Saturday, 17 September 2016

HEWEB councillors back from the holidays

There was a short meeting of the Hedge End West End and Botley Local Area Committee this week. I say it was short because members of the public had to leave after only 20 minutes to enable the meeting to continue in secret. I suppose it could have gone on for three hours after we left. Who knows?

I suspect it will have been shorter than that, because none of the ten Lib Dems present showed much appetite for debate during the public part of the meeting. The agenda had no controversial planning decisions, just deciding road names for areas of new development in West End and Boorley Green, and agreeing to spend just over £100,000 of public money, all of which were passed unanimously with no debate. The chair of the committee even had trouble at times finding a member interested enough to formally propose and second the motions.

Councillors agreed to spend
  • £12,000 towards the new children's playground in Greta Park, Hedge End
  • £3,000 to design a new entrance to Itchen Valley Country Park, West End
  • £13,000 to improve footpaths in Grange Park, Hedge End
  • £30,000 for West End's new "superloo"
  • £10,000 for a survey of the dilapidated Hedge End Youth and Community Association building
  • £55,000 for works on the roof of the Wildern Leisure Centre swimming pool

In other news it was announced that
  • A working group has been set up to progress the community aspects of the Boorley Green development (first meeting 19 September).
  • The Council is working with the train operators to improve the shelters at Hedge End station.
  • Itchen Valley Country Park has been awarded a seventh green flag award.
  • The Ageas Bowl liaison panel will meet on 10 November to review the season and the Rod Stewart concert (this is a public meeting).
  • Funding of £100,000 from developers' contributions has been agreed for two play areas in West End.
  • Various works have been undertaken in response to requests from residents and councillors.
  • It will soon be time for community organisations to apply for 2017 grants.

In the public participation section of the meeting a person from Hedge End raised concerns about antisocial parking in older streets in Hedge End. Councillors acknowledged the problem but did not have any ideas what to do about it apart from more yellow lines.

The same person asked about the new charges for certain types of waste at the household waste recycling centres. Eastleigh Lib Dems were opposed to the charges imposed by Hampshire Conservatives. They were concerned that additional costs to dispose of waste properly would increase the risk of fly tipping. What they did not mention was that exactly the same problem arises from Eastleigh Lib Dems' charges to collect garden waste. Embarrassingly this pile of grass cuttings and other clippings has been dumped next a cycle path in the council leader's own ward.

Garden waste fly tipping near Turnpike Way playing field

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Lib Dems put up the cost of Christmas

Hedge End Lib Dems want a massive 50% hike in the Christmas lights budget. Browsing the minutes of this month's Town Council committee meetings, I discovered a recommendation to increase the annual budget for the lights themselves and the entertainment at the "turn on" event from £10,000 to £15,000.

The increase follows a £300 bill to replace defective lights. The Community and Culture Committee were told "there was very little left in the budget to be able to replace these items at present." However the Lib Dem members, including Borough Council leader Cllr Keith House, "felt that the above should be replaced and that extra monies should be found if need be."

It is nice that at a time of national austerity the Lib Dems can conjure up £5,000 when they feel they need it, but where is the money going to come from?

Other items agreed by the Town Council this month include:

Plans to have a plaque to commemorate Mohammed Ali's visit to the village in 1971
Support for a local school's gardening club
To count the number of people using the public toilets on Mondays and Thursdays
To pilot a maximum two hour stay in Council car parks
To object to changed plans for housing on the derelict dairy site in Hobb Lane.

The minutes of all meetings are published on the Council's web site:


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Day 28 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

It looks like our local magpies have turned our garden bug hotel into a bird breakfast buffet. Here's what it looked like on 13 June:

Monday, 27 June 2016

Day 27 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

I seem to have missed quite a few days of blogging about 30 days wild in Hedge End and now find myself almost at the end of the month. I have tried to keep up with a random act of wildness each day but somehow have not found the time to write about them.

We have had a lot of bees and hoverflies, and a few damselflies in the garden. I have been a lot more aware of the wild flowers growing in Hedge End's verges. There were rabbits and mute swans on the new golf course at the cricket ground. Yesterday we had a sparrow hawk fly through the garden and a neighbour reported seeing a red kite above our houses. The sparrow hawk is not unusual, but the red kite is a bit more exciting.

Today we went a bit further afield and drove to Hengistbury Head in Dorset. We walked round the nature reserve and along Mudeford spit. Jack had a swim, we felt refreshed and we saw this lovely cinnabar moth on ragwort.
Beach huts at Mudeford Spit
Jack going for his swim

Friday, 17 June 2016

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Monday, 13 June 2016

Day 13 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

After much looking in books, we have decided that the bees nesting in our bug hotel are red mason bees.

