Sunday, 24 November 2013

Lib Dems Let Down Local Scouts

Grange Park scouts are worried that they will lose their HQ because the Lib Dem local plan doesn't even acknowledge it exists. Policy HE3 in the plan seeks to move the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Shamblehurst Lane to a new, more suitable location and free up the land for housing. So far so good, but there is no mention of the scout building which currently occupies part of the site earmarked for houses. Representatives of the scout group came to Hedge End Town Council this week to seek reassurance.

Lib Dem Cllr Paul Carnell confirmed there was no mention of the fate of the scout facilities in the version of the local plan considered by the Highways and Planning committee the previous week, so the Town Council's official response to the local plan will not take it into account.

County Councillor for Grange Park, Bruce Tennant, thought the scout HQ had "just slipped through" the local plan.

The Lib Dem leader, Cllr Keith House, admitted it "probably should have been in the plan", but urged the scouts to see it as an "opportunity, not a threat".

The scouts made clear that it is not just the building that is threatened but the land surrounding it where they provide outside activities for young people in Grange Park.  It is not immediately clear where there is an available parcel of land of the same size nearby that the Borough Council could give to the scouts in compensation for their planning blunder.

The Lib Dems plan does take account of facilities used by another scout group, this time in Bursledon. Policy BU3 has an explicit condition that the proposed development will protect those facilities, but HE3 does not do the same for the Grange Park group. Is this another example of local Lib Dems paying more attention to their constituents in Bursledon and Hamble, while taking Hedge End voters for granted?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Fury as Lib Dems Jump the Gun

Eastleigh Lib Dems' local plan consultation got off to a dodgy start this evening. Despite advertising a meeting to start at 7:00pm (see extract from Autumn Borough News, left), Eastleigh Lib Dems decided to kick off soon after 6:00pm.

There has been criticism of previous consultations that they were not adequately publicised. It's a major own goal when the Lib Dems contrive to make their own house publication inaccurate and untrustworthy.

A Hedge End resident who wanted to speak at tonight's meeting was furious that they had been deprived of the opportunity because they believed what was in Borough News and so turned up too late. They told me they felt the democratic credentials of the consultation process had been questioned by the council cock up. So much for Lib Dem transparency when residents are told to turn up when most of the debate was over.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Developers Annexe Hedge End Grass Verge

Linden Homes are allowing their contractors to use the grass verge along Turnpike Way as a convenient car park, unloading yard and general extension of their development site. Contractors including Kamm Civil Engineering, Reywell Daggert and SSE have been parking their cars, vans, trucks and other equipment on ground that is getting softer with the recent rain.

According to the site plan at the entrance to the development there is a car park off the road that they should be using. The grass verge is a public amenity, does not belong to Linden Homes and they have no right to use it in this antisocial way.

This was confirmed by the leader of Eastleigh Borough Council and member of Hedge End Town Council, Cllr Keith House, when Cllr Jenny Hughes and I raised it as an issue at September's meeting of the Town Council. Cllr House said he would "chase it". That was back on 18 September. These photos were taken on 2 October.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Tory Land Flip Flop Dooms Hedge End Fields

Green Field or Party Political Football?
Tories at Hampshire County Council have changed their minds and are now willing to release green field land they own at Woodhouse Lane for housing. Perhaps I am too cynical about party politics, but it is pretty obvious the Tories said one thing before the May 2013 elections and now with four years before the next county council elections they turn their backs on the Botley and Hedge End countryside.

Predictably local Lib Dems, including cabinet members Cllrs Keith House and Louise Bloom have jumped at the chance to concrete over the last remaining area of agricultural land in Hedge End. At Thursday's cabinet meeting the Lib Dems were unanimous in adopting a strategy that puts 800 more houses in Hedge End.

What is worse, the Lib Dems got their numbers wrong in the first version of the local plan, and they now need to build over a thousand more houses in Fair Oak and Horton Heath.

Perhaps the least edifying aspect of the cabinet meeting was the party political spat between Cllr House and Cllr Olson, the leader of the Chandlers Ford and Hiltingbury Tories, over whether the county council u-turn is the first or second time they have flip flopped on this.

