COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN (HART)
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, WEDNESDAY 24th JANUARY 2007
Alison Macallan sent apologies for
her absence due to illness- Jenny
Radley agreed to act as secretary for the meeting and took the minutes.
Soo James sent apologies for her absence due to work commitments- Chris
Axam agreed to present the Treasurer's Report.
Welcome and Introduction
CC(H) Chairman, James Radley welcomed all
the people who filled the Willis Hall for the 3rd CC(H) AGM and
introduced the members sitting at the table: Chris Axam who would
present the Treasurer's Report, Simon Ambler, Gill Butler, John
Bennison and Jenny Radley, Hart District councillors, and the guest
speaker for the evening, WPC Caroline Webster, who was to arrive
shortly before 8pm.
Chairman's CCH overview: 'A Year In Perspective'.
James emphasised just what a year or so had passed since the last
meeting for the CC(H).
The elections of May 2006 had seen the re-election, by a large
majority, for Simon Amber in Church Crookham West, and the successful
election for our new councillors, Gill Butler for Church Crookham East
and John Bennison into Crondall. There was also the good showing for
our candidate, Jeremy Keep, in Fleet West and how grateful we are for
all his efforts.
In fact, the election night was one of those events that will go down
in the Chairman's memory until the end of his life…and probably for a
few other members of CC(H) too. Having been told that the group stood
no chance at all in the Crondall ward, the nail biting count and
re-count were agonising to witness. The Presiding Officer finally
decided that given two successive counts in favour of our candidate,
John Bennison by just 2 votes, that John was indeed the successful
candidate. Much to everyone in the CC(H) group's delight. This was a
real show for all the time and effort that he had put into the ward
This being the last of the votes to be counted and the majority to the
previous administration hanging by one seat, this meant that the
controlling party group was no longer in overall control. Indeed they
were not prepared to help to share in the responsibility for the new
administration, in fact they soon appeared to take on the role as
active opposition. However, this allowed negotiations to take place
between other council members and for the Liberal Democrat group and
independent members and the CC(H) to set up an alliance that would be
prepared to take on the role of administration at a time which would
indeed be very difficult and testing, for the benefit of Hart District
This had not been an easy decision for the CC(H) committee, who value
their independence as a group very highly. However, it was clear to
them that they had been voted in to do an important job and felt they
had to step up to that role. Hence The Coalition was formed and agreed
to take on that role and face the difficult challenges.
The over-riding problem for Hart District Council was and still is the
budget, as we are all too aware at this time with the forthcoming
year's budget to be agreed next month.
The Government grants that can make all the difference seem to be
distributed in favour of the Labour areas, and there are also the large
impacts on the council from staff costs of pensions and increases which
are beyond our control. Meanwhile at HDC there seem to have been some
interesting accounting in the past and the questionable use of reserve
funds to cover spends that could not be done through the planned
process. Capital funds can be used to invest in infra-structure and
Revenue funds provide for the day to day running costs. The revenue is
provided by the collection of Council Tax, from some government grants
and local measures such as parking charges.
However, over recent years, there has developed a hole in the accounts
as the running costs of HDC has exceeded by £1.5 million in a
budget of about £10 million per year. This overspend has had an
effect on the reserves, and there is no longer any scope to continue in
It would in fact cost each householder another £40 per year extra
to lift HDC out of this situation, but the council tax rate has been
capped at 5%. There are also many residents who already struggle to pay
their Council Tax in this district particularly the people who rely on
their pensions and no fair way as yet to address this. Nobody feels the
council tax system is right and fair but it is all there is at the
This budget problem for HDC cannot be fixed by raising more council tax
at this stage. What can be done to address this shortfall is to
increase some of the charges for services within HDC control, which may
likely include car-parking charges, and it will also affect services as
staff cuts and other savings are made in every department of the
Council. This will most likely affect the standard of service provided
by the Council, but the real impact remains to be seen. Meanwhile,
these hard decisions are currently being discussed and debated by all
district councillors in the run up to the decision on next year's
Budget, before and when it is due to go to Full Council on Thursday
At Hart District Council the administration is led by a Cabinet system.
