Monday, 30 December 2013

Sustainable Transport

Ford Railway Station, under used asset?.
I am writing this report at the beginning of December, but by the time you read this it will be the end of December, so I hope you had a good Christmas and I wish you all a prosperous New year.

I am in the process of setting up a new flight business at Ford (Loloflights.co.uk) and interestingly Arun comes in the top five for new business start-ups, so Arun should have a bright economic future once we get a few infrastructure issues sorted.  My Broadband at home is so slow, but at Ford Airfield my business has fibre optic and what takes me time to make a cup of tea at home happens in seconds at Ford. 

I have been pushing for a date from West Sussex County Council regarding the roll out of Broadband and specifically the upgrading of the Arundel Exchange to Fibre Optic.  I have not yet got a date for the Arundel Exchange, but all the rural roll out should be completed by early 2016.

Whilst we wait for the various government studies and civil service machinery to come up with the Arundel By-Pass, we need to boost other infrastructure,  Broadband will make a huge economic difference to the area, but also we need to use the assets we already have better.

I have been pushing to use Ford station as  a new transport hub, there is room for a car park and there could be high speed services from Ford to London, if trains only stopped at Horsham, Gatwick, East Croydon and Clapham Junction you should be able to shave the journey time down to 1hr 10 minutes.  If the car park was free, I believe it would be a great incentive to get people off the road and on to rail.  

Network Rail in their  regular negative approach have said that Ford doesn’t justify a new Car Park, but they have just created some hard core for maintenance at the crossing and this could easily and cheaply be turned into a car park.  If we could then build the cycleway from Ford Station to Arundel and also in the other direction to the A259 cycleway then we not only underpin sustainable transport for commuters, we also create something to support tourism. 

There is already a new cycleway planned that will go from Arundel Station to the Arundel wildfowl centre that will start construction in the New Year, Mike De Lara the ex Chairman of the Arundel Community Partnership has been the principle driver behind this.  I have been supporting this and Mike has managed to get generous support from the Arundel estate as well as from the West Sussex County Council and the Highways Agency.  But also I hear that due to government funding that there may be hire bikes provided at Arundel Station along the lines of Boris bikes in London.  This will truly start to make Arundel a cycling centre which will help build our health and prosperity, a good thought for the new year. .
Until next month, Paul Dendle is Arundel Ward & Cabinet Member on Arun District Council and can be contacted at his email Pauldendle@aol.com  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fracking Facts - yes to Fracking?

Fracking how it works.
A couple of years ago I read an interesting article in the Spectator regarding Shale gas and how Fracking had transformed the energy market and cut American gas prices in half, this had resulted in the term re-shoring where manufacturing business’s were returning to the US as the reduction in costs had transformed the economic prospects for manufacturing in the USA

So it was with some alarm when I read the stories from various eco lobby groups regarding the “dangerous chemicals” that that were used in the Fracking process. So I thought it should be something I should find out about and the South Downs National Park’s invitation to Arun to attend a seminar regarding gas and oil exploration seemed an ideal opportunity to find out the facts.

Peter Style, Professor in Applied and Environmental Geophysics at Keele University, explained that the “dangerous chemicals” were in fact ordinary water, sand, lemon juice (Acidic acid), gum (as in fruit gum) and salt. He also explained that shale gas was the same as North Sea natural gas and to extract this gas water is pumped into the ground at very high pressure which causes fissions in the rock (cracks) which released the gas.  The water and the gas is then sucked out, the water is used again in a repeat of the process and the gas is stored for energy use
Oil has been extracted locally in Sussex since early in the 20th century, there are strict rules in how the drill hole is configured, three layers of  3  quarter inch steel piping is used with layers of concrete in-between, the drill goes way below the water table and if configured to governments rules correctly, cannot pollute the water table.  In fact in all the decades that this has happened in Sussex, I am not aware of any polluting of the water table, Fracking extraction will follow the same rules in drilling.

