Nick Herbert hears village concerns about post offices & noisy motorbikes
The MP, along with representatives of West Sussex County Council, Horsham District Council and Sussex Police, was invited to attend the meeting by Bury Parish Council to provide local residents with updates on the Government's proposals for the closure of around 2,500 Post Offices nationwide and the problem of speeding motorbikes on Bury Hill.
Around 100 people packed into the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of neighbouring parish councils with similar concerns, including Amberley and Duncton.
Mr Herbert updated the meeting on the post office situation, explaining that the Government had announced in May that about 2,500 branches would close. No details had yet been given by the Royal Mail as to what would happen in West Sussex. The changes were expected over an 18-month period from this summer and each plan would be subject to a six week public consultation.
The new criteria were that 95 per cent of the rural population had to be within 3 miles of the nearest post office. This could be worrying for small post offices in neighbouring villages, for instance Coldwatham, Amberley and Bury.
The MP pointed out that a quarter of the network had already closed in the last ten years. His view was that post offices were an important public service and he would continue do all that he could to press for them to remain open. He said that post offices should be allowed to deliver more government and council services so as to be more viable.
Mr Herbert said: "I just hope that the consultation on post offices is more meaningful than the one we are having on our hospitals, and that local concerns will be listened to. It is vital that services remain local and accessible, especially for elderly people."
Turning to the problem of motorbike noise, Mr Herbert said that he had raised the matter with the police, including the Chief Constable, and convened a special meeting at the County Council to press for action.
Lt Colonel Tex Pemberton, the Cabinet Member for Highways, was looking at a number of measures relating to speed signs on Bury Hill and even the introduction of a speed camera, although this was unlikely.
However, the MP said it had become clear to him that the problem was not just the speed of the motorbikes but noise from illegally fitted silencers. He undertook to investigate whether the penalties for this were sufficient, and to discuss with the police whether tougher enforcement would be possible.
Concluding the meeting, Mr Herbert said: "I believe this behaviour from an antisocial minority of bikers is unacceptable and it should be dealt with robustly. I appreciate the efforts the police have made so far, and pressures on resources, but clearly local people are asking for tougher enforcement against racing and noisy bikers. For the sake of good relations between police and the community I hope their voice has been heard."