Meanwhile there was hardly any debate about the merits of alternative locations, such as the eyesore car boot sale land near Windhover Roundabout. This land is of little environmental value, is not used for agricultural purposes, and is right on the doorstep of the employment possibilities in Southampton. And existing bus routes go right past it. How is that less sustainable than Woodhouse Lane?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

New Lib Dem Attack on Green Fields

Local protesters opposed Lib Dem "huge housing plans"
Eastleigh Lib Dems' first attempt at drafting a new local plan in 2012 ended in embarrassment. It is not clear if the Lib Dems were incompetent and did not check that land at Woodhouse Lane owned by the County Council would be available for housing. It may be that Hampshire Conservatives wanted to play political games and changed their mind about whether to release the land, as the Lib Dems claimed at last week's Town Council meeting.

Whatever the reason, the Lib Dems were left with a plan that was short of nearly 2000 houses according to their own calculations of how many houses will be needed in Eastleigh by 2029. And they are having to go through the local plan process a second time, with a new version of the plan due to be published for consultation soon.

The last consultation was incomplete and inadequate as some Hedge End residents pointed out. Others discovered too late that the Lib Dems had decided to put a site for travelling show people at the bottom of their gardens. The Lib Dems then shut down my attempts to have an alternative proposal debated at Town Council.

So where are the Lib Dems planning to put the houses this time? Cabinet has six options to decide from at its special meeting on Thursday (26 September).

Option A is the area of open land between the Windhover roundabout and the boundary with Southampton, much of which is currently used for car boot sales, and is of little value in terms of biodiversity, landscape or heritage.

Option B would extend Horton Heath into green fields to the south and west. The additional traffic generated by nearly 2000 houses would come through Hedge End to get to the motorway, and it would put the fields between Horton Heath and Boorley Green at risk of infill development.

Option C would extend the already planned massive develpoment at Boorley Green west into green fields to the north of the railway at Hedge End.

Option D spreads the required housing across four sites: one would extend the Boorley Green development into green fields to the south, the second would use some of the land in Option B, with the rest to the south of Bishopstoke and to the north of Fair Oak.

Option E would distribute the new houses across three sites; to the north of Fair Oak, south and west of Horton Heath and, based on the assumption that the County Council will change their mind, 800 houses on the green fields at Woodhouse Lane.

Option F shuffles some of the same cards to share the development between Boorley Green, Fair Oak and Horton Heath. 

What could embarrass the Lib Dems even more is that some of these sites are in the area to the north of Hedge End that they were claiming to have "saved" from development as recently as July this year.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Town Councillor Seriously Ill

It was announced at Town Council on Wednesday that Cllr June Watson is seriously ill. June has a long and respected record of service to Hedge End. She was Chair of Hedge End Parish Council in 1987 and Mayor of Eastleigh in 1995. We wish her well.

Her fellow Lib Dems voted to grant her indefinite leave of absence. This means she will not lose her place as one of Wildern ward's town councillors if her illness prevents her attending for six months.

Picture credit: Hedge End Town Council

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Badger Friendly Councillor

Hedge End's county councillor Rupert Kyrle wants to save Hampshire badgers. His motion before council on Thursday 19th September would ban DEFRA's hired guns from extending their cull onto land owned by the county council.

"Noting the start of the badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire and the possibility that DEFRA may roll out the badger cull across the rest of the UK, Hampshire County Council agrees not to allow the badger cull to take place on any of its county owned or leased land, given that the science is not proven nor conclusive that a cull of badgers is the answer to eradicating Bovine TB from the countryside. 

HCC agrees that more research should be undertaken by Government and the scientific community to find more effective and cheaper vaccinations for badgers and cattle to help eradicate this terrible and costly disease from the countryside: the Government’s policy is based on results from the randomised badger culling trial (RBCT) and agreed by a panel of scientists which stated that based on an average of five years’ culling plus a 4 year post cull period over an area of 150km2, the incidences of Bovine TB in that area could be expected to reduce by a mere average of 16% and HCC further agrees that this is not a good enough reason to warrant the culling and potential eradication of any species from our countryside, especially as there are other species of animals, including cattle, which are known to spread the disease."

It's a good motion, although it could mention that the Coalition cull is not bothering to examine the shot animals to determine if they had TB in the first place, so they will not know how many badgers will have been sacrificed for no reason at all.

