchelsea Neighbourhood Watch webpage. There are also printed copies in the Post Office.
29 October 2011


Complaint about Rother Planning Committee's decision on the Sainsbury and Tesco planning applications
This is a note from Christopher Strangeways.
"My correspondence continues with Rother. I have had a reply to my original complaint about the conduct of the planning meeting to consider the Sainsbury and Tesco application. It does answer one of the points made and they have agreed to review they manage Planning meetings in respect of breaks in the meeting. However in some other important respects their answers are unsatisfactory and I have sent another letter to explain why this is the case.
"If the reply to this letter still leaves me with a sense that they have not addressed my original complaint I will be taking the matter up with the Local Government Ombudsman.
"The key issues remaining are treatment of Councillor Souster, Conduct of the Chairman, failure to consider the request from a Rye Town Councillor to address the meeting, and the legality of the Sainsbury decision.
"Rather surprisingly Rother are asking the committee to examine again the Tesco decision at the next planning meeting. The Tesco decision was perfectly sound legally - it is the approval of Sainsbury that is extraordinary in the light of the earlier refusal of Tesco as the same relevant planning objections applied to both.
"If you would like to read the full text of my complaints and the replies from Rother I have posted them on a blog at this address, www.ryepig.wordpress.com.
"PS There is an excellent letter in today's Rye Observer from Biddy and Tarquin Cole about the poor design of the Sainsbury store. I fear it might be too late, but if this application is eventually refused Rye should make sure that the design criteria are included in the planner's requirements for any new application."
 14 October 2011


New Inn
The new tenant is Jay Hare. 30 September 2011


Parish Council questionnaire on footlights
This is being circulated by ward councillors. If you have not received one yet, do not worry, as there is no immediate deadline. However, you are welcome to contact one of your ward councillors. 30 September 2011


New Inn
The tenant has moved out and the lease appears to have been taken over by someone new. This expected change follows the strange events earlier in the year, when the company that owned the lease (Freedom Inns) went into administration, after having transferred the lease and the assets of the pub to the manager. 17 September 2011


Winchelsea Summer Fete
The Winchelsea Garden Society has given up the organisation of the Summer Fete that takes place in August each year. The garden show part of the event has already been moved to September. It was thought that the New Hall Management Committee would take over, but this is in doubt. Two secret meetings have been held the last one on 8 September, between the Garden Society and selected other groups in the village to try to persuade one of them to take over the event. 16 September 2011


Winchelsea Archaeological Society
WAS became a registered charity today (no.1143524). 24 August 2011


Rother Neighbourhood Watch update, 5-16 August

Eastern Rother – (Camber, East Guldeford, RyeHarbour, Winchelsea, Beach, Icklesham, Playden, Iden)

  • 18:30-22:00 on 7 August 2011 in Pett Level Road. A report of a theft from a motor vehicle. The front passenger window was smashed and a purse and mobile telephone stolen. Sussex police serial 1622 07/08/11 refers.
  • 11 August 2011 in Smeatons Lane, Winchelsea Beach. A report of youths throwing stones at peoples houses. Sussex police serial 1422 11/08/11 refers.
  • 15:30- 16:00 on 12 August 2011 in Harbour Road, Rye. A report of two thefts. Two unattended pedal cycles were targeted, one had a quick release seat switch stolen and the other had its saddle stolen. Sussex police serial 1496 12/08/11 refers.
  • 22:43- 09:45 on 16 August 2011 in Sea Road, Winchelsea Beach. A report of criminal damage. A car was sprayed with gold graffiti. Sussex police serial 0451 16/08/11 refers.

Rye

  • 03:30 - 09:30 on 7 August 2011 in Ailsworth Lane, Rye. A report of criminal damage. A stone was thrown at a window. Sussex police serial 0589 07/08/11 refers.

Rother Levels - (Peasmarsh, Beckley, Northiam & Rye Foreign)

  • 8 August 2011 in Kitchenour Lane, Peasmarsh. A report of a burglary. A shed was broken into after the padlock was cut off. It is not known yet what, if anything has been taken. Sussex police serial 1357 08/08/11 refers.