In the UK we have some real energy structural problems, for many years we have had fuel security and cheap gas and oil from the North Sea and because of this we have had a ready reservoir of gas.  But our supplies have declined and we are now importing a large percentage of our gas at the world spot price.  We only have 14 days of gas storage in the UK where as France and Germany have more than 100 day’s storage.  We should have built storages facilities and new nuclear stations, this leaves us exposed to world spikes in gas prices and because we only have 14 days storage, we have no choice when we buy, where as Germany can take advantage of the peaks and troughs and buy when the price is best. So it is with irritation that I see Ed Miliband pronouncing on the energy market, when as Energy secretary he never made the difficult decisions of building gas storage or new nuclear power stations.

Hard pressed family’s need a reliable and cheap source of energy, I believe shale gas provides us with fuel security and an alternative to dirty coal. Also an overlooked fact is as a result of displacement of coal in the USA, all the dirty coal that is being mined in the US is being sold to the UK; undermining our own coal industry and encouraging generators to burn high carbon coal instead of much lower carbon gas

I think because the last government, particularly Ed Miliband didn’t make the difficult decisions on our energy infrastructure that’s we are in greater danger of blackouts because of this, but this can probably be mitigated by building quick build gas power stations, but this will make us more reliant on gas and volatile world spot markets unless we decide to develop Fracking.  But if this happens there has to be a big financial payback to Sussex communities to compensate them for development, not the meagre £100,000 that the government is currently talking about.  So many of our politicians are sitting on the fence on this subject, what we need is clear leadership and decisive action, so for the record I am in favour of Fracking, so lets get on with it.

Until next month’s report, you can  contact me via email Pauldendle@aol.com   Paul Dendle is Arundel Ward & Cabinet Member for the Environment on Arun District Council.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Arun Local Plan

Arun is still to decide on its local plan, the current evidence in the SMHA (Strategic Housing
Arun's Local Plan.
Market Assessment
) says that we should build for the next 15 years 565 houses per annum,   currently we are building  725 last year and already there are permissions in place to build many thousands of houses in new estates in north Littlehampton.

The Local Plan process was designed by the previous government in an attempt to get more houses built; the current coalition government has gone along with that process because they want new housing.  But locally there is rightly resistance to building houses for people who come from outside the district to settle here and then commute to Gatwick, Brighton or Portsmouth.

As a District Council we want more jobs and are willing to build houses for those people, but we don’t see it as our duty to be Gatwick’s dormitory.   Any numbers we agree will be subject to agreement by an Inspector and if we set the number too low, then our plan will be rejected.
Why does this matter?  Because then we are open house for any speculative developers who want to build on any site, yes we can reject it in our planning process, but if they then go to law which is what they are increasing doing, then because we don’t have a local plan in place, the judge will decide in favour of the developer and award costs against Arun.  That’s tax payer monies going down the drain and is not a way to run a planning system.   Arundel has an issue with Horses Field, but because Arun does not have a Local plan in place it is at risk of a speculative application.

As Councillors we are between a rock and a hard place, the electorate can’t understand why we would agree to build houses in these numbers on one side, and developers who don’t want to see our local plan succeed and take advantage of the situation.

 I have not made a decision yet  (As this would be pre-determination and would preclude me from the debate and vote), but I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that we have to agree a plan as soon as possible and one that will get past the Inspector.  I also personally believe that these houses should be the highest ecological rating (eco code 5 or 6) as this may be a break of sorts on the developers and will ensure that we get a quality sustainable build.  It’s a difficult call either way, but I will listen to residents and then take a view.

