Your letters - November 7

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Undue influence

YOU are to be congratulated that last week's Observer contained so many relevant and interesting articles (and correspondence) about the future of the town.

This is all the more important at the current time when so much spinning and diving is being carried out in the oft-times misleading name of public consultation.

In particular, SOS's Jean Bishop, by one photograph, comprehensively nailed the folly of speculative development on Bexhill's own flood plain - at the Colonnade - while Nick Hollington and others spoke eloquently for the great majority of Bexhillians who want nothing to do with the disastrous Next Wave proposals and especially reject the idea of "DWLP-on-Sea."

Mr Hollington thereby also drew attention to a related new element concerning the future of the town - the progressively expansive influence on civic matters of DLWP director Alan Haydon.

It appears that many of the more grandiose seafront redevelopment plans now being floated by the increasingly intoxicated ruling clique of council draw heavily on the enthusiastic public support (to put it mildly) of the unelected Mr Haydon, who in turn seems to think that the refurbishment of "his" pavilion is by far the most important engine of enlightenment and change ever to touch our benighted little town.

It is perhaps to be expected that Mr Haydon may have an inflated view of his own importance within the art world, but I would suggest that gives him no proper pulpit to influence town politics.

In my opinion he is currently in grave danger of becoming far too big for his own boots and would do well to remember that the footwear best suited to someone in his position actually belongs to Puss from the world of pantomime.

In fact, by and by, the most worthwhile contribution he could make to the town at the present time would be to give us a proper (i.e. traditional) Xmas pantomime. But I think we will have a long wait before we see one of those put on by the DLWP.

Sean Burke

Little Common Road

Little knowledge

Modernism as an architectural form has had few adherents over the years. As the frivolity of the Art Deco era gave way to the austerity of the Depression in the 1930's it may have seemed an appropriate genre in those straitened times but it failed to find favour with the public.

By the end of the decade, with weightier matters to address, Modernist architecture more or less disappeared.

When the rebuilding of the post war period got under way the canny speculative builders of the day looked for profit rather than a limited vision of 'cutting edge' practice. Modernism became the province of public sector architects but thankfully most of the resulting Tower Blocks and Prestige Office developments have by now been demolished and replaced by something more aesthetically pleasing.

DWLP owes much of its iconic status to its inevitable rarity although it is none the worse for that as it provides Bexhill with a Unique Selling Point which would otherwise not exist. Only NCP have managed to turn a profit from similar designs. This does not mean that the style should be repeated. It is amazing how some chauvinistic architects continue to prescribe it and even more amazing that they occasionally find developers nave enough to believe them. The appropriately named De La Warr Heights (three stories too tall) is a case in point. In a difficult housing market it is attracting all the interest it deserves whilst on the opposite corner a similar carbuncle (De La Warr Folly?) continues to arise as a triumph of optimism over reality. Should we be concerned? Not really. These are private developments and in due course market forces will ensure that the developers learn a valuable lesson in basic economics.

De La Warr Caves is a very different matter because it is our Council Tax money which is being put at risk. It is doubtful that any of the proponents of the scheme live in Bexhill so they probably had to leave by 4 o'clock in order to get home. Consequently they may not be aware that even in the middle of summer there is precious little sunlight in the Colonnade after 5 o'clock. For eight months of the year it is dark and dank and from November to March even the skateboarders give it a wide berth. Making it more sepulchral is unlikely to increase its attractiveness.

If there is a sustainable all weather evening marketing opportunity on the seafront, which I greatly doubt, would it not make more sense to put an appropriately designed glass roof over the open area of the Colonnade and continue it round in a circle onto the promenade? The cost would be a fraction of that involved in the proposed excavation whilst providing a similar amount of floor space without requiring its own power station to illuminate it, even in the middle of the day.

As an added bonus it would allow limited sea views not readily available with the current or proposed arrangements.

Yet again, why centre this 'caf culture' on the Colonnade at all when towering above it is a large building with a rooftop terrace and excellent sea views? It is dark and empty most evenings and merely requires a commercially astute management to put it to good use. The council tax payers might even get a return on the money which they have already invested.

Frank Wood

Collington Lane East

Scrutiny rules

I should like to make a comment through your pages in response to Conservative accusations (Observer, October 24). The point being made about the decision to award the Tourist Information contract to English Heritage was that the Conservative group had already made the decision behind closed doors prior to the meeting.

What was evident to any observer in the actual scrutiny meeting open to the public, was that none of the Conservative group spoke at all, apart from Conservative Cllr Lendon, who was excluded from the pre-meeting with his group. Why not have the debate in public?

This sort of behaviour will only confirm in residents' minds that politics has no place in local government. In the Lib Dems' view, political loyalty has no place in scrutiny meetings.

