Golf Club should be a formal Park for all Andoverians

Andover golf Club lies on a chalk spur which extends westwards from Bere Hill, rising from below the 75 metres contour in the north western corner to over 110 metres in the east. It is the highest land in Andover.  It covers 44.74 acres (18.12 hectares) and it is owned by Test Valley Borough Council.

The Andover Golf Club dates back to 1907 and the current course is a 6,100 yard par 70 and is 18 holes. Over the years the Club has looked after Test Valley’s asset. It is a very attractive area of countryside. It is hemmed in on three sides by housing development and the southern edge is constrained by the feeder road on and off the A303. Public paths skirt the eastern and southern edges so Andoverians are fully cognisant of the golf course’s landscape quality.

In truth, however, the site is rather constrained. The Hampshire Golf Club, just one mile to the south is much bigger. Despite being a relatively new course, the Hampshire Club is more highly rated by its users. The Golfshake review gives Andover Golf Club (as at the end of March) a review score of 3.47… and there are 31 reviews. The Hampshire Club ‘s Golfshake review is 3.94, with 180 reviews. And therein lies the problem. The number of users. The Andover Club only has 250 members and that includes the Juniors.

“The Andover Club leases the Golf Course from Test Valley,” says Cllr Mark Cooper. “I don’t see how they can sustain their leasing costs and all the usual Club overheads on just 250 members. It really is time for Test Valley to review its asset and to see if the land is being put to its best use. With a population of 40,000 Andover has need for a large amount of recreation land. The Andover Golf Course site would make an excellent formal park for the use of ALL Andoverians, not just a handful of golfers.”

“That’s why Cllr Katherine Bird and I have submitted the following motion to Test Valley’s full Council Meeting on Wednesday, 15th April.

‘In view of the reported small membership and therefore perceived lack of viability of Andover Golf Club, Test Valley Borough Council should call in the lease and give consideration for an alternative use for the 18.12 hectares (44.74 acres) as a park for the recreational use of ALL Andoverians and Test Valley residents, rather than a limited number of golfers.’

Cllr. Cooper has been informed that the matter will be referred to the Council’s cabinet for discussion. There will be no debate at the April Council meeting.  It will then come back to a future Council agenda for discussion by all Councillors.

(Cllr Katherine Bird is a member for the Andover St. Mary’s Ward. Cllr Mark Cooper was Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Test Valley between 1991 and 2001, 2011 and 2012 and Leader or joint Leader of Test Valley Borough Council 1995 to 1998).

Removing abandoned supermarket trolleys

During on of our regular checks on local footpaths the Alamein Focus team found a “new trolley park.” The photos show supermarket trolleys abandoned along the footpath between Smannell Road and Augustus Walk.

Trolleys cTrolleys d






We have reported this to Test Valley Environmental Services and look forward to seeing them removed.

If you see any abandoned trolleys or fly tripped litter you can report it to TVBC either

  • online here 
  • by using the council’s text service –  text ‘love’ to 60060 followed by your message.
  • by email to [email protected]
  • or telephone to 01264 368000.

Hedges cut and tidied on King Arthur’s Way

Following several complaints received via our Focus reply slips Len Gates contacted Aster Property about poor grounds maintenance on King Arthur’s Way.

Bushes had been left uncut and overgrowing footpaths and steps or were badly cut with cuttings left in and around the hedges. Some tidying was carried out before Christmas and Aster will be reducing the sizes of some hedges later this year.

Pictures show work already carried out between Camelot Close and the footbridge across King Arthurs Way. If you know of any areas needing tidying up let your Focus team know.

Steps from Camelot Close in November

Steps from Camelot Close in November

Steps from Camelot Close today

Steps from Camelot Close today

The bridge today

The bridge today




Bullington Cross windfarm

Letter submitted to Andover Advertiser 21 June 2014

I am disappointed to see Test Valley councillors failed to support the proposed wind farm development at Bullington Cross. The arguments for and against the development have been well aired over the past few months and on balance it is obvious such developments are essential to the future economic prosperity of the area. The benefits, which would far outweigh any perceived costs include –

  • Generating over £4 million through a co-operative ownership scheme, which could fund community energy projects and tackle local fuel poverty
  • Reducing Hampshire’s annual CO2 emissions by 26,000 tonnes, equivalent to the removal of 9,000 cars from local roads
  • Reducing the £1 billion we spend locally every year on imported fossil fuels and generating almost £5 million in additional rates for local councils.

Climate change is a reality affecting everyone. We should take responsibility for our own energy production in Hampshire and reduce our impact on the environment. Our local councillors should take a lead in this. They have failed us and failed future generations.

Most disappointing is the fact that only 13 of the 27 members of the committee actually bothered to attend the planning meeting. They claim to represent local people and get paid to do so. Yet when they are asked to make an important local decision they let us all down. Next year many of them will be knocking on doors asking to be re-elected. They will have a lot of explaining to do.

Len Gates

Councillors vote to ban badger cull in Hampshire

Photo 1 badger web

“There will be no culling of badgers on Hampshire county land.”

That was the message sent loud and clear from the County Council after a Liberal Democrat motion to ban badger culling on county owned land was unanimously supported at a Full Council meeting in Winchester today.

With pilot badger culls aimed at destroying around 5000 badgers already underway in Somerset and Gloucestershire in a bid to curb the spread of Bovine TB in cattle, councillors on all sides supported Liberal Democrat Councillor Rupert Kyrle’s motion to ban badger culling on county owned or leased land. Councillor Kyrle successfully argued that culling was not a proven solution to the problem, and called on more scientific evidence from government on the issue.