In fact the CC(H) hold 2 of the portfolio positions out of the 9. James
holds the Portfolio for Planning and Simon Amber holds the Portfolio
for IT (Information and Technology). James has only recently heard that
the Planning Services are to lose 3 staff places, which may well have
an affect on the efficiency to protect the built environment, but this
is a necessary contribution to address the balance of payments. Simon
too, will be losing some of the staff who were brought in to help with
the work on the Customer Contact centre.
This financial problem also means that other agreements needs to be
reviewed, such as the level of HDC contribution to the Basingstoke
Canal… CCTV are threatened with staff cuts, and having spent an evening
in the unit we recognise what a good and valuable service this provides
to the people who live in and come to this district. An explanation
about how efficient and high resolution the CTV cameras are and how
they can track people form one part of the to another. It is being
considered that staff could be taken off the day-shift, although the
cameras are still recording they are not being monitored then and there
by staff, who would normally pick up on any problems. If this shift was
to be cut this might also have an effect on the crime rates. The
savings from cutting the staff level might well be lost by the cost of
problems that might occur in the local towns if they were not prevented
by the actions of the CCTV staff? The budget decisions will be a tight
At that moment very coincidentally, WPC Caroline Webster arrived.
So as to allow WPC Webster to be able to get back to work and not have
to wait until this item was completed, she was invited to take the
floor for her presentation.
WPC Caroline Webster introduced herself and two support officers to the
meeting. She is the Community Beat Manager from Hampshire Constabulary
for the Church Crookham area and is based at Fleet Police Station.
Caroline explained that she had taken up the post in May 2006 and had
previously been based at Fareham as a First Response Officer. Following
a period of maternity leave she had returned to work as the Community
Beat Officer in Church Crookham for 30 hours per week.. She is now part
of the Neighbourhood Beat Team NBT. She had recently been joined in her
responsibility to cover Church Crookham by Police Community Support
Officer (PCSO) Dan Eales.
As the Neighbourhood Beat Team, their way of working was to provide a
consistent approachable and visible presence in their local community.
They were there to listen to their community and provide solutions to
problems and help by empowering the members of the public to help them.
Their aim was to ensure that Church Crookham remained a relatively
crime free community, and they were able to do this through
multi-disciplinary working. It was also important that residents knew
who they were and she was keen to meet as many local people as possible
and introduce herself.
Since she had arrived in May, she had responded to reports of
anti-social behaviour in Quetta Park, where a small group of youths had
been the cause for a series of problems. It was apparent that the
ring-leader had been the main instigator and he was targeted him for
police attention. Following multi-agency work which included work with
people from the local community and a series of cautions it was
necessary to administer an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order ) upon the
young person and he was banned from living or visiting Quetta Park.
Since then things have been peaceful there so that appears to have
Caroline has also accepted the invitation to join Velmead School Board
of Governors and as part of this she has been visiting the school to
meet the pupils and feels this is very worthwhile.
She is holding Community Beat meetings with local representatives four
times a year and this has helped to develop some very useful community
contacts and assists with information exchange, this also helps the
wider community help themselves by keeping the police informed about
crime and disorder issues. If incidences are reported to the police,
they will be able to work to help. If incidents are not brought to
their attention they cannot assist. The recognition for the need to
have police officers on the streets has resulted in the recruitment of
the PCSOs who are able to spend up to 80% of their time out in the
community. Unfortunately the Community Beat Officers themselves are
often caught up with the need to complete reports, paperwork and police
station based work and are not able to spend so much time out in their
local beat area. It is very important to have familiar faces for the
local community to know who they can turn to when they need to.
Local people should be assured that Hart District is recognised as
being one of the safest districts in the country. It ranks very
favourably against statistics in other parts of the country, and has
very low robbery,burgulary, and assault incidents. In fact within the
district Church Crookham is even considered to be one of the safest
areas, so we are doubly fortunate.
