Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
3, March 2006
Hart District Elections, 4th May 2006
In the Fleet
News, 17th January 2006, Conservative Council Leader,
Cllr. Gorys, made a very telling statement with regard to concerns the
Community Campaign had raised over parking provision at the Peter
Driver Sports Centre. Part of the site is soon to be redeveloped. Cllr
Gorys said that Community Campaign Councillors; “have no reason to be
involved in the negotiations because they are junior backbenchers”.
No, Cllr. Gorys.
The people who elected the first three CCH Councillors
have every right to expect them to be involved in all issues which
affect the people who they represent. The fact that he does not appear
to understand this and the local Conservative party go out of their way
to frustrate what we are trying to do just shows how out of touch they
Those who have
called upon the Community Campaign for active help or
advice will vouch for how hard we work and that we achieve results. We
may be backbenchers but we certainly get a lot done.
What Cllr. Gorys
sometimes forgets, is that he can only count on the
support of 18 out of the 35 Councillors, a majority of 1. So, with the
continued support of the people of Church Crookham, Crondall, Crookham
Village and Ewshot we will not be “junior backbenchers” for much
longer. What we can promise is that we will not marginalize any elected
member, as Cllr Gorys tries to do. We acknowledge that
Councillors from all sides will have to work together to save
Hart from the mess that it is in.
Campaign (Hart) are proud to announce that we will be
contesting at least three ward seats in the Hart District Council
Election on 4th May 2006.
Gill Butler & John Bennison, Proud to stand up for local issues in
We will obviously
field Simon Ambler to defend the Church Crookham West
seat that he won so convincingly in the by-election, under a year ago.
We are optimistic that John Bennison will fulfil his ambition to be a
very active Council representative for the people of Crondall, Crookham
Village and Ewshot.
part time teacher, married with two children, will stand
for the Community Campaign in the contest for the Church Crookham East
seat. The ward seat is vacant due to Peter Hutcheson’s retirement from
District politics. Gill is actively involved with charity fund raising
and the QEB campaign.
keeps up with our progress will know that during the 2004
election, we were faced with the sad passing of our much respected
election agent, John Colburn. It was always going to be difficult to
find somebody who would replace John. However, for this year’s
elections it is an honour to be able to announce that Ken Blockwell,
resolute leader of the successful QEB campaign, has volunteered to be
our new election agent.
If you are fed
up with arrogant politicians and would like to see the
Council work on an inclusive basis, please come out and vote for us in
One issue which is causing widespread local debate is that of Hart’s
recent decision to move to an alternate weekly bin collection. Despite
comments made in recent ‘political material’ this is not a Community
Campaign decision. The responsibility was solely that of the
Conservative’s ruling inner core. However they did ask the full Council
to comment on their decision, after the event mind you!
The Community Campaign extended an invite to anyone who wanted to
debate the issues around this change to do so at our AGM in October.
Over 70 people met in the Church Crookham Memorial Hall to discuss all
the issues which underlie the switch to alternate collections. The
meeting looked at the issues of bin capacity, smells, vermin, etc. We
discussed the constant failures of the split bodied lorries, that cause
us to have an unreliable service today. We considered the cost
implications and we contemplated the need for a local incinerator if we
could not increase the percentage of recycled waste.
Then as promised we took a vote on what stance the three CCH
Councillors should take in the discussion at the following evening’s
Council meeting. Remember, the decision was already made by the
Council’s ruling group. As it was, having discussed all the issues
there was a unanimous vote for the switch to alternate weekly
collection, with the provision that the blue bin is doubled in capacity
and that full information on recycling is provided. Although most at
our meeting had started off very much against the Council’s proposed
change, having looked at the facts there was an acceptance that this
change was necessary.
No other party gives such credence to the views of local people. No
other party has the guts to meet the public to discuss these issues in
such depth. The Community Campaign does and will continue to do so. Our
only reason to be here is to ensure that local views get fairly
considered and that the community’s concerns are actively represented.
need a bigger blue bin?
You will have to
notify the Council if you want to take up the offer of
a free upgrade to a bigger blue bin;
or order online from Hart District Council's website.
