The council met in January. It was a busy meeting. Although it wasn’t on the agenda, it was noted that representatives of the council would be meeting the Guestling council subcommittee on the possible development behind the houses on Pett Road and Watermill Lane to clarify what the Guestling position is on this. The position of Pett Parish Council has not changed and no action will be taken until the draft local plan is published in a month or two. While this meeting will have taken place by the time you receive this issue of the parish news, any developments will reported next month.
A response from the district council to the letter sent to the chief executive of Rother protesting about the planned closure of the toilets had been received. The response proposes a solution within which the toilets are kept open for the summer months and the cost is shared between the district and parish councils. The council discussed this and a response is being sent. Essentially, the council will only agree to the proposal under certain conditions, the two most important being that the toilets are open all year round and that they are brought up to a full working efficiency before this arrangement comes into force. An inspection by the contractor who empties the Recreation Ground cesspit has indicated that there are several leaks into the present cesspit at Pett Level and therefore virtually clear water is being removed by the present contractor. A copy of the council response to the district council is on Pettnet.
Following the discussion on the toilets, the council considered the budget for the year 2024/25. It was agreed to increase the precept by £3000 to £26,000, which still only represents about a pound a week for a band D property. This is the first increase for several years and is well below inflation. And the figure you see on your council tax demand is not simply what the parish council decides; it depends on the number of properties in the parish and on a multiplier applied by the district council to take into account all discounts provided and non-payments.
Following a report from Chris Saint, our flood warden, at which he noted that, following research and investigations, the Environment Agency had produced a report that recommended that the culvert under Chick Hill from the reed beds should be enlarged; a meeting would be held with the county council to decide how this could be done – and funded. A long discussion followed; Councilors Andrew Dunlop and Andy Norcott disagreed with the Environment Agency solution. Their views would be passed on to those making the final decision. Andrew’s solution was included in a recent issue of the parish news.
You may have noticed that the basket is missing from the basket swing in the children’s playground. This is because the universal joint, from which the basket was suspended, had become rusty. The basket will be replaced as soon as the weather is suitable.
Two issues related to dogs have come up in the last few days. The first is the perennial problem of people not taking home their ‘poo bags’. If I have asked once for people not to litter the countryside with these bags, I have done so several times. They have even been found in the trees at the Hastings Country Park! The second issue is that it has been reported that someone was bitten by a dog in the woods. I understand that similar incidents have occurred previously, so I would just ask those who take their dogs to the woods (or anywhere) to make sure that they are under control when near to other walkers and dogs.
I have only one death to report this month, but it is particularly tragic. Last month, I reported the death of Terry Cuthbert; his wife Annie has now died. Annie was the Pilates instructor at the village hall and will be much missed. A joint funeral was held..Our sympathy goes to the Cuthbert family.
David Penfold, Chair, Pett Parish Council
Rural Rother Trust Grants
Aims are to benefit the rural part of Rother District in
- the relief of poverty;
- the advancement of education; and
- any other charitable objects for the benefit of the community of Rural Rother.
The Trust has helped with:
- a grant towards a walking aid for a severely disabled child
- replacement household goods like a cooker, mattress, washing machine
- a grant towards the cost of equipment for a young person to pursue a course at college
- equipment for a disabled person’s buggy
- a notice board for a nature reserve owned by a parish council
- improvement to the entrance of a village hall to facilitate disabled access
- a grant to pay for additional mental health support provided by a local charity
- payment for specialist equipment for a charity offering disabled youngsters horse riding
If you would like to apply or have questions contact:
Stephen Hardy MBE
Clerk to the Rural Rother Trustees
6 George Close, Robertsbridge TN32 5BY
Ms Anna Evett
Rother District Council 25 January 2024
Closure of Pett Level Public Conveniences
Thank you for your message of 21 December.
I note that you have mentioned the toilets at Winchelsea Beach and Fairlight Country Park, but neither of these is accessible from Pett Level without some form of transport and therefore do not offer a practical solution to visitors to Pett Level. Each is about three miles away.
I also note that you have not mentioned the public health considerations that I referred to in my letter to Lorna Ford. These should certainly be a factor that is taken into account when considering the closure of toilets where there is no practical alternative. Nor have you mentioned the potential reduction in the attractiveness of Pett Level as a destination for school parties and other visitors, something which the district council is promoting.
I now come to your proposal that the cost of opening the toilets is shared between Rother and Pett PC. We are willing to consider this proposal, but, before we do so, we need further assurances and clarifications before we can properly do so.
First, we feel, particularly in the light of the photographs sent to you by Councillor Mier, that the toilets should be open all year round, so, while we may be able to accept the proposed arrangement for the first six months, we would expect it to be continued throughout the winter months and full time thereafter.
We are investigating the cost of an alternative waste disposal company and will aim to find an alternative cleaner. In the longer term we would expect to install automatic time-controlled door locking, but initially this is unlikely to be possible, so we would need to work out a way to handle this. Similarly, we would hope to install a card-operated ‘honesty’ payment device, but, again, this is not going to be possible initially.