Planning inspector approves new takeaway for Hedge End

Despite objections from Hedge End Town Council and one of the neighbouring shops, a planning inspector has overturned Eastleigh Borough Council's decision to refuse planning consent for a new hot food takeaway in the centre of Hedge End.

The unit at 5a Lower Northam Road has been empty since Hedge End Butchers closed. EBC had refused consent for a change of use from retail to hot food takeaway because there are already too many non-retail businesses in the centre of Hedge End. The inspector's logic is that as there are already too many non-retail businesses in the centre of Hedge End, one more won't make any difference. They also made the point that an empty unit is not good for the vitality of Hedge End.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Day 12 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

On day 12, I read Eastleigh Borough Council's Biodiversity Action Plan. As most of the land within the boundaries of the civil parish of Hedge End has been developed, there is not much in the plan for our area apart from three priority biodiversity links.

Here is my blog entry from 21 July 2012 about the PBLs:

Eastleigh's Lib Dem cabinet last week agreed a new draft biodiversity action plan for the Borough.  For the first time it recognises the importance of wildlife corridors in linking together high value biodiversity habitats.  In an era of climatic uncertainty it is vital that species have routes along which they can migrate to new habitats if forced out by climate change.

Unsurprisingly for an area that continues to be a Lib Dem target for large scale housing and commercial development, Hedge End does not have any "priority biodiversity areas" (PBA), but it does have three "priority biodiversity links" (PBL) which - according to the action plan - should be enhanced.

Hedge End's  PBLs are the motorway and railway corridors and a more meandering link named the "Wildern Priority Biodiversity Link".  Starting at the M27 Junction 7, it has one leg which follows the "heavily modified" urban stream through Hogsty Copse and along Turnpike Way, which it crosses via a culvert at the "superstore" footpath.  It continues through Wildern Nature Park, crossing Wildern Lane just south of the school.  It then follows the boundary of the school playing fields, crosses Grange Road, passes through the grounds of the hotel and into the Lib Dems' preferred strategic housing development area west of Woodhouse Lane where it joins up with the second leg which has taken a bendy course from the railway line through what is at the moment agricultural countryside, but is doomed to disappear under tarmac and concrete.  The BPL then continues through Bottom Copse, across Woodhouse Lane and on through Botley Parish where it connects with the upper reaches of the Hamble Estuary PBA.

The document acknowledges that the link is and will be constrained by development along much of its length, but it does give some recognition to local wildlife habitats including rivers, meadows and fen, floodplain grazing marsh, grass and rush pastures, hedgerows, and woodland, all of which - it says - have potential for restoration.

Watering Down

Sadly it coincides with a watering down of the Council's commitment to work to "protect, conserve and enhance networks of natural habitats and features, including watercourses and trees and hedgerows important to biodiversity and local character" in the Draft Local Plan.  The latest version merely requires the Council to "have regard to opportunities to protect and enhance the Priority Biodiversity Links set out in the Council's Biodiversity Action Plan".

A glance at the map shows that the Wildern PBL divides the area designated for housing West of Woodhouse Lane into two unequal parts (one looking west to the existing Grange Park estates, and one looking east towards Woodhouse Lane), which is going to make things more difficult for future developers.  It will be interesting to see if council planners and Borough councillors are capable of keeping their own wildlife links intact in the face of pressure from those developers.

The full Biodiversity Action Plan can be read on the Council's web site.

Day 11 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

On day 11, I wrote a blog post about a new road which is proposed in the countryside near Hedge End -

Plans include the widening of Woodhouse Lane which passes a site of interest for nature conservation known as Bottom Copse.

The mature trees to the right of the road in this picture are part of the copse. As yet there is no commitment from the council that the widened road will not encroach on Bottom Copse. There is a stream through the copse. When we walked past the copse today there was a moorhen in the stream. The future for moorhens in Hedge End is a little bleak today.

£24 million Botley bypass consultation

The Conservatives at Hampshire County Council have finally woken up and realised that building thousands of houses in the countryside around Boorley Green and Whitely will increase traffic through Botley and Hedge End. Botley already has an air quality problem, which is not helped by having a commercial vehicle test station on the edge of the village.

So the Tories' solution is to dust off the plans for the "historic" route for the Botley bypass through the countryside to the north of the village, make a couple of tweaks and slap them out for consultation.

There will be an exhibition about the plans in the Botley Centre on 21,22 and 25 June, and the consultation will run until 29 July.