Unfortunately Lib Dems don't have a good voting record on this issue. In June MPs had the chance to stop the cull, but most Lib Dems chose to follow their Tory colleagues and let the wildlife massacre go ahead. 

Update Thursday 19th September: Other county councillors reported today that Rupert's motion was passed.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Town Councillor's Twitter Tiff

"The Lib Dem leader wasn't listening to us," moaned an Eastleigh Conservative opposition councillor about Hedge End's Councillor Keith House. Cllr House was allegedly spending more time tweeting to his 600 or so followers than he was listening to opposition concerns about the borough's budget.

Cllr House does not deny that he was tweeting during council meetings, and instead turns the criticism back on the Conservatives for "making daft comments" and "not embracing technology and communicating".

I'm all in favour of councillors of any party engaging with their electorate on Twitter, Facebook or blogs. But during council meetings? I'm not so sure. People have a right to expect that their representatives are participating in the meetings they attend. It wouldn't look good if they were sat there doing the crossword, or listening to music on headphones, or taking a personal phone call.

Perhaps if it is so vital that one councillor makes an online dig about something another councillor has said, they should temporarily leave the council chamber while they do so, or wait until the end of the meeting.

The fact that even as leader of the council, Cllr House feels able to turn a deaf ear to what is being said in the chamber while he updates his online chums, is a symptom of the unhealthy state of Eastleigh politics. Thanks to their overwhelming majority, decisions are effectively made in secret Lib Dem only meetings and whatever the impotent Conservative opposition say at the public meeting can be ignored.

But what of that claim that Conservatives do not embrace technology? As I write this, Cllr House has tweeted 662 times, but the Tories' rising star Cllr Grajewski has over 1400!

Oh, and to save you checking, Hedge End Blogger has tweeted 907 times. (New followers always welcome, no experience necessary.)

Lib Dem dead bird logo by

Monday, 13 May 2013

Cllr Ray Worley - Hedge End's Ever Present Councillor

Wednesday sees the AGM of Hedge End Town Council and the start of a new year of meetings. Congratulations are due to Cllr Ray Worley who has achieved 100% attendance at full council meetings for the second year. Joining him this year at all twelve meetings was Cllr Jane Welsh.

There are many reasons why an individual councillor might miss a small number of meetings - illness, family or work commitments, or commitments on other councils. Nearly half of the Lib Dems on Hedge End Town Council serve on neighbouring parish councils, the borough council or county council. But Cllr Welsh is a borough councillor as well and still managed to attend all town council meetings this year.

Town councillors are not paid an allowance, but if they were, Cllrs Worley and Welsh would be giving excellent value for money.  Overall, attendance at full council was 72% in the past year, a percentage brought down by three members who could only manage to attend fewer than 50% of the meetings.

Attendance Record at Full Council May 2012 to April 2013
Welsh, Jane100%12
Worley, Ray100%12
Bloom, Louise92%11
Carnell, Paul92%11
Sthankiya, Shankerlal92%11
Corben, Helen83%10
Day, Keith83%10
Effany, Richard83%10
Garton, Cynthia83%10
Hughes, Peter83%10
Houghton, Val75%9
Allingham, Margaret67%8
Baynes, Sheila67%8
Clarke, Daniel58%7
Kyrle, Rupert58%7
Pretty, Derek58%7
Tennent, Bruce58%7
Watson, June58%7
House, Keith42%5
Bloom, Caitlin33%4
Hughes, JennyAnn33%4

Picture credit: Hedge End Town Council

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The State of the Parties in Hedge End

Here's a bar chart you probably won't see in the next Lib Dem leaflet to drop through your door. It shows the change in support for the parties in Hedge End and Botley since the County Council Elections in 2009.

The Lib Dem candidate, Rupert Kyrle, had the advantage of a year's free publicity as Mayor of Eastleigh, voted against the party whip to oppose the development of Boorley Green, is a conscientious and hard working councillor, but his vote was still down 12%.

Since 2009 the Lib Dems have lost over 1300 councillors and lost control of 15 councils nationwide. With the loss of three county councillors in Eastleigh divisions, it looks as if local Lib Dems are no longer immune to the poisoning of their party brand that has been affecting their support nationally.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Hedge End Councillors Hold On Against UKIP

In Eastleigh it takes a Hedge End Town Councillor to beat UKIP. At last week's County Council elections, UKIP surprised their opponents by snatching three Eastleigh divisions from the Lib Dems. Only where the Lib Dem candidate was also a Hedge End Councillor did the Lib Dems hold on with much reduced majorities.

