Fix our grit bin

P1000899 Linton Drive Grit BinSeveral weeks ago the grit bin in Linton Drive was damaged but no action taken to repair it.

Unlike most parts of Hampshire grit bins in Andover are owned, filled and maintained by Hampshire County Council. Andover Town Councillor Len Gates has referred the matter to the county councillor for the area (Zilliah Brooks) who is waiting for a response from council highways officers.

Cllr Gates said “the county’s failure to deal with this is indicative of the overall decline in service supplied to the public. All this despite holding massive cash reserves. Its time the county council started delivering the services tax payers expect and pay for. if it is unwilling or unable to do so these responsibilities should be passed over to someone else.”

We look forward to the highways department’s response.

Avoid the blue badge parking scam

Hampshire Trading Standards are would like to bring the public’s attention to websites offering Blue Badge parking applications online, and charging a fee of £49.  The websites are not affiliated or associated with any local council, or any other official body or organisation. 

It is not obvious from entering the websites that they are not official, or that an application fee is charged.  However, the information is contained in the terms and conditions, and it is recommended that these are looked at before deciding whether to use the sites.

It is possible to apply for a Blue Badge online through the official website https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge  or via Hampshire County Council’s website  http://www3.hants.govuk/bluebadge/treasurers-bluebadgeapply.htm

There is a fee of £10 per application, but no other charges.

Hampshire residents wishing to find out more information on how to apply for a Blue Badge, or to download an application form, can visit the Hampshire County Council’s website Blue Badge, telephone 0300 555 1376 or email to [email protected]

Anyone wishing to make a complaint against an unofficial Blue Badge website or to receive advice, should contact Trading Standards via our partners Citizens Advice Consumer Service  03454 04 05 06.

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service

Montgomery House, Monarch Way

Winchester, Hampshire  SO22 5PW

Tel: 01962 833620

Fax: 01962 833698

E-mail: [email protected]

 

 

Victory for housing campaign

Housing developers Taylor Wimpey have withdrawn an application to reduce the affordable housing content at Augusta Park to 30%.

The decision comes after TVBC planners decided to recommend refusal of the application. The application was universally condemned by parish councils and residents including local Lib Dem campaigners see details here. Lib Dem Len Gates wrote to TVBC objecting to the proposals. You can read his comments here objections to planning application

Welcoming the news Len said “There is a major shortage of affordable housing in Andover and across North West Hampshire I am pleased to see Test Valley planners acknowledge this and will be holding Taylor Wimpey to their obligation to supply affordable homes for local people.”

 

Lib Dems call for rethink on yellow lines

Alamein Liberal Democrats are calling for a rethink on the discredited parking restrictions installed on Roman Way and King Arthurs Way. Andover Town Councillor Barbara Carpenter is leading the campaign.

Barbara who originally called for yellow lines on the corners along Roman Way only says “the council’s response to put yellow lines all along the roads has caused nothing but aggravation for local residents. The decision was made by borough councillors with no knowledge or understanding of the area.”

Local campaigners have recently launched a petition calling for a rethink of the yellow lines. You can sign the petition here

Planning permission approved for more homes

Despite widespread local opposition Taylor Wimpey have been given planning permission for a further 350 homes at Augusta Park. The new site was originally reserved for a new secondary school for the town and many residents in Augusta Park bought homes in the mistaken belief this school was to be built.

Opposition to the plan was lead by local Liberal Democrats including town councillors Barbara Carpenter and  Len Gates. Len spoke against the plans at the borough’s planning meeting when Tory councillors ignored local concerns and voted the proposal through. Full details can be found here and here.

Local conservatives continue to dismiss objections while residents ask quite rightly when are they to get the infrastructure every community has a right to expect.

Refugees welcome here

Andover Town Council has backed Lib Dem calls to call on the borough and county councils to take a more positive approach to welcoming refugees to Andover.

The motion proposed by Lib Dem Cllr Len Gates at the council’s October meeting was as follows –

ATC notes-

  • The current plight of thousands of refugees fleeing war in Syria and other countries
  • The legal obligations of the United Kingdom as a signatory of the 1951 United Nations Convention and its 1967 Protocol on Refugees
  • The recent public petition calling on Test Valley Borough Council to welcome refugees to Andover, reflecting the humanity and Britishness of fellow Andoverians and
  • The recent deplorable attempts by some journalists and politicians to demonise these refugees and refuse them help.

 

ATC calls on-

  • Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council to facilitate the reception, support, and integration of refugees into Andover
  • Central government to extend financial support to local councils for the reception of refugees and their integration past the one-year point so that the more generous communities are not unduly financially penalised.

Len’s statement to the council meeting can be read in full here – Refugees speech.

Speaking after the meeting he said “I am appalled by some recent newspaper headlines and the behaviour of politicians seeking to demonise these innocent people. We should be taking our fair share of refugees in the spirit of decency and humanity and welcome them not begrudge them.”

“This country has a proud record in helping refugees; those who oppose doing so do not speak for me, my country or my town. Their arrogance, ignorance and selfishness have no place in our society. I am proud to see Andover join so many other towns in taking a lead in calling for a positive response to the humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.”