On every training session on scrutiny, both within and outside Rother District Council, it is always emphasised that scrutiny should be non-political and the main purposes of scrutiny is to reflect the voice and concerns of the public and its communities and to improve the delivery of public services.

Sue Prochak (Cllr)

Leader Lib Dems

Rother District Council

Winter trains

The new winter rail timetable has been published and it appears that homeward bound journeys for Bexhill commuters will now take longer, despite the rail operator introducing two new services from Victoria (1736 and 1806 in place of the current 1753 service).

The present journey takes just under 2 hours (1 hour 56 to be precise) whereas these new services, though direct, will take 2 hours 3 minutes; both will entail lengthy waits at Eastbourne of 16 and 11 minutes respectively! The first service will wait for the later arriving, but earlier departing, Brighton to Ashford service before its onward journey to Bexhill and Hastings. Needless to say, those travellers who know this will surely board the Ashford train – this could lead to some overcrowding as these trains are only 2 carriages in length.

One of the early morning trains (the 0700) has a longer published journey time than it had in 2003 (increased from 2 hours 2 minutes to the current 2 hours 7 minutes).

The Marshlink remains a single track from Hastings to Ashford whereas an upgrade could open up the more frequent services from Kent and of course the remaining Eurostar services to people from this area; from late 2009 the new 'bullet' service into St Pancras will be operating, but how long will it take to connect to it from here?

Surely any efforts to regenerate the Hastings and Bexhill areas must begin with our transport links which, including the woeful A21 and A259 roads, remain frankly inadequate and outdated?

M J Christie

Reginald Road.

Mindless vandalism

FIRSTLY, I'd like to remind Rother District Council of the costly vandalism caused partly as a result of its ill-thought decision to store a large quantity of the town's wheelie bins in the Wainwright Road car park and the resultant rebuild of the Bexhill Scout building in the same area behind Reginald Road.

I would also like to remind them of the Renown bus depot arson attack and of the mindless vandalism caused by the town's alcohol fuelled adolescents using the surrounding streets as a thoroughfare home on a Friday and Saturday night.

Surely a lesson to be learned.

So why is it that about three tonnes of hardcore, rubble and street furniture from a neighbourhood street that has just been re-surfaced, have been dumped outside our house overlooking Victoria Road for several days and counting?

At no time were excavation works carried out in either road. I can only presume the reason is because the person responsible for its removal is incompetent in their job, or because they wanted to save themselves several hundred quid at the expense of Reginald Road residents, or both.

Sure enough, it was like kids in a sweet shop in the small hours of Saturday morning, with one of the boulders ending up through a local car valeting business window, courtesy of a black caped Halloween crusader and his friends.

On writing this letter, I await to see what antics we will have to suffer on Saturday and Sunday eve, due to the council having no facility to deal with the matter and its next working day policy on a weekend.

If I had fly tipped this eyesore I would expect to be fined heavily. I have visited the Rother District Council website, where they are keen to tell you that the public recently helped them with a similar prosecution under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which resulted in a 50 fine to the guilty party, with costs of 365 being awarded to themselves.

If there is any justice the same will happen to the person or people's responsible in this instance.

Whilst they look into this matter, I can assure them that I have plenty of photos in evidence against the culprits and that surely there should be consultation before a community's road is used as a landfill site by a public organisation or its contractors.

Andrew Kaye

Reginald Road

The county council, not the district council, is the highway authority responsible for commissioning road repairs.- Ed.

Special evening

My wife, Eva and I are very grateful to be able, through your newspaper, to express our appreciation to Naz Manji, the owner of Bay House Nursing Home and his team of employees and helpers, for the wonderful evening of fun, food and entertainment including live music, bonfire, barbeque and fireworks at their Autumn Party last Friday evening.

In the short time that Mr Manji has owned Bay House, through his resourcefulness, energy, financial commitment and imagination he has developed a home that is professional and efficient while at the same time providing an atmosphere of care and dedication.

On Friday he was host to some 150 visitors including friends and families of residents as well as members of the Bexhill business community and he invited my wife to arrange a raffle in support of her favourite charity the Alzheimers Society for whom were able to raise 250, with a sizeable contribution from Mr Manji himself.

So, on behalf of all the guests, families and friends of the residents as well as the residents themselves (most of whom were also having a lovely time), and those who benefit from the work of the Alzheimers Society we would like to say Thank you to Naz and to your whole team for all the hard work that went into making it a really special evening and to all the partygoers for so generously buying raffle tickets.


Cantelupe Road

Fuel poverty

I am writing to support Macmillan Cancer Support's campaign to freeze out fuel poverty for cancer patients.

Rising fuel prices have affected many of us, but for cancer patients the effects can be even more keenly felt. Spending longer periods at home during recovery is just one of the reasons cancer patients have increased energy needs. Coupled with the effects of the treatment itself this means that cold really is colder with cancer.