BredeValley - (Udimore, Brede, Broad Oak & Westfield)

  • 16:00 on 11 August 2011 in Udimore. A report of a burglary. A wooden tea caddy, a wooden sewing box and a wooden clock were amongst the items stolen. Sussex police serial 1323 11/08/11 refers.
  • 7 August 2011 in Stablefields, Westfield. A report of a burglary. A silver PC tower, a Technika TV + DVD combo and a Weihrauch97K 22 air rifle were amongst the items stolen. Sussex police serial 1918 07/08/11 refers.

Marsham – (Pett, Fairlight, Guestling & Three Oaks)

  • 15:00- 15:30 on 10 August 2011 in Knowle Road, Fairlight. A report of criminal damage. A male youth was seen to cause damage to a parish council notice board. Sussex police serial 1458 10/08/11 refers.

If you have any information to pass to Sussex Police regarding the incidents detailed above, please contact us on our non-emergency number 0845 60 70 999 or alternatively Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.


Winchelsea medieval silver coin recovered
Following a request by Winchelsea Archaeological Society, Rye Police have recovered a mint-condition silver livre tournois coin found last year in the Cricket Field allotment in Winchelsea but not handed in to the owner of the land, which is the National Trust. The coin is dated to around 1270, close to the date of the foundation of Winchelsea and a hugely important piece of archaeology. WAS approached the police after Icklesham Parish Council, who lease the land from the National Trust, refused to take any action. 12 August 2011

Message from Chief Constable Martin Richards
Along with all other Chief Constables in the UK, earlier today I took part in a telephone conference with the Home Secretary to discuss the incidents of disorder which are taking place in some parts of the UK. Here in Sussex we have been working hard to increase our presence in local communities and have been actively engaging with the public to reassure them about the steps we are taking to keep them safe. I have been heartened to see how everyone is pulling together to help prevent the sad scenes witnessed elsewhere in the country. I'm pleased to report that we have had, with the exception of two arrests in Hastings, a trouble free 24 hours. Please be assured that we are prepared for any deterioration of the situation but at the moment there is no intelligence to indicate there is any risk of disorder in Sussex. We will continue to monitor intelligence and are stepping up our preparation for a number of high profile events taking place across the county this weekend, including Pride and Airbourne. We have also provided mutual aid to our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police, however we are very conscious of the need to ensure that local needs must continue to be met. You are probably aware that there have been numerous rumours circulating across Sussex. It is clear that the public are genuinely concerned about current events and we have been working hard to ensure that inaccurate information does not cause unnecessary concern or worry to residents. We have been using our website and social media accounts to keep the public updated and are working directly with groups who need specific advice. On a personal level it has been heartening to receive so many positive messages in appreciation of the work we are doing and support from the public in dispelling rumours. I will continue to keep you updated about the picture in Sussex as events unfold but would like to extend my thanks for your vital ongoing support at this time. Martin Richards, Chief Constable. 11 August 2011

Town Sign
Serious wood rot has been discovered at the base of the post of the Town Sign. This is due to the use of green oak rather than the seasoned oak specified in the original design and sinking the post straight into wet concrete. The designer believes the structure is now unsafe and that the entire post should be replaced but an alternative proposal is being investigated to prop the post up with a special metal brace. 5 August 2011

Winchelsea Speed Watch
Speed Watch this morning clocked 35 vehicles travelling between 35 and 50mph within the 30mph speed limit in Monks Walk and German Street in just one hour. The Speed Watch team reckon they missed another dozen or more. 5 August 2011

New non-emergency police number
If you need to contact Sussex Police for anything other than an emergency (eg reporting suspicious behaviour or a crime that has already taken place), instead of calling 0845-6070-999, you can now use 101. 17 July 2011

Winchelsea Post Office
Winchelsea Post Office opening hours were changed today, following departure of Roger. They are now Monday to Friday 9:00am to 1:00pm and Saturday 9:00am to 12:30pm. 13 July 2011

