Friday, 28 October 2011

Lib Dems "Lied"

A "weak and self-serving" Conservative opposition has allowed local Lib Dems to bulldoze through a version of the discredited SDA despite their election propaganda stating they would oppose it, according to a letter published in Thursday's Daily Echo.

Steve Sharpe, a resident of Boorley Green, was present at October's council meeting and gives an eye witness account of Council Leader Keith House being in "total control" of the meeting, his party and the council.

Hedge End Town Councillor House is also described as being "smug" and "arrogant" as he used his party's huge majority in the council chamber to force through the latest draft of the Local Plan which will sacrifice huge countryside sites in Hedge End and Botley to the developers. 

An unnamed, but clearly independently-minded, councillor stood up against the Lib Dem party machine to claim that the Lib Dems had "repeatedly lied to the electorate about their true intentions.. to secure electoral support", as indeed this blog warned on July 11th and July 14th.

According to the official minutes, six of Hedge End's seven councillors voted with the Lib Dem bulldozer.  Cllr Wheatley was not present: perhaps because he is embarrassed by his party's failure to keep its election promises.  If that's the case, why not follow the example of Botley's two Lib Dems and turn up and represent the interests of your electorate even if it means voting against the party line?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Most Conscientious Town Councillor

Newly elected in May 2011, Cllr Margaret Allingham has achieved a 100% attendance record in her first six months as a councillor.  According to the published minutes, she has attended not just the six meetings of full council, but all fourteen meetings of the two committees she has joined.

A total of seven councillors have attended all six full council meetings, but Cllr Allingham is the only one to have a 100% record on all committees as well.  Cllr Ray Worley has attended 19 out of a total of 20 meetings and is in second place.

Unlike borough and county councillors, town councillors are not paid  an allowance, but if they were Margaret and Ray would be giving excellent value for money.

Attendance Record at Full Council May to October 2011

Allingham, Margaret100%(6)
Baynes, Sheila67%(4)
Bloom, Caitlin50%(3)
Bloom, Louise83%(5)
Clarke, Daniel83%(5)
Corben, Helen83%(5)
Day, Keith100%(6)
Garton, Cynthia100%(6)
Hicks, Pearl50%(3)
Houghton, Val100%(6)
House, Keith50%(3)
Hughes, JennyAnn67%(4)
Hughes, Peter100%(6)
Humby, David67%(4)
Kyrle, Rupert83%(5)
Pretty, Derek100%(6)
Sthankiya, Shankerlal50%(3)
Tennent, Bruce67%(4)
Watson, June50%(3)
Welsh, Jane83%(5)
Worley, Ray100%(6)

Combined attendance record at full council and committees
Allingham, Margaret2020100%
Baynes, Sheila101471%
Bloom, Caitlin5956%
Bloom, Louise 8989%
Clarke , Daniel7978%
Corben, Helen 171989%
Day, Keith141593%
Garton, Cynthia151883%
Hicks, Pearl4944%
Houghton, Val 131587%
House, Keith41040%
Hughes, JennyAnn71164%
Hughes, Peter 172085%
Humby, David 811 73%
Kyrle, Rupert 5683%
Pretty, Derek 111861%
Sthankiya, Shankerlal122255%
Tennent, Bruce4667%
Watson, June81553%
Welsh, Jane101567%
Worley, Ray192095%

Committees included are Highways and Planning (9 meetings), Community and Culture (3 meetings), Recreation and Amenities (5 meetings) and Finance and Administration (4 meetings).

Full Council includes Annual General Meeting.

(Photo credit - Hedge End Town Council)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lib Dem Gravel Pit Tiff

Disagreements between local Lib Dem County Councillors burst into the open at October's meeting of Hedge End Town Council.

Reporting on Hampshire's recent decision to designate the old airfield at Hamble le Rice for gravel and sand extraction, Hedge End Town Councillor and County Member for West End and Grange Park, Bruce Tennent commented that if Eastleigh Lib Dems want to build nearly 10,000 houses over the next 15 years, the building materials have to come from somewhere.

