Norman’s Notes July 2021

Normans Notes

How was Freedom Day for you?

By the time you read this Freedom Day will have come and gone.

Most restrictions will be lifted, but the population is being asked to remain cautious given we are now in a period of increasing Covid rates. Advice has been issued for various settings and applicable links can be found below.

People are being advised to use face masks in crowded indoor settings, which includes busy trains and buses. Transport for London have confirmed that they will continue to insist that face coverings are a condition of travel. Some other transport organisations may do the same, together with some retail shops and other public facilities.

In a recent Twitter poll 75% of respondents stated they will continue to wear masks.

For the latest guidance on Covid:

For Public Health England updates on Covid rates:

Employment Minister Mims Davies MP visits

Recently I was very pleased to accompany our MP, Mims Davies, to a meeting with East Grinstead Food Bank and Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Our food bank is well supported, but it has seen a substantial rise in requests for help from people in work, furloughed or who have lost their job.

Thankfully, unemployment in this area is below the regional and national averages. However, debt is a rising problem and can have longer term mental health and career impacts. The CAP program of debt management is recommended by Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, amongst others.

A former CAP client attended our meeting and shared his testimony of how CAP helped him out of debt and that it was a lifesaver, empowering him to build a new life and career. He now works with others to help them improve their life prospects and he uses his passion for running, as a way of building successful routines for those with chaotic lifestyles through homelessness, poor mental health, or joblessness.

The enthusiasm of those involved in both organisations was clear to see.

Mims Davies has responsibility for employment within the government’s Works and Pensions (DWP) portfolio of work. She is keen to help people on low income to proactively prevent them from becoming unemployed and explained there are several different funds available to help improve employment skills, aid those out of the job market to get back into it after a period of childcare or other factors and help to prepare for a successful interview.

Jobcentre Plus is vastly different to the offices of old. There are now personal work coaches to work closely with clients and support them to interact with potential employees effectively.

Jobcentre Plus also provides services to potential employers.

I made it clear that we need to get the right help, to the right people, at the right time with DWP outreach to make it work. I also spoke about the hardship fund that is available from Mid Sussex District Council.

Some useful links:

Queen Victoria Hospital

You might be aware that the coastal hospitals and Princess Royal, in Haywards Heath, have merged into University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.

To find out more:

This leaves our largest employer and an important emotional anchor for many in East Grinstead, as one of the smallest independent trusts in England.

I am aware there are negotiations underway to include the QVH in a new partnership. I keep a close interest, as a previous governor of 8 years standing.

It is certain that the QVH is going to require a serious injection of funds to modernise its estate. The ground-breaking specialities, which made our local hospital world famous, are now routine procedures around the world. Additionally, back-office functions become disproportionately expensive in small trusts, so some form of partnership is, in my view, inevitable.

The QVH is going to have to reinvent itself for the coming decades and it will need the support of its local community as it does so.

More information at:

Center Parcs plans for sixth UK holiday village in Mid Sussex

Center Parcs has announced that it has identified a site for a new holiday village. The company has secured an option agreement to acquire privately owned woodland at Oldhouse Warren, off Balcombe Road, in Worth parish.

Following an wide-ranging search over several years, the 553-acres of woodland has been identified as a suitable site due to its location, south of London and its excellent transport links, being adjacent to the M23.

Center Parcs will now undertake rigorous site surveys and pre-planning works to ensure the woodland meets both specific planning requirements and those of a Center Parcs village, as well as carrying out a programme of community engagement with a view to submitting a planning application to MSDC in due course. The environmental and other impacts will have to be carefully weighed against the economic development and employment benefits.

As with the other Center Parcs villages, it is intended that this new site will include lodges, indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, a Subtropical Swimming Paradise, a variety of restaurants and shops and a Spa.

The development is expected to cost between £350m and £400m and create approximately 1,500 permanent jobs, once operational and a further 1,000 jobs during construction.

Center Parcs’ villages are designed to blend into the existing landscape, with no visual impact on the surrounding area, and the company says it is committed to both protecting and enhancing the forests in which their holiday villages are located.

For more information about the proposed holiday village:

Mid Sussex District Council to mark the UK’s first ASB Awareness Week

PR2370/ES/JB – 13/07/2021

MSDC joins a national campaign to take a stand against anti-social behaviour (ASB)

The Council will be working in partnership with the Mid Sussex Neighbourhood Policing Team and Clarion Housing to mark the launch of the UK’s first official ASB Awareness Week.

Running from July 19 to 25, ASB Awareness Week – Making Communities Safer aims to encourage communities to take a stand against ASB and highlight the options available to those facing it.

The Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour team will be out in the three town centres, along with Police colleagues and Clarion Housing, during this week speaking to local people about how they can report concerns and what we can do to tackle anti-social behaviour. The team will be available from 11.30am – 3.30pm on the following days –

Wednesday 21st July – Queen’s Walk, East Grinstead
Thursday 22nd of July – The Orchards Shopping Centre, Haywards Heath
Friday 23rd of July – Market Place, Burgess Hill.

