Monday, 30 May 2011

Rogue Traders reported in Hedge End

Eastleigh News is reporting that rip off merchants are on the prowl in our area.

Police say:

“We would advise homeowners not to accept offers of work from door to door tradesmen. Instead, if you need work to be done in your garden or home use a reputable recommended business.
“Be particularly wary if the person will only accept cash. If you are at all concerned about someone calling at your door do not hand over any money and contact police with details.”

You can report suspicious activity to the police on 101, or call the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Introducing ... Your MYP for Hedge End

The UK Youth Parliament and the work of its members does not get a lot of coverage in the mainstream press.  Hedge End Blogger is happy to give some space over to our MYP, Benjamin Farnes, to introduce himself in his own words:

The recent February elections in the United Kingdom Youth Parliament have seen myself, Benjamin Farnes, elected as a Member of the Youth Parliament, to serve the Basingstoke, Eastleigh and Winchester constituency. The UK Youth Parliament is an organisation which enables young people to use their energy and passion to change the world for the better. Run by young people for young people, UKYP provides opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change.

The UK Youth Parliament has 600 elected MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament) aged 11-18. MYP’s are elected in annual youth elections throughout the UK. In the past two years one million young people have voted in UK Youth Parliament elections, in this constituency ten thousand young people voted. 

 As an elected MYP my role will involve organising events and projects, run campaigns and influence decision makers on the issues which matter most to young people. All MYPs meet once a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting at the House of Commons, in which we discuss the most prominent issues which affect young people. In this current Political age, we find that there are a range of issues which concern and affect the young people within society. The UK Youth Parliament has three national campaigns which are; a reduction in prices on Public Transport, abolishment of University fees and Political education for all. Recently I’ve conducted a survey which asked Young People within the constituency, ‘What issues they are most concerned about’, the top three issues are; Public Transport, University Fees and Support in and after education.

At present Hampshire County Council are currently undertaking a through consultation into Youth Services. There are going to be several major changes taking place; which includes the removal of funding to Connexions advice service which is provided in all schools, as a result schools are expected to buy this service if they feel it is an asset. My results from the recent survey show that young people want support in education so this change will contradict this. If we look at the youth centres across the constituency, they too are facing major changes, for example replacing full time paid staff with the voluntary sector. These youth centres provide an excellent service to all young people who use it, and some may argue that by these changes taking place this will result in an increase in crime, and a lack of motivation for some young people to achieve.  The consultation runs until July and can be found and entered via the Hampshire County Council website. 

I have been brief in explaining a little about what my two year term of office will involve, I am more than happy to be contacted in you require any extra information about certain projects or would like to become involved in consultations, campaigns etc. So please do feel free to e-mail me.

Benjamin Farnes MYP  


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Introducing ... Your New Town Council

More than half the Hedge End Town Council was elected unopposed on 5th May, so in some parts of the village there was little publicity for those candidates who now find themselves representing the seven town council wards.

The Town Council web site has now been brought up to date with information about the new council.  Go to and click on “The Council” in the header menu bar.

There is also a useful map if you are unsure of the town council ward boundaries (which are smaller than the borough council wards).   If you are already in “The Council”, click on “Elections” in the side menu.

In summary, there are twenty members who stood as Liberal Democrats and one Independent.

Fourteen were members of the previous council.  Of the other seven, three are existing borough councillors for neighbouring parishes, one is returning after a few years’ gap and three are new faces.  So it’s welcome back to Councillor June Watson (Wildern) and welcome to Councillor Caitlin Bloom (Grange Park East), Councillor Margaret Allingham and Councillor David Humby (both Shamblehurst ward).

At the AGM, Councillor Jane Welsh was elected Chair with Councillor Louise Bloom as Vice-Chair.

Chairs of the main committees are:
Recreation and Amenities: Councillor Jane Welsh
Finance and Administration: Councillor Derek Pretty
Highways and Planning: Councillor Cynthia Garton
Communities and Culture: Councillor Louise Bloom
Personnel: Councillor Keith House
Strategy: Councillor Keith House

The first full council meeting after the elections was a relatively low key affair.  The Borough Councillors had little to report.

County Councillor Rupert Kyrle is dealing with some of the more extreme cases of damaged  road surfaces in Hedge End (in particular he mentioned Portelet Place and the village centre crossroads).   County Councillor Bruce Tennent gave a more general update including the streetlight replacement programme, street pastors and the Sure Start Centres. 

The minutes of the AGM and the first ordinary council meeting are posted on the council web site.

The next meeting will be the Highways and Planning Committee on 1st June.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Council Leader Keith House - Priorities for Hedge End

Hedge End councillors have managed to get a reasonable distribution of committee places in the new, slimmed down Borough Council.  There are only two scrutiny panels this year instead of four, so fewer places to go round.

