Community News
The Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
Issue 1, January 2005

In June 2004, the Community Campaign (Hart) succeeded in having two of our candidates elected onto Hart District Council (HDC). In the wards of 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 represented 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.

Also in this newsletter we;

Our Council Half Year Report

By 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 resource.

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;

"Planning 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.

A 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?

Who? 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 honourable 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.

When the 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 so long.

Church 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.

QEB Development

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 you.

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 and we shall ensure that common themes are fed to the correct people.

A Date for your Diary

Currently, the Council is hoping to have the QEB planning application 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.

Farnborough Aerodrome

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 place, first.