17 OCT 2017

Test Valley Tour - Romsey Abbey

Since becoming leader of the Council, I have been touring Test Valley getting to know, in detail, the various communities across the Borough. I continued my tour yesterday with a visit to Romsey Abbey ward – being shown around by local Councillor, Ian Richards.

I had a brief tour of King John's House and Heritage Centre, before heading to the Memorial Park and the successful kiosk run by former Councillor, Sally Lamb. After a quick stop at La Parisienne for a café au lait it was on to Bell Street to have a look at the highway improvement works being undertaken in partnership with Hampshire County Council.

I also took time to meet the President of the Romsey Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Speirs; Town Centre Manager, Mark Edgerley and the Manager of the newly refurbished Romsey Visitor Information Centre, Julia West. I finished off my morning on the fashion floor of the successful independent department store, Bradbeers, talking to director Greg Davies.

Thanks Ian for an action packed and very worthwhile morning.

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13 OCT 2017

Democracy Week at Smannell & Enham Primary School

The children of Smannell & Enham Primary School took to the polls last week to vote in their new school council; known as the Junior Governors. As a former pupil, I was delighted to be asked to give a talk about my role leading Test Valley Borough Council, the fundamental importance of democracy in my job and to offer some campaigning advice to the children.

The votes were counted by the school's ambassadors Verity and Eswyn and the results declared to the excited audience at Friday's Celebration Worship.

It is important our young people understand and value our democratic system as it is not something we should ever take for granted – there are plenty of countries in the world whose populations are not free. As Ronald Regan said, we didn't pass freedom to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

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12 OCT 2017

Improving Recycling Opportunities in Test Valley

Yesterday I visited the Veolia Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Alton and the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in Chineham.

The MRF is where the contents of your brown bin go to be sorted and recycled and the ERF is the destination for the contents of your black bin - to be turned into electricity.

Did you know that significantly less than 10% of all waste in Hampshire goes to landfill? And we are working with our partners across the county to identify more ways for our residents to recycle.

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02 OCT 2017

Business Support Event at UOS Science Park

I was pleased to be asked to chair a Test Valley business support event put on by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership at the University of Southampton Science Park in Chilworth today.

I'm extremely proud that the UoS Science Park is based here in Test Valley – the economic jewel in our economic crown – supporting global and start-up businesses and hundreds of jobs.

In fact, some of the businesses in the Catalyst Centre have benefited from Test Valley's Business Start-up grant. This support for new and small businesses is now part of our DNA in Test Valley and one of the many reasons why we were once again named the Federation of Small Business Most Business-Friendly Council in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight this year.

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25 SEP 2017

New Pathway for Knights Enham Church

I was delighted to open the new accessible pathway outside St Michael & All Angels Church in Knights Enham yesterday.

A real difference from the muddy, uneven gravel pathway that was there previously but just as in keeping with the historic 12th Century building.

As Reverend Lee Davies said may all those who journey along the path be blessed.

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22 SEP 2017

Success - Roman Way School set for Signalised Crossing

Following a meeting organised by new County Councillor for Andover North, Cllr Kirsty Locke, Kit Malthouse MP and myself, I'mdelighted to report that the County Council's Executive Member for Transport, Rob Humby has announced that engineers WILL develop plans for a Puffin Crossing outside Roman Way Primary School.

As I have previously said the Borough Council's legal agreement with the developer of Augusta Park states that they make a contribution towards the provision of a signalised crossing on Viking Way. This is due to the additional traffic that that development creates. However, proposals for a crossing had stalled – with the County Council suggesting that they 'continue to monitor the situation' whilst considering alternative options to improve pedestrian access.

I'm pleased our persistence has now paid off though – and I thank Cllr Humby for listening to parents, pupils and pedestrians. A proper crossing will make life a lot safer for our schoolchildren.

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08 SEP 2017

Councillors Surgery Dates

Dates for your diary.

Andover Test Valley Borough Councillors have released the next tranche of surgery dates - offering you the chance to raise any problem, concern or idea you have with us that affects you or the town.

The next surgery will take place on Saturday 16th September between 10am and 12 noon in the Upper Guildhall.

Further surgeries will take place at the same time and venue on the 14th October and the 11th of November. No appointment is necessary.

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08 SEP 2017

Andover Achievers' Awards 2017

Congratulations to the winners and nominees of the Andover College Achievers' Awards, where I had the privilege to be their guest speaker earlier this week.

The evening was full of inspirational stories where students have worked exceptionally hard to reach their full potential, often in the face of adversity.

Not only did Andover College achieve a 100% pass rate for the second year in succession, their A-Level value added scores put them in the top 5% of colleges in the country.

That's what I call an aspirational Andover!

Full text of my speech

"Good evening everyone.

My name is Phil North and I'm the Leader of Test Valley Borough Council.

It is an honour to be here tonight to celebrate your outstanding achievements. So to all the nominees, a very well done and congratulations on your hard work.

Although I'm now in my early 30's, which will seem a very long way away for some of you. Young, elected politicians are quite rare.

My journey started when I was at college. Studying Government & Politics at Peter Symmonds College in Winchester. I spent two great years of my life there. This was long before Andover College achieved a better pass rate than Peter Symmonds, as it has done for the last two years.

My teachers were inspirational – and after studying all the political ideologies, I joined the Conservative Party. I don't want to turn this into a party political broadcast but I joined because I believe in individual liberty, equality of opportunity, aspiration and low taxes – ensuring people get to keep more of their well-earned money.

After graduating from University in 2006, I decided I wanted to stand to become a Councillor. Due to my age and inexperience I was asked to stand in a ward that my party were not always strong in. The most deprived ward in the Borough. It is what's known in the trade as a paper candidate. We'll put you up, we don't expect you to win but if you work hard we might consider you for a safer seat at the next election.

But I did win. I didn't want to wait four more years. I won because I worked extraordinarily hard, knocking on every door in the ward and telling people what I was doing to improve their area.

And at the age of 21, I became the youngest ever councillor on Test Valley.

And I love it.

It's different to any other job you could possibly have. Your only boss is the people that put you there, the electorate – and it is only them that you need to answer.

I have another full-time job too because being a Councillor doesn't pay the bills, so I still get told what to do, but it's not so bad.

In the last decade I have progressed through the Council – as Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, Chairman of the Budget Panel and as Cabinet Member for the Corporate Portfolio.

There have been knock-backs along the way. In 2015, I decided to apply to become the Conservative candidate for Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner. This included a gruelling interview in Conservative Central Headquarters – and a selection meeting in front of 200-odd people. I got down to the final two but ultimately fell at the final hurdle.

But I picked myself up and now, thanks to my colleagues that elected me this year, I became the Leader of the Council.

I'm still the youngest Councillor bar none so to persuade my colleagues that the young whipper-snapper should be their leader was a tough job. But I managed it, not least because of my hard work over the last 10 years.

Many of you will be too young to remember it but when New Labour swept to power in 1997. Tony Blair famously summed up his manifesto in 3 words. Education, Education, Education.

My ambition for Andover can also be summed up in 3 words. Aspiration, Aspiration, Aspiration.

But what do I mean by that?

Well I want to lead a Council that's bold and aspirational. There's a fine example of it outside this very building with a brand new, purpose built Leisure Centre being constructed, and with the success of The Lights Theatre and Andover College it has the potential to become a thriving cultural quarter for the town.

The Andover Vision that I currently chair, has bold plans to enhance our great green environment, improve our town centre and for Andover to become a more connected community. And the thread weaving through all of that is to boost aspiration.

I also want every individual that grows up in Andover to reach their full potential. And often that doesn't happen.

Your parents have undoubtedly supported you through your GCSEs, and now through your post 16 studies, be that A-Levels, BTECs or any of the many other Professionally recognised programmes that are offered by the college and parents will, I'm sure continue to support you if you want to go on to Higher Education.

But there are some parents, let's be blunt about it who encourage their children to get full-time jobs, often low paid and without structured training as soon as possible in life to help contribute to the household income. Earning £200 a week sounds great when you're 18 but when you're in your mid-twenties and want to start a family or get a mortgage it can be impossible. By then many of the doors that were open to you in your late teens have been closed because you haven't walked through them.

So I want to play my part in ensuring our young people and their parents get the best advice possible before it is too late so that they can make choices about things like 'Apprenticeships' with forward looking businesses, 'Higher Apprenticeships' and now even 'Degree Apprenticeships' as well as full time college routes to BTECs and A Levels and University for those who want that. That's what I mean by an aspirational Andover, enabling each and every person to reach their full potential.

But let's be frank about this.

Your parents can help, educational establishments can help, businesses can help, local authorities can help. But it is down to you to take ownership of your future career path. No-one will do it for you.

Sometimes I get sleepless nights thinking about a Test Valley problem I have to solve, sometimes I get nervous talking to large audiences, no matter how friendly they are but I do something that I enjoy doing. Serving the public.

That is my number one piece of advice for you. Do something you love.

You are more likely to work had, deal with the knock backs and ultimately succeed if you do something you enjoy.

Second, believe in yourself. That's not something I have always found easy – I struggle with confidence just like anyone else, I'm only human. That looking around thinking, well that person who does the same job is excellent, I can't match them. But I've learnt to believe I can do it. I would never have applied to become the Conservative candidate for Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, or put myself forward to my colleagues for leader of the Council if I didn't believe I could do it.

Third, keep learning. I've been on the council for a decade but I'm still learning – and I'd like to think this isn't the peak of my career. I want to be leader of the council for many, many years but I'm still in the same position as all of you, with my best years ahead of me. Hopefully.

Lastly, be tenacious. Be determined. Be persistent. You won't get where you want to go overnight but through tireless, resolute hard-work you will get there.

Thank you."

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08 AUG 2017

Town Mills Enhancements - Have Your Say

"Let's open up the river and make the best use of the Anton as it flows through the town." That was the stand out priority fromthe people of Andover as we consulted on a new Andover Vision, which I have had the pleasure to lead over the last 16 months.

The River Anton's most prominent town centre position is as it meanders through the Town Mills, past the Methodist Church on its way to the Clatfords. It is at this location that a scheme is currently being worked up by Hampshire County Council, as lead partner with support from Test Valley to improve the area; widening the footway; improving the landscape and providing more benches. But looking at the proposed project again in the context of the Andover Vision I quickly came to the conclusion that the current scheme, whilst undoubtedly an improvement, was a bronze solution rather than the gold one that Andover deserved. So with support from fellow Andover Councillors, I instructed Test Valley Borough Council officers to work up an enhanced proposal which consists of blocking the road adjacent to Wilkinson and creating a separate access to Town Mills car park from Western Avenue. This would allow us to improve the current scheme and create a fantastic urban park on the banks of the Anton, greening the area. Removing the traffic from this location would not only mean providing much more recreational space, it also passes the 'Toddler Test', meaning families can enjoy spending time by the river without the fear of passing traffic, attracting people to the town and encouraging them to stay longer.

Sounds good, doesn't it? So this is where you come in. The consultation is asking for public opinion on the current proposal so in order for us to achieve the enhanced scheme, everyone who has been telling us that improving that area is their priority needs to back it, by ensuring they say so during the consultation. This can be accessed, via Hampshire County Council's website at: www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/andovertownmill - you can also pick up a paper copy at Test Valley's offices in Beech Hurst. The consultation runs until the 31st August, so please make your views known in the 'additional comments' section.

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01 AUG 2017

Tour of Test Valley heads to North Baddesley and Valley Park

Since becoming leader of the Council, I have been touring Test Valley getting to know, in detail, the various communities across the Borough.

Last week, my tour took on a cross party flavour - as I was shown around North Baddesley and Valley Park Wards by the new Leader of the Lib Dem Group, Celia Dowden and longstanding Councillor, Alan Dowden. I was able to see the Hoe Lane development site; the new pathway that has just been constructed at Glendowan Road and visit Knightwood Leisure Centre, where we are developing a new building for the local pre-school and intend to work together to try and improve pedestrian access.

Cllr Celia Dowden said: "I welcome the new leader's intention to visit every ward in the Borough. I was pleased to show him the diversity within the North Baddesley ward and discuss with him some of the issues."

Cllr Alan Dowden said" I think the new leader was impressed with Valley Park and I appreciated the opportunity to show him around and talk about ways we can further improve the area."

There's a myth in politics that just because someone is from a different party, then surely we must always be at each other's throats. That's not true. Actually in local politics we often agree and I look forward to working with Celia, Alan and their colleagues to continue to improve the quality of life for the residents of Test Valley.

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21 JUL 2017

Andover Junior Graduation Success

Earlier this week, I attended the inspiring Andover Junior Graduation Ceremony in The Lights – to celebrate the achievements of our young people.

The Junior Graduation was one of the key projects that came out of the original Andover Vision to raise aspirations in the town.

The ceremony congratulates year six students as they move from primary on to secondary school and encourages them and their parents to consider higher education in future years - with an inspiring talk from the University of Winchester.

Students were congratulated by the Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council and received a graduation certificate before being welcomed into the secondary sector by Nathan Thomas from Winton Academy.

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20 JUL 2017

Tour of Test Valley Continues

I continued my tour of Test Valley today – spending an interesting few hours with Romsey Extra Councillor and current Mayor of Romsey, Ian Hibberd.

As the new leader of Test Valley, I want to get to know each and every community in the Borough – so it was great to a get a really detailed view of Romsey Extra from Cllr Hibberd.

The afternoon included a tour around the fantastic Youth in Romsey facility, a visit to the new development at Abbotswood and finished with lunch in the Hunters Inn.

Ian Hibberd said: "I was delighted to show Councillor North around my ward and share with him the key issues we are facing here in Romsey Extra. As I always point out, we are Councillors for the whole Borough so I'm impressed with the interest Phil is showing in getting to know all of Test Valley, in detail."

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19 JUL 2017

Augustians hear more on the Andover Vision

Despite my relatively young age, I was today made an honorary member of the Augustians (the over 50's club on Augusta Park) - as I gave a talk on the Andover Vision.

Even though I was grilled for a good 45 minutes afterwards on various Test Valley Borough Council and other matters, I was made to feel very welcome - and they even took the time to write me a card to say thank you.

It was my pleasure to attend - a fantastic community organisation.

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13 JUL 2017

Ben Few-Brown Joins the Conservative Group

I'm delighted to announce that Independent Councillor, Ben Few-Brown has today joined the Conservative Group on Test ValleyBorough Council.

Ben is a valuable and assiduous contributor in council meetings and I'm pleased he will now be backing the majority Group as we continue with our agenda to provide efficient and effective services and improve the quality of life for the people in Test Valley.

Cllr Few–Brown said: "I've been impressed by Phil's leadership and the team he has built around him to run his new administration. I am confident in this new Administration's commitment to listening to Test Valley residents and to putting local people and businesses first. Phil and his team have already proven their commitment to listening to back bench councillors and proactively finding solutions to local challenges."

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12 JUL 2017

Enham Trust Invests in Accessible Bike

Inclement weather didn't put off the Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Carl-Borg Neal and Chief Executive of Enham Trust, Heath Gunn as the Trust launched their new accessible bike yesterday.

The specially adapted bike provided by Enahm Trust's therapy partners Hobbs Rehabilitation Neurological Specialists provides a life changing experience for clients who have never or rarely had the opportunity to ride a bike.

Test Valley Borough Council have been recently working with the Trust to make sure the Enham Way, a disabled friendly route between Enham and Andover Town Centre is accessible bike friendly.

Congratulations to all at Enham Trust, especially to client Ed, who cycled 10km earlier this year to help raise funds for the bike.

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11 JUL 2017

Farmers' Market and Carnival - This Weekend

This Sunday the Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market shares the day with Andover Carnival, bringing a festival atmosphere to thetown. The market runs from 10am – 2pm and will be the perfect chance to shop for some scrumptious picnic goodies for the Carnival party in Vigo Recreation Ground.

Fabulous food stalls include Anna Valley Chillies; Greenfield Pork; Hampshire Gluten free for bakes and cakes, and the Unusual Pork Pie Company. More treats can be found at market newcomer, Mama C's Cupcakes.

There will be a range of other stalls featuring crafts, plants, jewellery, cosmetics and more. Visitors can also embrace the carnival spirit early with face painting and glitter tattoos from Cazi's Crafty Creations. All set against background music from local talented singer John Springett from 12 – 1.30pm.

This is a bumper Sunday in Andover's calendar and showcases what a vibrant place the town can be. I would encourage everyone to make a day of it and support both the market and the carnival.

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10 JUL 2017

Test Valley Launches Andover Community Toilet Scheme

Test Valley Borough Council have today launched a pilot Community Toilet Scheme in Andover with free of charge toilet facilitiesavailable in Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero and the Redbridge without an obligation to make a purchase.

The scheme, which has proven successful in other towns, replaces the facilities at George Yard, which will close on Monday 17th July.

The Council took the decision to temporarily close the toilets in George Yard last year in the interest of public safety. We regularly found used needles and other drug paraphernalia left in the cubicles and on one occasion, a member of our cleaning staff suffered an injury caused by a hidden needle.

Unfortunately, the facilities at Borden Gates were also used by drug offenders and these facilities have been closed for some time.

We have been working with the police to try to eradicate the problem with no great success, and we employed a security guard to enable us to re-open the block at George Yard to make the public feel safer. The presence of a security guard was always a temporary solution and, in order to carry out our duty to protect the public and our staff, we have now launched the Community Toilet Scheme which is a much safer approach to providing facilities free of charge.

We have based the concept on similar schemes that have proven to work well in other towns where participating businesses have reported increased footfall and trade as a result.

Costa, Caffé Nero and The Redbridge have all displayed a sticker in their windows to show that they are part of the scheme. With Costa open from 7am and The Redbridge open until 11pm, the hours of operation have increased substantially from the 8am to 6pm that the Council's public toilets were open.

I would like to thank the participating businesses for their support. Any other businesses in Andover town centre who are interested in participating in the scheme, which in return will receive a small fee, should contact estates@testvalley.gov.uk

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05 JUL 2017

Hampshire Wildlife Trust to Manage Fishlake Meadows Nature Reserve

I'm pleased to announce that Test Valley Borough Council has entered into a partnership with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight WildlifeTrust to guide the management of Fishlake Meadows Nature Reserve in Romsey.

It was great to meet Deborah Tann, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust earlier this week to discuss our joint plans for the future of the site; to protect nature whilst creating better public access. Fishlake Meadows has the potential to become the jewel in the crown of Romsey and southern Test Valley and I'm looking forward to working with the Trust for the benefit of our residents.

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30 JUN 2017

Community Groups to get Free Hire of the High Street

Charities and local community groups are now able to hire either the High Street or the Time Ring in Andover High Street free ofcharge, following a decision taken by Test Valley Borough Council's Cabinet.

The request for the cancellation of the concessionary charge was made by Councillor Iris Andersen. Iris is the champion of so many voluntary causes in Andover – so when she brought forward a request on their behalf, we listened. We wanted to make a significant commitment to charities and community groups in Andover enabling them to save money and help publicise their cause. Although this means the Council will have to provide staffing to facilitate this hire and lose some revenue, we believe the benefits to the community outweigh these issues – and will encourage more vibrancy in our High Street.

Charities and local community groups can benefit from two days free of charge per year. After this they would pay the standard concessionary charge. This offer is in addition to the 'Charity pitch' on the Thursday and Saturday Markets which charities can use free of charge up to 4 times a year.

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19 JUN 2017

Flag Raised for Armed Forces Day

Andover was bathed in glorious sunshine this morning as we paid tribute to all members of the Armed Forces at the flag raisingceremony in Andover High Street.

Thank you to the Rev Canon John Harkin and the Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Carl Borg-Neal for conducting proceedings.

I'm looking forward to attending the Andover Radio Armed Forces Day event in Vigo Recreation Ground this Sunday and I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

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14 JUN 2017

Consultation Open on TVBC Ward Boundaries

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking people across Test Valley to comment on its draft proposals for new ward boundaries for Test Valley Borough Council.

The Boundary Commission previously accepted Test Valley's council size submission to reduce the number of councillors at the 2019 election to 43 down from 48 – and are now consulting on their proposals for ward boundaries.

Having chaired the cross party Electoral Review Group, I'm pleased that the Boundary Commission have largely based their recommendations on our proposals, and I'm delighted they praised the council's submission in their report.

A nine-week public consultation has now begun and will run until 14 August 2017.

The full recommendations and detailed interactive maps are available on the Commission's website and you can have your say through the Commission's consultation portal:
https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/9135

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28 MAY 2017

Visit to Chilworth, Nursling & Rownhams

Earlier this week I spent the day in Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams being shown around by the local Test Valley Councillors Alison Finlay and Nigel Anderdon.

As the new leader of Test Valley, I want to get to know each and every community in the Borough. Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams are the southernmost communities in Test Valley so it made sense for me to start my tour the furthest from home.

It was great to get a really detailed view of their area from Alison and Nigel. Planning concerns and the challenge of retaining the area's unique character were high on the agenda. Test Valley have done much to support this area and the local councillors' excellent advocacy of their community has identified other ways we can help, so it was good to understand how that can be achieved.

Alison Finlay said: "It was really reassuring to welcome Councillor North to the area, to introduce him to local residents and to be able to let him see the pressures under which the ward comes not just from planning applications but from the competing aspirations of neighbouring authorities. I was very impressed with the interest he showed and with his commitment to understand the individual communities here."

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24 MAY 2017

Smannell & Little London Broadband Rollout

Newly elected County Councillor, Cllr Kirsty Locke and I had a meeting with the Programme Director of Hampshire SuperfastBroadband, Glenn Peacey, yesterday to discuss the BT broadband rollout to Smannell and Little London.

Since 2012 Smannell and Little London have benefited from a pilot broadband programme from Beaming. It is a subsidised scheme, with TVBC and the Parish Council making contributions in recent years in partnership with Hampshire County Council.

I'm delighted to confirm that Cabinet 87 has now been commissioned by BT and is now providing a fibre network to Little London. Unfortunately the Cabinet which will serve Smannell and Woodhouse won't be commissioned until December 2017 according to current timescales. This is exacerbated by the fact that the pilot programme is due to be switched of at the end of July – because the supplier cannot make a business case for keeping it going.

This leaves a small amount of residents who had signed up to the pilot in Smannell without a decent internet connection for at least 5 months – some of which run local businesses from their homes.

I have therefore asked Mr Peacey to progress three options:

First, to advise us of the alternative solutions for the residents of Smannell, including satellite broadband – and some idea of cost for residents compared to the current scheme.

Second, to approach the pilot supplier and ask them if they would be prepared to keep it going for 5 more months if the subsidy was still provided.

Third, if there is any way the County Council can prioritise the Smannell broadband Cabinet with BT so it is delivered in advance of December.

By getting greater clarity on the above then I am hopeful we can come up with a way in which residents of Smannell can still have access to some form of broadband before the rollout.

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19 MAY 2017

Sparkle Day in Enham Alamein

Test Valley Borough Council's Environmental Service team were out in force in Enham Alamein today giving the village a spruce up as part of our ongoing programme of Sparkle Days. The team swept and cleaned the roads and paths, removed fly tipped waste, cleared litter and power-washed signs and other street furniture. In total, the they removed around 3.5 tonnes of waste.

Sparkle Days have been part of the Council's ongoing Love Where You Live litter campaign since 2012 and provide an opportunity for the team to add an extra bit of sparkle to the borough.

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10 MAY 2017

New Leader of Test Valley

I was honoured and humbled to be formally elected as the new leader of Test Valley Borough Council today.

I have some big shoes to fill. Cllr Ian Carr has led Test Valley assiduously and expertly for 18 years – and leaves an extraordinary legacy – of which he should be rightly proud.

I now want to build upon that success. I want to lead a Council that makes it clear that if you're a resident who lives in Test Valley, a business that plies its trade in Test Valley or an organisation that operates in Test Valley we will be on your side, helping you achieve your aspirations.

One of my first decisions is to create a new Cabinet post for Economic Development & Tourism, which shows that Test Valley is firmly focused on attracting investment into the Borough. I also recognise the major challenges facing our town centres which is an area the new Portfolio will focus on.

Another one of my priorities for the year ahead is to bed in the new leisure contract, and oversee the development of the new Andover Leisure Centre and improvements to Romsey Rapids and Knightwood.

There are also some exciting plans for the redevelopment of the former Andover Magistrates Court on the horizon. So watch this space.

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24 APR 2017

Skatejam Success

I was delighted to attend the Inspire Andover Skatejam on Saturday. The Andover stakepark has been a massive success since itwas opened in November 2014 and events like this demonstrate just how well it's used, as young people hone their skills whilst having lots of fun.

It was also a pleasure to catch up with representatives from St Paul's Church Centre, the Scouts and Rewired youth group who all had stalls. Midway through the afternoon I topped the Rewired welly wanging leaderboard. Sadly there is no photographic evidence to prove this.

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03 APR 2017

Window Display Showcasing Iconic Images of Andover

As Chairman of the renewed Andover Vision, I'm delighted to announce that our window exhibition showcasing iconic images of Andover is now on display in Bridge Street. Go and check it out.

The additional good news is that the vacant shop unit has recently been purchased and a new and exciting business will be opening in the latter half of this year.

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31 MAR 2017

New Leader of the Test Valley Conservative Group

Yesterday, I was honoured, humbled and delighted to be chosen as the new Leader of Test Valley's Conservative Councillors and to be our Nominee for Leader at Annual Council in May.

Under Cllr Ian Carr's leadership Test Valley has been an excellently run Council, delivering efficient and effective services, a legacy of which Ian should be rightly proud.

I want to now build upon our successes; encouraging innovation in delivering our services and communicating more effectively with our residents.

I want to lead a Council that says, if you're a resident who lives in Test Valley, a business that plies its trade in Test Valley or an organisation that operates in Test Valley we will be on your side, helping you achieve your aspirations.

I look forward to working with my colleagues and the fantastic and dedicated team of officers at the Council to achieve these aims.

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25 MAR 2017

Smannell Road Pathway Back on the Agenda

Yesterday morning, I met the Hampshire County Council Transport Team Leader, Paula Edwards and member of the Strategic Transport Team, James Moore to press the case on the Smannell pathway. I was joined at the meeting by TVBC Corporate Director Andy Ferrier and TVBC Engineering and Transport Manager, Steve Raw.

I put across the strength of feeling from the local community, demonstrated in mine and Kirsty Locke's recent petition, which attracted 312 signatories. They had also seen the five pages plus of supportive comments from local residents who want a safer route for pedestrians walking between Augusta Park and Smannell to use the pub, school and church.

It was a very positive meeting. As a result, the County Council have agreed to park their alternative, cheaper suggestion to spend the developer contributions on a 'gateway feature' for Smannell village – and instead look at ways to deliver the pathway.

The County have concerns about the safety of the previously proposed scheme as although it provided a pathway along all the dangerous stretches of road, it included some road walking on the straight section. Therefore, Hampshire County Council have agreed to commission Test Valley to do a feasibility study and work up plans to deliver a pathway along the whole stretch of the road.

Extending the length of the pathway will inevitably mean it will cost more but due to the significant public support for the scheme I am reasonably confident we can leverage money from other sources.

The delay to delivering the pathway is extremely frustrating, and we still have several hurdles to get over but I'm delighted the County Council are once again convinced it is the right thing to do.

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05 MAR 2017

The Great British Spring Clean

A hardy group of us successfully battled the Great British weather this morning as we took part in the Great British Spring Clean, organised by your Alamein Councillors.

We started at the i:61 Church Andover Bus of Hope, cleaning the open space on Smannell Road before moving through Augusta Park and finishing up at the Augusta Park Community Centre.

One particular local litter lout must enjoy chicken and stuffing sandwiches as I ended up with a quite a few wrappers in my bag. And that's our message. Don't drop litter in the first place. Take your chicken and stuffing sandwich wrappers home or put them in one of the public bins. Despite the litter louts though, we can all do our bit to tidy up our town and it was great to be out with so many like minded volunteers including Cllr Tracey Preston, Rebecca Meyer & Kirsty Locke

Thank you to the Augusta Park Community Association for putting on hot drinks and sausage rolls for our volunteers at the end, and thank you to Test Valley Borough Council for arranging to pick up and dispose of our bags in the morning.

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28 FEB 2017

Pressing the case with Aster over Enormous Kingsway Gardens Bills

Local MP, Kit Malthouse and I met yesterday to discuss the situation at Kingsway Gardens following my meeting with Aster lastweek. Leaseholders are being hit with enormous bills for works to solve the problem of damp and mould caused by water ingress.

Following our meeting, Kit has again written to Sarah Durrans, Regional Director of Aster to raise our on-going concerns about the £500k plus administration fee they're charging to project manage the works. Kit and I have challenged them to put the project management aspect of the works out to tender to ensure fairness and transparency. We have also asked if she can clarify the amount of money currently in the sinking fund and to confirm whether this amount will be subtracted from the total bill for the final works or apportioned to the individual blocks/properties.

Kit and I also agree that Aster need to confirm their commitment to speak to all owners individually to enable them to understand their financial circumstances and tailor a repayment package to suit.

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25 FEB 2017

Join us for the Great British Spring Clean

Join us next Sunday 5th March for the Great British Spring Clean.

Following the success of last years' Clean for The Queen your Alamein Councillors have organised a litter pick from 10:30 am until 12 noon, starting on the open space along Smannell Road and finishing up at the Augusta Park Community Centre.

The Council regularly cleans up litter in this location but as part of the nationwide campaign to tidy up the land, we thought we'd do our bit to make it look even better. Our message to people, of course, is not to drop litter in the first place but we can all do our bit to tidy up our town.

Meet at the layby next to the skate park. Equipment will be provided. All volunteers will receive free coffee and cake afterwards at the Augusta Park Community Centre kindly provided by the Augusta Park Community Association. I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.

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12 FEB 2017

Support the Augusta Park to Smannell Gravel Pathway

Plans for an informal gravel pathway linking Augusta Park to Smannell village are under threat following the County Councilwithdrawing support for the project.

The proposal for a safer route for pedestrians walking from Augusta Park to Smannell to access Smannell School and The Oak pub, and for residents of Smannell to access the facilities on Augusta Park was originally planned to be delivered in spring 2016 and then delayed to this year. Unfortunately it no longer has the support of the County Council, who believe it to be too expensive.

Funds had previously been identified from developer contributions, collected from the Augusta Park builders, Taylor Wimpey.

I am extremely frustrated by this turn of events and feel let down over the previous promises made to me. Over the past two years I have been regularly pressing the case within TVBC and the County Council to get on and deliver the scheme, which was formally given the go ahead in autumn 2015. It is not acceptable for the County Council to change its mind at the last minute.

The Parish Council have offered to maintain the gravel pathway once constructed so the County Council will not be liable for ongoing maintenance but from emails I have seen the County are still not happy with the proposal.

It is hugely important to me that this project still goes ahead and I am working with my colleague and County Council candidate in the forthcoming election, Kirsty Locke to continue to press the case for the pathway.

What would really help us in further discussions with Hampshire County Council, and if we need to leverage some money from other organisations, is to show the strength of feeling from the community and your support for the project.

I would therefore be grateful if local residents who want to see the project delivered could sign the petition here.

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27 JAN 2017

Bollard Moved to Enable Easier Enham Way Access

I'm pleased to report that a bollard on the Enham Way has been moved to enable easier access for disabled residents using the pathway. The gap between the bollard is now more convenient for mobility devices but not wide enough for vehicular access.

The pathway linking Enahm Alamein to King Arthurs Way is a key part of the Enham, which gives disabled residents a safe route into the town centre and back.

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15 JAN 2017

Union Street Sign Shows Off Businesses in Town Centre

Great to see the latest archway installed, detailing the names of business premises in the alleyways of Andover.

The idea to enhance signage for the shops came from feedback from the Andover Summit. This work now continues through the renewed Andover Vision.

That's George Yard and Union Street in, with the five remaining arches planned for Waterloo Court, Shaw's Walk, Globe Yard, King's Yard and Black Swan Yard on the way.

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02 JAN 2017

Recycle your Christmas Tree

Happy New Year.

I'm sure for many the festive fun is not quite over but just to let you know that from tomorrow you can recycle your real Christmas tree at any of the below locations until January 15th.

Homebase, Enham Arch Retail Park
Andover Garden Centre, Salisbury Road
Rosebourne, Weyhill
Augusta Park Community Centre

For those registered with the Garden Waste Collection Service, the Council will collect whole Christmas trees. Trees over six feet high should be cut in half.

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31 DEC 2016

If you need a Resolution for 2017 parkrun is it

On New Year's Eve 2011 I ran my first ever Andover parkrun. 5 years and 241 runs later I still #loveparkrun, participating at 24 different events including parkrun du Bois de Boulogne, Paris (below).

If you need a resolution for 2017 parkrun is it. Timed, weekly and free. For more details check out - http://www.parkrun.org.uk/andover/

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23 DEC 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful time with family, friends and neighbours.