Neighbourhood Watch alert
On Monday, 11 July, a rucksack containing valuables was snatched from an unlocked car in Castle Street sometime between 17:00 and 17:45. 12 July 2011

Imminent road closure in Winchelsea
Friars Road, St Thomas's Street, Castle Street, Mill Road, Barrack Square, Rookery Lane and Back Lane are to be closed 2:00pm to 3:30pm on Thursday, 14 July, for a school procession. 11 July 2011

The Ship Inn at Winchelsea Beach
The Ship Inn, refurbished as a restaurant/cafe/bar/deli/wineshop has announced that it will be opening on Sunday, 10 July. The new venture boasts former nationally-renowned Winchelsea butcher, Jamie Wickens. 5 July 2011

Butchery at Winchelsea Farm Foods
Ashbees, the butchers in Rye was closed last week. Ashbees is owned by Winchelsea Farm Foods, the trading subsidiary of the Wetland Trust, set up by Mr and Mrs Rumsey of Icklesham as a nature conservation charity. Ostensibly, the closure was for "refurbishment". However, the shop was refurbished when it was purchased by Winchelsea Farm Foods in 2009. And the latest "refurbishment" has seen two butchers sacked. There are also reports of a culling of staff at Winchelsea Farm Food's butchery unit at Suttons Industrial Estate in Winchelsea Beach.
But the highest profile sacking at Winchelsea Farm Foods this week has been Jimmy Scott, the butcher hired only six weeks ago, with much fanfare, to run Ashbees and the butcher's shop in Winchelsea, and to replace nationally-renowned butcher, Jamie Wickens, who was sacked/suspended by Winchelsea Farm Foods in January (see below). Jimmy was due to move his family down from Scotland to Winchelsea, where they were to have occupied the flat above Winchelsea Farm Kitchen.
Jimmy is now working for Orkney Gold in Scotland. Meanwhile, Jamie has been busy at The Ship Inn in Winchelsea Beach, which is due to re-open in early July as a restaurant/bar/cafe/gallery/deli/wine shop.
The reason for Ashbees' sudden closure is not clear. If it was due to competition from the new butcher opening in Cinque Port Street in Rye in June, then the business must have been on the edge already.
Winchelsea Farm Foods appear to be keeping open the one-room deli next to Ashbees, originally to have been part of a "Neals Yard-style" development the butcher's shop. And the Winchelsea Garden Shop, closed last year, after opening for just a couple of months, has been refurbished to add an "overflow" tearoom and re-opened for two days over the weekend of the Winchelsea Open Gardens Day (it is now closed again). Winchelsea Farm Foods plans to add another tearoom to the Windmill Farm Orchard "farm shop" on the road to Icklesham, which it has been promoting as a "corner shop" for Icklesham (nothwithstanding its distance from Icklesham). This may face competition from a shop located in Icklesham, for which planning permission is being sought.
Finally, Roger is leaving Winchelsea Post Office, also owned by Winchelsea Farm Foods, to join Jamie Wickens at The Ship Inn. 2 July 2011

Neighbourhood Watch news.
It was reported on 5 June that almost one-third of the roof lead has been stolen from St Thomas's Church. However, upon enquiry, it turns out that the theft was of one-third of the lead on the single-storey vestry roof. The theft was discovered on 5 June, only after the heavy rain of the day before. The theft is likely to be linked to the theft of lead at Trojans Plat (see below) and may therefore have occurred at the same time. The thieves appear to be happy with small hauls. The thieves are believed to have climbed a drain pipe coated in anti-climb paint and would have triggered a motion-activated security light.  8 June 2011

Neighbourhood Watch news.
Lead was stolen from the porch roof of 3 Trojans Plat, some time between the night of Wednesday 25 May and the morning of Friday 27 May. According to police, there have been a series of lead thefts in the area.
Damage was caused to a chicken coop in the Back Lane allotments between 18:30 on Sunday 30 May and 09:00 on Monday 31 May. This is the latest in a series of acts of vandalism at the allotments. 2 June 2011

