The Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
15, Spring 2014
Listening Thinking Acting
The Community Campaign (Hart) is a local residents association who have
members elected as independently minded councillors on both Hart
District & Hampshire County Councils. We are apolitical, simply
focused on the local issues which matter to the community we live in.
Those of us who stand as Community Campaign councillors don’t do so
because we have pre-set ideas, we do it because we want to make a
positive difference, as best we can, to the place in which we live.
This means listening to the concerns of those who live here, thinking
about what we can do to help and where we can, acting to do something
about it. By not being stuck within a political doctrine we are free to
think about things in different ways.
Take the vitality of the Fleet “high street”. There are some very good,
much loved quality shops. There are also empty shops which stand vacant
for long periods, reminding us how fragile the retail climate really
is. People keep asking, please do something to help the retailers who
have steadfastly stuck by Fleet, despite the economic pressures, and do
something to draw in more quality retail outlets. To date, quite
frankly, the district council has tinkered at the edges – but hasn’t
done anything significant.
The problem is that the only real contribution the district council can
make to support retailers in Fleet is to address parking. It is well
known in the retail industry that big name stores look to set up shop
in towns which offer free parking. There are many reasons for this: it
removes a financial barrier for people to set foot on the high street;
it encourages people to come in from wider afield and it makes a
statement that ‘this community supports a vibrant retail centre’.
Anyone who has lived in the area for any length of time knows that the
politicians like to ‘play’ with parking. First they banned people from
parking on Fleet Road and issued tickets for ‘loading’. They then
offered a few red bays and moved them around a bit, before taking them
away again. Finally they brought back 30 min parking on Fleet Road
after it turned out the restrictions weren’t enforceable anyway. We are
all sadly familiar with the pattern.
The problem politicians have with parking is that it is a revenue
stream and Hart District Council (HDC) does need to balance its budget.
So, here is a radical idea; why not introduce 2 hour free parking in
the Victoria Road and Church Road car parks, paying for this by raising
council tax? Everyone hates council tax but loves free parking – how
can we balance this?
The Community Campaign wants to start a dialogue with local residents
along the lines of “would you be willing to stump up an extra £12
per year (on a band D house) to fund free parking for up to 2 hours in
Fleet?” If you regularly pay to park in Fleet at the weekend you are
likely to say ‘yes’. If you live close enough to walk into Fleet to
shop, it is a more finely balanced issue. However, remember the point
of the scheme would be to attract more quality retailers and to support
those we already cherish. If you walk or cycle into Fleet to shop then
look on this idea as being about creating even more reasons to want to
Can it be done? We think so, but we will need to crunch the numbers
further. The £12 per year (ie. £1 per month) increase is a
limit we should not exceed. Which days in the week we could make free
for that amount of increase is a variable yet to be determined. The
increase could possibly be phased in over a number of years.
We would not do anything without consulting people first. Canvassing in
the run-up to the district elections will be a great opportunity to
start this process. We will probably be the only people knocking on
doors this year who have the courage and imagination (and let’s face it
– honesty) to be broaching the subject of possibly raising council tax.
We look forward to some interesting doorstep discussions. If we don’t
have the opportunity to talk to you directly you can always give us
your views via e-mail; email@example.com.
It’s time to have a meaningful debate about how to regenerate vitality
in our town.
Pushing the limit
by Alan Oliver
The new 20mph speed limit that has been introduced in the streets
parallel to Fleet Road has caused a lot of debate.
The intention of the scheme was to improve road safety by limiting
speeds. A significant number of residents have called into question
whether the scheme was needed (was there a significant road safety
issue on these roads?) and also the consultation process (was it widely
advertised and were the responses acted upon?). Most residents accept
that in areas of high pedestrian use or where there is a constriction
in the road then some form of traffic calming, such as a 20mph limit,
is in the public interest. The areas around our schools are obvious
examples of sites where these measures are acceptable and help to
provide a safer environment for our children.
Many other residential areas in Fleet and Church Crookham have their
own issues of speeding and rat runs but should we turn all our
residential streets into 20mph zones? Or should we be selective in
where they are applied and look to enforce more rigorously existing
This would seem to be a more balanced approach.