The council offices will be closed from 4.30pm today re-opening at 8.30am on Tuesday 3rd January. Of course if there is anything you need to report to me during that time then please drop me a line.

There are some changes to bin collection days over the festive period. For more information see here. During the Christmas and New Year period waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collection day will also be accepted.

Photo credit: Tony Braime

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24 NOV 2016

Councillors Surgery - This Saturday

This Saturday I will be at the Andover Councillors Surgery in the Guildhall between 10-11:30am.

If you have any matters that you wish to raise with me then please come along, there's no need to make an appointment.

If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me via my online surgery here

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23 NOV 2016

Andover set for Brand New Leisure Centre

I'm delighted to announce that Andover is set for a brand new Leisure Centre as we can now reveal that Places for People Leisure has been awarded the new leisure contract by Test Valley Borough Council.

We took the decision at a Full Council meeting earlier this month but had to wait for a legal standstill period to pass before announcing the decision.

The new Andover Leisure Centre, built on the current site, will feature a 165-station fitness suite including a virtual cycling studio, 25m six lane pool with 15m learner pool with moveable floor, dance studios, eight court sports hall, squash courts, adventure play, and café. The impressive new centre will also offer a splash pad and Clip and Climb.

The contract will also provide a number of improvements to the other leisure centres in the Borough including the Romsey Rapids, Romsey Sports Centre, Knightwood Leisure Centre and Charlton Lakeside Pavilion.

Places for People currently partners 35 local authorities, managing 112 leisure centres across England. Its sites attract over 30 million visits every year and in the past ten years the award winning organisation has built 14 new leisure facilities. They have an impressive track record in delivery top class facilities.

It is envisaged that the new Leisure facility in Andover will open in 2019.

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13 NOV 2016

We Will Remember Them and What They Fought For

This morning I joined hundreds of people in the garden of remembrance at St Mary's church to pay my respects to the men of Andover who have died in war.

It may be a controversial opinion but for me Remembrance Sunday is not just a day of reflection and contemplation but also of celebration. The triumphalism of light over darkness, of good over evil and of freedom over tyranny.

I don't say that to glorify war but to remember the values that we hold dear. The values that in the summer of 1944 inspired British soldiers and our allies half a world away to arrive on this continent and fight for freedom.

It's hard to imagine the slaughter on the beaches of Normandy, as those men started to seize back the continent of Europe. Most of us have only experienced a country at peace, and since the defeat of National Socialism and Communism, a whole generation have grown up living on a continent of (mostly) democratic nations.

In a week where all the talk has been of US politics, it is important to remember the great words of their 40th President: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like where men were free."

Our fathers and grandfathers defended that freedom with force of arms. Remembrance Sunday gives us a chance to thank them for their sacrifice and redouble our efforts to protect what they fought for. It is up to every single one of us to speak up for British democratic values, which flowered from Magna Carta 800 years ago, and defend them with every bone in our body.

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10 NOV 2016

Council Endorses Reduction in Councillor Numbers

Yesterday evening I took a recommendation through Full Council to reduce the amount of Councillors on Test Valley BoroughCouncil ​ from 48 to 43.

The proposal was supported by representatives of both political parties and of none. The opportunity to review the number of Councillors comes as a result of a boundary review being conducted by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. It has been triggered because the number of voters in each ward are significantly different, due to population growth in some areas of Test Valley. I was keen to take this opportunity to reduce the amount of Councillors to cut the cost of politics but still ensuring there are enough members for effective local government, and to hold the executive to account. After all our Parliament is reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and as a colleague of mine pointed out we will soon see a significant reduction in MEPs.

The second part of the review, which will take place in 2017, will consider the boundaries of each ward and will involve a great deal of public consultation. Assuming the Boundary Commission accept our recommendation then 43 seats will be contested at the 2019 election.

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02 NOV 2016

Annual Leaf Clearance Gets Underway

Autumn is well and with us, and whilst we're all admiring the beautiful canvass of red, gold and brown the leaves are falling, and will soon turn to a slippery sludge. Which is why Test Valley Borough Council's annual leaf clearance got underway earlier this week.

The Environmental Services team have spent the last two days in King Arthurs Way, today and tomorrow in Cricketers Way before returning to King Arthurs Way several times, and visiting Roman Way in the next four weeks.

The team target the known hotspots and respond to ad-hoc requests. If there is a particularly hazardous area of Alamein Ward that needs clearing, in the areas I haven't mentioned, then I am happy to feed this in

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01 NOV 2016

Widening Participation in Higher Education

Did you know that over 50 young people a year from just five Local Government wards, including Alamein here in Andover, miss out on going to university?

On Friday, I attended the launch of the Southern Policy Centre's 'Widening Participation in Higher Education' report at Southampton Solent University.

The study looked in depth at five southern wards including Newport South on the Isle of Wight, Coxford in Southampton, Paulsgrove in Portsmouth, Newtown in Poole and Alamein here in Andover. The report revealed that students who get good GCSE results in these wards are less likely to go to university than their peers elsewhere. This is due to a number of reasons, not least because of the levels of deprivation in these areas.

The report recommends targeted ways to improve the participation gap, which for Alamein means: more mentoring; work placements in graduate level roles; more advice regarding university options; access to inspirational speakers; on-going events and activities through school from year 9 and crucially, a programme to increase parental aspirations for their children.

The outcomes from the conference fit nicely into the ongoing work of the Andover Vision to raise aspirations in the town.

Funding from the Higher Education Funding Council is now likely to follow with a programme starting in January. This will enable our local community including universities, schools, local authorities, housing associations and businesses to promote higher level learning, which would be great for Alamein and Andover.

You can read the full report here.

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31 OCT 2016

Road Safety Improvements outside Roman Way School

For several years I have been pressing the case for enhanced road safety outside Roman Way School.

Following meetings with highway officers and the headteacher, I arranged for 'SLOW' road markings to be painted in the vicinity of the school; for double yellow lines opposite Witan Close, to improve the sight lines for children crossing; road safety talks from the Fire Service and high-vis jackets for every child that wanted one, funded by Taylor Wimpey.

Following concerns raised by parents, I have also been campaigning for a crossing. In fact the Borough Council's legal agreement with the developer of Augusta Park states that Taylor Wimpey make a contribution towards the provision of a crossing on Viking Way. This is due to the additional traffic that that development creates.

Disappointingly – and despite my pressing on behalf of residents – a signalised crossing is not being considered. The County Council claim that this is due to the area not meeting the minimum footfall to justify it.

Despite the time it has taken to get this far, I am pleased that very shortly the County Council will announce a period of public consultation on various options to improve road safety outside the school. Options will include a non-signalised crossing and raised tables to slow traffic.

Once the public have had their say, I will be pressing the County Council to get on and deliver the scheme.

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23 OCT 2016

El Alamein Commemoration Day

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, the key turning point in the Second World War. This afternoon the village of Enham Alamein came together, this year in St Mary's church, to celebrate the victory at Alamein, and remember those who died in the service of mankind.

Many of the injured from that battle were brought back to Enham to undergo their recovery. In recognition of their liberation from National Socialism, Egypt gifted Enham £225,000 to help care for disabled servicemen. To thank the Egyptian's for their kind gesture the name 'Alamein' was added to the village – and Enham became Enham Alamein.

We should all be extremely proud of our local association with the battle and the success of the 8th Army in defeating Hitler. The village of Enham Alamein and the on-going work of the Enham Trust is a lasting memorial to that battle.

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21 OCT 2016

Andover Vision - Your Ambition for the Future of the Town

Yesterday evening, I presented to the Andover Town Council on the new Andover Vision.

As chairman of the project I gave an update on progress since we launched in April - with the Town Council involved from the outset. During that time we have spoken to over 1,000 people about the ideas that have come out of the 6 working groups on raising aspirations; business; health; green; vibrant communities and the town centre.

Two of the consistent themes that have come up time and time again is how we can make the most of the river as it runs through the town centre and more community health based activity. Only last week we installed two brand new free to use table tennis tables in town.

We are now drawing together and refining the ideas over a series of stakeholder meetings in preparation for a brand new Andover Vision document and action plan due to be launched in April 2017.

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18 OCT 2016

Pride of Alamein at Andover Awards Ceremony

The praises of the unsung heroes of our local community were well and truly sung last night at the 10th annual Pride of Andover Awards.

It was a truly special evening with over 200 people coming together to celebrate the herculean efforts of the people that live among us, who do so much for our community. It was a real privilege to attend.

Congratulations to all the winners and a special mention to two superstars of Alamein Ward, who picked up top awards last night.

Janet Loader was the overall winner of the Citizenship Award for her 48 years volunteering for St John's Ambulance, work for Knights Enham Church and regularly visiting people in hospital and care homes to keep them company.

Elizabeth Hall was the star of the evening as she picked up the Mayor's Award and the Spirit of Andover Award. After her son was born with Down Syndrome, she was inspired to set up a support group for people with disabilities. The group went on to become Andover & District Mencap, which celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2014.

Well done to the Pride of Andover Awards committee and sponsors for organising such a fabulous evening.

Photo credit: Sue Morris photography.

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12 OCT 2016

Andover Vision Unveils new Ping Pong Tables for the Town

As Boris Johnson once said, ping pong was invented on the dining tables of England! Today table tennis is coming home, as Andover is now the proud owner of two brand new tables after residents asked for more outdoor sports facilities in the town.

Andover Vision has installed the new tables in the small park by Town Mills and on the area of grass near the entrance to Andover Leisure Centre. Bats and balls are provided free of charge.

The suggestion to install outdoor table tennis tables and several other projects were put to a public vote at a series of community events over the summer, with the ping pong proposal coming out on top.

It was great to be joined by the Andover Table Tennis Association as we launched the facilities today but despite being wowed by the ability of the semi-professionals, the tables are there for everyone and I hope will help to encourage people to visit the town and to keep active.

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29 SEP 2016

Enham Alamein Scoops Prize in Village of the Year Award

Last night, I was delighted to attended the Hampshire Association of Local Councils Village of the Year Awards sponsored by

Fuller's Brewery. As the overall winner in 2015 the event was held in the Enham Trust.

I'm proud to say that 2016 proved to be just as fruitful a year for Enham Alamein as the village scooped a Highly Commended in the Village of the Year category. The highlight of the night though was Enham Trust picking up 1st place in the Excellence in Localism category for their visionary work.

Well done to everyone in Enham Alamein!

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27 SEP 2016

Andover Vision set to Deliver Table Tennis to the Town

Andover Vision is set to install two brand new outdoor table tennis tables after residents asked for more outdoor sports facilities to be provided in the town.

The two new tables are expected to be delivered during the first week of October and will be located in the small park by Town Mills and on the area of grass near the entrance to Andover Leisure Centre. Bats and balls will be provided for people to use free of charge.

Residents raised that there was a need for more outdoor sports facilities in the area through the Andover Vision consultation process. The suggestion to install outdoor table tennis tables and several other projects were put to a public vote at a series of community events over the summer, with the ping pong proposal coming out on top.

Ultimately, the plan is to create a long term vision for the town, but we hope to deliver small, one-off projects along the way.

Feedback from residents will be used to develop an Andover Vision document and action plan, which are expected to be launched in April 2017.

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25 SEP 2016

Andover Festival of Motoring Packs the High Street

It was great to see the High Street so busy earlier today for the fabulous Andover Festival of Motoring.

Whilst I couldn't quite squeeze into the racing car from Thruxton, it was brilliant to see so many different supercars, vintage vehicles and motorcycles on display.

Congratulations to the Andover Town Centre Partnership - ATCP and Andover Town Council which teamed up with Hampshire Hot Rides to organise the event.

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11 SEP 2016

Andover Vision Promotes Inspiring Images of Andover in Andover Mind Photography Competition

I'm pleased to announce that Andover Vision has provided £650 in sponsorship to Andover Mind to enable them to run a photography competition to help promote wellbeing and highlight the positive aspects of Andover.

Andover Mind is asking local residents to submit their inspiring images of Andover, which represent the "Five Ways to Wellbeing" – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.

The sponsorship will help cover the cost of turning the winning photographsinto a calendar, enabling all funds raised from the sale of the calendars to go direct to the charity. Room to Float, S & J Maddocks Funeral Directors and The Mortgage Hut have also provided sponsorship, though some further funding is still required.

The new Andover Vision is about developing and delivering positive projects to enhance the town. Throughout the process, I have been struck by the positive attitude of Andover residents who recognise the beauty of Andover, how we can improve the town and inspire others. The synergy between promoting inspiring images of town while enhancing people's wellbeing really struck a chord with the Andover Vision group.

To enter, photographs should be emailed to photos@andovermind.org.uk with details of which of the five ways it represents, where it was taken and when. Entrants can also share their photos on Twitter by using @AndoverMind and the hashtag #andovermindphoto. The competition closes on Friday, 23 September 2016 and entry is free.

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04 SEP 2016

George Yard Archway Opens

The first Andover arch at George Yard, designed to signpost shoppers to businesses located off the High Street was opened this week by the Mayor of Test Valley, Cllr Karen Hamilton.

Designed by renowned artist Peter Clutterbuck, the new archway looks fantastic, bringing much needed signage for local businesses.

The idea to enhance signage for the shops along the seven lanes off the High Street came as a result of the Andover High Street Summit to improve footfall in the Town Centre.

Archways for the remaining six walkways including Union Street, Waterloo Court, Shaw's Walk, Globe Yard, King's Yard and Black Swan Yard will now be implemented.

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12 AUG 2016

Councillor Community Grant for Free Family Fridays

My Alamein Ward colleagues, Tracey Preston and Alex Brook today presented an Alamein Ward Councillors Community Grant for £1,000 to St Paul's Church and Community Centre. for the Free Family Fridays initiative they are putting on over the summer holiday.

Free Family Fridays enables local families to take part in free sports and educational activities throughout August. Last year over 600 people attended over the 5 week period and this year, with our support, the two hour sessions have been extended to four hours allowing for many more hours of fun.

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10 AUG 2016

Young People to be Consulted on Future of Andover

As part of the new Andover Vision, a consultation session with young people aged between 14 - 18 will take place at Andover Leisure Centre on Wednesday 24th August. The session will include a free go on the climbing wall as well as a wide range of other games and activities.

The Andover Vision project is looking at what Andover needs to make it a great place to live, work and socialise over the next 10 to 20 years. To ensure that we get a cross section of community views we're holding this event in the school holidays to gather young people's opinions. To attend please download, print and bring with you this form that needs to be signed by your parent/guardian.

The new Andover Vision project follows the success of the previous one which delivered among other things The Lights Andover, the cinema, an upgraded college and lots of great events such as the annual junior graduation ceremony.

Six working groups have so far been established to help further improve Andover and together with the wider community will create the Andover Vision Action Plan, drawing together residents feedback and ideas about what Andover will achieve in the next 20 years.

The new Andover Vision document and action plan is expected to be launched in April 2017.

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01 AUG 2016

Blue Heritage Plaque to Commemorate Reg Presley and The Troggs

A blue Heritage Foundation plaque dedicated to 'Mr Andover', Reg Presley was unveiled by his widow, Brenda this afternoon.

The plaque placed above Coral bookmakers in Andover High Street marks the venue where The Troggs practiced and performed during the 1960's. Former and current members of the band were in attendance in to celebrate the occasion.

When I was a member of Andover Town Council, I was pleased to chair the committee that initiated the project soon after his death in 2013. Congratulations to all present members and to Cllr Barbara Long in particular for all their hard work in delivering this lasting memorial to Reg and The Troggs.

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29 JUL 2016

Competition Winning Designs Feature on Test Valley Dustcart

The winners of Test Valley Borough Council's Recycling Stars competition to design a poster for our waste collection vehicleshave been announced. Lily Jones from Endeavour Primary School inAugusta Park submitted the winning design for the north of the borough, while Poppy Evans of North Baddesley Junior School, was judged best in the south.

I was delighted to serve on the judging panel with other local Councillors, council officers and the Editor of the Andover Advertiser, Mike Simms. We were particularly impressed with Lilly's use of bright colours, smiling faces and her clear recycling message, to recycle with us!

Lily received a surprise visit from the Recycling Star and Environmental Portfolio Holder, Graham Stallard recently to unveil her design. She also received a framed copy of her artwork and family tickets to the Hawk Conservancy Trust.

Look out for the designs on our dustcarts in Test Valley.

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24 JUL 2016

The Mayor of Test Valley's Civic Service

It was a pleasure to attend the Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council, CllrKaren Hamilton's Civic Service in Andover BaptistChurch today.

The Civic Service is an important event on the Mayoral calendar and this afternoon we were treated to a plethora of musical talent from the For the Love of Music Choir, soloist, Georgia Day, Saxophone musician, Alistair Barahmeh and the Vigo Junior school Choir. It's always nice to be reminded just how much talent we have in Test Valley and to celebrate the vitality of our Borough.

The theme for service was about celebrating our differences because that what makes communities but recognising that as human beings we have much more that brings us together than divides us. Congratulations to RevdAndy Fitchet for bringing that together in an engaging and entertaining way.

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19 JUL 2016

Town Centre Archways Move a Step Closer

Plans to install new arches on Andover High Street moved a step closer last week as the Council carried out a trial fitting of the George Yard arch.

The stylish new entrance, designed by artist, Peter Clutterbuck, will be the first of several wrought iron structures designed to draw attention to the businesses located along the small streets off the High Street.

The trial fitting was a success and once the structure has been galvanised and painted the artist will be able to fit it properly.

Test Valley are continuing to progress work on the other arches by liaising with the building owners and securing the relevant permissions required to carry out the work. Once complete, there will be a total of seven arches in the High Street. As well as George Yard, arches will be installed at Black Swan Yard, Waterloo Court, Union Street, Shaw's Walk, Globe Yard and King's Yard.

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14 JUL 2016

Greenwich Way Development Given Planning Go-ahead

At a meeting of the Northern Area Planning Committee this evening permission was granted for two large industrial buildings at Greenwich Way just north of the Enham Arch, on the site which was previously occupied by Integra Neurosciences.

Back in March, I led the charge to persuade the planning committee to vote for refusal. The planning application was for a grey cladded construction with inadequate screening and landscaping (the first image below). The other buildings along this side of Newbury Road such as Aster and Office Depot are large in scale, but are brick, set well back, and have substantial screening between them and the road. This creates an open, green corridor which adds to the spaciousness of this part of Alamein Ward. I thought the developer could do better and the planning committee instructed them to do so by refusing permission.

I'm therefore delighted that the developer, Glenmore Commercial, came back with a much better application which including the use of brickwork and trees for screening (the second image below - but with far more additional trees due to be added). The planning committee unanimously agreed that this application was now acceptable in planning terms.

Glenmore Commercial have confirmed that both Topps Tiles and Magnet Kitchens have signed up to take occupation of the development.

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14 JUL 2016

Nominations Open for Pride of Andover Awards

Nominations for the Pride of Andover Awards 2016 are open.

You can nominate your community heroes and heroines at www.prideofandoverawards.org.uk/nominate

The Pride of Andover Awards, led by its excellent Chairman, Cllr Karen Hamilton, showcases the effort of some of the very special people in our town, that make Andover such a wonderful place to live.

The different categories, range from the Spirit of Andover to Inspiring Others and the Young Person of the Year. The awards honour outstanding citizens in the local community as a way of saying thank you from everyone living or working in Andover.

If you know anyone that fits the bill, then please nominate them so Andover can recognise their great work and inspire others to do the same. Nominations close at the end of August.

Finalists will be invited to a glamorous awards evening hosted by celebrity supporter Dame Esther Rantzen.

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13 JUL 2016

Goodbye David Cameron, Good Luck Theresa May

It's been an emotional day in British politics, particularly for someone that has so vigorously campaigned for the Conservative Party and for David Cameron as our Prime Minister.

His words in the House of Commons earlier today ring true to all of us who serve our constituents, whether in the national Parliament or in local Government and whether you support the Conservative Party or not: That people come into politics with great passion for the areas they serve and the for issues they care about, and that you can achieve a lot of things if you put your mind to it.

Whilst it is sad to see David Cameron depart Downing Street, I know that Theresa May will be a first class Prime Minister. David Cameron revived a Britain that was beaten up by the financial crash and made it more prosperous, confident and successful. Similarly, Theresa May has an almighty task in front her, to carry out the instructions of the British people, to negotiate our exit from the EU and to deliver our independence.

The King is dead. Long live the Queen.

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08 JUL 2016

Andover Vision Launches Facebook Page

Andover Vision has a brand new Facebook page, detailing opportunities for you to get involved in shaping the future of your town.

The new Andover Vision project follows the success of the previous one which delivered among other things The Lights Andover, the cinema and lots of great events such as the annual junior graduation ceremony.

Six working groups have now been established to help further improve Andover and together with the wider community will create the Andover Vision Action Plan, drawing together residents feedback and ideas about what Andover will achieve in the next 20 years

The new Andover Vision document and action plan is expected to be launched in April 2017

Like and share the new Andover Vision page at - www.facebook.com/andovervision

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26 JUN 2016

Enham Trust Art Project Officially Opens

On Friday I was pleased to attend the official opening of the Enham TrustArt Project.

As a result of the redevelopment of Cedar Park a number of hoardings have been erected, presenting the perfect opportunity to use them as canvasses for artwork.

The Trust have invited artist Dorethea Nowak to work with the disabled clients, local schools including Roman Way and Smannell & Enham and local businesses to create the fabulous images for display.

Enham client, Tami, showed me her fantastic dolphin under the sea design, which combined with the other pieces really brightens up what is effectively a building site behind. This has given her new found confidence to paint more large pieces. A great initiative from Enham Trust.

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24 JUN 2016

TVBC Turns Down Walworth Business Park Incinerator

Since 2011, Test Valley Borough Council has been in a partnership with Kier Property Ltd for the management and development of Walworth Business Park. As part of this arrangement, the Council and Kier have obtained planning permission for, and jointly developed, a 50,000 square foot warehouse building on Plot 37.

A "waste to energy" facility operator, Sibor Ltd, expressed an interest in occupying the building and recently submitted a planning application toHampshire County Council to use the building for an energy recovery centre. This caused controversy as the facility would have released certain pollutants into the air.

Despite this Sibor received planning permission for the application on 15th June. However, Test Valley Borough Council Cabinet, of which I am part, have already taken the decision as joint landlords that the use of the building as proposed by Sibor would not be appropriate on the Walworth Business Park.

The Council looks forward to receiving proposals from Kier for alternative occupiers.

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It's about time some common sense prevailed to determine that the Sibor proposal was innapropriate. Can we please utilise the same common sense approach and reject the proposed development of the playing fields at the borders of Picket Piece.
- Patrick Kirwan

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24 JUN 2016

Test Valley & Britain Votes to Leave the EU

Britain has spoken and a majority of people have voted for us to Leave the European Union.

This is a truly historic morning. The British people have chosen hope over fear. They voted to take back control of our borders, of huge sums of money, of our trade policy and our whole law making system.

In Test Valley 39,091 people voted to Leave as opposed to 36,170 who voted to Remain.

Between leaflet deliveries yesterday when it seemed the polls had called it for Remain, I started drafting my reaction to that vote. It went something like this: "I'm a democrat. Whatever motivated people to vote Remain - I respect the decision that has been made". I am hopeful that sentiment will be reciprocated and those on the Remain side will accept the verdict of the British people.

But whilst I'm obviously delighted with the result, we have to recognise that 48% of the country voted for Remain – and we need to come together to build a consensus for exit. The British people have given our politicians a mandate for a phased withdrawal from the EU. Our European partners can be assured that we still want to cooperate with them on much that we have in common, we still want to trade with them, like they will want to with us but that we want to disentangle ourselves from the political union. That is the process that will now start.

But morning I'm so proud of the decision of voters and I'm proud of the confidence they have shown in Britain.

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22 JUN 2016

Tomorrow - Vote Leave & Take Back Control

Polling day is nearly upon us. Tomorrow is our once in a generation opportunity to wrestle Britain back from the clutches of Brussels, protect our democracy and cement ourselves on the international stage. As one Vote Leave poster screamed at me the other day - Vote Leave, Hello World.

The video below is my contribution to the debate I hosted in Augusta Park earlier this month, where I set out why I think we need to Vote Leave and take back control.

If you prefer to read rather than watch why I think we must Vote to Leave you can do so here.

But whatever you do tomorrow - Leave or Remain. Please, please go out and vote.

 

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09 JUN 2016

Andover Hospital in Spotlight at Test Valley Council Meeting

The Chief Officer of West Hampshire CCG, Heather Hauschild and the Chief Executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mary Edwards gave a very interesting presentation about health services in Andover at the Test Valley Borough Council Overview & Scrutiny Committee last night.

Mary Edwards sung the praises of the Andover War Memorial Hospital setting out that it is a model of the 'local where possible – central by necessity' mantra. In short, as many services as possible should be delivered locally and the sickest patients (about 15% of overall patient numbers) should be treated centrally, where the expertise and life-saving equipment is situated. This is why Hampshire Hospitals are planning to build a new purpose built hospital at junction 7 of the M3 – which will replace trauma at Basingstoke Hospital.

Andover Hospital currently provides minor injuries, a day surgery unit, an X-ray department, an outpatients unit, a birthing centre and post-natal care, an elderly rehabilitation ward, a hospice and a mobile MRI and chemotherapy unit. We can be rightly proud of our local hospital, the range of services it provides and the staff that work there.

Due to temporary staff shortages the Minor Injuries Unit is currently only open Monday - Friday from 8:30am – 5pm but we were given assurances that it should return to its 8:30am – 10pm seven day a week opening by the end of the summer.

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06 JUN 2016

Health Services in Andover - Talk in the Guildhall this Wednesday

The Chief Officer of West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Heather Hauschild and the Chief Executive of HampshireHospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mary Edwards will be in Andover on Wednesday to give a talk about health services in the town and plans for the future.

The talk forms part of Test Valley Borough Council's Overview & Scrutiny committee which takes place in the Upper Guildhall on Wednesday 8th June from 530pm.

This is a public meeting so please feel free to come and listen. If you plan to attend and have a specific question then please let me know and I will try and facilitate an answer to be given on the night.

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05 JUN 2016

Andover Vision at Community Fun Day

Yesterday, I attended the Charity Fun Day at Vigo Recreation Ground to talk to residents about the new Andover Vision.

It was a successful day with many local people sharing their hopes, ideas and dreams for the town.

The 'hook a duck' competition for the children attracted the crowds and got people talking about their town.

Yesterdays event follows the Andover Vision Community Workshop held in April, which saw 70 people from local community groups come together to share their ideas. The feedback from the charity fun day and the community workshop will be used to develop a Andover Vision action plan.

The new Andover Vision document, which follows the success or the previous one which delivered among other things The Lights theatre, the cinema and a new college, is expected to be launched in April 2017.

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04 JUN 2016

Why Vote Leave? - Augusta Park EU Referendum Debate

Yesterday evening I spoke in an EU debate in Augusta Park setting out why I think we should Vote Leave in the forthcoming referendum.

I outlined why on the four major issues of democracy, the economy, immigration and our budget contributions why the safest and most secure option is to Leave.

You can watch much contribution to the debate here.

The full 1 hour and 50 minute version is also available here.

Thank you to the Remain speakers Cllr Andy Fitchett & Cllr Richard Rowles, my fellow Leave speaker Tim Rolt and Chairman, Revd Alex Randle-Bissell, for making it such a lively occasion.

 

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28 MAY 2016

Have Your Say on the New Andover Vision

Want to have your say on the future of Andover?

Come along to the Charity Fun Day at Vigo Recreation Ground next Saturday 4th June and visit our Andover Vision stand.

This will be a great opportunity for you to share your hopes and ideas for the town. We'll have lots of great activities for you to take part in and some prizes up for grabs.

The event follows the Andover Vision Community Workshop held in April, which saw 70 people from local community groups and organisations come together to share their ideas to enhance the town. The feedback from the charity fun day and community workshop will be used to develop an Andover Vision action plan.

As I have said before the new Andover Vision, like the previous vision for the town, is not one imposed by Test Valley Borough Council. Our role is instead to bring together the wishes, aspirations and dreams of the people of Andover, and community events provide the perfect chance to find out more about what you would like to see in the town.

I will be on the stand from 1:30pm - 3pm

The new Andover Vision document and action plan is expected to be launched in April 2017.

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25 MAY 2016

Forces Freedom March Through Andover

The Test Valley Freedom March, involving the three military regiments granted freedom of the borough of Test Valley, will takeplace in Andover on Sunday 3 July 2016 and you're invited.

More than 200 service personnel from the 22 Engineer Regiment, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and the Army Air Corps will march through the town, led by the Princess of Wales's Royal Regimental Band.

The march will begin at approximately 12.45pm at Town Mills Car Park before travelling through the town towards Eastern Avenue, where the troops will salute the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and the Mayor of Test Valley. The march will then proceed to St Mary's Church for a commemoration service at approximately 1.30pm, to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. A flypast by the Army Air Corps will take place at the start of the memorial service.

The parade is a great opportunity for families, friends and local residents to come together to celebrate the regiments granted freedom of the borough, as well as the wider Armed Forces. This will be a day of celebration but also reflection, as we remember those who fought in the Battle of the Somme.

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23 MAY 2016

Come Along to the EU Debate in Augusta Park

Should the United Kingdom Remain a member of the European Union or Leave the European Union?

That's the question you will have the opportunity to vote on, on the 23rd of June. If you haven't yet made up your mind then this event is for you.

I have organised a local Leave v's Remain EU debate where you will be able to hear Andover politicians put their case and then interrogate us on our arguments.

I will be speaking for Leave alongside County Councillor, Tim Rolt whilst Andover Town Councillors, Andy Fitchet and Richard Rowles will put the case for Remain. The debate will be chaired by the Revd Alex Randle-Bissell of the Pastrow Benefice.

The debate will take place in the Augusta Park Community Centre on Friday 3rd June at 7pm - 8:30pm.

Spaces are limited so please register for the event here.

Tickets are free and I look forward to seeing you on the night.

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18 MAY 2016

Children's Chance to Design Bin Lorry Banner

Test Valley has launched an exciting new competition for local children to design a banner for two of our waste collection vehicles.

The competition, which has been launched as part of the Recycling Starsinitiative, is open to children aged between four and 11 years old who live in Test Valley.

Designs should aim to encourage everyone to look at whether they are recycling as much as they could be, learn more about the benefits of reusing materials to protect the environment and be more aware of what they can and can't recycle.

Entries can be creative, bright and eye-catching and must be submitted via the entry form at www.testvalley.gov.uk/competition by Friday, 10 June. Winners will be announced by 17 June.

I look forward to seeing the designs.

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11 MAY 2016

Congratulations to the New Mayor of Test Valley

Congratulations to Cllr Karen Hamilton who was today elected the new Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council at the AnnualCouncil meeting.

I know that she and her husband, Lee Brown, her Consort will do a superb job representing the great Borough of Test Valley over the next 12 months.

As well as chairing our Council meetings and attending literally hundreds of community events Karen will also be raising money for Enham Trust,Andover VIPs, Romsey & District Young Carers and Test Valley Community Services as part of her Mayor's Charity campaign throughout her Mayoral year.

My congratulations also go to outgoing Mayor, Councillor Iris Andersen, who with with her Consort, Cllr John Cockaday, have been amazing figureheads for the Borough this past year.

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29 APR 2016

Augusta Park Sports Pavilion Officially Opened

I was delighted to attend the official opening of the new Augusta Park Sports Pavilion earlier today.

The Mayor of Test Valley, Cllr Iris Andersen, did the honours by cutting the ribbon.

It was great to be joined by my fellow Ward Councillors, Tracey Preston and Alex Brook, Leisure Portfolio Holder, Cllr Tony Ward, Shelia Wenham-McInnes from the Augusta Park Community Association and Rod Bowker from Smannell Parish Council.

The new sports pavilion is a fantastic facility for Augusta Park and will become an important asset for Andover. There is an amazing view looking out from the pavilion towards the pitches, perfect for those summer afternoons watching and playing cricket and a warm refuge for winter football.

Thank you to Taylor Wimpey for providing such an excellent facility.

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28 APR 2016

Greater Resilience for Augusta Park Fibre Broadband

I met the Site Liaison Manager for Independent Fibre Networks, Ben Le Grice in Andover recently to discuss the situation withfibre broadband in Augusta Park.

Over the last few months some residents have experienced issues with their internet service, including 'drop outs' and slow speeds and have contacted me about it.

I am pleased to be able to report that equipment has been ordered to provide a second connection to the site providing additional capacity. It is expected that this second connection will be installed and commissioned by the end of May. This should ensure that evening peak internet speeds do not drop even through the busiest times.

I also took the opportunity to press the case about how IFNL are getting on attracting other providers to use the line.

Direct Save telecom and Love your Broadband now provide services alongside and See The Light. Negotiations with the big players continue and as the network expands it makes it more attractive for other companies to invest.

