Community News
The Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
Issue 4, October 2006

Some of the items in this edition of the Community News are;


This edition of the Community News is long overdue. Ironically the more that we get involved the less time there is to write about what is happening locally.

In May we saw two new Community Campaign Hart (CCH) candidates, Gill Butler & John Bennison, being elected to Hart District Council (HDC) and the re-election of Cllr. Ambler. We owe 2,967 of you a big thank you - for entrusting your vote to us. We now have a team of 5 CCH Hart District Councillors. None of the major parties within Hart have a sufficient majority to form a stable ‘ruling’ group. So for the good of the District we agreed to join a coalition, to face the daunting task of putting things right. Community Campaign Councillors, Simon Ambler & James Radley, are now part of the new coalition Cabinet, which enables them to be more involved in the strategic decision making process. While attempting to remain staunchly independent, we recognize that we're elected to face up to difficult challenges.
The five CCH Councillors 2006
Your CCH Councillors

Perhaps the most difficult will be bringing Hart’s financial budget into balance. We have inherited a Council that would need to spend roughly £1million more in 2007/08 than it could earn. The days of offsetting Hart’s running costs against reserves are gone. Yes, we can save some costs – mostly by sharing services with neighbouring authorities. However, realistically some very difficult decisions about service cuts will be necessary. For too long, those running Hart have failed to make these difficult decisions. We must now do this – no matter how much it goes against what we would ‘like’ to do. Then in future years we can start to choose where we want to invest money and so end the years of uncoordinated and inefficient cut backs. To quote Hart’s auditors last year, “value for money has been very poor”. That's what happens when political dogma overrides common sense.

Recent News

The operator of Farnborough Aerodrome (TAG Aviation) has lodged an appeal against the decision by Rushmoor Borough Council to turn down their application for an extension to weekend flying. CCH Cllr. James Radley spoke up for the interests of local residents at the planning meeting. The CCH will again be representing local people at the public inquiry into the appeal.

Based on very strong legal advice Hart District Council have withdrawn their last ditch legal challenge to the proposed housing development on Hitches Lane. The planning application rejected by Hart was allowed on subsequent appeal. Hart had tried to have the Secretary of State’s (SoS) decision overturned by legal challenge. However, on seeking a second opinion from a top planning barrister, Hart was told that there was virtually no chance of its challenge succeeding. Even winning would not have stopped the prospect of development as the SoS would simply hold a second inquiry which would most likely reach the same decision. The advice was unequivocal; officers were faced with no option but to pull out of the challenge. The real question is why was the site put in the Local Plan in the first place?

How to contact your CCH Councillor

Please feel free to contact us with your local concerns;
Gill Butler (01252) 416385
Simon Ambler (01252) 625808
John Bennison (01252) 850447
James & Jenny Radley (01252) 628751

E-Mail: GillB, JohnB, SimonA, JamesR, or

Introduction of ABC

“ABC” is the Council’s acronym for “Alternate (weekly) Bin Collection”. This refers to the move to collect your black ‘refuse’ bin on alternate weeks from collecting your blue ‘recycling’ bin. The intention is to provide a more reliable service by introducing new refuse lorries, which will be more economical and most importantly, mechanically sound. The scheme is also designed to increase the percentage of waste that Hart residents recycle. If Hart does not achieve the recycling target set by the Government, it may be fined, which would hit us all in our Council Taxes.

What happens when?

30th October: The first day of alternate weekly bin collection;
You should receive an information pack from Hart to tell you which day will be your collection day and the rota for the colour of bin to be collected. In order to make best use of the processing plants Hart will be collecting both blue & black bins from different parts of the district each day.

In weeks where there is a Bank Holiday, collection will be on the day following your normal collection, extending to a collection on Saturday. Collection will fall back to your normal day the following week. The roll over system is no more.

27th November: Start of glass collection for all;
From this date Hart will be collecting glass on the same day that you put out your blue (recycling) bin.  Hart are currently distributing glass collection crates to every household.

What next?

