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New Parish Council minutes from September and the agenda for the October Meeting are now available.

The latest External Audit of the Council's Annual Return has also been posted on the Parish Council's  'Transparency Information' page.

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Village Meeting Debates New Housing

Written by The Editor on .

Impression of part of the proposed developmentOn the evening of 28th February, the Parish Council hosted a public meeting in the new Village Hall to debate the proposed new development of 20 dwellings in the Croft.  The Hall was packed with well over 50 people attending along with all the Cocking Parish Councillors and Mr John Cherry, Chichester District Councillor for the local Stedham Ward.

Coffee and biscuits were provided as were the plans of the proposal, which were laid out around the edge of the Hall.  When the meeting got under way, Parish Council Chair Frances Russell explained that the purpose of the event was to canvass the views of Cocking residents so that the Council could pass these on to the planning authorities.  She also pointed out that the role of the Parish Council was limited simply to being consulted on the matter and that it had no planning powers at all. The rest of the meeting was largely made up of points raised from the floor.  A range of views was expressed, but nobody appeared to be totally against the principle of providing low cost housing in the village.  Several of those present had stories of having to leave the village to start families or get work and there were even prospective residents of the new development in The Hall.

The three main issues raised were building density, parking and traffic.  There were major concerns over the safety of access to and from the A286.  Suggestions from the floor included a new road entering the A286 to the north, a roundabout, a speed camera, road narrowing and speed humps.  On the parking concerns, the main suggestions were parking at right angles rather than parallel to the green parts of The Croft and reducing the housing density to provide more parking spaces and reduce the number of extra car owners.

Other issues raised from the floor were access for emergency vehicles, the change the development would make to the appearance of Cocking when entering the village from Midhurst and disruption during the construction phase.  Councillor Cherry also reminded those present that Hyde Martlet, the developers, needed to make a profit from the scheme.

A straw poll of the gathering came out strongly in favour (about 50 votes to a handful) of a lower density development with fewer dwellings, with nobody against the fundamentals of the scheme.

It was suggested that the fate of the scheme may in fact be decided after 1st April when planning powers pass to the South Downs National Park Authority.  This point was not entirely clarified as the Council's web site states the overall closing date as 17th March, no definite date for a Planning Committee meeting and a 'target determination date of 4th May.  However, the Parish Council and Councillor Cherry sensibly urged anyone with a view, either for or against the proposal, to contact the District Council either via their website or by post.

To do so, there is a link to the planning application on Chichester DC's website (or just click here) and for reference, the planning application reference is 11/00385/FUL. You can post a comment directly on the web or write to the Council at the address below quoting the application reference.

Planning Department
Chichester District Council
East Pallant House
1 East Pallant
Chichester
West Sussex
PO19 1TY
Tel: 01243 785166
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Delayed Celebration a Great Success

Written by The Editor on .

MandolinOriginally a Celebration of Christmas, but postponed because of the snows, A Christmastide and Epiphany Celebration was held tonight in St Catherine's Church, Cocking in aid of the Church Building Fund.

The Reverend Colin Bradley welcomed the audience packing the pews to a church resplendent with its crib and some beautiful floral displays.  We were treated to a feast of music and words starting with some audience participation in the form of the first of four well-known seasonal carols, accompanied on the organ by Alan Thurlow, Organist Emeritus at Chichester Cathedral.  Alan also played a number of beautiful pieces by Brahms, Corelli, Buxtehude and some lesser known composers (at least to me Ed).  He managed to squeeze a lot of fine music out of a small organ with only a single keyboard and three stops.  He explained that despite its lack of size, it has over 150 pipes and might originally have been pumped by the organist with feet freed by its lack of pedals.

The bulk of the readings that punctuated the Celebration were delivered professionally by two members of The Midhurst Players, Pat Defty and Alan Lintott.  Their texts varied from the humorous to the thought provoking, as did those delivered by Miranda Powell.  Miranda's contributions included Shakespeare's Sonnet 97 and a never to be forgotten rendering of a Christmas Cake Recipe.  As the principle ingredient of the cake was a large bottle of Vodka that clearly didn't make it to the mixing bowl, the reading became increasingly slurred and increasingly funny as the vodka was thoroughly 'tested' by the cook. (Click here for the recipe).

Steve Redshaw on mandolin and David O'Brien on guitar completed the musical element of the proceedings, entertaining the audience with lively traditional tunes from Ireland and England including two polkas that were literally in danger of encouraging dancing the aisles.