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25 APR 2016

TVBC Delivers on Affordable Homes Target

One of the priorities outlined in Test Valley Borough Council's Corporate Plan, Investing in Test Valley, is to make the Borough a great place to live, where the supply of homes reflects local need.

As part of this, the Council has been working hard to deliver 200 affordable homes per year during the period of the Corporate Plan, 2015 to 2019.

I'm delighted to report that this target has been exceeded for the financial year 2015/16, with a total of 247 new affordable homes built in the Borough during this time.

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23 APR 2016

Taking the Vote Leave Message to Andover

Taking part in Vote Leave North West Hampshire's street stall in Andover Town Centre today.

It was great to speak to so many people who share my view that Britain would be best served outside the European Union.

For me it comes down to this very simple argument. Do we want to be governed by our own elected representatives in our own sovereign parliament or do we want to contract that out to EU officials? Do we want to control our own policies on trade, tax, economic and employment regulation, migration, crime, civil liberties, farming and fishing or do we want them decided in Brussels?

A vote to leave does not mean we would stop trading with our European partners but staying in prevents us from signing free trade agreements with any country outside the Political Union. Instead let's open our arms to the world.

The EU is damaging developing nations and emerging economies and it's damaging Europe. It suffers high unemployment, low growth and a broken currency. Why would we want to shackle ourselves to a declining regional trade bloc? Is the EU really the best place to build a dynamic economy for the 21st Century?

Over the past decade Britain has paid over £150 billion to the EU budget. All this money could be better spent on hospitals, schools, roads, railways, better social care, fundamental science research or tax cuts.

June 23rd 2016, is our a once in a lifetime opportunity to have our say on whether we stay in or leave the EU. Let's take this opportunity and vote leave.

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22 APR 2016

Augusta Park Quiz Night

Curry and a Quiz. What could be better?

The Augusta Park Community Association have organised a Quiz Night on Saturday 7th May at the Community Centre. Doors open at 7pm with the quiz starting at 8pm.

To reserve your table please email admin@myaugustapark.org.uk

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22 APR 2016

By-way Improvement Works between Augusta Park and Finkley Farm

Test Valley Borough Council working on behalf of Hampshire County Council, is next week undertaking improvement works tothe pathway between Finkley Road, Smannell and Finkley Down Farm Park.

As a restricted by-way the public have a right to use the route on foot, bicycle, horseback or horse drawn carriage. The scheme, paid for by developer contributions, will see the existing dirt track gradedand surfaced with crushed stone.

Works will start on Monday 25th April and are expected to take 7 weeks to complete. While works are in progress the by-way will be closed to the public.

I'm hopeful that works to provide an informal pathway between Augusta Park and Smannell village will take place later this year. The funding for this particular project has to spent by May 2016 otherwise it has to be returned to the developer.

To download the plan click here.

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21 APR 2016

Celebrating 5 Years of Andover Street Pastors

Last night I attended a special service in St Mary's Church to mark 5 successful years of Andover Street Pastors.

Street Pastors are trained volunteers from local churches who patrol the streets on Friday and some Saturday nights, to care for, listen to and help vulnerable people.

We heard stories of how the Street Pastors here in Andover have helped those inebriated through drink or drugs, sometimes saving lives - whilst using their training to help keep the peace.

Rev Les Isaac the founder of Street Pastors gave us an inspirational address about the Christian values of love, compassion and community and the need to get out there, volunteer and move out of your comfort zone for your community. Street Pastors don't just confine their ministry to the church and nor should we.

Well done to Barry Wadhams, Andover Street Pastors Coordinator.

For more information please see here.

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Thanks for coming to support us.
- Andover Street Pastors

Great to meet you, thanks for coming and supporting us.
- Andover Street Pastors

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17 APR 2016

Clean for the Queen in Augusta Park

Spic and Span Ma'am.

Cleaning for the Queen in Augusta Park this morning.

Great to see so many volunteers as we de-litter the land ahead of Her Majesty's 90th birthday this coming week.

Thanks to Nicky, Linda and the team for providing well earned refreshments.

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16 APR 2016

Can You Help Your Community as a Trustee?

Alamein Community Association are looking for trustees to help them deliver educational, social and recreational activities in the Alamein Ward.

If you want to get involved then please email enquiries@kingarthurswayhall.org.uk for more information.

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15 APR 2016

Councillors Become Dementia Friends

After the Test Valley Borough Council Full Council meeting last night Councillors were given the opportunity to become a Dementia Friend.

The Dementia Friends scheme launched in 2013 by the Alzheimer's Society is designed to help people understand what it might be like to live with dementia and how we can best interact with people living with the condition.

It was a very informative and important session.

Andover has recently become a Dementia Friendly High Street with many local organisations and businesses signed up. Removing black mats from the entrance to shops can help or simply making sure the colour of chairs or sofas are a different colour to the carpet to ensure it is easier for those living with the condition to know where to sit down.

For more information check out - www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

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14 APR 2016

It's Time to Renew the Andover Vision

It's time to renew the Andover Vision - a new document and action plan that reflects the wishes, aspirations and dreams of the people of Andover.

That's why last weekend I hosted the Andover Vision Community Workshop in The Lights - an opportunity for community and voluntary groups to discuss the issues and start developing solutions to inform a new vision for Andover.

As I said in my introduction "There's a feeling around and the word on the street, is that culture here can seem out of reach. And we all complain that the centre has gone, and the housing estates just go on and on. But there's something about it that just makes us stay, and something about it that keeps it this way. We could start the pulse and take off the frown, and join up our hearts with the edge of town. All come together and stand as one and use our hearts to make us strong." Those were the words sung by the 'Voices of Andover' when I was at The Lights recently to see the culmination of that fantastic project. It is these beating hearts from the people that love Andover that I want to harness to renew the Vision.

Over the 10 years the current Andover Vision has been running a great deal has been achieved. A brand new theatre; The Lights, a new cinema, the creation of Andover College, an annual programme of town fairs and markets, Andover Business Park, and a growing town with more housing and a better retail offering. This success was underpinned by the Andover Vision Board and through financial contributions from Test Valley Borough Council and local firms like Stannah Stairlifts and Simply Health.

But over recent years the Vision has started to lose momentum. Now is the perfect time to refocus and reinvigorate it.

A new Andover Vision isn't one imposed by Test Valley Borough Council - although we will help facilitate and bring it together - it is about the aspirations of Andover residents. That is why the session on Saturday was run by an experienced independent facilitator, Al Bell.

In the months to come we will establish a number of action groups to further develop the ideas that came out of the weekend workshop, undertake further community engagement on the emerging ideas and where possible achieve some quick wins. The aim is to launch the renewed Vision and action plan in spring 2017.

Andover shouldn't settle for second best so let's release Andover's potential.

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10 APR 2016

Spic and Span Ma'am - Clean for the Queen this Sunday

Spic and Span Ma'am.

Augusta Park Community Association have organised a 'Clean for the Queen' litter pick next Sunday.

'Clean for the Queen' is a national campaign to help de-litter the land in time for Her Majesty's 90th birthday.

Join me and other volunteers from 1030am at the Community Centre.

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05 APR 2016

TVBC Offering Free Dog Microchipping as Law Changes

Is your dog microchipped yet? The law is changing tomorrow (6th April) making it compulsory to have your dog microchipped.

Microchipping means dogs can quickly be reunited with their owner and prevents dogs from having to be unnecessarily put down.

Test Valley Borough Council is offering residents who haven't yet had their dog chipped the opportunity to have it done free of charge.

The microchip is a similar size to a grain of rice and is implanted under the dog's skin between the shoulder blades. Once complete, the owner's contact details are stored on a secure database alongside a unique 15 digit code. Vets and other trained animal professionals will be able to identify the code using an electronic scanning device should they need to get in touch with the owner.

For more information and to make an appointment to microchip your dog, please contact TVBC on 01264 368000.

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04 APR 2016

A Marathon Effort for Enham Trust

Yesterday I ran the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2016 raising £1,100 for Enham Trust

It was a real scorcher! Something the tough winter miles in the Hampshire countryside hadn't prepared me for. Whilst it wasn't a day for PBs (well not for me), I was proud to complete the course in 3hrs 58mins.

Congratulations to my mum, dad and sister who also ran and the many Andover parkrun friends who took part and cheered us on. You're the best.

If you wish to sponsor me you can do so here.

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30 MAR 2016

Fundraising Target Reached for Paris Marathon

Thanks to your kind support I have now reached my fundraising target for the Paris Marathon which I'm running this weekend.

Your generosity means I've raised almost £10,000 running marathons for Enham Trust over the last 4 years.

Just because I've reached my target doesn't mean I've stopped accepting donations, so if you feel like helping me over the line on Sunday then click here.

Thank you for your support.

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26 MAR 2016

We Must Leave the EU

I had a letter published in yesterdays Andover Advertiser responding to a letter published on the 18th March which suggested that politicians campaigning to leave the European Union are self-centred. NO. We are campaigning to leave because we care about our democracy, because we are internationalists, because we believe in free trade and because we want a better future for Britain.

"I was surprised to read comments from local Liberal Democrat Chairman, Len Gates, in the letters page last week, when he suggested that politicians campaigning to leave the European Union were self-centred. Maybe it's the fact he doesn't have any coherent arguments for a remain vote that he has to resort to personal insults.

I'm even more surprised by his words considering one of his own candidates at the TVBC elections last year wants to leave the EU - but I'm not surprised by her position. If you're a liberal, a democrat and an internationalist then the only sensible choice is to leave.

True liberals believe, as do I, that decisions should be taken as close as possible to the people they affect and that those who hold power should be accountable through the ballot box. That's not the case in the EU where Commissioners are appointed without our consent and EU law trumps British law.

A vote to leave does not mean we should stop cooperating with our European partners or that we should stop trading freely. This is not some 'Little Englander' argument as some would have you believe. Au contraire, the case for leaving is forward looking and internationalist. The EU won't allow us to sign our own free trade agreements with other nations. Iceland have signed an agreement with China but we cannot. Not to mention our friends, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States or helping developing nations trade themselves to prosperity by removing Britain from an inward looking customs union.

Those of us campaigning for Britain to leave the EU are campaigning for our democracy, for free trade and for our internationalist future. And the cherry on top is that we save £350m a week that we can spend on healthcare, education, transport or cutting taxes."

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24 MAR 2016

Voices of Andover Light up The Lights

"There's a feeling around and the word on the street, is that culture here can seem out of reach. And we all complain thatthe centre has gone, and the housing estates just go on and on.

But there's something about it that just makes us stay, and something about us that keeps it this way. We could start the pulse and take off the frown, and join up our heart with the edge of town.

All come together, all come together and stand as one, and use our hearts to make us strong. In the heart of Andover...."

It was great to be invited to a performance of the 'Voices of Andover' last night at The Lights theatre.

'Voices of Andover' was composed by New Dimensions, a Hampshire-wide music initiative involving local schools and singers. The project explored the history and culture of the town and what it means to live here.

Next step, Andover the Musical!

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22 MAR 2016

Have Your Say - County Council Consults on Andover Rubbish Tip

Hampshire County Council is asking local residents for their views on how they think savings can best be made in the cost of running Hampshire's rubbish tips, including Andover's Household Waste Recycling Centre on the Walworth Business Park.

The proposals include changing the opening hours, closing sites for a few days each week and/or the possible closure of some of the sites.

Reassuringly, the Andover tip is one of the most efficient sites in the county and is the furthest away from any other tip, meaning it is less likely to close if the County Council decide to close one or more of their 24 sites.

Your feedback is important though. You can find details of the proposals here and you can respond to the online questionnaire here.

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20 MAR 2016

Running the Paris Marathon for Enham Trust - Two Weeks to go

Two weeks today I'll be running the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris for Enham Trust, a disability charity in my Alamein Ward, which helps disabled people into employment and live more independent lives.

I've run the London Marathon for the last 3 years - and thanks to your generosity, raised over £8,500 for the charity.

This year I have decided to switch capital cities and conquer the banks of the Seine.

I've raised £900+ of my £1,000 target so far, so if you feel like helping me over the line then I would be grateful if you could sponsor me - http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilNorth

A very worthy cause.

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19 MAR 2016

Railings to be Moved for Better Disabled Access

Following requests from a local disabled resident my colleague, Tracey Preston and I have followed up with Hampshire County Council about the placement of new pedestrian railings at the Cricketers Way/River Way Arch.

Unfortunately they have been placed so close together that it is incredibly difficult for the safe passage of wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

Following our intervention I can confirm that the County Council has requested that the contractor carry out remedial works to change the layout of the barriers to allow easier use by mobility scooters.

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18 MAR 2016

Meeting Svend Hunter - Enham Trust Politico

Last night I met Svend Hunter, a constituent of mine, who lives in Enham Trust.

He is very interested in politics and is passionate about furthering the disability agenda locally.

I was pleased to be able to answer his questions on the different responsibilities of Parish, District and County Councils - and we chatted on how best he might fulfill his aims.

Svend is off to Parliament next Wednesday where local MP, Kit Malthouse has secured him tickets to watch Prime Minister's Questions.

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17 MAR 2016

Andover Farmers and Crafts Market - This Sunday

This Sunday sees the return of the Andover Farmers and Crafts Market from 10am-2pm in the High Street.

The first market of 2016 features over 50 stalls bursting with fresh spring produce to whet the appetite. Established traders such as The Flour Stall, Artisan Dairy, Tubbs Cosmetics and Loosehanger Farmhouse Cheeses will continue to sell their wares alongside new traders to the market including Riverford Organic Fruit and Veg, Mendip Lavender, Eden Rebornand the The Traditional Beef Company.

All this can be enjoyed against the backdrop of music in the Time Ring fromUno Duo, two people making music that they love from the fifties to current day songs, perhaps washed down with coffee and cake from 3Gingers or a sizzling hot burger from Oaktrack Smallholding.

Enjoy!

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16 MAR 2016

Fake Enham Alamein Speed Camera to be Removed

I have been informed that a fake speed camera has been put up in Enham Alamein. The County Council are also aware and I can confirm they are making arrangements for its removal.

It is not very helpful putting up a fake camera. Without proper signage, motorists who see it at the last minute, even if they are not speeding, tend to break heavily which could cause an accident. I can understand why local residents are concerned about speeding – but I don't condone this individual who has taken the law into their own hands.

I have consistently lobbied the police to carry out proper speed checks in the village and figures unearthed by the Andover Advertiser recently, shows that 328 drivers have been caught speeding by police in the village since 2013.

Last year, I presented the Parish Council with a cheque for £500 from the Alamein Councillors Community Grant Scheme to help with measures to boost road safety in the village and I know the Parish Council are on the verge of purchasing a speed indicator device.

Enham Alamein is a unique village and having successfully campaigned for the 40mph speed limit to be reduced to 30mph in 2006/7, I am determined to see it adhered to.

Photo credit: Andover Advertiser

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15 MAR 2016

Council Switches to Green Miles

TVBC has invested in two electric cars so that the parking team can travel around the borough more efficiently and with lower running costs.

The new cars mean that parking officers can travel more than 80 miles after just one charge and will never need to stop for fuel. 

The new vehicles will save the Council time and money and will mean that the officers who are out and about in the borough will be carrying out their duties much more efficiently.

My colleague, Environmental Portfolio Holder, Councillor Graham Stallard, has said: "This will be welcome news to all our residents who care about the environment, and I know there are many. I'm delighted that we have been able to provide our staff with these cars."

The new cars replace the Council's old vehicles which had come to the end of their economic life.

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14 MAR 2016

Happy Commonwealth Day - Let's Make Next Year a True Celebration

Today is Commonwealth Day. An annual celebration of the history, ideals and values that tie the 53 Commonwealth Nations together, united by language, culture and a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The Commonwealth, made up of the former territories of the British Empire, includes some of the largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries on the planet. It spans a quarter of the world across all six inhabited continents. It is truly diverse and a force for good.

Commonwealth Day will be marked the length of breadth of our country with 500 Commonwealth flags raised simultaneously throughout the United Kingdom. Here in Andover, the Mayor of Test Valley will raise the flag at the Guildhall.

The theme for this year's celebration is 'An Inclusive Commonwealth' - and whilst Britain is doing her bit to celebrate the intergovernmental organisation that she founded, I can only conclude that Britain has long since turned her back on her friends, in favour of a declining, inward looking customs union called the EU.

The restrictive nature of the European Union means we can't sign our own free trade agreements with any other country outside of Union. When our old friends in the Commonwealth include the major rising economy of India as well Australia, New Zealand and Canada the Common External Tariff, imposed by the EU, forces us to charge tariffs on imports from outside the Union meaning we can't trade freely with them. If we left the European Union we could enjoy both tariff-free EU and non-EU goods meaning better trading arrangements and cheaper prices in our shops.

As well as a very clear economic case for leaving the EU. There is also a clear moral one, for the Commonwealth also includes the ex-colonies of Africa such as Kenya, Uganda and Namibia that need the world's help to trade themselves to greater prosperity. There is a complex and complicated history of trade initiatives between the EU and developing nations but the fact remains that tariffs into the EU remain extraordinarily high for many of the developing World's farmers and producers of simple manufactured goods. The Common Agricultural Policy which mostly benefits French farmers, through massive subsidies also creates a further barrier to fair competition for African farmers. Britain leaving the EU won't, of course, mean CAP comes to an end but we will be able to trade freely with developing nations in Africa. You don't just have to take my word for it. The @Africans4Britain twitter account extols the virtues.

Talking of the moral case for Brexit. Our current immigration system is also biased against our Commonwealth friends. Immigration from the EU is uncontrolled meaning we end up blocking a disproportionate amount of people who could contribute to the UK from Commonwealth countries. If we were able to control our entire immigration policy then we could make it far easier for some to come, such as skilled workers, job-creators, family friends and relatives from all four corners of the earth and more difficult for large swathes of economic migrants from Eastern Europe. As Syed Kamall MEP, whose father came to Britain from Commonwealth Guyana, points out: "People should be treated equally whether they are from Austria or Australia, from Croatia or the Caribbean, from India or Italy. Sadly, that's not possible within the EU."

Wouldn't it be great if by the time we mark Commonwealth Day next year we have broken from the shackles of the EU and opened our arms to the World? That would truly be a cause for celebration, and the Commonwealth flag on top of the Andover Guildhall could fly with ever greater pride.

Photo Credit: Andovertown.co.uk

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13 MAR 2016

Flooded King Arthurs Path Taken up with County Council

Following reports from a King Arthurs Way parent about the uneven and frequently flooded pathway between King Arthurs WayHall and Knights Enham School I have taken up the case with Hampshire County Council to try and seek a solution.  Proper drainage is required.

I will keep residents informed with progress.

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12 MAR 2016

Vote Leave - Take Control

I was delighted to join campaigners outside the Andover Guildhall today to take the message to the people of North Hampshire that voting leave in the upcoming EU referendum is the sensible, safest and most secure choice.

I was joined by local MP, Kit Malthouse, fellow Borough Councillors, Tracey Preston & Karen Hamilton, County Councillor Tim Rolt and a host of other local volunteers to mark Vote Leave's '‪#‎TakeControlDay‬'. We then headed off to deliver leaflets.

Our message is simple; a leave vote in the upcoming referendum would mean a new UK-EU deal based on free trade and friendly cooperation. It would end the supremacy of EU law and regain control for Britain. We would stop sending £350 million every week to Brussels and instead spend it on our priorities, like education, the NHS and transport.

For me it comes down to this very simple argument. Do we want to be governed by our own elected representatives in our own sovereign parliament or do we want to contract that out to EU officials? Britain has a proud international history and a democracy that has been exported across the globe. It is our duty to protect that democracy, to hire and fire our own politicians and hold them to account. We can't do that if decisions made in Brussels take precedence over British laws.

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11 MAR 2016

Application for Enham Arch Eyesore Turned Down

The planning application for two large industrial buildings for Greenwich Way, just north of the Enham Arch was unanimously turned down by Test Valley Borough Council's Planning Committee last night.

The proposal was to replace the previously demolished brick building with a grey cladded construction with blue doors and white windows. The report made clear that the application was very much at the cheaper end of the scale and wouldn't fit in with the surrounding area, but despite contravening the Local Plan it was recommended for permission by planning officers.

I led the charge to persuade the committee to vote for refusal.

The Local Plan states that development will NOT be permitted if it is of poor design and fails to improve the character, function and quality of the area. It was clear, and accepted by the applicant, that the proposal was not of high quality design as you can see from the image of how the building would have looked if it was given permission.

The other buildings along this side of Newbury Road are large in scale, but are set well back and have substantial landscaping between them and the road. This creates an open, green corridor which adds to the spaciousness. The application didn't fit in with the brick buildings that surround it, such as Aster and Office Depot and would be an eyesore for those traversing along Newbury Road.

I am as keen as anyone to see this site come back into employment use but the developer must do better. I hope that at a future meeting we will be able to give permission for this site but it must be a much better proposal than we had presented last night.

I'm glad the committee agreed with me and voted unanimously for refusal.

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25 FEB 2016

Test Valley Passes Budget with Slight Council Tax Increase

At a meeting of the Test Valley Borough Council this afternoon, it was agreed that council tax on an average Band D property for 2016/17 would rise from £126.41 to £131.41.

This was not an easy decision. As a Conservative I believe in low taxes. We have frozen council tax for 4 out of the last 5 years and at the height of the financial crisis we used the Government's council tax freeze grant to keep bills down. The difference this year is that the Government is not offering this grant and the money we get from central Government to provide front line services has fallen by more than half a million pounds to just one million. On current assumptions the central Government grant will be phased out by 2019.

To help counterbalance this large reduction – and as TVBC is in the 25% of councils with the lowest council tax (22nd lowest in the country) - Government rules allow us to increase council tax by £5, equating to a 3.96% rise or the equivalent of less than 10p a week. We will also be drawing from our reserves, using money from our New Homes Bonus reserve, to balance the budget.

The way local councils are being funded is changing dramatically. We are moving away from a reliance on central Government support grants to become more independently and locally funded.

TVBC is currently funded in three ways; through central Government grants, which are dramatically reducing; through the Council Tax, which I don't want to see rise every year; and by money we raise in other ways such as income on our investments.

It is this third method that is becoming more important. Thankfully Test Valley is ahead of the game. We have already developed Project Enterprise to take a more innovative and entrepreneurial approach to raising money rather than relying on handouts from the Government. I took a report through Council late last year to establish Valley Housing Limited. This is a private lettings housing company, wholly owned by TVBC which will not only serve residents who seek a rental property but also generate income for the Council. We are also developing other means to make money.

These are difficult times for local councils who have to make tough decisions to preserve frontline services. When we put council tax up we do it with a heavy heart and because we have to do it. The majority of opposition Councillors also voted for the council tax resolution today.

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Please note that although I am happy to pay any increase in Council tax or even income tax, even though I am retired on a small pension, overall this is a disgrace. The cuts to local services is shameful, cruel and stupid. They have been imposed upon the country by a Conservative Government that is morally bankrupt. Shown by the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia an internationally discredited country and supporter of ISIS and the failure to tax multi-nationals e.g. Google; Amazon; Starbucks; Apple properly. an Alice through the Looking Glass Country of punishing the poor and offering succour to the rich. Shame on you.
- Virginia Cath

What cuts to TVBC local services?
- Cllr Phil North

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21 FEB 2016

Fundraising Quiz Success for Enham Trust

Thank you so much to all those that came along to my Paris Marathon fundraising quiz on Friday night in the Landale Wilson Hall.

I'm delighted to announce that we raised £721.60 for Enham Trust.

Thank you to Dave & Liz Cosgrove for being quiz master and chief scorer and to my mum, Jan North for marking the papers. You're all amazing.

Thank you also to local MP Kit Malthouse for popping along to show his support.

Congratulations to the Sock Puppets for regaining their crown.

If you weren't there and want to sponsor my marathon fundraising effort then you can do so here - http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilNorth

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20 FEB 2016

Vote Leave - The Internationalist Case for Brexit

The Prime Minister has today announced that the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union will take placeon the 23rd June. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have a referendum, but it is now not about what David Cameron thinks. It is up to the British people to decide whether to leave or remain.

The safest choice, surely, is to leave.

What has the renegotiation come down to? A red card system where over 50% of national Parliaments have to agree with us for the Commission to reconsider imposing laws upon us and a supposed emergency brake on migrant benefits, but only if the EU agrees. No powers have been repatriated to Britain.

It is now clear that the EU cannot be reformed from the inside. If this is how little the EU concedes to us now, when their second largest budget contributor is on the eve of a referendum, then imagine what will happen if we vote to stay in.

For me it comes down to this very simple argument. Do we want to be governed by our own elected representatives in our own sovereign parliament or do we want to contract that out to EU officials? Do we want to control our own policies on trade, tax, economic and employment regulation, migration, crime, civil liberties, farming and fishing or do we want them decided in Brussels?

A vote to leave does not mean we should stop cooperating with our European partners or that we should stop trading freely. This is not some 'Little Englander' argument as some would have you believe. On the contrary, the case for leaving is a forward looking internationalist argument. There is a big world out there. The European Union won't allow us to sign our own free trade agreements with other nations. When economies like China, India, South Korea and Japan are the future we can't sign bilateral agreements to reduce trade tariffs. Iceland have signed a free trade agreement with China but we cannot. Not to mention our friends, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Leaving the EU would give Britain its own seat at the World Trade Organisation rather than being represented by the EU Commission.

The Prime Minister said last week that he doesn't want us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world. Amen to that. But that's exactly what we'd be doing if we stay in the EU.

So what would happen if we voted to leave? Well, the Government would be obliged to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union which consists of two elements: one is a two year notice period, after which, the UK ceases to be an EU Member State. The second puts in place the framework to negotiate an alternative trading agreement. The idea that we would no longer be able to trade freely with EU countries as a result of a leave vote is absurd.

We would also see lower prices in our shops. EU members are part of the Common External Trade Tariff so we currently have to charge tariffs on imports from outside the EU. If we vote to leave, we could enjoy both tariff-free EU and non-EU goods. Helping those less well-off countries that are currently disadvantaged by our European customs union with the added benefit that the price of food and other goods would fall in Britain.

The EU is damaging developing nations and emerging economies and it's damaging Europe. It suffers high unemployment, low growth and a broken currency. Why would we want to shackle ourselves to a declining regional trade bloc? Let's cooperate with our EU neighbours. Let's negotiate a simple free trade deal (the Norwegians and Swiss have already managed it) but let's look beyond the continent.

Talking of which, our current immigration system is not fit for purpose and is immoral. Immigration from the EU is uncontrolled meaning we end up blocking a disproportionate amount of people who could contribute to the UK from non-EU countries. If we were able to control our entire immigration policy then we could make it far easier for some to come, such as skilled workers and job-creators and impossible for large swathes of economic migrants.

Over the past decade Britain has paid over £150 billion to the EU budget. We send about £350 million to Brussels every week. All this money could be better spent on hospitals, schools, roads, railways, better social care, fundamental science research or tax cuts.

But why do I say that the safest option is to leave? Because we are now at a crossroads. A vote to remain is not a vote for the status quo. If we opt to stay within the EU then it will surely leave the UK at risk as the European project continues. The 'deal' is not legally binding, there is no proposal to amend existing treaties to reverse the fact that EU law has primacy over British law and no powers have come back to Britain.

Britain has a proud international history. Our democracy has been exported across the globe. A democracy that many of our relatives a generation or two ago laid down their lives to defend. It is our duty to protect that democracy, to be able to hire and fire our own politicians and hold them to account. We can't do that if decisions are being made in Brussels.

So on June 23rd, vote for our democracy.

Vote for free trade but not political union.

Vote for economic prosperity and cement our internationalist future.

Vote Leave.

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09 FEB 2016

Latest Edition of the Augusta Park Community Newsletter

The latest edition of the Augusta Park Community Newsletter has been published. Please click here to download it.

This is the last newsletter to be penned by Test Valley Borough Council.  In the future a resident newsletter will be produced by the Augusta Park Community Association (APCA). The publication will continue to provide very useful information and updates of current projects and issues happening locally. Test Valley Borough Council will continue to support APCA by providing information on planning and new initiatives happening on the development.

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05 FEB 2016

Town Council Must Explain Huge Tax Hike to Residents

I have a letter published in today's Andover Advertiser about the Andover Town Council's decision to increase their share of the Council Tax from £10.58 to £20.03 on an average band D property. This extraordinary tax hike has been voted through with little or no explanation of why it is needed. I'm calling for the Andover Town Council to explain its reasoning to residents.

"I was stunned by the Town Council's decision to almost double their portion of Andover's Council Tax. As the former Town Councillor responsible for finance, I worked hard to hold down Council Tax, freezing it for 3 out of 4 years.

After steering the Town Council through its early years we Conservatives felt it was time to hand over the reins to community minded individuals. After all, the Town Council is the equivalent to a Parish Council. However, it appears to have been taken over by Lib Dems. A number declared themselves as Independents, but at the same time stood for the Lib Dem's in the Test Valley election. In their first Budget they voted to increase the Council Tax by almost 100%.

As well as allocating money for its core functions the former Town Council was prudent in putting money aside to pay for the local elections but as the election was uncontested, these funds weren't needed. Taking those savings into account, the Town Council must justify why they need such a large precept.

On top of this, Town Councillors have voted to significantly increase their staffing budget and are looking to more than double the rent they pay on their offices. They have also set £56,000 aside as a 'new building fund', without any further explanation.

The Town Council is not without its critics. If it is going to play an important and increasing role in making Andover better then it must be more transparent. As an elected Borough Councillor, I want to work with the Town Council on positive projects for the good of the town but if they are going to almost double tax, then surely we deserve an explanation.

Cllr Phil North, Alamein Ward"

What do you think about the rise?

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I totally agree that we need an explanation for the 89% rise in allocation of funds to Andover Town Council. Why do they think that we will pay without having or deserving an explanation??
- Lisa Adams

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02 FEB 2016

Charity Quiz Night for Enham Trust

The annual charity quiz night for Enham Trust is fast approaching. Always a great event.

Prizes for the top three teams, superb raffle and all for a great cause.

If you haven't yet registered your team then there is still time to do so. Email philnorth2@gmail.com

If you can't make it, you can still donate here.

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28 JAN 2016

Free Skateboarding Workshop at Andover Urban Sports Facility

Calling all skateboarders! Andover Urban Sports Facility will be hosting 12 free skateboarding sessions with coaching from a local skateboard coaching company, Team Rubicon.

The free skateboarding sessions will be held on Saturday afternoons, at 2pm to 3pm and 3pm to 4pm, from 6 February 2016 to 23 April 2016. The sessions have been introduced to give users an understanding of park etiquette and how to ride safely. Team Rubicon, in association with Test Valley Borough Council, also aims to set up a user group to assist in looking after the park and keeping it safe and litter free for users.

The Andover stakepark has proved to be a hugely popular meeting place, enjoyed by many Andover residents.  I'm sure that these free sessions will be fun and valuable for all those who attend them.

As places on the workshops are limited, please contact Test Valley Borough Council's Sport and Recreation Officer, Laura Jones, on 01264 368831 to book a place or request further information.

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25 JAN 2016

Grant Funding Boost for Shining Stars

I was delighted to join my Alamein colleagues Tracey Preston & Alex Brook last week to present a cheque for £1,000 from our Councillors Community Budget to Shining Stars based at the Enham Trust.

Shining Stars is a group that was set up by local parents for additional innovative learning opportunities for children with severe, multiple and profound learning difficulties.

After a very successful initial 10 week after school activity club the funding will help pay for Shining Stars to operate on an ongoing basis offering weekly two hour activity sessions and outings planned for one Saturday per month.

Shining Stars is already benefiting 20 local children with severe disabilities each week with planned activities for the next year including cooking, gardening, drama, arts & crafts, music, sports and outdoor activities.

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Great stuff Thanks Phil!!
- Jane H

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23 JAN 2016

Alamein Community Conference Success

I was delighted to chair the second Alamein Ward Community Conference today to discuss how community groups in the area can work together for the benefit of residents.

My thanks go to RCS at the Longmeadow Centre in Cricketers Way for hosting the event. Representatives from the Alamein Community Association, St Paul's Church and Community Centre,Test Valley Community Services, Smannell Parish Council & Enham Trust also attended.

The conference provided an opportunity for organisations to meet other partners, find out more about the support, funding and resources available in the area and discuss how the various groups can better support one another.

The conference was a great success and ideas for some exciting future projects were shaped and discussed. Watch this space.

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22 JAN 2016

Costa to Open at Andover Bus Station

The Council has secured a long term agreement with Costa which will open at the Andover bus station café on Friday, 29th January.

The new outlet will complete the revamp of the town's bus station, which has included two additional bus parking bays, a Stagecoach customer enquiries office, electronic passenger information systems and a new indoor waiting area. The project has also created office space for Shopmobility and Test Valley Community Services.

Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Iris Andersen, will open the new Costa at 9.30am next Friday morning.