By John Bennison
There has been much concern raised over the decision of the Secretary
of State, John (two Jags) Prescott, to overturn his original decision
and allow building on the Hitches Lane site. This spreading of
residential development beyond the existing Fleet settlement boundary
on to green fields could be the thin end of a destructive wedge.
Development on Hitches Lane was ultimately brought about by Hart
putting it into the local plan as a reserve site. Why did they do this?
If we are not to be faced with more Hitches Lanes in future years we
should be ensuring that our Crondall District Councillors are
concentrating on protecting our community’s future. Crondall
Councillors should not be being distracted by other issues, which I
certainly do not wish to rake over here.
Currently the ward of Crondall is not directly represented at Hart in
planning matters and this is a serious concern. Cllr. Ken Crookes has
been standing in to represent us on planning during this difficult
time, but he was elected to represent Odiham and rightly that is where
his focus should be. Hart Council is currently formulating the Local
Development Framework (LDF) which will shape development in Hart for
the next 20 years. The Parish Councils of Crondall and Crookham Village
are certainly working hard on their Parish Plans – but can we be sure
that these will be fully translated into Hart’s own LDF documents?
Have the Conservatives asked you to stand for Crondall in the May
election yet? They’ve asked most people so the answer could well be
yes. This suggests that they may not have the keen ready-to-serve
candidate that Crondall so desperately needs. Councillors are elected
by local people to get things done for local people. So, in May do
please consider setting aside national political affiliations and vote
for someone ready to roll up their sleeves and actually do something
for the Community.
John Bennison was the
CCH candidate for Crondall ward in 2004 and he
will stand again in May 2006.
John (51) lives in Ewshot with his wife Jane and their two teenage
He is involved with the Crondall Parish Council and is a
member of the Crondall Society.
He is a keen Triathlon & Marathon
Who represents you?
The majority of
the residents of Hart are represented at a local level
by a Parish/Town Council. Members of Parish Councils are voted for by
the electorate that they represent. This may be the population of a
small village or a large town, such as Yateley. Parish Councils levy a
precept upon the people who live in the area they represent. This money
is spent by the Parish Council on such things as maintaining children’s
playgrounds & community centres, providing allotments, and
addressing other local needs.
Parish Councils also take responsibility for being a primary consultee
on planning applications and giving a local perspective on any high
level planning policy being set by the District Council. Parish
Councils are very influential and are typically very adept at providing
first line representation for their community within the wider local
The people of Fleet & Church Crookham live in ‘the unparished
area’, a term that is often used in ways which suggest that they are
second class citizens. For instance, Parishes have been given help
& support to draw up Parish Plans to protect their communities
within the Local Development Framework (LDF) which Hart is currently
drawing up. Fleet & Church Crookham’s equivalent exercise “the
Health Check” was denied funding while its validity had been
questioned. Without input into the LDF, Fleet & Church Crookham
would have had a very weak hand in saying what should and what should
developed in the area. Funds were finally made available after the
intervention from a number of parties brought the matter to the
attention of Cllr. Sharyn Wheale who was then able to free up the
previously promised money.
You might think that at least by being unparished you save money by not
paying a precept. Sadly this is not the case. In the council year
2005/06 residents of Crookham Village paid a precept of £17.59,
Crondall £37.87 – those in the unparished area paid £45.99
into ‘Special Expenses’ (all quoted are band ‘D’ rates). The money paid
to Parish Councils gets spent by the elected members of the Parish. The
money is allocated to projects at meetings which local residents can
attend. The money paid by the residents of Fleet & Church Crookham
goes into ‘Special Expenses’ a fund that lurks within Hart’s murky
Just one person, currently Cllr Sharyn Wheale, has effective control on
how this money (nearly £650,000 a year) gets spent. Now you may
well be very happy for Sharyn to have direct control over your money.
However, would it not be better to have open debates about how this
money gets used? You might have a preference for sports facilities,
upgrading the parks, or for supporting the canal or Fleet Pond. Maybe
you would rather keep your precept tax bill lower. If you had the
chance to vote for the dozen or so members of a Parish Council then you
would have such a say. As it happens today Sharyn alone prepares her
budget for the unparished area and her political colleagues on the
Cabinet, who are mostly from outside of Fleet & Church Crookham,
rubber stamp it. This only goes to show how far removed from the whole
process Fleet & Church Crookham residents are.
