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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13 2004

Silence over cash grant withdrawal

Radical plans to strip Hellingly of its annual cash grant from Hailsham were met by a wall of silence at a parish council meeting in the tiny village on Wednesday.

Chairman David White refused to comment on Hailsham's radical proposal, other than to say that his council has had a 'legally binding agreement' with the town for years.  He added that a lawyer should investigate the matter more fully before any decisions are made.  His councillors followed suit in remaining tight lipped.

The proposal put forward by councillor Nick Ellwood is for Hailsham Town Council to take control of Hellingly's cemetery and recreation ground, and to force the village to become 'self-financing'.

Cllr Ellwood says these facilites are managed badly by the parish council abd that thousands could be saved for taxpayers in Hailsahm and Hellingly with a radical overhaul.  Under the plan, which was given the go ahead by members of Hailsham Town Council last week, the annual 2,000 subsidy given to Hellingly by Hailsham could be cut to almost nothing.

Some people, including Hellingly district councillor John Blake, say the scheme is unnecessarily' precipitate and agressive'. and threatens to drive a wedge between the two communities.  At Wednesday's meeting, Cllr White explained that the issue dates back to the early 1990s, when several areas of Hellingly Parish became part of Hailsham.  As a result, Hellingly lost many of its parishioners and roughly three-quarters of its annual income.

Hailsahm was therfore instructed by the Government to give the village a yearly contribution to help cover the costs of its services.  The parishioners who used the facilities before would undoubtedly continue to use them after the boundary review, said Cllr White.  Both councils signed an agreement which bound them to the decision made by the Government's arbitration service, PATCAS.

Ever since 1995, that agreement has been implemented without any kind of dissent between the two councils.  We have continued to work to that agreement, in the manner and spirit that it was made.  'I believe this is a legal issue and we have a legally binding agreement with Hailsham.  we need to establish the legality of the agreement.  'When we have that determination, we should come back and discuss what to say to Hailsham about this, and decide what to do'.

 

 

A NOTE FROM OUR EDITOR:  It appears Wealden District and Halsham Town Council's are suffering from years of manufacturing litigation to keep their officers busy = overspending!

 

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Email: chris.pollard@jpress.co.uk