In his latest message to the residents of Hailsham, Town Mayor and Chairman Cllr Paul Holbrook ensures people that the Council continues to work towards reopening its services and facilities which closed in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflects on the relief expressed by High Street businesses as plans to introduce temporary traffic restrictions were withdrawn.
“I wish to assure residents that the Town Council is continuing to support the community during the pandemic and is working hard to ensure that government guidelines relating to social distancing and protection from COVID-19 are met. In doing so, it is hoped that Council services/facilities which are still closed, will be reopened as soon as possible.
Although the Town Council offices in Market Street are currently closed to the public, staff are working remotely where possible to keep some services running and the main phone line open during office hours, which are 9am-4pm, Monday to Friday.
Some of our Council services and facilities remain closed and will be reopened once any relevant risk assessments and other formalities have been carried out. This is to ensure the safety of the public and staff, and that the latest government guidelines are followed.
Such facilities include our community halls for hire – namely the James West Community Centre, Fleur de Lys Meeting Room and Southview Community Rooms – as well as our youth centres and activities such as the Square Youth Cafe, Monday Youth Club and Friday Night Project.
I’m delighted that the weekly street market which reopened recently, seems to be doing well. It is hoped that stall numbers will increase in the near future, once more local traders are ready to start selling their wares again while practising good physical distancing and hygiene measures, operating within the guidelines suggested by government agencies.
Further good news is the positive feedback received from residents concerning the reopening of our public toilets recently. Following national government guidance, the Town Council had to close the public conveniences located in the former Cortlandt Stable Block in North Street, at the outbreak of the coronavirus in March.
The Town Council is grateful to residents for their continued observance of social distancing during the latest easing of the lockdown restrictions, when using the public toilet premises.
I’m also glad to see our various play areas and outdoor gym facilities being put to good use once again, following their reopening to the public last month, in line with the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. I would encourage people using the equipment however, to follow the social distancing and hygiene guidelines listed on the entrance signs at all times.
Of course, we have worked hard to keep some of our other services in operation during these unprecedented times, although with some restrictions in place. These include Hailsham Cemetery and the town centre post office, which now operates to near-normal opening hours, including Saturdays.
This is an ongoing situation so please be aware that service information could change at short notice. We are continually monitoring developments concerning COVID-19 very closely in line with guidance from government agencies, and we are trying to balance the public’s access to required services and properties with the need to promote public safety.
Recovering from the coronavirus crisis is the toughest challenge of our lifetimes and there is a range of approaches that can and will be taken to support residents and local businesses in Hailsham into the post-lockdown future.
Please rest assured that we will endeavour to reinstate other services affected and reopen facilities as early as possible and will keep the public updated via the local press, on our website and via social media.
Another issue I wanted to cover in my message was the relief expressed by High Street businesses and shop owners, as plans by East Sussex County Council to introduce temporary physical distancing measures were withdrawn.
The Town Council held two emergency online meetings in August, the second of which resulted in a unanimous decision by members to reject the plans by East Sussex County Council to introduce changes and restrictions to High Street traffic flow and allowing more space for cyclists and pedestrians.
The plans did not have much support at all from the local business community and the decision to go ahead with the scheme was dependent on the outcome of discussions by the Town Council.
Many of our High Street shops and service providers were already experiencing falling trade figures as a direct result of the pandemic and consequent decrease in footfall in the town centre. So, the news that the scheme was cancelled came as a great relief to many.
The plans were described as being flawed by some business owners and Town council members, including a lack of information regarding enforcement of the scheme if it was put into place and the potential build-up of traffic into Vicarage Lane resulting from the restrictions.
The Town Council always strives to support local businesses where it can and I feel that, by listening to them and acknowledging their objections to the scheme at our meetings of Full Council, we have helped our town centre shops to survive during the post-lockdown period and thus helped them get back to a ‘new normal’.
Thank you and please stay safe everyone.”
Terry Hall, Communications Officer
Hailsham Town Council, Market Street, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 2AE
Telephone: 01323 841702 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org