The costs we would expect to share are:
- The emptying of the septic tank, but on the basis of the quotes that we obtain;
- The cleaning of the toilets and the opening and closing, again on the basis of quotes that we obtain;
- The electricity, which you have not mentioned; can we expect Rother to continue to pay this (and share the cost)?
Incidentally, we understand that the septic tank has continued to be ‘emptied’ even though the toilets are closed. It is clear, from an inspection carried out by our clerk, together with the contractor who empties the cesspit at the recreation ground for us, that surface water is getting into the septic tank. See the attached report of that visit and the video accompanying this letter.
The attached report also gives some indication of the condition of the toilets. Previously the sum of £15,000 has been mentioned to bring the toilets into full operational effectiveness. However, in view of the report in the annex, this may be insufficient. Can we assume that whatever sum is necessary will be made available? We would not feel able to even share the running costs until the toilets are fully operational. Repair work could include, for example, new sewage treatment plant to comply with latest legislation. automatic door closure, a donation collection facility, new seats, new lick of paint etc.
The inspection indicates that the tank has a volume of about 4000 gallons/18,000 litres. However, it is not clear how much waste is removed at each visit by the present contractor, but it seems unlikely that, if the system is working correctly, that 2000 gallons of waste is generated every week, even at high season. Emptying on an as-needed basis could save a considerable sum..
Finally, if it is agreed in principle that the sharing plan will go ahead, it will be essential for us to see a proposal as to how this would operate before finally agreeing.
With best wishes
Dr David Penfold (Chair)
Pett Parish Council
Annex: Pett Level Toilets – Moody Sewage Visit 13th January 2024
The length and diameter were measured as 3.8 metres long, diameter 2.5 metres. The tank therefore has a capacity of about 4000 gallons/18,000 litres.
When we looked inside the water is clear to the point that you can see the sludge removal pipe that has fallen inside and been left there as it does no harm.
You can see from the video clip attached to the email, that, although the toilets are closed there is a very steady drip from the input pipe. I have seen drips like this before and this equates to between 2,000 to 3,000 litres a week
There is second leak from the roof of the tank which is slower, so about 2,000 litres a week.
We looked at the junction with the tank pipe and the water is moving slowly but probably not enough to produce the drip from the input pipe.
If either of these is from the surrounding ground being sodden, this should not happen during the summer months.
The junction is ancient and in a very poor state and should be replaced with a plastic preformed junction. This replacement would mean that there would be no water ingress from the water table at this junction. It was thought that an inside cistern is likely letting water by.
The price to have the tank inspected to ascertain how many holes there might be is for 2 hours for two men to enter and clean the tank – £490 plus vat. Obviously the tank will need to be emptied as part of this – £160 plus vat for 900 gallons and £11 for each increment of 100 litres.
Looking at the fortnightly collection paid by RDC I would say that the most recent price of £405 relates to 3000 gallons under contract (rather than a one off/emergency). Moody Sewage under contract price for 3000 is £391.
Not much of a saving could be made on the contract price but it might be possible to ascertain if savings could be made by the pit being checked to see if it needs emptying. This is done at the recreation ground and it has halved the costs.
Obviously savings could be made if the tank is fixed and there is no ground water seeping into the tank and there is no real letting by of the toilet cisterns.
The other costs to the facility are: Blockages
Electricity Water supply Cleaning Legionella test
The cleaning costs is another area where costs could be reduced if someone local cleaned them and someone else assisted with locking/opening the facility until the automatic doors can be installed.
Date for your diary
Date Sat 30 March
Time 10am to 3pm
Place Fairlight Lodge Hotel
Balfour Beatty is working in partnership with East Sussex County Council to manage the highways service across East Sussex. As part of this, we will be carrying out bridge parapet repair works in Pett Level Road, Fairlight.
These works are being carried out following vehicle damage.
When do they start?
Work will take place on Friday 2 February between 11pm and 3am. We will inform you of any changes to the dates or times via advanced warning signs on site.
What does the work involve?
These works involve replacing the steel mesh and installing an end section to the metal parapet at the Stream House bridge.
How will this impact highway users?
The road will be closed to through traffic for the duration of these works.
A diversion route will be in place via Chick Hill, Pett Road, Friars Hill, A259 Winchelsea Road, A259 Old London Road, Fairlight Road & vice versa.
If you need vehicle access during these works, please discuss this with the team on site. Please bear in mind there will be delays whilst the area is made safe and your vehicle is escorted by site marshalls.
The last bus will pass through before the road is closed.
Information for residents and businesses
Parking: If required, we will put out ‘no parking’ signs and cones on the site to advise where parking is restricted. Please avoid parking in these locations as it will delay our works.
Weather: All of these works are subject to favourable weather conditions, for example heavy rain may affect the progress of the works.
Properties close to the carriageway may experience a temporary disturbance as this can be a noisy process and those properties may experience flashing lights and reversing sirens.
We would like to take this opportunity to apologise in advance for any inconvenience or disruption this work may cause, however this forms part of our continuing improvement for the East Sussex highway network.
For information on roadworks and journey planning, visit www.One.Network.com. Please follow us on X (formerly Twitter) @esccroads or Facebook @EastSussexHighways for updates. If you would like to know more about East Sussex Highways and what we do, please visit our website www.eastsussexhighways.com.
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