Icklesham Parish Council meeting, 16 May 2011.
This was the first meeting of the council following the election of 5 May 2011. Members were co-opted for Icklesham and Winchelsea Beach, where seats had not been contested in the election. Nick Warren, a resident of Icklesham, who had stood in the District Council election, was co-opted for Icklesham ward. Peter Turner, a resident of Winchelsea, who was defeated in the Winchelsea parish ward election, was co-opted for the Beach. Mr Turner stood for election in Winchelsea in 1999. He was also defeated on that occasion but was co-opted for another ward and was also made chairman at the same time. There are now five Winchelsea residents on the council, although Cllr Moore actually lives in Guestling. The main business of the night was a proposal by the new clerk, Steve Foreman, to carve £44,647 out of the budget of £111,386 (40%) and place it in reserve. Winchelsea councillors Chishick and Comotto opposed the proposal on the grounds that 40% was too high. They noted that, in the previous financial year, only five budget items were overspent to the tune of some £3,500, and that over the previous four years, such overspends ranged between about £1,100 and £6,000. They also argued that there is no risk at all of overspending on budget items which are fixed in advance (eg salaries, insurance, electricity bills for the footlights), while annual revenue has been greater or lower than budget by no more than about £70. The councillors noted that Icklesham Parish Council has underspent its budget by 20-53% in recent years, so the council already effectively carried massive reserves. Cllr Chishick reminded the council that it already stood out from the other 32 parishes of Rother this year by imposing a 21% tax increase, while 21 of the others had either frozen or cut taxes, and the remaining 11 had asked for small increases (£143 to £2,100). The Chairman (Cllr Horsman) justified the 21% tax hike by claiming that Icklesham Parish was more expensive to run than other parishes because it was composed of four villages. However, there are four other parishes in the district which are warded, three of which froze their tax, while one cut by some £14,000. Cllrs Chishick and Comotto supported the clerk’s proposal to do an assessment of the risk of overspending. They strongly commended his plan to construct a medium-term financial framework, an initiative which they have supported in the past and which they noted was envisaged in the council’s Financial Regulations. 18 May 2011

Ward elections in Winchelsea, 5 May 2011.
Cllrs Chishick and Comotto were re-elected: Cllr Terry was not. In his place, Stephen Turner, a former councillor, was elected. The fifth candidate, Peter Turner, a former councillor and chairman, was not elected, but has apparently been assured by councillors from other wards that he will be co-opted as a councillor for either Icklesham ward (both Icklesham and Beach ward vacancies as insufficient candidates stood for election). This is reminiscent of the last time Mr (P) Turner stood for election in Winchelsea in 1999. He also lost that election but was co-opted for another ward and made chairman, all on the same night. After failing to be re-elected as chairman in 2001, he resigned from the council. For further details, click here. 8 May 2011

Royal Wedding reception in Winchelsea, 29 April 2011.
This informal gathering was a huge success. Some 150 residents and guests attended. It was somewhat cramped in the Court Hall but the bar was drunk dry and everyone had a convivial time, rounding off a wonderful day. The organising committee wishes to offer thanks to Tina Alexander, Lorna Challand, Catherine Comotto, Alison Davies, Sandra MacKenzie-Smith and Jan Mears for providing food, to Tina Alexander for donating wine, to Paul Anderson for supplying the champagne at cost, to Tina Alexander, Lorna Challand and Monica Janssens for their poetic observations on weddings and to all those who made generous donations. Thanks to those donations and the Royal Wedding Quiz, the event covered its costs and made a small surplus, which will go towards the Diamond Jubilee. 1 May 2011

