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VANESSA ROWLANDS - Liberal Democrat District Council candidate for the Wealden ward of SOUTH DOWNS

Vanessa RowlandsVanessa Rowlands has lived in Litlington, in the Cuckmere Valley, for the past 16 years, so has established deep roots in the area. "It's where my husband and I have brought up our three children," she says. Before moving to Sussex and starting a family, Vanessa worked in the music industry for over ten years, in Artist & Development. Now an active member of the local community, she plans to start an MA in Heritage, a subject she is passionate about, at Sussex University in the autumn.

If elected, Vanessa says she hopes to get all the parishes within the South Downs ward working together to tackle their shared problems, such as with local traffic management. "A whole valley-wide strategy needs to be adopted that is sympathetic to our historic villages and provides attractive access to visitors," she says. "We have seen a surge in cycling throughout the valley in recent years, which is fantastic, but we must keep them safe by reducing speeds. The junctions on the A27 coming into the valley must be made safer, particularly the junction at Wilmington, which sadly sees many fatalities. It must have at the very least a dedicated waiting area for vehicles intending to turn right into Wilmington, such as they have at Firle & Charleston Farmhouse, which would make this turning a lot safer. Sadly a motorcyclist lost his life there earlier this month."

Vanessa also points out that the Cuckmere River is supposed to be maintained by the Environment Agency but someone needs to ensure that this is actually happening as it should. "The mouth needs to be dredged regularly, so that flood water can drain out of the valley," she explains. "If the river levels are too high, the sluice gates can't open and so flood water can't flow back into the river and ultimately leave the valley."

Cuckmere RiverAs District Councillor, Vanessa would also lobby the South Downs Park and other organisations to manage Tourism to the area better. "We have many educational groups come to view the Seven Sisters and the Cuckmere meanders," she says. "We need to keep them safe, especially when crossing the A259 at Exceat and East Dean."

Vanessa also believes that visitors from overseas need to be given guidance on how to visit the attractions, in their own language, from when they arrive in the area - i.e.: at the local train stations and on the buses. "They must not be dropped off in the middle of nowhere and then expected to walk along busy roads or across fields unprepared," says Vanessa. "One visitor, a student from South Korea, tragically lost her footing and fell to her death while having a photo taken by the cliff edge. Safeguarding our visitors must be a priority of South Downs National Park."

An advocate of renewable energy and doing everything possible to limit climate change, Vanessa has identified the need for clear guidelines from South Downs National Park and Wealden Planning Department regarding what forms of domestic electric generation they are happy to see within the park. "Every household should be able to generate their own electricity, whether that is by way of a domestic installation or by contributing to a community generation scheme," she says. "As custodians of this land we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to leave the area in better shape and an authority such as South Downs National Park should be leading the way."

For more information on Vanessa Rowlands and her campaign in the ward of South Downs, including contact information, please click HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF OF HER RECENT LEAFLET