Yesterday I attended the formal opening of the new playground at Hedgerow Walk, Augusta Park. A good turnout saw the mayor formally open the playground and start a cycle ride along the new cycle path to Andover town centre.
The playground was “great” according to users and better than some other playgrounds in town. This is one of a number to be installed by developers across Augusta Park. Also to open soon is the new community centre – more details on that next month.
I look forward to all the facilities being opened, well used and hopefully well maintained, unlike some of the existing playgrounds around town.
Local residents must have seen by now the aftermath of last night’s fire at Optaglio on Greenwich Way. More details can be found on the Andover Sound website at http://www.andoversound.com/pages/extranet/huge-andover–fire-i-6787.php
The fire has been controlled but the whole area remains closed while the fire service deal with the consequences including dealing with a number of acetylene cylinders on the premises. I was there earlier this morning and was impressed with the efficient way the fire and police services dealt with the incident and its aftermath. What could have been a major disaster in Alamein ward and Andover was averted by prompt and effective action by the emergency services.
Greenwich Way will remain closed for twenty four hours while the Fire Service make the area safe. Action is also under way to ensure none of the chemicals on site make their way into local watercourses. Having worked for many years in the chemical industry I appreciate how easily this sort of fire can take place and how devastating the consquences can be. I look forward to a speedy resolution of this problem and a full investigation of the cause.
I am pleased to see the coalition government is to tackle the problems caused by the Labour party’s introduction of uncontrolled 24 hour sale of alcohol. Plans include proposals to make licensed premises pay for the cost of anti-social behaviour and violence their premises cause. Local councils will also be given much more power to control the numbers and extent of licenses issued.
As an ex-member of Test Valley’s licensing committee I can say with some experience this is long overdue. The 24 hour licensing laws, claimed to allow a continental style cafe culture in the UK, were in fact no more than a sell out to Labour’s supporters in the drinks industry allowing them to boost sales with no thought of the consequences. Local licensing authorities are almost powerless to prevent anyone anywhere from selling drink with no thought of the consequences to local communities. The rules are so heavily weighted in favour of licencees the committee merely rubberstamps applications.
I have been on patrol with police in Andover on Friday nights and seen the results – drunkeness, violence and vandalism extending into the early hours of the morning. And the bill is met by local residents who pay for the police overtime and for the council workers who clear up the mess afterwards. No only is the town centre blighted so too are every route out of town used by late night drinkers on their noisy and often destructive trek home. Meanwhile the drinks companies rake in the profits.
Enough is enough. I have no objection to late night drinking as such but uncontrolled sales of alcohol and the resultant crime and disorder it promotes must be stopped. I fully support the Association of Cheif Police Officers and the Police Federation in their calls of a review of the licensing laws and look forward to it being and an early review.
I share residents concern and anger at the continual flooding on Smannell Road open space and have joined local campaigner Liz Byrne in calling for immediate action to solve the problem.
The footpath from Roman Way to the new pedestrian crossing outside Tesco is lower than surrounding recently landscaped areas. Water collects on the path making it impassable whenever it rains. The surrounding grassed areas are now churned up as residents try to avoid the flooding. The whole area has been dug up on a number of occasions in the last two years as contractors tried to solve drainage and other problems.
I have asked both Hampshire Highways and Test Valley Borough Council to take immediate action to solve the problem. There has always been some flooding in this area but never been as bad as at present. I’m not bothered who takes responsibility for solving the problem as long as something is done. There is no point having wonderful new landscaping and pedestrian controlled traffic signals if residents have to wade through muddy water to cross the road.
Test Valley’s Liberal Democrats are calling on the borough council to sign up to the 10:10 campaign to cut carbon emmisions by 10% in 2010. The motion submitted by Cllr Mark Cooper of Romsey, which I am seconding, highlights the success of the campaign and calls on Test Valley to join other Hampshire councils in actively supporting the 10:10 campaign.