All our councillors sit on the Hedge End West End and Botley Local Area Committee, and St John’s Councillor Peter Hughes is the new vice-chair.    New Hedge End Town Councillor and Deputy Mayor Rupert Kyrle continues as chair.

St John’s Councillor Jane Welsh is vice-chair of the Licensing Committee and sits on the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel and the Standards Committee.

Councillors Peter Hughes and Jenny Ann Hughes are both on the Resources Scrutiny Panel, as is Councillor Derek Pretty who also has a place on the Licensing Committee.

New Hedge End Town Councillor Dan Clarke represents West End on the Borough Council and is the new vice-chair of the Administration Committee and also sits on the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Another change is that the Leader (our very own Wildern Councillor Keith House) gets to appoint his cabinet personally instead of having it voted in by the Council.  Keith chose not to bring in any new blood to his executive team.  He remains Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Resources, and is a member of the Administration Committee.  Grange Park Councillor Louise Bloom is Cabinet Member for the Environment and a member of the Standards Committee.

Hedge End Blogger asked Keith how he came to choose the cabinet and how the Council’s priorities will affect Hedge End in the coming year.   Here is his reply.  

“The Lib Dems in Eastleigh construct the Cabinet that leads the Borough in a democratic manner.  After deciding as a Group on their Leader, they then vote within their Local Area Committee teams to decide who should Chair and Vice-Chair the Local Area Committee, and who they want to represent the area on the Cabinet.  The Group as a whole then choose two additional Cabinet members, one each from the north and the south of the Borough. 

This year Botley Councillor (and County councillor for the St John’s and Wildern Wards of Hedge End) Rupert Kyrle has again been chosen to Chair the Local Area Committee, with St John’s Ward councillor Peter Hughes serving as Vice-Chair.  Grange Park councillor Louise Bloom has been elected to the Cabinet and retained her brief for the Environment.  Our area has a third Cabinet member in Botley councillor Cathie Fraser, who has the Health and Community Safety portfolio. 

These are all experienced councillors, very able to speak-up for Hedge End.  The key issues confronting the Borough over the coming year matter immensely to Hedge End.  We have the need to continue to find genuine efficiency savings to avoid cuts in front-line services so we can achieve our pledge of keeping Council Tax 1% below inflation.  We have the challenge of taking forward the Rose Bowl project, which will create 200 jobs and new income to the council as well as hopefully bringing regular Test Matches to our area.  And most significantly we have to take forward the Borough’s Core Strategy for housing, employment and our countryside.  This will allocate development sites for the next twenty years.  Our commitment is to meet real local need yet also to keep the countryside gaps between our communities.  This will not be easy.  We hope to start this process in July and then run a major consultation exercise later in the autumn.  Whatever consultation we do will be genuine, asking real questions and wanting real views back from our community. 

So there is plenty for the Council to get its teeth into over the coming year.  We will, as always, keep residents informed throughout the year. “

Thanks Keith for taking the time to give more than a quick soundbite.

The next full council meeting will be on 14th July.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Great Hedge End Tiger Hoax

Local sportsmen were temporarily inconvenienced by a toy tiger left in a field on the outskirts of Hedge End according to this BBC story.

Link to BBC News

Hedge End Blogger admires the cricketers who carried on playing, and the police - who let's face it had to investigate - discovering it was not a real tiger when the downdraft from their helicopter knocked it over.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Congratulations Mr Deputy Mayor

Following in the footsteps of both his parents, newly elected (albeit unopposed) Hedge End Town Councillor Rupert Kyrle has now been elected Deputy Mayor of Eastleigh.

Congratulations Rupert.

Although as a Hedge End Town Councillor, Botley Parish Councillor, Borough Councillor for Botley and County Councillor for Hedge End and Botley, you are going to be a busy man for the next couple of years.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

£100K to wave the council flag?

Banners to be attached to new street lamps in Eastleigh and Hedge End will cost up to  £102,000 according to a paper to be presented to cabinet on Monday 16th May.   That is the proposed budget  to be put aside by the Borough Council for forty flags similar to those already in use in neighbouring Southampton.

The bulk of the money will be spent on 21 banners in Eastleigh where the proposal is to install non-standard lamp posts to support the banners, whereas in Hedge End brackets will simply be bolted onto 18 existing lamps.

Tollbar Way, Charles Watts Way, Botley Road, Wildern Lane and the village centre have been identified as suitable locations for these flags which will present a valuable opportunity for the Council to enhance its brand visibility and proactively increase awareness of the Council’s work, priorities, events and benefits through promotion of key messages at prime locations across the Borough”.

Some might think that the Council’s priorities should be to save money in times of austerity and cuts, and that if the bolt-on solution proposed for Hedge End was used in Eastleigh as well, that headline figure would be reduced to something like £15,000.

