Shuttle bus to Winchester Hospital


A new shuttle bus service will be commencing in June for patients needing to get to Winchester Hospital from the Andover area. A pre-bookable shuttle bus (fully accessible and with capacity for 2 wheel chairs) will run four return journeys direct to the hospital. The bus will start from Andover hospital, stopping to collect patients from Andover Bus Station and Stockbridge (at Trafalgar Close, if pre-booked). The journeys will be free for this service. The scheme is being promoted by the Winchester & Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust and is supported by Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. Leaflets publicising the new service can be collected from GP’s surgeries, the library, the Council offices, the hospital and downloaded from the Council’s web pages.

I am pleased to see this service finally coming in to operation after many months, if not years of campaigning by Andover councillors in pareticular St Mary’s councillor Rod Bailey. Well done Rod for working as always for the residents of Andover.  

Free gifts?

I have recently received a letter adressed to “Mr and Mrs (no surname) at my home address inside was a small note congratulating me and saying I had received a free gift. All I needed to do was phone a number and quote the hand written code on the note.

Rather than phone the number I checked out the sender on Google and found a whole load of cautionary blogs. Check yourself for “Matters Consulting Ltd Survey UK”

 Best advice comes from the Trading Standards as posted on 

I have received an enquiry from a NHW member who has received an email from a Company called Matters Consulting Ltd, t/a Survey UK of Cheltenham, The email informs them that they are entitled to a gift donated by a local business (no name given). They quote a gift confirmation number which can either be telephoned through or by logging onto their website.Trading Standards have confirmed they have heard of this Company – they are trying to get people to join a gym by giving a free gift of a manicure or pedicure and supposedly cheaper membership to the Gym Club.”

I have thrown the letter in the bin (recycling of course) and advise all residents to do the same.

Andover Sound goes Live

The airwaves over North West Hampshire burst into life for the very first time this week as the areas new radio station ‘Andover Sound’ started to broadcast test transmissions on 106.4fm

Anyone who now tunes into the frequency will hear the broadcasts.  They feature a mix of the type of music the station will play and information about its full launch on Bank Holiday Monday, May 26th. The first record played was “1973” by James Blunt, who grew up in St Mary Bourne.  Ian Axton, the Managing Director of Andover Sound, said “To finally hear 106.4fm come to life was a fantastic moment.  People have been campaigning for the station for years, and our team have been working round the clock in the past few months to get it on air.  These test transmissions are a major step towards our full launch at 9am on May 26th”. 

You can tune in by selecting 106.4 FM, or by listening online at

Having visited the studios and met staff myself I can recommend the new station which I am sure will be a success and prove to be an asset to both Andover and the surrounding villages.

Amazing Alamein

A new environment group has recently established it self in the Alamein Ward and what a difference it has made already!! Set up by local residents, the group will be tackling various environmental projects throughout the ward, ranging from planting flowerbeds, assisting with conservation at Anton Lakes, encouraging recycling, a source of information for the community and much more more.

One project has been completed to date; using plants donated to the group by Blakes Nursery on Saturday 19 April at Atholl Court, King Arthurs Way. Local residents were asked to choose a plant, which was then planted by member of the environment group. A once dull and neglected bed flowerbed has now been transformed bringing much colour to the area. Chris Lawton, Church Army Family Worker, commented “it really does brighten up the area and I’ve received many positive comments about it.” Chris provides outreach sessions at the Askalot Community Shop.

If you would like to get involved, the next meeting is being held on May18 at 6pm at King Arthur’s Hall, or for more information please call John Cockaday on 01264 334562.

 Story supplied by Marianne Piggin, Community Support Officer, Test Valley Borough Council

Tories reject scrutiny of changes to constitution

At last Wednesday’s council meeting final approval was given to Cllr Carr’s proposals to establish a single party executive in Test Valley (see blog of March 16th). The Liberal Democrat posirtion was that we would accept the changes provided there was adequate scrutiny of this change and future executive decisions. To this end Cllr Rod Bailey and I tabled an ammendment to the Tory proposals – “In amending the constitution this council acknowledges that the close scrutiny of the Council’s decision making processes is in the public interest and is essential in a healthy democracy. Council therefore instructs the Overview and Scrutiny committee, at its next meeting, to consider the impact of these proposals on the scrutiny and other committees of the council and report back, with recommendations, as appropriate.”

In an hour long debate successive LibDem councillors argued ther case for a more open, democratic and cross party approach to decsion making. The Tories missed the point and stuck to the party line that they could change the executive so they would and that consultation with the opposition and the public was unecessary.

In summarising the ammendment I argued ” the proposals have been ill-researched and are inappropriate unless we undertake extra research and consider the knock on effects for other committees. This is why I believe it essential that we add this amendment so that scrutiny can consider the effects and come back urgently with it’s response to them. The next Scrutiny meeting is the ideal time as the agenda at present is light and the major item is consideration of a report from the audit panel that a separate audit committee be established. It would seem appropriate therefore if scrutiny considered this matter at the same time as both proposals impinge directly on the current working of scrutiny and on its future effectiveness. Finally I would remind members that these proposals approved or otherwise are the ideas of the leader only and not of the council or the public as a whole and as a member of scrutiny and leader of the opposition group I intend to ensure democratic accountability is maintained. As for the future I will happily consider members of the conservative group in my executive in 2011. That is, of course assuming there are any conservatives still on the council at that time.”