In the motion, it states that the science behind a cull “is not proven nor conclusive that a cull of badgers is the answer to eradicating Bovine TB from the countryside”. It also insists that “more research should be undertaken by Government and the scientific community to find more effective and cheaper vaccinations for badgers and cattle to help eradicate this terrible and costly disease from the countryside.”

Rupert Kyrle web

Commenting on the ban, Councillor Rupert Kyrle said, “This is a great day for badgers in Hampshire! It was great to see Councillors of all political colours coming together to send a strong message to government over their misguided support of badger culling. We all want to see a real solution to prevent the spread of Bovine TB across our countryside, but it is not right that badgers should be singled out in this way. To make matters worse, taxpayers are being made to pay for the slaughtering of native species when the evidence in favour of the cull is shaky and inconclusive. We must protect our countryside, and that includes the species that make it their home.”

photo of  badger courtesy of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust  (Credit: Dr David Williams for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife

Cricketers Way lorries

Further to my previous posts about lorries reversing into Cricketers Way (see post here) I can report further action had been taken by environmental health officers.

I and other concerned residents have contacted Test Valley Borough Council detailing the persistent failure to observe the agreed safety procedures. Moat recently I contacted the chief executive of TVBC as follows –

“This has been an ongoing problem for some two to three years. Despite the best efforts of TVBC’s Environmental health department lorry drivers are regularly and with impunity disregarding the agreed safety procedures. I have spent a great deal of time recently working with the HSE on safe manoeuvring of lorries on an agricultural/industrial site. The practices residents are reporting taking place outside this Tesco store would never be allowed on my site. This problem really does need urgent attention.”

I am pleased to report that Test Valley officers have had another meeting with Tesco to tighten controls on their own (Tesco) lorries visiting the store to prevent their drivers manoeuvring unsupervised. They will also be monitoring third party drivers delivering to the store.

If you see further breaches of safety procedures or drivers reversing unsupervised let me or the council know immediately.

New seats for Smannell Road

Photo 6 Smannell RoadWhile out talking to local residents I was asked about the possibility of public seats along some of the new footpaths and cycle paths installed around town. As I knew there were sums of developers money collected for recreation purposes I contacted Test Valley council officers to enquire whether any of this could be used for public seating.

Very often councillors and council officers think of leisure in terms of play grounds, sports fields etc. but to many residents leisure is just as much a walk down the road, round the park or to the shops. Why not spend some of this leisure money on a few seats en route?

The good news is there is funding available and officers think its a good idea. I have made a formal request to borough councillor Phil North who is also in favour of the idea and look forward to hearing from him that this project is viable.

Michael Gove: Don’t scrap climate change education

Today I received the following.Can I urge everyone to read it and sign the petition.

The government are considering scrapping climate change teaching in schools.

As a Geography teacher, I know full well how important it is that we teach children about climate change. I never thought I’d see the day our government would consider allowing three quarters of children to leave school with no proper education about climate change. But that’s what they’re proposing now.

It’s not too late to persuade the government to change their minds on this. These plans aren’t set in stone yet – they’re still open as part of public consultation. Plus the government have been struggling in the polls recently and have one eye fixed firmly on the next election. A huge public outcry now will leave them in no doubt that this decision could cost them crucial votes in 2015.

I’ve started a petition to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, demanding that he protects climate change’s place in the national curriculum. Click here to sign it: Under the government’s new plans, children will not be taught about the impacts of climate change unless they study GCSE Geography – a course that was only taken by 27% of GCSE students last year.

I have been a Geography teacher for more than 25 years. During that time I have taught my pupils dozens of different topics, from map reading and geology to volcanoes and earthquakes. But nothing I’ve ever taught my students has been so important as what I teach them about climate change now. We can’t afford to lose that – and neither can they.


Sign the petition to protect climate change education:

The challenges man-made climate change poses to human beings are huge. In my classes, children learn about these challenges and why they are relevant to them. They learn why it is adults tell them to recycle, switch off their computers and close doors to keep the heat in. And the truth is, children love learning about climate change. At the same time, they are learning to respect the world around them and to value human life. These are values that many of them will carry with them for the rest of their lives. They are the best possible weapons we can give them to help prevent disastrous climate change in the future.

Together, we can show Michael Gove that his plans are wrong – for our children, our planet, and our future. Sign the petition now:


Thank you for standing up for our children’s education. Margaret Hunter, 38 Degrees member and teacher from Oxfordshire



Picture 8 Augusta Park roads need gritting

Augusta Park residents were surprised to discover that after paying council taxes there for nearly two years the council is still not responsible for their roads. “I pay my council tax every month, so surely there must be some element of care for this?” asked one.

Residents are reporting empty grit bins, faulty street lights and, during the recent cold spell, dangerous, icy roads especially around Endeavour School. They were told this is not a council responsibility and contacted me for help. I spoke at Smannell Parish Council asking them to take responsibility for grit bins and have called on the county council to adopt local roads.

A development of this size needs an adequate and well maintained infrastructure. The council must take responsibility as soon as possible. The good news is that all roads on the west side of Augusta Park will be adopted in the next few months. The remainder should be taken over as soon as possible. I will keep the pressure on both councils to deliver and report back to residents on progress.