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15 JAN 2016

Smannell & Little London Broadband Project Saved

The Smannell & Little London Broadband service, which was threatened by the removal of a County Council subsidy, has beensaved thanks to our local Member of Parliament Kit Malthouse and funding from Test Valley Borough Council and Smannell Parish Council.

The County indicated that they were set to remove their £11,000 per annum subsidy of the scheme from April 2016 – just 30 months before a superfast broadband service is scheduled to be provided to the two villages as part of the general rollout in Hampshire.

I arranged for Test Valley Borough Council to make a £3,500 per annum contribution and the Parish Council have also stepped in with £2,000. On the back of his recent Broadband Summit, local MP, Kit Malthouse, negotiated a deal with the County Council in which they would continue to pay half of their original contribution, saving the scheme.

The removal of this scheme before the superfast broadband rollout would have been disastrous for local residents and business who rely on the service. I was pleased to be able to leverage money from Test Valley to help keep residents online and I thank Kit for successfully negotiating the deal.

Kit Malthouse said: "I'm delighted that the scheme is still going ahead. We understand the frustration of local people whose internet connections are inadequate for the modern age and we had to act quickly. It's vital that efforts to bring rural areas online proceed and important we were able to work to win both the money and the deal to keep it on track."

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13 JAN 2016

Pay on Exit Car Parking Introduced in the Chantry Centre

Test Valley Borough Council has installed two brand new 'pay on exit' card payment machines in the Chantry Centre car park.

The new machines will be available to use from Monday 18th January and will provide visitors with an easier way to pay for parking.

On arrival, visitors will need to insert their credit or debit card into the machine and key in their vehicle's registration number. At the end of their visit, they simply insert the same card into the machine again and it will then calculate the duration of the stay and charge accordingly.

The new machines provide the public with another option to pay for their parking in addition to the machines that continue to accept coins which means you can stay for longer without having to rush back because your ticket is about to run out.

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11 JAN 2016

Fresh Bid to Build Fewer Affordable Homes Rejected

Taylor Wimpey's bid to reduce the amount of affordable houses due to be built on Augusta Park has been rejected by Test Valley Borough Council. The developer had been trying to reduce their affordable housing obligation from 40% to 30% in four sections of the development.

I have today received confirmation that Taylor Wimpey withdrew their planning application late last week after being faced with a recommendation for refusal. TVBC previously rejected a bid from the developer to reduce their affordable housing contribution from 40% to just 10%.

I have previously made the point that that there is absolutely no justification to reduce the amount of affordable housing due to be provided in Augusta Park and I'm glad this has been borne out by the experts who assessed the developer's viability study. It is essential we provide a supply of housing which reflects local needs.

I will be keeping a careful eye on any further attempts by Taylor Wimpey to get out of their affordable housing obligation. It is unacceptable for them not to deliver on the terms and conditions of the original planning permission.

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05 JAN 2016

Business Incentive Grant for Alamein Ward Business

Alamein Ward resident, Martin Hopper has been awarded a £500 Business Incentive Grant from Test Valley Borough Council after he set up local business Those Handy People. The grant was presented by my ward colleague, Cllr Tracey Preston.

Martin started the business as he wanted to offer his skills as a handy man. His services include painting, basic plumbing and guttering.

Martin said: "I would like to thank the Council for awarding Those Handy People with a Business Incentive Grant. It has been exciting to turn my hobby and passion for DIY into a business and I appreciate the support. The research I have done on social media and with friends shows that there is an opportunity for a local tradesman business to flourish."

The Council's Business Incentive Grants are available to local entrepreneurs looking for help with setting up their own business in Test Valley.

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02 JAN 2016

Recycle Your Real Christmas Tree

Happy New Year.

I'm sure for many the festive fun is far from over but just to let you know that from today you can recycle your real Christmas tree at any of the below locations until January 11th.

Homebase, Enham Arch Retail Park

Andover Garden Centre, Salisbury Road

For those registered with the Garden Waste Collection Service, the Council will collect whole Christmas trees. Trees over six feet high should be cut in half.

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24 DEC 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful time with family, friends and neighbours.

The council offices will be closed from 5pm today re-opening at 8.30am on Monday 4th January. Of course if there is anything you need to report to me during that time then please drop me a line.

There are some changes to bin collection days over the festive period. For more information see here. During the Christmas and New Year period waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collection day will also be accepted.

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23 DEC 2015

Visiting the Andover Men's Shed in Enham Alamein

I recently visited the Andover Men's Shed in Enham Alamein and met Vice-Chairman, Sam Plummer, who showed me around.

Our local Men's Shed is part of a wider national association of Men's Sheds in which older men are able to come together to work on individual and community projects whilst using the tools and workshop provided by the shed.

The Andover Men's Shed currently has 35 members. Their base is a workshop provided by and on the grounds of Enham Trust.

Recently they have been making and selling reindeer sculptures and are currently working on a project building a wooden crazy golf hole for Enham Trust clients. All this alongside putting up real sheds for local people unable to do so themselves.

Men's Sheds are taking off nationwide and I'm pleased to see the Andover Shed is so active and community minded.

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21 DEC 2015

Local Plan found Sound and Local Gaps Protected

I'm delighted to report that the Government Planning Inspector has ruled that the new TVBC Local Plan is sound. The new Local Plan outlines the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years and includes the Council's planning policies in which development is judged against. The plan has been the subject of public consultation on three occasions with comments being taken online, by email and post.

The plan represents a good deal for Alamein Ward with no further strategic housing sites allocated. Thanks to the help of Alamein Ward residents the Local Plan also ensures the protection of our Local Gaps including between Andover and Smannell/Enham Alamein. This is a big achievement. There is no specific reference within the National Planning Policy Framework for the designation of Local Gaps so when Councillors decided to make sure these were protected in our Local Plan there was a risk that the Planning Inspectorate wouldn't allow them. Thankfully the public support helped make this possible – including our campaign to protect them. Thank you to all residents that signed our petition.

The new Local Plan will be a powerful weapon in protecting the borough from inappropriate development whilst ensuring new homes are built in sustainable locations.

The Plan proposes the building of 588 homes per year in Test Valley for the 18 year plan period, of which 200 homes would be affordable. It is intended that the Local Plan be reported to Cabinet on 13 January and full Council on 27 January 2016. It is envisaged we will then withdraw the current Borough Local Plan (2006) and adopt the new Local Plan at the same Council meeting.

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19 DEC 2015

Additional Parking at Andover Railway Station

South West Trains are building a new, single deck car park over the existing car park at Andover Railway Station due to commence in the New Year.

The current car park is full on average by 9am on a daily basis and the new additional spaces will assist with the demand for car parking at the station.

As a result, the existing car park will be closed for 20 weeks from Monday, 18 January 2016.

During this time, Test Valley Borough Council is offering season tickets for alternative car parking for this 20 week period. Further information about the alternative car parking arrangements and season tickets can be found here.

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17 DEC 2015

Final Farmers' Market of the Year in Andover this Sunday

The last Farmers' and Crafts Market of 2015 will be held in Andover High Street this coming Sunday from 10am to 2pm.

The festive market will fill the High Street with food, beverages, crafts and gifts. Fresh from her success at the Christmas Lights Switch On, Jayne Deer will be performing in the Time Ring, as will Andover Town Band. Andover Round Table will also be bringing their sleigh to add to the Christmas atmosphere.

The market will be back in 2016 on the third Sunday of each month, commencing on 20 March.

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16 DEC 2015

Christmas & New Year Bin Collection Days

During the Christmas and New Year period there will be changes to bin collections.  See the graphic opposite for your new bin collection day.

During this time waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collection day will also be accepted. Recyclable materials in cardboard boxes left beside the brown bin on recycling weeks will be collected throughout the year.

During the festive period, the Local Recycling Centres will continued to be monitored and emptied regularly.

Additionally, the Household Waste Recycling Centre will also be open except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Merry Christmas.

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13 DEC 2015

Dashing Through the Town....

Dashing through the Town....

This morning I was delighted to join 300 other Santas on the annual Valley Leisure Centre charity fun run through Andover town centre to raise money for Cancer Research UK and 3Smiles.

The Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Iris Andersen led the warm up from the front before setting us on our way. The Mayor's Consort, Cllr John Cockaday took part in the run as did my Alamein Ward colleague, Tracey Preston. Deputy Leader, Martin Hatley was on hand to hand out the certificates.

I matched my time finishing position from a few years ago coming across the line in a respectable third place.

Now do you want to see the Mayor jigging along to the warm up? Oh alright then........

 

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09 DEC 2015

Bid for 10 new Homes in Vespasian Road Withdrawn by the Applicant

The planning application for 10 new dwellings on the land surrounding Vespasian Road in Roman Way has today been withdrawn by the applicant.

Stonewater, an affordable housing provider, submitted an application to develop the area in October.

Local residents have been in contact with me outlining their concerns about the close relationship of the proposed dwellings and existing houses. I had already made representations to the case officer requesting to call in the application so it would be judged by a planning committee of Councillors in public rather than Council officers - but it has now been withdrawn.

As Stonewater have now paused to rethink, I have today written to their development officer urging them to consult properly with local residents before they re-submit their application.

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07 DEC 2015

Need to Contact the Council? There's an App for that!

Test Valley Borough Council has launched a brand new smartphone app that allows residents to report issues such as street cleaning and waste and recycling concerns quickly and easily.

My Test Valley is simple to use, free of charge and works with the mapping software on smartphones so that users can pinpoint exactly where in the borough they are reporting from. Once the short registration form is complete, a selection of categories will appear on the screen for you to select the type of issue you would like to report. Updates on how the report is progressing will then be sent to the registered email address.

My Test Valley is available to download from the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, Google Play for Android phones, or the Windows Store for Windows phones. 

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01 DEC 2015

Quiz Night for Enham Trust

It is that time again. The North family are running the 2016 Marathon de Paris and once again we're raising money for Enham Trust.

After three successful London Marathons, raising over £8,500, it is time for a new challenge in another country.

In order to supplement our fundraising efforts I organise an annual quiz night. Those who have attended the quiz for the last 3 years will know what a fantastic evening it is.

It takes place on Friday 19th February 2015 at 7:30pm in the Landale Wilson Hall. More details here.

If you want to enter a team please register by e-mailing me at philnorth2@googlemail.com.

 

 

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30 NOV 2015

Grant Helps Develop Community Art Workshops in Alamein Ward

I was delighted to present a Test Valley Borough Council Business Incentive Grant for £500 to Kaz Trinder at the Out of the Box studio at St Paul's Church and Community Centre recently.

Kaz works hard to involve and engage our local community through her passion for art. Out of the Box workshops are a wonderful opportunity for both adults and children to meet other local people and develop their creativity. She also runs jewellery making workshops for adults, including those with special needs and learning difficulties.

Kaz completed her Foundation Diploma at Andover College and studied Creative Arts at Bath Spa University before working as a Youth Worker and Community Volunteer.

Kaz said: "Engaging with the local community is really important to me and I am grateful to Test Valley Borough Council for their support and Business Incentive Grant, which will enable my new business to continue to grow within the community."

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25 NOV 2015

Buy One Get One Free on Andover Parking this December

Shoppers will have even longer to stock up on festive goodies this Christmas, as Test Valley Borough Council once again offers one hour's free parking this December.

Visitors will be able to make use of the offer on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 30 November to 16 December and will need to purchase a minimum of one hour's parking in any Test Valley Borough Council car park to qualify. They then need to display the Christmas voucher on their dashboard alongside a valid pay and display ticket to get another hour free. The voucher can also be used with a Ringo payment.

The Council's car parks continue to be free to use after 4pm, so during the offer period visitors will be able to stay in town from 2pm until late for just 90 pence!

You can download and print the voucher here.

 

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23 NOV 2015

Council Unveils Free Skate Park Workshop Sessions for 2016

Don't miss the next session of free skate park workshops put on by Test Valley Borough Council, starting in February 2016.

The Council are delivering a 12 week programme of skate school sessions starting on Saturday the 6th February from 2 – 4pm. The first hour includes an overview on how to ride safely and skate park etiquette.  The second hour focusses on individuals who want to become skate park rangers to be montors to the younger users. Sign up for a place today.

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22 NOV 2015

Andover Railway Station Drop in Session

South West Trains will be hosting a drop in session at Andover Railway Station on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 from 5pm to 8pm.

The session will be an opportunity for the public to hear details about the proposed decked car park. Staff from South West Trains will be on hand to answer questions and officers from Test Valley Borough Council will also attend to provide information about alternative car parking options while the building work is taking place.

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02 NOV 2015

New Lights & Leisure Centre Car Pak Opens

The Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Iris Andersen, cut the ribbon to officially open the new West Street pay and display car park at Andover Magistrates' Court on Friday.

The Council applied for planning permission to use the car parking area around the Magistrates' Court as additional pay and display parking after purchasing the site in July this year. The 51 new parking spaces, which include two disabled spaces, will be particularly valuable to customers of The Lights and Andover Leisure Centre.

The Council worked closely in partnership with Hampshire County Council to acquire the site after it ceased to be used as a Magistrates' Court, and the two authorities are continuing to explore options for its use.

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29 OCT 2015

County Council Consults Over New School for Augusta Park

Hampshire County Council are holding a public drop in session to consult with local residents ahead of submitting a planning application for a new 420 place primary school at Augusta Park to be opened for the start of the September 2017 academic year.

The public drop in session takes place this Tuesday 3rd November held at the Andover Education Centre on Smannell Road between 3pm and 6pm.  Hampshire County Council officers will be available to discuss the proposals for the site.

You can now also view the plans and comment on them at http://consultations.hants.gov.uk/.  Hampshire County Council have informed me that if you would like to comment on these proposals then please write to the Strategic Development Team, Children's Services Department, The Castle, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8UG or by email to: strategicplanningunit@hants.gov.uk by 27 November 2015.

You will of course have a further opportunity to comment on these proposals as part of the formal planning process.

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23 OCT 2015

El Alamein Day

On the 23rd October 1942, 73 years ago today, Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery lead the British Eigth Army into theSecond Battle of El Alamein in Egypt. It was the Allied Forces' first victory in World War Two. As Churchill remarked afterwards "Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat." This was the turning point. Securing the vital supply line of the Suez Canal and preventing the Middle Eastern oil fields from falling into enemy hands.

Why am I telling you this? Well, many of the injured from that battle were brought back to the village of Enham to undergo their recovery. In recognition of their liberation from the threat of German and Italian National Socialism, Egypt gifted Enham Charity £225,000, to care for the disabled ex-serviceman. To thank the Egyptian's for their kind gift the name 'Alamein' was added and Enham Alamein was born.

As I never tire of saying we should be extremely proud of our local association with that battle. The village and the on-going work of the Enham Trust in caring for disabled people is a jewel in the crown of our part of Hampshire.

To find out more about the history of Enham check out the recently opened heritage trail. More details here

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14 OCT 2015

Planning Application Submitted for 10 Homes at Vespasian Road - Have Your Say

A planning application has been submitted by Stonewater, an affordable housing provider, for 10 dwellings on the land surrounding Vespasian Road in Roman Way. The application also states that it will provide "26 new porches with bin stores, improved parking to existing dwellings, a children's play area, fencing and landscaping".

Full details can be found on the Test Valley Borough Council website by clicking here and putting 15/01980/FULLN in the search bar. Local residents have until the 29th October to comment on the planning application which you can do through the TVBC website.

I have been contacted by two concerned constituents and would be interested to hear the views of local people.

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I live on vespasian and am all for the plans, I feel it would be a great shame for the area if they weren't proceeded with... There is anti social behaviour within the car parks and they are unused so why not add a few more houses instead it is 10 houses not 100 for christ sake! The area is horrid and needs updating and it will look amazing when the works have been carried out. All houses will be updated out the front and a lot will get driveways taking cars off the streets.. also new fencing to update the current in my opinion dangerous concrete fencing that is falling apart. I believe the only ones opposed are non residents who are jelous of the works proposed to be carried out and who also begrudge social housed tenants in this area.
- Resident

Thanks for your view. You may also wish to submit something similar formally to the Council's planning department.
- Cllr Phil North

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08 OCT 2015

Northern Local Centre Receives Ammended Planning Permission

The Northern Local Centre in Augusta Park was given an amended planning permission at a meeting of the Northern Area Planning Committee this evening. As I previously outlined, the developer, Daytona, submitted an amendment to their previous permission, approved in June, asking for just 40% of the dwellings as registered social housing rather than 100% as previously proposed. This means that 8 flats will now be affordable with the remaining 12 as open market housing.

The developer previously maintained that it was too problematic to manage open market and affordable housing within the same building but with the revised design of the building (compared to the flat rooved one we turned down), there is a distinct subdivision of the two sections. These are served off a shared hallway/stairwell but there are 12 units on one side of this and 8 units on the other. The applicant is therefore suggesting that with this physical separation there are no management issues.

This now falls within the Council's policy of not clustering more than 15 registered social houses in the same location. The previous proposal was for 20 – which was a mixture of straight affordable and intermediate rents.

It is frustrating that the developer did not propose these changes when we turned down their original application – despite suggestions by me, planning officers and other members of the community to comply with the clustering policy. We have now had three separate hearings at planning meetings to discuss these plans. I hope the developer will now get on and build the centre so the shops can be used by local residents.

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15 SEP 2015

Can You Help with Recycling Review?

Test Valley Borough Council has launched a brand new campaign called WasteWise to gather feedback from residents about waste and recycling in the borough and they would like to hear from you.

Across Test Valley the recycling rate is 32 per cent, and the Council would like to find out why that is and what it can do to help residents to recycle more. The Council is running the WasteWise project in conjunction with a digital research company called ResearchBods, and is asking people to sign up to an online community, where residents will be able to give their feedback on waste and recycling by taking part in a range of online activities. Anyone who signs up will be in with a chance of winning some great prizes!

Residents have until 27 September to sign up to the project at http://wastewise.ex-plor.com

The online community will then run for four weeks from 28 September to 23 October 2015. The feedback from residents will be used by the Council to help improve its services.

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14 SEP 2015

Andover Train Station Car Park Extension Set for New Year

South West Trains has advised the Council that the construction of the additional parking at Andover Rail Station has been delayed.  As a result, the public drop-in session scheduled for Tuesday, 22 September has been deferred, with a new date yet to be confirmed.

The delay has been caused by complications in SWT's procurement process.

Work to clear vegetation from the site will begin in October with further foundation work likely to start before Christmas. The main building work is scheduled to be carried out in the new year.

The car park is now not expected to be closed until the New Year.

Photo courtesy of www.andovertown.co.uk

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09 SEP 2015

School Crossing Patrol - Knights Enham School

I have been following up on behalf of parents and pupils from Knights Enham School in King Arthurs Way about the the lollipopman who hasn't been present for the last few days.

According to the County Council the officer is off sick and unfortunately they do not have any relief staff available to cover this site.

I have been told that the officer has informed the school in order that parents can make alternative arrangements for their children to walk to school safely.

The County have recently advertised for relief staff in the Andover area but had no suitable applicants, so will be re-advertising the post in the next few days.

This isn't an ideal situation but I will keep pressing the case and I hope the School Crossing Patrol will return soon.

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26 AUG 2015

Pressing the Case for a Signalised Crossing at Viking Way

I have previously hosted meetings to discuss the issue of road safety outside of Roman Way Primary School following concerns raised by parents. It is clear to me that a signalised crossing is needed in this location.

In fact the Borough Council's legal agreement with the developer of Augusta Park states that Taylor Wimpey make a contribution towards the provision of a signalised crossing on Viking Way. This is due to the additional traffic that development creates. 80% of that money was transferred to the County Council for traffic calming in April of this year. Since then I have been pressing the County Council to get on with things.

It has now come to my attention that the County Council are looking to provide a non-signalised crossing. For me this would be a bronze solution rather than the gold one that is required.  The County claim that this is due to the area not meeting the minimum footfall to justify a signalised crossing. Apparently it has to be well used all day long, not just a peak times when we know it is needed. I don't follow this logic as surely when it is not used the lights would be green, allowing traffic to pass freely.

My colleagues Cllr Alex Brook, Cllr Tracey Preston and I are pressing the case on behalf of parents and pupils. I have contacted the County Council Cabinet Member, Sean Woodward, Local Member, Tim Rolt and County Council Highways officers pressing for a signalised crossing.

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26 AUG 2015

Developer Proposes Local Centre Changes to Comply with Council Policy

News on the Northern Local Centre in Augusta Park. The developer, Daytona, has submitted an amendment to their applicationthat the Planning Committee approved in June, asking for just 40% of the units as registered social housing rather than 100% as previously proposed. If approved, this means that 8 flats will now be affordable with the remaining 12 as open market housing.

I met the case officer earlier today to discuss the details.

The developer previously maintained that it was too problematic to manage open market and affordable housing within the same building but with the revised design of the building (compared to the flat rooved one we turned down), there is a distinct subdivision of the two sections. These are served off a shared hallway/stairwell but there are 12 units on one side of this and 8 units on the other. The applicant is therefore suggesting that with this physical separation there are no management issues.

This now falls within the Council's policy of not clustering more than 15 registered social houses in the same location. The previous proposal was for 20 – which was a mixture of straight affordable and intermediate rents.

It is frustrating that the developer did not propose these changes when we turned down their original application – despite suggestions by me, planning officers and other members of the community to comply with the clustering policy. However, due to other factors they have decided to make the change.

The proposal to amend the current scheme 15/00729/FULLN is due to come before the planning committee in October. It is my understanding that all those that made comment on the original application have been contacted. I will keep residents updated.

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24 AUG 2015

Alamein Community Fun Day Success

We all enjoyed the brief moment of sunshine at the Alamein Community Association Fun day on Saturday on the Smannell Road open space.  

Activities on offer included face painting, a bouncy castle, a smoothie bike and craft stalls all accompanied by a fantastic BBQ.

On our stand - Alamein Councillors were speaking to residents about community facilities.  What they liked about living in the area, what would make it better and if they would like to get more involved in their community.  We are constantly working to improve facilities in the area whilst encourgaing residents to get more involved and setup their own local groups. We will be following up with individuals we spoke to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 AUG 2015

Centurion Green Bunding Scheme to Go-ahead

Following overwhelming support from local residents the proposed bunding to prevent travellers accessing Centurion Green has got the go-ahead. At the time of going to pixel 59 out of the 59 responses received voted in favour of the scheme.

Test Valley officers are now liaising with contractors over proposed start dates with the work due to be completed by the end of September.

Thank you to all those who gave your views for which I'm very grateful.  Full details of the scheme can be found here.

 

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15 AUG 2015

Proposed Bunding Scheme to Prevent Traveller Encampments

Following the travellers encampment that appeared on Centurion Green at Augusta Park last month, I promised to follow up with Council officers to try and seek a solution to prevent travellers gaining such easy access in the future. This was not the first time they had illegally occupied this land - at great detriment to local residents.

A solution has been proposed for bunding (soil mounding of about 0.75m high and 4m wide at the base) to prevent easy access for caravans at the site.  The bund would run along the west edge linking the planting at the south to the existing bund in the north (indicated on the map below). The bund would be built of chalk and sub-soil and topped with soil and grass seeded.  It is proposed that there will be a gap in the bund with lockable steel bollards to allow authorised vehicles on to the site for grasscutting etc.  There will also be a need for a couple of posts (dragons teeth on the map) to secure the site from the east.  

Now is the perfect time for this work to be carried out as the ground surface is hard and won't be damaged by earth moving vehicles. The grass seed will also germinate rapidly. Once this happens the bund will visually disappear into the landscape.  

What I would like to understand from local residents is if you agree with this proposal, whether you have any concerns or can foresee any unintended consequences. I have placed a poll on my website to get some idea of what local residents think and if this would be the best solution to the problem. This isn't binding but helps me understand how you feel about the scheme. You can vote here. I would also welcome any comments you may have. You can contact me via phil.north@testvalley.org.uk.

There is funding in place to make this happen and it is proposed to carry out this work at the end of this month if it is what local people would like.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 AUG 2015

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market Returns this Sunday

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market returns to the High Street this Sunday from 10am – 2pm.

The mid summer market will see produce aplenty including vegetables, salads, seafoods and meats complemented by breads, cheeses, cakes and beverages. Pamper yourself with beauty products or invest in your garden with some of the high quality plants on offer.

Come and try some street food and listen to the music in the Time Ring from Sarah Saville and Common Ground Duo - the perfect backdrop to a successful, and stress free, shopping experience.

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05 AUG 2015

Get Your Skates on for Jam

A summer Skate Jam is coming to the Smannell Road SkatePark on Saturday, 15 August. The event will run from 12pm to 4pm and is supported by Test Valley Borough Council.

Specialist skate park developer, Maverick, will host the jam and entertain guests with impressive skating demonstrations and music from an MC. Skaters, bikers and scooter riders of all ages will be able to take part and show off their stunts for the chance to win great prizes.

Members of the public can turn up on the day to watch or take part in the fun. Anyone who would like to take part is advised to wear appropriate protective clothing and helmets, and to be mindful of other users to ensure the event is an enjoyable and safe activity.

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28 JUL 2015

Andover Community Games 2015

I attended the Andover Community Games 2015 organised by Valley Leisure at Charlton Playing Fields at the weekend.

The event gave people a taste of all the different sporting clubs and activities that are available in our town.

After taking part in the 5km fun run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer and 3SMILES I returned to help judge the flag design competition with my colleagues, Cllr Tracey Preston, and the Mayor of Test Valley, Cllr Iris Andersen. The winner, Holly, will have her flag professionally made to fly over the Andover Community Games 2016.

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18 JUL 2015

The Enham Way Accessible Path Opens

I was delighted to be at the opening of the Enham Way today as the Mayor of Test Valley, Cllr Iris Andersen, unveiled the plaque at Andover Shopmobility​. We then led the way on mobility scooters to the Enham Trust​ where the Enham Alamein Heritage Trail was also opened.

The Enham Way is a project initiated by myself and my Alamein colleagues to create an accessible route between Enham Alamein and Andover, giving wheelchair users and people with limited mobility from the village the confidence to travel to and from Andover, independently. The route provides a wider, flatter and safer surface.  For a more detailed map of the route, click here.

My thanks go to Andover Shopmoblity, Hampshire County Council, Aster Communities and of course Test Valley Borough Council and the Enham Trust for supporting the project. 

For more photos from the opening, please visit my Facebook page.

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17 JUL 2015

Augusta Park Travellers Evicted

After a successful court hearing today the encampment of travellers at Augusta Park was served eviction papers at 3:15pm this afternoon. The police remained on site to escort them away and I understand they have now gone. The council's Environmental Services department will endeavour to remove the black bags of rubbish this pm. I understand there is some green waste which will be removed early next week.

Having taken swift action I hope this particular group of travellers will think twice before they pitch up illegally in Test Valley again, as they know we will be on to them straightaway. Officers have also agreed that some form of preventative measures should be put in place to make unauthorised access in this location as difficult as possible in the future. Once I have had an initial conversation with them about what sort of schemes we could deliver then I will consult with residents.

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They are now in p20
-

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16 JUL 2015

Enham Way Set to Open this Weekend

The Enham Way will be officially opened by the Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Iris Andersen, this Saturday.

The Enham Way is a project initiated by Alamein Councillors to create an accessible path, 3.4 miles long, between Enham Alamein and Andover, which has been upgraded to give wheelchair users and people with limited mobility a greater opportunity to travel to and from Andover. The route helps users increase their independence by providing a wider, flatter and safer route to the town centre.

I consulted with Enham residents after I met with the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Enham Trust in the Council offices in 2013 to conceive the project, and since then the project has been a real collaboration between the Trust and Test Valley Borough Council.

Members of the public are invited to join in and celebrate the Enham Way on foot, in a mobility scooter or wheelchair. The route will start at Andover Shopmobility at 11am and will end at Enham Alamein for complimentary tea and cake on the Village Green. From 12.30pm to 2pm, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a walk back in time by exploring the village's new history trail, which will also be formally opened.

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12 JUL 2015

Augusta Park Community Centre Open for Business

It was an absolute pleasure to officially open the new Augusta Park Community Centre this afternoon.

Today was a culmination of a lot of hard work by many people and organisations. A big thank you to Claude Fenton for building it, Test Valley Borough Council and other organisations for providing grant funding, and of course to the Trustees of the Augusta Park Community Association for doing so much to ensure it fits the needs of the community and for taking on the day to day running. It is a real privilege to represent Augusta Park and this is a first class facility which will be enjoyed by many people.

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07 JUL 2015

Court Order to be Served Against Travellers on Augusta Park

I have been made aware that a group of travellers have moved onto open space at Augusta Park. Understandably this is not good news for local residents who have to put up with the anti-social behaviour that often emanates from this unauthorised trespass.

I have this afternoon spoken to the Council's Corporate Director who informs me the area in question is council owned land. Council staff have been on site commencing the necessary processes that will lead to a court order. We need to obtain a court order in order to evict them. To be clear, I am pressing to have them removed as soon as is possible.

Update: A notice was served from the Council on the travellers at 4:20 this pm. Papers are now being prepared to serve at the court in Southampton tomorrow morning. The Police have also been and spoken to the travellers.

Update 2: The court processed our papers today (9th July) and notice was served on the travellers onsite at 3:50pm to advise them of the court hearing.

Unfortunately the court hearing date is not until the 17th July - when usually it is a day or so after papers are served. Unfortunately we cannot control the date.

More positively, having spoken in detail to our council officer who has experience of this - it is likely they will move on in advance of the 17th as it is likely the judgement will enable bailiffs to remove them -which they will not want to happen.

Having taken swift action I hope this particular group of travellers will think twice before they pitch up illegally in Test Valley again. As they know we will be on to them straightaway. Officers have also agreed that some form of preventative measures should be put in place to make unauthorised access in this location as difficult as possible.

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26 JUN 2015

Northern Local Centre Granted Permission

The resubmitted planning application for the Northern Local Centre at Augusta Park was approved at a meeting of the planning committee yesterday evening.

This was my submission:

"The application in front of you today is much better than the previous Northern Local Centre application that was rejected by this committee back in October, which I spoke fervently against.

This proposal is much more in keeping with beautiful Augusta Park - it has a pitched roof instead of a flat one, and has moved away from the blocky design. It now fits much better with the primary school and community centre nearby - both of which have pitched roofs. I'm pleased the developer has listened to will of this committee in terms of design.

Whilst there has been significant movement on design the same can't be said of another one of this committee's major concerns; social housing on top of shops. The 20 flats proposed is the same number as rejected in the previous application - and significantly exceeds our policy of clustering no more than 15 social houses in this location. I do welcome the movement in tenure though. 12 are now proposed as outright affordable whereas 8 are now classed as intermediate rents. I can't say I still don't have significant concerns - but this change along with a local lettings policy which will ensure we end up with a mixture of single people, couples and small families makes it a little more acceptable in planning terms. In his decision to uphold the councils refusal of the previous application, the planning inspector made comment that he thought the proposal for 20 affordable houses was acceptable so we don't have much choice.

There is some local concern about sufficient parking, especially as the application provides 118 spaces rather than the maximum 125 - but I understand the argument that this is in a sustainable location and that there will be linked trips.

I welcome the condition on employment use.

In summary whilst this is by no means a perfect application - I think we need to be realistic.

It is clear local residents want to see the convenience store and other business units constructed on the development. With the school and community centre having already been built, construction on the care home about to get underway, this application completes the hub. For the sake of local residents we can't keep kicking the can down road.

In an ideal world I would love to be able to reject this application, with an application with no residential provision coming forward straight away - but that is not going to happen. The applicant submitted an appeal on the last application so there is no doubt they would do so again. The difference being that this application is recommended for permission so we would be in serious danger of losing that appeal - and burdening the tax payer with costs awarded against us. We could then end up losing some of the conditions we have insisted upon, including the local lettings policy and employment use if that happened.

I think this committee can be very proud of the changes we demanded when we rejected the previous application - we have undoubtedly got a better deal and better looking building for local residents - but if we turn down this application we could put that at significant risk."

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16 JUN 2015

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market back this Sunday

This Sunday sees the return of the Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market.  The market will fill the High Street to bursting with fresh produce, plants & crafts, and will run from 10am until 2pm.

Why not get in the mood for Wimbledon and indulge in some fresh and local strawberries from Bourne Valley Pick Your Own? Or put together the perfect picnic with goodies from Teffont Wines, Patterson's Pantry, Olives and Things, New Forest Smokery or Jane's Cake Delights?  To enhance the shopping experience there will be music in The Time Ring from Andover Town Band and local singer Chris Berntsen.

The Council is very proud to be able to facilitate such a success story. The market provides local people with the opportunity to shop locally and support local businesses and the local economy.

The Andover Farmers' and Crafts Markets are held on the third Sunday of each month throughout the year.