In Hamble Cllr Keith House saw his 1,300 majority in 2009 reduced to just 540.

In Grange Park and West End Cllr Bruce Tennant's margin fell from nearly 1,000 to less than 300.

Hedge End and Botley returned Cllr Rupert Kyrle by a mere 150 (down from 600 in 2009).

In all three of the divisions held by Lib Dems, UKIP are now the closest challengers. Apart from in Chandlers Ford the Conservatives were third in Eastleigh, in some cases a distant third.

The Tories tried to ridicule the UKIP candidates, the Lib Dems tried to ignore them. Neither tactic worked in Eastleigh.

Outside Eastleigh the Conservatives did enough to retain control of the council, but the Lib Dem group was reduced by a third from 25 to 17. UKIP have ten councillors, Labour four and there are two independents. The Greens' share of the vote would have been enough to give them one or two councillors under a purely proportional system.

So it's no real change in Hedge End: same party in control and same two opposition councillors representing us. But the Lib Dems in Eastleigh are clearly vulnerable now. They are no longer safe in what was one of their safest councils.

You can see the full results for Hampshire here, and the Eastleigh News report here.

As an interesting footnote, there are now 20 independent or other non-party councillors on the Isle of Wight, and the outgoing leader of the council was ousted by his independent challenger.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Good News for Newts

Smooth Newts (I think)
Four months ago their pond was overgrown and all but dried up. In previous years I had seen frog spawn and newts in one of Hedge End's less well known ponds, so I reported its condition to the Town Council. Our grounds staff cleared it of excess vegetation and dug out a choked feeder channel from the nearby stream. Late winter rains replenished the pond, and last weekend Mrs HedgeEndBlogger was able to take some photos of these perky little fellows. Proof there is still (wild) life in Hedge End.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Have Lib Dems Wasted Charity Money?

Cycleway threatened by new development 
Amid all the fuss about the Boorley Green development at Monday's local area committee, committee chair, mayor, and Hedge End Town Councillor Rupert Kyrle announced the completion of the cycle way works along Lower Northam Road.  These have largely been funded with a £0.25 million grant from cycling charity Sustrans with smaller contributions from Hampshire and Eastleigh.

The completed stretch will form part of a cycle way linking Hedge End and Botley centres, which would have been a very good thing when it is finally completed. 

However, due to geographical constraints the cycle way goes west to east and east to west.  The Boorley Green development will generate thousands of car movements a day to the M27.  These will go north to south and south to north and will cross the new cycle way at the Maypole Roundabout.

In fact engineers have said that all the roads at the Maypole Roundabout will need to be widened to let the cars from Boorley Green rush through on their way to the motorway.  This will mean that the recent works at the roundabout will have to be dug up, wasting the charity money that has been used to fund them.

But what is worse, it will make it much more difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to cross safely from west to east (and east to west) as they will be trying to get across two lanes of traffic each time. 

Are we surprised that Lib Dem Eastleigh is bottom of the league table for encouraging cycling amongst nearby councils?
See also Will Dani King Save Lib Dems' Cycle Strategy?

Lib Dems Avoid Town Council

Six of the nine Lib Dem borough councillors who also sit on Hedge End Town Council chose to stay away from this week's meeting of full council.  That was a bit of shame, as a borough council report is on the agenda, and it's not as if they had nothing to talk about after Monday's marathon local area committee.

So let's acknowledge that Cllrs Bloom, Welsh and Tennant dragged themselves away from canvassing in support of "Mike4Eastleigh" to answer questions about their approval of 1400 houses at Boorley Green.

It was a pity that Cllr Kyrle was not there as we could have acknowledged his sticking up for the natural environment (what I think he called the "feathery and furry things") and voting against the party line.  Sadly his was a lone voice in front of the Lib Dem bulldozer on Monday.

Cllr Tennant used his "County Council Report" to regale us with tales of his recent four week trip to China, but some of us struggled to understand what it had to do with Hedge End, or indeed Hampshire County Council.  I asked if he could use his contacts in China to get some spare tarmac to repair the roads in Hedge End.  He quipped back that they don't use tarmac on a lot of the roads in China anyway.