We need to allow the new system to bed in. No one is working under the illusion that there won’t be teething problems. This is a major change for everyone. However, it is hoped that during the next 12 months Hart will be able to reassess the bag used for the green waste collection – ideally to replace it with an aerated wheelie bin.

Will you need a bigger blue bin?

You will have to notify the Council if you want to take up the offer (ends 31st January 2007) of a free upgrade to a bigger blue bin;
Hart District Council,
Recycling Bin Offer,

Hampshire, GU51 4BR.

or by telephone on;
(01252) 622122

Phone masts, stark choices

By Gill Butler

A recent planning appeal for a phone mast has gone against Church Crookham residents who had fervently opposed it. This is a reflection on the Government’s drive to allow mast applications, no matter how strong the local opposition.

A new ploy by one operator, who wants more coverage for their new ‘3G’ phone network, is to “offer” a very tall, 26m, mast on high ground instead of yet more mono-pole masts outside peoples homes. Neither option strikes me as attractive but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on how you view such a choice.
(For Gill’s contact details please see contacts box above)

Crondall Report

By John Bennison

In previous issues of the “Community News” I have written the Crondall Report as a concerned member of the community. I am still a concerned member of the community but with the help of the people of Crondall, Crookham Village & Ewshot I am now a District Councillor. I make no apologies for re-printing here a piece that I originally wrote for the Farnham Herald.

A small piece of history was made on Thursday the 4th May, when the people of Crondall, Ewshot and Crookham Village elected a non-Conservative candidate for what I believe to be the first time. I am delighted to have been elected to serve the Crondall ward on Hart District Council as a Community Campaign (Hart) councillor.

What matters at a local level has very little to do with the antics of the members of the national political parties. John Bennison

I would like to thank all those people who heard our plea and voted for Community Campaign Hart (CCH) and those who had felt disenfranchised before but made the effort to come out and vote for me in May. With a majority of just 2 votes every vote really counted so for everyone who came out to vote, the effort was worth while - thank you.

I am looking forward to working closely with the two local Parish Councils in the challenging years we have ahead and am honoured that I will represent all the people of Crondall, Crookham Village and Ewshot on Hart District Council.

What now for the Parish Petition?

In our last newsletter we introduced the petition to request that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) sets up a parish for Church Crookham & Courtmoor.

The legislation requires that 10% of the 9,400 registered electors in the proposed parish sign the petition. Just over 2,000 signatures were collected – which seemed like a good point to stop. With a few reductions for unregistered signatures the Council validated the petition as having 1,979 signatures. This was well in excess of the 940 required. The signatures for the parish were evenly collected across Church Crookham & Courtmoor. It is clearly what local people want.

We would like to thank everyone who signed the petition – which was most people who were asked. We would also like to thank the enthusiastic team of helpers, who felt strongly that we, as a community, needed to seize the opportunity to do this for ourselves. It is not easy to knock on doors to ask someone to sign up for something – and a parish is not the easiest thing to explain. However, many people did volunteer to help and despite what some of the petition’s detractors say – getting 2,000 signatures is no easy feat. A huge thank you to all who helped.

Now, for some of the old Establishment keeping us unparished is high on their agenda. They don’t want people deciding how to manage their own community’s funds. You may spend it in ways they wouldn’t; improving children’s play areas, renovating run down sports pitches, you might even try to provide allotments. So, they have tried to scare people off by saying “it’s another layer of Government”. It is interesting how well the parish councils that represent the rest of the district are respected. If you are reading this as a resident in the Crondall or Crookham Village parishes you would probably agree – you pay less parish council tax than those in the unparished area for starters. At a special meeting in August the Council decided to reject the ‘petition’ and conduct a parish boundary review instead. Not that they had ever got round to this “essential” review before the petition. Many fear that this is a delaying tactic designed to make the parish initiative go away.

So have they thwarted the petition?

The idea of parish petitions was specifically designed to allow communities to benefit from the formation of a parish – even if their District Council tried to resist. By rejecting the petition the Council have demonstrated that the community was justified to resort to a petition.

