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The Lewes Magazine


Changes: Lewes New School Turns and Faces the Strange
After a great deal of dedication and inspiration the pupils, teachers and parents alike, Lewes New School are proud to present their version of Bowie's 'Changes'.

This track was recorded in order to raise money and awareness for the New School Thinking conference that they are hosting in October. The conference has been set up to investigate the best practices in innovative primary school education.

Please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsNVmOa5Pd4

Please comment, rate the video and spread the word. Then when the single is released on Monday 14th September, buy a copy from iTunes. Maybe it can be a top 40 hit!

The song was created entirely from the school community, except for the producers who ran the project as a workshop for the children. And the bass player is Herbie Flowers, who toured with Bowie in the 70s and has two grandchildren at the school.

Happy viewing.


  

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Bluebell Railway East Grinstead Extension

The Bluebell Railway’s is re-opening the line from Kingscote (the current northern terminus of the line), into the old market town of East Grinstead.

The main obstacle preventing the line being run all the way through is a very deep cutting just outside of East Grinstead, which was used as a local landfill site for the towns rubbish in the late 1960’s / early 1970’s.

Clearing the cutting is an expensive task. The Bluebell and their contractors have been working their way through the cutting and removing the waste by rail to another landfill site in Bedfordshire. 18 large wagon trains come down the East Grinstead line and arrive on site by about 1.30pm. The wagons are shunted into the cutting four at a time, filled with waste and the train reassembled in time to depart East Grinstead at just after 9pm.

Each train can carry an estimated 1,000 tonnes and cost in the region of £125k per week. Plans are currently afoot for “Waste By Rail 5”, which will hopefully clear all down one side of the cutting and allow the two railheads (one from the East Grinstead end and the other from Kingscote) to be joined together. Much more work will be required before passenger train services can operate on a regular basis but the through track from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead can be a reality early 2012 subject to the final funding of Waste by Rail 5.

Donations can be made by post, or by donating to ‘Tenner for the Tip’ online via our shop website: http://www.bluebell-shop.co.uk These would be most welcome and we will send you a special certificate showing you have helped remove one quarter of a tonne of waste from the Imberhorne cutting.

For information on any of our other services that we offer please call the customer services team on 01825 720800 or visit the website:
www.bluebell-railway.co.uk

Thank you for your support.

Clearing the rubbish from the Lewes River Ouse

The Sussex River Ouse as it runs through Lewes has been abused and neglected for a long time and is now littered with rubbish. The state of the stretch from Willeys Bridge to the yacht club is particularly scandalous.

The Sussex Ouse is one of the main defining characteristics of our town and it shames us all that it is in such bad condition.

A clean-up day was organised for October 10th 2009. Taking part was the organiser Mike Deacon, volunteers from the Lewes community, members of The Sussex Ouse Conservation Society (SOCS), The Angling Trust, the Chair of Lewes Council David Gray, Normal Baker Lewes Liberal Democrat MP and many others.

The day was very successful, gaining good press coverage and with much muddy debris pulled from the river. It was so successful that an organisation called the Campaign for a Clean Sussex Ouse has been formed. To find out more visit the Campaign for a Clean Sussex Ouse web page. The site includes some great photos of the Clean Ouse day.

A follow-up letter was sent to Ms Anne De Vecchi, the leader of Lewes District Council and copied to the following organisations and individuals:

Norman Baker, Lewes Liberal Democrat MP
David Gray @ Lewes District Council
Edward Collict @ Lewes District Council
The Lewes Liberal Democrat Party
The Angling Trust
The Sussex Ouse Conservation Society
Our Rivers Campaign
The Salmon & Trout Association
The Sussex Express
Trout and Salmon Magazine
VivaLewes Magazine
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Dear Ms De Vecchi

I am a lifelong resident of Lewes and grew up in Landport in the 60?s. As a boy I played by the river and learnt to catch fish there, which has been my passion ever since.

As you may know, on Saturday 10th October, I organised a one-off clean-up of the debris polluting the river in Lewes, because no individual body would take responsibility. I together with public volunteers and the Sussex Ouse Conservation Society, worked on two sites; the area below Cliffe bridge known as the rubble rapids and the trolley reef under Willeys bridge.