It's important for Hedge End too because as you can see from the map, the proposed bypass goes to the north of Botley but seems to stop at the border of Hedge End. As nice as Hedge End is, I suspect most of the traffic from Boorley Green and Whitely will be wanting to get through Hedge End to the M27. There is no proposal to upgrade the roads through the residential areas of Hedge End to accommodate the additional traffic or mitigate the impact on people living along the route to the motorway.

Other concerns include:

There is no mention of provision for cyclists and pedestrians. The proposed route crosses the recently established cycleway from Hedge End to the outskirts of Botley at the Maypole roundabout, bringing cyclists into conflict with cars.

There is no mention of protecting or improving the priority biodiversity link along the route of the railway.

There is no mention of protecting Bottom Copse which is a site of interest for nature conservation threatened by plans to increase the width of Woodhouse Lane.

The details of the council exhibitions are:

Tuesday 21 June 2-7pm, Wednesday 22 June 2-7pm (Diamond Jubilee Hall); Saturday 25 June 1-4pm (Main Hall) at The Botley Centre, High Street, Botley, SO30 2ES.

More information is available on the Hampshire County Council web site:

Friday, 10 June 2016

Day 10 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

Goodalls Lane is a footpath, which despite being close to Wildern School, B&Q and the commercial centre of Hedge End still retains a definite rural feel. You can really imagine yourself back in the middle of the 20th century before the fields to the north of Northam Road were built on and it was still the track from Wildern Lane to the farmhouse.

Today it led us west from Wildern Lane to a
little lawn between the house that is now called Wildern Farmhouse and the back gardens of houses in Thistle Road. Not yet mown by the council, it was a carpet of buttercups.

Goodalls Lane

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Day 9 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

At lunchtime I thought I would spend five minutes or so watching bees in the garden to see if I could add any species to our list. Instead I was completely distracted by a painted lady butterfly. For an insect that must have flown for some time over the sea to get to Hedge End, it was in very good nick and not showing any signs of fatigue. It was just a shame I didn't have my phone with me to take a photo of my own.

stock photo

That was definitely today's highlight. Although a close second was the goldfinch which was singing its heart out perched on our neighbour's television aerial when I returned home later in the day.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Day 8 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

We paused on today's dog walk to mark the demise of this tree. Sadly it seems not to have survived the disturbance caused by the development of Shafford Meadows and its nearby corner shop.

They did plant a couple of oak saplings nearby though.

Day 7 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

The other side of the Wildern Nature Park grazing field lies Goodalls Meadow, another of Hedge End's small green public spaces. Perhaps the Town Council should look at joining them up, then we could have one big green public space!

We passed through on today's dog walk. There was a nice patch of (I think) common mallow, two pairs of red damselflies by the stream and pond, and on the mown part of the meadow, evidence of recent mole activity...

Day 6 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

We have been counting bees in the garden this year.  So far we have identified:

Common carder bee
White tailed bumble bee
Buff tailed bumble bee
Early bumble bee
Red tailed bumble bee
Honey bee
Red mason bee

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Day 5 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

On day 5 I went to the cricket. Hampshire lost to Essex by the way.

I remembered a column in The Times by Simon Barnes. Mr Barnes was that paper's correspondent for both sport and countryside matters. He is also the author of  How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher, a book I find it easy to relate to.

In his Times column, Mr Barnes wrote how he liked to combine his duties reporting on sporting events with his interest in birds by keeping a list of species seen at Wembley, Badminton or more exotic sporting venues. So I thought I would do the same at the home of Hampshire cricket.

The only bird I saw land on the pitch was a pied wagtail. There was a domestic pigeon resting in the roof of the Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie stand, and a small flock of domestic or feral pigeons flying about. Other birds seen on the wing were a starling, a carrion crow, a black headed gull and three herring gulls.

In total six species, or one for every hundred runs scored in the course of the one day match.

Day 4 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

.... an unexpected fish.

It has been a busy few days, and blogging about 30 days wild has fallen a bit behind, but day 4 took in a visit to the Wildern Nature Park during the daily dog walk. This is another of Hedge End's small green open spaces which are managed on behalf of the people by the Town Council.

Most of the park is taken up by a grazing field -
The grazing field
although there were no cows in evidence at this time of year - and a large pond. The pond suffers a bit from having to coexist with nearby people, but I have seen moorhen and mallard on it in on previous visits. The weather on day 4 was not great, so there was not much insect life to see either.
Consequences of nearby people

The pond
The koi
In fact, the most conspicuous living thing was a large koi carp which has presumably been released into the pond by some unthinking numpty who may have committed an offence under the Keeping and Introduction of Fish Regulations 2015.

