Friday, 5 May 2017

Council threat to landmark tree

A mature oak tree at the entrance to Greta Park is under threat. A report commissioned by the Town Council identified problems with an unspecified fungal disease, and the Recreation and Amenities Committee are seriously considering felling the tree rather than attempting to save it.

The minutes of the April meeting state:
"The report describes extensive decay from three fungal fruiting bodies, lack of bark growth and a rib of reactive growth which is present from ground level to the main union. This is indicative of the tree responding to a possible structural weakness within the stem. The survey of the tree also has evidence indicating that a cavity or area of tissues with little or no structural integrity (sic). There is one stem that has died and has been cut back and this may be linked to the rib and cavity previously mentioned."

The options offered are to reduce the size of the crown, to investigate the disease more closely, or to fell the tree completely. The minutes go on to give the impression that the Council has already decided that felling it completely is the preferable option: "Even if the tree is retained it is likely to need a lot of work to enable this and even then this may not be a long term solution due to the significance of the decay fungi and the characteristic of the wood."

As the Council does not seem to know exactly what the disease is, how fast it is likely to develop or how long it will be (if ever) before the tree becomes a genuine threat to people's safety, surely further investigations and at least a second opinion are in order? The report talks of "possible structural weakness" and a "cavity" with no indication how large the cavity is. This is weak evidence on which to deprive future generations of a much-loved mature tree.

The ruling Lib Dems have ordered the town clerk to obtain quotations for felling the tree along with the other options, and these will be presented to the next committee meeting in the 2000 Centre on Wednesday 10 May at 7pm. The Council welcomes public participation at its meetings.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Frog spawn in Hedge End

We spotted frogspawn in two of Hedge End's ponds today.

According to the Freshwater Habitats Trust, frogs and other amphibians are among the wildlife at risk from a perfect storm of climate change, our continuing reliance on burning fossil fuels, poor planning and land management, and now - even - leaving the EU.

Looking at the state of some of Hedge End's ponds, it is not clear that our Lib Dem and Tory councils put much priority on maintaining our freshwater habitats. Let us hope that the much delayed local plan the Lib Dems promise for later this year will have some protection for those green spaces that remain, and is not just a blueprint for more housing and out of town shopping malls.

Meanwhile, if you see frogspawn in your garden or in one of Hedge End's parks or other open spaces, you can record it in the Freshwater Habitats Trust national survey.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Fit for the job!

When Hedge End councillor and leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Keith House, posted this bit of harmless self publicity on his twitter feed I was reminded of The Brittas Empire comedy series starring the excellent Chris Barrie.


Although you can't always trust the images our local Lib Dems use in their literature. Another senior Hedge End councillor seemed to be having a go at her leader on Facebook....

It would seem the Lib Dems are quite happy to encourage us to get on our bikes as long as they can drive their cars to photo-shoots!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

HEWEB councillors back from the holidays

There was a short meeting of the Hedge End West End and Botley Local Area Committee this week. I say it was short because members of the public had to leave after only 20 minutes to enable the meeting to continue in secret. I suppose it could have gone on for three hours after we left. Who knows?

I suspect it will have been shorter than that, because none of the ten Lib Dems present showed much appetite for debate during the public part of the meeting. The agenda had no controversial planning decisions, just deciding road names for areas of new development in West End and Boorley Green, and agreeing to spend just over £100,000 of public money, all of which were passed unanimously with no debate. The chair of the committee even had trouble at times finding a member interested enough to formally propose and second the motions.

Councillors agreed to spend
  • £12,000 towards the new children's playground in Greta Park, Hedge End
  • £3,000 to design a new entrance to Itchen Valley Country Park, West End
  • £13,000 to improve footpaths in Grange Park, Hedge End
  • £30,000 for West End's new "superloo"
  • £10,000 for a survey of the dilapidated Hedge End Youth and Community Association building
  • £55,000 for works on the roof of the Wildern Leisure Centre swimming pool

In other news it was announced that
  • A working group has been set up to progress the community aspects of the Boorley Green development (first meeting 19 September).
  • The Council is working with the train operators to improve the shelters at Hedge End station.
  • Itchen Valley Country Park has been awarded a seventh green flag award.
  • The Ageas Bowl liaison panel will meet on 10 November to review the season and the Rod Stewart concert (this is a public meeting).
  • Funding of £100,000 from developers' contributions has been agreed for two play areas in West End.
  • Various works have been undertaken in response to requests from residents and councillors.
  • It will soon be time for community organisations to apply for 2017 grants.

In the public participation section of the meeting a person from Hedge End raised concerns about antisocial parking in older streets in Hedge End. Councillors acknowledged the problem but did not have any ideas what to do about it apart from more yellow lines.

The same person asked about the new charges for certain types of waste at the household waste recycling centres. Eastleigh Lib Dems were opposed to the charges imposed by Hampshire Conservatives. They were concerned that additional costs to dispose of waste properly would increase the risk of fly tipping. What they did not mention was that exactly the same problem arises from Eastleigh Lib Dems' charges to collect garden waste. Embarrassingly this pile of grass cuttings and other clippings has been dumped next a cycle path in the council leader's own ward.

Garden waste fly tipping near Turnpike Way playing field

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Lib Dems put up the cost of Christmas

Hedge End Lib Dems want a massive 50% hike in the Christmas lights budget. Browsing the minutes of this month's Town Council committee meetings, I discovered a recommendation to increase the annual budget for the lights themselves and the entertainment at the "turn on" event from £10,000 to £15,000.

The increase follows a £300 bill to replace defective lights. The Community and Culture Committee were told "there was very little left in the budget to be able to replace these items at present." However the Lib Dem members, including Borough Council leader Cllr Keith House, "felt that the above should be replaced and that extra monies should be found if need be."

It is nice that at a time of national austerity the Lib Dems can conjure up £5,000 when they feel they need it, but where is the money going to come from?

Other items agreed by the Town Council this month include:

Plans to have a plaque to commemorate Mohammed Ali's visit to the village in 1971
Support for a local school's gardening club
To count the number of people using the public toilets on Mondays and Thursdays
To pilot a maximum two hour stay in Council car parks
To object to changed plans for housing on the derelict dairy site in Hobb Lane.

The minutes of all meetings are published on the Council's web site:


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Day 28 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

It looks like our local magpies have turned our garden bug hotel into a bird breakfast buffet. Here's what it looked like on 13 June:

Monday, 27 June 2016

Day 27 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

I seem to have missed quite a few days of blogging about 30 days wild in Hedge End and now find myself almost at the end of the month. I have tried to keep up with a random act of wildness each day but somehow have not found the time to write about them.

We have had a lot of bees and hoverflies, and a few damselflies in the garden. I have been a lot more aware of the wild flowers growing in Hedge End's verges. There were rabbits and mute swans on the new golf course at the cricket ground. Yesterday we had a sparrow hawk fly through the garden and a neighbour reported seeing a red kite above our houses. The sparrow hawk is not unusual, but the red kite is a bit more exciting.

Today we went a bit further afield and drove to Hengistbury Head in Dorset. We walked round the nature reserve and along Mudeford spit. Jack had a swim, we felt refreshed and we saw this lovely cinnabar moth on ragwort.
Beach huts at Mudeford Spit
Jack going for his swim