New Parish Council Chairman talks to The Heathfield News
Mike Robinson is the new Chairman of Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council. We interviewed Mike recently to find out a little more about him, his role and priorities since taking over three months ago.
Tell us about yourself?
I am 71 years old and moved to Heathfield from London 11 years ago. I am an accountant by profession and retired 10 years ago. In my spare time I like gardening and playing golf at Wellshurst Golf Club in Hellingly. I am also an avid reader – consuming four to five books a week including biographies and detective novels. My favourite book is War and Peace.
I worked in the public sector most of my life as well as the Audit Commission and PwC in their public sector team. I’ve always worked in auditing or consultancy. It has always been my aim to try to give something back to the community.
What are your priorities?
It was a very difficult time to take up the post and working electronically has been a challenge. But we got everything in place very quickly and are now using Zoom for all our meetings and inviting the public to join us as we would with normal meetings.
My priority is to support all parts of Heathfield and Waldron. It’s an unusually large geographical area with a population of around 12,500 people and there is a wide community that includes the main town of Heathfield and different villages which have different needs.
We have been trying to support the younger sections of society. For instance, working with youth groups and looking at how we can improve and modernise areas like the skate park. We’ve also managed to replace playground equipment at Punnetts Town and the Hardy Roberts playing fields. This is part of an ongoing programme.
I see my main role as representing the view of people in the parish to Wealden DC, local government and organisations like Sussex Police while helping to address issues. For instance, there are some public nuisance problems at the moment such as thefts of produce and equipment from the allotments at Theobalds Green. There are also persistent problems with dangerous parking particularly in Heathfield High Street, despite the town having plenty of free parking. Complaints about noise from loud motorbikes and cars are also on the agenda at the moment. I think the lack of traffic during lockdown has highlighted the noise which is caused by a few thoughtless people.
I also want to make the most of our assets like the Theobalds Green area. We’re looking at developing a woodland trail where people can have picnics and school children can study wildlife. I also want to work with wider groups in the town. There is a lot more going on than people would imagine.
We understand that the Parish Council is unhappy about the proposed Fire Service cuts. Why?
Yes, that’s correct. We have written a strongly worded letter as part of the consultation on the Fire Service’s plans.
We don’t agree with any reductions in service. If you live in a rural area it could mean a significant delay in getting help. It’s simple arithmetic – the longer it takes the worse the fire will get.
Cuts will affect the efficiency of the service and we see the proposals as having dubious logic.
What about policing?
I am pleased that the rural policing unit has been based in Heathfield but I am not convinced that we are witnessing more police on our streets. Saying that, we are moving in the right direction.
It is a very difficult time for our police and all our public sector workers – we are not in normal times.
We are doing our bit as a Parish Council to try to reduce crime. We’re in the process of updating the town’s CCTV cameras and fitting new cameras. They will be linked to Police HQ in Lewes and will help us to identify offenders.