On another matter, the local Conservative branch is holding a social event at Sage Restaurant on the 2-8 Castle Mews in Tarrant Street, Nick Herbert MP will be there to speak. The cost is  £29.50pp for two courses which also includes a welcome glass of sparkling wine, if anyone wants to attend (You don’t have to be a member)  then contact Mr Bruce Henderson, Branch Treasurer  tel: 01903 882928  or email  bruceghenderson@gmail.com

Paul Dendle is the Arundel ward & Cabinet member for the Environment on Arun DC.  He can be contacted at Pauldendle@aol.com and his web site is www.pauldendle.org

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tourism is the future

Bruges Cafe
I write this article at 36,000 feet on my return from my summer holiday to Greece, with all its economic problems it’s still such an idyllic place and I believe the route out of its economic mess will be a future based on tourism.

One of my Arun Cabinet responsibilities is tourism development with that in mind I think of home and Arundel, The Festival was a great success and thanks go to Ash and Andy and all the other organisers of the festival. Arundel really does punch above its weight in the tourism stakes, the food festival is coming in October and Arundel has its own tourism logo and a well developed brand. 

The nation’s high streets have to adapt to a post retail environment where a good proportion of what we buy is on line and shopping areas have to be leisure destinations as well as providing convenient places to purchase goods and services.  I believe Arundel is well in front of other towns having had to change over the last two decades adapting to economic forces that have made the town very much tourism focused.

Brugge, Belguim.
A few years ago the Town Council, Arundel Community Partnership and the Chamber of commerce came together with Arun to form the Arundel Visitor Strategy group (AVSG) under the excellent Chairmanship of James Stewart, I was very proud that Arundel led the way and showed the District the way forward, Money was sourced from the EU to fund a Public relations company and to design the logo.  The food festival was one of the products of the AVSG.  This built on the existing tourism cornerstones that were already established like the restaurants, pubs and hotels as well as cultural and art events like the festival.

 Recently Arun District completed its leisure strategy and Arundel’s street scene was a major focus in the strategy.  It is envisaged that Arundel could be very much like some of the market towns in the Belgium or Holland with space for pavement cafe’s and making some streets pedestrian friendly without kerbs and this I believe will give the town a boost, but also Green tourism will be a major growth area with more walkers and cyclists as well as the local population being able to use new cycleways.

With the new museum building acting as a tourism hub and the visitor information service helping direct tourists to use the various tourism business’s will only aid tourism, but also this tied to Arun’s well developed web brand sussexbysea.com and with Arundel only 50 odd miles from one of the richest and most densely populated cities in the EU, then I believe Arundel has a great future with tourism being a major economic growth driver.

Until next month, Paul Dendle is Arundel Ward & Cabinet Member on Arun District Council and can be contacted at his email Pauldendle@aol.com  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Your right to vote - Register or loose it

The existing arrangements for compiling the Register of Electors are due for a major
Your Vote, Use it or loose it
 change in 2014 through the introduction of individual elector registration (IER).  This change allows residents to take individual responsibility and control of their right to vote.  This will replace the household registration scheme which has been open to abuse.  Under the new arrangements each person will be asked to give their name, national insurance number and date of birth, this information is then verified against Department of Works and pension’s data for your eligibility to vote.

Arun has a low registration level compared to other Districts in West Sussex with only 82.7% of the population registering and there will be a major push to improve on that figure.  Many residents do not want to vote and can’t be bothered to go through the registration policy, but I believe they are missing a trick.

The credit checking companies use electoral registration as a major part of building credit records, so if you are not registered to vote and wonder why a recent credit agreement was refused, this may be the reason.

The coming elections are the European elections in May 2014 for the election of Members to the European Parliament and the General Election for the election of our MP and local elections for Arun District in 2015; this is when yours truly will stand for re-election to Arun District.  So I would urge all residents if you’re not already registered to register and vote at the next election, but even if you don’t register for poorly altruistic reasons, then register to improve your credit rating.  If you need to register, then letters are being sent out by Arun to all households, but you can get information on the Arun web site  www.arun.gov.uk and look for the Council and Democracy page and then go to the bottom right hand corner and look for the register of electors.

