Test Valley Tory leader Ian Carr has refused to allow borough councillors the right to debate and decide on the future of Farepass funding for hospital cars. “No, no. How many times to I have to say no” he said describing the scheme which pays for the elderly and infirm to travel to hospital as a “drain on resources.”
Successive Lib Dem councillors, led by Romsey mayor Mark Cooper, argued the policy which cuts funding for community car services to pay for free bus travel was flawed and should be debated and decided by full council but Carr refused to budge. The scheme will be reviewed by the council Scrutiny Committee during the coming year.
Test Valley Tories have refused to back the campaign for and Andover Town Council. Andover Lib Dems sought council approval for a petition on favour of the council arguing the decision should be made by the people of Andover not the borough council. (See news of 17 December for the full motion). “The petition and campaign should be non-political and if demand were proven the borough should fully support the campaign” we argued.
Lead by council leader Ian Carr successive Tories rubbished the campaign and denigrated its organisers. They claimed to have no opinion either way themselves but refused to accept that Andoverians could and should make the decision.
We offered the Tories the opportunity to take the debate out of the political arena and recognise the democratic rights of the people to make the decision. Sadly they were too arrogant to accept the offer.
At today’s borough council meeting the council approved the “core strategy” for future development in the borough. This will now be printed for public consultation.
No further housing development is recommended for Alamein ward. This was as expected because of the extra allocation made to East Anton in the current local plan. A further 600 houses are proposed for Picket Piece but I gained assurances from planners that development in that area would remain south of the railway line and not extend towards Finkley.
A local gap is recommended between Enham and Andover and at my request a similar gap will be recommended between Smannell and Andover. I could not however get approval for a continuous gap around the north east of Andover to protect Little London, Woodhouse and Finkley as well.
I have also gained assurances that broadband access for the East Anton MDA and the north east of Andover is to be improved. This will mean an improved service for residents of the parishes of Enham Alamein and Smannell.
In August Test Valley Borough Council removed the skate ramp from Smannell Road because it was badly damaged by vandals. In November Cllr Phil North reported on his website that “he had secured from the portfolio holder for leisure Cllr. Caroline Nokes a date for a temporary one to be installed. The new facility will be in place by the 21st November 2007.”
Residents are still waiting over a month later for the installation to take place. I can report that the temporary ramp will not be installed because it could not be moved from its current location. There are no plans at present to replace the ramp at Smannell Road. I will be pursuing this matter with TVBC Leisure Department.
Andover Lib Dem councillors have tabled a motion to Test Valley Borough Council supporting the Campaign for an Andover Town Council. The motion will be debated at the next council meeting in Crossfield Hall, Romsey on January 10th.
The full text of the motion is as follows:
“Council notes the current Campaign for an Andover Town Council, the non-political nature of the campaign and their plans to petition all the unparished area of Andover in favour of a town council.
Council regards such a campaign as good for local democracy in that it will increase public participation in, and increase public awareness of, the democratic process.
Council endorses the campaign’s aim to determine whether there is local demand for a town council and resolves, that if such a demand is proven, to fully support the establishment of a town council for Andover.”
The Campaign for an Andover Town Council will begin petitioning the unparished areas of Andover in January. I am pleased to be proposing this motion which congratulates the campaign committee for raising public awareness of local democracy and for their work in canvassing public opinion on the issue. For too long the residents of Andover have been denied the same level of representation as enjoyed by other residents of the borough. It is only right that they should be consulted on this and given the choice as to whether they want a town council to represent their views. The final decision must be made not by local political parties, nor Test Valley Borough Council but by the residents of Andover themselves.
Four by-elections, one for the Borough and three for Romsey Town Council were held yesterday. The net result is one Liberal Democrat GAIN, two Liberal Democrat HOLDs and one Conservative HOLD. The position on Borough Council is unchanged where Conservatives have a majority (33:15). On the Romsey Town Council Liberal Democrats now have a majority of three (9:6) Full results are as follows
1: Test Valley Borough Council; Cupernham Ward.
Karen Dunleavey (LD) 793 (59.7%. Last time (May 2007) 55.6%) ELECTED
C. Lewis (Con) 460 (34.6%. Last time (May 2007) 44.4%)
B. McCabe (UKIP) 73 ( 5.5%. Last time 0)
Turn out 33.5% LD Majority 333
Liberal Democrat hold. Liberal Democrats up by 4.1%. Conservatives DOWN 9.8%. The by-election followed the death of long serving Borough Councillor, Alan Marsh.
