Developer Funding for Local Projects

Test Valley Borough Council executive have agreed to a procedure to allow easier access to section 106 developers funding for local organisations. Funding, which is agreed with developers when planning permission is given, is of three types (1) funding for roads and schools which is administered by Hampshire County Council, (2) funding for leisure and local services administered by Test Valley Borough Council and (3) additional funds for local projects. The new rules will make it easier for parish councils and other bodies to apply for this third category of funds.
Speaking at the executive meeting St Mary’s councillor Rod Bailey argued that funding from the Andover MDAs should be ring fenced for projects in Andover only. “My main concerns are that the Andover infrastructure needs improving” he said. “The housing estates, the Bus Station and the ageing Leisure Centre all need funding. We are also in desperate need of funds to re-generate the Walworth Industrial Estate. We need to be assured that before any funds are siphoned off elsewhere the needs of Andoverand its people are catered for and should any funds be required for other areas of Test Valley then Andover councillors must be consulted.”

Planning officers confirmed that funding from the Andover MDAs will be used only in the Andover area and that money for local projects will be allocated by the Planning department after consultation with relevant executive members and local ward members.
I am pleased to see this funding being released. In most cases applications will be made and administered by parish councils. However in Andover, as we have no town council, it is essential that local groups are not disadvantaged and do not loose out. I therefore urge all groups who feel they could benefit from this funding to contact either me or Rod to ensure this money is spent where it is needed in Andover.

Hold them to account

iraqposter.jpg

The Liberal Democrats have today launched a new website – http://www.holdthemtoaccount.com – where you can find out if your MP supported the Iraq War and give some ideas for holding them to account.

The Conservatives are now calling for an inquiry into the war, but in 2003 they were even bigger cheerleaders for the invasion than Labour

While all Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the war, the vast majority of Labour and Conservative MPs voted for it. It’s time Labour and the Conservatives apologised and well past the time for the Government to announce a plan to withdraw our troops.

We can confirm that Tory MP for North West Hants Sir George Young MP voted for the war in Iraq.

New national bus passes

From today  the new national bus pass scheme comes in to effect and Test Valley Borough Council have issued the following press release

“While current Farepass holders can continue to use their passes until the end of April, Test Valley Borough Council has already issued more than 11,000 of its anticipated 12,800 new passes, which should have arrived this week. All remaining passes are expected to be delivered before the end of the month.”
“The new pass entitles everyone to free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England. Off peak travel means between 9.30am and 11pm on Monday to Friday and at any time on Saturday, Sunday or on a Bank Holiday. For journeys starting in Test Valley this has been extended so that the new pass can be used at any time, although travellers should be aware that not all authorities will offer this option and it may not apply to journeys starting outside
Test Valley.”
“The new pass will continue to be valid for Cango and Dial-a-ride services, but not for journeys with community car schemes. Instead community car schemes will be eligible to apply for a grant from the Council. It will be for each car scheme to decide if they will take part in the grant scheme and how they will use any grant. For example, some groups may allow certain types of journey for free, some may offer a discount to Farepass holders or may decide on other arrangements.”

Additional funding has been made available for community car schemes after pressure from borough councillors. The funding available is calculated based on the number of pensioners in the catchment area of the car scheme. The final figure for funding in Andover is still to be agreed.

If you have any queries on the scheme please contact me.

Alamein Environmental Group

Alamein Community Association is working to make the Alamein Ward an even nicer place to live. Are you interested in your local environment? Would you like to help take action to make it even better?

Come and find out more at King Arthur’s Hall on 10th April 2008 at 5:30pm. Refreshments will be available. Representatives of Test Valley, Testway Housing and Hampshire County Council will be there.
Following this the next step will be a chance to get together and talk about what types of environmental issues you would like to tackle. This will be at King Arthur’s Hall on 29th April at
7.00pm.

All residents are welcome at either or both events. For more information please contact

Alison Angell, Community Support, Hampshire County Council
email – [email protected],  phone -07736 792686
Marianne Piggin, Community Support, Test Valley Borough Council                  
email – [email protected],  phone – 07899 664209

Lib Dems launch Forces website

Nick Harvey MP

The Liberal Democrats have launched a new website providing an online forum to highlight the work of the Liberal Democrats Defence Team lead by Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Secretary.With increasing demands made of our Armed Forces and with continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Manifesto pledge has never been more pertinent: we should look after our Armed Forces so they can look after us. Since this pledge we have repeatedly championed the concerns of the Armed Forces and remain distinct on defence. We opposed the unnecessary and costly war in Iraq, we have campaigned across the country for adequate recognition for personnel and for the rights for Gurkhas and we are the only party to have put forward our priorities for Forces welfare.


Nick Harvey says “I want us to continue in this vein and ensure defence remains at the top of the agenda. It is for this reason that the Defence Team has launched this new website. We believe there should be a forum for us to discuss and debate how our liberal values should shape the defence agenda in light of the changing strategic landscape and international concerns, and highlight the work we, as a party, are doing on the whole gamut of defence issues; including disarmament, procurement, and welfare. It will also offer readers the chance to keep up to date with the work of the Team in both Houses. Please feel free to have a look and leave comments on the site.”
Click here to go to the website http://blogs.libdems.org.uk/forcesfocus/

Public concern over changes to Test Valley executive

Recent reports on Cllr Ian Carr’s proposal to change the composition of the borough council executive have provoked an angry response from the electorate.I and many other councillors have since been contacted by residents, of all political allegiances, opposed not only to the plans but also to the way in which they have been brought forward.