As the cabinet member responsible for community safety, I feel this is a great initiative, especially as ASB has risen sharply during lockdown and we need to do all we can, along with our partners across West Sussex, to highlight this unacceptable behaviour. The vast majority of residents are considerate and law-abiding, and we cannot allow a few disruptive individuals to impact the lives of so many. The Council, together with partner agencies in this initiative, Sussex Police and Clarion Housing, can take enforcement action against persistent offenders and I encourage businesses and residents to report ASB if they are affected.

Organised by community safety specialists Resolve, ASB Awareness Week is being backed by the Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Local Government Association (LGA), National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC).

More information on ASB Week:

To report ASB:

MSDC secured £80,000 to support local retailers as they bounce back from Covid.

With high street businesses continuing to face challenges, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Council has joined with local authorities across West Sussex to use part of the funding to develop a virtual learning hub for independent retailers.

The West Sussex Retail Hub launched on 12 July and is completely free for local business owners to use. The Hub has been developed in partnership with local business consultancy Digital Islands and consists of a series of pre-recorded learning sessions and live events with industry experts.

The live Q&A events will take place virtually via Zoom and are scheduled to last no more than one hour. The sessions, which run throughout July, August and September, will help local retailers strengthen their skills and improve their business knowledge. Experts will provide information on a range of topics including marketing, customer insight, business modelling and social media promotions.

The West Sussex Retail Hub is part of a broader programme of support, including grant funding which will launch later in the year.  A requirement of the grant funding is that businesses have engaged with the training element of the programme.

Cllr Stephen Hillier, MSDC Cabinet Member for Economic Growth says, “The Covid-19 pandemic has made life extremely difficult for many of our local businesses and it’s absolutely vital that we support them through these tough times. The recovery of our local economy is the number one priority for Mid Sussex District Council and that’s why we’re providing this free support for our independent retailers.
Please take advantage of the training and support by visiting

Office of National Statistics reports

The ONS regularly releases analysis into the effect of Covid-19 on the hospitality and other industries.

In spite of our seemingly busy High St. at the end of June, consumer spending in pubs and restaurants nationally was still 36% below its pre-pandemic levels. I wonder how local EGBA members feel about this stat?

Further ONS information available here:

Clair Hall public engagement and consultation programme launched

MSDC has launched a public engagement and consultation programme on the future of the Clair Hall site in Haywards Heath.

Starting with 12 weeks of varied engagement activities over the course of the summer, the council will seek and listen to the views of the local community about what the site means to them and how they would like it to support and provide for the town and surrounding area, in the future.

It is vital that the broadest cross-section of the local community has the opportunity to share their views. The engagement programme will include drop-in sessions, one-to-one meetings, webinars, and a host of measures to give everyone the opportunity to participate.

The aim is to establish how the Council can breathe new life into this gateway site and make sure that it is able to meet the demands and expectations of the 21st Century, once it is no longer required as a vaccination centre.

As Cabinet Member for Community, I am responsible for this independently run exercise and have said, “I am delighted to see the commencement of this public engagement and consultation programme on the important issue of the future of the Clair Hall site. Over the coming months, through clear and transparent dialogue, with a wide range of voices in Haywards Heath, and beyond, this Council wants to identify how the Clair Hall site can continue to contribute to the vibrancy of the local community, in a manner that is both sustainable and fit for the 21st century. I look forward to listening to the views of our local communities and working with them to shape the future of this site”.

Please have your say at:  

WSCC Transport Plan Consultation

West Sussex County Council has published their Draft West Sussex Transport Plan 2022-2036 (WSTP) for consultation from 16th July to 8th October. This is to update the County Council’s approach to managing and investing in the transport network.

The Draft Plan is available to view at along with additional documents including a Draft Plan snapshot, Sustainability Appraisal, Habitats Regulations Assessment and an Evidence Base document.

Please provide your feedback via the online survey form also available at the above link by 8th October.

In autumn, 2020, WSCC invited views about the key transport issues and priorities through the WSTP review survey. Respondents expressed a range of concerns such as impacts on the environment, congestion, road safety, rat-running, lack of cycling infrastructure, rural accessibility and the impacts of planned development.

This information has been used to develop the Draft WSTP, which sets out how the County Council intends to address challenges including:

  • transport emissions and climate change
  • a growing and ageing population
  • rural isolation
  • public health and wellbeing
  • congestion
  • road safety

WSCC will be hosting two webinars as part of the consultation to introduce the Draft Plan where officers will also be available to respond to questions. These will be hosted on Microsoft Teams and will be on:

  • Thursday 22 July 10am-11:30am
  • Wednesday 8 September 2pm-3:30pm

If you would like to attend one of these webinars, please email and they will provide joining instructions. Depending on demand there may be a need to limit attendees, so places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.




Author: Lisa Thompson
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