From the 6 metre stretch of river under Willeys Bridge alone, we recovered:

28 shopping trolleys
12 bikes
6 scooters
14 traffic cones
6 car tyres
1 skateboard
4 large road works signs
several scaffolding poles
1 large metal beer Keg
And incredibly, 2 full size steel football 'goals'
Plus loads of other miscellaneous debris

The whole operation was time limited by the tide, but we were still pulling out rubbish right to the end, and I could still feel more lying on the river bed. How much more rubbish is in the river? - Clearly a lot!

I had previously approached both Tesco and LDC asking for something to be done about the shopping trolleys polluting the river. Despite several requests to LDC and the EA, the trolleys under Willeys Bridge were left untouched for at least three years. I have also repeatedly requested Tesco to install ?coin-key? trolleys to reduce theft and vandalism, but they have chosen to decline my request. They say that ?customers don?t want them?. I don?t believe this. There are many people in this town who are customers of Tesco who do want them.

Throughout these discussions it became apparent, that LDC?s view was that they were not responsible for removing debris in the river, - that it was the Environment Agency?s responsibility. However The EA took the view that unless the debris posed a flood risk they would leave it there. So much so, that when I wrote to ask them to recover the debris at the Cliffe site, they went into the river and reported to me that they had removed 2 trolleys (which are deemed a flood risk) and bypassed the rest of the debris! (Bikes, a video player, tyres, traffic cones, Scaffolding poles and plastic piping and sacks of builders waste, etc). Clearly there was a responsibility gap between the LDC and the Environment Agency which needed to be closed to solve the problem permanently.

Surprisingly, when the EA heard of my plans to clean the river, they belatedly sent out a clean-up team 3 days before we were due to go in. They recovered from Willeys bridge area: a bike, a trolley, a fridge, plus some other items which were littering the bank side.

In this age of improved environmental awareness, especially as we are about to go into the era of the South Downs National Park, - the responsibility falls on all of us to restore the riverbed to its natural state. I would like to propose that Lewes District Council, as part of the ?Clean and Green? policy, permanently accept responsibility for the state of the river, and ?regularly do something about it?.

To this end, I suggest that LDC appoint a suitably equipped ?river-watch team? to monitor and maintain the river, much in the way as is done on the adjacent Railway Land Nature Reserve, and treat the river with a similar degree of care as is afforded to a beach or woodland or open Downland environment. The Ouse produces sea trout of the highest individual average weight in the country. We have to do all we can to help keep these Sea Trout coming up our river.?

Additionally I propose that all retailers in Lewes who provide shopping trolleys, be required to use an effective security system, such as a ?coin-key? system, to prevent theft and vandalism. This would also stop trolleys being strewn around the town. Tesco plan an even bigger store in Lewes, with presumably more trolleys. This is a key opportunity to install an effective security perimeter system especially where they adjoin such an environmentally sensitive site as the river Ouse.

And if they don?t?
On 26th October 2006, the Sussex Express published a piece about LDC adopting new legislation from February 2008 (Environmental Protection Act: section 99, schedule 4) to charge the supermarkets £75 each for allowing their trolleys to litter the town. I am not aware of in how many individual instances to date this has been enforced. Could you please provide me with this information.

You should note that in September 2001, it was reported that Tesco Store in Chelmsford were fined £37,517 at Chelmsford Crown Court, for neglectfully allowing 33 of their trolleys to be dumped into the rivers Can and Chelm. Why can?t this happen in Lewes? (www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=4696&channel=0)

As you may see from the above, I am extremely concerned about the persistent problem of rubbish/trolleys etc. being dumped in the river Ouse in Lewes. Should you intend to discuss this matter in Council, I would be happy to attend and offer my advice to your members.

So what are LDC going to do about this Problem?

I look forward to your positive response over this matter.

Yours Sincerely


M. E. Deacon
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Lewes Free Press: 19th Century Online Version

Included as part of The British Library"s launch of the public version of its 19th century British Library Newspaper website, is a digital version of the Lewes Free Press.

The Brighton Patriot and Lewes Free Press was the brainchild of George Faithfull, a solicitor and leading reformer in Brighton.

When the 1832 Reform Bill enfranchised Brighton, he stood as a reform candidate and won easily.