The new 20mph zone has been
described as a pilot scheme by Hampshire County Council; but when I
discussed this with Hampshire officers they seemed reluctant to
consider its withdrawal as this could be seen as them having wasted
£25,000 of council tax payer’s money on the scheme. They have
also already agreed with our Conservative councillors that the only
question to be asked in the consultation promised for the end of the
year long trial is to be; “Has the 20mph zone improved road safety?” It
will be difficult to answer ‘NO’ to this even if we now see
inappropriate overtaking on Connaught and other roads by drivers
frustrated at the apparently artificial speed limit.
We believe the consultation at the end of the trial must also ask the
question; “Do you want to see the 20mph zone removed?” This will allow
residents to have their say on the matter and not be manipulated by
another narrow consultation designed to get the answer County Officers
and Councillors want. The decision as to whether the new 20mph scheme
stays in place or is scrapped should be driven by local residents in a
fair and open consultation.
TAG, the operator of Farnborough Airport, has started a consultation
into their taking control of a vast swathe of airspace across Hampshire
and Surrey. They would use this controlled airspace to define the
routes flown by aircraft using Farnborough. This will allow them to
constrain aircraft to using dedicated flight lanes in the sky. Their
main stated reason for doing this is that it is in the interest of
noise abatement; although it was admitted in a discussion that it was
also required to enable them to handle significantly more flights than
are using the airport at the moment.
TAG claim that by having controlled airspace they can ensure that the
aircraft climb higher quicker and stay higher longer when overflying
the area. This would indeed act to reduce overall noise on the ground
but there will of course be winners and losers. If you live outside of
a defined flight path you should notice a dramatic decrease in noise.
If you live directly under the new designated flight lanes you will get
constantly overflown (the aircraft distribution will cease to be
dispersed widely across the area).
So naturally, you may very well have a specific view on this initiative
depending on where you live. Therefore the Community Campaign strongly
recommends that if you are bothered by aircraft noise that you take a
look at TAG’s dedicated consultation web-site;
This is a complex consultation and there is a significant amount of
documentation to look through. Perhaps a good place to start is with
document ‘Part B’ and in particular figures, B9, B10 & B11. These
will give you a good idea as to whether you will live under a proposed
flight lane or not.
The consultation period closes on 2nd May at 11:00pm. As different
people will be affected in different ways, the Community Campaign are
deliberately not taking a stance on this proposal. If you have a strong
opinion you should respond to the consultation.
Housing pressure and the Local Development Plan (LDP)
It has been widely reported that Hart’s Local Development Plan (LDP)
was rejected following an ‘Examination in Public (EiP)’ back in the
summer. It failed predominantly on a bureaucratic hurdle, thrown into
the process by the Government fairly late in proceedings, known as the
‘duty to co-operate’. This is an obligation on councils to engage with
their neighbours on strategic planning matters. The injustice of it was
that 11 neighbouring authorities came to the EiP to give evidence about
how closely Hart had been working with them. What the ruling was really
stating was that Hart should have sought to co-operate with government
imposed policy and plan to build substantially more houses over the
next 20 years than the then Hart LDP was proposing.
The issue, which the inspector who presided over the EiP had neatly
avoided addressing by focusing on the alleged failure to cooperate, was
having to contend with Hart’s arguments about being unable to build
more than 220 houses a year because of environmental constraints. The
local Thames Basin Heaths at Bourley and Long Valley are European
recognised Special Protection Areas (SPA), which are proven to be
threatened by the growth in visitor pressure resulting from
The challenge now is that developers are scrambling to submit
applications for many new large housing estates in highly inappropriate
places, such as Watery Lane and on Grove Farm. Realising that the
continued over-development of the area deeply concerns many local
residents, every politician will tell you that they oppose
‘inappropriate’ development. However, this development pressure is
being brought about by the coalition Government, the very parties that
most local councillors represent. If you are standing for a particular
party then surely you must stand by their national policies as well?