Borough council election results

After a very long campaign and almost four hours to count the votes the result for the Alamein borough council election was announced on Friday. Results were as follows

Phil North Conservative 1960
Alexander Michael Brook Conservative 1677
Tracey Lorraine Preston Conservative 1570
Conner Docherty UK Independence 941
Len Gates Liberal Democrat Focus Team 768
Robin Hughes Liberal Democrat Focus Team 688
Amy Michele Bower Liberal Democrat Focus Team 686
Andy Fitchet Labour 648
Ben Kinross Labour 569
Michael Joseph Mumford Labour 504
Adam Richard Timby Green 468
Joshua James Cussen Green 418

Thank you to everyone who voted for us in the borough council elections. And thank you to everyone who took the time to discuss local issues with us and support us throughout the campaign. Your support made it worthwhile and showed Liberal Democrat values are still important to local people. We will continue to campaign for these values on your behalf.

Amy Bower, Len Gates, Robin Hughes

 

 

Disgraced councillor – Lib Dems call for answers

Local Liberal Democrats have written to the chief executive of Test Valley Borough Council calling for an explanation and action in the case of disgraced Conservative ex-councillor Ellie Charnley.

Mrs Charnley was automatically disqualified as a councillor in January after failing to attend meetings for six months (see previous story here).. Despite this she later attended and participated in meetings and presumably continued to draw her councillor’s allowance. Her non-attendance was raised on a number of occasions but no action was taken either by council officers or the council leadership. The facts are as follows

  •  Mrs Charnley attended a planning on 22nd July 2014 and no other meetings between then and 21st January at which time she was automatically disqualified as a councillor. It also appears she has not attended any Overview and Scrutiny committee meetings, the most important committee for protecting the public’s interests, since 2011.
  •  Her lack of attendance was reported on 15th January. Despite this no-one within Test Valley Borough Council was aware that she was automatically disqualified from 21st January.
  • Mrs Charnley attended planning meetings on 22nd January and 12th February. She was not entitled to do so. By allowing this the council has exposed itself to a possible judicial review if an aggrieved resident felt so inclined.
  • On 31st March Mrs Charnley was still listed as a councillor and still referred to as a councillor by officers. Council officers were advised of this and a response requested. A further email of 7th April asked for action. No response has been received.
  • The matter was again raised at a council meeting on 15th April 2015; officers were unaware of the situation and not prepared to give an answer. They eventually replied on 1st May – over three months after Mrs. Charnley ceased to be a councillor.

Lib Dem councillors are now asking for urgent answers to the following questions

  • Is the chief executive satisfied with the handling of this matter?
  • Did Mrs Charnley receive her councillor’s pay after 21st January?
  • If so what action has been taken to have the allowance paid back?
  • What action will be taken to prevent a re-occurrence of this?

Vice chairman of North West Hants Liberal Democrats commented “this is unacceptable. A councillor has abused the system and yet no action has been taken either by officers or council leaders. Rather than address the problem there appears to be an effort to ignore it in the hope that no-one would notice.”

Andover councillor Nigel Long said “the timetable of responses is simply not good enough. Residents expect their councillors to represent them and make decisions on their behalf. By her behaviour Mrs Charnley has failed in her public duties and compromised the integrity of the council.”

Fellow councillor Katherine Bird added “It is shocking that there is apparently so little awareness of the law which disqualified Mrs Charnley after six months of absence.  It is made worse by the delay in dealing with the situation after it was brought to the attention of the administration. These things need to be addressed immediately.”

The case of the disappearing parking spaces

Residents of Camelot Close have rejected claims by local Tories that additional parking spaces have been allocated to them. The reports in March suggest the councillors had recently got planning permission for 12 extra spaces.

In reality what happened was that Aster Communities applied to convert an existing open space into car parking. Councillors approved the plans by email just before Christmas. No formal meeting was held to discuss it despite objections from residents concerned about loss of open space used as a play area and the proximity of the new parking to their homes.

Andover Town Council and residents commented that the twelve spaces were too narrow. As many residents park vans and large cars at home wide spaces are essential. This may loose two spaces. Twelve becomes ten.

 Access to the new area is via an existing turning head where two and sometimes three cars currently park. These spaces would therefore be lost. Ten becomes seven.

 Having received permission for the car park Aster now propose to build three more houses on open green space in the same area leading to a loss (according to Andover Town Council) of a further six parking spaces.  Seven becomes one.

 Finally it is reported that one of the new spaces is to be a disabled space despite no resident asking for an allocated space. One becomes zero.

 If and/or when both proposal go ahead Camelot Close residents will have lost one paved open space used as a play area, and one grassed open space also used for play and parking. The net gain – one disabled parking space?

Whiteley sacked by Tories

Residents may have seen stories suggesting that Alamein conservative councillor Janet Whiteley has decided to stand down from the borough council. However reports are emerging that far from retiring Mrs Whiteley and her husband, and fellow councillor Neville, had both wished to stand for re-election but were summarily rejected by local conservatives.

Janet and Neville Whiteley_jpg-pwrt2

Janet and Neville Whiteley (picture from Romsey Advertiser)

For many years Mrs Whiteley has split her time between serving as a borough councillor for Alamein ward and sitting on Stockbridge town council. She wanted to move to a safe conservative seat near her Stockbridge home. However, Tory officials decided not to call her for selection.   “As a sitting councillor, I would have thought that I was a strong candidate.  It’s the principal of it all that has upset me and I think that what’s happened is disgraceful” she said.

Meanwhile husband Neville is threatening to resign his party membership after being replaced as council candidate for Dun Valley. The decision came in a meeting to which Neville had just 36 hours notice. “I am disgusted at this behaviour and disappointed. It’s very shoddy and I will now be looking at whether I continue my membership of the Conservative party,” Mr Whiteley said. “I didn’t stand down. I wasn’t given the opportunity to continue and was replaced. ”

The full story can be read on the Romsey Advertiser website here