In a recent Macmillan survey, two thirds of cancer patients struggling financially said paying fuel bills is their biggest money worry. Cancer patients face higher bills at a time when their income has often decreased, but do not automatically qualify for help.

Nobody with cancer should be left in the cold this winter because they can't afford to heat their home. Macmillan is urging the Government to extend the winter fuel payment to cancer patients. This annual payment of up to 400 is currently paid to everyone over 60, but could bring immediate help to cancer patients struggling with additional fuel costs.

If you're struggling to cope with the financial effects of cancer visit or call 0800 500 800 to find out more and get hold of a copy of Macmillan's Help with the cost of cancer booklet and managing fuel costs fact sheet.

Jane Searston (Mrs)

Turkey Road

Wise spending

Congratulations to the DLWP for winning the BURA award. Their success is unsurprising, given the wonderful programme of events that continues to get better and better. I would never have thought that we would have the opportunity to see performers such as Tricky and Dara O'Briain in Bexhill and that people from far and wide are now saying "I must go to Bexhill to see…" It would be really great if they could be involved in the redevelopment of the Colonnade and maybe an arts cinema (wishful thinking on my part). Funding the pavilion is such a good use for our Council Tax.

Stephanie Webb

Collington Avenue

Remember animals

WHEN we remember the tragic human death toll this Remembrance Sunday it is timely also to realise how many defenceless animals have had their lives taken from them in so many conflicts.

Not only in war, but also in chemical weapon testing and biological research.

At Porton Down in 2005 over 21,000 animals were subjected to experiments.

I shall be wearing a purple poppy (from Animal Aid, Tonbridge) alongside my red poppy in memory of everyone and everything cruelly destroyed.

Bernice Carter

Address supplied

Loft conversion

CONGRATULATIONS to the persons responsible for closing the public toilets at the back of Sainsbury's - they have made a perfect pigeon loft. Well done!

Joan Lewis

London Road

BERNARD Simon has expressed his unhappiness that none of the new De La Warr Pavilion Trustees have any experience of running a theatre.

In fact if you look at most positions of power where people can have a direct influence on large organisations, not many require relevant experience.

Two examples spring to mind. The first is a school or college governor. You do not need to be, or have been, a teacher.

The second example is Ministers in our Government. With every Cabinet reshuffle we see people transferred from department to department; from Health to Education to Agriculture to the Home Office, etc.

You would be hard put to find anyone with relevant qualifications in their particular Ministry. This system has been in place for hundreds of years and it has always amazed me that we don't have more disastrous decisions taken by people with no knowledge of the subject in which they are expected to lead us mere mortals.

Compared to Government, running a theatre and arts centre with no experience might even work!

J. G. Poulter

Watermill Lane

Keep digging!

Thanks to SOS chairman Jean Bishop's excellent contribution to last week's Bexhill Observer, we can now see that Rother Council's proposed development scheme behind the Colonnade is very likely to end up being submarine as well as subterranean in character.

So what does the council propose doing in the light of this knowledge? Why, keep digging, of course" And what strategic defence does it intend to summon up against the worst that Neptune might throw at us? Easy - line up the stop-boards, stupid! I can just picture the scene in the near future: stormy weather is forecast off Beachy Head and squadrons of Rother council sponge-persons immediately charge out from Town Hall Square clutching panels of marine ply.

Before I came to live in Rother District I was happy to think that councils carried out their business in a more or less logical manner; but now I've lost that easy confidence and, in the words of young people everywhere, it's doing my head in. With regard to the Colonnade, I even ask myself if it is possible that the Council does not know that sea levels are rising. At the moment my principal consolation is that at least the Council has not lodged untold millions of our cash reserves in Iceland.

On second thoughts though, and given its demonstrably weird policies for the Colonnade and elsewhere, are we absolutely sure that it hasn't placed funds somewhere equally daft?

B.G. Singh

De La Warr Road

Against us?

WE have only lived in Bexhill for five years, so could be considered "new kids on the block". We are interested in the future of this town and wanted to see the Next Wave exhibition.

However, we have never felt so much like the "poor relations" as when we went through the main doors into the De La Warr Pavilion – mistakenly thinking the exhibition, which is of great interest to most residents of Bexhill – would be in the foyer or one of the many rooms.

No such luck. We were very quickly ushered out and told to follow the arrows to the unfinished end of the building.

We managed to ease our way through the clutch of people (some in wheelchairs) milling around the entrance of what is apparently known as the DLWP studio. The stands supporting the plans took up most of the space and it was difficult to study them because of the number of people. We waited patiently for a seat at the large table, to fill in our comment forms, but after ten minutes gave up and decided to complete them at home.

What a shambles!

The citizens of Bexhill make a large contribution to the upkeep of the DLWP through their Council Tax and once again we were let down.