However that does not mean that there are no problems and these issues
do need to be addressed. The main complaints are related to juvenile
nuisance, and this is not easy to deal with. Once again it requires
work on many fronts to try to reduce the number of problems, and for
people to report the problems when they occur so that they can be dealt
Recently there have been a group of girls that have been causing
problems for the shopkeepers and passers by at the Ridgeway Parade in
The Verne. They have been spoken to on a number of occasions by the
police and by the Community Safety Team who are based at the Council
Offices and it has been explained that their behaviour is not
acceptable. Most of them have agreed to behave with acceptable limits
otherwise they would be facing more serious action. However, as one
group grow up and start to behave better there tend to be others that
take their place so it is an ongoing issue for these groups of
teenagers. It may be that there are better ways to help them behave,
rather than to let them spend time entertaining themselves out on the
streets. The problem is that will take the involvement of a range of
people and authorities if the call for better things to do as many of
the teenagers ask for, are to be addressed. There have also been
problems with inconsiderate and obstructive parking outside the local
schools, in particular at Tweseldown Infant School and Crookham Junior
School. When this results in abusive language and behaviour from the
people who are parking and from drivers this will not be tolerated. The
police are working with the schools and highways to solve some of these
The main message is that if there are crime and disorder problems WPC
Webster needs to know about them in order to be able to help.
She then asked for questions from the floor.
Question: What will happen if QEB is developed?
Answer: It is likely that the level of reported crime in the
increase, as has happened at other local development sites. That is why
it is important that incidents are reported so that the police can
target the resources to where it is needed. Do not assume that someone
else will report it or that it makes no difference it is important to
make sure the police are informed.
It is not always possible for the police to respond immediately and it
will depend on what work they are having to deal with elsewhere and the
severity of the problem. Where there is an emergency then people should
ring Emergency Services on 999.
But for reports of anti-social behaviour and other less serious matters
then these should be made using the regular Hampshire Police number:
0845 0454545 which is the county contact centre in Netley who will them
pass the message on to the relevant police station. The other service
is the 101 number, to report less serious problems.
The police will always try to tackle the problems to the best of their
Question: What about the problems with traffic and parking
Crookham especially outside TJ services in Sandy Lane?
Answer: This requires work alongside Hampshire Highways
who could put
in posts in the verge along the road to stop parking there, but
provided the cars are taxed and licensed they can be parked on the
roads. If there are problems with obstructing traffic the police can
help. It may be possible to arrange for restricted parking areas but
that needs to be done by the Highway authority.
Mr K Blockwell offered his congratulations to WPC Webster on her hard
work and for her commitment to being out in the community, and also to
her PCSO. His question was if the police were up to full strength where
do the reports get sent to?
Answer: Calls will be reported either to the Neighbourhood
which is based in Fleet for this area or to the Target Police Team
which are based in Yateley, Aldershot and Farnborough.
If it is an emergency and life is in danger the Target Police Team
should arrive within 4 minutes. Other incidents and crimes are graded
according to priority and any
response will be according to need and resources.
This is one of the major dilemmas for the Police force at present as to
how to allocate their limited resources. If she had time she would like
to be able to involve the members at the meeting in an exercise to
allocate police resources, but maybe that could be done at a future
event. The Chairman thanked WPC and her colleagues for taking the time
to come and talk to the meeting, and that their efforts were much
appreciated. We were very fortunate to have the level of support that
A Year in Perspective, continued.
Just to follow up on WPC Webster's talk, the Chairman could say that
support from WPC Webster had made an important contribution to working
with the children on Quetta Park where she regularly dropped in to play
and talk to the children at the youth club there. Also her visits to
the local schools was very much appreciated by the school children as
she was very popular and this was an very important way to help
children understand and respect the work of the police and how they
helped their local community. This would set the children an excellent
example as they get older and hopefully would avoid some of the
problems that were currently reported about older juveniles in the
To up-date the meeting about business at Hart District Council:
The QEB Planning
Application Appeal was scheduled to start on 15th May
and was expected to last up to 9 weeks. Some of the local
representatives had taken up the opportunity to take up Rule 6 status
and they who would submit evidence at the appeal and be able to
question the experts who were brought in by the appellant, the
The CC(H) Chairman had arranged for some unpaid leave over this period
in order to attend in a personal capacity, not as a representative for
the Council, and would be supporting the QEB Campaign Group to
challenge the appeal.
