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Community News
The Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
Issue 5, March 2007

Openness and transparency in local government have always been guiding principles of the CCH. So when we joined a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats in May 2006 we promised that we would seek answers about Hart’s finances. During the past six months, as part of that Coalition, we have been involved in balancing Hart’s budget for 2007/8. This budget setting process (needing to reduce expenditure by £1.5m) has been challenging, requiring some difficult decisions but has also been uncharacteristically open and transparent.

John, Gill, James, Jenny & Simon: Your CCH Councillors

All senior officers and councillors have been able to make an input. While there are some redundancies, most savings have not been at the expense of frontline services. A Corporate Director and four Heads of Service posts have been cut to slim down Hart’s management structure and other savings have come from outsourcing services which can be more efficiently provided by external organizations.

Despite the challenging nature of this budget, the Coalition has still been able to allocate money to:
This budget round has not been easy but the CCH feel proud to have been part of a Coalition that has had the courage to deal with Hart’s financial problems head on and by doing so we have put Hart’s finances on a firmer footing.

We look forward in future years to building from this stable base, so that Hart can deliver the level of services that we all deserve. It is going to be a long road but at least we have had the conviction to get the journey started.

It’s Spring; it must be Election time!

This year we are contesting two local seats; Church Crookham West and Fleet Courtmoor. Chris AxamIn Fleet Courtmoor we are proud that Chris Axam will be standing for us. Chris has taken early retirement and brings with him many years of business experience. He is well known in the local community for his charity work. He has a clear head and takes a no nonsense approach to things. He is ready to question ‘why’ and has an uncanny knack of picking up on things that aren’t altogether obvious. Chris is looking forward to the opportunity of making a positive difference for his local community as an elected representative.

If elected Chris will be a valuable asset to Hart District Council and we look forward to being able to welcome him into the team as our sixth Community Campaign Councillor in May.

Jenny RadleyIn Church Crookham West, Jenny Radley has agreed to stand again for the seat she won in a by-election three years ago. Those of you who have met her will know that she works tirelessly behind the scenes to serve the people of her ward and has little inclination for political shenanigans. Frankly, there are already more than enough amateur politicians. Behind the scenes hard workers are just what Church Crookham needs.

The CCH believe that the point of getting elected is to try to improve where we live. We are not interested in party politics, we are just interested in getting the job done, as difficult as that sometimes is.

Hart has a long road ahead before it becomes the customer focused & efficient Council that people in this area deserve. However at least now Hart has started the journey – please trust your vote to us so that we can ensure that the journey continues.

Local politics – It’s about where you live

Farnborough Aerodrome

by Jenny Radley

Farnborough Aerodrome’s recent application to increase flying at weekends has produced a lot of local controversy. The appeal into this application has been extended into a second session and will recommence on 2nd April.

Many local people are proud to have a site of such historical importance for aviation on our doorstep, and consider the architectural design of the new buildings to be an asset to our built environment. While most people do not begrudge the fortunate few with access to these facilities, many members of the community approach us with concerns about individual Farnborough flights.

People contacting TAG’s complaint line (01252 526001) are often disappointed by the dismissive response that they receive.

Three CCH members represent local residents in varying capacities on the important Farnborough Aerodrome Consultative Committee (FACC). This forum meets 3 times a year and is an opportunity for us to follow through on complaints which members of the public feel deserving of a fuller exploration. In general, while local people accept Farnborough Aerodrome for what it is, TAG do not always seem to reciprocate with an appreciation that there are densely populated residential areas under their flight path. If TAG could discuss people’s complaints in an open and honest way, it would go a long way to building a level of trust with the public that would benefit all of us, TAG included.

The CCH through Jenny Radley have recently met with TAG’s new Chief Executive Brandon O’Reilly. He appears keen to improve relations with local residents so we are hopeful that TAG’s attitude towards dealing with complaints will improve. TAG is also promising to look at radical industry leading initiatives to reduce the impact of noise.

Please contact Jenny if you have a particular issue that you would like to see raised at the FACC.

Crondall Report

by John Bennison

How quickly time flies. It is 10 months since I was elected and there has been much going on with; training courses to attend, committee procedures to understand, reports to read, and developing an understanding of how Hart actually works. I sit on three Committees; Scrutiny, Planning and Appeals. Scrutiny questions the decisions made by the Council’s Executive and Senior Officers.

By the time you read this, Crondall and Ewshot will have a new Beat Officer. As you know, after many years in Crondall, Alex Batten retired at the end of last year. On the 26th March P.C. Nicholas Sexton will take over and I wish him well in his new role. Hart has been allocated 12 police community support officers who are currently being recruited and trained. I am hopeful we may get one of these Officers to support PC Sexton.

A sign recently erected outside the village shop has caused much concern and a flurry of phone calls to me. This led me to ask a question about this sign at Full Council. I was informed that the sign had been erected by the Traffic Management Section at Hampshire County Council, after discussion with the shop owner and the County Council Councillor. Neither Hart District Council, Crondall Parish Council nor myself were consulted in this matter, as would be normal practice. I have been told that the sign is not of an approved type face, has no legal authority and is, thus, unenforceable.

