Many residents have expressed shock about further library cuts made by Conservative-run Hampshire County Council: this time the axe has fallen on 29 mobile libraries across the County.
This is a bitter blow to the community. Mobile libraries are a lifeline to a lot of people living in rural areas, particularly elderly and disabled residents. I am particularly disappointed to see they have ignored local residents’ views and cut the library service to Enham Alamein.
The Conservatives have designated Andover library a key library but won’t increase opening hours to the target 50 hours for another two years.
Now museums may be under threat as well
Local people have been put on red alert after it emerged that Hampshire Conservatives have put all of the County’s Museums, Arts Centres and Cultural Services under threat of closure. Hampshire County Council plan to handover control of these vital services to a ‘Trust’, meaning local people no longer have a say on how they’re run, and putting them at risk of more funding cuts and even closure.
With winter on the way, Lib Dems have been pressing Hampshire County Council to make sure there is enough grit bins around our towns and villages.
In recent years Andover has been left without enough road rock salt leading to chaos on our roads and cancelled bus services because Hampshire County Council failed to get their act together and provide enough grit bins. In other areas, Councils provide free grit supplies for residents to use on their local paths, roads and pavements, making sure that everyone is well prepared for the cold weather.
With £300 million of taxpayers’ money in the bank, local residents are hoping that the Conservative-run County learn from other areas and at least provide grit for the bins they’ve already installed.
If you know of any public place that needs a grit bin please let your Lib Dem team know!
Local residents and businesses have been left in communication ‘blackout’, after major delays in broadband improvements for many areas in Hampshire. Residents in so-called broadband ‘notspots’ have told Hampshire Lib Dems that during the late afternoon and evening there is often no connection at all, making life very difficult. Children can’t do their homework- (which is increasingly online), elderly people find that they can’t
shop online (which is so useful when they can no longer use the car), and small businesses and charities cannot function properly without broadband.
Belinda Mitchell, National Volunteer Co-ordinator for Help for Heroes, has been badly affected by the the broadband shortfall. She finds it incredibly
frustrating because where she lives, there is often no service at all after 4.30pm. ‘
One bright spot is in Smannell and Little London where local campaigners, working with borough and county council officers, have made major improvements to services. As a member of the Smannell action group I want to see Hampshire County Council follow the example in Smannell and get on with improving the County’s broadband coverage.
The County Council were handed £8.4 million by the government to install new and faster Internet connections to prevent harder-to reach communities being left behind in the digital age. Yet a year later there are areas still suffering slow speeds and even blackouts. Residents and businesses are suffering because of these delays. Residents expect action from the County Council, and an end to broadband black outs!
Readers may have noticed recently a flurry of letters in the Andover Advertiser from Andover’s town councillors. One from Cllr Lynn bemoans local apathy. Another from Cllr Pond re-opens the debate on the future of the Guildhall. Both were worthy of a response so I replied as follows
“Councillor Veronika Pond is quite right in her letter regarding the Guildhall. Andover’s Guildhall is the town’s parish hall and should be used by, and for the benefit of, Andover residents. The restaurant on the lower floor is successful and a welcome addition to the town. But it did not need to be located there. Andover residents are entitled to a firm commitment from their councillors that the Guildhall, and in particular the upper floor, will remain available to the town and its people. It can and should be a focus for the local community.
But it is not enough just to provide a focus. Much has been said, most recently by Councillor Lynn, about apathy among residents. If he and his colleagues are serious about residents’ views they must listen to them. Too often on important local matters – the Guildhall, bandstand, war memorial, planning, highways, the sale of school fields and allotments – local views are often felt to be ignored. Indifference of one side feeds apathy on the other.
The solution lies with the town’s councillors at all levels. Listen to, and act on the views of residents. Councillors are trustees of the town and its facilities now and for future. They must remember they are elected representatives of the people on the council, not representatives of the council to the people.”
I look forward to their and more importantly everyone else’s response.
Many people will remember Hampshire County Council’s unnecessary and expensive “refurbishment” of their offices, complete with gold plated taps in their washrooms, at our expense. I am sorry to report that Tory county council leader Ken Thornber hasn’t learned.
Despite the public outcry and the need to cut their own spending rather than cutting our services they are at it again. I am indebted to colleagues across Hampshire who have highlighted the spending of £223,000 on a vanity TV channel watched by just 57 people.
