Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
Issue 14, Autumn 2013
Maintaining the Independent spirit in Fleet Central
Next May the electoral wards in Hart District are facing a major
shake-up due to the boundary changes made by the Electoral
Commission. Part of the Fleet Courtmoor ward is to be combined
with Fleet Central along with part of the existing Fleet West
ward to create a new enlarged Fleet Central ward. The Community
Campaign already represents Fleet Courtmoor and Alan Oliver
represents Fleet West. Given our close co-operation over the
past two years, it makes sense for us to join forces to contest
the new Fleet Central ward in the May 2014 elections.
The Community Campaign have been working closely with Alan since
his election as we have shared concerns about ensuring that the
community of Fleet & Church Crookham is not sold short on
infrastructure or blighted by more than our fair share of
Therefore, we the Community Campaign, are delighted to be able
to announce that Alan Oliver will be joining our group. Alan
brings with him his enthusiasm and independent attitude to
augment the team that we have already established at both a
District and County level.
There has been a long history of Independent candidates standing
and being successfully elected to represent Fleet on Hart
District Council. Most recently Alan won a decisive victory in
the Fleet West ward when he stood in the last district election.
Alan stood in opposition to the proposed development of Grove
Farm. His independent and enthusiastic spirit was welcomed by
the electorate and he won with a huge majority.
Alan and the Community Campaign councillors were able to use
their electoral mandate to influence the then draft Local
Development Plan (LDP) to have the Grove Farm site removed
before the plan was sent for examination by the planning
inspectorate. (We will discuss the Local Development Plan in
more detail inside as this is an important topic in its own
right and is of great concern to all residents of Fleet).
The independent movement south of the canal has been gaining
momentum courtesy of the Community Campaign, which has since its
formation in 2004, gone from strength to strength. Now the
Community Campaign has seven district councillors elected to
represent four of the current Hart district wards and John
Bennison, the county councillor for the Church Crookham
division, is also a member of the Community Campaign. This level
of elected representation is testament to the track record of
the Community Campaign’s proactive community orientated approach
to local issues.
The Community Campaign were instrumental in bringing about the
creation of the town and parish councils for Fleet and Church
Crookham, bodies which have delivered real and tangible benefits
for the area. Without our active campaigning, the main political
parties would have been content to keep control over Fleet’s
resources while denying residents the ability to spend their
money according to local needs. The residents now enjoy
the benefits of having a town/parish council looking after their
local amenities as happens in the remainder of the District.
The Community Campaign is proud to be apolitical in our outlook
and is therefore able to focus on the issues which really matter
to the communities which we represent without getting distracted
by wider political issues. We stand by our track record of
proactive community focussed representation.
The Local Development Plan (LDP);
Many residents will be aware from local press reports that the
Local Development Plan (LDP) which Hart District Council had
been hoping to have adopted this autumn has been found to be
unsound. The plan was rejected by the government appointed
Inspector on the grounds that Hart had ‘failed in its duty to
co-operate with neighbouring authorities’. This is a somewhat
disingenuous assessment because all of Hart’s neighbouring
authorities and many beyond turned up to the first day of the
public inquiry to testify about the close working relationship
that they had with Hart.
combating the threat of unrestrained development
In reality the Inspector was objecting to the fact that Hart had
not been making special efforts to accommodate much higher
levels of development. The government makes no secret that they
want to drive up the number of houses being built in the south
east, regardless of the environmental impact and with
insufficient regard of the infrastructure needs of the existing
community. Government level housing spokesmen from both
coalition parties and the opposition have been spouting the
mantra that house building should be pushed forward with little
regard for quality and with a cynical view of ‘sustainability.’
Many local authorities in the South East have had their Local
Development Plans overturned at the Examination in Public stage.