It’s also going to cost £6,200 a year to change the Hedge End banners three times, although the Corporate Communications Unit will seek to offset some of the costs through sponsorship of the banners.

No mention is made in the paper of consultation with Hedge End Town Council about the principle or location of these corporate image banners.  I should imagine that some of the town council stalwarts who consistently oppose increased advertising along Botley Road and other places might have something to say about the precedent of using lamp posts for advertising.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Grange Park - A Magnet for Lib Dem Councillors?

Now we know the results of the Borough elections (if you don't you can find them on the Council's web site here.) an interesting phenomenon is revealed.  Of Hedge End's seven councillors representing three wards, no fewer than five live in Grange Park ward.  Neither of the Wildern councillors lives in that ward, and only Jane Welsh lives in St Johns.  Not a big deal, but I guess elections bring out the geek in me.

There's more of a spread among the newly elected Hedge End Town Council (Results and notice of uncontested wards here)  and the big news for me here is that I managed to break the Lib Dem monopoly and get elected as the sole Independent on the Council.   Thank you to everybody who voted for me, signed my nomination papers, sent encouraging emails, said nice things on the doorstep and shouted good wishes from their garden as I walked Jack, my dog. 

Two regrets came out of the Town Council count today.   One is that my fellow Independent in Grange Park ward, Jenny Schwausch, missed out by just sixteen votes.  The other is that my success meant that Lib Dem George Fraser was not elected.  George is probably the last local Lib Dem I would wish to see leave the council.  Sorry George, but that's politics I suppose.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Voting Today?

If you are reading this on Thursday and you haven't voted yet, please don't forget.  People suffered in the past and are suffering and dying in other countries for this simple right that we take for granted in Hedge End.  It's your Council Tax money that is going to be spent, why wouldn't you want a say in who spends it?

Polling stations are open until 10pm.

You don't need your polling card to vote.

If you have a postal vote that you haven't sent in yet, you can take it to the polling station today.

If you can't find your polling card and don't know where your polling station is, you can call the Eastleigh Borough Council election helpline on 023 8068 8110.

In Hedge End everybody has a vote in the Alternative Vote referendum and for our Borough Councillors.

Some people will also have a vote for their Town Councillors, but some of the wards are not being contested.  If you are uncertain about anything, ask the polling station staff.  They are there to help and are very happy to do so.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Highways and Planning Committee Cancelled

Normally there would be a meeting of Hedge End Town Council Highways and Planning on the first Wednesday of the month.   The May 4th meeting has been cancelled.  This is a shame as it would have been the last meeting under the chairmanship of Cllr Sally Lloyds who is not seeking re-election.  Sally has been a conscientious and hard working town councillor, is a past chair of the council and a strong advocate for the HEWEB Youth Council.

It's a pity that the other seven Lib Dems on the committee could not drag themselves away from party political activities for a few minutes on the eve of the election to mark her last meeting.

This follows the April full council meeting from which ten of the seventeen Lib Dem town councillors stayed away.  Twelve Lib Dems are being re-elected unopposed tomorrow, so it's not as if they have got a tough battle to hold on to their seats.  Is it too much to ask that they turn up for meetings of the body to which they are asking to be elected?

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Lib Dem Bulldozer is coming to Hedge End

Hedge End Town Council’s budget for 2010/11 was over a million pounds.  It is a significant provider of public services to a population of over 20,000 people.

All 21 seats on the Council are up for election this year.

The Conservative and Labour parties show no interest in Hedge End and have put up no candidates at all.  There are two independent candidates and one from UKIP.  These are the only opposition to the Liberal Democrat bulldozer.  

There will be no election in four of the seven Town Council wards and the Lib Dems there will be elected unopposed.  In the other three wards, the Lib Dems are guaranteed at least two councillors out the three seats being contested.

Even the Lib Dems could only field a slate of 21 candidates by importing five from outside the Town Council boundaries, and six of their candidates are either members of or candidates for other neighbouring parish councils.

Eastleigh Council Leader and County Councillor Keith House is standing for both Hedge End Town Council and Bursledon Parish Council.

Eastleigh Borough Councillor and County Councillor Rupert Kyrle is a member of Botley Parish Council and a candidate for Hedge End Town Council.

Eastleigh Borough Councillor and County Councillor Bruce Tennent is a candidate for both Hedge End and West End Parish Councils.

Eastleigh Borough Councillors Louise Bloom and Dan Clarke are candidates for both Hedge End and West End.

Past Chair of Hedge End Town Council Pearl Hicks is a candidate for both Hedge End and West End.

Surely the whole point of parish and town councillors is for them to represent the community in which they live?   It’s even more worrying that some of these already busy people want to be elected to more than one parish council.  It doesn’t look good for the health of local democracy in Hedge End.