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12 JUN 2015

800 Years of Magna Carta: The Foundation of Liberty

Eight hundred years ago this coming Monday on the banks of the river Thames at Runnymede – an event of extraordinary significance took place. A document was signed which contained the notion that the Government ought to be subject to the law, rather than the other way around.  

Magna Carta, sealed by King John in 1215, was the genesis of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today, under which constitutional government in liberal democratic nations now flourishes.

Some of you may think what has this eight-hundred year old document got to do with my life today. After all, as the British Library points out, only three of the original sixty-three clauses remain on the statute book. One guarantees the freedom of the Church, one the City of London but it's the third that is most crucial. It guarantees against state coercion; you can't be locked up or your property taken other than by due process in conjunction with the law of the land and the judgement of your equals.

As Rudyard Kipling puts it succinctly in his wonderful piece of poetry:

"No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found.
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter Signed at Runnymede."

Late last month, I visited Salisbury Cathedral where one of the four original copies of that precious parchment is housed. Well worth a visit. Alongside The Great Charter, they've an interactive exhibition with indices from each country in the world, detailing corruption, censorship and political freedom, amongst others. In that one map you cannot get a clearer demonstration of the difference between liberal capitalist countries where private property and free contract are protected, as set out in Magna Carta, and socialist countries where the state has greater control over the individual. The latter are more corrupt and authoritarian, whereas the former are more prosperous and more free.

Magna Carta ensured that a set of rules came up from the people. It's demonstrated by our common law where each judgement provides a basis for the next; the law elevated above the government and the freedom of the individual above the arbitrary authority of the monarch. So this weekend let's celebrate the foundation text of our shared liberty, The Great Charter, Magna Carta.

Photo: The Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral.

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10 JUN 2015

Enham Way Signs Erected

It's great to see that the new finger post signs with the Enham Way logo have gone up today.

The Enham Way is a project initiated by Alamein Councillors in collaboration with Enham Trust to create a safe and convenient route for wheelchair users between Andover town centre and Enham Alamein.

The route is currently being improved courtesy of TVBC and Hampshire County Council and will be officially opened next month.

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05 JUN 2015

Care Home Application Given Permission

The planning application for a 10-bed care home to provide therapeutic care for younger adults with learning disabilities, to belocated in Augusta Park, was given permission at a meeting of the planning committee last night.  I spoke up in favour of permission.

The proposal was clearly well designed and in keeping with its surroundings.  The applicant liaised with local residents before submitting the application, which is always a good thing, and that showed through no registered objections from either the Parish Council or local residents.  One local resident penned a letter of support saying this "gives us hope for our child for the future". There is a need for this type of care for our young people - and this is an ideal location - in the heart of the community.

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04 JUN 2015

Kit Malthouse Makes his Maiden Speech

A first class maiden speech by our new Member of Parliament, Kit Malthouse MP, in the House of Commons yesterday.

He paid tribute to Sir George Young. Outlined the beauty of North West Hampshire and set out his priorities for the months and years to come - including improving education locally and protecting children from harm.

 

 

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03 JUN 2015

Leaning Lamp Post Fixed

I'm pleased to see that the leaning lamp post of Augusta Park has now finally been fixed following my pressing of Hampshire County Council.

Remember, if there is an issue with a street light near you you can report it here - http://www.lightsoninhampshire.co.uk/Public/Default.aspx 

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27 MAY 2015

Care Home Planning Application to be Decided Next Week

The planning application for a 10-bed care home to be located on the site of the current temporary Community Centre in Augusta Park will come before the planning committee next week.

Having viewed the outline plans last November my initial reaction was that they were quite attractive and within keeping with the design of the development. There are no objections from local residents or the Parish Council and Council officers have recommended the application for permission. If local Councillors agree at our meeting on June 4th and the care home is approved, it will provide therapeutic care for younger adults with learning disabilities.

The planning meeting will take place at 530pm in Conference Room 1 at the Council Offices in Beech Hurst. It is a public meeting so please feel free to come along.

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18 MAY 2015

Appointed to the TVBC Cabinet

I'm delighted to have been asked by the Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Ian Carr, to join the council's Cabinet as the Corporate Portfolio Holder.

The Cabinet, which ensures the smooth running of Council services and formulates policy, comprises the Leader and Deputy Leader together with 5 other Councillors with specific responsibilities. The main responsibilities of the Corporate Portfolio Holder are detailed here.

Rest assured I will still be batting for Alamein Ward – ensuring our area has a strong voice in Council, solving local problems and improving the environment so Alamein has the local facilities it requires and deserves.

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12 MAY 2015

May's Farmers' and Crafts Market Blossoms in Andover

This Sunday sees the return of the Andover Farmer's and Crafts Market in the High Street.

Pack your garden with colour from Winterbourne Nursery and HJ Plants, and stock your larder with a wide range of food, including Jane's Cake Delights and The Flour Stall. New traders will tempt with handmade chocolate from Tilly's Treats; cake pops and more deliciousness from Poppadoodledoo, and for the home, Copper Goose with a range of wood crafted chopping boards and platters.

The market will run from 10am – 2pm, and there will be music and street food available to complement the shopping experience. Local singer Jayne Dear will be performing a wartime set in the Time Ring from 10.15am and Sing for Fun from 12.30pm.

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11 MAY 2015

Augusta Park & Smannell Pathway Moves a Step Closer

Plans for an informal gravel pathway linking Augusta Park to Smannell village have moved a step closer.

Funds have now been identified and the project has been provisionally added to the Borough Council's programme to be implemented for spring 2016.

The project which is supported by the Parish Council and many Augusta Park residents will provide a safer route for pedestrians walking to and from Smannell village to the pub and school.

The draft plans will be worked up later this year in consultation with the Parish Council and will be funded through developer contributions.

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this is AMAZING :)
- Clare

Don't forget the cyclists!
- JS Broom

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03 MAY 2015

Plans Agreed for Redevelopment of Enham Trust Home Estate

I was pleased to speak and vote in favour of the Enham Trust planning application to redevelop the Home Estate, providing 81residential care units, a health and wellbeing centre and a 14 bed neuro-rehabilitation unit, which was approved at the planning committee on Thursday.

The plans for the redevelopment of the Home Estate were in outline only – with more detailed plans to be submitted at a later date. The neuro-rehabilitation unit was a full application which can be built straight away.

During the debate I asked my colleagues to cast their minds back to July 2012 when we debated a similar application to redevelop Home Estate but with the addition of 395 homes on greenfield land. This application was unpopular in the village and caused a great deal of antagonism between local residents and the charity. I spoke against the application and the Council turned it down.

Much has changed in Enham Trust since that application was first conceived. A new Chairman and Chief Executive have very ambitious plans for a modern Enham Trust which enhances the village. This application is for works within the exiting boundaries of Home Estate and on brownfield land. The redevelopment has the support of the Parish Council and the village and the village will benefit immensely from an enhanced Enham Trust and facilities it can share.

I never tire of making the case that the Enham Trust is the jewel in the crown of Alamen Ward and Test Valley – and this redevelopment provides more housing and employment opportunities for disabled people. I was pleased to support it and I'm glad my fellow Councillors unanimously agreed.

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26 APR 2015

A Marathon Effort for Team North

Team North completed the London Marathon today raising £3,843 for Enham Trust.

Having now run the London Marathon for Enham for the last three years, including with mum last year, I assembled a crack team of dad, Paul North and my sister, Shell Smith to take on the challenge again this year.

Paul and Shell were competing in their first marathons, while I finished in 3hrs 56 minutes, breaking the 4 hour barrier for the first time.

It is a privilege to represent the village of Enham Alamein and I am so pleased we were able to play our part in raising money for such a fantastic cause; supporting independence, choice and control for disabled people.

Shell said: "It was a great day and whilst incredibly tough the thousands of people that line the streets of London carry you to the end. We really appreciated the support of the 9th Andover Brownies and 20th Andover Guides who cheered us on from the roadside and help raise so much money."

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23 APR 2015

Radio Enham Opens New Studio

I was delighted to attend the opening Radio Enham's new studios yesterday with former Radio 1 DJ, David 'Kid' Jensen, doing the honours.

After the official opening I managed to sneak my way into the studio to speak to one of the presenters. Lizzie, who lives in Enham Chase, was broadcasting the live celebratory show. She talked me through her huge database of music in between introducing Gina G & Madonna (not my choice) and explained how the weather is produced.

40 disabled people currently work on Radio Enham enabling them to build their confidence and develop their communication and employment skills.

In the beginning, Radio Enham was only broadcast on the Enham Trust staff website, while participants got used to how to use the equipment and learned about how to produce a radio show. Now, Radio Enham is live on the Internet and has listeners from all over the world. Tune in - www.radioenham.co.uk

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21 APR 2015

Broken Street Light in Genoa Court set for Repair

Following a report from a local resident I have arranged for the broken street light in Genoa Court to be repaired by Aster Communities. It has been allocated as a 7 day priority repair.

If you have a street light that needs fixing then please let me know.  Alternatively you can report it here.

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19 APR 2015

New Corporate Plan Approved by Councillors

The new Test Valley Corporate Plan for 2015-19 setting out the key aims and ambitions for Test Valley was approved by Councillors at a meeting on Wednesday.

Our new Corporate Plan is entitled 'Investing in Test Valley'. At a time when Council budgets continue to be squeezed you might find this surprising but it is our ambition to continue to invest in our communities by devoting our energy, skills and resources to achieve the best results for residents.

The Corporate Plan was formulated following a major consultation with local people when Councillors went out last summer and spoke to residents about their priorities for the future.

The Corporate Plan includes four key strands that were identified as priorities by local people. That Test Valley is a great place to:

1) work and do business;

2) live, with the supply of homes reflecting local needs;

3) enjoy the natural and built environment;

4) contribute and be part of a strong community.

Our plan for the next 4 years includes some really exciting projects such as the redevelopment of the Andover Leisure Centre and further investment in new outdoor sports facilities following the success of the new skatepark on the Smannell Road openspace. We will continue to deliver homes for all, providing 800 new affordable homes over the course of the plan – having over achieved on our target in the current plan. Continue to invest in our business parks to meet commercial demand, providing better quality jobs and continue with our laser like focus to rejuvenate our town centres, building on the Andover Summit, the Andover Vision and the legacy of the Encounters project. We will also ensure that Communities and Businesses will have financial support to get their projects off the ground through the continuance of the Community Asset Fund, the Councillor Community Grant schemes and the various existing business grant schemes.  Read the full Corporate Plan here.

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17 APR 2015

Upgrade to Roman Way Play Area

I'm delighted to announce that TVBC are investing £33k to upgrade the play facilities on the Smannell Road open space.

The work at Roman Way will see a £30,000 investment to refurbish the play area, which includes repainting, updating the multi play unit and improvement to surfacing. An additional £3,000 will be spend on surface refurbishment of the Ditch disc in the teen play area.

Having delivered a new purpose built skatepark last year this is another boost for our recreation area and Alamein Ward.

The project will be tendered in May and the work will be completed later this year.

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Fantastic! I hope that the do as good of a job as they have at Charlton Lakes.
- Lee Muir-Stokes

I can only assume the "work" that has been completed is some kind of joke? All that has been done is the swing legs painted red, the rusty yellow slide repainted (the last repaint lasted 2 weeks) and a horrible see saw placed on top of the existing poor floor covering! If this work seriously cost any where close to £33k then I think that a full public enquiry should be openened to investigate the current councils spending, this is yet another example of poor work at a high cost to the tax payer, let's not bring up the £600k works completed at the top of the town! £33k for 2 x tins of paint and a few hundred pounds worth of see saw! Someone needs to really look into this and give residents a full breakdown on exactly why our tax is being spent on such an appalling job. I will be contacting the Advetiser in the morning, I am certain that this will make another great story of dreadful being undetaken within the council's control.
- Lee Muir-Stokes

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16 APR 2015

Leaning Lamp Post to be Repaired

Following reports from local residents I have been liaising with the developer, Taylor Wimpey, and Hampshire County Council to fix the leaning lamp post in Augusta Park.

I'm pleased an order has now been placed for repair. This could take up to 30 working days as SSE will have to obtain a road opening notice, but I have pressed the case for it to be done ASAP and I hope it will repaired soon.

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15 APR 2015

Pressing the Case for Delivery of Affordable Housing in Augusta Park

At a meeting of the Test Valley Full Council today I pressed the case with the Leader of the Council, Ian Carr, to do all we can toensure Taylor Wimpey build the amount of affordable homes they promised on Augusta Park.

The Test Valley Corporate Plan committed to delivering 800 affordable homes between 2011 - 2015 but in fact we delivered 900. I don't want to see our good record tarnished during the period of our new Corporate Plan because developers aren't building what they promised.

When Taylor Wimpey tried to renege on their obligation last year, proposing to build just 10% affordable housing in 4 development parcels instead of the agreed 40%, I argued against it and the application was withdrawn.

Many of you will be aware that they have submitted a new application to the Council to try and drop their commitment to just 30%. This is concerning and I have already called this in so it will be decided by a planning committee of councillors in an open meeting.

I know from attending Councillors surgeries and from meeting people in Alamein Ward that more affordable housing is required and the Council are committed to delivering that.

The Leader said that we would do all we can to fight for the delivery of affordable homes so the affordable housing we deliver in our new Corporate Plan is just as successful as our current figures.

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13 APR 2015

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market back this Sunday

This Sunday, the second Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market of the year will fill the High Street from 10am-2pm with more than 50 stalls providing an exquisite range of flavours and crafts. With everything from sausages to salads, flowers to fabric crafts and much more in between, the offering has never been so varied or tempting. Come along and welcome new traders such as Paddock Plants, or be tempted by a wide range of hot and tasty street food from The Pie Hole, Oaktrack Smallholding and Chit Chaat Chai.

As always, accompanying the market there will be live music in the Time Ring with local favourites Common Ground Duo playing to the crowd.  See you there.

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10 APR 2015

Tesco Roundabout Markings Refreshed

Following requests from residents I pressed the case with the County Council to refresh the road markings on the Tesco roundabout.

Drivers have been concerned that the lack of adequate markings led to last minute lane changes.  I'm pleased the work has been completed this week.

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Refreshing the markings was very much needed & could have been done in a more timely fashion. However it is still evident that whilst lack of adequate markings may have led to last minute lane changes, these abrupt lane changes continue to happen all to frequently with many a near miss. Lack of awareness of the lane markings or just ignoring them is very much still the case. It would seem the roundabout lanes particularly when approaching from the Newbury Rd are not intuitive and may necessitate the need for a sign to the effect of “Use the lane markings” to create awareness well in advance of the roundabout layout. Living very near
- JS Broom

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09 APR 2015

Andover Skate Jam set for May 9th

The moment many have been waiting for... Maverick and Test Valley Borough Council present the Andover Skate Jam.

The event will take place at the Skatepark on the Smannell Road open space between 12pm and 4pm on Saturday 9th May with music, competitions and prizes. Get the date in your diary.

This is the event postponed from earlier this year due to bad weather.

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08 APR 2015

Bollards Fixed in Icknield Way

Following reports from local residents and my intervention with the developers I'm pleased that the bollards preventing through traffic along Icknield Way have now been fixed.

I have reports that motorcycles are still using this cut through illegally, which is causing danger to cyclists and pedestrians. I am liaising with the police and highways officers about the problem.

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07 APR 2015

Have Your Say - Northern Local Centre Plans Resubmitted

The developer has resubmitted plans for the Northern Local Centre in Augusta Park, comprising shops, homes and a recycling facility on the siteadjacent to East Anton Farm Road.

New plans have been submitted following the refusal of the previous application by the Council's Planning Committee. Your Alamein Councillors listened to your views and voted against those plans. The application was essentially a series of vertical boxes with flat roofs that would have looked significantly out of keeping with Endeavour school and the Community Centre nearby, both of which have pitched roofs.

I'm pleased the developer (Daytona) are now starting to listen to the wishes of the community. The new proposal is more in keeping with beautiful Augusta Park including a pitched roof, better parking and an enhanced pedestrian access to the school. I still have some concerns about the tenure of some of the housing above the shops as it seems to contravene the Council's clustering policy.

I am keen to hear your views and want you to have your say.

You can comment on the application by clicking here and typing 15/00729/FULLN in the search box. You have until the 29th April to submit your comments to TVBC Planning Department. I would be grateful if you could also copy your comments to me at phil.north@testvalley.org.uk.

I want to see this facility built and open for the residents of Augusta Park to use but we must get it right. I hope that before too long residents will benefit from a convenience store and other business units on the development and won't have to put up with the badly thought out plan that was presented previously.

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01 APR 2015

Easter Weekend - Bin Collection Changes

During the Easter break there will be a small change to the waste and recycling collections.

On Good Friday bins will be collected as normal but on Easter Monday there will be no collection. Therefore next week your collections will be one day later than your normal scheduled day.

Happy Easter. I hope you all have a good time with family, friends and neighbours.

 

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31 MAR 2015

Farewell Janet Whiteley, Welcome Tracey Preston

After 8 years of dedicated service to the residents of Alamein Ward, including serving as the Mayor of Test Valley in 2013/14, Cllr Janet Whiteley has decided to step down from TVBC at the forthcoming election. Alamein Ward Conservatives have selected Augusta Park resident and local business women, Tracey Preston, to replace her.

Janet Whiteley has been a first-class servant to Alamein Ward and has achieved a great deal on behalf of local residents. We were elected for the first time together back in 2007 and it has been a real privilege to work with her over the years.  I hope she enjoys her well deserved retirement.

Whilst it is sad to see her go I'm delighted that Tracey Preston has put herself forward to serve the residents of Alamein Ward. She has a great deal of experience working for and in the community, including on the Mayor's Charity Committee, and is a welcome addition to the team.

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28 MAR 2015

King Arthurs Way Community Fun Day Success

I was delighted to present a cheque for £500 from the Alamein Councillors Ward Budget to support the King Arthurs Way Community Fun Day.

It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. My thanks to Alamein Community Association for putting on the event, the many local residents for manning the various stalls, the Police and St John's Ambulance for their information stands and Oblivion Dance for providing the entertainment.

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21 MAR 2015

Meeting with the Regional Director over Kingsway Gardens Water Ingress

I had a meeting with the Regional Director of Aster Communities, Jean Dalziel, to discuss the water ingress issue in Kingsway Gardens.

Leaseholders have been told by Aster that they could face a bill in the region of £20,000 per property for remedial works.

Unfortunately, it seems that Aster's insurance won't cover the damage as they claim the issue is a result of defects when the properties were built in the 1960s. However, there is a big debate on whether Asters lack of maintenance has contributed towards the problem, which I and others are trying to get to the bottom of.

Aster have already accepted that maintenance in the area is not what it should have been and are starting to put this right. They have now done an aerial survey of the gutter and work will be undertaken to clean them later this month. If it can be proved that Aster's lack of maintenance contributed to the water ingress then I believe that residents have a good case to push at least some of the costs back onto Aster.

To assist with this I have pressed Aster to publish the list of maintenance undertaken in the area over the last 10 years along with any associated schedules. They have not yet agreed to this – and are in the process of getting legal advice. I will keep pressing the case.

I was assured that the Director of Operations at Aster is undertaking a piece of work to try and determine whether their own lack of maintenance contributed to the problem. I applaud them for doing this – but if the findings conclude a lack of maintenance didn't contribute to the problem then it is not going to carry much weight. I have therefore requested that they ask an independent agency to oversee this work – and have suggested the regulator – The Homes and Communities Agency.

I have also shared the detail of my meeting with the residents group and will keep all residents up to date.

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20 MAR 2015

Pressing the Case for Additional King Arthurs Way Parking

I had a meeting with the Regional Director of Aster Communities, Jean Dalziel, last night to discuss various matters in the Alamein Ward, including parking on King Arthurs Way.

Aster added an an extra 26 spaces in Camelot and Galahad Close back in 2013 and have recently got planning permission for an additional 12 in Camelot. I further pressed the case, as I have before, for additional spaces in Launcelot and Tintagel Closes. I'm pleased to report that Aster have agreed to undertake an audit of Launcelot & Tintagel to try and identify any areas for additional parking.  They have also promised to do some detailed work on garage provision. I know many of them aren't being let at the moment because they have fallen into disrepair.  I will update as soon as the audit has been complete.

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Can anything be done about the amount of work vans being parked down there? Each one takes at least 2 car spaces up, and there seem to be more and more appearing every week. It looks like an industrial estate most evenings.
- Ian

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18 MAR 2015

Tax Cuts with the Conservatives

Today's Budget is another step on the road to prosperity. Five years ago, Britain was spending and borrowing too much and toomany people were out of work. Living standards are now higher than when this Government came into office, with more people in work than ever before and an economy growing faster than any other advanced economy in the world.

The big news from today was the rise in the personal allowance.  The Personal Allowance will rise to £10,800 next year and £11,000 the year after, with the benefit also passed on to higher rate tax payers. It means the typical working taxpayer will be over £900 a year better off and 3.7 million people won't pay any tax at all. This is a down payment on the Conservative commitment to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 if succesfully re-elected in May. This complements the news yesterday that the Minimum Wage is set to rise by 20p per hour to £6.70, taking effect from October - the largest rise since 2008.

The Chancellor has also committed to continuing to freeze fuel duty, £10 off a tank under the Tories, compared to what it would have been under Labour's fuel duty escalator, whilst taking a penny off a pint of beer for the third year in a row.

For a detailed overview of the measures announced in the Budget see here.

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16 MAR 2015

Grant Success for Autism Activity Mornings at Longmeadow Centre

I was delighted to present a cheque for £500 from the Alamein Councillors Community Fund to Romsey Community School (Andover), formerly Andover Adult & Family Learning, at the weekend.

The money has been used to purchase equipment and games for children on the autism spectrum who attend the activity mornings which take place every other Saturday in the Longmeadow Centre in Cricketers Way.  Another great community facility in Alamein Ward.

For more information see here.

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11 MAR 2015

Enham Alamein Speed Watch Boost

I was pleased to present a cheque for £500 from the Alamein Councillors Community Grant Scheme to Enham Parish Council this evening to help start the local Speed Watch project.  Community Speed Watch allows members of the community to become police support volunteers, helping to educate drivers.

It is clear that speaking to several residents that speeding through the village is of great concern. Having successfully campaigned for the 40mph speed limit to be reduced to 30mph I am determined to see it adhered to.

For more information on Speed Watch go to www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/advice-and-information/crime-prevention/community-speedwatch

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10 MAR 2015

Viking Way Potholes Repaired

I'm pleased to report that the large potholes along Viking Way which I reported recently have now been filled in byHampshire County Council following a lot of pressing.

If there are potholes in your area you can report them directly here - www3.hants.gov.uk/roadproblems or drop me a line.

You can also report broken street lights, broken signs, paving problems or request grit bins to be refilled using the same link.

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10 MAR 2015

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market Returns this Sunday

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market returns to the High Street this Sunday from 10am – 2pm.

The market is set to start as it means to go on for 2015, with a bumper array of more than 50 stalls offering a huge range of food, drink, treats and crafts. Other attractions for March's market include live music in the Time Ring from local duo Dragonfly Rhythms between 10.30am – 12.30pm and free microchipping on the day at the Dogs Trust Stall.

The regular monthly market is arranged and managed by the Council and is one of the many success stories borne out of the Andover Summit to rejuvenate our high street.

The markets will continue throughout the year on the third Sunday of each month.

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06 MAR 2015

Vote for Funding for Alamein Community Projects

Test Valley Partnership recently asked local groups and organisations to submit a bid for funding as part of the Hampshire County Council's Have Your Say scheme. A number of bids have been submitted and now it's your chance to decide which projects will receive funding.

There is £8,750 is up for grabs in the north of Test Valley – with two groups based in Alamein Ward vying for a share of the cash. St. Pauls Youth Group based in St. Paul's Church Centre want to purchase equipment such as pool and table tennis tables & Augusta Park Community Association is bidding for funds to help top up the Community Asset Fund grant to provide furniture and equipment for the new community centre.

There are 22 projects in total – and you have 5 votes – to rank in order of preference. For more information click here and to vote click here.  

Votes will be collated and the successful applications announced on 24 March, 2015.

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04 MAR 2015

Councillors Back Enham Community Speed Watch with £500 Grant

I'm pleased to announce that Enham Parish Council have been successful in their application for £500 from the Alamein Councillors Community Grant Scheme to help start the Community Speed Watch project in the village.

It is clear from speaking to several residents in Enham Alamein that speeding through the village is of great concern. Having successfully campaigned for the 40mph speed limit to be reduced to 30mph in 2006/7 I'm determined to see it adhered to.

Community Speed Watch allows members of the community to become police support volunteers, helping to educate drivers.

For more information on Speed Watch go to ­www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/advice-and-information/crime-prevention/community-speedwatch

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03 MAR 2015

Kingsway Gardens Residents Committee put Case to Aster

Last night I attended the second open meeting concerning water ingress affecting properties in Kingsway Gardens.

Leaseholders have been told by Aster Communities, responsible for the maintenance of the buildings, that they could face a bill in the region of £20,000 per property for remedial works.

This is a terrible situation for residents and I have been following up with Aster on their behalf. Unfortunately, it seems that Aster's insurance won't cover the damage as they claim the issue is a result of defects when the properties were built in the 1960s. However, there is a big debate on whether Asters lack of maintenance has contributed towards the problem, which I and others are trying to get to the bottom of. 

I'm pleased Aster are now getting real, presenting to residents and answering their questions at a director level. They have also promised to engage in a positive dialogue with the residents committee that is already putting together a robust case. I will continue to do all I can to support residents.

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Can you please confirm who is the Landlord to Kingsway Gardens, is it Test Valley or Aster?.
- Mike Carter

Aster own the freehold.
- Cllr Phil North

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01 MAR 2015

£11,900 Boost for Augusta Park Community Centre

I was delighted to present a cheque for £11,900 to the trustees of the Augusta Park Community Association (APCA)  who were succesful in their application to the Council's Community Asset Fund.  The money will enable APCA to purchase furniture and equipment for the new Augusta Park Community Centre.

The TVBC Community Asset Fund is funded through money we receive from the New Homes Bonus - so it is entirely apt to be going to Augusta Park and I was pleased to endorse their application.

It is hoped the Community Centre will be transferred to APCA by Easter and will be open soon afterwards. 

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27 FEB 2015

Care Home Planning Application Submitted for Augusta Park

A planning application for a 10-bed care home to be located on Augusta Park has been submitted to TVBC.  The proposed care home to provide therapeutic care for typically younger adults with learning disabilities is proposed to be located where the current temporary community centre currently stands.

The permanent community centre has now been built and should be transferred to the Augusta Park Community Association by Easter with the temporary community centre proposed to be demolished.

Having viewed the outline plans in November my initial reaction was that they were quite attractive and within keeping with the design of the development. I am, of course, keen to hear what residents think and if anyone want to discuss the plans with me directly then feel free to contact me.

You can comment officially on the plans here and searching for planning reference 15/00104/FULLN.

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23 FEB 2015

Quiz Night Success Boosts Marathon Fundraising Campaign

My sister and I raised £568 from a successful quiz night on Friday to boost our fundraising campaign for the 2015 London Marathon in aid of Enham Trust.

The now annual event held in the Landale Wilson Hall in Enham Alamein saw staff and friends from Rookwood School take home the trophy in closely fought battle amongst 15 teams.

This is the third year in a row I have run the marathon for Enham and I'm delighted that this year my sister is joining me. The quiz night has become an important fixture in our fundraising campaign and I'm delighted so many people came along to support us. Thanks go to Liz Cosgrove for hosting the evening and her husband Dave for being such an excellent quiz master. I also want to say thank you to Leslie Barry from Enham Shop & Post Office along with Waitrose & Sainsburys Andover for donating winners and raffle prizes.

Our fundraising page is here if you would like to sponsor us.

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22 FEB 2015

St. Paul's Church Centre Parking Summit Looks to Expand Car Park

I organised a cross party summit meeting on Friday, including representatives of Hampshire County Council, TVBC, the diocese, St Paul's Church Centre, Spring Meadow Children's Centre and the nursery to discuss the increased demand for parking at the Church Centre on Smannell Road.

It is clear that the situation can't continue as is, with users of the hall disadvantaged through a lack of parking due to heavy use by non-users.

If the church were to close their car park to the public then that would impact on road safety along Smannell road. All parties have identified a way forward to increase the capacity of the current car park at the church centre and we are looking at ways to fund the project.

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Good News Phil... hope this gets resolved to everyones satisfaction. It's also very good to read the fuller picture.
- Manuela

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20 FEB 2015

TVBC Freezes the Council Tax

I'm delighted to announce that following a vote this afternoon, Test Valley Borough Council has frozen the Council Tax for 2015/16. I spoke up for the motion in our Budget debate.

Despite a reduction in our central government grant we have been able to find efficiencies without compromising front line services. My party pledged that we would freeze the council tax again this year and despite very tough circumstances have found the means to do that.

I'm pleased that car parking charges will also be frozen.

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19 FEB 2015

SLOW Roads Markings Painted at Roman Way Primary School

I'm pleased that the 'SLOW' road markings have today been painted by Roman Way Primary School today. This adds to the new parking restrictions directly opposite the school to enhance sight lines for easier crossing.

Next step a controlled crossing, which I continue to press the case for. The County Council traffic calming study is expected to be completed in March or April. In the meantime funds from developer contributions will be added to the scheme.  I will keep readers informed.

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17 FEB 2015

Alamein Road Safety Scheme Comes into Effect

The Alamein road safety scheme which includes the double yellow lining of the diverted Smannell Road, parking restrictions by Endeavour School, Roman Way school and some other junction parking restrictions across the ward has now come into effect, with the road markings being painted this week.

The scheme now enables safer passage for vehicles travelling between Smannell & Andover and back without the whole length of the road being clogged with parked cars. It also provides a safer crossing point for pedestrians. Importantly it still allows some parking as a natural traffic calming measure.

The markings north of Sunflower Way by the Endeavour School to allow for safer school drop off and pick up will be painted as soon as the community centre car park is open. TVBC are trying to get Taylor Wimpey to sign the transfer agreement this week. In order to prevent any havoc in the early part of next week after half term, it has been agreed to hold off painting these markings until the car park is open. Our contractor is on stand-by to do this ASAP. Hopefully next week.

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The changes are a complete disappointment after waiting so long. For us heading home to Smannell they have still allowed parking right on the roundabout which means the blind spot remains. You have to pull out into the other lane just to see if anything is coming, which often there is. Most drivers don't wait at that point, which kicks off the usual finger waiving & swearing (not from me I would add!). Also, I see we now have a bus stop on the hill between the two roundabouts. If a bus is there it again makes visibility an issue when passing. All in all it just goes to prove my complete lack of confidence in our Planners and Highways Officers is well founded. Ultimately it all shows that the original road should have remained and none of this nonsense would then be happening. Notwithstanding my views, I think you have done the best you can for us and you get my thanks for that.
- Bernard Baker

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12 FEB 2015

Additional 350 Homes Granted for Augusta Park

Outline planning permission was granted for an additional 350 homes for Augusta Park at the planning committee meeting this evening.

When Augusta Park was given planning permission in 2006, the site of this application was earmarked for a secondary school. Unfortunately, Hampshire County Council decided in 2011 that the school wasn't needed, which gave Taylor Wimpey an option to develop this land for housing.

The arguments were finely balanced but I made the case for refusal based on the additional traffic this extra development would create – which in my opinion wasn't mitigated but the highways improvements advocated by the developer. However, not enough of my colleagues agreed with me.

I did manage to ensure that the mitigation measures the developer did propose; the signalised crossing north of the Smannell Rd/ Newbury Rd roundabout and the signalised junction improvements at the junction of North Way and Walworth Road, via the Finkley Arch, will be constructed before these additional houses are occupied.

This was the case I made to the planning committee:

"Thank you Madam Chairman.

Firstly let me address the issue of the school. Most of us in this room tonight would have liked to have seen a secondary school on this site, which very unfortunately the County Council turned down some years ago. Improving secondary education in our town is one of the key challenges for Andover and a purpose built secondary school could have been at least part of the solution.

We have heard tonight that Winton is only at about 50% capacity. There is obviously a reason for this. I know it has now become an Academy and I hope it is now on an upward trajectory in terms of education attainment and parents will start having confidence to send their children there – but in my opinion this was still an opportunity missed.

However, we are where we are. As the report says our current local plan states that: "were the proposal for a secondary school not to come forward then the land would be designated for residential development".

The planning officer has confirmed to us tonight, from my question earlier, that there is absolutely no way we can reserve this land for a secondary school as the County Council have already turned it down. If we could I would back that.

I think most of us will accept that due to these constraints and the original agreement that this land won't just lay empty. There are some positive aspects to the application – open space, a play area and importantly allotment sites of which there are none currently in Smannell Parish. The Smannell Parish Council has also withdrawn its original objection to the scheme and issued a no objection.

I have read all the public comments submitted via the planning portal and amongst other things many mention concerns over traffic. I share these concerns. It is one of the reasons that I worked hard to get the application withdrawn from the December planning committee as it was essential to give local people a say on the updated traffic figures.

