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.