2: Romsey Town Council; Cupernham Ward. TWO SEATS within a five seat Ward.
Louise Broomfield (LD) 798 ELECTED
R Hargreaves (Con) 459
B Marsh (Con) 505
I Paxton (Lab) 53
Michael Wenman (LD) 747 ELECTED
LD Majority 293 and 242. Turn out 33.43% LD is up 2.9% and Cons are down 5.0% The by-elections were caused by death of long serving Town Councillor, Alan Marsh and resignation of recently elected Conservative.
3: Romsey Town Council. Abbey Ward. One seat within a five seat Ward.
I Richardson (Con) 794 (53.8%) up 1% ELECTED
Sandra Rispin (LD) 625 (42.3%) down 1%
Wyeth (Lab) 57 ( 3.9%) unchanged.
Once again Tory county education chief Cllr David Kirk has been forced to write a long detailed narrative on the workings (failings?) of his education department as furious parents and governors have condemned his plans to relocate Shepherd Spring juniors into the infant school. His excuses for the sudden decision to close Shepherd Spring junior school two terms early and force the children into alternative accommodation are just not good enough. The mishandling of the closure of both Shepherd Spring schools shows a department with no coherent plan and no thought for the welfare of the children attending these schools against the County’s “every child matters” policy. To add to the insult of closing the schools to meet financial targets whilst touting for a new school half a mile away we now have relocation to compensate for their total lack of planning.
His claim that the proposals are to save money merely re-enforces local opinion that his department is solely interested in asset stripping local schools to meet financial targets. Why else are they planning to build on the Shepherd Spring playing fields? Why else are they pressurising Shepherd Spring Preschool to relocate unless to sell their site for development? If he wants to save tax payers money should he be offering to open school premises so councillors can use them for free rather than pay to use the Guildhall? If he wants to convince local people he is consistent in saving their money should his department be making what could be seen as politically motivated grants to other schools?
Cllr. Kirk and his department have messed up. They and he should pay for it rather than inflicting more disruption on the children of the Shepherd Spring Schools.
New safety railings have been installed on the approaches to Newbury Road footbridge. The old wooden railings were rotten and dangerous. Hampshire Highways contractors immediately began work to replace them after the problem was reported to me and county councillor Robin Hughes by a concerned local resident. Action has also been taken to clear fly-tipped rubbish and curt back grass in the area.
The old railings posed a serious danger to residents particularly school children using the bridge. The broken railings and rubbish also gave a rundown appearance to area. I am pleased to see council officers acted promptly to resolve the problems.
Hampshire Highways have resurfaced parts of Hadrian Road after residents complained to me of badly repaired potholes. I raised the issue with Hampshire Highways who quickly dealt with the problem. Cosmetic repairs are not good enough, residents pay for and expect good quality road repairs.
The 101 Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership is very disappointed about the decision by the Home Office not to further fund the 101 service, in particular the decision to only give three months notice from today’s date.
Because of the decision by the Home Office to withdraw financial support, it is unlikely that Hampshire Constabulary and local authorities will be able to continue the service in its current form beyond February 2008. However, all 101 call handling staff will remain employees of Hampshire Constabulary beyond February 2008 and will be absorbed into other areas of the call handling operation.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Readhead said: “101 has been a catalyst for more efficient working arrangements between Hampshire and Isle of Wight partners. There are a number of processes which will continue beyond the 101 project; these include more effective staff training, improved customer service, and efficient communication between Hampshire Constabulary and the fifteen local authorities.”
Roger Tetstall, Chief Executive of Test Valley Borough Council, added: “101 provides a real opportunity to improve services to the public by developing joint working between local authorities and the police. I am disappointed that the project has been prematurely brought to an end in this way.”
The 101 service has greatly supported partnership working between local authorities and the police as well as the work of the community safety partnerships by providing valuable intelligence to all agencies.
It continuously achieved high levels of customer satisfaction with more than 90 per cent of callers being satisfied or very satisfied with the service they have received, and 96 per cent saying that they would use the service again and recommend it to friends and family. Research suggests that, over time, 101 may have increased public confidence in the ability of the police and local authorities.
I share the disappointment of both police and council officers in this withdrawal of funding. and am supporting the Liberal Democrat campagn to extend rather than curtail the service and have signed the national petition supporting this. You can sign the petition at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/back101/