The full story was published recently in the Daily Mail. I don’t think I need to add any more. You can read all about whats been dubbed Ken TV here.
Daily Mail and Andover Advertiser
Andover Older People’s Forum has a Question Time on Thursday 24th May. The meeting wil be chaired by Haydn Watkins of Andover and District Older People’s Forum and include speakers from Hampshire County Council, Hampshire NHS, Test Valley Borough Council and Age Concern.
Full details are given on the attached poster poster
The organisers would like questions submitted in advance using the attached form which should be sent to Test Valley Community Services.
During the debate over an Andover town council a number of people argued that it was an unecessary, costly extra layer of local government. Over the past year the new members of the town council have proved them wrong. These unpaid, local representatives of their communities are taking action to get things done while their overpaid counterparts on the borough and county council have continually failed to deliver.
A perfect example is the excellent work being done by Babrara Carpenter Lib Dem town councillor in Alamein ward who is doggedly campaigning for imrovements in her local area. In the last three months she has lobbied the county council highways and succeded in getting dropped kerbs for a disabled resident, repairs to the footbridge over Newbury Road and extra grit bins for areas missed out in last year’s distribution of bins. Andover Lib Dems getting things done for the community.
Repairs on Newbury Road bridge
Viking Way grit bin
Newbury Road bridge grit bin
It seem not a week goes by without the far left of the Labour Party appearing somewhere, waving banners and complaining about the cuts the government is making. In Andover its usually orchestrated by ex-communists and fellow travellers whose support is minimal or non-existant. Its good therefore to see that this week the leadership of the Labour Party is actually acknowledging that cuts are necessary (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16452539.)
I am therefore grateful to Ian Swales, MP for Recar for the following list of cuts they don’t tell you about. I reproduce in full his list and comments. Nothing more can be said.
• The CUT from £250,000 to £50,000 in the maximum annual pension contribution to receive tax relief – clawing back a staggering £4,000,000,000 (£4bn) that Labour was giving to the rich.
• The CUT in bank profits with a new tax raising £2.5 bn a year.
• The CUT in regional disparity through the £2.4 bn regional growth fund.
• The CUT in tax paid by ordinary people with the basic tax threshold raised to £8,105 by next April from £6,475 in 2010/11 – and no more 10p tax rate fiascos.
• The CUT in the 40% tax threshold meaning the better off pay more.
• The CUT in money that Labour allowed people to make in Capital Gains with the tax rate rising from 18% to 28%.
• The CUT in pensioner poverty with a triple lock guarantee of rises and the biggest ever cash rise coming in April 2012. No more 75p-per-week insults.
• The CUT in the gap between rich and poor through the VAT rise. Remember those who spend most pay most and the basic costs of living don’t have standard rate VAT.
• The CUT in benefit fraud with new resources being brought in.
• The CUT in tax evasion by the rich with £900m of extra resource.
• The CUT in education disadvantage for poorer children through the Pupil Premium.
• The CUT in the amount per month students will have to pay back after graduation and a higher threshold before they start paying anything.
Remember, Labour didn’t deliver these changes in their 13 years of government and voted AGAINST them in this government. Lib Dems in parliament are pushing a fairness agenda and showing that Labour can never again be trusted with the economy.
By the way, just for good measure we also CUT Tory plans to increase the Inheritance Tax threshold from £350,000 to £1,000,000!
I see from last week’s Andover Advertiser that Alamein councillor Phil North is “disappointed” by his leaders’ proposals to increase parking chargers in Andover.
It is not enough for him to express disappointment at plans to increase parking charges. The proposals threaten Andover’s already weak town centre and place an unnecessary burden on traders and shoppers.
The increase runs contrary to recommendations from a recent report to government highlighting the negative effect parking charges have on our town centres. For details follow this link
It exploits all those residents who, because of county council cuts to bus services, have no option but to drive to the shops. It shows a complete lack of financial planning by the council’s leadership and directly reverses a promise they made during this years elections.
Cllr North and his colleagues are not passive observers to this decision. They are part of the decision making process. He, and they, should honour their promise to the electorate and reject the proposed increases.
Test Valley Tory council will refuse government funding to improve bin collections. At a recent council meeting they rejected Lib Dem proposals to take advantage of part of the £250 million on offer to improve services. Funding could have paid for the additional weekly summer collections that residents desperately want. Andover St Mary’s councillor Katherine Bird said “This short sighted decision ignores local residents concerns and will do nothing to help recycling.”