I returned from holiday to discover that despite overwhelming local opposition and the unanimous support of councillors on the borough’s Northern Area Planning Committee Test Valley’s Planning Control Committee has approved plans to build 50 new homes at Shepherds Spring School.

I am indebted to Cllr Phil North for his support in opposing this plan and putting local people and their views above narrow political expediency. What a pity the same cannot be said of his colleague Janet Whiteley who at the PCC voted for the application. This is not the first time Mrs Whiteley has put party politics above representing the local electorate. She declined to support residents opposing Tory plans to divert Smannell Road through the new Augusta Park housing development and once famously voted for a plan to convert a house on King Arthurs Way into substandard flats arguing there were no parking problems in the area. Mrs Whiteley hopes to be mayor next year.

Meanwhile the real representative of local people, town councillor Barbara Carpenter, is getting on with the job of looking after local interests and getting things done. The latest Roman Way Forum took place on 30 June and the next is provisionally booked for 15 September. Blocked drains have been cleared in Caesar Close and Mrs Carpenter is working with council officers to get them to install additional disabled parking bays, repair footpaths and cut back overgrown trees in the area.

Flooding in Smannell

Today’s heavy rain saw more flooding in Smannell a problem which occurs everytime we get heavy rain. Together with local residents I have contacted the Hghways department asking for urgent action. The text of our exchanges is as follows.

“Thanks for your prompt response on this. I appreciate you will have had a number of issues today because of the torrential rain. Having driven from Andover to Bordon this morning I have seen several areas where flooding has occured but none as bad as that which occurs far too often in Smannell.

I must re-emphasise the point that this section of road does flood regularly and the flooding is always reported but to no avail. Furthermore although not intentionally widened the cariageway has nevertheless got wider over the years every time a repair or resurfacing work is carried out.

Anything that can be done to resolve the problem in the short term would be appreciated but a long term solution is needed as soon as possible.


Len Gates

“Thank you for that; I am assured action has been undertaken to relieve the immediate problem.

Flooding at this location is not something I’ve been aware of in the two years I’ve been here, but do understand it is a historical problem. Although, as I mentioned in an earlier response, I will discuss a long-term solution with my Highway Manager in a couple of weeks time (he is currently on leave), the reality is that any major scheme would not be cheap and would have to join the Capital Programme and compete with other proposals for available funding, something which I’m afraid, along with the likely timescale, is out of my hands, although I will indeed stress the degree of the problem, given the information from you and others.

Hampshire Highways”

There is willingnees to deal with this but also a need for the local county councillor to champion this cause to get something done. I look forwasrd to her doing so.

Augusta Park News

Yesterday I and the rest of the Alamein Lib Dem team visited Augusta Park to speak to residents about the issues that matter in their area.

While the majority of residents were happy with the new estate several raised concerns about specific issues  with which I am or will be dealing.

Many shared my view that the proposal to divert Smannell Road through the new estate is illogical, unacceptable and just plain stupid. However the government inspector and the government have decreed it will happen.

A number of street lights are still not working a year after they were installed and many sections of road and footpath are also unfinished.  I have asked for an update on when these jobs will be finished.

Parking is in many places badly managed and I have referred this to the council’s planning and highways departments.

Urgently needed are dog waste bins for the open space between Hedgerow Walk and Smannell Road. I have formally requested these be discussed at the next Smannell parish council meeting. I want to see some installed as soon as possible.

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.

Roman Way Forum

The Roman Way Forums have become regular events over the past year and some of the main areas of debate have always been traffic and highway repairs. At the last meeting it was agreed to hold a special meeting just ot discuss these two items.

This meeting has now been agreed for Monday 21st February at 6:30pm. A representative of Test Valley Borough Council will be available to explain changes to local roads and traffic maangement in the light of the Augusta Park MDA. Also present will be a representative  of Hampshire Highways to answer questions on highway repairs and maintenance. Andover North county councillor Pam Mutton has also been invited to attend to answer questions.

Notes of  the previous meeting are attached here Minutes of Roman Way Forum 15th January 2011 together with the agenda for Mondays meeting Roman Way Forum Agenda 21st February

All residents are welcome – see you there

Smannell Road Closure goes ahead

The new route for Smannell Road traffic

After a long delay the decision of the Secretary of State and the government inspector on the future of Smannell Road has been announced. The existing road will be closed and all traffic to and from Smannell, including heavy agricultural vehicles, will be diverted through the new housing at Augusta Park.