Three years later, however, he lost his seat in the 1835 election.

As one of the factors that had contributed to his defeat was his lack of press support, he decided that he needed his own newspaper if he wanted a political future in Brighton & Lewes.

Thus, he established the weekly four-page paper The Brighton Patriot and Lewes Free Press with his own funds, the first 6d issue of which appeared on 24 February 1835 - less than two months after he lost his seat.

However, Faithfull did not fare any better in the next election in 1837 and after that the paper was of little immediate political use to him.

Moreover, the election marked the beginning of a change in the newspaper's readership.

Faithfull had originally used the newspaper to foster a common identity between his middle-class liberal and working-class radical supporters.

However, the contentious election served to break down this class alliance, with Brighton's working men forming the Radical Registration and Patriotic Association.

This group would later become Brighton's Chartist Association, and its working-class members became the paper's only remaining active body of subscribers.

The Brighton Patriot uneasily and selectively supported them until the summer of 1839, when there was a riot in Birmingham, arrests throughout the country and the Chartist Convention voted to hold a general strike.

These troubling developments, combined with a dwindling circulation, a libel suit and mounting debts, meant that the paper ceased publication in August 1839.

Search for The Brighton Patriot and Lewes Free Press

http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/basicSearch.do

Lewes New School offers route to avoid SATs

Lewes New School, a pioneering Primary school in Lewes, East Sussex, has opened its doors to pupils whose parents are concerned about SATs testing in Year 6 of Primary School.

Since it started in 2000, the school has never used SATs to monitor the progress of the pupils. Instead, it uses a rigorous system of ongoing classroom observation. Despite the absence of SATs, or probably partly because of it, children go on to local schools such as Priory or Chailey with their natural love of learning intact and are very well prepared for Secondary School life.

Till now, the barrier for many prospective parents has been the fact that the New School is not yet state-funded, so has to charge fees to cover costs. However, the Brighton-based Guerrand-Hermes Foundation (GHF) has stepped in and created a bursary fund for up to five children. This will mean that, depending on the parents’ circumstances, up to half the fee will be paid by the bursary fund.

Commenting for GHF, Scherto Gill said: “What this school is doing is amazing. We appreciate that the bursary would still leave parents needing to find around £900 a term. However, we’re hoping that by significantly subsidising the fee, we can tip the balance.”

In fact, the bursary fund will be open to children joining the New School from Year 3 upwards.

Head Teacher, Lizzie Overton added: “Because we’re free to dispense with SATs, it’s a bit like giving the kids an extra year’s preparation for Secondary School. The final year at a Primary School is typically one of endless practising for the looming SATs exams. Teachers and pupils alike come under massive pressure to perform well and genuine learning is all but stopped as the focus is switched to the tests ahead. Not at Lewes New School. We simply carry on our approach of educating the whole child and encouraging their love of learning.”

Interested parents should contact the school office on 01273 477 074 or look at the website lewesnewschool.co.uk Deadline for applications is June, 2009.

It takes more than a village

However you feel about the festive season it's undeniable that we Lewesians are able to experience yuletide joys simply not available to the residents of lesser towns. We can open our presents while congratulating ourselves on the continuing rebel status of our community, and sip our local ale with its taste all the sweeter for the memory of past battles to keep it flowing. This year, we can also warm ourselves against the economic chill with the glow of self-sufficiency provided by the Lewes Pound, confident that those who have skipped town will wish they were back as they gaze at the portrait of Tom Paine in their Lewes Pound Collectors Packs.

Though I'm a fan of local businesses and think the publicity for them is great, a few weeks ago I wrote a piece in a rival organ expressing some scepticism as to the Pound's prospects. In the likely event that you missed it (though the seriously under-occupied among you can read it here http://johnmcgowanarchive.blogspot.com/2008/12/lewes-pound-article-from-viva-lewes.html), I was wondering about three things.

The first was if the Pound would actually catch on in a society full of other ways to pay for things and where we aren't (yet) dependent on barter. The evidence for the success of other similar projects is sparse. However, even if Lewes ends up being exceptional, my second thought was how difficult it is to find evidence that such complementary currencies lead to any more money going into local economies, as opposed to what is being spent already.