I hope the motion will get the support of all councillors. Global warming is a far more serious threat to us and to our future than anything else we have seen. It isn’t going to go away and it needs positive action to deal with it. This action is best taken at a local level and local councils have a major role to play. We can make a difference and have a duty to do so.
The full text of the motion is as follows
This Council notes the success of the 10:10 campaign in encouraging individuals, businesses, local authorities and other organisations to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% in 2010;
Further notes that the 10:10 campaign, whilst aiming for cuts of 10% recognises that such significant reductions will be difficult to achieve at this stage in the year, so will recognise those organisations which reduce emissions by 3% or greater in 2010.
This Council thus resolves that it will join with other councils, including Winchester City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and Havant Borough Council by signing up to the 10:10 campaign and will make a firm commitment to reduce its emissions as measured by National Indicator 185 (minus schools and outsourced contracts) by 3% or more by the end of 2010.
More details about the campaign can be found at http://www.1010uk.org/
While out meeting residents in Andover Tom McCann, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for North West Hampshire, met anti-litter campaigner Manuela Wahnon. Tom congratulated her on her campaign and praised her hard work, as an example of how individuals can and do make a difference to their communities.
“I urge everyone to listen to what Manuela has to say” he said. ” Together we can make Andover and the rest of NW Hampshire a cleaner and better place for us and for future generations.”
During a tour of Andover to meet local community activists Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Tom McCann met anti-litter campaigner Manuela Wahnon.
Tom and Manuela discussed her Attitude of Gratitude to clean up Andover and the rest of Test Valley. Manuela’s philosophy is simple “we’ve always got something to be grateful for in our lives, so with that in mind, obviously don’t drop litter, but if you pick up one piece of litter a day you can make the world you live in a better place. “
Tom praised her hard work, funded entirely from her own limited resources, as an example of how individuals can and do make a difference to their communities. “As a Liberal Democrat I believe in empowering communities to take responsibility for their surroundings. Manuela is a shining example to all of us”
Tom will be joining Manuela, me and other Andover residents on a litter pick sometime in the New Year.
Full details of Manuela’s campaign can be found at http://www.attitudeofgratitude.co.uk/
I am indebted to Mr Vic Pain for his campaign to deal with fly-tipping behind the shops on Atholl Court. This issue has been reported several times recently in the Andover Advertiser.
This is a problem which Mr Pain and I have been dealing with for some time and every time we think it resolved it re-appears. I appreciate his frustration.We have many times spoken to Test Valley and Testway Housing and litter has been removed only for more to appear.
I can now report that following meetings between Test Valley and Testway, affirmative action is being taken to resolve the matter once and for all. Among plans being proposed are relocation of all bins to a secure area, closer monitoring of bin usage and fly-tipping and the introductrion of additional bins. I understand local residents will be notified of the plans and hope proper consultation will take place with them.
Regular readers will know I have written many times about the damage and disruption along Smannell Road and to the Smannell Road open space caused by successive building and other contractors. We have seen the road closed, temporary traffic lights, floods and the open space ploughed up to lay cables, pipes and whatever.
At last we are coming to the end of the works and as promised Test Valley Borough Council are starting to landscape the area again. As part of this landscaping new trees will be planted to improve the area.
Many of the young trees planted here have failed and are in a poor state due to damage caused by mowers, strimmers, etc. Also, nine trees were removed when the pipeline and bicycle path was installed. The damaged trees will be replaced by fifteen dawn redwood trees. These will be planted at semi-mature size and will be designed around the existing trees. The damaged trees will be removed in the next few days and the planting will take place some time around mid December.
The dawn redwood is a native to China and was introduced to Britain first in 1948. It is a coniferous tree but is deciduous, meaning it loses its needles in autumn. The tree is fast growing a can attain heights of 30m. It is a tree of outstanding natural beauty and the new trees will blend in very well with native species, which will surround them.
A program of works will start today to on maintenance and repair of footpaths around Anton Lakes. The work will take 4 – 6 weeks and may involve closure of some of the footpaths.
If you have any comments or queries please let me know and I will take them up with council officers.