It is the CCH’s reading of the rules that you can not override a parish petition in favour of a parish boundary review - because if you don’t have a parish you don’t have a parish boundary to review. Despite being buried in the legislation, this is a subtle but important point. A parish petition may be delayed (by just 6 months) for a District ward boundary review but Hart is currently only doing a parish review.

We do need to resolve what happens to the rest of the unparished area (ie. Fleet). However, this could happen without trying to derail the petition. Some Councillors even talk about creating a monolithic Fleet & Church Crookham Town Council. It is rare for the Government to grant parish status to areas with more than 12,000 residents, as they consider that larger councils are less able to reflect the wishes of a community.

A parish for Church Crookham & Courtmoor would be about the most efficient & appropriately sized parish that can be realistically envisaged.

The CCH are quietly confident that the DCLG will grant Church Crookham & Courtmoor parish council status in time for May 2008. Parish/Town Councils for the rest of Fleet could and should come into effect at the same time.

QEB update

The public inquiry into the rejected planning application for the QEB site will start on 15th May 2007 and runs through to July. The logistical details of how and where the appeal will be held have yet to be settled. However, we reiterate that the appeal hearing will be a long process, lasting around 7-8 weeks and that it would be of benefit if members of the public could attend for at least a day or two – or for a few hours on a number of days throughout the process. It is vital that the public demonstrate the level of concern held by the local community over this application.

It is widely recognized that some form of development could fit sympathetically on this site but that the proposal to build 1,132 dwellings without any substantial supporting infrastructure is wrong and would irretrievably blight the area.

Public access to Velmead Common & Tweseldown

As we write this newsletter the MoD and the Hampshire Wildlife Trust (HWT) are fencing in Velmead Common. This is being done to allow cattle to be introduced to the area. Cattle grazing will act to help restore the precious and sensitive heathland and offer a better habitat for the rare ground nesting birds which breed here. As well as fencing the plan is to also provide gates and cattle grids allowing access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. However, we note with grave concern that the entrance onto Velmead Common from Florence Road has been fenced off (see last paragraph).

The fencing work is the responsibility of the MoD. HWT will be responsible for bringing in and looking after the cattle. The cattle will be able to obtain drinking water from a number of springs and streams which are to be found within the grazing area. The breeds of cattle chosen are docile and live in small herds so that they will tend to move away from any area of disturbance or human activity.

HWT are now looking for local people to volunteer to become involved in a variety of tasks, including recruiting ‘stock watchers’. They would be provided with training by the Grazing Animals Project (GAP) to help them spot the tell tale signs which may indicate ill health amongst the herd. Jenny Radley can pass on contact details for the HWT on request.

The Community Campaign welcome and fully support this initiative, we hope that it a success and wish the project well.

There is a potential concern which we do need to raise. While at this point in time, it is only speculation, the Community Campaign believes that the local community needs to be vigilant.

The Government is trying to impose a higher housing delivery target on Hart than the 200 new dwellings per year currently being planned for in the emerging Local Development Framework (LDF). The Government and the big developers are frustrated by the stringent Habitats Regulations designed to protect the Special Protection Areas (SPAs), such as Tweseldown and Velmead Common. One reoccurring suggestion is that if the public were to be denied access to the SPA then the Government would be free to force a doubling in the number of new houses that they are demanding for the area.

So, to keep the Government and the big developers happy, Natural England (previously English Nature), the nature watchdog and the landowner, the MoD, might agree to have these areas closed to the public – this has already happened in parts of the New Forest. When the CCH raised the matter with Natural England and the MoD neither organization felt able to comment on or to deny this concern.

So we must be vigilant. Fencing off Velmead Common to keep cattle in is to be welcomed and supported. Fencing off Velmead Common to keep the public out is not. People have enjoyed access to this area for centuries. Any prevention of free access would be abhorrent and an intrusion on local people’s right to roam. Especially when it would be just a transparent ruse designed to allow the Government to demand yet more development in the area.