He and Ken Blockwell, who was leading the QEB Campaign Group, had
attended the pre-Inquiry meetings and to meet the Planning Inspector
who would be officiating at the Appeal. A new Planning Inspector had
been appointed as the original Inspector had not been able to allow for
such a lengthy Inquiry. Also the Barrister who was expected to
represent Hart District Council had also decided that he was not able
to devote enough time to the appeal and a colleague from the same Legal
Chambers had come forward and he had a good reputation at planning
appeals. They had also met the Barrister who would be representing the
developer and he would be interesting to be up against…
The Appeal Inquiry would be held at the Princes' Hall, Aldershot as the
expectation was that there would be a large number of people who would
like to attend, and there was not a large enough venue in Fleet. It had
been suggested that the Church at Elvetham Heath be considered as that
was a new and available facility, so that was being followed up.
Farnborough Aerodrome Planning Appeal, this is currently in
the Rushmoor Borough Council (RBC) Offices in Farnborough. TAG the main
operators at Farnborough Aerodrome had applied to double the number of
weekend and Bank Holiday flights from 2,500 to 5,000 per year, and that
had been refused by the RBC Development Control committee.
Representations would be made by local residents and groups including
those for Fleet and Church Crookham against the application, as there
was strong opposition to the impact from noise and disturbance from an
increasing number of flights during times when local residents wanted
peace and quiet at home.
Concerns had been raised about the definition of business flights and
how these could include flights for leisure/tourist purposes, i.e. to
and from holiday destinations. An explanation was provided in the
A poll had been held by the Farnborough News paper on their web-site in
an attempt to determine the numbers of people who opposed or supported
the application. Given the large number of written objections to the
application to the planning authority and the response to the web-site
poll there were suspicions about why the numbers did not match.
However, the results of this poll had not been mentioned at the
Up to date information was provided on the FACC web-site:
In fact the appeal proceedings took longer than expected and was
re-convened for 2 further weeks in April.
An amended outline planning application for the large site at Pyestock
had been submitted but was considered to be too different to be
considered as an amended application. It had not been put out for
public consultation yet.
Parish Petition: Thanks to everyone who had given time and
help with gathering the petition and gathering over double the number
of signatures required on 8th June 2006. The process, which should have
been quite simple and could easily have been rolled out to include the
unparished area of Fleet north of the canal by a decision from Full
Council, had been made much more complicated by incorporating a Parish
Review for the whole district. This would prolong the process
One of the major benefits to call for the area to be parished would be
a chance to simplify the budgeting for Fleet and Church Crookham. This
was currently covered by what is called the Fleet and Church Crookham
Special Expenses and was paid for by local residents, much like a
parish precept, and added to the basic Community Tax. This was
currently under the control of Hart District Council and was very
complicated, many of the costs were not as clear as they would be if a
parish was responsible. Some of the major budget items under Fleet and
Church Crookham Special expenses were related to the Harlington Centre
which took over half the Special Expenses money. Currently it was in
the region of £350,000 per year, almost £1,000 a day to
run… and was due to increase to £500,000 for the forthcoming
budget year. Currently there was also no scope for Fleet and Church
Crookham Special Expenses to pay towards organising the Fleet Christmas
Festivities which was regarded as being a very important event for the
A parish council would have much more control and understanding about
how the precept would be spent. The Parish Council would be able to
reduce or increase the amount depending on what their community
So, What is it like to be a Councillor?
Gill Butler had been elected to represent Church Crookham East
Her high point so far was when she was duly elected in the early hours
of Friday 5th May 2006. She was grateful to her husband Graham, Ken
Blockwell, James and Jenny Radley, Pat Lowe, Chris Dickenson, Chris
Axam and all the electors in Church Crookham East for all their help
and support. In fact she was elected alongside her fellow CC(H)
candidate, John Bennison who now represents Crondall ward. At the
election count, just after they were elected, they were handed 2
things, a copy of the HDC Constitution and the training programme for
new members. At first the whole process was rather a blur and there is
still so much to learn.