I also asked the borough councillors why they had approved two planning applications, one with 0% affordable housing, and the other with 30% affordable when the approved quota is 35%.  They had lost the chance of 85 or so more affordable houses, which everyone agrees is what we need.  The answer I got is "that was the best we could negotiate".  So it looks like we have to accept the loss of green fields and don't even get the right number of affordable houses.

Another question I raised was about Hedge End Town Council's own concerns about the Boorley Green development which had been sent to the Borough and were recorded in the officer's report which was debated on Monday.  These concerns were about
  • the impact on the road infrastructure
  • the high density of housing with only two access roads
  • the impact on roads between the Maypole Roundabout and Sunday's Hill
  • the impact on the envrionment, and
  • the impact on existing doctor's surgeries with no provision for a new surgery at Boorley Green.

Sadly the only answer I got was that all these matters had been debated on Monday, and they weren't going to go through them again.

Oh, and although there is an urgent need for the personnel sub-committee to meet, the chair of that sub-committee is busy until after 28th February.

Lib Dem Broken Promises
More Lib Dem Broken Promises

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mike Thornton - No Friend of Botley

Eastleigh Lib Dems were third in the race to put a face to their campaign to replace the disgraced Chris Huhne as Hedge End's MP.  They have selected Bishopstoke councillor Mike Thornton to do battle with Tory Maria Hutchings (West End) and NHS Action Party candidate Dr Graham Winyard (Bursledon).  Labour and UKIP have promised to tell us soon who will be fronting their campaigns.

When Cllr Thornton comes canvassing round here it might be interesting to ask him what he thinks of his party's plans for massive and unsustainable housing developments in Hedge End and Botley.  He was one of the Lib Dem loyalists who voted and spoke in the council chamber in favour of massive housing developments on our green fields.  

Like his leader, who goes before the electorate in Hamble in two months time with a plan for no green field development at all in Hamble, Cllr Thornton was willing to sacrifice huge swathes of countryside around Hedge End to protect his own patch.  Bishopstoke will get just 430 new houses in the next 16 years, compared to over 3,500 in Hedge End and Botley.  Looks like Cllr Thornton might be a NIMBY.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Huhne - The Lib Dem Blogosphere Speaks

What were Lib Dems saying about Hedge End's MP yesterday?
It started with party communications guru Olly Grender apologising for her previous defence of Hedge End's disgraced Lib Dem former MP.

But Scottish activist Caron Lindsay defended her colleagues who had been duped by Huhne's lies.

Nobody who defended Huhne should feel that they have anything to apologise for. They did what was fair and right at the time, in good faith. 

Mark Thompson was more resigned in tone, but made the telling comparison with past Conservative sleaze stories:

There's not much more to say. His career is now over. He will likely go to prison for a time and I cannot argue that should not be the case. He deserves it. I thought that with Jeffrey Archer, I thought it with Jonathan Aitken and I think it with Chris Huhne. The mere fact I am typing his name in the same sentence as those two notorious names of yesteryear is galling, but he is now in the same category as them. Today's resignation in disgrace is what he will be remembered for. Anything else he achieved will be a footnote.

Paul Walter had some words of homespun wisdom:

Honesty is the best policy
The corollary to that being:
Beware your lies will find you out
Also, my grandmother’s admonition springs to mind:
You’re so sharp, you’ll cut yourself one day.
I have also been reminded of the startling paralells between the cases of Chris Huhne and Jonathan Aitken (although without the “simple sword of truth” in the former case).
I recall (as someone who, about ten years ago, was on nine points on my licence) some advice from a good friend:
If you don’t want to lose your licence then don’t break the speed limit.
-Startingly simple advice, but wise all the same. I took it.
But we can all be smug and wise after the event.

Neil Monnery was more judgemental:

Well what can you say? You sleep in because you were up until gone 4AM watching Super Bowl XLVII and you wake up to Chris Huhne changing his plea to guilty and all hell breaking loose. Obviously due to the ongoing trial I can’t type too much about the case only that Chris Huhne is clearly a moron and thought that he could lie and bully his way out of a problem. 

