Your letters - Friday January 11, 2013

How the land lies

FEW people in the Bexhill and Hastings area ever see the Combe Haven valley at the height of winter because it is hidden behind the ridge that runs parallel to the coast road at Bulverhythe. Every year it fills with water because it is a metre below sea level and the entrance was closed in what was called the storm of the millenium in the 13th century, causing the floodplain to fill with water back to Crowhurst. It is known that at the time of the Norman Invasion (1066) this whole Crowhurst valley was tidal and somewhere within its boundary the old port of Hastings was located. We know this because Hastings was the largest of the Cinque Ports and the place where the Kings of the time anchored their fleet, described in a number of documents as a large inland waterway with salt marshes. The exact location intimated by the name Bulverhythe meaning “landing place of the people at an inland port” in Old English and confirmed by Margaret Gelling the UK’s foremost place name expert.

Until very recently it was assumed that the old inland port of Hastings was located below the cliffs of the castle, where the Priory Meadow Shopping Center was built. However when the council did the archaeological survey before building on that site it was established that no port could ever have been located there. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey written shortly after the Norman Invasion states the Normans camped at “the hill called Hedgeland at the port of Hastings” and it is claimed this hill is located exactly where the Combe Haven flood line can be seen today. It is further supported by the fact that the name of the field where the port is now believed to be carries the name Redgeland on the Ordnance Survey maps, suggesting a simple typographical translation error some time in the last 1,000 years.

Looking at the valley this week it is easy to see why the traditional story that the Normans landed at Pevensey town and marched down the coast to Hastings cannot possibly be correct because this waterway was a major obstacle to any invading army.


Royal Oak Lane


All for housing

THE headlines of last week’s Observer stating that “Rother has been hit by a bombshell” on housing is no surprise at all. The decision to refuse the link road and then to do a U-turn on it has all been about more housing.

Trinity College Cambridge, the owners of the land in question, obviously have friends in government.

The 1,000 plus new homes will be built at the back of Sidley, and eventually as far as Preston Hall in Watermill Lane. These houses of course will not be just for the local residents, but for London overspill. Where are these people going to find employment? I dread to think of the effect of all the extra traffic on the main road through Sidley.

The cost of the link road has already increased, but the actual amount remains confidential. We have been told that the government has cut the grant to Rother by £300,000 next year.

Rumour has it that planning permission is being sought for a travellers’ site in Crowhurst Lane area. Isn’t it strange that building a small link road can lead to so many other developments! It is what is known as the hidden agenda.


Top Cross Road


Case for targeted benefits

YOUR unnamed correspondent last week is aghast at the notion that extra tax on car drivers should be used to curtail the rise in fares for train passengers. Quite rightly so; services should be paid for by those who use them.

Then they go astray, I’m afraid. The writer says that people in paid employment shouldn’t be expected to support those of us who are retired. This is broadly speaking what does happen, though, and has been so for a very long time. The income tax and National Insurance contributions of workers, along with other less obvious taxes such as VAT, fund the Government’s expenditure, and part of this expenditure is State Pensions. The NI contributions one makes during one’s working life are not set aside to pay one’s own pension later, but are used partly to pay the pensions of existing retired people. So, Mr or Mrs X used to fund someone else and now someone else is, indeed, funding him or her.

There might be a case for higher pensions, bigger heating allowances and more Disabled Blue Badges, or there might not. There certainly is a case for targeted benefits rather than benefits for all whether people need them or not. Your correspondent should take this up with our MP. They might mention the ridiculous amount of money, soon to be greatly increased, wasted on overseas aid, the money wasted on daft windmills (sorry! electricity-generating turbines), and the cost of the pathetic excuse for a Hastings/Bexhill link road.

The money saved from projects such as these would help ease your correspondent’s concerns.


De La Warr Road


Relevant benefits

IN response to your anonymous correspondent in the Observer of January 4 (letter headed ‘Welcome to Old Age’), I would urge him or her, and any others in a similar position to contact the Pension Credit Helpline on 0800 991234. They may find they are entitled to additional financial help, if they meet certain criteria. The Helpline can assist through completing an application form, which will then be sent to them for checking and signing. If they are entitled to Pension Credit they will automatically receive Housing Benefit to cover most or all of their rent and to Council Tax Benefit. If they are having problems meeting heating bills, as in the case of your correspondent, he or she can contact their power supplier and ask for details of its Warm Home Discount, or contact Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699 for more assistance.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of benefits are unclaimed every year by people fully entitled to them. I would suggest your readers visit the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) web site: and/or to see what financial assistance they may be entitled to that they may not be aware of. If they do not have a computer, or do not have a friend or relative with one, they can try their local library or visit the CAB in Renaissance House, London Road, St Leonards or call Age UK for an appointment on 01424 426162. It all may take a bit of time, but must be worth finding out if they are entitled to any extra financial support, especially if they are in the situation your correspondent appears to be in.

Hope this may be helpful.