The most immediate effect was the change to the balance of power at the
council, when the CCH and Liberal Democrats worked together as a
Coalition group to step up to the duty to administer the council. This
brought with it the responsibility for the CCH group for two cabinet
positions, James for Planning and Simon for Information and Technology.
Gill took positions on two of the Council committees: the Licensing
Committee and Scrutiny Committee. All the ward members who represent
the unparished area also take part on the Planning Advisory Group (PAG)
which acts as a substitute planning sub-group at parish council level
and is consulted on all new planning applications for that area. Local
councillors also work to help their local residents, and she has been
working to help residents with problems especially to do with parking
around local schools, and planning applications. It makes it all
worthwhile when it is possible to help or explain to the satisfaction
of residents. As the elected representative there is the responsibility
to be involved and vote in the council decisions and strive to make
sure that common sense prevails. It does make a difference and this is
the chance to work with the council staff to guide the level of service
for local people.
The less positive side of the role is the length of time it takes to
get things done. She has been striving to get a pedestrian crossing to
be built across Reading Road South, knowing that the funds were
allocated several years ago following the development of the site at
number 170. However, it is still in the process of being surveyed and
decided just where it should go and that is having to involve Hampshire
County Council and Hart District Council Highways Departments. The
other low point is having to endure Full Council meetings which are
held at the end of every month, which can be quite pointed and
However, there are no regrets and it is very rewarding. Every member of
our group plays a small part in the business of Council but where every
little helps it does make a difference. There are 5 council members for
the CC(H) now and there is opportunity for more.
Both John and Gill are enjoying their position as councillors. John
agrees with Gill and they are privileged to be elected to represent
their wards. He is working hard to be accepted by Crondall Parish
Council and now feels that he has a feel for how things work there and
has a good relationship with them. The first months seemed a blur, as
there was such a lot to take in. Gill is the Membership Secretary for
the group and is working hard to bring in all the renewals in from the
120 members. She has set up a system for members to use standing orders
to be able to renew their subscriptions.
John was keen to say how everyone works hard to do their best to be
good councillors, but behind that there are those who help to support
them and keep them in touch with their electorate. There are many jobs
behind the scenes where people help from delivering leaflets and other
information, to writing articles for the newsletters. It is all about
making sure that people are well informed so they can make educated
Report of Accounts
The accounts have been drawn up by the group Treasurer, Soo
unfortunately she is unable to attend the meeting. Chris Axam has
kindly agreed to present the accounts on her behalf. Soo has also asked
to be relieved of the treasurer duties due to heavy work commitments.
The reporting of the accounts have been aligned with the CC(H)
registration date, to start at the beginning of the calendar year.
Please see the annual report and statement of accounts as attached at
There are now 94 members who have renewed their membership and the
membership secretary will be contacting the remaining members for their
renewals. The cost of the newsletters are covered by the councillors
The accounts show a balance at 31st December of £739.68.
A vote was taken to accept the accounts and a majority vote was given.
No-one voted against accepting it.
Election of Officers
The following officers were elected:
James Radley was returned as Chairman. Nominated by John Bennison and
seconded by Gill Butler.
Fran Jones was elected to take over from Alison Macallan as Secretary.
Nominated by Jenny Radley and seconded by John Bennison
Thanks were noted for all Alison's hard work to date.
Chris Axam was elected to take over from Soo James as Treasurer.
Nominated by James Radley and seconded by John Bennison.
Thanks were noted to Soo for her hard work to date.
Gill Butler was returned as Membership Secretary. Nominated by James
Radley and seconded by John Bennison.
Ken Blockwell was returned as Election Agent. Nominated by James Radley
and seconded by John Bennison.
Pat Lowe returned as Press Secretary.
The next district election will be held on the Thursday 3rd May 2007.
Any Other Business.
Questions were taken from the floor.
Question from Fran Jones: Why is the Bourley Road Car park part of the
set of QEB planning applications?