Winchelsea Corporation, 25 April 2011.
For those interested in such things, there is news from the "mayoring" in Winchelsea. This ceremony, which takes place on Easter Monday, sees the 13 or so "freemen" of Winchelsea elect a "mayor" from among their number. It celebrates Winchelsea's long tradition as a "rotten borough". From the 15th century, most residents were disenfranchised by local laws which required new freemen/voters to be co-opted by existing freemen (whereas in medieval times any male over the age of 12 who paid his taxes automatically became a freeman). Winchelsea Corporation therefore differs from Rye and other Cinque Port corporations in not being democratically elected. This year, saw the incumbent "mayor" re-appointed, R Beecroft replaced as a "jurat" by M de Smith, J Rodley appointed as a new "freeman" and S Rumsey appointed as an "honorary freeman" (honorary, as he is not a resident of Winchelsea).  26 April 2011

Winchelsea Little Shop Association AGM, 9 April 2011.
The AGM re-elected B Chishick, Mrs C Comotto, D Morris and M Terry to the Management Committee. There were no other candidates. The report of the Chairman noted that only £22 in interest had been earned on the WLSA's funds during 2009/10. This was due to the failure of the former Treasurer (Mr S Bevan) to open a deposit account as instructed. The Treasurer had subsequently co-authored a proposal to dissolve the WLSA and disburse its funds, partly on the grounds that so little interest was being earned on the money! The meeting was also informed that the New Hall Management Committee had refused an offer of a loan from the WLSA. This had been proposed at the recent EGM. The idea had been that the loan would provide seed money for grant applications to fund major improvements to the New Hall. At the EGM, a member of the New Hall committee had argued that the hall urgently needed insulating and major upgrading of its facilities. At the end of the meeting, Mr R Comotto noted that, after the previous AGM, a notice had been posted on the Little Shop noticeboard by the Greyfriars Opera Committee claiming that, in a letter to WLSA shareholders, he had accused the Opera of trying to get hold of the WLSA's funds. Mr Comotto quoted from the poster and from his letter to make clear that he had in fact not made any such claim. The Opera Committee has been asked to apologize for their misleading statement. 9 April 2011

Parish Council elections, 5 May 2011.
In contrast to Winchelsea, there will be no contested elections in the other wards of Icklesham Parish. Indeed, in Icklesham and Winchelsea Beach ward, they cannot find enough candidates, and no residents of Rye Harbour are willing to stand at all: they will continue to be represented by residents of Rye Town and Winchelsea Beach. 8 April 2011

Parish Council elections, 5 May 2011.
Once again, there will be a contested election for the three seats for Winchelsea ward on Icklesham Parish Council. The three incumbent ward councillors are standing for re-election --- B Chishick, R Comotto and M Terry. They are being challenged by P and S Turner. The basic issues remains the proposal for a separate parish for Winchelsea.  7 April 2011

Icklesham Parish Council tax hike.
Council tax bills have landed on door mats. The County and District Councils, as well as the Police and Fire authorities, have frozen their tax demands, in line with government guidance. Of the 33 parish and town councils in Rother, 21 have also followed the government by freezing or reducing their tax. Another 11 parish councils in Rother have increased tax by between £145 and £2,130. Icklesham Parish Council stands out by having imposed a hike of £16,133, considerably more than all the other councils put together (the 11 other councils which have increased tax have done so by a total of about £11,000)! Only Winchelsea ward councillors voted against this increase but were outvoted by councillors from Icklesham, Winchelsea Beach and Rye Harbour. Since 2003, Icklesham Parish Council's tax has quadrupled. However, it has always significantly underspent its budget.

New Inn lease back on the market.
To buy the lease, you will need to pay "approximately" £59,000 upfront for fixtures and fittings, legal fees, annual licence fee, broker's and stocktaking fees, training fee, security deposit and working capital. The annual rent is £30,000 (£576.92 per week), down from £52,000. The rent is subject to an annual RPI increase, capped at a maximum of 4.75%. The landord, Greene King, is advertising an "exciting opportunity to transform 'Village Inn' into...a total destination venue", suggesting that you might need "good working capital..." The Regional Manager observes that, "Working with the local commuiity is essential to the success of the pub" and that "during the winter, you'll need to work hard to keep the locals happy". Interestingly, he claims that "local residents appreciate the quality of the ales on offer" and warns "the locals talk!" "Barrelage" figures were 44 barrels per year in 2010/11, down from 78 in 2009/10 and 94 in 2008/09.
13-Mar-11

