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