This leaves them open to an avalanche of development sites being
imposed upon them, at inappropriate locations and with very
little in terms of mitigating infrastructure. Hart could very
well face the same fate. However, the Community Campaign is not
prepared to roll over and accept defeat on such an important
The Community Campaign remains adamant that we should not be
building more houses than has already been agreed to in the
original South East Plan. Drawing on our experiences from the
appeal into the QEB development, we believe that the need to
protect the local Thames Basin Heathlands overrides the
Government’s imperative for ever higher levels of housing
growth. From our attendance at the lengthy public inquiry into
the QEB development and the technical assessment into the South
East Plan, the Community Campaign have built up a unique
understanding of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area
(SPA) and the mechanisms put in place to protect it from the
impacts of development. The SPA is a protected natural area, a
rare example of a lowland acid heath; important for three
species of endangered birds, the Dartford Warbler, the Nightjar
and the Woodlark.
The theory is that if each new development provides an area of
Suitable Alternative Natural Green-space (SANG), the residents
of the new estates will use these areas instead of visiting
sites such as the Bourley Valley & Tweseldown heathland. The
Community Campaign argue that such an approach is not effective
with ever increasing housing numbers because it is unreasonable
to expect that all new residents of a development will
exclusively use the SANGs in preference to using the SPA.
In order for a new development not to have a detrimental impact
on the SPA, a new SANG must be capable of drawing at least as
many of the current visitors away from the SPA as those from the
new development who will visit it. Once the pool of current SPA
visitors who are prepared to use SANGs instead of the SPA has
been exhausted, further SANGs cease to be effective. This is
because despite the provision of further alternative green
space, each new development will inevitably generate a net
increase in the number of SPA visitors. Developers can not just
keep on building ever more houses on the edge of Fleet without
expecting to have a detrimental impact on the environment.
Hopefully from this article you will appreciate that we in the
Community Campaign go into more detail than you may have come to
expect from the superficial titbits put out by the traditional
political parties. This is because the Community Campaign really
do care about actively representing the communities who elect
us. To be effective we do need to get to grips with the detail,
we do need to put in the effort. It is not about being
photographed pointing at a pothole near election time nor
claiming to have introduced free parking on the High Street 5
years after having taken it away. It’s about really
understanding, really caring and actively engaging on the issues
by Alan Oliver
Having lived in Fleet for more than 25 years and raised our
three sons here, both my wife and I have come to appreciate what
makes this area very special. We moved here because we really
valued the quality of the schools, the friendly small market
town feel, the green and leafy suburban environment and the
excellent transport links. These are the attributes that my
family have cherished through this period and are what I want to
see protected and improved.
I am sure many residents feel the same passion for Fleet as I
do. Over the last three decades, we have seen our quality of
life steadily eroded. Despite this, I remain very positive about
Fleet’s future as the potential to enhance our environment and
improve services is still there.
The reason I became involved in local politics and eventually
joined Fleet Town Council (FTC) soon after it was formed, was
that I was becoming increasingly disturbed that decisions
affecting local development and services were being taken based
on political expediency rather than on community benefit. I
sensed that there was a lack of strategic reasoning behind a lot
of what was being allowed. As an individual resident, I felt
that I couldn’t get straight answers to simple questions. As a
businessman, I could see decisions being taken that would cost
the community dearly in the long term.
To support the work of FTC, I was asked to set up and chair the
‘Friends of Calthorpe Park’ group; to draw up the development
and maintenance plan for this important 36 acre ‘green lung’ in
our town. Many people have commented that the general
maintenance and appearance of our parks has improved since the
town council took control and formed the various ‘friends
The work of FTC is important but has limited powers with regard
to the most pressing issues that affect our town. In particular
I was concerned with the housing development plans of Hart
District Council. I strongly opposed the Local Development Plan
which saw Fleet carry a disproportionate share of Hart’s housing
quota. I was further incensed that Hart could contemplate
suggesting such development without mandating adequate
Many of you asked me to oppose the plan and pursue a fairer deal
for Fleet. It was apparent to me that some of the Hart
representatives for Fleet Central and Fleet West did not have
your best interests at heart (with the exception of Richard
Appleton who was thrown out of the Conservative Party for
challenging the party line). I agreed to stand for
district elections in May 2012 and was duly elected for the
Fleet West ward, with a mandate to represent Fleet as an
Since the elections in 2012 I have worked closely with the
Community Campaign to make sure Fleet residents have an
effective voice. I am looking forward to joining forces with the
Community Campaign to contest the elections in May 2014.