The decision comes after a public enquiry last year when the developer’s, and borough council’s, proposals were opposed by Smannell Parish Council, St Mary Bourne Parish Council. I was pleased to join them at the enquiry and argue against this illogcal and unecessary plan imposed on the area by local Tory councillors.

I am disappointed by this decision which puts the needs of big business and bureaucracy above those of local residents. It also conflicts with the government’s localism agenda. The parish council had a very strong argument against the plan. Residents’ concerns were, and are, real. We must now work with the Highways department and developers to ensure the effect of this decision on the local community is minimised.

Residents condemn Highways department

Yesterday I chaired another meeting of the Roman Way Forum. As usualthere was a good turnout with a lively debate on a number of local issues and I am grateful to the local police and Testway Housing who sent representatives to answer residents questions. The main topic of debate was as on previous occasions the appaling state of local roads.

 Residents raised a number of recurring issues including

  • potholes (many of them dangerous) on Smannell Road, King Arthur’s Way and various parts of Roman Way
  • uneven paving stones and unsafe footpaths
  • overgrown trees
  • insufficient grit bins and inadequate snow and ice clearance in bad weather

Many of these issues have been raised a number of times over the past year and yet the Highways department appear unable to deal with them or even reply to residents who complain about them. Residents also complained that county councillors were indifferent to the problems. 

 Representatives of the Highways department and the local county councillor have been invited to these meetings but have not yet put in an appearance which adds to the feeling “they don’t live here and don’t care about us.” I will be passing all the comments I have received on and inviting those responsible for our local roads to come and explain what they can and can’t do at the next next meeting.

road improvements at enham arch

After many years of complaints work is finally starting on improvements to the Enham Arch roundabout. Works will be carried out by contractors appointed by Taylor Wimpey as part of the legal agreement agreed when permission was granted for the Augusta Park developments.

Work will be concentrated on the large Tesco roundabout throughout January and move onto Newbury Road, (south of the railway bridge) in February. The work to the roundabout will reduce the central island to form additional lanes and will be combined with traffic signals on all apporaches to the roundabout to control the traffic flow. This I am advised will solve the congestion problems in the area. We will have to wait and see.

The works to Newbury Road include widening and restricting traffic movements at the existing signals and are subject to a formal Traffic Order.  Also planned are changes to the Enham Arch estate (Homebase) to make the car park one way with access off Newbury Road and exit via a new road link to the Wickes development on the roundabout.

Also planned are changes to access to Tesco’s which will see two way traffic into the site from River Way and lights controlling traffic at the Churchill Way entrance.

In summary – avoid the Enham Arch roundabout and surrounding area until the end of February when hopefully we will have a road system which can cope with the traffic in the area.

flooding on smannell road (again)

With Liz Byrne at Smannell Road

Readers will no doubt remember I raised the problem of flooding on the footpath north from Smannell Road to Venice Court in February (see

 Since then I have been regularly chasing Hampshire County Council to get something done about it. Up till now they have failed to fix the problem and so the path still floods. At last I can report that thanks to officers from Test Valley Borough Council something is going to be done.

Work will start in January to raise the level of the path so residents can walk along it without wading through several  inches of muddy water.

New taxi ranks

Visitors to Andover town centre now have the benefit of two new taxi ranks, which have recently opened as part of the latest town centre enhancement work. They will provide much-needed additional taxi rank space.

The first rank, accommodating three taxis, will be in operation 24 hours a day in Waterloo Court. This is conveniently placed for customers coming from the Waitrose end of the Chantry Centre, the Guildhall or Tesco Metro.

The second rank, also for three taxis operating in the evenings only (8pm to 6am),  is on Bridge Street at the junction with the High Street. This is similar to the existing evening only rank at the junction of Bridge Street and Winchester Street.

I am pleased to see these have finally been opened as this is something I have been requesting for some years ever since the closure of the mini cab office in Waterloo Court. Given the poor level of bus services in the area adequate provision of facilities for taxis and mini cabs is essential.