Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Question of Independence

I have been asked this question:  What happens if you are successful?  Do you intend to stay independent and serve your full term as an independent, or might you be tempted to rejoin the Lib Dems or some other party?

It's a fair question and the first part is easy to answer.  If elected as an independent I will serve my full term as an independent.  That's a point of principle for me.

I can't see me being tempted to rejoin the Lib Dems in the next four years in any case.  If there was any real likelihood that the party would come to its senses before the next general election I might have been persuaded to stay in the party.  As it is I just can't see how after five years of shacking up with the Conservatives and bad mouthing Labour they will be able to credibly claim a position of equidistance between the two big parties.

None of the other national parties is a particularly attractive proposition, but there is a group of independents on the Borough Council who have formed themselves into the Independent Party of Eastleigh Councillors.  If I am returned with a mandate as an independent, it might make sense to join them.  Places on Borough Council committees are distributed according to the size of the parties.  A lone independent has no status under the principle of proportionality, but a group of independents - even a small group - has a chance of getting one or two of its members onto some of these committees.

Public Service Announcement - Waste and Recycling Collections ...

... in Hedge End during the next two weeks.   Collections will be as normal on Good Friday.  There will be no collections on Easter Monday, and collections will be one day later than normal for the rest of the week - including Friday 29th and Saturday 30th.  There will then be no collections on Bank Holiday Monday, with collections one day later again for the rest of the week, including a Saturday collection.

See how I did that without mentioning the royal nuptials? 


Full details are on

Monday, 18 April 2011

Where Have All the Lib Dems Gone....?

Very poor attendance by local Lib Dem councillors at the last full council meeting before the elections.  Apart from the Leader of the Council, and Councillor June Hughes, who was attending her last council meeting, there were no Hedge End Lib Dems.  None of the four West End councillors was there, and only one of the two Botley councillors turned up.

If some pre-election virus has struck them down, then it seems that Chandlers Ford members are immune, as all four of their Lib Dems were there, and three of the five Eastleigh Town Lib Dems found their way to the council chamber.

Other areas of the borough suffered as badly as Hedge End and West End: only one out of four Bishopstoke councillors; none at all from Bursledon; one out of three from Fair Oak, none from Hamble, and one of the two Netley Abbey members was there.

I make that a total of 22 out of 35 Lib Dem members who had something better to do on Monday evening than turn up for a full council meeting.

Although only one cabinet member was missing, none of those present gave a statement on their portfolio area, despite "cabinet statements" being item 6 on the agenda.

The leader of the Conservative group pointedly asked questions of two committee chairs who were not there.  It's a shame that the Lib Dems couldn't show more respect for the mayor, who was presiding over his last full council meeting, for the two retiring councillors who are not contesting their seats, for the senior officers who have to attend, and for the people who elected them.

Councillor June Hughes was first elected for Hedge End in 1996, and has served for all but two of the years since then.   Even if most of her Lib Dem colleagues missed her final meeting, that is a record of service that deserves some recognition.

Less than a week to go ...

St George's Day is Saturday.  Celebrate it in Hedge End at the new Berry Theatre with a performance by internationally acclaimed comedian / musicians the New Rope String Band.

New Rope String Band recorded at Rennes

Box Office is 01489 799499 or book tickets online.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast….

Not 59th Street, but Upper Northam Road, where there is a longstanding concern about the speed of traffic coming off the motorway and down the hill into the village..

Something is at last going to be done about it apart from random police radar checks.
The 30mph zone is going to be extended to a point north of the junction with Turnpike Way, slowing traffic down at that junction and at the entrances to the golf range and KCC building.

It will also be more visible to traffic coming down from the motorway junction with a new gateway feature on the straight part of the road instead of a 30mph sign half hidden round the bend into the village.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Town Council Meetings This Week

Recreation and Amenities Committee meets on Wednesday.  Agenda items include allotments, proposals for a village feature, refurbishment of Greta Park sports pavilion, tenders for skateboard extension at Woodhouse Lane and replacement half-pipe in Greta Park, problems with motorcylclists using Turnpike Way recreation ground as a short cut between Turnpike Way and Thistle Road, access through Stubbs Drove and dog control measures at Dowd's Farm Urban Park.

Finance and Administration Committee meets on Thursday.  Agenda items include provision of youth services in Hedge End in the light of county council cuts and a service level agreement between Hedge End Town Council and Eastleigh Borough Council with respect to the management of the Berry Theatre.

If you have strong views on any of these items you can come along to the meetings and participate in the debates.  Both meetings start at 7:00pm at the 2000 Centre.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Best job in the world?

How would you like to drive a bulldozer to lift up a few cubic metres of bottles in your front loader and drop them so they smash?