Prospects for the carp look grim once it has hoovered up all the native wildlife in the pond.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Day 3 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

... a coy bullfinch

I have seen bullfinches in the woods around Goodalls Lane in Hedge End which are only a hundred yards or so away from where we live. But I'm pretty sure this was the first time we have seen one come to visit us in the garden. Although a neighbour spotted them in his garden a couple of days ago.

It was certainly the first opportunity Kim had to take a photo of one on the sunflower seed feeder. It just needs to learn from the goldfinches and greenfinches to perch on the side nearest the window so we can get a decent photo.

Other birds I have seen nearby but never in the garden itself are pied wagtails and green woodpeckers.

Day 2 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

An unexpected mallard....

Bridget Mary Garden is one of Hedge End's small green oases. Donated to the people of Hedge End by a local doctor and alderman in memory of his wife, the history of the garden has been researched by Hedge End Town Council.

From Upper Northam Road the garden looks like a building plot sized gap between two houses. It is hard to imagine that the owner of a similar plot today would do anything but sell it for development. We have to be vigilant. Local Lib Dems have shown they cannot be trusted to protect land designated as public open space. I have blogged about the recent decision to hand part of Hatch Farm public open space in nearby West End over to developers.

Bridget Mary Garden is a green space which is not overly managed by the council. Nature is pretty much left to its own devices most of the time. This means there is lots of healthy green undergrowth in the form of brambles, nettles and other common wild flowers, including a foxglove. There are some splendid mature oaks and beeches as well as younger trees.

On day 2 of the Wildlife Trusts' 30 acts of random wildness challenge the garden was also host to a squirrel, a blackbird and - which was more of pleasant surprise - a mallard.

It has been a busy couple of days. The challenge has only just started and blogging is already three days behind the events!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Day 1 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

Juvenile starlings on the bird table
I spotted the other day that the Hampshire Wildlife Trust is encouraging us to engage with nature during the month of June. The challenge is to carry out 30 acts of random wildness in the month, and it doesn't matter how small they are. Engaging with nature is supposed to make us happier and healthier. So what's not to like, I thought. I can make contact with the natural world and blog about it afterwards.

Friendly cooperation on the bird table
Living in Hedge End, a largely built-up suburb to the east of Southampton but administratively part of Lib Dem controlled Eastleigh Borough, there are unlikely to be huge numbers of rare species to spot. And working full time means during the week any contact will be with the nature that happens to come into our garden or is not scared away when I am out walking with Jack. However there are pockets of green space in Hedge End where nature is hanging on - not least in people's back gardens.

Adult starling nicking the robin's breakfast
So for day one I am going to celebrate a garden bird which used to be very common, but - I understand from Springwatch this week - has been on the decline. There have been at least three successful starling nests nearby.  Earlier in the spring we had adults raiding the mealworms put out with robins in mind, and in the last week or two juveniles have been descending on the bird table. I counted 15 today, but there have been 21 at times. We just need to attract them off the bird table and onto the lawn to eat the leatherjackets so we don't  have a crane fly population explosion in late summer.

We can't claim a Hedge End murmuration but 15-21 is a healthy sized flock for our average back garden. And worth putting up with the noise.
Adult starlings are handsome birds though
(All photos courtesy Kim Day)

Monday, 21 March 2016

Town Council "No Objection" to Care Home in Woodhouse Lane

Proposed site for care home looking towards Woodhouse Lane
All Hedge End planning applications are referred to the Town Council for comment before the Borough Council makes a decision to permit or refuse the application. This month the Town Council returned a "No Objection" to an application to build a three storey, 70 bed care home in Woodhouse Lane. Councillors did raise concerns about the 32 proposed parking spaces. This is understandable as any overflow parking is likely to end up in the Town Council's own car park serving the nearby bowling green and tennis courts. The council already has a problem with parking from the Botleigh Grange Business Park spreading into the leisure park.

It is sad to see another patch of green disappear, but there is going to be a need for more and more facilities for older people as the population ages. It is not that long since the Lib Dems refused permission for a residential home in West End. As they seem determined to have all the fields off Woodhouse Lane developed, this one might fit in better with their master plan for the area.

The Woodhouse Lane home is expected to bring 60 jobs to Hedge End - admittedly not terribly well paid ones. The current footpath across the field will be re-routed. The developer has committed to retaining most of the existing trees on the site. I just hope somebody told them the Lib Dems plan to make Woodhouse Lane the "Botley by-pass" with traffic from hundreds of new houses at Boorley Green racing past to get to the M27.