Fellow Lib Dem heavyweights Louise Bloom and Keith House (County Member for Hamble) tried to get Bruce back on message, stating that the Hamble gravel and sand would not be used for houses, but for roads.

Bruce had the last word, pointing out that presumably the new houses would have to have roads leading to them.  (He could also have reminded his colleagues that the Lib Dem proposals include a by-pass for neighbouring Botley, which means additional road building.)

Cllr Helen Corben expressed sympathy for the residents of Hamble, a sentiment I am sure was shared by all Hedge End Town Councillors.  But it was strange that so much time was taken at a Hedge End Town Council meeting to discuss matters primarily concerning a nearby parish.  Perhaps an indication of where the Lib Dem leadership's priorities lie at the moment.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Friday is Trafalgar Day

Let's mark this milestone day in Hedge End and have some fun at the same time with traditional English music.

The StGeorgeFest committee is laying on a ceilidh with dancing and live music by Jigfoot and shanty singing led by King John's Morris Men.

No previous experience is necessary.

Celebrations start at 8:00pm, Friday 21st October at the 2000 Centre, St Johns Road.  £6 a ticket, £15 for a family.

More details on facebook.

(Picture credit: RedCoat)

What Is The Town Council To Do?

Planning for the next financial year has started and the Town Council has come up with an initial "wish list" of capital projects for 2012-13.  It is not finalised or prioritised and there is no guarantee that everything on the list will be affordable and make it into the budget.  It would be good to know what people think about the importance and desirability of these proposals.  You can either comment here or email me (

Items on the list at the moment with rough order of magnitude costings are:

Scheduled Maintenance rolling programme for the upkeep of Council properties/boundary fences/infrastructure - £20,000.

To replace the play area of Nelsons Gardens - £50,000.
This is the oldest set of play area equipment in Hedge End and due for replacement.

Sports Walls, Turnpike Sports Field and Greta Park - £15,000.
Informal sports facilities to discourage the use of recently renovated building frontages for football games.  (The picture shows one recently installed at Dowd's Farm Park.)

Kanes Field Grazing - £10,000.
Improved fencing and land improvements to enable land earmarked for a new cemetery to be hired out for grazing in the meantime.

Planting and repair of village centre Brick Planters - £5,000.

Heritage sign - £3,000.
Probably to be installed in Lower Northam Road.

To replace the village centre notice board, donated by the late Ms. Violet Cook - £1500.

Paddling Pool seating/picnic tables - £3,000.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Berry Expensive?

The Berry lived up to its billing as a professional standard theatre at the end of September with an excellent performance of Oh! What a Lovely War by the Blackeyed Theatre Company.

A full house saw the facilities of the theatre and the size of the stage being exploited to entertaining and thought provoking effect.  Mr. and Mrs. Hedge End Blogger thought it was worth every penny of the ticket price.

The Berry's use as a community theatre is being encouraged by Hedge End Town Council with a decision this month to offer a 50% subsidy of the hire fee to local groups wishing to use the facility.  There is clearly a problem with making this professional standard, fully equipped modern theatre affordable to amateur and community companies who might be more used to paying the going rate for village halls and school assembly halls.  So the Community and Culture Committee under its new leadership this year of Cllr Louise Bloom has responded to this.  Perhaps Cllr Bloom could use her influence as an Eastleigh Borough Council cabinet member to encourage The Berry to reduce its prices next year for community organisations by 50% and resolve the problem at its source.

Cllr Bloom's committee also decided to invest £2000 to put on a free film and live performance next Spring and another £10000 to support as yet undefined community and school projects.

There is clearly a problem with the theatre's pricing structure, and lessons are surely there to be learned from the first year of operation.  It is right that the Town Council is supporting the theatre in its first year as it establishes itself, but an ongoing subsidy from the Town Council to the Borough would be harder to justify.

The Town Council is the most local level of local government and can be the most responsive, but as the higher levels of administration make cuts to balance their books they cannot expect the Town to pick up the pieces every time.

It doesn't help the hard pressed council tax payers of Hedge End if Tory Hampshire and Lib Dem Eastleigh freeze their council tax, but the Town Council precept goes up to to fill the gaps in the services they are no longer providing.