Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
1, January 2005
June 2004, the Community Campaign (Hart) succeeded in having two of
our candidates elected onto Hart District Council (HDC). In the wards
Crondall and Fleet West our candidates, John Bennison and Steve Cantle,
had a strong showing, both came a very respectable second. James &
Jenny Radley had the honour of being elected to represent the Church
Crookham East & West wards. This newsletter is to tell you what has
been happening in the six months since then.
Cllrs. Jenny & James Radley
People voted for the Community Campaign because they wanted to be
at a local level by people who shared their local viewpoint and were
part of an organisation focussed solely on local issues. The idea that
such a local group would seek election to their council is not unique.
In fact the concept of 'Residents Association' parties is an
established part of local government. At the Community Campaign (Hart)
AGM in October we had the privilege of having 3 councillors from
Elmbridge Borough Council, in Surrey, come and talk to us about this
very topic. Elmbridge is a local council which is led by a coalition of
resident associations and is seen to be one of the most effectively run
council's in the country - mainly because they get on with the job and
don't get bogged down in the party politics.
So how do the Community Campaign councillors represent the people of
Church Crookham? James & Jenny give their half-yearly report below.
in this newsletter we;
the QEB planning application (which is
causing local controversy),
- look at what we can expect to challenge our neighbourhood in 2005
with regard to Farnborough Aerodrome,
the Conservatives why they appear to be comfortable with their
Councillor for Church Crookham West not actually taking an active
interest in the ward.
Our Council Half Year
Cllrs. James & Jenny Radley (Dec 2004)
The most rewarding aspect of
being councillors is the contact with many local people and with a
diverse range of community groups. We have been fortunate to see just
part of the work which is being done to improve the quality of life for
our community, often in very challenging circumstances. Be it the Canal
Society, Hampshire Wildlife, Sentinel & Pavilion housing groups,
Citizens Advise Bureau or any of the other organisations and
individuals that it has been our privilege to be in contact with these
past 6 months.
As councillors we never forget
that we have been elected to be effective representatives for the
people of the two Church Crookham wards and for the wider district as a
whole. This means working closely with the other elected members of the
Council and supporting the Council employees as and when needed. We
also have a clear mandate from the electorate to stand up and challenge
the 'establishment' when it comes to those things that we see as wrong.
For instance the CCH councillors were the only ones on the whole
Council to vote for a cut in councillor's allowances to match the
coming cuts in funding for Council services.
The CCH are concerned that the
level of service cutbacks which are being planned by Hart's ruling
group will have a disproportionate impact on the quality and
effectiveness of the services provided. Hart's charge typically
accounts for just 10% of your total Council Tax bill, while Hampshire
County Council take over two thirds. Although the CCH always welcome
fiscal constraint we also believe that some economies can result in
higher costs in the longer term. One item which will be of particular
concern to local residents is the desire of HDC to 'off load' the
responsibility of bearing the cost of running the Velmead Community
Centre, on Zebon Copse, to a 'local group'. This initiative has been
accompanied with a threat, hopefully an empty one, to close it down if
a solution can't be found. The Community Campaign are determined to
fight any attempt to deny the community access to this important
On the whole we believe that
we achieve more for the electorate by using our mandate to influence
and lobby the decision process rather than to constantly fight it. At
the CCH AGM in October we used the analogy of trying to prevent a ship
from ploughing into an iceberg - you could try and seize the helm at
the last minute and swing the ship to safety, very dramatic but
unlikely to avoid the collision. It is much better to have a subtle
course correction introduced in plenty of time - no one may be aware
that we did it but it has the desired effect.
As local councillors we are
often called upon to assist in resolving issues of local concern - such
as parking problems (there have been a few of those in Church Crookham
these past 6 months). There is no magic wand and often the cause of a
particular problem is beyond the Council's control, which can be
frustrating. Issues of this type are often of heightened sensitivity
for those involved. We like to take this opportunity to thank all those
who have made compromises and accommodations to find solutions to some
of the problems that have cropped up. Unfortunately some problems
remain intractable, at least for the time being.
As the Community Campaign (Hart) - CCH, is a formally recognised group
with two members sitting on the Council, we have the right to a seat on
each of four key committees; Planning, Licensing, Scrutiny and
Staff & General Purposes.