Fly-tipping at Pear Tree Marsh allotment.
Bags of rubble and an old wardrobe have been dumped on the derelict patch of land in the allotment on Tanyard Lane. Last year, the Council finally cleared most of the rubbish from this area, including a car, trailer and a whole skipload of other rubbish. However, the Council has refused to complete the clearance project and reneged on plans to clear the area of undergrowth and self-seeded trees. It also refused to instal an expensive lock and chain on the gate into the allotment, following the unexplained removal of the previous one and despite being warned of the risk of leaving the site open.
11-Mar-11

Jamie Wickens is back.
The Ship Inn in Winchelsea Beach is due to be launched at Easter, as a bar/ bistro/cafe/gallery, with Jamie advising on the best food, meat and wine. See www.shipwinchelseabeach.com.
11-Mar-11

Winchelsea Film Night.
21 March --- The Infidel starring Omid Djalili
2 May --- Of Gods and Men
30 May --- The King's Speech starring Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter
All films are at the New Hall at 7:00pm for 7:30pm.
7-Mar-11

Wanted: new clerk to Winchelsea Corporation. Winchelsea Corporation is seeking a new clerk to take over in December 2012 from the current clerk, Malcolm Pratt, who will retire after 25 years in the post. The job is unpaid but you do get a lawyer's wig and gown. The Winchelsea Corporation ceased to have any civic powers in 1886, when Winchelsea was absorbed (under protest) into the new Parish of Icklesham. It was however preserved as a charity in order to maintain the membership of the equally defunct Cinque Port Confederation, of which Winchelsea was a Head Port with the special title of Ancient Town. The members of the Corporation elect themselves every Easter Monday. This is in contrast to the other Ancient Town, Rye, where the Corporation became the elected Town Council. 26-Feb-11

Winchelsea-Rye road repairs. The Highways Agency has confirmed that the road repairs advertised as due to start on 7 February by notices placed by Strand Bridge were put up in the wrong place. The road which was scheduled for repair was Winchelsea Road at Guestling Green. The road over the Strand Bridge is actually the Royal Military Road (A259(T)). Repairs to this road are provisionally scheduled for January or February 2012. 25-Feb-11

The Ship Inn, Winchelsea Beach. The Ship Inn is to retain its name after refurbishment and will not be renamed Sea Road House. It is due to open at Easter. 17-Feb-11

Key words from events in early February.

Wichelsea word cloud

Winchelsea Little Shop Association EGM. A full report is available on the Winchelsea News blog. Read more about the history of the WLSA13-Feb-11

Winchelsea Little Shop Association EGM. The resolution to dissolve the WLSA and give away its money, proposed by Mrs Anne Rumsey, was defeated by 49 votes to 24. The WLSA has been asked to consider making a commercial loan to the New Hall to help fund insulation and other improvements. 12-Feb-11

Jamie Wickens. The shocking news has been received that Jamie and Sally Wickens have been suspended by Winchelsea Farm Foods. Jamie has been a butcher in Winchelsea since 1983 and is regarded by the community here as a "living treasure". His butcher's shop attracted customers from across the county and beyond. Jamie is famous nationally as one of the best butchers in the country and was recently included in The Times' list of the top ten butchers in the UK. It is believed that Jamie and Sally will be moving to the Sea Road House, a new restaurant/bar/cafe with attached butcher/deli/wine shop being set up in Winchelsea Beach at the former Ship Inn. 30-Jan-11

Royal celebrations. A well-attended meeting convened by ward councillors in the New Hall agreed to set up a co-ordinating committee for celebrations of the Royal wedding on 29 April and for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The core of the committee was formed. Others will be invited to join. The first meeting will be announded shortly. 22-Jan-11

