Victory for the forest campaign

Last week the government announced an humiliating u-turn on its plans to sell off  Britain’s forests. This followed over 500,000 people signing an online petition against  the proposals and over 100,000 people contacting their MPs to register opposition to the plans.

I and the rest of the Lib Dem councillors on Test Valley Borough Council all backed the petition and we were planning to raise the matter at this Friday’s council meeting calling on the council and our local MPs to support the opposition to the plan.

Our motion is still on the table for discussion but given the government’s admission of defeat I will be suggesting the motion is not debated. We’ve won the battle – no need to kick the defeated enemy when they’ve surrendered.

For full details of the government’s climb down see

Swallowfields News

Thank you to everyone who has returned my recent Swallowfields survey. I and your town councillors are currently working on the issues raised and will report back in due course.

Several of you mentioned the missing road sign at the junction of Swallowfields and Cricketers Way. This is the second time in two years that the sign has gone missing. I am pleased to report that a replacement sign has been ordered and will be installed in the next four weeks.

Council staff have also been out to clear rubbish dumped in the nearby stream.  We will continue to monitor the area to ensure this stream and other open spaces are kept clean.

I am currently discussing with Highways officers the options for improvements to traffic management and traffic calming in the area. This is on the agenda for the residents meeting in the church centre on Monday night. All local residents are welcome.

Developers should pay for litter bins

Local Lib Dem councillors are calling on Test Valley to charge developers who open fast food outlets for litter bins.

In a motion submitted to the next council meeting I and Cllr Celia Dowden from North Baddesley are proposing that any application for a fast food outlet should automatically be subject to a legal agreement calling on the applicant to pay for litter bins in the vicinity. 

One of the biggest causes of litter in our town centres is the thoughtless discarding of takeaway wrappers and food. At present the tax payers have to pay for litter picking and bins. At a time when money is tight and Test Valley have refused to pay for any more bins it’s only right that those who profit from these developments pay their fair share of the costs of dealing with litter in the area

The proposals call on Test Valley to ensure there are enough bins to cover current needs and require all future outlets to pay the cost of additional bins. The full text of the motion, which will be discussed on 25th February, is as follows

Council recognises the litter problems created by takeaway food outlets

Council therefore requests that

  •  Officers investigate current litter bin provision in the area of fast food outlets and ensure adequate bins are provided in these areas and
  • unless there are pressing logistical reasons not to so do, request officers to seek to implement a standard planning condition on planning applications for future outlets to ensure that litterbins will be provided in the vicinity of the development at the applicant’s expense.

Save our Forests

Test Valley’s Liberal Democrats are backing the campaign against government plans to sell of national forests. The proposals, subject of a new government consultation, will allow the Environment secretary to lease or sell of vast tracts of publicly owned forestry land. An on-line petition against the plan has already attracted over 300,000 signatures. 

Local Lib Dem leaders have all signed the petition and we are urging our supporters to follow suit. The group also plan to raise the matter at the next borough council meeting with a motion in support of the campaign.

The proposals are driven by ideology rather than sound financial sense. They are not part of the coalition agreement and are opposed by the vast majority of the public. We will be looking to local conservatives to join us in persuading the government to drop this ill thought out plan

The full test of the motion is as follows

Council notes the government consultation on proposals to sell or lease off forestry commission lands.
Council believes such proposals to be short sighted, and contrary to the long term interest of this country and future of these woodlands
Council resolves to give its full support to the current campaigns against these proposals by calling on the government to withdraw these plans and urges our local MPs to do the same.

Full details of the campaign and petitions can be found at and

No to litter bin for King Arthur’s Hall

I always thought the best way to discourage people from dropping litter was to supply bins for them to put it in. Not according to Test Valley Borough Council. They have recently refused a request for an additional bin outside King Arthur’s Hall.

 I raised this at last week’s council meeting when I asked the following question of the cabinet member responsible for environment.

The Council’s corporate plan includes six SCHEME priorities including -Protecting and enhancing the environment with “targeted improvements to create cleaner safer neighbourhoods, promoting pride in the local environment” and – Maximising capacity and impact by “increasing community engagement and understanding of customer and community needs”

An important way of creating cleaner and safer neighbourhoods would be to increase the number of litter bins especially in areas where local residents have requested them. I was surprised therefore to hear that a recent request for an additional litter bin outside King Arthurs Hall a COMMUNITY facility in Alamein ward was turned down because of costs and that the borough is cutting down on the number of litter bins due to the “high cost to install and refurbish them.” 