James Radley is the CCH
Councillor on planning and is the official spokesperson for Church
Crookham West at Planning Committee meetings (note: James represents CC
East outside of planning).
Of being on the planning
committee James says;
is a role that
involves everything from the big planning applications for new housing
estates to individual extensions. It has to be said that private
extensions can sometimes be the hardest responsibility of all. An
extension may provide much needed accommodation space for one family
and yet deprive a neighbour of some degree of privacy or daylight. Such
applications are rarely clear-cut, rather they come in shades of grey -
but the decision has to be black or white (grant or refuse permission).
When there is such controversy one party is going to feel wronged. I
guess if you stay on planning long enough you will get to alienate half
of the population - I look on it as an occupational hazard.
Councillor is barred from
a Planning Committee debate for a particular application if they have
pre-determined the outcome before it is discussed. On face value this
is a good thing and protects all concerned from a bigoted councillor
swaying the debate. A side effect of this rule is that councillors who
sit on planning can not discuss planning applications freely. However
it is clearly a greater wrong if a councillor does not make the effort
to understand the details of both the arguments for and against an
application. So when necessary I will discuss applications with the
people concerned although with the caveat that I'm having the
discussion to help me understand the facts not to express an opinion."
Jenny Radley sits on the
Licensing Committee and does so at a time of grave concern about the
whole process of Licensing. On 7th February 2005 the
responsibility for granting licenses to all premises selling alcohol,
food in the evening and/or providing entertainment will be moved from
the Magistrate Courts to the Council. All such licensed premises will
have to reapply for their license in the first six months after the
transition. That is a shed load of work and it has been foreseen that
the licensing committee may have to run with panels sitting on at least
3 days of the week, just to clear the backlog. Coupled to this
publicans will also be able to apply for 24 hour drinking licenses
during this time - the government have made it such that an application
for 24 hour opening is difficult to refuse.
With only 6 out of the 12
councillors who are allocated to the Licensing Committee having so far
taken an active part in training, there is a real fear that the
licensing process will break under the strain. The default position is
that any application that is not heard within 20 days of being
submitted, will be granted automatically - even if it is for a 24 hour,
drinking, strip joint, built next to a school.
The rules on pre-determination and
'prejudicial interest' are if anything even stricter than they are on
planning. To be effective, councillors who sit on this committee can
not speak out on a particular application. Legal teams who will act for
the major pub chains have been known to boast about how they will drag
through the courts any Council that slips up when refusing to grant
their clients an application.
The rules of the new licensing regulations mean that any application
will be automatically granted unless the police or public have
raised an objection.
Where is Michael Poulton?
Most wards in Hart District have two elected Councillors, Church
Crookham West is no
exception. Michael Poulton (Con) is supposed to be the counterpart to
Jenny Radley (CCH).
Even his own party must admit that he is not actively doing anything to
represent the people of the ward - just turning up to the occasional
Full Council meeting to avoid forfeiting his seat. Do the Conservatives
want to claim that what Cllr. Poulton does to represent the ward is all
that the electorate should expect of a Conservative Councillor?
The Community Campaign (Hart) call on Michael Poulton to do the
thing and resign his seat, so giving the electorate of Church Crookham
West the opportunity to elect a candidate who actually wants to
actively represent them.
Conservative party come canvassing for the County Elections in May (and
they will come canvassing for a change - thanks to us), demand to know
why they have been content to keep an inactive Councillor in place for
Crookham is facing a lot of critical issues and can't really afford to
have a missing Councillor no matter how hard the other one works to try
and make up the difference.
The Community Campaign (Hart) would like to extend a plea to any local
Councillor who feels that their heart is no longer in doing the job. No
matter what the reason for feeling that you can't fully serve the
people who elected you, do the honourable thing, please stand aside.
Let someone else who is in a position to serve the community have the
chance to be elected to do the job.
The CCH is grateful
that the rules on pre-determination remind us of the appropriate need
to keep an open mind on the various planning applications submitted by
Taylor Woodrow (TW) for the development of the QEB barracks. Members of
the CCH were among the 1250 or so who voiced objections to the
application submitted by TW in 2003. The CCH do acknowledge that the
application of 2004 has attempted to address the fundamental concerns,
including those of traffic impact & the effects on the
environmentally important areas on Tweseldown.