Other committees this month resolved to:

Carry out a survey to determine how many people use the public toilets in Lower Northam Road.

Obtain quotations to refurbish the Grade II listed old school building currently occupied by HEYCA.

Agree the use of the usual Town Council recreation grounds for the carnival (26 June to 5 July) and fun fair with fireworks (12 November).

Modernise, refurbish and extend the children's play area in Greta Park.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Town Councillor Slams "Boring" Meeting

Tree Warden, Mayor and Chair of TC
This week's meeting of Hedge End Town Council saw Tory member Jerry Hall laying into the majority Lib Dems for how they conducted themselves at the Annual Parish Assembly on Monday.

Town Council vice-chair Paul Carnell had already reported to the meeting that only 33 people had attended the earlier meeting, and most of those were councillors. The "serving the community award" had been presented to Hedge End's long serving tree warden, Andrew Jemmett.

However when it came to Borough Council Reports on the agenda, Cllr Hall criticised Lib Dem members for making speeches at the annual assembly that were too party-political. He described the event as "poorly attended" and "crushingly boring".

Lib Dem Cllr Cynthia Garton agreed, saying that apart from the first year of the "serving the community award" when there were several local folk nominated, it was always hard to encourage people to come along.

In fact, back in 2011, attendance was only 15 as I reported here: So perhaps 33 people this year was a good turnout after all.

Cllr Hall went on to claim that funding for the Botley by-pass had been secured in that day's budget. This assertion prompted one or two snorts of derision from amongst the Lib Dems. Cllr Pretty later pointed out that all that had been announced was a pot of money, some of which might or might not come Botley's way.

Cllr Hall's report concluded with the news that works had started to prevent further flooding in Hobb Lane, and the Borough's original budget of £19 million for the new Fleming Park was likely to be exceeded by some considerable margin.

In fact there were meetings in Eastleigh about the Fleming Park project the same evening, which probably explained why some of the more senior Lib Dem councillors were not at the Town Council meeting.

Earlier Cllr Margaret Allingham had reported on two planning applications considered at the last Local Area Committee which I have already described here:

Cllr Pretty also confirmed that although the Borough Council Tax was being frozen again, Hedge End folk would see the County precept rise by 3.9% and the Town Council share by 1%. He also requested support at a planning appeal. A developer wants to build on the fields near the crematorium in Bubb Lane. The council has rejected the application, and the developer's appeal is being heard on 12 April, 10am at the Rose Bowl.

Photo credit: Hedge End Town Council

Thursday, 10 March 2016

How Lib Dems spend your money

One of Hedge End's plant towers

As well as considering two planning applications, the HEWEB local area committee this week rubber stamped a number of spending commitments:
£10,600 for a "footway" at Moorgreen Road in West End
£10,500 for a shared pedestrian / cycleway at Barbe Baker Avenue in West End
£5,000 contribution to the TRAIN arts project
£6,000 for tree works in Grange Park Ward, Hedge End
£950 for tree works and a new fence in Tamarisk Road and Jasmine Road, Hedge End
£3,700 for the plant towers in the centres of Hedge End, West End and Botley
£104,000 for new play areas in Townhill Park and Carpathia Close, West End

I had not heard of the TRAIN arts project before. It was described in the officer's report as "a broad and ambitious new digital development programme which will enable young people in particular to tell a story across multiple platforms and formats including but not limited to games, books, events, theatre, media and festivals." It appears to be a collaboration between the Council, The Berry Theatre, the library service, The Sorting Office and Eastleigh Tech Hub.

Lib Dems Accused of Conflict of Interest

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the planning process, and whatever the need for more housing in the Borough, it was clear at this week's HEWEB local area committee that the Lib Dems cannot be trusted to look after public green space.

"Land at Hatch Farm" was transferred to the Council in the 1980s as public open space. The "meadow-like" land was enjoyed by West End residents for informal recreation for a couple of decades. Then the Lib Dems started the process of changing its designation from "public open space" to "land allocated for housing". The next step was a "development brief" which invited housing on what was a green space. Unfortunately for the Lib Dems, their failure to present an adequate Local Plan means the Council's agreed policy for this land is still that it should be protected as public open space.

The planning application for a hundred houses was referred to the committee by officers because it was "contrary to the Development Plan" and the site was "within the ownership of the Borough Council". Large numbers of interested West End folk in the public gallery were presented with a rather unedifying spectacle of the Council being asked to give the Council permission to build houses on land owned by the Council. And all this had been given the OK by the Council's own legal team.