We have heard tonight about the mitigation measures the developer has proposed to deal with the additional traffic but I'm not convinced that they are enough. There will be an extra 66 traffic movements west bound along Smannell road in the peak hour of the morning then there would have been if the school was developed and 102 in the evening putting pressure on the Smannell Rd/Newbury Rd roundabout. There will be an additional 89 traffic movements through the Enham Arch at the PM peak and 103 trying to access the Finkley Arch. The Finkley Arch is only single carriageway so if it is too congested– with people having to wait a long time at the lights then they may be more likely to use the Enham Arch. There needs to be additional capacity at the Smannell Rd/ Newbury Rd junction.

I accept this is a finely balanced argument – but I cannot vote for permission based on these mitigation measures alone. I will be voting for refusal based on policy TRA 01."

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How on earth can nearly 5000 house be built and no additional secondary school required? Even if only 10% of those houses had 1 child surely that would put Winton over capcity. This just seems like another example of greed! Where on earth are all of the children in the area supossed to go to school? It is the main reason that we, Andover residents of more than 10 years are looking to move out of Andover. The secondary education here is dreadful. I think that the entire community has been let down by this and why any one would buy any of the new houses when greed has overtaken the need for leisure or education is beyond me. I can only thank you Phil for standing against the proposal, but I genuinely think that this is going to become a real problem in a few years, putting additional pressure on the current schools which already perform badly and also schools in the surroinding areas. A bad descision made by greedy, short sighted people.
- Lee Muir-Stokes

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06 FEB 2015

Supporting Residents in Kingsway Gardens

I attended the open meeting this week concerning water ingress affecting properties in Kingsway Gardens.

Leaseholders were told by Aster Communities, responsible for the maintenance of the buildings, that they could face a bill in the region of £20,000 per property for remedial works.  

This is an awful situation for the residents to be in. Some of which who are in the middle of selling their properties that now can't exchange.  They are rightly demanding more detailed answers from Aster and I have promised to do all I can to support their cause. Aster need to determine properly and quickly whether their insurance covers the work and if not, why not? If it transpires that it is due to negligence or lack of maintenance then I think residents have a good case to push the cost of the works back to Aster.

I have contacted Aster formally, asking a series of questions, and will communicate those responses with residents.

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Kingsway Gardens Residents Letter We at Kingsway Gardens have recently been presented with an expected bill of £2.5million to pay Aster Communities for their lack of maintenance on 125 properties that they own the freehold to. Due to lack of regular maintenance by Aster since 2007 Guttering, Drains and debris have been causing flooding and excessive moisture ingress in a large number of properties. We have set up a group to challenge Aster (Who made £45 Million profit last year). We need your support. Please show your support and LIKE our page Thank You https://www.facebook.com/KingswayGdns
- Kingsway Gardens Committee

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04 FEB 2015

New Signs to Publicise Businesses in Andover Town Centre

TVBC have been working hard on a project to improve signage for businesses located along the seven small lanes off Andover High Street.

The project  as a result of the Andover Summit, started in late 2012, to help rejuvenate Andover Town Centre will see seven distinct arches created to signpost shoppers to the shops in Black Swan Yard, George Yard, Waterloo Court, Union Street, Shaw's Walk, Globe Yard and King's Yard.

Renowned artist, Peter Clutterbuck, has been commissioned to create the striking wrought iron arches.

We have been developing this project for the best part of a year and although it will take some time to deliver because of listed building permissions, it will give our small independent businesses located off the High Street space to advertise their premises; increasing footfall.

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03 FEB 2015

Snow Hits Andover

Following almost daily predictions Andover finally succumbed to a dusting of the white stuff last night.

The main roads in and around the town have been gritted and are okay but very localised residential and rural roads will, of course, be icy.

I've been checking local grit bins when out and about in recent weeks and they have all been full.

If your grit bin needs refilling after heavy use today or in the next few days then you can request it here - http://www3.hants.gov.uk/roadproblems

Alternatively, drop me a line.

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02 FEB 2015

Signs Installed on the Romans

Following requests from local residents I followed up with the developers, Taylor Wimpey, concerning the lack of street signs on the Romans in Augusta Park.

I'm delighted the new signs have now been delivered and installed.

Is there any additional signage/infrastructure required in your area? Contact me here.

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31 JAN 2015

Submit a Bid for a Share of Community Cash

Test Valley Partnership is appealing for community groups to submit bids for a share of £17,500, as part of Hampshire CountyCouncil's Have Your Say scheme.

Local groups have between Friday 30 January and Monday 23 February, to bid for a grant of up to £2,000. Money will be awarded to projects developed by the local community for the local community.

Once applications have closed, the bids will be put to a public vote to enable local people to choose the projects they want to see funding awarded to. 

Last year 5 of the 13 projects submitted were from Alamein Ward with Augusta Park Community Association succesful in obtaining funding.

To submit a bid for funding and view the eligibility criteria, please visit www.testvalley.gov.uk/haveyoursay

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29 JAN 2015

350 Homes Decision Set for February Planning Meeting

The outline planning application for an additional 350 homes in Augusta Park will now be determined at the Planning Committeeon the 12th February. This is the application that I successfully got deferred from the 23rd December meeting to give residents the opportunity to submit additional comments as the relevant traffic surveys were not correctly placed in the public domain.

I met with several residents in the Augusta Park temporary Community Centre recently to discuss the application and similarly with Smannell Parish Council, which has now sent in additional comments.

When Augusta Park was given planning permission in 2006, the site of this application was earmarked for a secondary school. Unfortunately, Hampshire County Council decided in 2011 that the school wasn't needed, which gave Taylor Wimpey an option to develop this land for housing. I would have much preferred a brand new School.

In March 2013, Highways wouldn't recommend permission for the scheme because the traffic modelling didn't include the extra traffic that has now been generated due to the permission of 50 homes at the former Shepherds Spring site. The applicant has now completed this work and made some changes to the application including the provision of a signalised crossing in the vicinity of the Smannell Road roundabout and Newbury Road and signalised junction improvements at the junction of North Way and Walworth Road, via the Finkley Arch. Highways have now given a positive recommendation for the scheme.

I still have some concerns about the traffic numbers and we need to make sure the correct infrastructure is put in place if this application gets permission. I didn't want to see it just waved through, which is why I called for this extra period of consultation and I welcome the fact that the decision will be taken by Councillors in public at the planning committee meeting.

You can find details of the application on TVBCs online Planning Portal and typing in 12/02497/OUTN. If you want to address the committee meeting then details are here.

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With all this extra traffic through Smannell road wouldn't it be better to build another tunnel under the railway accessing walworth industrial estate and the A303. There is only one way into Smannell road. Augusta park from Andover end no other options.
- Linda Farr

Linda - That is exactly the plan and what was agreed in the outline plan for Augusta Park. The Finkley Arch will be opened up.
- Cllr Phil North

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27 JAN 2015

Viking Way Potholes Reported for Repair

Following contact from a local resident I have reported potholes along Viking Way to Hampshire County Council for repair. I have been assured they will be dealt with and will be keeping a close eye on matters to make sure the work is carried out.

If there are potholes in your area you can report them directly here -
http://www3.hants.gov.uk/roadproblems

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21 JAN 2015

Enham Arch to be Closed for 2 Nights

The Enham arch will be closed from tomorrow (Thursday) for two nights as works to cut back vegetation and repair brickwork on the bridge are undertaken.

According the the official road closure notice the road will be closed overnight on Thursday 22nd from 22:00 to 06:00am Friday and again on Friday 23rd January from 22:00 to 06:00am on Saturday 24th January.

A fully signed diversion will be in place.

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18 JAN 2015

Grants Available - Can We Help You?

A key aim for the Council is to help local communities reach their full potential. As part of this we have introduced a special grant up to £500.

The Test Valley Borough Councillors Community Grant Scheme aims to encourage community led initiatives. If you are part of a local group or charity with ideas for local projects or activities this fund could help you.

Funding will be extended to 50 per cent of the cost of the project with groups expected to match fund the other half. The criteria for this grant is attached to the simple 3 page application form. Both can be found here and then by clicking on Alamein Ward.

This grant is funded from the New Homes Bonus. The money received from central government to local authorities for delivering new homes.

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17 JAN 2015

Enham Way set for Summer Opening

I chaired a productive meeting yesterday on the Enham Way, a project initiated by Alamein Councillors in collaboration with Enham Trust to create a safe and convenient route for electric wheelchair users to get into Andover town centre independently.

The route which starts at the Enham Trust and will end at Andover Shopmobility is currently being improved courtesy of TVBC and Hampshire County Council. The Enham Trust have successfully obtained a small projects grant from TVBC for £2,000 for signage and we hope to officially open the Enham Way in the summer.

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16 JAN 2015

Developers Seek Views on Northern Local Centre

Following the meeting I attended with Daytona last week to view their new plans for the Northern Local Centre in Augusta Park, they are now consulting with nearby residents via a leaflet drop.

As the developer in now in listening mode following a hard fought battle I'm keen for as many local residents as possible to send in their views. After all more than just the nearby residents are going to use the shop and the new facility will be in close proximity to the Community Centre and Endeavour Primary School.

If you have received a consultation document through the post then I urge you to fill it in . If you haven't you can download one here.

Completed consultation forms can be returned to the collection box in the temporary Community Centre or e-mailed directly to max@samuel-camps.co.uk

I hope that before too long residents of Augusta Park will benefit from a convenience store and other business units on the development and won't have to put up with the badly thought out plan with a flat roof that was presented previously.

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15 JAN 2015

SLOW Road Markings for Roman Way School

Following the meeting held in November to discuss road safety outside Roman Way Primary School I have been following up with Council officers about further signage in the area to help slow down traffic.

I'm delighted that the County Council have now agreed to provide SLOW road markings adjacent to the school warning sign. The sign has also been slightly relocated so it is more visible to drivers exiting the A343 King Arthurs' Way roundabout.

The markings will be painted in mid-February alongside the painting of the double yellow lines that were previously agreed as a result of the Alamein road safety scheme.

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12 JAN 2015

Make Sure You're Registered to Vote

Parliamentary, Borough and Parish elections are scheduled for Thursday, 7 May 2015 and Test Valley Borough Council is calling on residents to make sure that they are registered to vote.

Last summer the way we register to vote changed from household registration to individual registration. This means that each person is now individually responsible for ensuring that they are on the electoral register. In Test Valley more than 98 per cent of registered electors have been successfully transferred onto the new register, but a small number of people still need to have their registration verified.

TVBC will be writing to each of the 51,000 households in the borough by the end of this month giving a summary of who is registered in each household. Residents are encouraged to look out for this letter and check to make sure that all the details are correct. If they are then no further action is required. If some of the information is wrong residents will need to follow the instructions in the letter and respond to the Electoral Registration team at the Council by Friday, 27 February 2015.

More information about registering to vote can be found here.

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08 JAN 2015

Changes Made to Northern Local Centre Proposal

I had a useful meeting last night with Daytona, the applicants for the Northern Local Centre, for shops on Augusta Park (Thank you to two of the APCA trustees for hosting).

Despite their application to appeal the planning refusal (apparently at the behest of Taylor Wimpey) I'm pleased they are now starting to listen to the wishes of the community. We now have a proposal more in keeping with beautiful Augusta Park including a pitched roof, better parking and an enhanced pedestrian access to the school.

I still have some concerns about the tenure of some of the housing above the shops and have pushed for more shared ownership properties.

They are planning to consult, via a leaflet drop, with local residents next week and submit a revised application to the Borough Council in February.

I hope that before too long residents of Augusta Park will benefit from a convenience store and other business units on the development and won't have to put up with the badly thought out plan that was presented previously.

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06 JAN 2015

Tackling Fly-Tipping

Following a report from a local resident I have today arranged for TVBC Environmental Services to clear up fly-tipping on the FinkleyRoad. They will also be carrying out an inspection to investigate whether there is any evidence linking this to a particular person.

The Council are committed to removing fly-tipping as soon as possible to protect our environment and to ensure it doesn't become a further dumping ground.

If you're aware of any fly-tipped rubbish on public land, you can report it online here

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02 JAN 2015

Recycle Your Christmas Tree this New Year

Happy New Year. I'm sure for many the festive fun is far from over but just to let you know that from today you can recycle your real Christmas tree at any of the below locations until January 12th.

Homebase, Enham Arch Retail Park

Andover Garden Centre, Salisbury Road

For those registered with the Garden Waste Collection Service, the Council will collect whole Christmas trees. Trees over six feet high should be cut in half.

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01 JAN 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year. I hope that 2015 brings you and your family peace and prosperity.

The TVBC Conservative Team are able to bring some immediate good news with our proposal not only to freeze the council tax but to freeze car parking charges as well this year.

2015 will see the introduction of the new Corporate Plan which will include exciting new plans for the Andover Leisure Centre and our wish to enhance the Chantry Centre.

The Borough Local Plan which sets out the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years continues to be developed. I have been fighting for the protection of local gaps between Andover and Enham Alamein/Smannell and hope to see this confirmed when the plan is adopted.

I continue to fight for you in Alamein Ward having delivered the new skatepark, a new road safety scheme for Augusta Park and started work on the Enham Way in 2014, as well as solving many, many local issues and will continue to do so in 2015. Please get in touch if you need me to follow up on any matter.

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31 DEC 2014

A Year of Achievement but More to do

In January I outlined some key goals I wanted to achieve in Alamein Ward, Andover & Test Valley in 2014. I have blogged about each one in various guises throughout the year but as we near the end of 2014 I want to draw them together. Thankfully many of them have been achieved but there is still much work to do. Here is the review:

1) Help freeze Test Valley's portion of the Council Tax for 2014/15 – Done. See here. We have plans to freeze the Council Tax again this year.

2) Deliver the Enham Way project - In 2014 we identified funding for the project, tested the route, the Enham clients designed the signs and as soon as some minor resurfacing work is complete we will open the route in 2015.

3) Ensure that disabled residents are again protected under the Council Tax Benefit scheme for 2015/16 whilst campaigning for changes to make work pay – Achieved. Full Council agreed no change to the proposals that were adopted for 13/14

4) Play my part in the continued rejuvenation of Andover Town Centre - The Andover Town Centre Summit has been a success but there is still more to do. Various events including the new Andover Farmers' and Craft Market have helped increase footfall in the Town Council.  The new Town Centre Managaer has set up the Town Centre Partnership for local businesses to organise events and help each other and the independent retailer grant is helping fill empty shops

5) Hold a second Alamein Community Conference so community organisations and charities in the ward can continue to work together - Due to the ongoing success of the Alamein Community Association and the Augusta Park Community Association as well as the work being undertaken on the Enham Way it was agreed to delay this until 2015.

6) Continue to ensure that the new community in Augusta Park is well served with appropriate infrastructure, making sure the new Community Centre is delivered, that the amount of broadband suppliers is increased and road safety is improved at Endeavour School & along the diverted Smannell road - Augusta Park Community Association continues to go from strength to strength, the Community Centre is now built and will be occupied in spring 2015.  There are more broadband providers but still a lack of a major player which I am pushing for.  The road safety scheme has been consulted on, signed off and will come into being in February.  

7) Campaign for future changes in Test Valley's strategic tenancy policy to ensure that more social housing is available to those that need it - New social housing tenancies for life have ended.  I raised through the Council's scrutiny committee the need for registered social landlords to review tenancies, after the initial 5 year period, to ensure those that need social houisng the most have the opportunity to access it whilst those that can afford a mortgage or to rent privately do so.

8) Ensure the Skatepark planned for the Smannell Road open space works for residents and users alike – Completed. The Skatepark was officially opened by the Mayor of Test Valley on the 15th November providing a fantastic facility for our young skateboarders, BMX riders and scooter users.

9) Conduct some Community Development work in Cricketers Way & Swallowfields encouraging volunteers and community activities - I have spoken to the Area Engagement Officer for Alamein about this and plans are in the pipeline for 2015.

10) Raise money for Enham Trust by running the 2014 London Marathon – Achieved. In 2014, I completed the course in 4hrs 12mins. The final total raised was £3,425.70.

Additionally we launched a campaign to protect our local gaps between Andover and Enham Alamein/Smannell and hope to see them confirmed when the local plan is adopted in 2015.

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30 DEC 2014

Give Andover Parkrun a Try this New Year

At this time of year many people are pondering their New Year's resolution. After the Christmas blowout I suspect many will think about joining a gym or embarking on some sort of fitness regime for 2015. If you are then I can't recommend Andover parkrun highly enough.

I've been a regular parkrunner since New Years Eve 2011 and it's an absolutely brilliant organisation catering for all abilities. Your fellow parkrunners quickly become your friends.

It's a FREE 5km timed run every Saturday morning at 9am at Charlton Lakes. All you need to do is register and print a barcode which you can do here.

What's more there's a special New Years Day parkrun this Thursday. What better way to clear those New Year hangovers?

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28 DEC 2014

Extra Parking for King Arthurs Way

I'm pleased to report that TVBC has given Aster Communities planning permission to construct an additional 12 parking spaces for residents in Camelot Close, King Arthurs Way.  The spaces will be provided by creating a hard standing area outside properties 9-24 Camelot Close.

I have been pressing Aster Housing for some time to provide extra parking in the area and this follows the 26 spaces that were constructed in 2013.

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Like thats about to make a big difference.
- Julie Simmons

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27 DEC 2014

What's on in King Arthurs Hall

A new timetable of groups and activities in the King Arthurs Hall has been published with events catering for all ages.

New additions include Zumba and Aerobics classes which take place every Thursday evening.

Since the consolidation of services from the previous Askalot Shop under one roof, the refurbished King Arthurs Hall has become a real community hub.

To view the current timetable of activities please click here. The hall is also available for private hire from the Alamein Community Association - 01264 333294.

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24 DEC 2014

Merry Christmas, Council Opening Hours & Bin Collection Days

Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful time with family, friends and neigbours.

The council offices will be closed from 5pm today re-opening at 8.30am on Friday 2nd January. Of course if there is anything you need to report to me during that time then you can contact me here.

There are some changes to bin collection days over the festive period. To check when your bin is scheduled to be collected click here.  During the Christmas and New Year period waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collection day will be accepted. Collection crews will accept one black bin per property. Recyclable materials in cardboard boxes left beside the brown bin on recycling weeks will be collected throughout the year.

Photo: The Christmas Truce, 1914. My Christmas card design this year.

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23 DEC 2014

Developers Bid to Build Fewer Affordable Homes Rejected

The developer's bid to reduce the amount of affordable houses due to be built on Augusta Park has been rejected by Test Valley Borough Council. Taylor Wimpey had been trying to reduce the amount of affordable housing from 40% to just 10% in the next 4 sections of development. They withdrew the application late yesterday after being faced with a recommendation for refusal from planning officers. This was going to be my submission to the planning committee:

"The planning permission for Augusta Park committed the developer to 40% of affordable housing, pepper potted across all parcels of the development.

As our housing department sets out in their response to the consultation there are over 2,000 families on our housing register waiting to move into more appropriate affordable homes.

All of us that know from attending Councillors surgeries and from meeting people in our wards that more affordable housing is required and the Council are committed to delivering that.

There is absolutely no justification to reduce the affordable housing requirement in parcels S, B, O & Q to 10%. It has not been demonstrated that affordable housing at 40% makes the scheme unviable and I urge the committee to support the officer's recommendation of refusal."

I will be keeping a careful eye on any further attempts by Taylor Wimpey to get out of their affordable housing obligation. It is unacceptable for them not to deliver on the terms and conditions of the original planning permission.

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20 DEC 2014

Christmas and New Year Bin Collections

During the Christmas and New Year period waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collection day will be accepted. Collection crews will accept one black bin per property. Recyclable materials in cardboard boxes left beside the brown bin on recycling weeks will be collected throughout the year.

During the festive period, the Local Recycling Centres will be monitored and emptied regularly.

The Household Waste Recycling Centres will be open except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

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18 DEC 2014

Planning Application for 350 Homes Withdrawn

The planning application for an additional 350 homes in Augusta Park which was due to be determined by the planning committee on the 23rd December has been deferred until at least February at my request.

When Augusta Park was given planning permission in 2006, the site of this application was earmarked for a secondary school. Unfortunately, Hampshire County Council decided in 2011 that the school wasn't needed, which gave Taylor Wimpey an option to develop this land for housing.

I have previously had conversations with the Senior Engineer in Highways about the extra traffic movements this application would generate in comparison to the traffic movements associated with a secondary school. Local residents and the Parish Council have previously voiced concerns about the capacity of the Enham Arch, Finkley Arch and Smannell Road relating to the impact of this additional development.

In March 2013, Highways wouldn't recommend permission for the scheme because the traffic modelling didn't include the extra traffic that has now been generated due to the permission of 50 homes at the former Shepherds Spring site. The applicant has now completed this work and made some changes to the application, and Highways have now given a positive recommendation for the scheme.

As soon as I was informed that this application was set to be determined this month I set about looking in detail at the additional traffic generation. I couldn't find this. The updated information was never shared officially with the Borough Council and has not appeared in the public domain on the planning portal of our website.  After some significant digging I finally got the numbers from Hampshire Highways.  The updated modelling suggests a significant increase in traffic movements along the Smannell Road in the peak hour of the morning and I'm trying to get to the bottom of the impact on the Finkley Arch and Enham Arch.

I asked the Head of Planning to defer the application as local residents and the parish council have been denied the right to have their say based on the new traffic numbers. It is important to me that you have that additional opportunity.

The Head of Planning will aim to bring this application back in February and will now consult further with the community, seeking your views on the additional information. I have significant concerns about this application and don't want to see it just waved through.

I will make a further announcement when all the additional information is up on the planning portal and where to find it.  I am more than happy to meet with residents about this.

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17 DEC 2014

Festive Farmers' and Crafts Market in Andover this Sunday

Get that festive feeling and experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Christmas at the Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market this weekend from 10am to 2pm in the High Street.

It will be a bumper Christmas market with more than 50 stalls featuring food, drink, treats, crafts, and gifts galore. Old favourites will include The Flour Stall, Loosehanger Cheeses and Hampshire Game, alongside new traders including Betteridges Brewery. 

Hot street food will be available from The Pie Hole and Chit Chaat Chai and delicious mulled wine from Teffont Wine. There will be street theatre from the Electroglide Angels and the town will ring with festive tunes from the Andover Town Band and local singer Jake Ward.

The range and quality of the traders who have filled the Andover Farmers' and Crafts market this year, coupled with the fantastic support of local shoppers, has meant that the Council run markets have been a real success story for 2014.

This is the last chance to visit the Andover Farmers' and Crafts market for this year, but it will be back in March 2015 after a short winter break, with lots of regular favourites and new additions.

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15 DEC 2014

Skatepark Floodlights Due to be Reconnected

I have had confirmation this morning that the floodlights at the new Smannell Road skatepark are scheduled to be reconnected this Friday the 19th December.

One of the Council's leisure services team will be onsite to check the lights and arrange for the timer to be programmed so the lights turn off at 9pm.  As the lights have not been functioning for some time there is a chance that some of the bulbs will need replacing but the Council will get the floodlights up and running as soon as possible.

Update: It is with regret the reconnection didn't happen on the 19th. There is a problem with the actual connection.  The utility company SSE have been contacted to put this right.  I will update as soon as I know more.

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12 DEC 2014

Beware PDS Parcel Scam this Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, Royal Mail and Trading Standards have contacted the Council to raise awareness of a scam wherea card is posted through doors from Parcel Delivery Service (PDS).

The card suggests that the company was unable to deliver a parcel and that the recipient should contact PDS on 090 6661 1911. This is a premium rate number and if dialled, could result in an immediate cost of £315. The phone number on the card should not be called.

Please report any suspected fraud to the Royal Mail Fraud hotline on 020 7239 6655.

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09 DEC 2014

Quiz Night for Enham Trust

I am organising a Quiz Night early next year to help my fundraising campaign for the 2015 London Marathon in aid of EnhamTrust.

I've run a similar quiz for the last two years, which were great nights, with lots of money raised.  This year my sister is running the marathon with me and we want to raise as much money as possible for Enham so I would be grateful if readers would come along and support it.

It takes place on Friday 20th February 2015 at 7:30pm in the Landale Wilson Hall. More details here.

If you want to enter a team please register by e-mailing me at philnorth2@googlemail.com.

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08 DEC 2014

Free Parking in Andover Today

Don't forget it's buy one hour get one FREE on parking in Andover town centre today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Same next week. 

The combination of free parking after 4pm Monday to Saturday, all day Sundays and bank holidays and the Christmas voucher, will provide an added incentive to encourage shoppers to come and enjoy all that the town has to offer for the festive season.

Download and print the voucher here.

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04 DEC 2014

Augusta Park Road Safety Scheme WILL be Implemented in February

The new road safety scheme for Augusta Park will come into effect in February 2015. 

The proposal, which includes double yellow lines on the diverted Smannell Road and parking restrictions by the school, has been fully consulted upon and the Borough and County Councillors have signed off the final scheme.

It was hoped the proposal would be implemented by now. However, the agreement was always for this only to come into effect once the community centre was built and associated parking delivered in order to provide additional parking for parents at school drop off and collection times.

Through our lobbying we managed to get this scheme moved forward to 2014/15 rather than the 2016/17 timescale as originally suggested by Highways officials. 

Our contractors are under strict instructions to paint the double yellow lines in time for the implementation date of the 16th February.

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02 DEC 2014

Ian Carr Re-adopted as Conservative Group Leader

As the Chairman of the Test Valley Borough Council Conservative Group I have released the below statement to the media this evening.

"I'm pleased to announce that the Conservative Group has re-adopted Cllr Ian Carr as the Conservative Group Leader on Test Valley Borough Council. He was re-adopted unopposed.

Cllr Carr has tremendous experience in leading the Council which continues to deliver efficient and effective services with one of the lowest council tax rates in the country.

Ian Carr will lead the Conservative Team into the Borough Council elections next year on a strong record of delivering for the residents of Test Valley.

In Andover, Cllr Carr has overseen the delivery of the Lights Theatre, the cinema and Asda complex, the new skatepark, the increase in grants to our voluntary and community organisations, improvements to our business parks and the Andover Town Centre Summit, which is making a significant contribution to rejuvenating the high street and increasing footfall.

There is still more to do and Ian is committed to continuing to improve our Town and Borough for the benefit of residents."

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01 DEC 2014

Council Celebrates Awarding £10,000 of Independent Retailer Grants

Test Valley Borough Council has today awarded its tenth Independent Retailer Grant, meaning £10,000 has been awarded to small businesses in the borough- and more importantly 10 empty shops are now filled.

The Council has long been awarding its £500 Business Incentive Grants but as a result of the Andover Town Centre Summit in 2012 brought in an additional scheme, rewarding independent retailers who go into vacant shop units.

The £1,000 fund which is complemented by membership of the British Independent Retailer Association and has benefited 5 businesses in Andover alone.

Recipients of the Independent Retailer Grant are awarded with £500 after three months of trading and a further £500 after nine months. To be eligible for the grant, new or existing independent businesses must occupy a town centre ground floor unit which has been vacant for at least one month. Qualifying businesses include shops, restaurants and cafes.

The scheme is funded by the New Homes Bonus. The additional funds the Council receives for buildng more homes in the Borough.

For more information about the Independent Retailer Grant and the other business grants available from Test Valley Borough Council, see here.

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28 NOV 2014

New Bus Service for Augusta Park

A new bus service linking Augusta Park to the railway station, bus station and hospital is set to go live on 5th January 2015.

The new service run by Wheelers will be a hail and ride service with passengers being able to board the bus at the bottom of diverted Smannell road between the two roundabouts. There will be a flag going up on a lamp column to mark the location.  The bus will then return along the Smannell road towards Andover.

A formal bus stop will be implemented near to the community centre once the spine road is complete and the bus gate is put in.

Click here for the full timetable.

The Star 1 service will continue to run between Icknield Way and the bus station including on Sundays.

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28 NOV 2014

My Tribute to Family Hero

As part of the First World War centenary commemorations, I have been researching the story of my Great Grandfather's Uncle, Sidney Gunnell, who fought in the 1st Hampshire Regiment and was killed 100 years ago this week.  This is the story of my visit to his final resting place. An edited version appears in today's edition of the Andover Advertiser.

Baptised on St George's Day 1886, Sidney Gunnell was a much loved character in the village of St. Mary Bourne and a keen cricketer. Having joined the 2nd Hampshire Regiment as private in 1905 he saw service in South Africa as well as being stationed in various locations throughout the British Empire. In early 1912 Sidney returned home to St Mary Bourne. Now in the reserves he went about forming a new life for himself. It is clear he was committed to a life of service as he became a member of the village Fire Brigade.

When war broke out in the summer of 1914 he was called up in the 1st Hampshires as part of the British Expeditionary Force, landing in France on the 24th August. Just a few weeks earlier he had taken six-fer playing for the Bournites in a losing side against a Sutton Scotney XI. Now he was in a foreign land with no idea if he would ever see England again.

His next of kin was his 19 year old sister, Jane, who he looked after along with their younger sister Constance May. Both his parents died earlier that decade. Sidney was killed 100 years ago this week, on the 23rd November 1914, by a German sniper whilst on sentry duty. He was 30 years old.

Last weekend I travelled to the Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, Belgium to visit his grave on the exact centenary of his death. It was a very moving experience. The cemetery is home to 256 allied soldiers and 13 German war graves.

As I walked through the row upon row of gravestones I couldn't help but think of the tragic suffering and loss. I have in my possession, along with his medals, a brass plaque that was sent to Jane with the simple inscription 'He died for Freedom and Honour'. He certainly did.

Yes, there are strong arguments that we should never have got involved in that conflict. It certainly was not as clear cut as the Second World War, but Britain is a country of her word. "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing".
Sidney was one of the hundreds of thousands who gave everything. Lives left unfulfilled. Potential annihilated. Of over 16,000 British villages only 53 needed no memorial.

As we reflect today on the centenary of the First World War it is important that we ensure the individual stories, bravery and horrors of that conflict are recalled by us and the next generation. We will remember Sidney and all those who fought and died in the service of mankind.

Photo: At Sidney's grave at the Lancashire Cottage Cemetery in Comines-Wareneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

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25 NOV 2014

Action on Blocked Drains in Swallowfields

Following a recent report from a resident of Swllowfields about blocked drains causing road flooding I have been working with Hampshire Highways and TVBC officers to resolve the problem.

Leaves are a problem at this time of year as they block gullies and drains and this is the cause in this particular case. Hampshire County Council have arranged for a jetter to clear the system and are also undertaking an underground CCTV survey to check for any further problems.

Test Valley have agreed to undertake some additional leaf clearance in the area to keep on top of the problem.

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23 NOV 2014

Sidney Gunnell - 15th November 1885 - 23rd November 1914

Today I visited the grave of my Great Grandfathers Uncle, Sidney Gunnell, who died 100 years ago this very day on the 23rd November 1914, whilst serving in the First World War. He was shot by a German sniper whilst on sentry duty, aged 30 years. He is buried in the Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, Belgium.

During the next week I will be telling Sidney's story. The commemoration having inspired me to research more about him.

As we reflect on the centenary of the First World War it is important that we ensure the individual stories, bravery and horrors of that conflict are recalled by us and the next generation.

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21 NOV 2014

Running the Marathon for Enham Trust

I'm running the London Marathon in 2015 to raise money for the Enham Trust and this year my sister is joining me (her first marathon).

It is a tremendous pleasure to represent the village of Enham Alamein and I'm proud of the fantastic work of the Enham Trust.

Enham provides opportunities for disabled people to exercise choice, control and independence over their lives, through housing options, work and training. This fundraising opportunity is our chance to help them and the people of Enham.

Please donate here. Your generosity is appreciated.

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20 NOV 2014

Grants Available - Can We Help You?

A key aim for the Council is to help local communities reach their full potential. As part of this we have introduced a special grant up to £500.

The Test Valley Borough Councillors Community Grant Scheme aims to encourage community led initiatives. If you are part of a local group or charity with ideas for local projects or activities this fund could help you.

Funding will be extended to 50 per cent of the cost of the project with groups expected to match fund the other half. The criteria for this grant is attached to the simple 3 page application form. Both can be found here and then by clicking on Alamein Ward.

This grant is funded from the New Homes Bonus. The money received from central government to local authorities for delivering new homes.

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18 NOV 2014

An Hour Free Parking in Anodver this Festive Season

Andover is all set to embrace the festive season and head into a new year with a sense of positive optimism!

Starting on the 1 December the Council will be running its Free Christmas Parking Voucher scheme again to say thank you to people for choosing to shop in Andover.

Free parking for an extra hour will be available to all those displaying the voucher alongside a valid pay and display ticket or Ringo payment purchased for a minimum of one hour. This means that for just 90 pence you can park from 2pm during the offer period and shop until you drop!