The plan for a huge development to the west of Fleet at Grove
Farm has been removed from the draft plan. However, please do
not think that the fight is over. The government has rejected
Hart’s plan, wanting Hart to go away and justify why we can’t
take substantially more expansion. On the back of this, we know
that the developer with an interest in Grove Farm, as well as
others with land bordering Fleet and Church Crookham, are
drawing up large scale planning applications.
I believe that together the Independents and the Community
Campaign have made progress over the last 2 years in refocusing
the council’s plans and ensuring the views of Fleet residents
are taken into account e.g. parking charges and inappropriate
town centre developments. To continue making a positive
difference, we need to maintain our influence.
It is vital that Fleet residents continue to have a voice on the
district council which, otherwise, is disproportionally
influenced by those who either don’t live in the town or whose
political affiliations bind them to Westminster party policies.
We need to stay engaged if we are to;
We need a town plan
that encompasses retail, residential and leisure services for
our high street and town as a whole. Fleet Central residents
deserve councillors who don’t sit passively on the side lines.
Fleet needs good proactive councillors.
- maintain an
equitable distribution of housing development across Hart
and not allow Fleet to be used as a dumping ground for all
- ensure major
infrastructure projects are not neglected (e.g. new
secondary school and road junction improvements)
pragmatically and sympathetically at how Fleet town centre
can be made viable without destroying what is left of its
small market town charm.
- promote better
access to health services and primary schools by looking to
build new rather than extend current surgeries and schools.
There are three Community Campaign candidates who will be
standing for election in the Fleet Central ward in May 2014.
This is because all three district council seats for the newly
formed ward will be contested for the first time. Each elector
will have three votes to cast in the ballot box.
Our three Community Campaign candidates for Fleet Central will
Alan and his family have lived in Fleet for over 25 years. His
early career was in academia, as a research chemist, but then he
moved into IT where he has held board positions in a number of
major IT companies. He set up and chairs the Friends of
Calthorpe Park community group which seeks to improve the park
for everyone. He works alongside other charitable groups such as
Fleet Lions to help set up events in the park which are a
highlight in Fleet’s calendar. He is an active member of Fleet
Town Council and was elected to Hart District Council (HDC) in
2012 as the Independent representative for Fleet West.
Alan’s involvement in local politics has been driven by
disenchantment in the way local views and issues were being
ignored by 'Westminster' style political groupings in Hart who
seemed to fail to appreciate the concerns of their electorate.
He firmly believes local politics should be about local issues
and focussed on achieving tangible results. Combating the
inappropriate overdevelopment of Fleet without new
infrastructure is a key area on which he has worked since his
election to HDC in 2012.
Wendy has lived in the Fleet and Crookham area for 30
years. Wendy is passionate about fairness and respect and
wants to make a positive contribution to her community and
environment. As a personal development specialist, she
understands how important quality of life is to general
happiness. Only when people are able to live in an environment
that matches their “value set” are they at their happiest.
Hart is one of the best places to live in the country and
maintaining this position will require continued investment,
care and the active engagement of the community. Wendy
believes that the Community Campaign Hart (CCH) offers the best
prospects for the area by focussing on local needs that are
independent from the influence and motivations of national
political parties. Using her “people knowledge” and many
years of corporate experience in information technology, Wendy
will be able to engage with people to act in the best interests
of the community, thus enhancing the environment and experience
for all residents and visitors.
John has lived in the local area for the last 26 years with his
family, having moved to Castle Street in 1987. He has been an
active member of The Community Campaign since its inception in
2004, challenging unsuitable development including the
overdevelopment of Crookham Park.
John was first elected to Hart District Council in 2006. He also
served for three years on Church Crookham Parish Council and in
2013; he was elected to Hampshire Council to represent the areas
of Fleet Courtmoor, Church Crookham and Ewshot.
He has had a lifelong interest in long distance running and
triathlon and is proud to have helped Church Crookham Parish
Council to improve sports facilities in the area. He is on the
working party looking at the feasibility and financial viability
of a new leisure centre for Hart residents.
Published by: Julia Ambler,
39 Du Maurier Close, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 0YA