The residents association also pointed out that houses built on the site would be at risk of flooding, and the additional traffic would block already congested roads. They were also frustrated that the report included the private gardens of the new houses were counted when calculating how much public open space would remain after development.

West End Lib Dem Bruce Tennent agreed with the local residents and supported their objections on the grounds of traffic gridlock and flood risk. However, he was put in his place by Lib Dem leader Cllr Keith House. "We have already agreed housing here in principle", he said. Voters had to understand the difference between listening and agreeing. The Lib Dems had listened but they did not agree with the objectors. There would be less flooding risk after the houses were built , the remaining open space would be "improved", and Hampshire County Council did not agree that development here would make existing traffic problems worse. The Lib Dems had to sacrifice green space here to protect green space elsewhere in the Borough.

Lone Conservative member Cllr Hall accused Cllr House of "threatening" the committee. Cllr Hall was uncomfortable about the apparent conflict of interest, wanted to defend the principle of public open space, and agreed with Cllr Tennent that putting more green space under concrete and tarmac was likely to make flooding problems worse.

Planning permission was granted by eight votes to two.

Link to Is it Keith "Million Houses" House?

Photo from @CllrKeithHouse

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Lib Dem U-Turn Paves the Way for Small Care Home

After recent criticism from within his own ranks, Lib Dem leader Cllr Keith House was left isolated at this week's HEWEB local area committee meeting. Councillors considered an application to convert a house in Cllr House's ward to a care home for four girls aged 9-18 years. This was a change of use application, and the planning officer's recommendation was to permit the change of use.
Cllr House

In November 2014 the same applicant applied to extend the home with additional bedrooms. On that occasion, Cllr House channelled Clint Eastwood, challenging the applicant to, "Go on punk, make my day" as he led his Lib Dems to deny permission. Some councillors who spoke and voted against the application in 2014 changed their mind and voted in support of the applicant this week. Predictably, the applicant appealed the 2014 decision, and the planning inspector saw through Cllr House's grandstanding and overturned the refusal.

This week's decision was simply about the change of use. Planning officers had decided this application was "controversial" enough to qualify for consideration by the LAC. In technical terms this was a change of use
from C3 (Dwellinghouses) to C2 (Residential Institutions). This is strange because the government's planning portal states that category C3 includes homes for up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems . It was not made clear at the meeting why this home for four people had to be subject to a change of use at all.

Neighbours raised a number of concerns, but were primarily worried about the additional car movements and parking that would result from the change of use. The home is not in a location where there is a lot of opportunity for on street parking. However the planning officer's report made clear that the home has a huge front garden which could easily accommodate six cars. The officer's judgement was that the impact of car parking would be no different from a large family with older children who drove and consequently not sufficient to deny the application on planning grounds.

The applicant made representations drawing on their own experience, the need for vulnerable young people to be cared for in a domestic environment close to their families, and their success stories enabling girls in their care in other homes to complete their education and realise their ambitions for the future.

The first committee member to speak was Cllr Emma Norman, the other representative of Wildern Ward.
Cllr Norman
Cllr Norman followed the tone set by the applicant, abandoned her prepared speech, and spoke from the heart in defence of the vulnerable girls who would be helped by the applicant, referring to her own professional and family experience.

At this point the neighbours felt they were being unfairly criticised and there followed a bit of direct discussion between them, the applicant and committee members. This prompted the vice-chair to urge the chair to regain control of the meeting.. This he did, and Cllr Norman apologised, saying she was "choked up" by the applicant's story.

Cllr House then took a more conciliatory position than he had in 2014, stating that both sides of the argument were "right". However he criticised the "emotional" content of the discussion - a comment presumably aimed at the applicant and his colleague Cllr Norman - and stated that he disagreed with the officer about the parking, and would be voting against the recommendation to permit the change of use.

Other councillors picked up his criticisms of the tone of debate, with Cllr Clarke agreeing that there had been too much "emotion" and lone Conservative Cllr Hall feeling the neighbours had been "bullied". However, both they and Cllr Welsh stated they would be supporting the applicant. When it came to the vote only Cllr House put his hand up against the officer's recommendation.

I got the impression the majority had made the right decision, but that the meeting had done nothing to address the neighbours' legitimate worries. The neighbours and the applicants all left the hall together and seemed to be having a huddle outside, so perhaps they were coming to an arrangement without the "assistance" of their elected representatives.

