Chairman Malcolm Eastwood opened the meeting with a short review of successes over the last year, including the restoration of the Memorial Field and the opening of the new footbridge over the Adur. The audience of Henfielders, with a gate count of 136, joined him in thanking the Council staff and volunteers for their ongoing work.

The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal
in Henfield raised £8k this year. Malcolm thanked organiser Mike Morgan and presented certificates to stalwart volunteers Eddie Colgate (above), Jean and Gerald Crawford (left) and David and Ellen Hayes (below left).

Council elections will be held on 2nd May this year. If you fancy becoming a Councillor yourself, head along to the Hall on 16th March (9am-12noon) to find out more about what is involved.

The District Showcase on Sunday 24th March will feature 40 top cars parading through Henfield. It will involve closing the High Street from 2pm-4pm. If you are attending, please go on foot if you can. If you do need
to drive, be sure to be in one of the car parks before 2.00pm. Volunteers are needed to act as marshalls - please contact the Parish Office if you can help.

Dr. Karen Crawford-Clarke introduced the Connector Plus befriending scheme which is an important initiative to tackle loneliness and improve health outcomes for people in the village. Alex Nevatt, who is coordinating the work, explained how the scheme works and talked about the successes so far. She can be contacted at the Haven (tel. 01273 494747) if you know of anyone who might benefit.

Cllr. Andrew Sharp announced that all three Commons have now achieved the new status of "Local Wildlife Sites". An ambitious plan has been developed to safeguard the Commons from deterioration. It includes getting cattle back on to the commons for periods of 2-3 weeks at a time which requires the Commons to be fenced. The Commons Committee has begun the long procedure to get the necessary approval from the Secretary of State. Other plans include creating a photographic record of how the commons changes over time, removing alien species and creating an area with short grass for sitting and picnics.

The new Henfield Trails project will create a footpath network with views of the South Downs and Weald and opportunities to enjoy Henfield's amazing trees, birds, butterflies, wild flowers and more. The Parish Works Officers have been gradually clearing the circular routes, starting with the one to Stretham Manor and Rye Farm. Another six are planned. Ten volunteers are currently being trained as Trail Designers. The trails will all be clearly marked with information posts. The Council would like to hear from anyone with stories about particular points of interest that could be featured.

Ray Osgood gave an update on the Neighbourhood Plan, which is key to guiding future housing development in Henfield. Delays in getting Sustainability Assessments completed for 20 potential sites have put the plan well behind schedule. Preparation of the "pre-submission consultation" is underway and will be subject to a village-wide discussion before a referendum is held on whether to adopt the plan. Ray is hopeful that it can be completed early next year.

Meanwhile, Horsham District is reviewing its strategic plan and a consultation is expected this spring or summer. The proposal for a new market town, Mayfield, with 6,100 homes east of Henfield is again being considered.

Other projects planned for this year include:

  • refurbishing the public toilets
  • traffic improvements, including moving the southbound bus stop.
  • a mobile speed sign and a community speedwatch initiative, for which volunteers are needed.
  • extending the cemetery.
  • the Henfield Festival

Among the many questions and comments from the floor were:

  • an appeal for a lollipop person for the London Road crossing.
  • an appeal for help with fundraising for the Hall, which needs another £120k.
  • a request to support the Monday Morning Market in the Hall.
  • a suggestion that it is time for a Henfield bypass to take traffic off the High Street.
  • a proposal for an open forum to discuss how to help the High Street.
  • a reminder about the St George's Day events on 23rd April.
  • a question about why some potholes get filled and not others.
  • the ongoing discussions with Barclays about a cash machine.
  • a reminder to report anti-social road users to Operation Crackdown.

Colourful displays from Henfield Museum (left) and several of the project teams completed an informative and enjoyable evening.