Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
11, Spring 2011
This, our 11th newsletter, follows somewhat later than usual after the
last one because, until now, so much has been in a state of flux that
it has never felt to be the right time to take a 'snap shot' of events.
The new planning application for the QEB has finally been submitted;
after a delay lasting for most of 2010. Although, as expected, this
application is less intrusive than the previous one, there are still
issues. Of major concern is the fact that Hampshire education authority
look to be repeating the mistakes made on Zebon Copse and Ancells Farm
and is telling the developer that they don’t need to build a primary
school on the site!
The principle junction improvements for the QEB were implicitly agreed
through the Secretary of State’s ruling after the planning inquiry into
the previous application. Despite our vigorously arguing at the appeal
that these junctions were inadequate, Hampshire Highways scuppered any
leverage we had by agreeing with Taylor Wimpey that their plans would
work. This makes it even more important that the £3m contribution
for ‘general’ highway improvements is not squandered on inappropriate
schemes. This will mean keeping a close eye on how the money is
earmarked to be spent and not allowing it to be diverted into
ineffective schemes or those which represent poor value for money.
Whilst on the subject of major developments -alarmingly despite the
much publicized ‘localism’ bill Hart’s Conservative cabinet have voted
to set the building target at 4,000 new houses in Hart over the next 20
years. This means that we will inevitably lose some green fields and
will result in yet more pressure on our inadequate infrastructure. This
will have a major impact on the quality of life that we enjoy in our
Taylor Wimpey (TW) has submitted their long anticipated planning
application for the QEB site. The application is for 872 houses,
somewhat fewer than the 1,150 originally being sought. Most importantly
TW are not seeking to close the Bourley Road car park; a major victory
for all who protested last time. However, there are still major
Previously, the developer had been willing to make provision for
building a new primary school on the site. Then, at the last minute
when the application was about to be submitted Hampshire education
authority decided that it would not be needed after all as they could
expand local schools instead.
Expansion at the Church Crookham Junior and Tweseldown Infant school
site to provide an additional form for each of the 7 year groups would
drastically reduce the grounds which make this school site a wonderful
learning environment. Also, local residents know that already there are
serious parking issues at school drop-off and pick-up times, even
before the school is expanded by a third. So, why turn down a new 1.5
form entry school, with sufficient space to expand to 3 form entry,
when it is offered on the QEB?
An expanded Church Crookham school will only provide an additional 1
form entry although 1.5 was said to be needed. It seems likely that
some children from Church Crookham will be displaced and will need to
attend the Heatherside Schools instead. Hampshire claim to have already
drawn up plans to also expand Heatherside to cope with increased
demand. This will also impact on the amenities of that school.
So, why not build a new school, within its own parkland and with
adequate parking? Without a school on this site, the QEB school traffic
will have to use local roads at peak times. With a school on QEB, this
traffic would be contained within the site.
If you anticipate having children or grand-children going to primary
school in the area in future years, or if any unnecessary increase in
peak time traffic would have an impact on you, then you should care
about this issue.
Primary schools were not built on Zebon Copse or Ancells Farm. This is
widely considered to have been a big mistake. Even the school on
Elvetham Heath was initially built too small. There is a long history
of school planners selling the local community short on school
provision. If you are going to comment on any aspect of the QEB
application, do please raise any concerns that you may have about the
short sightedness of not putting a primary school on the site. You must
remind Hart’s planning committee not to repeat past mistakes.
How many new homes should be built in Hart over the next 20 years?
Hart is currently devising a “strategic housing strategy”. This is part
of the process to introduce a Local Development Framework (LDF) to
replace the ageing Local Development Plan and will specify how many new
dwellings are to be built on which major sites.
At their cabinet meeting of 6th January 2011, Hart’s Conservative
cabinet voted to set a target housing level of 200 new builds per year
for each of the next 20 years. These 4,000 new homes are equivalent to
more than two new Elvetham Heath estates!
They did this without stopping to consider where these houses will get
built or what impact they will have on our already over stretched
roads, schools and medical services.