But first prize for wit and putting it all into the context of the day's news goes to Richard Flowers:

Today, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary and Duke of York, Mr Huhney-Monster, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice when he got his former wife to accept points for speeding through Bosworth Field. 

Maligned by Shakespeare as a twisted schemer, the Duke – famous for his war cry of "more horsepower more horsepower my kingdom for more horsepower" – also asked for two counts of Princes in the Tower to be taken into account.

His rival in the Wars of the Rosettes Mr Tudor Clegg was unavailable for comment due to an uncontrollable fit of hysterical giggling. 

Senior Liberal Democrats – and St Simon of Hughes, the new archbishop of Canterbury – expect to have the Duke taken out and buried in a car park somewhere.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Botley Protest - What the TV Didn't Say

Hundreds of protesters closed Botley Square to traffic on Saturday.  The protest against the Lib Dems' plans for thousands of new houses on green fields in Botley and Hedge End was reported on the local television news.  The BBC had a short piece, but Meridian went into the background a bit more, and actually interviewed some of the protesters, including the Botley Parish Action Group, who organised the event.

Hedge End Blogger Joined the March

Both broadcasters quoted Eastleigh Council's defence that there has been "extensive public consultation".  But as BPAG point out, the Lib Dems have stubbornly ignored the outcome of that public consultation and pushed ahead with their plans to impose nearly 40% of the Borough's new housing on Botley and Hedge End.

The point that both the BBC and Meridian missed, though, is that Hedge End and Botley Lib Dems fought the last two local elections on promises to protect our green fields and stand up against developers.  Once elected they threw those promises back in the faces of local people who elected them and accused them of being NIMBYs.   At both local and national level the Lib Dems have shown that they either lie or make promises they know they cannot keep to get elected.
Lib Dem Broken Promise 2011
Lib Dem Broken Promise 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013

Hedge End Shops Hear The Buzz

Three national retailers with outlets in Hedge End have taken a first step to protecting Britain's bees.   

B&Q, Homebase and Wickes have listened to the evidence and removed from sale some of the products that are destroying wild bees.

Southampton bee guru Lee Raymond says in the Bee Friendly Facebook group:
"Great News!
One-step at a time we may save our precious bees
Do any of these to help save our bees! 
Sign petitions... plant bee-friendly flowers ... make nesting habitats for our Native Solitary nesting bees.... and enjoy watching them working hard to pollinate our flowers, herbs, vegetables & fruit...!"
It's a welcome first step, but there are other garden products out there still being sold that are just as deadly to bees.  The Coalition really needs to act to take them all off the shelves and remove neonicotinoid pesticides from agricultural use.  

Three quarters of the oil seed rape fields you see in our countryside have been treated with products that are killing our bees.

Hedge End people can help bees in their own gardens or - thanks to the Town Council's support - can volunteer to help put bee nest boxes and wild flowers in our parks and recreation grounds.

Oh, and here's a link to an international petition:  You can join over two million other people calling for action by the European decision makers.

Bee Cause graphic:  Friends of the Earth

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Huhne Follows Where Hedge End Leads

Pro Bee MP 
Hedge End's MP Chris Huhne has shown his support for the Friends of the Earth Bee Cause campaign.

Following  up behind Hedge End Town Council's practical measures which I proposed  last March, Huhne, along with local Tory Caroline Noakes and Labour's Alan Whitehead formed a cross party consensus calling on the Government to help stem the  “alarming decline” in bee numbers.

Friends of the Earth is calling for a National Bee Action Plan to save the threatened bee species.  Bees are vital to the environment, agriculture and the economy.  Alongside habitat loss and changes to our weather and climate, bees are being killed off by widely used neonicotinoid pesticides.

FoE have worked out that if bees disappeared it would cost British farmers at least £1.8 billion a year to pollinate their crops by hand - which would cause food prices to rocket.

Labour MP Dr Whitehead made this commitment: “I am extremely concerned about the rapid decline in British Bees. They’re not only an iconic part of our countryside, they play a vital role in pollinating our crops and flowers too.  It’s great news that Friends of the Earth is creating a buzz about these crucially important insects – I’ll be doing all I can to help protect our bees in 2013.”

Strangely Chris Huhne's own web site is not featuring this photo opportunity, preferring to show him pulling a pint of Australian lager.