Until next months report, you can contact me via email Pauldendle@aol.com


Friday, 26 July 2013

Arundel Flood Risk – Call to Action

Arundel Flood Risk .
In my June article I highlighted the flood risk to Arundel and the costs that were needed to put defences in place (£10m for next 10 years, £23M for the next 50 years). 

I highlighted that due to the new government rules that only 31% of the money will be provided by central government through the Environment Agency and the rest would have to be provided locally.  When I say locally that should include West Sussex County Council (WSCC), Arun District Council (ADC) and the Town Council (ATC), as well as local businesses and households.

With this in mind, we need to ensure that WSCC take the lead role in driving the funding partnership, ADC and ATC have roles to play, but firstly we need acknowledgement from WSCC that it needs to take the lead role, so I have asked Mike De-Lara (ex Chairman of Arundel Community Partnership) to form a community group to pressure our councils to come together and provide a route map and plan for raising the money and implementing the works that are needed.

The new group is being called the Arundel Flood Risk Community Group (AFRCG) and is hoping to hold a public meeting at the Town Hall at the end of September, I hope all residents will attend, but certainly those from the 400 or so households and businesses that are at short, medium and long-term flood risk.

I believe as well as planning for the future flood defences that householders should take their own steps to protect their homes, if you are renovating your home, then move the plugs and sockets to a higher level but also Arun has been holding road shows recently on protecting your home with simple products, e.g. airbrick covers, waterproof slats for doors, toilet seals, etc, etc
As a community we will need to get ahead of the curve, ATC is likely to have to provide some 10% of the funds, so I believe there should be an increase in the precept per household of about £26pa (50p per week).  This would provide a yearly total of about £30k which with compound interest can grow to £420,000 over 10 years. Also those households and businesses at risk will have to be prepared to make individual contributions.

The important thing to realise is that with no local contributions, there will be no Government contribution, and that therefore the flood risk to the people, homes and businesses in Arundel will remain unabated.

So let’s ensure Arundel is in the headlines for the fantastic place it is to live and visit, and not as a centre of flooding with television crews recording the misery of flooded out homes.
Until next month, my email is Pauldendle@aol.com


Monday, 1 July 2013

Mid Term Report

I am now two years into my 4 year term and I need to
Mid Term Review.
update you on some electoral pledges, I know the well known retort is that you only hear from politicians at election time, so hopefully this will be a refreshing change for residents.

 I cannot claim this is all my own work and I have been working closely with officers, Arundel Town Council and West Sussex County Council, but I do feel that together we are starting to solve some of the long term problems.

Traffic Calming
I promised I would find a solution to speeding rat run drivers using Canada Road to shave a couple of minutes off their journeys, I have been pushing for two 20mph zones for Arundel,  for those that don’t know a 20mph zone is where you have signs at the entrance to an area and all that area will be a 20mph zone.  I can report that these are now looking like a real possibility.    One zone will be the area covered from following junctions/points Jarvis road/A27, Ford Road/A27 roundabout and the Ford road as you come into Arundel from Ford.  The other zone will be for the old town, from following junctions/points A27 Roundabout/Maltravers Street, London Road/A29, The Causeway/A27 roundabout and Mill Road by Swanbourne Lake.  All roads within these zones would be 20mph; this will slow drivers down and make Arundel a safer place for our children and the elderly.

Ford Road HGV ban
This is a more intracticable problem and is being linked to the provision of a Lyminster bypass which will be built in the next 5 years; I cannot get the support of this scheme until the bypass is built as it will drive HGV’s towards the current Lyminster road and through Lyminster.  But I do believe we can try and get it de-listed as a HGV route with Satellite Navigation systems, this is something the Transport Minister Norman Baker has been pushing and we can try and get West Sussex County Council to use this government initiative to stop some of the foreign Lorries using Ford Road.