I expect in reality the novelty wears off very quickly, but it looked fun to us when a small group of borough councillors visited the Waste Transfer Station at Otterbourne as part of our review of Eastleigh’s glass recycling service. 

Our kerbside collection vehicles take your bottles and jars to the transfer station where they are combined with the mixed glass collected in bottle banks from Eastleigh and other councils before being loaded onto articulated lorries for the journey to the recycling plant.  The purpose of the smashing that looked so much fun is to maximise the capacity of the outgoing lorries.

It’s estimated that 85% of Eastleigh’s available glass is now collected for recycling, so Hedge Enders are playing their part when they put out their bottles and jars once a month for collection.  And by the way, if you get through a lot of jam and coffee, you can get an additional black box free from the Council.  It’s all reprocessed into new bottles – that’s why the Council can’t take window glass, mirrors, pyrex, light bulbs etc.  It’s not the same sort of glass.

We saw the specialised equipment that contains and compresses our food waste.  Already ten tonnes of food waste a day is being collected from Eastleigh households.

Southampton and Eastleigh between them collect three lorry-loads of green garden waste every day, which is all sent off for composting.  If you want to complete the recycling loop you can buy the resulting soil improver at the local Household Waste Recycling Centre in Shamblehurst Lane.

Plasterboard is a recent addition to the growing list of materials that can be recycled in the UK.  In this case, you have to take it to the HWRC, and the recycling process separates the gypsum plaster from the facing paper.  The plaster is then used to manufacture new plasterboard.

The HWRC also separates waste wood which is collected at Otterbourne and sent off for chipping.  Fuel briquettes are made from the chips.

Other dry recycling (plastic bottles, paper, card, and cans) is consolidated at Otterbourne and sent off to the Materials Recycling Facility at Alton for further sorting.   Residual (black bin) waste is combined with street sweepings and goes to the incinerator at Marchwood for conversion into electricity.

These days only a small amount of household waste goes to landfill, and that is mainly bulky items such as mattresses.  Eastleigh continues to lead the field among our neighbouring councils in terms of the types of recycling collected and the percentage of recycling material collected.  And that to a large extent depends on people continuing to sort the material at home and put it in the right bin.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Free Events at the Berry This Weekend

Thursday has seen the gala opening of The Berry.  An excellent evening - but don't forget it is open doors for the people of Hedge End this weekend.  Free workshops, films and tours of the building, starting at 10:00am on Saturday and 12:00 noon on Sunday.   All details on the Berry website:

Grand Opening Weekend Events

Go along, have a look, tell your friends.   It's a theatre for all the community.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Local Area Committee Agenda - 11th April 2011

The agenda for the next LAC has been published.  The full document is available on the Eastleigh Borough Council website.  Items that directly affect Hedge End are as follows:
  1. Recommendations for HEWEB Youth Council grants.
  2. A report on the impact of reduced County Council funding for youth services, including the possible closure of The Box Youth Centre.
  3. A planning application for 30 flats on undeveloped ground between Mescott Meadows and the Nelson Industrial Park.  This land was designated for light industrial use.  The 30 flats are proposed to raise money to fund the restoration of Dowd's Farmhouse (I blogged on this back in March).   Two letters of objection have been received, and Hedge End Town Council has registered an objection.
  4. A proposal to use developers' contributions to part fund an extension to skateboard facilities at Woodhouse Lane.
  5. Review of the year 2010/2011.

Before the meeting at 6:15, local organisations that have been successful in their application for a capital funding grant will be presented with their cheques.

Lib Dem Talent Shortage

Unlike the Conservatives and Labour, the Lib Dems do at least have candidates in every Hedge End Town Council ward.  

It does look, though, as if they are running short of talent and spreading themselves thinly this year.  Many of these candidates are standing for more than one parish / town council.

One candidate is already a Lib Dem member of Botley Parish Council.

Another Lib Dem is standing for both Hedge End Town Council and Bursledon Parish Council.

A total of four Lib Dem candidates have put themselves forward for both Hedge End Town Council and West End Parish Council.

If they are all elected (and some are unopposed), nearly a third of Hedge End Town Council will have divided loyalties.

Some of them are talented, conscientious and hard-working individuals, but some are also borough and county councillors, some are borough cabinet members and some have day jobs too.  I wonder whether they will have the time and energy to do all these jobs to the best of their abilities without burning out.  There are only a limited number of evenings a week to fit all those meetings in.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Have The Conservatives and Labour Deserted Hedge End?

Not a single candidate for Hedge End Town Council from the Conservative or Labour Parties.  One UKIP and two Independents at least mean that three of the seven wards will be contested.   Twelve Lib Dems get onto the Council unopposed.

Not exactly a sign of  a healthy, vibrant local democracy though.