The taxing question of money spent at Chailey

New wooden signage on Chailey common set to go
New wooden signage on Chailey common set to go

Where has all the money come from to pay for remedial work at Chailey Common?

Angry residents have accused East Sussex County Council of “squandering” thousands of pounds in tax payers’ money by putting in temporary chicanes to dampen the noise from cattle grids and ripping out oak traffic posts that were erected just two years ago.

The posts were put in to ‘beautify’ the Common after fencing and cattle grids (likened by resident Kate Jenkins to a ‘thumping oil rig’) were installed to allow grazing to keep down unwanted vegetation.

The rigid oak posts had to be replaced by metal ones last month after a safety audit showed they could be dangerous if a vehicle went into them.

Complaining about the profusion of street furniture in the form of traffic calming signs, chicanes and grids, North Chailey resident Tony Ash suggested earlier this month: “The Common looks worse as each week passes. They might as well get it over with and build a Tesco with a petrol station and a KFC.”

But the real bugbear for residents writing to the Middy is the cost of all this remedial work to the tax payer.

Defending the removal of the oak posts on safety grounds, a county council spokesman told the Middy in an article published on April 25 that the £10,000 cost would come from “funding obtained from Natural England so the taxpayer will not pay a penny”.

In response, Tony Ash insisted: “They are squandering our money. Natural England IS funded by the taxpayer - shouldn’t a council spokesman know basic stuff like that?”

So, who is right? To find out, we contacted Natural England where a spokesman told us: “East Sussex County Council’s long-term management of Chailey Common is supported through the Environmental Stewardship scheme.

“Agri-environment schemes - such as the current Environmental Stewardship scheme - are primarily funded by the European Commission with an element of match funding from the Treasury.”

North Chailey resident Mike Jagot said: “This is all tax payers’ money irrespective of the proposal that it comes from Europe - that well known financial black hole to which we are net contributors.

“This scheme has apparently come about by errors of omission and made worse by errors of commission.”