Keep weekly Refuse Collection
This is guaranteed until 2017, we re-tendered the contract in 2012 extending it for 5 years and shaving £200k off the contract for the next 5 years

Protect our Environment & improve recycling
The mechanical Recovery Unit is being built in Horsham and as well as the green bins recycling, the food and non recyclable plastics will be processed.  The food will go to an anaerobic digester to make fertiliser and the currently non-recyclable plastics will be made into pellets to be used to generate electricity.  This will take our recycling up to very high levels, also you may not be aware, but Arun receives nearly a £1m pounds a year for the recyclables from manufactures and this is because they are at a very high quality thanks to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF)  unit at Ford.

Maintain low council tax
Council tax has been frozen since 2011 and I will campaign to continue that.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Lower Arun Flooding

River Arun at Arundel

I have attended a number of presentations recently by Derek Waller of Arundel who advises Arundel Town Council on a number of local issues. 

The government has recently changed the policy regarding flooding protection, before it was a hap hazard system of paying most of the money for flood defences for  the most needy areas, Littlehampton being a clear case of this policy where the Environment Agency is paying £12m towards flood defences and Arun is paying £1m.

The policy is now changed, where as the government via the Environment agency will pay only up to a third of the costs and the balance should be raised locally.  This is good and bad, the government is making the existing budget go further, and it’s good that local communities can initiate schemes and rely on money from the EA, but it’s bad that funds will have to be raised locally to fund the balance.

At the Arundel town meeting this was all explained, the money required for Arundel’s flood defences over the next 50 years is £23m, (£10m for the next 10 years), from other schemes that are going forward in the District (like Pagham), the Parish or in our case Arundel Town Council will have to find 10% of the funding, that’s £2.3m over the next 50 years (or £1m over next 10 years). 

The balance will have to be found from West Sussex County Council and the District.
If that funding is not found, then Arundel will experience flooding in 20 years or more, so the community has a choice, I believe that a fund should be started and funded from the precept, I believe £30,000 per year should be put aside to at least fund some of the future needs, this would be prudent and would  cost households approximately 50p per week per household.  I believe this would be a good investment and place us in a good position to initiate the changes that are needed.

I have received a letter from Tony Dixon regarding Horticultural Hubs, Tony lives in Aldingbourne and over the last 6 years have been arguing that Ford Airfield should be developed, he is an advocate of this because he wanted to avoid development at Aldingbourne, so before I reply you have to understand what Tony’s position is.

Tony in his letter mentions Chichester District Council, but fails to mention that they recently turned down an application for a Horticultural hub. My recent article was arguing that we needed in the local plan less houses and more jobs. 

The Local Plan will decide House Building and Economic development for the next 12 years, so I do not apologise for advocating Horticultural Hubs and trying to change the agenda for the betterment of this area of the District. Past mistakes may have been made, but this does not mean that we should not ensure good policy for the future.

Until next month,  email: pauldendle@aol.com 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Our Local Economy - My Sussex local Article for April

Local produce grown in Horticultural Hubs
in West Sussex.
One of the Districts greatest priorities is to break the cycle of a low wage economy Arun as a district for too long has been short of local jobs, a lot of people who live in the District either work outside it or are retired and we have one of the lowest job density figures for the UK.

But we have infrastructure deficit which makes it very hard to attract companies to relocate here and although we have many successful SME’s (Small and Medium enterprises), larger companies prefer the Gatwick area despite the cost advantages of being further south.  

 The net result of this is that many employees settle here because of the lower housing costs and quality of life and then commute to Gatwick or further afield to work. Unstoppable demand for more housing is being driven by factors outside our district and housing inflation is driven by external forces. Our local economy is dominated by short term seasonal work which locks the district into a cyclical self prophecy of a low wage economy.

We are always behind the curve in creating those all important jobs.  We need to become a centre of excellence in 21st century industries; I went recently to an interesting presentation by the Sussex Growers Association.  They are at the cutting edge of green house horticulture growing fruits, vegetables and flowers and increasing yields by the use of technology and investing in R & D (research and development).

