23 Aug Norman’s Notes August 2021
What’s been happening
I hope you have managed to have something of a summer holiday break this year. There has not been much of a summer recess at MSDC, with the District Plan review soon to begin, whilst we await the outcome of the examiner’s review of the Site Allocations Review. This was required for the approval of the current plan which runs to 2032.
My own portfolio has remained busy with the installation of 2 additional CCTV cameras in East Grinstead, the Haywards Heath Clair Hall Engagement and Consultation, changes in the legal department and the Well Being team taking on a new member in partnership with Moat GP practice. We are also opening a new community centre in Burgess Hill and agreeing a lease with Age UK for another.
With the changing Covid requirements: the Environmental Health, Food Hygiene inspection team and Licensing have been busy too.
There’s been Police and Crime Panel training for new members, which I attended. Although I have been a member of the panel for 8 years, a refresh is always beneficial.
What does the panel do? Here’s a link to our web page:
MSDC shortlisted for national awards
Mid Sussex District Council has been nominated for two national awards for the support it provides when collecting Council Tax and making Benefit payments.
The Council has been shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in Partnership Working’ and ‘Excellence in Social Inclusion’ categories of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) Performance Awards 2021. The IRRV is a prestigious national body which promotes best practice in the local taxation, benefits and valuation industries.
When residents miss a Council Tax payment, it can be an early indicator that something is wrong. Last year, MSDC introduced a new ‘TellJO’ system to help identify vulnerable people who could be facing financial difficulties, poor health or other social problems. The TellJO system enables the Council to automatically send out email and text messages to ask if the resident is OK and find out what difficulties they might be facing. By identifying people who are at risk early on, the Council can signpost them to support and help them to improve their situation.
The TellJO system has been a big success, helping over 75% of respondents to request new payment arrangements and providing 46% with immediate debt advice. The support provided by the service has enabled the Council to help residents with a range of complex issues.
MSDC started working with Dukes Bailiffs Ltd in 2020 to improve the support available to people who are facing social and financial issues. The collaboration has been nominated for the ‘Excellence in Partnership Working’ Award, particularly for the way it has supported people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Council works with Dukes to help customers find sustainable ways of getting out of debt and identify vulnerable people at an early stage. Dukes work with the local community to provide information about the collection process, signpost people to support, and encourage them to seek help before an enforcement visit is needed and additional fees apply.
The Council’s Revenues and Benefits team now face inspection by an independent panel of judges and the winners will be announced at the IRRV Annual Conference in October.
Flood Resilience in West Sussex
People in West Sussex have an opportunity to share their views on WSCC’s new action plan to combat local flood risk across West Sussex.
A public consultation has begun to seek opinions on the new Local Flood Risk Management Strategy – a long-term plan on how the County Council makes communities more resilient to localised flooding, primarily from surface water and groundwater sources.
It is the second cycle of the flood risk management strategy drawn up for West Sussex since the County Council became the lead authority for flooding in 2010. The document sets out how the County Council works alongside the Environment Agency, water companies and district and borough councils to reduce flood risk, and what each other’s roles and responsibilities are.
It guides the authority and its partners on how to prioritise where money should be invested to minimise flood risks for our local communities. It is hoped the strategy will help the County Council achieve its goal of making communities in West Sussex better prepared and more resilient to extreme weather and it identifies 25 priority areas most at-risk of flooding.
It comes as parts of the country have experienced more frequent extreme weather events as a result of changes in climate, including torrential rain, thunderstorms and localised flash flooding.
Climate projections for the UK indicate that more surface water and flash flooding, because of extreme rainfall, could be seen in the coming years.
The response deadline is Wednesday 30th September.
To read the West Sussex Local Flood Risk Management Strategy visit: www.westsussex.gov.uk/flood-risk
Covid-19 business grant funding exceeds £48 million
Many businesses will have seen this information via the EGBA website but it’s worth repeating. MSDC has now paid the final Covid-19 business support grants, having allocated a total of £48.5 million to help local businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Government has provided a range of grant schemes to help businesses cope with the challenges they faced because of Covid-19. MSDC allocated the funding on behalf of the Government and over the last 15 months has paid 7,200 grants.
Restart grants have helped businesses to reopen safely after social restrictions were lifted and now is the time for the community to support local businesses and help the local economy to recover from the damage of the pandemic.
Cllr Stephen Hillier, MSDC Cabinet Member for Economic Growth said, “It’s been such a tough 18 months for local businesses and without this financial support from the Government, I have no doubt that many would not have been able to survive. I’m incredibly proud of our Revenues and Benefits team because they have done a magnificent job of processing 7,200 applications sympathetically but carefully and distributing funding quickly to help local businesses through the pandemic.
Cabinet Grants Panel
This week I will be chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Grants Panel, where we will be considering the release of Section 106 developer contributions of £515 600, towards the Burgess Hill Place and Connectivity Programme.
This is infrastructure funding, collected from developers, to mitigate the impacts of additional development in the areas in which the development occurs. The Place and Connectivity Programme embraces more than 30 individual projects, which are being delivered as part of the development of approximately 5,000 homes by 2032.
This funding is in addition to the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership contribution of £10,920,000 which required the raising of a matching amount by MSDC. The additional funding requirement has been met from private sector direct delivery and S106 financial contributions.
The programme will deliver:
- Public realm and connectivity enhancements at Burgess Hill and Wivelsfield rail stations
- Public realm and connectivity enhancements in Burgess Hill Town Centre
- Connectivity between the Northern Arc (3,500 homes) and key destination in Burgess Hill
- Connectivity between Victoria Business Park and key destinations in Burgess Hill
- Connectivity between Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath
- Connectivity between surrounding villages and key destinations within Burgess Hill
- Connectivity between the A2300corridor and key destinations in Burgess Hill
There is very significant development in and around Burgess Hill which has been in gestation since 2010 or earlier.
The Annual Electoral Canvass has commenced
MSDC has begun contacting residents by e-mail or text to ask them to confirm their details on the 2021-22 electoral register.
Every year, the Council must complete an electoral canvass to update the electoral register and ensure that any resident who is eligible to vote can do so.
All households in Mid Sussex will be contacted as part of the canvass, with responses used to ensure the register is accurate.
To determine who, how and when households will be contacted, data held on the Electoral Register for each household is matched against information on the Department of Work and Pensions database.
From Monday 9 August, households should have received either an e-mail or text providing information on how to respond to the canvass. Residents are encouraged to follow the instructions the Council has sent in order to have their say at future elections.
Any resident who does not receive an e-mail or text, will be contacted by post at a later date.
By using digital channels, all information is processed instantly and effectively, there’s no chance of the form being lost in the post and it’s environmentally friendly too. It also provides taxpayers with savings when compared with the cost of posting back the form.
It you have not yet been contacted or for more information about the electoral canvass, visit www.midsussex.gov.uk/elections-voting/annual-canvass/registering To contact the MSDC Electoral Services team email [email protected] or call 01444 477003.