Council leader Cllr. Ken Crookes (Con.) in response to questioning by
the CCH at the January Council meeting admitted that his Cabinet have
not considered the impact of the 200 per year target on local
A Hart report “Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment” has
identified land at Grove Farm (south of Hitches Lane) and sites along
Redfields Lane as being amongst those available for this excess
housing. Local residents familiar with these locations will appreciate
that with existing traffic levels and the demand for school places,
these areas are effectively already full. The Community Campaign
continues to argue that Hart cannot set a new housing target until such
time as they determine how to mitigate the impact of these
The local area has still to experience the impact that Edenbrook
(Hitches Lane) and QEB will have on our road network. It is very
disingenuous to consider building yet more houses when the local
community remains to be convinced that these developments, already in
the pipeline, will not have a drastic impact on our quality of life.
by John Bennison
May 6th 2010 was a significant day at the polls for the government of
this county. It was also a significant day for me as well, in that I
narrowly missed out on holding onto the Crondall ward seat by just 85
votes. I'd previously won the seat by the tiniest of margins (just 2
votes) so I always knew that it was going to be tight.
However, given the swings in other wards across the district, due to
the effect of the general election, I am heartened by how the size of
the vote for me held up. I do have to say how grateful I am for the
warm words of encouragement that I received while out canvassing. I am
looking forward to the opportunity to contest the election and to
winning the seat back next time.
The Boundary Commission recently looked to review the number of
district councillors at Hart in advance of adjusting ward boundaries.
We in the Community Campaign were adamant that, given the cuts in
council budgets, the only right course of action was to reduce the
number of councillors.
Hart currently have 35 councillors. The boundary commission said that
we could recommend any number provided that it is divisible by 3. This
is because Hart elects a third of its members at each district
election, so each ward should ideally be represented by 3 councillors.
We therefore felt that it would be more efficient if we reduced the
number of Hart councillors to 27. This is a reduction of a little over
20% and is in line with the level of restructuring across government as
Unbelievably to us, some sectors of the Council actually wanted an
increase in councillors. However, the leading group voted through a
token reduction of just 2 seats, leaving a total of 33 councillors.
Now that the number of councillors has been set, the Boundary
Commission has started to look at adjusting ward boundaries to give an
even distribution of electorate to each ward seat. Crondall has been
'over represented' because at the last boundary review it was
anticipated that the QEB would have added a significant number of new
voters by now. This coupled with the need to have an electorate size
that can justify having 3 councillors means that the Crondall ward must
change significantly. Hart are suggesting Crookham Village & Ewshot
be joined into one each of the Church Crookham wards. While Crondall
looks set to be merged with neighbouring Odiham.
There will be a significant change when whatever new arrangement comes
into effect in 2014. Local people with strong views on what happens to
the Crondall ward should look out for notice by Hart of any
consultation on the new boundaries.
Hart Budget Challenges
by Chris Axam
Everyone will be aware of the severe financial issues facing our
country and the impact that this will have on public finances. Although
headline figures were revealed in October, the full impact of the
Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on Hart District Council
(HDC) only became apparent in December. The details of Hart’s general
revenue grant ‘settlement’ confirmed the Council’s worst fears as to
the scale of the cut in Government financial support. As a result, the
budget for 2011/12 will prove difficult. Statements made by national
politicians indicate that further significant cuts in support grant can
be expected over the next few years.
To put this into context, for the current financial year 2010/11, the
cost of providing council services amounted to £9.884m which was
funded by Central Government grants of £3.854m; council taxes of
£5.801m and interest on balances of £243k. The grant from
Central Government this year has been cut to £2.947m, which after
the adjustment for the transfer of responsibility of the concessionary
travel fares scheme from HDC to HCC, estimated to be £322k in the
current year, means an overall reduction in the cash grant of around
£584k. This alone would require an increase in the council tax of
10% - which is unacceptable. The news gets no better with an indication
that the cut in the central grant next year would further reduce the
income by some £300k.
This is not the end of the financial challenges that face HDC.
Reductions in some other government grants made to specific services
together with adjustments made for the contractual inflation associated
with outsource contracts, and external inflationary pressures such as
fuel costs, will mean that Hart will need to find an estimated
£660k extra for 2011/12. The net result of all these changes is
that HDC will have to find savings in the range of between £1.25m
and £1.35m simply to balance the books. It is unavoidable that at
this level of budget shortfall, savings will inevitably translate to
cuts in services.