The people of Church Crookham have been forced to live without a Parish
Council for far too long. It is time to fight to get one and the
Community Campaign is doing just that.
During the run up to the May ‘06 election we will use the time to do
something useful for our community. We will be knocking on unparished
doors in Church Crookham & Courtmoor and asking residents to sign
our petition. If we can get 10% of the registered voters to sign then
we can demand that Hart take our request for a Parish Council to the
Please support us in our fight to
extend local democracy – please sign
If you would like to help by collecting signatures from around your
neighbourhood please contact,
Now that the
refusal of the application has been taken to
appeal, Hart and the community are all in this together. The
responsibility for defending the decision to reject the application
lies with us all. The appeal date has been further delayed and is now
scheduled to take place over an 8 week period sometime around April
2007. The public inquiry is most likely to be conducted in a marquee on
the QEB site! Public concern is a legitimate consideration and a
demonstration of this through steady public turn out across the
duration of the hearing will be invaluable. So if you can plan to come
for just one, two or more days or can drop in for spare moments to
witness the inquiry, then please do.
As 2006 progresses we will send
out further updates about the appeal to those signed up on our QEB
interest e-mail list.
Hart – Stony
There is no
doubt that the ruling Conservative group on Hart District
Council will be telling us at every opportunity that they have held the
District Council Tax rise to almost inflation this year. Great, your
tax paid just to Hart has only gone up by about £3.50* for the
year. But what has this really cost you?
Hart recently bought 2 new bin lorries. They decided to buy them out of
Hart’s life savings, our financial reserves – (by ours this means yours
and mine). To make things right the plan was that Hart would pay itself
back each year and replenish the pot. To balance the budget, the Torys
have decided to renege on these payments. In effect they have defaulted
on the loan. This is a “double whammy”; The loan is costing you in
terms of lost interest – money that could have been used to provide
services or to offset future
tax rises. Perhaps worse – they’ve decided not to replenish our life
savings. This is like borrowing from our children’s piggy bank, then
breaking the promise to repay it. We are going to wake up with one huge
financial mess because of this reckless attitude.
This budget has left the Council’s reserves at the bare minimum. To
quote a report by Cllr. Nippy Singh (who is in charge of finance) when
anticipating his own budget - “No
capacity exists in reserves to
address any future budget gaps or to fund any unplanned one off
Even the much heralded initiative to find some money to partly
compensate for the dramatic cut in grants to the Citizens Advice Bureau
(CAB) and Hart Voluntary Action (HVA) have involved yet another dip
into reserves. The CCH are proud to say that we said enough is enough
and supported an amendment to actually FULLY fund CAB & HVA –
without dipping into what precious little is left of Hart’s savings.
This would have cost you the tax payer an extra 2p a week. Worth it to
start getting some fiscal responsibility into Hart, we think you would
agree. Sadly the amendment was lost by 1 vote.
Other future cuts that are being actively considered include
outsourcing Hart’s leisure services to a private operator, who can be
expected to seek to profit from our use of these public facilities. It
is even being suggested that, to save a little money, Hart reduces the
election cycle so that people will only have chance to vote for
Councillors once every four years. This takes away the opportunity to
regularly express through the ballot box our thoughts on how Hart
Council is being run. Democracy is too precious to be compromised.
Three of the Conservative group are also County Councillors who voted
for a 4.7% rise in our County Council Tax bill – that is an increase of
over £40* – will they be boasting about that? Will they boast
that they have depleted the reserves by 60%, down £1.4 million,
in the last two years? They will however rant on about how the CCH
tried to increase the Council tax by 2p a week to support CAB & HVA.
We can not promise to be able to fix this financial mess in the next
year, although we would if we could. Would you get that degree of
honesty from anyone else? We can promise not to make it worse and we
will certainly do everything we can to address the problem. We will not
be shy about publicly explaining the stark choices that have to be
made. If you live in a ward that offers you the chance to vote for the
Community Campaign in May – Can you afford not to?
* Council Tax
payments based upon a band D property.