Standing up to save The Buckle !

I am East Sussex born and bred  and traced my family back 300 years before records ran out, but there were Bretts  documented in the  County before that and I believe my name came here with my ancestors in 1066!

After a lifetime teaching in secondary schools in London and elsewhere, I wanted to return to my roots in the beautiful South Downs countryside and be close to my childhood haunts and memories.

I  had a weekend job in a Seaford Coffee shop in the 1960s and friends who lived here (wonder where they all are now?) so choosing to move here less than 2 years ago  to the sea and the big skies with their stunning cloudscapes was not difficult. It has taken me a while to find my feet and work out what is going on here but people are friendly and chat everywhere you go.

I have learned so much about the sad state of local politics in the last month and this week have begun to attend meetings in the town to find out more about what goes on and why so many people are dissatisfied with the work of Seaford Town Council.  I attended a Planning Committee meeting where I was taken aback by the lack lustre response of the members to challenge anything the District Council might then reject, and asked for information as to how our Neighbourhood  Plan is progressing as we desperately need one and it is quite a long and involved process.   http://www.pas.gov.uk/neighbourhood-planning

This lack is now highlighted as recently Lewes District council published its plans for building more homes in the area. Like many other residents I was concerned as we do not have a good infrastructure here to support more residents, especially as regards NHS provision. However when I heard about the plan so sell off  The Buckle car park for an ‘iconic boutique  apartment development’ and use the money to provide housing (some ‘affordable’ allegedly )…elsewhere in the district- I was  not impressed. This car park is the only one at the far end of the seafront where fisherman, surfers, canoeists, walkers, cyclists and users of the nearby Bishopstone railway station can park. It also has a recycling area and a public toilet used by tourists and residents alike

IFS began a petition to try to stop this https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-seaford-s-buckle-car-park-from-development  and with the paper petitions I and others have been circulating in the town this week we now have over 1000 signatures from all sectors of the Community.

There are so many other questions about what is going on here and I plan to attend the first full council meeting of my life on Thursday, but not until I have done my stint at the polling station and hoping all four candidates from Independents for Seaford will be elected.  Then we will see some local Councillors who will not sit back and let the town I have already come to love and enjoy be destroyed.

I’m for Seaford!                               Read more here:   http://ifseaford.org.uk/    twitter @ifseaford

Walking with renewed purpose

On May 8th I woke up to find that not only did we have a Tory landslide and my local hardworking Lib Dem MP Norman Baker had lost his seat, but as local people had voted on national party lines so had my hard working Independent  local Town Councillor Sylvia Dunn. I wrote to Sylvia expressing my dismay and a few days later found myself in a  pub with Sylvia, Sarah McStravick another ex Independent  councillor from a different ward and a bunch of other locals who no longer thought national party politics should be running our Town Council. It seems we were not alone and as the week went on we discovered Frome in Somerset had completely taken over theirs in a few short years and  we read their book on Flatpack Democracy http://www.flatpackdemocracy.co.uk/ . As the week went on we discovered similar movements as far apart as Liskeard, Cornwall and Alderly Edge in Cheshire.

As a local by election would shortly take place owing to the death of a ward  candidate on the eve of the election, we had no time to lose. Within a few days Independents for Seaford was born as a minor political party and an amazing video produced https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu21va8sbz4 along with election leaflets, posters, badges and key rings. All on a shoe string budget of donations of money but most importantly time and skills with the media needed by some very talented people.

We also had a website http://ifseaford.org.uk/ a twitter feed @ifseaford and facebook pages for local supporters

We now had 4 candidates all active in Seaford as there was 4 seats up for election this time.

Next of course the walking started for me ….Initially I went out with Sylvia , Sarah and other volunteers door knocking and talking to residents- very enlightening  and a  valuable experience though very time consuming.

The key thing  now was to get the leaflets out so that residents knew there was an alternative to the nationals.

So that is how I spent the next few days. Walking many miles with renewed purpose round the streets of Seaford in and out of little closes and fighting letter box draft excluders. I now have a new admiration for postal delivery staff…and then there are the dogs.

It is a  very long time since I was involved in any sort of politics so I have a lot more to learn about the workings of the Town Council. Watch this space as the next few months are going to be very interesting.

If we can do this is Seaford think what could be done nationally… have a look at our first press release if you are interested

http://ifseaford.org.uk/ifs-launch-press-release/