Where these cuts will fall has still to be decided by the Conservative
administration and to be honest I do not envy their task. However, we
will try to steer them away from cuts to the services which we know
residents truly value, if we feel that more appropriate savings can be
made elsewhere. It is, for example, too easy to suggest reducing the
level of litter collections or putting up car parking charges to help
close the gap without first looking to see if there are other costs
which could be addressed with less impact. The council is looking to
reduce the cost of waste collection by sharing the service with
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. This is something I believe
should be supported as the benefits of increased scale will provide a
more resilient service while allowing Hart to reap efficiencies in back
There are no simple answers when faced with the problem of resolving
the level of national debt, a challenge that we will all be sharing
over the next decade. Although the spending cuts at HDC are not debt
orientated, the problem is similar in that we have to live with a
reduced income and mounting cost pressures. In these difficult times
some services will have to be reduced if we are to deliver a balanced
budget and not be forced to consider borrowing to support services
which, in my view, would be a mistake. The CCH Group would therefore
like to hear from anyone who wishes to protect particular services
provided by the Hart District Council.
A Great Start for the Parish Councils
One recent newsworthy event was the formal creation of the new parish
councils at the beginning of April 2010. Previously Fleet & Church
Crookham had been unparished. Thanks to our long campaign and the
petition that we ran back in spring 2006, which collected over 2,000
signatures, Hart finally conceded and gave Fleet and Church Crookham
equal footing with the rest of the district.
One of the arguments against forming parishes, put about by our
opponents, was that the Parish Councils would cost us more in Council
Tax. However, Church Crookham's parish precept looks like it will have
a 0% increase again this year. At the same time, it is now empowered to
use the parish precept money to provide services & facilities for
the communities from which it was raised. These new parishes are in a
position to invest this money back into local facilities. It is not
often these days that you get a public body able to offer more to the
tax payer whilst not increasing the amount that they ask you to pay to
This is possible because the creation of the parish councils has freed
up money previously diverted out of the local community to maintain
Hart facilities such as the Harlington Centre. Credit is due to Hart,
which has been very open and supportive towards the new parishes and
has gone out of its way to ensure that monies previously held by the
district have been fairly distributed back to the new parishes.
Church Crookham Parish Council is currently in negotiation with both
the developers for the Peter Driver site and QEB to ensure that the
community gets worthwhile and viable facilities at both locations. The
Parish Council is putting considerable time and effort into these
tricky negotiations which would be daunting for any established parish
council, let alone a new parish council during its first full year of
The new Fleet Town council is facing its own challenges, not least with
how to maintain The Harlington Centre on a viable footing. Meanwhile,
the newly split Crondall & Ewshot parishes are also working to
ensure that they can operate efficiently as independent villages.
by Gill Butler
One of the more interesting roles I have undertaken since becoming a
Hart District councillor in 2006 has been that on the Licensing
Committee. This committee comprises eleven councillors and meets on a
monthly basis to discuss district wide matters relating to premises
which sell alcohol and late night refreshments, gambling
establishments, private hire vehicles and hackney carriages.
On occasions, three councillors make up a quasi judicial sub-committee,
also known as a licensing hearing, in order to make a decision on a
particular issue. Some examples of typical hearings might be:
- A public
house or shop which applies to extend its hours of operation but where
local people have objected.
- A licensed premise which has failed test purchases by police or
who suspect that alcohol is being sold to under-age persons.
- A taxi driver appealing against a licensing officer’s decision to
- The review
of a license where the police consider that a licensed premise is being
operated in such a way that it breaches the four core objectives of the
2003 licensing act.
In such cases,
the three councillors have considerable powers, for example, to revoke
an individual’s licence to run a public house. We encourage members of
the public to take an active interest in what is happening in their
neighbourhood but it is vital that should you wish to object to a
licensing application that your letter addresses at least one of the 4
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- Prevention of public nuisance
- The protection of children from harm
These are the
only grounds that can be taken into account when a member of the public
raises objections. So, unless your objection makes reference to one or
more of these objectives, your objection will not in itself trigger a
Published by: Julia
Ambler, 39 Du Maurier Close, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 0YA