CAB volunteer

Deplorable state

WRITING this on the first dry day (so far) of 2013, my thoughts have strayed to the current controversy over the work that is now in progress in providing the long-suffering road users with what is being hailed as the panacea for all the long delays one experiences at certain times along the A259 between Bexhill and Hastings.

Seeing the proposed route currently under several feet of water in some parts I have come to the conclusion this road (and the benefits of the same) are purely a form of propaganda being put out by the relevant authorities.

Mind you, it has all the hallmarks of a reasoned argument such as the opportunity for hundreds of new homes to be built (those speculators who bought up plots of land in North Bexhill years ago are probably still rubbing their hands) and of course the much vaunted new industrial plots that will be available along with the hundreds of job opportunities etc. etc. Have the purveyors of such tommyrot taken the trouble to look around the last tranche of such “industrial opportunities” now lying empty and derelict in Beeching Road and the Drury Lane sites in St Leonards? If they have what would they find? Row upon row of empty units to let!

Yes, there will be job opportunities in the short term for road builders and house builders but experience has shown that very few of these jobs actually go to local people and much as we certainly need new houses for our young people, it will also be interesting in the final analysis to see just how many families from the local area will actually be offered the new homes.

Oh, and before I finish my New Year rant, have your readers noticed the deplorable state of most of our local roads? Many of which compare to some shockers I have seen in developing countries and when one enquires of our local county councillors why they are so poor (and dangerous) they appear to have a stock answer which invariably includes blaming the weather and of course the cost.

This prompts me to ask if East Sussex County Council is in a state of penury, why are they allocating so much of our money towards building a new road when those that they have a statutory duty to maintain are in such a deplorable state?


(former East Sussex County Councillor)

Carfax Close

Chief exec’s reply

IT is very rare for me to write to the paper, however, given last week’s letter by Mrs. Bialeska about her complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, I felt compelled to comment, since she still seems completely reluctant to accept or maybe understand that the council’s officers and members did not act in an arbitrary or unprofessional way.

She states the Ombudsman’s role is complex and the matter of his investigation is not straightforward. I beg to differ. The final result in this case is quite simple to understand; the council has no case to answer in respect of her allegations that the Colonnade ventilation tower was built higher than plans our Councillors agreed to and that the public were ‘misled’.

The judicial review she mentions is most unlikely – the council has to be proven to have acted contrary to its powers, something that was clearly not the case here and which the Ombudsman agrees with. Readers should also note the Ombudsman’s office, while counselling against releasing the full statement for their own legal reasons, stated in a letter to the council: “I see no reason why you cannot issue a statement that relates to the decision. You might even use the summary at the beginning of the decision statement.” That summary, read at full council, makes it clear there was no evidence to warrant further investigation. It is indeed a shame that the full Ombudsman’s decision cannot be placed in the public realm, as this goes into some detail, and shows that the council’s actions have been “upheld” on every single point of objection.

Given that the suggestions of impropriety made by Mrs Bialeska were found to have no basis in fact, it is hardly surprising councillors and officers were angry and wished to set the record straight. We can accept people criticising our decisions and having different opinions, but questioning our honesty and professionalism is something else entirely.

I am sure Mrs Bialeska will feel compelled to respond to this, and I would ask then that she does this direct to me at the Town Hall, and not through the letters page, since I am sure the vast majority of your readers will be pretty fed up if there is any further continuation of correspondence on this subject, which, so far as I and the Ombudsman are concerned, is now closed.


Chief Executive

Rother District Council


Because I don’t

BEFORE the Olympics we were told that holding them would be good for this country, presumably for the economy. Has anybody any reason to think that this is so? Because I don’t.

Maybe the medal winners think so but who else? Might I suggest that the medal winners and those in the Honours List, who carry on whilst boys and girls in Afghanistan are getting killed at the behest of the Labour government’s decision to send them there, donate their medals to the country in exchange for certificates confirming their medals? Are we going to have a breakdown of how much the Olympics cost the country in preparing the various theatres where the action too k place - how much was spent in covering the safety side of the Games etc - how much the ghastly opening and closing ceremonies cost and the actual cost of preparing the medals? Aside from all this shocking expense, we are subsidising the EU, giving millions to various countries, whilst various genuine charities in this country are appealing for funds to help their charity.

What are this country’s priorities? Incidently I was under the impression that the Olympics were amateur!


Sutherland Avenue


Anglers take nowt

DURING a fishing competition held at Normans Bay late last year two fishing nets put out by Normans Bay residents were removed and destroyed by some of the participants, resulting in the loss of equipment valued at an estimated £300. When asked why this had been done one of the anglers involved replied that the nets were ‘in their way.’ We would like to invite angling clubs’ attention to the following facts

Where there are properties in Normans Bay fronting on to the beach the owners of these properties own the beach down to the mean high water mark. There is plenty of open beach from which anglers can fish in the Normans Bay / Herbrand Walk area without the need to go on to the private property outside our houses. If they use the open beach for their competitions they will not inconvenience us. We appreciate that angling is a major sporting activity and have no wish to prevent it taking place as long as we, the residents, are not inconvenienced.


Honorary Secretary, Normans Bay Residents Association