As an example of this double standard, a planning appeal into an
additional 100 houses at the QEB site was heard in late February. The
council’s planning committee had originally rejected the application to
build the 100 houses on land earmarked for employment use. The
developer Taylor Wimpey (TW) predictably appealed, effectively giving
the decision over to their friends in Government. It was subsequently
pointed out to Hart’s Planning Committee that building houses on
employment land was a flagship policy of the Government’s National
Planning Policy Framework and that there were financial risks in going
against the dictates of Government. A vote was held on whether to back
out of defending the appeal. Predictably, with a few exceptions, the
councillors from the main parties voted for Hart to drop their defence
of the appeal; effectively rolling over and surrendering without a
fight. Undoubtedly they were intimidated by the implication of going
against such a policy. Can you seriously trust them to defend your
local neighbourhood against threatened development when it is their own
parties in government which are mandating the frenzied building
programme with little concern as to the impact on local communities?
The Community Campaign believes
that it is vital to preserve allocated employment land for use in
generating jobs. We went to the appeal and stood alone against Taylor
Wimpey’s London based barristers. We believe our argument is justified,
reasonable and plain common sense. While it is true that office blocks
stand empty, it is the small to medium scale light industrial
businesses which will underpin the economic recovery of the UK. If you
buy a house, you need a job to pay for it. If you don’t build new
employment sites along with new housing then inevitably people have to
commute to get to work. This adds congestion to our already jammed
roads; causes pollution and further erodes our quality of life. If you
build employment facilities along with new houses you are at least
attempting to restore the balance. We might not win, as thanks to Hart
abandoning their defence the odds are stacked against us – but at least
we did try. The Community Campaign promise that we will try to hold
back the tide of inappropriate developments that fail to bring with
them adequate infrastructure. Where there is new development we want to
see quality affordable homes, new roads, new schools, new recreational
facilities and new employment opportunities, – but not at the expense
of the natural environment which characterises the beautiful area we
all are proud to call home.
Major changes in 2014 election arrangements
The district elections in Hart will be different this year. The
Boundary Commission have redefined all the ward boundaries across the
district and in so doing have reduced the number of district wards from
18 to 11. They have also reduced the number of councillors from 35 to
33. From now on each ward will have 3 sitting district councillors. As
2014 is the first year of the new arrangement, all 3 ward seats for
each district ward will be coming up for election. This means that you
will have 3 votes for the district election and you will be allowed to
put up to 3 X’s on the ballot paper. This is not some form of
‘transferable’ voting system; each vote has equal value and is counted
as a single vote for each of the 3 individuals to whom you assign them.
You get to vote for 3 people because this year, 3 ward seats are
available. While you don’t have to use all 3 votes, you will be
‘wasting’ votes (effectively partially abstaining) if you decide not to
use them all.
With fewer wards, each ward is inevitably going to be larger. The
southern part of Fleet Courtmoor will move into the new Crookham East
ward, while the northern part moves into the new Fleet Central ward.
The old Fleet West ward also gets split (this is the ward that voted in
Alan Oliver as an Independent councillor in 2012). Part of the old
Fleet West ward will move into Fleet Central, the remainder will join
Elvetham Heath in a new, larger Fleet West ward. Crookham Village &
Ewshot break their bond with Crondall ward and join Crookham Park,
Quetta & Humphrey Parks in the “Crookham West & Ewshot ward”.
For those living in the Fleet area who may be confused as to which ward
they will be in as of 22nd May 2014, you can find out by studying the
Boundary Commission’s map (link
- 8M Byte PDF).
The Community Campaign Hart (CCH) will be contesting both Church
Crookham wards. We shall continue to offer all residents in Fleet
Courtmoor who have loyally supported us in the past the opportunity to
vote for CCH candidates by also contesting Fleet Central. Alan Oliver
will join with us as a CCH candidate for Fleet Central which will
contain part of his old Fleet West ward. We will be fielding a strong
set of candidates in the new Fleet West ward so that Alan’s loyal
independently minded supporters can continue to vote for
non-politically aligned local representation.
We look forward to bringing our promise of non-political, community
focused, active participation to new voters in Fleet West and Fleet
Central who may not have previously known about us. We hope to be
knocking on as many new doors as possible over the next few months to
introduce ourselves and explain what we stand for. If we don’t get to
talk to you, for instance if you are out when we call, yet you would
like to talk to one of us, then please see below for the contact
details of our currently sitting councillors.
To reiterate the district election in May 2014 is a ‘triple X
election’. This means that you get to have 3 votes on the same ballot
sheet for the 3 district candidates of your choice.
Remember the 22nd May is XXX day!!
Published by: Julia Ambler, 39
Du Maurier Close, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 0YA