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