The CCH is working on many fronts to study the new submission by
TW. To all the members of the public who are providing their time and
various areas of expertise to help us to conduct this analysis, thank
Not wishing to prejudge the outcome of
this application it is wise to consider that IF the application was to
be granted then the developer is obliged to help fund projects which
will be of benefit to the new community. Specifically they should
provide some of the facilities which the new residents of their
development would need and that the existing area is not able to
supply. Such provision is covered by a legal contract that is known as
a "106 agreement". It is accepted that 85% of facilities provided by a
106 agreement should be associated with the development site, although
15% can be for offsite provision to help the new residents integrate
with the existing community.
To date, the predominant input on what facilities are needed has come
from Crondall Parish Council. They have drawn up a list that appears to
be of questionable benefit to either the new residents or the community
most affected, Church Crookham. Unless we can use local knowledge to
demonstrate the real facilities that such a development would require,
it will not be easy to counter such a wish list. So please, if Church
Crookham is to have 3,000+ new residents can we think of what
facilities our expanded community would most need. As an example would
it be better to replace the requirement for a cricket pitch with an all
weather running track?
Please send us your thoughts JennyR@ccguk.com
and we shall ensure
that common themes are fed to the correct people.
A Date for your Diary
Council is hoping to have the QEB
heard in a special planning meeting in the Harlington Centre (the
library building) at 7:00 pm on 1st March. However given some of
the technicalities of this application don't be too surprised if this
date should slip.
The operation at Farnborough
Aerodrome continues to be a cause of concern for many in the area. The
predominant complaint passed on to us is disturbance from noisy
aircraft, often because they have 'gone off track' and have flown
across the town. We were part of a delegation from Hart Council who
travelled up to London to speak directly with the Department for
Transport about Farnborough. In a wide ranging discussion one of the
topics we raised was how the disturbance from sporadic noise events
should really be measured differently to the continual drone that is
experienced at busy aerodromes such as Heathrow. The DfT did not
disagree that the model currently used to measure noise disturbance,
which averages out the noise events across the entire operational day,
may not be the most appropriate for traffic patterns such as at
Farnborough. In fact they explained that they had commissioned a study
to evaluate whether better methods to assess noise annoyance could be
adopted. Unfortunately this study will not report for a further 4 years
so we will be living with the old model for sometime to come.
There has been much
speculation in the press this year about if/when Farnborough will seek
to increase it's cap on flight movements from 28,000 per annum to some
as yet unspecified higher number. The general consensus from a number
of authoritative statements is that such an increase will not be sought
for at least another 3 years. Although, if such an increase is required
by Farnborough, we do have to question why it was not factored into the
recent Public Safety Zone calculation which is supposed to take into
account the projected level of flying in 2015.
A more immediate request from
Farnborough, is likely to be for an increase in the number of weekend
flights. There is currently a limitation of 2,500 weekend flights and
Farnborough have already hit this ceiling. The CCH anticipates that TAG
who run the aerodrome will shortly be seeking an increase in the
weekend flying quota - while keeping total annual movements within the
current 28,000 limit. This may be a concern for some residents who due
to their lifestyle patterns, find weekend flying to be more of a
disturbance than that during the week. If you have a strong view on the
subject please let us know, so
that we can be in a
position to give appropriate input if such an application is made.
South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA)
The government appears to be
forging ahead with its plan to replace a large part of the country's
local administration infrastructure, (ie. District & County
Councils), with what is in effect an unelected body. Although there are
many councillors appointed to SEERA they have not specifically been
elected to that role and the representatives of industry and the large
contingent of civil servants certainly have not been elected. The main
aim of SEERA appears to be to impose yet higher and higher housing
quotas on areas such as Hart. Hart is part of the "Blackwater Valley
sub-region" which SEERA has earmarked as being particularly appropriate
for development - special mention is made of using MOD land.
SEERA say that they will conduct a wide scale public consultation on
their plans for this area.
If they do contact you, please for all our sakes, don't throw the forms
aside. Do use the opportunity to respond to make it clear what
infrastructure you personally feel the area lacks (if any), preventing
it from being able to sustain such a massive expansion. Do insist that
if SEERA wishes to push ahead in demanding a dramatic increase in our
local population that they at least put these much needed facilities in