There are 3 rare European birds that breed on the Thames Basin Heath
Special Protection Area (SPA) that includes the Army training land at
Tweseldown. The QEB development is a threat to the SPA through
dog-walking and fires. The Habitats Regulations state that nearby
development should only be permitted if it has no adverse impact on the
SPA. By reducing the car-park on Bourley Road and opening up a new one
on Beacon Hill Road they hope to claim to reduce the impact of the QEB
development on the SPA.
However, we are told that this matter is being considered at the
highest levels, even the Prime Ministers office, as it is through the
issues raised from the QEB that the importance of the Thames Basin
Heath SPA has been raised. The TBH SPA consists of a range of heathland
area scattered across the region and affects 13 different local
authorities and has brought some major development to a grinding halt
at a time when there is a move to provide more housing.
(formerly English Nature) were having to draw up a delivery plan in
order to enable development. This is being done by making developers
provide alternative green space to attract walkers away from using the
SPA.. It will also involve visitor management on the SPA which will
probably try to make walkers keep to the acceptable footpaths or direct
walkers to less sensitive areas. The developer hopes to enable the QEB
by reducing the Bourley Road car-park and using the water catchment
area instead. We know this simply will not work. The unique qualities
of the SPA are what people go for and it is not provided by any other
area in this locality. This will be a key issue in the QEB appeal. We
have asked for this to be the main issue for a large evening session of
the appeal so that the real strength of feeling can be shown. We hope
that it will be agreed and a adte set, and if so people will be
Pat Lowe has been working hard to make sure that walkers and people who
use the Bourley Road car-park are kept up to date. It is interesting to
note that she reports that if anything more people are using the
car-park now than ever before.
There is also some concern about the project to introduce cattle
grazing on areas of the SPA, there is suspicion as to whether this is a
way to limit access to the areas. However the understanding is that
this is a way to manage and restore the necessary heathland habitat.
There was a question about the possibility of there being the rare
smooth snake on the QEB site.
Question: About District Member allowance
Answer: An independent body has assessed the allowance for members for
Hart District Council (HDC) as they do on a regular basis for all local
authorities. Hart allowances are the lowest in Hampshire and the second
lowest in the country. Admittedly the financial situation at HDC has
meant that some staff are being made redundant and this has made if
very difficult to decide on any increase for members. However, there
are some members who simply could not do so if they did not get some
reasonable allowance, and this should not be the way members are
supported. This would exclude some people who should be able to have
the opportunity to represent their communities. It is a very difficult
issue but it may be possible to phase in the increase in a reasonable
Question about the what the Council Tax pays for.
Answer: Although the local district or borough council collect the
Council Tax, in fact only just over 10% is provided to the local
authority. The majority goes to the County Council and also to the
Police Authority and the Fire and Rescue Service and also the parish
precept or to Fleet and Church Crookham Special expenses for those of
us in the unparished area.
On average HDC take about £128 from
each household out of the £1100 average council tax annual
Question: What is the ruling about Tweseldown Racecourse?
Answer: The landowner is the MOD andt they have said they allow access
to visitors. However, it is leased to British Eventing who have a
manager in charge of the area. He is not making it easy for people to
access the land. It has now been fenced in and the only way onto the
course is through the former car park, as the gates are locked, but
there are 3 access points in the barbed wire fence.
Question: What is happening to the former Shotts site on Bourley Road?
Answer: The site was sold by HDC eighteen months ago. There is a major
concern about how much use of the car-park will be retained to provide
for the recreation ground which is still the responsibility of HDC. It
seems there is some sensitivity about how this site was sold off. A
large For Sale sign was erected in the autumn and we were contacted by
the newspaper reporter for Aldershot, Clive Mogg, who was asking about
the sale of the Shotts site and there was an article published in The
Star newspaper. Interestingly Cllr Stephen Gorys then asked a question
at Full Council about this despite being one of those who signed the
documents on behalf of HDC when they sold the land, when he was Council
Leader… It was as though he had forgotten.
