On Saturday I joined CPRE Sussex to celebrate their 50th Anniversary and their inaugural ‘Countryside Day’ at the Knepp Estate last weekend. I’m passionate about nature in England, and our dark skies, and the CPRE does good work to protect both. I would love to see such a ‘Countryside Day’ become an annual fixture in Sussex. It was a good opportunity to discuss with the CPRE national CEO reforms this governments reforms to the planning system to prevent district council planning departments riding roughshod over local communities and moving to a brownfield first presumption on development.
In common with many readers, I am sure, I was pleased to hear that the Chancellor has set Government departments to task on cutting red tape to ensure our public services aren’t tied up in bureaucracy. I saw first hand on a recent ‘ride-along’ with Sussex Police’s Traffic Unit how much time paperwork takes up in a key worker’s day. It is then only right that with a sense of focus that the Government takes on the issue of NHS staff, teachers and police spending hours on paperwork. This is one particular issue that many residents contact me about and so it is totally justified that the Prime Minister’s team are focused on stamping out this issue.
I often write in this column about our strong sense of community here in West Sussex. It is my view that this is what makes our rural towns, villages and hamlets special in the South Downs. So I welcome the Government’s launch of the latest Community Ownership Fund which is now open. Pubs, community halls, gardens, sports clubs and other treasured locations across the UK can apply for up to £2 million in government funding – in some cases ensuring that we can save prized local assets which are under threat.
If you do hope to make the most out of the remaining summertime, don’t miss Pulborough’s Heritage Weekend where you can explore the village’s hidden history. More details can be found on my Facebook page.