His plan is to remove minority party councillors from the executive “to ensure council decision making is more business-like and transparent.” Decisions will in future be taken by his supporters only. Whatever happened to debate and consensus? He claims he wishes to avoid confrontational meetings. His solution to this appears to be to do away with anyone who disagrees with him. In reality council meetings are business-like until one side seeks to impose its will on the other. The proposals and the way they are presented are a recipe for confrontation.

If this change is needed why did he not propose the change sometime in his last nine years in power? He supposedly has been considering the changes since last year but hasn’t seen the need to consult outside his own group of supporters. He also failed to consult or even advise the electorate who he asked to re-elect him in May 2007. As there was no mention of this major change in the way TVBC is run at the May elections he has no mandate to change the council’s constitution.

He has argued that the change is allowed within the constitution and does not need public consultation. It may be within the letter of the rules. It certainly isn’t within the spirit of those rules. His decision to bring the proposals to council without adequate consultation is unacceptable.

There may be some merit in his proposals but only as part of a review of all aspects of the council’s decision making. We all, as councillors, have an obligation to consult the electorate and govern Test Valley in their best interest. Cllr Carr appears to have forgotten this. Residents can be assured I will remind him of this when the proposals are debated at full council.

Consultation on alcohol free zones

Test Valley Borough Council is proposing introducing alcohol free zones across several of the wards of the borough. The Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) gives the Police and other accredited persons, such as Neighbourhood Wardens, the power to confiscate alcohol from anyone found to be behaving in an anti-social way whilst drinking. The extended order would not prevent consumption of alcohol but would make it an offence to continue to do so after being told to stop by a police officer, and could result in a court appearance and a £500 fine. The council is now giving residents the chance to comment on the proposals. Responses to the consultation should be sent in writing to David Smith, Housing and Community Services,Test Valley Borough Council, Beech Hurst, Andover SP10 3AJ before the 18 April 2008.

Test Valley Liberal Democrats fully support the new alcohol free zones. The initiative was first proposed by Valley Park councillor Alan Dowden in June 2007 when he submitted a motion to council calling for action to combat anti-social behaviour. Speaking at the time Cllr Dowden called for the introduction of alcohol-free areas in Test Valley. “Antisocial behaviour is one of the biggest issues with the public and a lot of it is down to alcohol. The problem is borough-wide. Alcohol-free zones will act as a deterrent, but the police will need to enforce them. The cost to the borough in criminal damage was way over £100,000 last year. The public is demanding something is done about it,” he said.
He was supported by Romsey mayor Mark Cooper who called for measures to stop young people getting hold of drink saying that “The supermarket sale of alcohol is placing large volumes of relatively cheap alcohol into the hands of immature individuals. I would favour a borough-wide ban of alcohol in public places.”

The proposal to introduce the ban in all urban areas of the borough was ratified by full council in October 2007 but needed Home Office approval before its introduction.

I welcome the public consultation. At last we are seeing some action on a problem which is of major concern to all residents. The relaxation of licensing laws has lead to an increase in drinking and drink-fuelled vandalism in public places which residents find offensive and unacceptable. We must give the police and other agencies the powers to combat this. I hope appropriate action will also be taken against those shops irresponsibly selling alcohol.
I am sure the public will give their overwhelming support to the new proposals and the police will use these new powers sparingly but effectively to reclaim our streets and parks from the minority who are spoiling them.

Liberal Democrat councillors will be monitoring the levels of anti-social behaviour in their wards and looking to review the effectiveness of the ban next year.

New Weblog for Enham Alamein

Following the success of the Smannell Lib Dem weblog Alamein Liberal Democrats have launched a similar service for the parish of Enham Alamein.

The blog will be used to report to residents news from their local councillors  at Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. It will also give parish residents the opportunity to comment on matters of local interest. The blog can be found at  http://enhamlibdems.blogspot.com.

Action on Smannell and Enham buses

With Nigel at the bus stop in Little London

I am happy to join Smannell Lib Dem campaigner and transport consultant Nigel Gooding in launching a campaign to provide a greener, safer, reliable bus service to Andover Railway Station from Smannell, Little London and Enham Alamein.Nigel, who was responsible for establishing the award winning National Rail Enquiry Service, has undertaken a survey of public transport in the villages of Smannell, Little London and Enham. His findings found that despite daytime CANGO Hampshire County Council time services to Andover, no bus service actually went to Andover Railway Station. As a result residents of the 2 parishes were left with no alternative to use their motor cars and fight for a parking space at the under pressure Andover station car park. We have passed the details of their findings to Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Smannell and Enham Parish Councils Robin Hughes who said today. “It makes economic and environmental sense that Smannell and Enham to have the same opportunities as other parishes in terms of the provision of a commuter CANGO bus service linking road and rail at Andover Station.

For full details see the Smannell Lib Dem blog at  http://smannelllibdems.blogspot.com

East Anton tree planting delayed

Local residents hoping to see the start of planting and landscaping of the East Anton MDA this spring have been told nothing will now happen until November 2008.

The landscaping will be in two parts, both areas will be planted with native species:

1)       A woodland landscape feature 25m deep along Dark Lane and a similar feature 25m – 40m deep between the proposed playing fields and Woodhouse/Smannell. Work will start once plans have been approved and must be finished within the planting season after the first house is built on the MDA.

2)       A 20m corridor from the playing fields south to the Smannell Road/Finkley Road junction will start at the same time and be completed prior to the building of the 700th house on the MDA. 

I share residents’ disappointment in the delay and will be monitoring progress to ensure as much planting as possible is finished by spring 2009.