I am further led to understand that officers believe that litter in the area can be best dealt with by litter picking rather than with a bin. Can the portfolio holder advise me how such a decision meets with SCHEME priorities?

The response was unbelievable. Apparently it is cheaper for the council to pick up litter from the pavement than to empty a bin because “a special trip would need to be made to empty the bin.” When I pointed out that they already empty a bin outside the shops less than 100 yards away I got the same answer.

Test Valley has allcated a considerable sum of money for the refurbishment of the Atholl Court/King Arthur’s Hall  area. Rather pointless if they can’t deal with basic issues like providing  and emptying a simple litter bin!

Composting workshop

Transition Town Andover in conjunction with the Test Vallley Borough Council are offering a free composting workshop run by WRAP on 23 November at 7.30 at the Upper Guildhall. Go along and learn how to becoke a composting champion. Full details are on the attached flyer Composting Champions

To book your place please email Seb Blake on [email protected]. or Mike Pratt on [email protected] or phone 01264 368387.

Further details about transition town Andover can be found at

County byelection result

The by-election for Andover South’s vacant county council seat took place last Thursday (21st October) and the result was as follows.

 David Drew (Conservative)                            1183

Len Gates (Liberal Democrat)                    1111

John Newland (Labour)                                     245

Anthony McCabe (UKIP)                                   233

The result confirmed Liberal Democrat predicitions of a close run contest between me and the Tory candidate with the other parties never in the contest. The Lib Dem vote increased by 17.6% which confounds local (left wing) critics who were predicting an election meltdown for the Lib Dems.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me. The response I and the rest of my team found on the doorstep was amazing. The support and encouragement we received from voters made the whole thing worthwhile and was some consolation for loosing by a relatively narrow margin. We will continue to follow up, through your existing Andover town and borough councillors, on all the issues you have raised over the past month. We also look forward to next year’s borough council elections when we will aim to win council seats in both Winton and Millway wards.

Consultation on shopping trolleys

Test Valley’s residents and businesses are being asked to comment on Council proposals to tackle the problem of abandoned shopping trolleys.

During a recent two-month audit of the problem in Andover, 57 trolleys were found on just one day. Now the Council is considering using legal powers to claim reasonable costs for collecting, storing or disposing of abandoned trolleys from their owners. Any trolley believed to have been abandoned would be collected by the Council and stored at a central location. The owners would be advised within seven days and would be asked to collect their trolleys within four weeks. They would then pay a standard fee per trolley on collection.

These legal powers would only be adopted if they are both necessary and proportionate, so anyone with an interest in Test Valley is now being encouraged to respond to an online consultation on the proposals at The consultation will close on 10 September 2010.

My own view is that this move is long overdue and necessary. Too many trolleys are abandoned around town and on our estates and the supermarkets have failed to deal with them. The council must collect them and it is only right they recoup costs from the trolley owners.

Attitude of Gratitude

With Manuela

I’ve previously written about Manuela Wahnon and her “Attitude of Gratitude” campaign, see

Today I met Manuela and got an update on her campaign – now a year old. It doesn’t seem that long ago she started reminding us that we are all responsible for the environment. There isn’t a litter fairy that picks up after us. It’s our town and we must look after it.

The really good news is that Vigo Road Recreation ground is much cleaner than a year ago and not only is litter being picked up, lots of it is being recycled as well.

Thank you Manuela for all you’ve done. Keep up the good work and here’s to another year of successful campaigning.

Litter at Smannell Road Open Space

The clean and tidy environment at Augusta Park (story below) is a complete contrast to the mess I saw when walking back to town past Smannell Road open space.

Litter at Smannell Road

This weekend the open space hosted one of the regular visits by funfairs which obviously will generate some litter. I was appalled however at the amount of litter around the site and in particular by the number of empty broken beer and wine bottles strewn around the play areas. The area has now been tidied thanks to prompt work by both the fair operators and, following my email to them, Test Valley Environmental Services.

I wonder how much this cleaning costs local taxpayers and will be speaking to both environmental services and the police and wardens about how illegal drinking in and the subsequent littering of this area can be controlled.