It had not been a simple process for selling the land, as the land have
a covenant imposed by the Army to bequeath the land for leisure use in
respect of Peter Driver who was a local athelete who won honours in the
1956 Olympics. This too needed to be bought from the Army by the new
owner to enable them to use the land for other purposes.
Apparently there had been an earlier article in the newspapers about
the site being sold for a Medical Centre, although it had been given
permission to build a warehouse and offices on that site. In fact the
Richmond Surgery in Fleet had seriously considered taking the site to
develop a larger Medical centre and private medical wing as they need
to expand their current facilities. However there were difficulties and
concerns about the amount of traffic that would be generated there and
they pulled out. It is now being considered as a site for a Nursing
home, but it is very close to the Farnborough Aerodrome flight-path,
and a small corner of that site clips the PSZ.
Question: Chris Axam asked just who has bought the site?
Answer: All we can say is that HDC have indeed sold the site we have
seen some of the papers and that was an executive decision at that
Question: Can more information be found through Freedom of Information,
as this was not made known to the public?
Answer: The land had belonged to the MOD who handed it over to HDC in
memory of Peter Driver and his achievements in 1956, it had the
covenant for leisure use and was used for public recreation. The
building had a varied history of leisure use, more recently as a
snooker hall called Frames before it was changed to a night-club which
was then burnt down. The night-club had allegedly been going through a
troublesome period. The police were involved but no-one has been
charged with any offence in relation to arson. Now as a site for
development but there are constraints. It is not suitable for housing
as it is within 400m of the SPA and it is right on the edge of the
Public Safety Zone for Farnborough Aerodrome.
It already has outline planning permission for warehouse and office
space, but is right next to the Peter driver Recreation area and there
needs to be some provision to allow for parking for the use of those
facilities, but unfortunately that may be much reduced.
Question: What is happening at the site at the Blue Prior site on
Answer: An application to develop part of that site, which had been
allocated for industrial use, was made for a Nursing home. They claimed
they had tried to advertise the land for industrial use but had not had
any interest. The application for a 60 bedded nursing home was refused
by HDC Planning Committee but allowed at appeal in August 2006. There
were concerns about drainage at the site and there was also a badger
run that required to be protected. Concerns had also been raised about
traffic and parking. A more detailed application was expected.
It was pointed out by a member of the floor that it was not well known
but there was an opportunity for members of the public to inspect the
annual accounts at HDC. They could arrange to look at them for 15-20
days after they were published, and also to ask questions of the
auditor on the income and expenditure. That is why there is a notice
put in the local paper to notify people that the accounts have been
published. This was useful to know.
Question: What is the situation for the placement of mobile phone
masts? There are 3 applications in this area.
Answer: Telecoms masts do cause a high level of concern. There are two
main acceptable issues to challenge them, and they are blighting the
landscape or streetscene, and highway safety if the equipment obstructs
the view of traffic. The application for the 25m high mast at the
Sewage Station on Velmead Common which had been refused by HDC planning
committee was granted at appeal. However, the application was the
submitted for a 30m mast. A pole was set up to that height for the site
visit and turned down again, as it was clearly visible from a wide
distance away. The grant for the 25m mast still holds but it has still
not been built.
Meanwhile, another operator has put in an application for another 25m
The application for a mast at Chestilton Crescent was also granted at
appeal. There was great local objection but that has now been
installed. The other application was on Gally Hill Road near the
roundabout with Malthouse Close and Brandon Road. This was successfully
The mast applications can be very difficult. There is strong demand for
phone connectivity and therefore masts are necessary. However, the
choice is for some large masts or a greater number of smaller masts
within the required area. The other concern that many people have is
the health and safety affects, however research indicates there is no
cause for concern and the local planning authority is in no position to
question the research. The Telecom operators have paid huge amounts to
the Government for licenses to operate and they are therefore entitled
to install the necessary equipment. There are some people who say they
have reasons to doubt the Government position on safety of telecom
masts but it is beyond most local authorities and residents to
challenge this effectively.
Finally Chris Dickenson, offered a vote of thanks for the efforts of
the group and members, which was given a round of applause.
The AGM closed at 22.10 hrs.