Photo credits: Hedge End Town Council

Monday, 1 February 2016

Hedge End Gang Show

Hedge End Scouts have asked me to pass on news about their 2016 Gang Show. Happy to oblige:

Hedge End Gang Show – Feb 2016

Hedge End Gang Show is back with big plans for their return to the Scouting Stage
with their ‘Best of British’ production which will hit the stage in February 2016.

Hedge End Gang Show has been providing creative activities for Scouts in and
around the Itchen district for over half a century having celebrated its 50th Birthday in
2013. After a few years away, the Gang Show is back with huge plans for their next
production  ‘Best of British’ featuring the very best of British music, comedy and
variety from yester-year through to yesterday.

In 2013, Hedge End Gang Show entered the ‘Bright Sparks’ singing competition and
as competition finalists were chosen to perform vocals upon the ‘Project Christmas’
album which was professionally recorded and released on an international scale.

In October, Hedge End Gang Show commenced their revival by uniting with other
Scout shows from across Hampshire to perform in ‘Hampshire Scouts Present’ at the
Winchester Guildhall, entertaining a full house and receiving a standing ovation along
with their peers. Now, nearly 5 months of hard work later, their own district show is
almost ready. The cast are polishing their acts and adding final touches to the show,
scenery is having its final coats of paint and the last sequins being are being sewn
onto costumes.

With a new show comes a new Producer with Kevin Harmer taking the helm.  “This
show is a tribute to our great country, brought to you through comedy, song and
dance. All the music in the show has been written or performed by British artists. In
2016 we celebrate the 90th birthday of the longest running monarch, we also
celebrate 100 years of Cub Scouts. Four years ago we were preparing for the
Olympic Games and 50 years ago the Beatles did their last tour together. We
celebrate all these events and more in the show.

Hedge End Gang Show takes to the stage on 19th and 20th February at Wyvern
Technical College, Eastleigh with a matinee performance on Saturday 20th. Tickets
are £7 for children and £9 for adults and are available from or ‘Thoughts’ card shop in Hedge End

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hedge End on the Web - January

Just some links to things concerning the Hedge End area that have appeared online recently:

The Daily Echo reported on:
Poor sales at Next
More complaints about the Ageas Bowl
Plans for 200 houses between Hedge End and West End
Fire in B&Q car park

Hedge End Councillor Keith House tweeted about:
Donald Trump
Tory immigration policy
Donald Trump (again)
Eastleigh FC
The weather
David Bowie
Barack Obama
Saudi Arabia
Barack Obama (again)

Hedge End Councillor Louise Bloom tweeted about:
Reading and wellbeing
Gender neutral honorifics
Call the midwife
Flood defences
Southampton FC
Mental health
Palestinian rights
Womens wellbeing
Mental health (again)
David Bowie

TGR Worzel blogged about:
Getting the train to Eastleigh
Shortage of pens in Hedge End Post Office

The Hedge End Trumpet blogged about:
By Election in Freegrounds ward

Local Plan Consultation (2)

Option A showing areas targeted for declopment
It was an interesting day yesterday. In the morning, while knocking doors to support the Labour candidate in the Freegrounds by election, I met somebody who is so fed up with the Lib Dem overdevelopment they have decided to move away from Hedge End altogether. They didn't think much of the Lib Dem "Vision" of "improved standards of living for residents; promoting thriving and healthy communities; and maintaining an attractive and sustainable environment that residents value" ("Issues and Options" page 16). For that resident of Freegrounds ward, it was "too late". They were fed up sitting in gridlocked traffic every day.

Then in the afternoon I popped in to the Council exhibition on the Local Plan in the 2000 Centre. Following Labour's campaigning last weekend to make people aware this was happening, one of the planning officers there told me there had been at least a hundred local residents turn up. There were certainly at least 20 there at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Two of the options on offer in "Issues and Options" would affect Hedge End directly. Option A would see more green fields across the Borough given over to up to 5000 houses and "employment floorspace".  The Lib Dems don't say how many of these would be in Hedge End, but the map shows three areas: around Woodhouse Lane, and two to the east of Kings Copse Avenue. It's not so long ago that the Lib Dems were trumpeting that they had saved the land at Kings Copse Avenue from the Tories who wanted to build there!

Option F would put all the additional housing in the fields at Woodhouse Lane, effectively merging Hedge End, Boorley Green and Botley into one huge built up area. So much for Lib Dem promises about maintaining the character of rural villages and protecting the green spaces between them.