The combination of free parking after 4pm Monday to Saturday, all day Sundays and bank holidays, and the Christmas voucher, will provide an added incentive to encourage shoppers to come and enjoy all that the town has to offer for the festive season. The voucher will be valid in all Council car parks in Andover on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 17 December.

The voucher can also be downloaded here.

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17 NOV 2014

Improvement Works to Anton Lakes Nature Reserve

Re-surfacing works to the paths around Anton Lakes local nature reserve have got underway today.

The addition of more self-binding gravel should see a vast improvement to the heavily worn paths that are there currently.

The works are expected to last for two weeks.

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15 NOV 2014

Official Opening of Andover Skatepark

I was pleased to attend the official opening of the new Andover skatepark in Smannell road this afternoon. The Mayor of Test Valley, Cllr Jan Lovell, did the honours in cutting the ribbon.

Residents told us that a new purpose built urban sports facility was required in Andover and I'm delighted it has now been delivered.

The Council are delivering a 12 week programme of skate school sessions starting next Saturday the 22 November from 2 – 4pm. The first hour is aimed at younger riders which will include skate park etiquette. We hope that as many park users as possible attend these free sessions, to ensure they're not putting themselves in danger.

The Council will also set up a Skate Park Rangers programme as part of these sessions. The Rangers will act as positive role models that can assist with keeping up good relationships between all users, teaching skate park etiquette and looking after the park longer term. The idea is to use the above sessions from 3 pm each Saturday for older riders who are interested in becoming a Ranger.

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14 NOV 2014

Road Safety at Roman Way Primary School

I hosted a meeting with Council highway officers and other local representatives today to discuss road safety outside Roman Way Primary School. I completely understand the concerns raised by parents. It is clear that a controlled crossing is needed outside the school and I am determined to see it delivered.

The County Council will shortly be undertaking a traffic calming study in the area and Taylor Wimpey, who are developing Augusta Park, are due to transfer further money to the Council for additional traffic calming – including the crossing, in the spring next year. It is important the County Council get everything in place to deliver the crossing as soon as possible after that and I am pushing them to do so.

Additionally, double yellow lines will shortly be implemented opposite the entrance to Witan Close to ensure safe sight lines for children crossing the road.

In the meantime I have arranged road safety talks from the Fire Service which were delivered to the children this week. I have also secured a high-vis jacket for every child that wants one funded by Taylor Wimpey.

Borough Council officers are also looking into the possibility of providing further signage in the area to help slow traffic down.

I continue to work with the head of school and school governors for the benefit of the children.

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13 NOV 2014

TVBC loans College £240k for New Skills Centre

TVBC voted yesterday to loan Andover College £240k to help fund a new Technology and Skills Centre. Once open, the new facility would provide young people with learning opportunities in engineering, construction and related vocational courses – a fantastic addition to Andover College.

The loan is subject to the college agreeing a suitable package of support with Hampshire County Council and the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and will be on favourable terms over a 10 to 15 year period.

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10 NOV 2014

Farmers' and Crafts Market in Andover this Sunday

As the nights draw in and thoughts turn to winter warming foods and snuggling in front of the fire, why not wander around Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market this Sunday and stock up on treats and essentials to take the chill away.

The market will be open from 10am to 2pm, and will be packed with more than 50 stalls selling a wide range of gourmet, organic, traditional and locally sourced produce, crafts and goodies for Christmas.

Jake Ward will be performing his unique style of swing music in the Time Ring from 10am to 12pm and there will be street food to fill any empty stomachs rumbling after shopping - and sampling - from the many food stalls! Be sure to visit The Risen Pizza Company who will be making their first visit to Andover with their stone-baked pizza oven.

The Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market has now become a firm favourite in the High Street Calendar, and is guaranteed to provide a mix of both favourites, regular stalls and new traders. This is the penultimate market before Christmas and so provides the perfect opportunity to start stocking up on presents and delicious treats for the holidays.

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09 NOV 2014

We Will Remember Them

Today is Remembrance Sunday – and this year it takes on special significance. 25 years ago this very day the Berlin Wall came down bringing to an end the most murderous regime in history.  70 years since D-Day and 70 years since Arnhem.  Most significantly though 100 years since the outbreak of The Great War. As I stood in the Garden of Remembrance in St Mary's this morning, staring up at the names inscribed on Andover's cenotaph – I couldn't help but recall the scale of such tragic suffering and loss. Of over 16,000 British villages only 53 needed no memorial. Hundreds of thousands of British deaths and millions who lost their lives in the service of mankind.

Amongst them was my Great Grandfather's Uncle, Sidney Gunnell, killed by a German sniper whilst on sentry duty in November 1914. The round bronze plaque that I have at home, later dubbed the dead man's penny, says that he died for freedom and honour.

There are strong arguments that we should never have got involved in the First World War. It certainly was not as clear cut as the Second, but Britain is a country of her word. We were fighting for the independence of Belgium but also for wider ideals of self-determination and constitutional government. "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing".

Unsurprisingly there are now no surviving veterans of World War One. Harry Patch, the last veteran to serve in the trenches died 5 years ago, aged 111. In the next couple of weeks I will be telling the story of my relative, Sidney Gunnell, whose life was cut so tragically short at 30 – for as we reflect today on the centenary of the conflict it is important that we ensure that the stories, bravery and horrors of that war are recalled by us and the next generation, who will remember them.

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07 NOV 2014

Council to Hold Skate School Sessions for Less Experienced Users

Due to the success of the recently opened skate park in Smannell Road and the high number of skaters and riders, the council has received feedback about the potential conflict between experienced users and younger or less experienced users.

The Council is keen for the skate park to become self-regulating - and does not want to take a heavy handed approach.

To help this process the Council will deliver a 12 week project with the help of local Skate School "Rubicon". These sessions will run from Saturday 22 November from 2 – 4pm with the first hour aimed at younger riders. This will include skate park etiquette. We hope that as many park users as possible attend these free sessions, to ensure they're not putting themselves in danger.

The Council will also set up a Skate Park Rangers programme as part of these sessions. The Rangers will act as positive role models that can assist with keeping up good relationships between all users, teaching skate park etiquette and looking after the park longer term. The idea is to use the above sessions from 3 pm each Saturday for older riders who are interested in becoming a Ranger.

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03 NOV 2014

Leaf Clearance Gets Underway

TVBC's planned annual leaf clearance gets underway today with a team from the Environmental Services department out in King Arthurs Way.

The team will also concentrate on areas in Cricketers Way and Roman Way within the next two weeks returning to areas that need addressing.

If you are aware of any significant accumulations on public land that need tackling then please let me know here and I will do my best to get the Council to deal with it.

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31 OCT 2014

Work to Improve Town Centre Pavement

The Council's Environmental Service has made arrangements for a specialist street washing contractor to clean the pavements in Andover town centre.

The work to remove staining accompanies the work that has already been undertaken by the Andover Summit, set up by the Council, to spruce up our high street. The work which will significantly improve the look of the pavements will take place in mid-November.

For more details on the Town Summit successes including a full list of all the environmental improvements made please see here.

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30 OCT 2014

Council Plans NO Increase in Council Tax for 2015/16

Last night I attended the TVBC Cabinet meeting where the 2015/16 budget was discussed.

I am pleased to confirm that when drawing up next years budget the Council are working on the assumption that there will be NO increase in Council Tax and NO increase in parking charges. This is despite receiving less money from the Government through our revenue support grant.

On Monday the Budget Panel, which I chair, will look at the proposals in detail and recommend any changes back to the Cabinet through our Scrutiny Committee.

The Cabinet report including the full medium term financial strategy can be seen here.

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28 OCT 2014

Andover Town Access Plan - Have Your Say

The Andover Town Access Plan is currently open for consultation giving Andover residents the opportunity to comment on how access to facilities and services within the town can be improved.

The Council is seeking feedback on existing and planned transport schemes, such as pedestrian crossings and dropped kerbs, as well as ideas for improvements in and around Andover.

The Enham Way project that I have been leading, which provides a safe route for electric wheelchairs into town, is now an identified scheme.

There is also various schemes, using funding from developers contributions from the Augusta Park Development, for traffic management/calming in Alamein Ward which I am also taking forward.

The consultation closes on Friday 12th December at 4:30pm. You can have your say here.

If you would like to copy your submission to me you can do so at cllrpnorth@testvalley.gov.uk.

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27 OCT 2014

Consultation for Potential Young People's Care Home in Augusta Park

A public consultation will take place in Augusta Park next week on Choice Care's plans for a short stay care home for young people on the site of the current temporary community centre. 

The proposal is for a 24 hour residential care home, teaching young people with learning difficulties life skills to enable them to live as independently as possible when they move on. Test Valley planning officers have confirmed that Choice Care are in pre-planning talks with the council but no formal application has yet been submitted.

The consultation will take place from 3pm-7pm on Tuesday 4th November in the temporary community centre. I would urge local residents to go along, look at the plans and make their views known.  I intend to be there between 6pm-7pm.

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23 OCT 2014

Community Wins the Day as Northern Local Centre Refused

The planning application for the Northern Local Centre (comprising commercial and residential use) on Augusta Park was turned down by Test Valley Borough Council's Planning Committee this evening.

The application has raised significant concerns from local residents about the design, amount of social housing, employment uses and parking. I spoke and voted against the application and the committee sent a clear message to the developers that we won't accept substandard development.

I want to see this facility built and open for the residents of Augusta Park to use but we must get it right. The application from the developer (Daytona) was essentially for a series of vertical boxes with flat roofs that would have looked significantly out of keeping with Endeavour school and the Community Centre nearby, both of which have pitched roofs.

The proposed 20 social houses above the shops contravened our policy not to cluster more than 10 affordable homes in one group. The proper 'pepper potting' of social housing in new developments has proved highly successful and I was very wary not to agree to something that didn't conform to this and repeated mistakes of the past. The developer didn't provide a viability assessment.

Concluding my speech at the planning meeting tonight I said: "It is clear from the report that the Parish Council are against this, the community are against this and the officers have recommended it for refusal. There isn't a lot going for it really."

"Daytona have been in conversations with planning officers about this application for almost two years. I remember discussing this application with local residents in the Council offices when they first entered into pre-application talks with the Council in December 2012. The simple fact of the matter is that Daytona have failed to listen to the advice of our planning officers, they have ignored our local plan and are trying to ride roughshod over the local community that would have to put up with looking at their, frankly, shoddy design."

"I don't think it is an overstatement to say that if this application was approved it would be a scar on the landscape of beautiful Augusta Park"

I urged the committee to refuse the application and send a message to the developers to think again. They need to negotiate properly with planning officers rather than presenting this kind of application to our committee. I have tonight contacted Daytona asking them to come back with a better plan.

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21 OCT 2014

Safe Crossing for Roman Way Primary School

On Friday evening I attended the Roman Way Forum hosted by the Alamein Community Association and heard from residents who have launched a petition calling for a controlled crossing outside Roman Way primary school.

I completely understand the concerns raised by parents. A controlled crossing for this site has been planned ever since planning permission was granted for Augusta Park and I am determined to see it delivered. The contract between the Council and the developer states that the builders will provide the money for a crossing at 1,050 home occupations in Augusta Park. Occupations at the end of September were 958. On current timescales the money should be transferred to the County Council in March or April next year.

This isn't an ideal situation but I am pushing the Council to have the scheme ready to go, so that when the money is transferred the crossing can be delivered. In the meantime I have asked Council officers to investigate the possibility of temporary traffic calming measures, such as flashing signs, to make crossing easier.

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20 OCT 2014

Don't Miss out on Your Vote

The way that people register to vote changed earlier this summer. The new system is called Individual Electoral Registration forpeople to register themselves on the electoral roll rather than the 'head of the household.  Across Test Valley most people already registered to vote were automatically carried across to the new system and did not need to do anything. Confirmation has already been sent to these people.

However, some people needed to take action to join the new register. Test Valley Borough Council wrote to all those affected explaining what steps they would need to take.

A small core of people have not responded to the letters that were sent, or to the canvassers who have been visiting properties to follow up. A second round of canvassers will be out across the borough from 27 October for three weeks. If you haven't completed your individual registration by 1 December, 2014 you could lose out on your chance to vote in the next election, even if you had a postal or proxy vote previously.

So don't delay. If you received a letter from the Council over the summer months asking you to take action, please get in touch with us. Don't miss out on your right to vote.

Enquiries should be directed to Electoral Services via email:elecreg@testvalley.gov.uk, by telephone: 01264 368000 or by visiting the web page here.

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19 OCT 2014

El Alamein Commemoration Day

The village of Enham Alamein came together today, as it does every year, to celebrate the victory at El Alamein, the turning point in the Second World War, and remember those who died in the service of mankind.

Henry Francis Lyte's great words in 'Abide with with Me' sang today, below, are particularly poignant at this time of year with the leaves falling off the trees and the evenings drawing in. The Scottish Anglican paints a perfect picture of an English autumnal scene as we move through from the delights of summer to the harshness of the winter ahead. It must be El Alamein Commemoration day.

"Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;

Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O thou who changest not, abide with me."

He is of course referring to death and particularly his own mortality, writing this in the last few weeks of his life, whilst dying from Tuberculosis. The perfect English autumn, as we are experiencing today, is obviously a far cry from the horror of the desert warfare that took place in late 1942. The 'grey-faced men, sand-powdered over all', as Jarmain put it, defeated the Axis powers securing the vital supply line of the Suez Canal and preventing the Middle Eastern oil fields from falling into enemy hands.

Many of the injured from that battle were brought back to Enham to undergo their recovery and in recognition of their liberation from the axis powers, Egypt gifted Enham Charity £225,000 (£6m in today's money) which was used to help and care for disabled ex-serviceman. To thank the Egyptian's for their kind gift the name 'Alamein' was included in the village's name as a lasting memorial to that battle.

As I never tire of saying we should be extremely proud of our local association with that battle and the success of the 8th Army in defeating Hitler. The village and the on-going work of the Enham Trust is a jewel in the crown of this part of Hampshire.

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18 OCT 2014

Me and My Dad Club Receives £500

I was delighted to present a cheque for £500 from the Alamein Ward Councillors Community Grant to the Me and My Dad Club this morning.

Me and My Dad Club enables fathers to spend more quality time with their children doing activities, going on outings and attending special events. The money is being spent on toys and equipment for the club.  For more information about the club see here.

The Test Valley Borough Councillors Community Grant Scheme aims to encourage community led initiatives such as this and is funded from the New Homes Bonus.  The money received from central government to local authorities for delivering new homes.

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14 OCT 2014

Autumnal Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market this Sunday

Celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest as the Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market returns to the high street this Sunday from 10am to 2pm.

Local producers will once again be out in force and alongside old favourites will be new appearances from Mapleleaf Watercress, Pink Fox and Everything Garden. All of this is set against the backdrop of music in the Time Ring from contemporary folk duo Anna and Beth between 10.15am and 12pm.

The current market was put together as a result of the TVBC Andover Summit and at is the continued and generous support of the public that makes the Andover Farmers' and Crafts market such a successful and flourishing addition to the high street.

There will be two more Andover Farmers' and Crafts markets in the lead up to Christmas – Sunday, 16 November and Sunday, 21 December. 

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10 OCT 2014

Annual Leaf Clearance

Test Valley Borough Council's planned six week annual leaf clearance will get underway on Monday, 3 November.  The Environmental Service's team will target known hotspots and respond to ad-hoc requests. I spoke to council officers this week to press the case for Alamein Ward and they have agreed to concentrate on the heavy areas of leaf fall in the ward, including King Arthurs, Roman and Cricketers Way. 

If you are aware of any significant accumulations on public land that need tackling then please let me know here and I will ask the Council to get on to it.

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07 OCT 2014

New Skatepark Set to Open Later this Month

The new skatepark at Smannell Road in Andover is just a few weeks away from completion. Specialist developers, Maverick, have been busy crafting the new skatepark over the past few months and It is anticipated that the new facility will be up and running at the end of October, with the official opening in November.

This is great news for young people in Alamein Ward and the wider Andover area. I'm delighted that we have been able to deliver this exciting new facility and it's fantastic to see it taking shape.

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03 OCT 2014

Goal Posts Installed on Smannell Road Open Space

Two new sets of goal posts have now been installed on the Smannell Road open space to replace the previous two that had fallen into disrepair. Test Valley Borough Council have used devlopers contributions, a sum of money developers pay to improve infrastructure, including leisure facilities, to fund the project.

Along with the previously installed benches and the new skatepark that is being constructed the Smannell Road open space serving residents from King Arthur's, Roman, Viking, Cricketers Way, Swallowfields and Augusta Park has had a real spruce up in recent months.

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02 OCT 2014

Conservatives Pledge Tax Cut with Majority in 2015

I was pleased to be at party conference in Birmingham yesterday when the Prime Minister announced that a Conservative Government will cut taxes for 30 million hardworking taxpayers. The Conservatives have always been the party of low taxes and we want to make the tax system fairer so that people get to keep more of the money they earn.

A future Conservative Government will raise the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,500. That will take 1 million more of the lowest paid workers out of income tax – and will give a tax cut to 30 million more. We will also raise the threshold at which people pay the 40p rate from £41,900 to £50,000. This will bring fairness back to the tax system.

The Prime Minister also pledged that UK will always have the most competitive corporate tax rates in the G20 under a Conservative Goverment.

You can see the Prime Minister's full party conference speech below:

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02 OCT 2014

UKIP Councillor Duplicitous on Allowance Promise

I don't usually use this website to make overtly political points preferring to use it as medium to update residents on what I am doing in Alamein and improvements that are being made in Andover. However, when other parties make promises not just that they don't keep, but do the complete opposite, I feel the need to point it out.

During the County Council election campaign last year UKIP candidate and now Alamein County Councillor, Tim Rolt, said quite clearly on his leaflet that he wanted to see Councillors allowances reduced by 50%. I am therefore shocked to see that not only does he claim his full basic allowance of £12k, he is trousering an additional £4,476 per year as UKIP's culture and communities' spokesman (The figures in the graphic opposite are slightly lower because they don't start at the beginning of the accounting period). So he says he wants to reduce allowances by £6,000 but then charges you an extra £4,476 – taking his allowance claim to almost £16.5k a year.

Let me be clear, allowances are a perfectly normal part of local government and most Councillors work very hard for a relatively small amount of financial reward. I publish my allowances here. This though is a matter of trust. It is a clear case of UKIP saying one thing and doing precisely the other. I do think if Cllr Rolt and other Hampshire UKIP councillors are going to accept these allowances and have them back-dated to May 2013 then they need to be transparent about it. They have been making pledges in public then doing completely the opposite when elected as Councillors. Trying to pull the wool over voters eyes simply won't work.



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01 OCT 2014

Fly Tipped Asbestos in Enham

On or around 11 September, asbestos was fly-tipped on Green Drove, Enham Alamein. Test Valley Borough Council's Environmental Services team is urging any local residents who may have witnessed this incident to get in touch to help with investigations.  At the same time further asbestos waste was fly-tipped in Back Lane in Clanville.

Asbestos is a very dangerous substance because when it is damaged, it releases cancer-causing fibres into the air. If you witnessed the fly-tipping, or know of any local business that has recently disposed of large amounts of asbestos sheeting, please get in touch to help the Council put a stop to it.

The Council's Environmental Service investigates all reports of fly-tipping and will remove fly-tipped waste from public land. If you have any information abouty this incident or to report a fly-tip visit www.testvalley.gov.uk/love or call the Council's Customer Services team on 01264 368000.

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25 SEP 2014

Anti-social Behaviour Patrols Stepped Up in Cricketers Way

Following the serious incident that took place at the Cricketers Way Tesco last week I have been liaising with the police and anti-social behaviour officers in Test Valley to discuss measures to help tackle the problem.

The area has now become a targeted patrol area for wardens and police with patrols stepped up in the area. Alongside this Tesco are reviewing their own security, reporting and banning processes.

Even before this incident some local residents told me that they fear visiting the shop after a certain time because of the potential for anti-social behaviour and intimidation. Thankfully reports of anti-social behaviour had been falling in this area until very recently and have been reduced since due to the increased measures and extra patrols. I hope that this will continue to be the case.

The police are continuing their investigations into the alleged assault.

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22 SEP 2014

Application for Northern Local Centre to be Determined in October

The determination of the planning application for the Northern Local Centre (Comprising residential and commercial use) in Augusta Park has now been delayed until the 23rd October. The developer, Daytona, have asked for extra time to submit further details addressing concerns raised by the council's highways team. The application was due to be determined by the planning committee on the 2nd October.

The application has raised significant concern from local residents about the design, the amount of social housing and parking. I share these concerns. Daytona have been in discussion with the Borough Council about this application for some time and I am unsure why significant changes haven't yet been made. From my reading of the additional information so far provided by the developer I don't believe they have fully addressed these concerns. I wait to see what they come up with in terms of changes to the highways issue.

I want to see this facility built and open for the residents of Augusta Park to use but we must get it right. I don't want to see mistakes of the past, repeated here, by allowing more social housing that our policies permit in one area, especially above shops. The proper 'pepper potting' of social housing in new developments has proved highly successful and I would be very wary to agree something that doesn't conform to this. From the evidence I have seen so far I am minded to vote against the application. I am, of course, open for the developer to make further changes and call on them to do so to address all the concerns raised by myself and residents.

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18 SEP 2014

Incident at Cricketers Way Tesco

I was made aware this morning of a serious incident outside the Tesco Express in Cricketers Way last evening with police called at around 4.50pm.

A statement just realised from the police has confirmed that a group of young people who were gathered outside of the store were asked to move on by the security guard due to abusive language.

The statement continues, that "the security guard was kicked to the leg and hit in the back and damage was also caused to the store. Two girls aged 15 and 16 were arrested on suspicion of assault and street bailed until September 20 and a 13-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and street bailed until September 19."

Anyone who witnessed the incident should contact Andover police station by calling 101.

Thankfully, violent incidents like this are rare, with Test Valley being one of the safest boroughs in Hampshire to live and work. I'm pleased the police took quick action. The Safer Neighbourhood team are actively working with Test Valley Borough Council to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area and I will be keeping a close eye on matters.

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17 SEP 2014

Revised Local Plan Continues to Progress

The Secretary of State has appointed Mr Phillip Ware as the Planning Inspector to carry out an independent examination into the Test Valley Revised Local Plan. Once adopted the local plan will outline the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years and includes the Council's planning policies in which development is judged against.

Mr Ware has scheduled a pre-hearing meeting at 2pm on Wednesday 15 October 2014 at the Council offices in Beech Hurst. The meeting, which is open to the public, will focus on the procedures for the examination into the Revised Local Plan (RLP) and will not address any issues raised in representations.

Hearings to consider the content of the RLP and northern allocations will start on Thursday 11 December at Beech Hurst. The hearing meetings will then move to Crosfield Hall, Romsey, on Tuesday 13 January 2015 to consider the RLP allocations in southern Test Valley. Details of the dates and timings of the meetings and issues to be heard will be published by the Inspector in due course.

All those who made comments on the Revised Local Plan during the public consultation between 24 January and 7 March 2014 will receive notification of this meeting by letter or email.

As I have said many times before the local plan represents a good deal for Alamein Ward, with no further strategic housing allocated and the protection of the local gaps between Andover and Smannell & Enham Alamein. I'm hopeful that the plan will get the backing of the Planning Inspector.

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15 SEP 2014

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market this Weekend

Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market is coming to town with the first autumnal market of the year this Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

More than 50 stalls will line the High Street with both old favourites and new faces. Jane's Cake Delights, Anila's Sauces and Tubbs Cosmetics will be joining the market for the first time to share their wares and there will be face painting and glitter tattoos for children.

Adding to the atmosphere will be music in the Time Ring from Andover Town Band and local duo Morrison, and refreshments from the popular Chit Chaat Chai and Oaktrack Smallholding.

The Andover Farmers' and Crafts market has grown in size and popularity as the year has gone on and now provides a much anticipated monthly treat for food lovers and Sunday morning browsers alike. The Star 1 bus service now also runs on a Sunday, making the town and the Sunday markets, more accessible.

The calendar of market events was put together as a result of the Andover Summit and has now become a regular fixture that enhances the retail offering in the High Street and draws people into the town.

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11 SEP 2014

Augusta Park Road Safety Scheme Set for November Implementation

The new road safety scheme for Augusta Park is now set to come into effect at the end of November 2014. The consultation has now been completed and local councillors have given their permission.

It was hoped that the scheme, which includes double yellow lines on the diverted Smannell Road and parking restrictions by the school, would be implemented by now. However, the agreement was always for this only to come into effect once the community centre was built, in order to provide additional parking for residents at school drop off and collection times.  Unfortunately there has been a delay in the delivery of the community centre despite the fact that construction has been underway for some time. The contractor has now agreed with Taylor Wimpey to have surfaced the car park  by the end of November and for the scheme to then be implemeted.

One significant change that came out of the consultation, having listened to the feedback of local residents, was not to stop up Romney road by putting in a bollard. This was initially consulted on to stop the road becoming a cut through but in any event with the development of the community centre and northern local centre this will be less likely.  Please see here for full details of the scheme.

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10 SEP 2014

Additional Broadband Supplier for Augusta Park

Direct Save Telecom will provide broadband services on Augusta Park from next Monday the 15th September.

Regular readers will know that I have been campaigning for more broadband suppliers in the area for some time and have held meetings with the developers and Independent Fibre Networks Limited (IFNL) to try and further the cause. 

Currently only See the Light and Beaming provide broadband services to Augusta Park and speaking to residents it is clear they want to see more competition.  I'm therefore pleased to see another company come on board to expand choice for local people.

I'm still disappointed that we don't have a major player in the market to drive down prices, which has been promised by IFNL on several occasions, although I hope the recent agreement with Sky for triple play broadband, tv and call packages (with See the Light) will see them enter the market independently soon. 

More information about Direct Save Telecom can be found here.

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09 SEP 2014

Advice Surgery in Andover This Saturday

I will be holding an advice surgery in Andover this Saturday the 13th September in the Rendezvous, Union Street. I will be there from 10.30 – 11:30 so if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment. Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there you can always contact me here.

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07 AUG 2014

Construction Starts on Smannell Road Skatepark

I was delighted to attend the turf cutting ceremony on the Smannell Road open space recently to mark the start of construction of a new urban sports facility.  The skatepark will provide a state of the art venue for skateboarders, BMX and scooter users.

I was joined by my ward colleague, Cllr Janet Whiteley, Leader of the Council, Ian Carr who performed the turf cutting and Mark Clogg from contractors, Maverick.  Construction is expected to take 12 weeks to be opened in the autumn.

Residents told us that a purpose built urban sports facility was required in Andover and the location is excellent news for young people in Alamein Ward.

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28 JUL 2014

Revised Local Plan Gets Green Light for Submission

The Revised Local Plan for the borough was approved for submission to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government at a vote at Full Council last week. Once adopted the local plan will outline the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years and includes the Council's planning policies in which development is judged against. The plan has been the subject of public consultation on three occasions with comments being taken online, by email and post.

The Plan proposes the building of 588 homes per year in Test Valley for the 18 year plan period, of which 200 homes would be affordable. The proposed site allocations in the plan are in addition to the homes already built or with planning permission granted since 2011. In northern Test Valley, 400 additional dwellings are proposed for Picket Piece and 300 east of Picket Twenty. The plan seeks to achieve that difficult balance between protecting the environment of the borough, while recognising the need to provide homes for our residents in sustainable locations and support the local economy.

Thank you to everyone who backed our recent campaign to keep the local gaps between Andover and Smannell & Enham Alamein. These local gaps remain part of the submitted plan and I'm hopeful they will get the backing of the Planning Inspectorate. The plan represents a good deal for Alamein Ward with no further strategic housing sites allocated.

The local plan will now be submitted to the Secretary of State who will appoint an independent Planning Inspector to consider the soundness of the plan. Once appointed the process and timetable will be set by the Planning Inspector. It is anticipated that the public session to test the soundness of the local plan would be held in the autumn.

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17 JUL 2014

Vote for Funding for Alamein Community Projects

Test Valley Partnership recently asked local groups and organisations to submit a bid for funding as part of the HampshireCounty Council's Have Your Say scheme. A number of bids have been submitted and now it's your chance to decide which projects will receive funding.

There is £9,500 up for grabs in the north of Test Valley.  I am pleased to report that out of the 13 projects submitted 5 of them are based in or serve the Alamein Ward.  A clear sign of the succesful community work that goes on in the ward. These are Augusta Park Community Association, Alamein Community Association, Enham Trust, St Paul's Church & Community Centre and Andover Trees United.  The projects include setting up a community cafe, running an after school kids club and creating a heritage trail around Enham Alamein.

You can vote for up to 5 of the good causes (ranked in order) so I would encourage you to show your support for the Alamein Ward organisations.

Take a look at the gallery here and choose which projects you would like to see funding awarded to by clicking here. Voting closes on the 26th July.

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16 JUL 2014

Andover Goes Italian

From today until Saturday, Andover High Street will be all a buzz as an authentic Italian Market comes to town!

Experience the flavours of parmigiano reggiano, salami, cannoli, ciabatta, nougats, biscotti, packed pastas, olives, extra virgin olive oils and much more.

As part of the Andover Summit the High Street events working group was formed to bring a programme of events to the town and this offering is the lastest in a wide range of different markets.  Medfood Italian Market has been drawn back to Andover by the support they received last autumn.

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09 JUL 2014

Vintage Market in Andover this Sunday

Bert and Gert's Vintage Market is back in Andover this Sunday 13 July from 11am - 5pm. Experience the best that AndoverHigh Street has to offer in relaxed style whilst listening to the toe-tapping sounds of local duo Common Ground in the Time Ring.

Stalls include handmade arts, crafts, jewellery, bags, cushions, home accessories, cards and vintage treasures.

The additional bustle and atmosphere of the Sunday markets in town provide a great addition to the shopping experience and encourage people to visit the town to shop. As part of the Andover Summit initiative the Council committed to bringing more markets to the High Street, and Bert and Gert's regular attendance has been a major boost.

This is the third Bert and Gert's market for 2014, and they will be back again on 10 August for their final summer market of the year.

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07 JUL 2014

Make Sure You're Registered to Vote

The way you register to vote is changing.  The Government is introducing Individual Electoral Registration, a new way forpeople to register themselves on the electoral roll rather than the 'head of the household'.

Even if you are currently registered, from 14 July, 2014 TVBC will be writing out to all people who are currently registered to vote. Please look out for the letter as it will tell you whether or not you need to take action to join the new register.

Most people who are currently registered have been added to the new register automatically. The letter will tell you if you've already been added and confirm that you don't have to do anything.

Some people who have not registered themselves before will not have been added to the new register automatically. These people will need to re-register. The letter will tell you if you are in this group, and what you need to do to re-register. It will ask you to fill in and return the included form, or go online to register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

If you haven't received a letter about registration by 15 August, 2014 then please contact Test Valley Borough Council's Electoral Registration team on 01264 368000 or elecreg@testvalley.gov.uk

It is very important that you respond to the letter if it asks you to take action. You need to register to be able to vote.

If you aren't currently registered as you are new to the area or have just moved house, you can register under the new system at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

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23 JUN 2014

New Sunday Bus Service for Alamein Ward

A new Sunday bus service  is due to start in Alamein Ward from Sunday 13th July. The commercial Star 1 service, run by Stagecoach will enable bus passengers to access the town centre on Sundays to visit the farmers' markets and other special events in Andover.

This is great news for residents of Alamein Ward. I have been pushing Stagecoach to run a service on a Sunday so local residents who usually get the bus into town can enjoy the full programme of events and markets that now take place on Sundays and I am delighted they have delivered. I also want to pay tribute to Town Councillor, Barbara Carpenter, who has been so vocal in calling for the introduction of this Sunday service.

I would urge residents to use the service on a consistent basis so it continues to be commercially viable for Stagecoach.

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01 JUN 2014

Consultation Set to Open on Diverted Smannell Road Safety Scheme

A consultation on the introduction of parking restrictions by Endeavour School and on the diverted Smannell Road will open on the 6th June 2014 for a period of 3 weeks until the 27th June 2014.

Since the plan by the developer to divert the road got the go-ahead, despite widespread opposition, your Alamein Conservative Team have been liaising with Highways Officials to implement a traffic regulation order (double yellow lines) to prevent parking along the new diverted stretch of the Smannell Road.  Due to parked cars the road has effectively become a single lane, increasing safety concerns for both motorists and pedestrians. It has become clear that measures to improve road safety in the vicinity of the school are also needed.

We met Highways officers and the Transport Portfolio Holder last year to press the case to bring this scheme forward to this year rather than 2016/17 as originally planned.

The scheme can be viewed with all the Alamein Ward traffic management proposals at the Council Offices, Andover Library, the temporary Augusta Park Community Centre and online at www.testvalley.gov.uk/alameintrafficmeasures from 6 June 2014. 