My main question though, concerned the environmental claims made for promoting local shopping, given that buying in local shops and walking to them are two very different things; and that we usually expect our neighbourhood stores to stock products from all over the world.

My article prompted a polite response from Transition Town Lewes restating their hopes for the Pound, while (to my ear at least) toning down some of the grander claims made for the scheme. One point they made a great deal of was the value of buying locally produced goods as a way to help the environment.

The reasoning goes something like this. Let's say the Lewes Pound becomes popular and we all start moving our spending away from Tesco, lots more people walk and (let's stretch it while we're on a roll), we all cut down on imported fruit, Australian wine, mobile phones, and rice. And flour. And sugar. Oh yes and tea, coffee, chocolate...

Other than speculating that the transition Lewes would thereby undergo is towards the Middle Ages, one might assume that such a rather implausible sequence of events would have a positive impact on our environment. After all if there is one thing we all know about the science of climate change it's that local is best. Isn't it?

The broader ethical issues involved in buying goods made in Bangalore or Bognor, and who is most worthy of your consumer patronage are maddeningly complicated and I don't propose to get into them here. If we just restrict our moral sensibilities to carbon footprints, it seems logical that the less distance goods have to travel, the lower the carbon emissions associated with them. But can you always know for sure?

If you think about where the components in a product made down the road come from, things immediately seem less straightforward. And that's before you get into which parts are recycled and recyclable and whether the recycling is actually environmentally sustainable.

Even if you leave manufactured goods to one side and concentrate on food, things are not much simpler. Buying English strawberries may actually lead to a carbon footprint many times the size of that associated with the punnet from Chile on the next shelf. This is because the energy going into a heated greenhouse can be far higher than a plane flight from the southern hemisphere where no heating is required. Of course not all British strawberries are heated during growth but how can you tell which are and to what extent? You may do your bit by buying English apples in February but how do you think they've been kept fresh and what do you think the carbon emissions associated with that might be? The distance a finished product has travelled can actually be a grossly simplistic way to measure environmental impact.

One solution to this is that we all take the trouble to inform ourselves more fully as to the background of what we buy. However, just how easy would it be for even the most committed environmental shopper get hold of such information? In an article in the New Yorker magazine earlier this year, journalist Michael Specter considered the experience of Tesco who launched a plan to mark all their products with a carbon footprint indicator. They rapidly worked out that the distance commodities had travelled was only a tiny variable in their calculations which encompassed all the factors I've mentioned above and many, many more. If one of the world's largest retail chains struggle to work out the carbon emissions level generated by their products, good luck to you next time you buy a few groceries.

Though it may have little practical value, the Pound, like some other Transition Town schemes, is at least a bit of fun which generates media interest. It seems clear that such schemes like do have the potential to motivate people and help them feel that they are involved in something which will help the community. Clearly people like to feel they can have an impact.

That last paragraph may give the impression that the Lewes Pound, despite its dubious evidence base and questionable environmental rationale, nonetheless has the potential to be important and relevant. I'm struggling to see it as either. Even if its uptake does increase, it seems to me that engaging people in this kind of scheme also has downsides. Leaving aside the likely disappointment when the impact of people's effort turns out to be less significant than they'd hoped, there is also the danger that by focusing on contributing in this way, we fail to pay attention to more pressing challenges. It is superfluous to point out that tough economic times are coming and thinking about novelty money may end up being distracting rather than helpful.

What than should the town's priorities be? The focus of the Pound campaign has been on retail businesses. Obviously this is important and it is apparently the new trend to demonstrate our patriotism through shopping. Though we're perhaps becoming a little swamped by shops selling luxury goods, many of these business do help the town to flourish. But if retail businesses and the town more broadly are to survive, and perhaps even become more diverse, Lewes also needs to think about how to encourage larger employers and different sorts of work. The truth is that we may only be able to do a limited amount internally, and outside investment will be necessary. I'm wondering how this sits with movements which encourage us to look inward rather than outward, and promote self-sufficiency as our future.

I look at the portrait of Tom Paine on the Lewes Pound. Even in the 18th century he didn't shy away from seeing the interconnectedness of the whole world. What would he think of the kind of place our rebel town is becoming?

 
Beer garden
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