As 2019 comes to a close, Wealden District Council’s Leader, Bob Standley, and Chief Executive, Trevor Scott, look back at a decade of achievement.
“As a Council, Wealden has truly transformed the way it operates and provides services to our residents over the last 10 years. I am proud that we have continued to be able to provide high quality front line services while removing £4 million from the annual running costs of the Council,” said Council Leader Bob Standley.
“By embracing the benefits of digital technology, we are able to provide over 100 council services through our online My Wealden portal. This allows busy residents to access council services when and where they want to. It also means our staff are able to spend more time helping vulnerable residents that require personal attention.
“When we started our New Build project in 2011, building council houses was seen as unfashionable. I am pleased to say it is not unfashionable now. Through our New Build scheme we have built 199 new council homes in Wealden, adding to the 3,000 homes we already provide. In 2018 we took a further step. We set up our stand-alone housing company, Sussex Weald Homes. It aims to meet the demand from first-time buyers and older down-sizers in rural areas. This is not being met by commercial developers. Our first development, Woodpecker View in Jarvis Brook, is a mix of 34 smaller homes for sale.
“Getting the balance right between allowing new homes to be built for a growing district and preserving Wealden’s outstanding countryside and heritage, has always been a challenge. It is one we continue to meet through carefully-considered planning policies. In recent years, we have added to the area of open access countryside for our residents to enjoy through the creation of Walshes Park in Crowborough and Horsted Green Park in Uckfield.
This year saw the Council unanimously declare a Climate Change emergency. In the coming years we will set an example as to what can be achieved to reduce our carbon emissions.
“It is an uncertain world. Our ambition to be financially self-sufficient is essential if we are to meet a growing demand for public services. Our new crematorium at Horam, which opened in April, and our investment in Hailsham’s Vicarage Field shopping centre, are part of a developing commercial strategy. By investing in our rural communities, we can bring real benefits to local people. And provide an income source for the Council away from council tax and business rates.
“I am delighted to say that Wealden remains a great place to live and that residents recognise the important role the Council plays in keeping it that way. Independent surveys report that nine out of ten people like living here. We want this to continue,” said Council Chief Executive Trevor Scott.
Sound business management is essential for the Council to continue deliver its wide range of planning, housing and public health services.
“Less than one per cent of our waste goes to landfill, and Wealden achieves the highest rate of recycling in East Sussex. We have created a number of shared services which keep costs down and provide greater resilience when we need it.
“The Building Control Partnership based at Wealden now serves four local authority areas. Providing an enhance service, our Shared Environmental Health Service with Rother has been able to introduce a 5-star grading system of pet boarding facilities this year across the District. Our strong and sound financial management of the Council over the last 10 years means we enter the new decade in a very positive position. And we look forward to making Wealden an even better place to live, work and visit in the decade ahead”.
Pictured: Wealden's new crematorium