Memorial trees in Enham Alamein

Memorial trees in Enham

A number of residents have contacted me regarding the plans to move or remove the memorial trees from the open space at the north end of the village.
I know that these have been an issue with residents since the Trust announced its plans to redevelop the village last year. Many of you contacted me then and on your behalf I asked the borough’s tree officer last May to undertake a tree survey in the parish to identify trees which might benefit from tree preservation orders
That survey is now complete and some (but not all) of the memorial trees are worthy of such an order. The tree officer has told me his department’s work is now complete and a report will be issued soon. Those trees which can be protected will be. Unfortunately it will not be possible to protect all of the trees. It is also impossible to use tree preservation orders (TPOs) to prevent development in the area if the land owners so wish. All the TPOs will do is to ensure that any development is carried out in a manner to protect the trees.
It may be possible to relocate some of the other trees elsewhere and we are advising the Trust to do so if possible. The fact that the Trust’s notices refer to removal or moving the trees does suggest they are amenable to preserving these trees where there is a public demand for it.
The notices ask for interested parties to contact the Trust to ensure the trees are protected. I would strongly recommend that anyone who has an interest in these trees contacts the Trust either directly or through the parish council to make their views known. In the meantime I and your other borough councillors will monitor both the tree situation and pending planning applications to ensure that any developments are carried out in the best interests of the whole community.

Please contact me if you have any further queries regarding this.

Council to debate selection of mayor

Test Valley councillors are to debate the procedure for selecting the borough mayor. I and councillor Rod Bailey (an ex mayor of Test Valley) have tabled a motion for next weeks council meeting calling for a review of the current arrangements.

The text of the motion is that “Council affirms that the role of Mayor as first citizen of the Borough is a non-political post and that in electing the Mayor it will seek to select the best candidate for the post. Council further notes that, unlike many other authorities, Test Valley does not have an agreed procedure for nomination of candidates for the post of Mayor. Council therefore calls upon the Executive to investigate procedures for nomination and election of Mayor with a view to introducing a formal procedure for the Mayoral election of 2009.”

The motion is not about the quality of mayors past, present or to come nor does it suggest the current procedures are unsatisfactory. It merely notes that unlike many other local authorities we do not have an established procedure. At a time when politicians locally and nationally are held in low esteem it is essential that our procedures and decisions are seen to be open, transparent and accountable. I hope the proposal will be accepted by the full council.

Test Valley procedure is that candidates are “chosen” at a private, informal meeting and then elected at the council’s annual general meeting in May. Other procedures include Basingstoke and Deane where candidates for election are selected on seniority and Eastleigh where a points system is used to ensure political proportionality. All of the last ten mayors of Test Valley have been from the majority Conservative group.

Borough to decide on town council bid

As expected the government has devolved the final decision on whether an area can have a town or parish council to borough councils. Quoted in the Andover Advertiser, Stephen Lugg, Director of the Hampshire Associaiton of Local Councils condemned the move as “disastrous”. Mr Lugg argued that the county council should make the decision because the borough council is using evidence from ten years ago, based on a small selection of people that they selected, to say that Andover does not want a town council.

 Borough council leader Ian Carr continues to argue that borough councillors are in a better position to know about the “real feeling” of the town and also makes the unsubstatiated claim that a town council would cost more.

My own experience is that the voters of Andover are quite capable of making up their own minds as to whether they want a town council and do not need borough councillors from outside the town to make that decision for them. The case that town and parish councils are more expensive is not proven. In fact parishes adjacent to Andover have a lower council tax precept that the Andover levy which Cllr Carr charges Andoverians for the services he thinks a town council would supply.

I share Mr Lugg’s concern that the case for a town council may not get a fair hearing from the borough but would like to re-assure him that Test Valley’s Liberal Democrats are fimly commited to establishing a town council for Andover and look forward to the completion of the town council petition which will prove beyond doubt that the people of Andover want the same democratic rights as every other ciitzen of Test Valley.

101 phone line saved

Hamshire County Council has joined a group of local authorities who have agreed to save the non-emergency 101 phone line. The possible scrapping of this service was highlighted by Test Valley Liberal Democrats last year (see December 2007 blog on this site). The county will provide £27,000 to help develop the service which is being absorbed into Hampshire Constabulary’s call handling operations.

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 380,000 calls have been made to the number since May 2006. I am pleased to see the county council has responded to public concerns over the loss of this service and has listened to the Lib Dem county and borough councillors championing the retention of the service.

On rats and bins and other things

Fly tipping  and overfilled bin on King Arthur’s Way                                   

A letter to the Andover Advertiser 18 April 2008

Mr Pain’s letter (11April) raised some very valid points about rubbish and the knock on effect of overflowing bins on the local environment. It is an over simplification to blame bird feeders for the increase in rat population. The rat population is increasing and it is regrettable that Test Valley Borough Council has not allowed sufficient funding to be able to continue to give a universal rat catching service. Mild winters, as a result of global warming, will lead to an increase in the rat population and we (TVBC and residents) must be prepared to take appropriate steps to deal with this. I have raised a number of these issues with council officers and will continue to push for the best service practicable to ensure rubbish is collected and rats are controlled. In the meantime I would urge residents and local businesses to ensure all bins are not overfilled and emptied regularly. If anyone needs advice or help they can get it from
Test Valley’s customer services on 01264 368000.

With reference to the particular problem area Mr Pain highlighted council officers have contacted local shop keepers asking that bins are emptied regularly and not allowed to overflow. Residents may also be interested to know that an Environmental group is currently being set up in Alamein ward to monitor and deal with just the sort of matters raised in Mr Pain’s letter. The next meeting will be held at King Arthur’s Hall on 29 April at 7:00pm.

Mr Pain’s letter can be found on the Andover Advertiser website at