New butchers in Winchelsea Beach. A new venture is being set up to replace the Ship Inn in Winchelsea Beach by Tom Watkins, former manager of the Pet Shop Boys, with an all-day restaurant/bar/cafe with attached butcher/deli/wine shop. A planning application (RR/2010/2659/P) is currently before Rother District Council. The promotional material for the Sea Road House said the venture would be run by well-established local professionals, including one of the top 10 butchers in the country. 17-Jan-11 corrected 17-Feb-11 

Bridge Inn closed. Winchelsea's second pub appears to have closed, although it is not clear whether this is temporary or permanent. 13-Dec-10

Railway crossing in Station Road to be temporarily closed to traffic. The replacement of rails will close the crossing from 22:00 on 14 January to 08:00 on 17 January and then overnight from 22:00 to 06:00 on 17 to 21 January. 07-Jan-11

Public meeting to discuss royal celebrations in April 2011 and 2012. On 22 January, at 10:30am, there will be a meeting in the New Hall, convened by Winchelsea councillors, for Winchelsea residents, clubs, societies and businesses to discuss a possible programme of celebrations for the royal wedding on 29 April 2011 and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.  28-Dec-10

Winchelsea on TV. On 10 January, at 7:30pm, the BBC South TV series "Inside Out" will be about Kentish medieval hero, Wilikin of the Weald. Wilikin and his force of Wealden archers ambushed the French army sent to support the barons against King John at Lewes and chased them to Old Winchelsea, where he besieged them until they escaped by ship. 20-Dec-10

Barling House oak certain to be condemned. According to District Councillor Nick Ramus, a second surveyor's opinion has attributed subsidence to the mature oak in the garden of Barling House, Hiham Green, and it is virtually certain that the Rother Planning Committee will approve its removal, despite widespread opposition from Winchelsea residents. 14-Dec-10

Icklesham Parish Council to increase tax by 20.6% next year. At its meeting on 13 December, the council voted to hike the "precept" or parish council tax for 2011/12 from £78,500 to £94,633. Only Winchelsea ward councillors voted against the increase. The budget includes no new projects in Winchelsea. 14-Dec-10

Former MP loses legal fight over MP Expenses Scandal article. Jacqui Lait has just lost her second attempt to sue the Evening Standard for defamation. Mr Justice Eady said that any jury would be bound to decide that it was fair comment for the newspaper to say that her letter to The Times in 2009, the subject of the suit, may risk the ire of some. The High Court struck out elements of Ms Lait's initial claim in March 2009 and ordered her to pay £10,400 legal costs, but gave her permission to submit an amended document. Commenting on the second submission. Mr Justice Eady said it was 'unreal to suggest that readers of the Evening Standard would not think the worse of an MP who had taken advantage of (or 'milked') the expenses system simply because he or she had stayed within the letter of the law.' In the light of that, it was felt that no jury could award her damages, even if it concluded that the article also suggested her letter was hypocritical. Ms Lait was forced to pay back £7,000 in interest but had claimed five figures and expenses to help furnish her second home. She has also made a six-figure capital gain on the taxpayer-funded mortage on her second home. 10-Dec-10

Crash at Strand Gate. The wall next to the Strand Gate was smashed yesterday by a car coming down from the High Street. This is not the first impact with the wall but it is the first breach. Residents have complained about vehicles racing down the High Street to get to the Gate before traffic appears from the other side. Ironically, when a photograph was being taken today of the damage, the problem was neatly illustrated when a van driven by the chairman of Icklesham Parish Council almost hit a car coming up through the arch, leading to an altercation between drivers. 10-Dec-10

Canterville Ghost re-arranged. The performance will now take place on Friday, 7th January. 10-Dec-10

Oil leak on the High Street. A refuse lorry collecting from the Little Shop yesterday morning sprang a leak in its hydraulic system. Oil was split around the junction with St Thomas's Street and Castle Street. While waiting for assistance, one of the drivers, wearing a high-visibility jacket, tried to slow traffic to warn other drivers of the risk. Inevitably, there were problems with the usual muppets, who refused to slow or got angry that someone was trying to help them. The spill was treated with sand. 10-Dec-10