Finally, we were not among those, who according to DLWP director Alan Haydon's letter to the editor (October 24), were "rude and angry" towards his staff but we do feel that even the tone of his letter confirms that it is definitely "them and us".

John and Betty Hutchinson

Dean Drive

Personal attacks

The writers of the recent spate of letters criticising the DLWP director, the Trustees and the Ben Nicholson and New Wave exhibitions truly inhabit a dark world of their own. Their vindictiveness and spite against the Pavilion must have been bottled up for years just awaiting the opportunity for them to put pen to paper.

Seldom have I had the misfortune to read such a mean spirited collection of letters.

From previous letters sent to the Observer I should have realised that there is in the town a group to whom the Pavilion represents an alien culture in its broadest meaning. Something to be criticised whenever possible, from its design to the attitude of its staff and everything in between. Even at the latest Town Forum one member of this club of malcontents subjected those present to the usual anti-pavilion diatribe.

In one respect one should feel sorry for these people, insomuch that they are missing out on all that the Pavilion offers to residents and visitors. On the other hand do they deserve our sympathy, I think not!

Of course not everything goes right at the Pavilion all of the time. Some of the exhibitions are in my opinion boring in the extreme, sometimes management and staff get things wrong, but none of these blips justify sarcastic personal attacks on the Director, the Board of Trustees and staff. Attack the policies, not the persons, especially when these attacks contained in the Observer letters lack any measure of constructive criticism and indeed are puerile in the extreme.

John Betts

Eden Drive

Seventh wave?

Following the revelations by Jean Bishop in last week's Observer, it is now plain to me and, I think, everyone else not connected with the council, that the real 'Next Wave' will actually wipe out the Colonnade - together with all those people who are unwise enough to be hanging around there at the wrong time.

David Potter

West Parade

Sheep care

As many of you will have seen in the Observer last week, the person whose dogs were responsible for the attacks on our pet sheep last year, pleaded guilty to two offences of stock worrying at Hastings Magistrates court last month.

I would like to thank the readers of the Observer for the support we received. Many people still enquire after Buffy, the lamb who was badly mauled in the second attack. I am pleased to see she is doing extremely well and the vets now think we may be able to breed from her, which we never thought would be the case.

It took a long time to bring the case to court and I would like to mention a couple of people in particular: Inspector Heather Keating, who once we appealed directly to her took the attacks very seriously and did all she could to help.

I would like to give special thanks to Lyn and Andy Bullen, who after reading of our plight in this paper, very kindly gave our remaining sheep a temporary home.

This actually was a life saver as the dogs did return shortly after we managed to move the sheep.

As the dogs have now left the area, the sheep have been returned to their home and hopefully we will hear the patter of tiny hooves next spring as due to the attacks the ram was unable to visit last year!

So many thanks for the help and support we received.

Please remember Olivia and Gremlin, our tamest sheep, will be available for Nativity plays again this year should you need 'the real thing' They always enjoy the attention.

Gillian Stone

Cooden Drive

Playing fields

The expression of support in Anne-Marie Loader's letter (October 31) is much appreciated and her account of other losses of playing field is revealing. One wonders just how much playing field has been lost throughout the country through the machinations of the planners.

Unfortunately, one cannot depend on Sport England to apply their own policies, let alone require the local authorities to apply theirs. Their key policies state as follows:

"The playing field or playing fields, which would be lost as a result of the proposed development, would be replaced by a playing field or playing fields

of an equivalent or better quality and of equivalent or better management arrangements, prior to the commencement of development." (Policy E4)

"The proposed development is for an indoor or outdoor sports facility, the provision of which would be of sufficient benefit to the development of sport

as to outweigh the detriment caused by the loss of the playing field or playing fields." (Policy E5)

In other words the playing field lost should be replaced or the development on it should consist only of a sports facility. Despite the fact that neither policy is satisfied in the case of the High School development and that the conditions do not enable them to be satisfied, Sport England did not object to the proposals and thereby provided a 'fig leaf' for the council's decision.

One can only agree that the planners will find a way to get what they want.

It seems that if you want to cause anguish to lots of residents, ride roughshod over planning policies, ignore the national guidance of your country, and get committees to rubber stamp potentially unlawful decisions, you should be a planner, my son.

R A Saunders

Ellerslie Lane

Station kindness

May I please thank, through your paper, the member of staff at West St.Leonard's Station, who was so kind and considerate to my 16-year-old daughter on the evening of Battle Bonfire, November 1.

I was delayed, by a few minutes, from collecting her from the station and the station guard (on seeing a young girl on her own, late at night), checked she was O.K and offered her a glass of water, standing with her until I arrived.

When we keep hearing bad news of rail price increases, etc, I think it is important to acknowledge good service when it is given.

Well done and thank you.

J Brockhurst (Mrs)

Barrack Road