An additional 1300 houses and new "employment floorspace" would generate an awful lot of traffic on Woodhouse Lane. Plans are included to upgrade this traditional country lane as part of the "Botley Bypass".  According to the "Strategic Transport Study" the bypass would carve through the green fields south of the railway and join Woodhouse Lane at a new roundabout roughly where the footpath / bridleway emerges.

Bottom Copse under threat
The plan is then to increase the width of Woodhouse Lane itself and add a further 3m wide footpath / cycleway on one side of the road. It is not made clear that the Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) at Bottom Copse by the side of Woodhouse Lane would be protected at all under this option.

It is also not clear what will happen when all this traffic arrives at the Maypole roundabout apart from wait in yet another Hedge End queue. The "Strategic Transport Study" admits:
"..there is forecast to be a degree of congestion and delay on some approaches to the new junctions at either end of the Bypass and also at the Maypole roundabout where Woodhouse Lane meets the A334."

It is also not clear in the plan what would be the impact of the extra traffic on Kings Copse Avenue, but it clearly won't make things easier for the people living in the roads that lead on to it, nor how it will be made safer for pedestrians crossing Woodhouse Lane to the convenience store on the Botley side of the roundabout, or how it will be made safer for cyclists.

It is not that long ago that the Lib Dems took credit for the new cycle route from Hedge End to (almost) Botley. Now they are planning a new road bypass to cut straight through it. Hardly joined up planning, is it?

The consultation runs until 17 February. Full details and the consultation documents are on the borough council web site here.


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Local Plan Consultation (1)

Labour's leaflet
Local Labour Party campaigners were out in numbers in Hedge End this morning. Hundreds of leaflets about next Saturday's exhibition were handed out to people in the village centre. Most were not aware of the Council's new local plan or the exhibition planned for Hedge End's 2000 Centre next weekend.

It seems the Lib Dem controlled Council has not done a very good job of publicising the exhibition. It is almost as if they don't want people to know about or comment on their plans.

The exhibition runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 30 January. If it follows the format of previous exhibitions there will be lots of information, large scale maps and planning officers to explain things.

We are having to go through this process again because the Lib Dems' failed first time round to produce a local plan that was fit for purpose. It was rejected by the planning inspector because it did not meet the predicted housing needs in the Borough.

According to their web site, the Council now want people's views on:
  • How much development is required in the Borough?
  • Where should the development be?
  • How will the development be delivered?
The relevant plan document is called "Eastleigh Borough Local Plan 2011-2036 - Issues and Options" and is available on the Council web site here.

Comments are also invited on the Council's documents "Sustainability Appraisal", "Habitats Regulation Assessment" and "Strategic Transport Study".

The consultation closes on 17 February 2016.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Stay Away Lib Dem Causes By Election

There will be a Town Council by election in Freegrounds Ward on 11th February. There is a vacancy because a Lib Dem councillor elected unopposed in May 2015 turned up for just one meeting and has not been seen since.

This comes at a time when another Lib Dem, one of the two Borough councillors for Botley has missed every local area committee since February 2015.

When the Lib Dems shout that their candidate is the "best person for the job", perhaps they should check their candidate can, and wants to, actually turn up to do the job.

Following the announcement of the Freegrounds Ward vacancy, the Town Council is made up of 16 Lib Dems and four Tories.

Both the Lib Dems and Tories are putting up candidates who have previously been rejected by the electorate. Maggie Allingham lost her Town Council seat in May but remains on the Borough Council. Paul Redding has loyally allowed his name to go forward for the Tories on many occasions without success.

This time there is a genuine, independently minded alternative with my near neighbour Terry Crow standing for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

Freegrounds Ward

Lib Dems Hike Sport Costs

Hedge End folk who use Town Council sports pitches for football or cricket, or Council halls for keep fit, martial arts, zumba or pilates will see the cost of hiring those facilities leap up by 3% in April. The Lib Dem dominated Recreation and Amenities committee decided in December to rubber stamp the Town Clerk's recommendation of an across the board 3% increase in charges.

Three percent might seem a small increase but it comes after a year in which inflation has been more or less zero. What is the justification in hiking charges to the people of Hedge End when the Council's own costs are much the same as they were twelve months ago?

The increase undermines the credibility of the Lib Dems' attempts to encourage people to take on more physical activity on the Borough Council web site. It is another example of the Lib Dems saying one thing and doing the opposite.

Since last May's elections there are four Conservatives on the Town Council, but they chose not to challenge the Lib Dem increases, and at full Council in December seemed happy to nod through all the Lib Dem decisions. Perhaps they kept their heads down in case the Lib Dems tried to put the blame on the Conservative government's cuts.