Canterville Ghost postponed. Due to the bad weather, the play has had to be postponed. It will now take place on either 7th or 12th January. 03-Dec-10

New parish clerk resigns. The new parish clerk, in post for only six months, has resigned. No reasons have been given to councillors. 22-Nov-10

Parish council proposes to increase tax by 21%. Icklesham Parish Council is proposing an increase of 20.6% in its tax demand on residents for 2011/12, despite calls from government for no increases. 22-Nov-10

New PCSO for Winchelsea. James Armstrong has taken over from Lee Miles. See the announcement. 1-Oct-10

Sainsbury to open in Rye. East Sussex County Council have announced that the Lower School site in Rye has been sold to Sainbsury's. See the announcement. 8-Jun-10

Election of the WLSA management committee for 2010/11  At the AGM of the WLSA on 24 April 2010, the following votes were cast for the 12 candidates who stood for the eight seats on the committee. The votes recorded below were corrected following a check which revealed a mistake on one of the tally sheets. 28-Apr-10

Alexander, Tina 29 not elected
Bevan, Simon 39 elected
Chishick, Ben 50 elected
Comotto, Catherine 51 elected
Davis, Tony 39 elected
Dunk, John 41 elected
Jessup, John 37 not elected
Morris, David 48 elected
Noah, Frank 34 not elected
Rumsey, Anne 40 elected
Simpson, Anne 36 not elected
Terry, Mike 42 elected

Mayoring. On Easter Monday, the unelected Winchelsea Corporation will choose, from among themselves, a mayor for the Corporation for the next year. The result of the secret ballot will be Michael Melvin. 5-Apr-10

Films in Winchelsea. The village films project is to be extended to Winchelsea from this month. The first film to be shown will be "Creation", the acclaimed recently-released film about Charles Darwin, which will be screened on Monday, 15 March, in the New Hall in Winchelsea, at 7:00pm for 7:30pm start. This will be followed by the new "Sherlock Holmes" film on 26 April and "Bright Star", about the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, on 24 May. Entry is £4.50 for adults and £3 for under-16s. There will be a bar. 1-Mar-10

New consultation questionnaire from the Winchelsea Town Plan. The new questionnaire covers a wide range of general issues not already consulted on. Residents should have received copies at home. The completed questionnaire should be returned by 28 February 2010. 12-Feb-10

Barrier to be installed at Winchelsea Station level crossing. Network Rail have agreed to a request made by Winchelsea councillors through the County Council for a barrier at this crossing, which has a very high accident rate. It will be installed by April 2010, possibly earlier. 10-Feb-10

War Memorial given Grade II listing. English Heritage has accepted a request by Winchelsea councillors for the War Memorial in the churchyard to be listed. See the Listing. 9-Feb-10

Parish Council precept to rise by over 12% from April 2010. In December, the budget and precept were set at £99,843 and £77,500, respectively. However, at its meeting on 11 January, Icklesham Parish Council added another £1,000, increasing the budget and precept to £100,843 and £8,500, respectively. 15-Jan-10

Footpaths across National Trust land in Winchelsea. The Trust has issued a map of the footpaths that cross their land in and around Winchelsea, and guidance to walkers about crossing fields being grazed by animals. Walkers, casual and serious, need to read this information.

Proposed new timetable for Winchelsea Station. Southern Rail have published a draft timetable that includes the line between Ore and Rye, through Winchelsea Station, that would come into effect in December 2010. They are looking for comments by 10 January 2010. See the covering document, Monday-Friday timetable, Saturday timetable and Sunday timetable.

Names commemorated on the War Memorial in Winchelsea. Do you have any information? Winchelsea ward councillors would be grateful for any background, including photographs. What is known about the names can be seen on this website. Ward councillors can be contacted here or via the Winchelsea Community Answerphone on 01797 225333.


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