See also: Hedge End's Pro-Pollinator Policies
and Lib Dems 1 Countryside 0

Photo credit: Friends of the Earth

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Lib Dem "Controversial" Land Flip Flop

Broken Lib Dem Promises 2008 
Hedge End Lib Dems are in a flap over the Conservative County Council's refusal to release prime agricultural land at Woodhouse Lane for housing development. 

Hedge End Councillor and leader of Eastleigh Borough Council Keith House is desperate to avoid having to rethink his party's local plan which would see nearly 3000 houses built on green fields in Hedge End and Botley.  He revealed at a council meeting last month that they are still trying to convince the County to change their mind.  Because if those green fields are not released the Lib Dems will have to upset residents in other parts of the Borough.  Perhaps in Hamble - where as the county councillor Cllr House himself is sitting on the healthiest Lib Dem majority in all of the Eastleigh divisions, and where the Lib Dems are planning not a single house on new green field sites.

Where the new houses will go
Cllr House complains that any new sites would be "more controversial than Woodhouse Lane, which was far and away the least controversial site in Eastleigh’s Local Plan".   But not that long ago the Lib Dems thought Woodhouse Lane was controversial.   Controversial enough to splash all over the front page of this Standpoint from just before the last county council elections.  But that was when they opposed building at Woodhouse Lane or "Oil Land" as they chose to describe it.

What do the Lib Dems say about it in this Standpoint?    They say they are "determined to do everything to stop our villages merging into a massive urban sprawl".  "The Lib Dems will keep up the campaign for our villages - watch this space".   "The Conservative County could cash in for housing - or they could choose to save our fields.  What will they do?"

Broken Lib Dem Promises 2011
We now know the answer to that question.  For the time being at least.  We also know that far from keeping up the campaign to save our green fields, Hedge End Lib Dems have executed a cynical flip flop which sees Hedge End and Botley losing more of their green fields than any other rural parish in the borough.

At both local and national level, Lib Dems say one thing to get elected, but break their promises once they are in power.
Broken Lib Dem Promises 2012
 See also: More Countryside Lost to Lib Dem Housing Plans

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Echo Reflects Hedge End Blogger

"A MAJOR blueprint for housing in the Hampshire countryside has been thrown into chaos amid a row over a huge plot of land."  

So runs the story on the Echo's web site, and in today's copy of the paper, some five months after Hedge End Blogger brought you this:

Local Plan Debate - Who Can You Believe?  and

Hedge End's Future - a Lib Dem Concrete Jungle.

And only last month I had this:

Tories Insist Land is Not For Sale.

As county council elections approach, the leaders of the two main parties on Hampshire County Council circle each other like rutting stags, each trying to prevent the other from stealing voters from their own harem.  And it looks like Woodhouse Lane, the last tract of countryside in Hedge End, where the Lib Dems are desperate to build a thousand of the houses they say Eastleigh needs, is going to be one of their battlegrounds. 

There is no place for deer in the Lib Dems plans for Woodhouse Lane
But - watch this space.   Hedge End Blogger has uncovered another layer to this saga.  More will be revealed in the coming days...

Monday, 21 January 2013

Town Council Freezes Council Tax

Good news for Hedge End council tax payers who will see the Town Council part of their bill frozen for the second year running.  In January councillors agreed a budget for 2013/14 which reduces overall expenditure in line with expected lower income from other sources, such as bank interest.

The budget includes a small grant from Eastleigh Borough Council to compensate for changes to the way individual bills are calculated.  Without this grant, Hedge Enders could have ended up paying more, even though the amount paid to the Town Council stayed the same.

Some savings have been made in ongoing costs, for instance by reducing the frequency of cleaning the public toilets.  But the main saving is in cutting the budget for capital projects.  There will be no new play equipment in our parks or major upgrades to our community halls.  Instead the council will concentrate on maintaining the facilities that we have and paying off the mortgage on the new groundstaff depot off Woodhouse Lane.

The zero increase budget has been possible even as the Town Council takes on increased responsibility for local youth services.  After Conservatives at the county council threw in the towel in the face of coalition cuts to local government,  the Town Council took a leading role in making sure The Box in Wildern Lane stayed open for our young people.

See also:  Hedge End Freezes Council Tax
and: Thinking outside the Box