I know from the feedback that I receive that those who live in the outlying areas of Crondall appreciate that we take the effort to deliver this Newsletter to everyone in the ward. However as the Crondall ward covers such a large area it would be great to have some extra help with distribution. If you are willing to assist with future Newsletter deliveries, even if it is just for your own local hamlet, I’d be very grateful to hear from you.

School Traffic Problems

by Gill Butler

Along with many towns and villages across this country, Fleet and Church Crookham have their share of traffic problems arising from the school run. For instance in my ward, Church Crookham East, the school traffic causes problems for residents in the vicinity of Tweseldown Infants and Crookham Juniors. Both schools are working very hard with parents and pupils to encourage less car use and they are in the final stages of producing a School Travel Plan. Once approved, funds can be released to help improve safety by encouraging pupils and parents to walk or cycle to school. Can I urge those who must drive to school to put safety first when they are parking and to work closely with the schools in their attempts to limit the impact of the school run.

A sense of place

Eight months since the submission of the petition to form a parish council for Church Crookham & Courtmoor, Hart is still working on its response. In August ’06, Hart decided to ‘reject’ the petition in favour of conducting a district wide parish review. The first step in this review will be through a ‘Sense of Place’ questionnaire, which will be sent to a sample of people to find out to which community the residents in each area feel that they belong.

After this first phase, Hart plans to conduct a further survey to see if people want a parish council in their area or not. Many in the community feel that Hart is unnecessarily prolonging the process as the parish petition is ample evidence of the desire for local representation.

The Community Campaign’s petition has helped to create a wider debate concerning the whole of the unparished area. A parish for Church Crookham & Courtmoor would almost certainly also result in a town council for Fleet. These two bodies would be very effective entities and would be influential in determining how their respective communities evolve and what facilities are provided in the future.

The CCH is concerned that the ‘Sense of Place’ questionnaire could be used to confuse the issue. If you live in Courtmoor, do you feel that where you live is part of Fleet or the community comprising Courtmoor & Church Crookham? Similarly, if you live in Zebon Copse or Netherhouse Moor, do you feel that you are part of Crookham Village Parish or are you tempted to indicate a stronger allegiance to Fleet? There is bound to be a range of view points.

The fear is that this will be used to distract debate away from the real issue; the strength of the desire of people to break free from Hart’s control when it comes to local self determination.

The CCH believe that a monolithic town Council that covers the whole of Fleet & Church Crookham, perhaps including Zebon Copse & Netherhouse Moor, will be too large. The CCH believes that a number of smaller and better focussed parish or town councils would better be able to represent residents.

It is the suspicion of the CCH that the ‘Sense of Place’ questionnaire will be hijacked by those who resent losing control of Fleet & Church Crookham’s precept money. They may try to argue that if everyone associates themselves with Fleet; that we all want to live under one all powerful Fleet Town Council. A single large Fleet & Church Crookham Town Council runs the risk of being too remote to understand the needs of local people. The best Parish Council’s are often the smaller ones as they can focus on what really matters to their local community.

The ‘Sense of Place’ questionnaire has to come with a health warning and needs careful thought as to the possible implications of your answers.

The parish petition is still live, despite Hart’s vote to ‘reject it’. The CCH remain hopeful that the Government will still look favourably upon the petition and form the parish in time for the first members to be elected in 2008.

QEB update

A new Planning Inspector has been appointed by the Government to hear the QEB appeal. He has taken a very different stance from his predecessor. He has accepted that Taylor Woodrow's amended plans can be considered, despite them never being accepted by Hart as a valid application. This will deny affected people an opportunity to comment through the proper planning process. More damning, he has reneged on his predecessors promise to allow an evening session for local people to raise concerns about the effective closure of the Bourley Road car park. Anyone wishing to express a personal opinion on the closure of this car park will now need to take time off in the middle of the day to attend this session, date yet to be decided.

People wishing to try to persuade the inspector to allow an evening session may write to him quoting (APP/N1730/A/05/1186859) via his administrator:
Miss Sian Evans,
The Planning Inspectorate,
4/04 Kite Wing,
Quay House,
2 The Square,
Temple Quay,
Bristol, BS1 6PN.
The appeal will run from 15th May until end of July, Tuesdays to Fridays in Princes Hall, Aldershot.

Basingstoke Canal

by Simon Ambler

The canal has been described as ‘a green lung through Hart’. For the majority of its length it is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and appeals to a wide range of people: walkers, fishermen, cyclists and canoeists alike. In leisure surveys, residents always place the canal at the top of their list. It is managed by a Joint Management Committee, led by Hampshire CC and has representatives from each of the District Councils through which it passes. I am one of the Hart representatives.

Over 200 years old, the canal has a high maintenance cost. I am pleased that this year Hart has managed to reinstate a grant towards canal funding, although competing budget pressures mean that like other authorities we cannot contribute as much as we would have wished. The JMC are currently reviewing the way in which the canal is funded and managed in order to secure its long term viability.

Published by: Ken Blockwell, 50 Aldershot Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire GU52 8LF