Councillor Brian Redman - chairman of Wealden District Council

Wealden is 40 years old this year, both as a district and a council, and I am proud to say it has been a year of a great many firsts.

We’ve seen our first food and wine festival, held in Pevensey, our first walking festival, Coast and Country, organised with Eastbourne Borough Council, our first Careers Fair, Your Future, Your Choices, attended by over 900 Wealden students. For the first time, we have been holding a series of Energy Pop-Up Shops in Hailsham, Crowborough, Forest Row and Uckfield, helping residents to save up to £350 a year on their energy bills.

We have also seen the beginning of our first Sangs Country Park in Crowborough – a green space which will ensure growth continues in the north of the district while protecting Ashdown Forest. Employment prospects have been further boosted by the approval given for the new Ashdown Business Park at Maresfield. The district will continue to need a skilled workforce and the council is playing its part. Through our own apprenticeship scheme, we are providing opportunities in business administration to six local young people and have taken on a graduate trainee.

Investment in housing and new infrastructure is vital to the economic well-being of the district. In the first six months of the council year the number of new affordable homes completed in Wealden reached 105, already outstripping the target of the whole year. Our own 64 new build council homes in Forest Row, Crowborough and Willingdon are now fully let. As well as looking to build more, we have announced plans to reinvest nearly £20 million in our sheltered housing schemes in the next 10 years.

Working together with the county and town councils, we are beginning to see important infrastructure improvements in Uckfield and Hailsham take shape.

Last year was a big year for the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership, and I am pleased to report that a high standard of collections is being maintained, and recycling rates are getting close to 50%.

As well as Wealden Community Grants, local parishes and towns have also benefited from the Community Dividend, which has been managed by local district councillors. This is helping fund a huge number of locally significant projects including defibrillators, traditional Sussex signposts, village hall repairs, park benches and away days for young people.

The council’s staff have helped deliver all these firsts for Wealden communities while continuing to provide the range of public services expected of the council. Wealden District Council is once again proposing a council tax freeze for the services it provides.