Wine and piping hot plates of good food, followed by a variety of delicious cakes completed the evening, which also provided a welcome opportunity for locals and visitors to meet and talk.  A lot of hard work had obviously gone into organising this entertaining evening, and its success could make it a regular event in the Cocking Calendar on whichever side of Christmas the weather allows in the future.

Sand Extraction Proposal Shelved

Written by The Editor on .

Sand bucketReaders may remember the poster campaign last February, protesting against the possibility of sand extraction on Hawkhurst Farm (Click here for the original article).

Perhaps it had an effect because the latest news is that West Sussex County Council seem to have had a rethink and have suspended the whole of their Mineral and Waste Core Strategy. They state a number of reasons including "the implications of the new South Downs National Park"; a surprising omission for a strategy you might think.

On the face of it this sounds like good news, at least for the time being.  If you want to know more, see what  the Council are saying on their website by clicking here.

Cocking Village Hall - The Official Opening

Written by The Editor on .

Group at Hall Opening

Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Mableson

It was dry and relatively warm this afternoon when Cocking gave Lord and Lady Cowdray a warm welcome on their arrival to open the new Village Hall.

A large crowd had gathered outside and they had plenty of time to discuss the new building and explore its facilities as the ceremony was a little late starting.  Frances Russell, Chair of Cocking Parish Council, thanked the many organisations and individuals who had helped make the project a reality including donors, the builders and the village as a whole.

The Reverend Canon Dr. Colin Bradley led prayers, remembering Ann Hauffe; a sad loss to her family and the village.  He then blessed the Hall before Lady Cowdray finally cut the ribbon across the door allowing villagers to officially cross the threshold and start enjoying their new Village Hall.  A splendid tea followed and the crowd had another chance to admire some of the features and facilities.  Amongst many, visitors admired the new kitchen, a beautifully embroidered map of Cocking made and donated by Sally Cooke and a black and white photograph of villagers celebrating a birthday party in a former Village Hall, circa 1951.

Many of those attending had left their cars in the new car park that easily coped with over 30 vehicles on the day.  Returning to leave, it was poignant to see the immense bonfire in the Sports Field.  This was bigger than ever, made as it was from the timbers of the old hut that used to stand on the Village Hall Site.

Frances Russell & Lady Cowdray

A smiling Frances Russell is obviously pleased with proceedings.  Lady Cowdray can be seen, equally enjoying the moment and clutching the bouquet of flowers that had just been presented to her.

Old HutThe old hut - now just a memory - and the basis for a huge bonfire.

Remains of the Old Hut

To Infinity and Beyond

Written by The Editor on .

Race to Infinity PosterMost of us have Broadband at home nowadays and you are almost certainly using it to view this page.  Broadband is a wonderful thing, but at cocking.org we subscribe to that old saying, "A Cocking computer user can never be too rich, too thin or have too fast a Broadband connection".  Let's face it, web pages take too long to appear, far too often.

Your Editor has to confess that he is a heavy user of the World Wide Web and the Internet generally, but he is probably not alone in wanting more speed from his Internet Service Provider.  His connection is from BT, but whether or not you are a BT customer, unless you use a mobile phone network it will still be BT's copper cables that deliver the connection and are therefore the speed they can provide is the limiting factor.  So we all have a vested interest in BT doing something to improve their infrastructure.

Maybe they will one day.  Recently BT launched something called the Race to Infinity to drum up public interest in having local exchanges upgraded to a faster speed using fibre-optic rather than copper cables.  They are offering five exchanges a priority upgrade and are encouraging local campaigns.  It is easy to be cynical and assume this is largely a marketing stunt by BT; it probably is and it's probably true that locally we are unlikely to win this competition.  Nevertheless, someone has to and if a high percentage of local people here and in other rural areas vote, perhaps even if they don't win, BT wlll get the message that nobody wants to move to a city just to get faster Broadband.

Today, 23rd October, the entry for the Midhurst Exchange showed that only 31 people or 0.66% had voted for our local exchange to be upgraded.  Ours isn't the lowest percentage in the country, but as the winners will be the exchanges with over 1,000 votes where the highest percentage of households vote, we will have to do better and aim at the 100% target of 4,680 votes.  So if you want to take part, click on the Race to Infinity Ad Banner at the top of this page when it comes round, or click here.  Good luck to us - we only have until 31st December to take part.

While you are waiting for Infinity, you can click here to test your connection speed.  It's a menu option under 'Help' too.

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