One of their concepts which are already reality in the Netherlands is the Horticultural hubs which combine small number of houses with greenhouses and green energy units.   Agricultural waste is used to generate electricity, the heat produced is used to heat the housing and the carbon produced is used by the plants and converted to oxygen and the resulting crops can be sold locally to cut food miles. If we can link these industries to local education, then we our own green version of Silicon Valley, with the world having to produce more food, then this is a way forward with yields being increased experientially through R & D. 
It is the challenge for Arun District Council to try and make these ideas a reality and hopefully we can create the conditions to make this happen.  Until next month.

  www.pauldendle.org   email: Pauldendle@aol.com

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Council Tax Bill time, my March Sussex local report

Annual Council Tax Bill.
 It’s that time of the year again and may have recently received your Council tax bill. When Arun District received it's financial settlement from Central government, we  came off relatively well because of several factors, because of new homes and commercial development which is incentivised by the coalition government, we received extra for these factors which off sets some of the cuts in the main settlement. The commercial development is primarily the new supermarkets,

Because of Aruns Cost Cutting and the favourable settlement, we are able to keep Council tax at the same level, but you may not know that only 11% of the money we collect actually goes to Arun, that equates for about £3 a week, we collect the rest on behalf of WSCC, the local parish and the Police Authority.  I understand that WSCC and the Police Authority are also freezing their tax share, Parishes vary, but I think most are freezing their shares as well, but because of complicated calculations with the tax base you may see a small increase or decrease depending on factors like Council Tax Benefit.  Until next month I wish you a happy and peaceful Easter, www.pauldendle.org. Email pauldendle@aol.com

Friday, 25 January 2013

Busy year for Arun

Arun Logo.
There is a lot going on in 2013 with Arun and the District,  The Arun local Plan will be finalised and put to an independent examiner for agreement,  (the local plan is a template for development until 2026 involving Housing, workspace, Economic activity , Roads and transportation)  Housing numbers to be built per year will be a key element to the plan and thanks to representations by Worthing Borough Council and Chichester District Council the pressure is for Arun to increase annual numbers from our preference of 400 houses per year to  the 565 that was in the South East Plan. 

 In fact the evidence is pressuring us to go even higher, something the residents of Arun do not want and something I am currently minded to resist.

The leisure Strategy is being debated by Full Council on the 20th of March and this will decide the future of Leisure sports and culture in the District, we commissioned the strategy to give Leisure in the District a sustainable future for the next 50 years, but this will involve difficult decisions after wide spread consultation.  Key issues are the future of the Windmill Theatre, The Littlehampton Swimming & Sports Centre, A possible new leisure centre in Littlehampton, Investment in The Arun Leisure Centre, The Swansea Bowling green in Bognor, New Community Facilities and the streetscape in Arundel.
Bognor Regis regeneration will be decided this year with the possible £40 million pound regeneration of the town centre by St Modwin's, with new shops, restaurants, a hotel and a mini-plex, cinema. this has been out to extensive public consultation which has resulted polarised views.  I believe this is a one in a generation opportunity for Bognor Regis and if the local community fails to grasp it they will subject the town to 10 years economic malaise.

The North Bognor relief road started construction on the 15th of January and this will speed journey times on the A259 and give a viable alternative to the A27 at times of stress.  The road is being financed by the house builders developing Felpham and North Bersted and will cross the A29 north of Bognor.  This has been in the offering for a number of years, but has only recently been triggered by house building passing the required number within the development agreement, this is a sure sign that the economy is starting to motor.  A positive note for a year of change.  Until next month I wish you a prosperous February.   email: Pauldendle@aol.com

Support an Offline Bypass

Support an Offline Bypass
Arundel desperately needs an offline bypass

Arundel video

Should Councillors be more active on Social Media

Your Council

Your Council
Arun District Councillors first meeting after election

Need a hotel

Option A Pink blue route for Arundel By-Pass

Option A Pink blue route for Arundel By-Pass