It is planned for the order to be implemented from the 1st September encompassing any changes that come out of the consultation.

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Hi, living in Augusta Park these restrictions can't come soon enough. A concern I do have though is what impact this will have on the local residents. Are there alternative parking facilities for those residents currently parking where the restrictions will be imposed? If not, I'm slightly concerned the parking problem will just move to other roads close by. Many thanks
- Mrs T

Thanks for your comment. Yes there is residents parking. Also it is not intended to have solid double yellows the whole length of the road to allow for some traffic calming of having the odd parked car - rather than a long line of them.
- Cllr Phil North

Hi, thanks for your response. How will the restrictions be enforced, will those parking on the yellows be fined? Thanks again
- Mrs T

Hi, thanks for the response. How will the restrictions be enforced, will those parking on the yellows be given a warning/fine? Many thanks
- Mrs T

Hi, I was just wondering why my previous question has not been answered. Is it because you have been away or don't know the answer? Thanks
- Mrs T

Yes. If a traffic regulation order is contravened then they can be fined.
- Cllr Phil North

Thanks for that. Does that mean the road has now been adopted by the Highyways Agency?
- Mrs T

Various roads are being adopted some are remaining as private in the hands of a management company. This doesn't interfere with the suggested TRO. All adopted roads can be found at http://roadenquiries.hants.gov. uk/roadproblems/highwaymanagement/ AdoptedRoads.aspx?/
- Cllr Phil North

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19 MAY 2014

Dash and Go Parking Comes to Andover

A series of new 'dash and go' free short stay car parking spaces will be created across Andover over the next few weeks.

The project will see 15 new 'dash and go' spaces created, with the first two made available in Bridge Street so that visitors can park for up to 15 minutes free of charge (with no return within two hours).

A further 13 spaces are being made available across the town for 30 minutes free parking (no return within two hours). Seven of these will be located along the service road for George Yard car park; three at Borden Gates (near Sainsbury's) and 3 at Westbrooke Close near to the Police Station.

As part of the Andover Summit the Council listened to what the public and local businesses told us about changes they wished to see in the town.  The Parking and Signage working group were tasked to review parking arrangementsand identify positive changes. One of these changes was to create a series of new spaces spread across the town to enable visitors to park and pop in to the shops for a quick errand without having to pay car parking charges.  

Work will commence on 27 May in Bridge Street to relocate and enlarge an existing loading bay to the other side of the road, and to install the new dash and go spaces. All the spaces are expected to be available and in use by early July.

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12 MAY 2014

Farmers Market in the High Street this Sunday

After its successful debut outing in March, the bumper Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market is back in the High Street this Sunday from 10am to 2pm.

Over fifty stalls will pack the town centre with a wide range of produce and crafted goods. All of this will be set against the back drop of music in the Time Ring from the Andover Museum Loft Singers and a traditional barrel organ.

Last year the Council stepped in to ensure that a Farmers' Market would continue in Andover after the Hampshire Farmers' Market presence in the town ended. The first of these new Andover Farmers' and Crafts markets in March increased the number of visitors to the town by 28% compared to figures for a similar event the previous year.

18 months on from the Andover summit, Test Valley remain committed to finding ways to encourage people to shop in Andover and for businesses to flourish.

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09 MAY 2014

Revised Local Plan Comments Published

TVBC has this week published the comments received from individuals, organisations and agents in response to the recent Revised Local Plan consultation.  Once adopted the local plan will outline the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years and includes the Council's planning policies in which development is judged against.

The Council received just over 2,110 representations during the six week consultation, which ended in March. These have all been acknowledged and processed and are available to view here.  There is a search tool allowing representations to be viewed by name, policy or paragraph.  You can see my submission here.

Thank you to everyone who backed our campaign to keep the local gaps between Andover and Smannell & Enham Alamein. I am hopeful that these gaps will remain part of the plan when it is fully adopted.

All comments will now be analysed and key issues reported back to councillors, along with any proposed changes.  The document will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination by a Government appointed Inspector. It is intended that the document will be submitted in the Summer.

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07 MAY 2014

Vintage Market Returns to Andover

Next week sees the start of Love Your Local Market Fortnight and to mark the occasion Bert and Gert's vintage market makes a return to Andover High Street this Sunday the 11th May from 10am – 4pm.

Building on last year's debut attendance, Bert and Gert's is back with a busy market full of eclectic bits and bobs to tempt. With stalls ranging from jewellery to bric a brac and sweets to craft goods, there will be something for everyone. This year they will also be bringing vintage clothing and furniture stalls to browse for that unique bargain.

Music in the Time Ring will come from group 'The Frenzied and the Diligent', providing a lively blend of sweet jazz and blues. Greek and Indian refreshments will be available on the day to tempt the taste buds.

The figures show that markets in Andover provide a boost to our High Street economy by bringing increased footfall whilst bringing vibrancy to the town. Nearly 20 different market events are already planned for this year to encourage people to visit the town and experience all that Andover has to offer.

Bert and Gert's will be visiting Andover on 11 May, 8 June, 13 July and 10 August.

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05 MAY 2014

Traffic Calming on Smannell Road - Your Chance to See the Plans

Plans for additional traffic calming measures along the Smannell Road are due to be presented by Highways Officers at ameeting hosted by the Alamein Community Association later this month and you are invited to attend. The meeting will take place on Wednesday 28th May at 7pm in St Paul's Church Centre.

Following concerns from local residents I asked highways officials to carry out a traffic speed survey earlier this year so we could assess the evidence for future traffic calming measures. The figures suggest that whilst many vehicles are driven at or below the speed limit there are a number of vehicles that drive at high speeds way in excess of the limit. Whilst much of this happened in the very early hours of the morning some of the worst driving took place during the day. This is exacerbated by the straight nature of the road between the A343 and the Icknield Way and can be dangerous for pedestrians and for those using the open space.

I met with Highways officers again recently to discuss the proposals in more detail. They agreed to draw up some plans and present the initial ideas to the public at the above meeting. There may be an opportunity to secure a scheme through the use of developer's contributions through the Augusta Park development.

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23 APR 2014

Measures to Improve Road Safety in Augusta Park

Last night I attended a meeting with highways officers to discuss the consultation and implementation dates for the traffic regulation order (double yellow lines) for parts of Augusta Park.

It has become clear that measures to improve road safety in the vicinity of the school and along the diverted Smannell Road are needed.

The formal consultation will start on the 6th June and last for a period of 3 weeks closing on the 27th June. During that time there will be a drop-in session for local residents to come and speak to highways officers about the proposal. I will publish details here once I have them. Residents with a frontage to the proposed scheme will also be written to individually.

It is planned for the TRO to then be implemented from the 1st September encompassing any changes that come out of the consultation.

I will link to the consultation from this website once it goes live.

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17 APR 2014

New Dog Bins Installed in Augusta Park

Following requests from local residents I have been working with the Augusta Park Community Association and Smannell Parish Council to get more dog bins installed on the development.

Four additional dual purpose bins have now been put in which allow for them to be used for general waste as well as dog waste. They have been situated in locations suggested by the Community Association, along the pathway adjacent to the Smannell Road, to the North of Cowslip Way and on the open space to the North of the development.

They will be emptied and deodorised every week by TVBC paid for by the Parish Council.

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15 APR 2014

Marathon Effort for Enham Trust

On Sunday I completed my second London Marathon raising money for Enham Trust. Whilst I am still in some considerable pain, those of you that have run a marathon will know just how exhilarating it is. Most of us that pounded the streets from the greenery of Greenwich Park through the docks of the Isle of Dogs to the splendour of Buckingham Palace are just recreational athletes but as you sweat it out along the 26.2 mile route you really feel as if you are pushing the bounds of physical human endeavour. Whilst it's incredibly tough the thousands of people that line the streets of London carry you to the end. If you ever thought of running and marathon but never got round to it, then do it. It will be one of the best things you ever do.

I know that is the sentiment of my fifty-something mum who ran her first marathon on Sunday. Together we put our achievement down to parkrun - especially the community at Andover parkrun who have supported us every step of the way. We both started parkrun in 2011 and haven't looked back since. It is amazing how quickly you can boost your fitness with a short 5km run each week. The camaraderie that exists at Andover is amazing and we would encourage runners of all abilities to sign up. It's free. Details are available at - www.parkrun.org.uk/andover/

It is a privilege to represent the village of Enham Alamein and I am pleased we were able to play our part in raising money for such a fantastic cause. Thank you to everyone that supported and sponsored us.

For the record I completed the course in 4hrs 12mins - 15 minutes faster than last year whilst mum did it in 5hrs and 5mins.  We raised £3,205.26.

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07 APR 2014

Sky Deal is Precursor to More Broadband Providers for Augusta Park

Triple play, broadband, TV and call packages will soon be available to residents on Augusta Park thanks to a deal agreed with Sky TV this week.

GTC (the sales arm of Independent Fibre Networks Ltd) and Sky have reached an agreement so See The Light, the current broadband provider, can offer a Sky TV package along with their broadband to mimic the sort of triple play packages offered by Sky and Virgin. The new packages will be available from this summer.

This is good news for local residents as not only will they will be able to take advantage of the better rates through the package it is a precursor for Sky to test the market prior to considering delivering their broadband and TV services next year.

I have been campaigning for more broadband suppliers on Augusta Park for some time and have held meetings with the developers and IFNL. A greater choice of suppliers has been promised by IFNL on several occasions but we still have a lack of a major player. I hope this agreement will encourage Sky to provide their broadband services so we can have more choice and competition in the market.

I am in regular contact with the Technical Account Manager at IFNL and will continue to press for better services for Augusta Park residents.

To see the full press release click here.

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03 APR 2014

New Community Cafe Opens in Cricketers Way

Today I attended the opening of the new Community Cafe provided by Adult & Family Learning in the Longmeadow Centre in Cricketers Way.

The cafe will open every Thursday from 12:45pm - 2:45pm, for anyone from the local community to come in and meet with friends or colleagues.  It is run by volunteers and serves a variety of hot and cold drinks alongside some extremley good cake at very reasonable prices.

The Cafe is sponsored by Aster Communities Housing Association.

Please come in and support.  For more details click here.

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31 MAR 2014

Jobs Fair in Andover

Organised by Andover Job Centre Plus, Test Valley Borough Council and local housing associations, the Andover jobs fair will take place in The Lights on the 29th April.

It is a chance for those looking for a job or looking for a change in career to meet local employers and get some good advice. The event is free to attend.

For more information see here, pop in to Andover Job Centre Plus or visit the @AndoverJCP page on Twitter.

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20 MAR 2014

Advice Surgery in Andover This Saturday

I will be holding an advice surgery in Andover this Saturday the 22nd March in the Rendezvous, Union Street. I will be therefrom 10.30 – 11:30 so if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment. Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there you can always contact me here.

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14 MAR 2014

Traffic Calming on Smannell Road - An Update

Last night I met with Highways Engineer, Ray Alborough, to discuss the traffic speed survey along the Smannell road that I asked officers to carry out in January.

Several local residents have contacted me about this issue requesting further traffic calming measures, which I promised to look into if the evidence supported it. The figures suggest that most vehicles are driven at reasonable speeds at or below the speed limit. I was alarmed, however, at the number of vehicles that drive at high speeds way in excess of the limit. Whilst much of this happened in the very early hours of the morning some of the worst driving took place during the day. This is exacerbated by the straight nature of the road between the A343 and the Icknield Way.

We currently have a controlled crossing (traffic lighted), a partial crossing and two mini-roundabouts that are designed to naturally slow the traffic. The latter two measures put in as a result of the Augusta Park development. The problem still remains though, that if no other cars are approaching the roundabouts then it encourages some people to excessively speed.

I discussed the possibility of additional traffic calming measures with Ray and there may be an opportunity to secure a scheme through the use of developer's contributions as additional housing is built in Augusta Park.

I have been made aware that former Councillor, Len Gates, and Town Councillor, Barbara Carpenter, are also calling for additional measures to reduce the speed of traffic. I have offered to work with them, by liaising with the Highways Authority & the Borough Council to try seek a solution and have invited them to disuss the matter at a meeting in Beech Hurst.

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06 MAR 2014

New Farmers’ and Crafts Market Set For Sunday 16 March

The all new Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market will be staging its premier in the High Street on Sunday 16th March. Forty stalls will fill the street from top to bottom with a vast array of local produce and crafts. Food goodies on offer to tempt the taste buds will range from Greenfield Pork to Loosehanger Cheeses and the New Forest Smokery. Those with a sweet tooth can browse the Burley Fudge or Travelling Cupcake stalls, or be tempted to purchase a tipple from Grape Expectations.

Craft stalls range from local artists to photography; jewellery to wool and yarn, and hand painted pottery to craft kits.

Last year the Council stepped in to ensure that a Farmers' Market would continue in Andover after the Hampshire Farmers' Market presence in the town ended.  The new Farmers' and Crafts Market has been expanded to include a range of local crafts as well as produce and plants. The High Street will also resound with music in the Time Ring and the market will be bigger and better than ever before. 

As a member of the Events Working Group set up as a result of the Andover Summit I am delighted we have brought together so many local businesses to sell their wares and hopefully increase footfall in the high street.

Traders who are interested in taking part in future markets should contact Heather Whittam for more information on - hwittam@testvalley.gov.uk

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26 FEB 2014

Andover Skatepark Set for Summer Opening

Plans for a new skatepark on the Smannell Road open space are moving forward following the recent public consultation in the area.

Residents have told us that a purpose built urban sports facility is needed in Andover and the bringing forward of the Smannell Road site is excellent news for young people in Alamein Ward.

The scheme will see a free-form concrete facility, built to provide a venue for people with BMX's, skateboards and scooters.

The consultation included 261 letters sent to properties within 200 metres of the proposed site.  The Council recieved 28 responses with 17 outlining some areas of concern, which will be addressed in full throughout the planning process. A noise assessment has already been carried out.  The consultation is an important part of the project and has provided valuable information which will inform the final design.  For more information about how the Council is addressing the points raised by residents see here.

The Council's Cabinet will consider a recommendation next Wednesday to award the contract to Maverick Industries, the company most favoured by young people during the tendering process.  It is anticipated that the project will be completed and open by the summer.

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Whoever planned on putting a skate park in this location in my view is daft or stupid! Lets stick a skate park for kids in an area of high crime.
- Steve

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24 FEB 2014

Smannell Road Resurfaced

Following work last week the Smannell Road between the A343 and the Roman Way turn-off has now been fully resurfaced.

The road had become uneven with significant potholes and it was clear a permanent solution was needed. I am delighted that full resurfacing work has now taken place rather than just patching, which will be welcomed by local residents.

If you know of a pothole that needs repairing then you can report it directly here - http://www3.hants.gov.uk/roadproblems. You may also like to let me know and I will press the case with the County Council.

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22 FEB 2014

Quiz Success for Enham Trust

Thank you to everyone that came along to the Quiz last night as part of my fundraising campaign for the 2014 London Marathon in aid of Enham Trust.

Together we raised £530 - which is fantastic news.  This year my mum is running the marathon with me and we want to raise even more money for Enham so this is a welcome boost for our fundraising effort.

Thanks go to Liz Cosgrove for hosting the evening and her husband Dave for his fantastic performance as question master. Thanks also to Zoe Holland and her son Issac for marking the questions.  Lastly I want to say thank you to Tesco and Waitrose for donating winners and raffle prizes.

Our fundraising page is - http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/team_north_ if you would like to sponsor us.

Photo: The winning team (for the second consecutive year) are presented with their trophy.

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21 FEB 2014

Test Valley Freezes the Council Tax

This afternoon Test Valley Borough Council voted to freeze its portion of the Council Tax for 2014/15 which is great news for residents in Alamein Ward.

We were able to freeze the tax despite the continued reduction in our central government grant, quite rightly playing our part in reducing the national budget deficit.

Test Valley's budget is built on sound finances, making significant savings whilst protecting front-line services.

The freeze in car parking charges will also be boost for town centre businesses and builds on the work already undertaken by the summit to increase footfall in the town.

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12 FEB 2014

Flood Warning Issued for Andover

Test Valley is busy delivering sandbags to Andover residents potentially affected by flooding after the Environment Agency issued a warning for the town.

Areas covered by the warning include Andover, Upper Clatford and Goodworth Clatford on the River Anton. The council has requested military assistance to help fill sandbags and more than 8,000 have been distributed so far.

A letter will also be hand delivered to all at risk properties later today. The letter provides guidance and information about how to protect homes and the steps people should take should flooding occur. In addition TVBC is deploying housing staff to liaise with residents whose homes are at risk, to identify where there is a need to provide accommodation.

The council set up its emergency control centre on Saturday morning. This has been operating 24 hours a day to deal with flooding issues affecting the borough. The centre helps coordinate the response of partner agencies across Test Valley, including Hampshire County Council, Environment Agency, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Hampshire Constabulary and Southern Water.

I am currently trying to establish from Test Valley if properties in Alamein are likely to be affected and if letters are to be distriubuted in the Ward.  I have had reports that the A343 through Enham is flooded (worse than usual) and have reported this to the control centre.  The Highway Authority are sending an engineer out to Enham to assess the situation.

Sandbags are available free of charge to those at imminent risk of flooding. Any residents requiring sandbags are asked to contact the Council on 01264 368000.

Photo: Courtesy of Andover and Villages website - http://www.andoverandvillages.co.uk (Taken last month).

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31 JAN 2014

Andover Town Centre Goes Greener

Three large silver birch trees in planters will be positioned in the High Street and Bridge Street over the next few days and existing planters will receive new planting. Alongside this greening of the High Street, local businesses will shortly be receiving a letter inviting them to sponsor hanging baskets across the town to supplement those already provided by the council.

Recent weeks have also seen the removal of redundant street furniture identified in the two street audits conducted last year.

As part of the Andover Summit the Environmental Improvements group undertook two audits of the town centre and listened to the views of local people. It was identified how small changes could make big differences in the visual appeal and atmosphere of the town and one of these areas was to enhance planting and greenery.

The next phase will focus on enhancements to street signage and bins; developing a scheme to ensure that all new street furniture will be in keeping with the overall theme for the town.

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28 JAN 2014

Local Plan Consultation - Help Protect Our Local Gaps

Test Valley Borough Council's Revised Local Plan has now gone out to the second period of public consultation ending on7th March 2014 at 4:30pm. Once in place the plan will outline the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years and includes the Council's planning policies in which development will be judged against.

As I have said before the plan represents a good deal for Alamein Ward with no further strategic housing sites allocated and protection for the local gaps between Andover and Smannell/Enham Alamein.

Unfortunately there is no specific reference within the National Planning Policy Framework for the designation of local gaps so defending these when the plan is examined by the Planning Inspectorate relies on public support.

That is why your three Alamein Ward Councillors are today launching a campaign to help protect the local gaps designated in the local plan and urge residents to respond to the consultation.

To support the local gaps please send back the freepost consultation response here and we will take it into the Council offices.

Alternatively you can respond to the consultation directly here.

You can view the Revised Local Plan here.

Hard copies are also available at the Council offices in Beech Hurst. The specific map for our part of Test Valley is Map 50.

Photo: Your Alamein Ward Councillors at the gap between Enham and Andover.

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26 JAN 2014

Traffic Calming on Smannell Road

Earlier this week, a child was knocked over on the Smannell Road between the A343 and the Icknield Way junctions.  As you may have read in the local press the air ambulance was called out but thankfully it wasn't needed and the child was taken by road ambulance to hospital. I have heard that the injuries are not life-threatening and I hope the child makes a full recovery.

Since then I have been contacted by a number of constituents calling for traffic calming measures to be put in along this stretch of road. Just to be clear, I don't know if the driver in this particular incident was speeding or even at fault for the accident. It is important when deciding if further measures are needed to assess the evidence.

That is why I have asked Highways officers to carry out some survey work to monitor speeds along this road to determine if additional measures are required. I have also asked the Police for their take on matters.

We currently have a controlled crossing (traffic lighted), a partial crossing and two mini-roundabouts that naturally slow the traffic. The later two measures put in as a result of the Augusta Park development.

Ultimately it will be a matter for the County Council to decide if any additional traffic calming is required but if the figures suggest that cars are still going too fast then I will push the County to see what can be done.

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When environmental changes such as those in this area over the last year are made it would be appropriate to email residents for views as a consultative measure, both before the work & after the work. Both this project
- JS Broom

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24 JAN 2014

Job Club Workshops in King Arthurs Way

Job Club continues to take place in King Arthurs Way Hall every Tuesday from 1:30-3:30pm.

During the next 4 weeks from 4th February, there will be different sessions put on to help job seekers apply for employment. The events hosted by Andover Adult & Family Learning will include CV writing, covering letters, preparing for work and interview techniques.

For more information please click here. You can reserve your place by calling 01264 359062 or just turn up on the day.

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21 JAN 2014

Free Cycle Coding in Augusta Park

This Thursday, Hampshire County & Test Valley Borough Council's are offering local residents the opportunity to get their bicycle coded for free so in the event of a theft it can be tracked down more easily.

The event is taking place at the Augusta Park Community Centre from 6pm-8pm. Residents will also have the opportunity to learn more about registering their other valuables in case of theft as well as speaking to the local Neighbourhood Warden and Police Community Support Officer.

For more details please see here.

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17 JAN 2014

Quiz Night for Enham Trust

I am organising a Quiz Night next month to help my fundraising campaign for the 2014 London Marathon in aid of Enham Trust.  

I ran a similar quiz last year which was a great night with lots of money raised.  This year my mum is running the marathon with me and we want to raise even more money for Enham so I would be grateful if readers would come along and support it.

It takes place on Friday 21st February at 7:30pm in the Landale Wilson Hall.  More details here.

If you want to enter a team please register by e-mailing me at philnorth2@googlemail.com.

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10 JAN 2014

Additional Street Lights Set for Turin Court

Following a request from local residents two new street lights will be installed in Turin Court to light the pathwaybetween residential properties in the area.

Lighting on this pathway was previously served by a light fixed to a house which has since fallen into disrepair.

I visited the area earlier this week and was told that residents feel unsafe without a well lit pathway. I followed up with County Council officers who have promised to install the new lights within the next 4-6 weeks.

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09 JAN 2014

What's on in King Arthurs Hall

A New Year timetable of groups and activities in the King Arthurs Hall has been published with events catering for all ages.

Since the consolidation of services from the previous Askalot Shop under one roof, the refurbished King Arthurs Hall has become a real community hub.

Alamein Community Association have been working hard to put on an exciting programme of events that builds upon the previous services offered in the Askalot Shop.

The hall provides a base for key services such as the Credit Union, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the sexual health clinic and local job club with other groups such as the youth club, the parent & toddler group and the over 50's club also plying their trade.  New events also include dog agility classes and the police beat surgery.

To view the current timetable of activities please click here.  

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09 JAN 2014

Local Plan Approved for Further Public Consultation

The Revised Local Plan, which outlines the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments in Test Valley over the next 18 years, was approved to go out to further public consultation at Full Council last night.

The next phase of public consultation will start later this month for a period of 6 weeks. Public comments will then be considered before the plan comes back to Full Council for final approval. The plan will then be submitted to the Secretary of State later in 2014, followed by an examination in public held by the Planning Inspectorate.

The new local plan sets out the policies in which all planning applications will be judged against up to the year 2029. I am supportive of the document as it represents a good deal for Alamein Ward with no further strategic housing sites planned for the Ward and the local gaps protected.

I did raise the point at the meeting that we should be more flexible in allowing a greater plethora of town centre uses to reflect the changing nature of high streets. I was given assurances that this will be considered  before the document comes back for final approval.

I also suggested as I have done before that the Council should also prepare Supplementary Planning Guidance to sit alongside the policy to favour renewable energy sources like wind and solar farms so we can determine the location, height and concentration of such developments rather than see these spring up all over our rural borough.

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06 JAN 2014

Consultation on Smannell Road Skatepark Opens

The consultation for the proposed new skatepark on the Smannell Road open space has now opened for local people to comment.

Residents have told us that a purpose built urban sports facility is needed in Andover and the potential new location is excellent news for young people in Alamein Ward.  However it is important that local concerns are fully addressed before it goes ahead, so I would encourage you to respond to the consultation.  To ensure the facility is compatible with the existing environment a noise assessment will be commissioned. Any recommendations from this report to reduce additional noise will be incorporated into the scheme.

The consultation response document can be accessed here or you can submit your comments on-line here.  The closing date for comments is 5pm on Monday 3rd February 2014.

The covering letter sent to local residents can be viewed here.

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Think the money would be better spent on footpaths in the Roman way estate. From the path near where the skate park is intended it is atrocious. Also Unhappy as this is almost certainly going to generate more anti social behaviour and litter. The area is unkempt as it is and think it will just make it worse. I agree something is needed but do not think that this is the right place. It was trashed and misused before and was floodlit till far too late at night.
- Annon

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05 JAN 2014

Additional Grit Bin for Enham Alamein

Following requests from local residents an additional grit bin has now been secured for Enham Alamein serving the Chapel Lane and Anton Lane area.

The slope on both roads meant that an additional bin was needed.  The request was supported by the Parish Council and I was pleased to be able to press the case to highways officers.

The new blue grit bins seem to be working well for local residents.  I know the recent weather has been relatively mild (if wet) but if you think your area needs a grit bin then please let me know and I will see what I can do.

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03 JAN 2014

Happy New Year - My Priorities for 2014

Happy New Year. As promised, here are my key goals and priorities in Alamein, Andover & Test Valley for 2014.  Once again I will blog on each one as I make progress. Keep a check and judge me at the end of the year.

1) Help freeze Test Valley's portion of the Council Tax for 2014/15.

2) Deliver the Enham Way project.

3) Ensure that disabled residents are again protected under the Council Tax Benefit scheme for 2015/16 whilst campaigning for changes to make work pay.

4) Play my part in the continued rejuvenation of Andover Town Centre.

5) Hold a second Alamein Community Conference so community organisations and charities in the ward can continue to work together.

6) Continue to ensure that the new community in Augusta Park is well served with appropriate infrastructure, making sure the new Community Centre is delivered, that the amount of broadband suppliers is increased and road safety is improved at Endeavour School & along the diverted Smannell road.

7) Campaign for future changes in Test Valley's strategic tenancy policy to ensure that more social housing is available to those that need it.

8) Ensure the Skatepark planned for the Smannell Road open space works for residents and users alike.

9) Conduct some Community Development work in Cricketers Way & Swallowfields encouraging volunteers and community activities.

10) Raise money for Enham Trust by running the 2014 London Marathon.

Alongside these I will continue to take up residents concerns in Alamein Ward and do my best to get the best deal for Alamein, campaigning for effective and efficient services.

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02 JAN 2014

Recycle your Christmas Tree this New Year

Though the pine needles may now be turning brown, you can stay green this New Year by recycling your real Christmas Tree.

From today until the 12th January you can drop off your Tree at the below disposal sites in Andover:

Homebase, Enham Arch Retail Park

Andover Garden Centre, Salisbury Road

For those registered with the Garden Waste Collection Service, the Council will collect whole Christmas trees. Trees over six feet high should be cut in half.

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31 DEC 2013

2013 - A Year of Achievement But More To Do

On New Years Eve last year I outlined some key goals I wanted to achieve in Alamein Ward, Andover & Test Valley in 2013. I have blogged about each one in various guises throughout the year but as we near the end of 2013 I want to draw them together. Thankfully many of them have been achieved but there is still much work to do. Here is the review;

1) Freeze the Council Tax – Despite my attempts to persuade colleagues that we should freeze the Council Tax in 2013, TVBC did raise its portion of the tax by 4.1%. Thankfully my Conservative colleagues on Hampshire County Council froze their portion and I was able to take a freeze through the Andover Town Council. Thankfully Test Valley are planning to freeze the tax in 2014.

2) Campaign for more shared services with other Council's to save money - I raised this on numerous occasions in the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Committee, suggesting that a shared legal service should be something we should be actively suggesting to other Councils.  A piece of work is going on to review this.  As it gets more difficult each year to find savings shared services will become increasingly important to fund the budget gap. 

3) Continue to push for the rejuvenation of Andover Town Centre and ensure work gets underway to deliver the action plan – The Andover Summit has worked hard throughout the year to deliver on its aim to increase footfall in Andover Town Centre. Many of the recommendations I made in my prospectus to improve Andover Town Centre, on the back of the Portas Review, have already been implemented – with our first pop up shop an exciting programme of events in place for 2014. For more information on the successes see here, here, here, here & here. There is still much more work to do and the employment of a Town Centre Manager due to start work in the spring is key to delivering the next phase of improvements.  George Osborne's Autumn Statement contained some good news for Andover High Street Businesses.

4) Make sure no more additional housing developments are allocated in Alamein Ward in the new Local Plan – No additional strategic housing sites have been allocated in Alamein Ward in the Revised Local Plan.

5) Ensure the local gaps between Enham and Andover & Smannell and Augusta Park are protected in the new Local Plan – The Local Gaps have been protected in the Revised Local Plan.

6) Ensure disabled residents who can't work are protected from Council Tax benefit changes – Disabled residents who can't work have been protected from the Council Tax benefit changes in 2014/15, the same as this year. I will continue to campaign for the same protections as we discuss the 2015/16 scheme in 2014.

7) Continue to campaign for more competition amongst broadband suppliers in Augusta Park – A disappointment although I have continued to push for more suppliers. Beaming are now supplying a service but there is still a lack of a major player despite lots of promises from Independent Fibre Networks Ltd. I am assured this will change early in the New Year. I will believe it when I see it but until then will keep up the pressure.

8) Reinvigorate the Turnaround Project in King Arthurs Way working with the community to reach its full potential – The refurbished Hall became the community hub for King Arthurs Way in 2013 with the Community Association running the additional services. Thanks to Alamein Community Association a Community Manager has now been recruited.  I was also proud to chair the first Alamein Community Conference which took place in October to discuss how local organisations can work together more effectively for the benefit of residents.

9) Support the new Augusta Park Community Association and help them deliver their aims – The Augusta Park Community Association have gone from strength to strength in 2013 and I have had the pleasure of working with them on a number of projects. Chief amongst them is the delivery of the new permanent community centre which will be built in 2014.

and last but not least........

10) Complete the London Marathon raising money for Enham Trust – Job Done! I completed it in 4hrs 27 mins raising £1,494.42 for Enham Trust. I am running the marathon again this year.

I will publish my goals for 2014 shortly.

Photo: The First Alamein Community Conference which took place in October.

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30 DEC 2013

New Seating Now Installed on Smannell Road Open Space

The new seating in the Smanell Road open space has now been installed following requests from local residents.

The locations were selected to provide rest for pedestrians walking along Smannell Road and on the footpath from Smannell Road into Florence Court and Venice Court, offering pleasant views into the park.

The project has been funded by developer contributions.

Photo: One of two new benches on Smannell Rd.

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23 DEC 2013

Merry Christmas, Council Opening Times & Bin Collection Days

Merry Christmas.  I hope you have a wonderful time with family, friends and neigbours. The council offices will be closed from 5pm on Christmas Eve re-opening at 8.30am on Thursday, 2 January.  Of course if there is anything you need to report to me during that time then you can contact me here.

There are some changes to bin collection days over the festive period.  To check when your bin is scheduled to be collected click here

During Christmas and New Year waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collection day will be also accepted. Recyclable materials in cardboard boxes left beside the brown bin on recycling weeks will be collected throughout the year.

The Household Waste Recycling Centres will be open except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Photo: A festive Smannell Village

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18 DEC 2013

Your Chance to Shape Skatepark Design

Test Valley Borough Council are appealing to young people to join a steering group to help shape the detailed design of the skatepark set for the Smannell Road open space.

The steering group will give an opportunity to skaters, BMX and scooter users to score designs which have been submitted by contractors, giving them a real chance to have a say on the final design.

I have already spoken to several young people who are interested in joining this group but the Council are looking for more. The skatepark is on schedule to be constructed next year after a full consultation with local residents.

If you are interested in joining the group please contact Sarah-Jane Partner on 01264 368069 or a spartner@testvalley.gov.uk. The first meeting takes place on the 2nd February. More details can be found here.

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What I would like to know is where are our letters that we were suppose to be receiving regarding our views on this skate board park. I am a resident that has bought my property and my house backs onto these fields, Do we not get a say after the last time when they removed the skate board ramp because of Vandalism.
- Resident R/way

Residents will be formally consulted in the New Year. Feel free to e-mail me privately will your views/concerns if you wish - cllrpnorth@testvalley.gov.uk
- Cllr Phil North

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10 DEC 2013

New Andover Farmers’ and Craft Market Set for 2014

The Hampshire Farmers Market will be in the High Street for the final time this Sunday following the organisation's recentdecision to withdraw. Recognising that this is a key event in Andover's calendar and following widespread support from existing Hampshire Farmers' Market traders TVBC have stepped in to facilitate a brand new Andover Farmers' and Crafts Market, which is set to run throughout 2014.

The Hampshire Farmers Market has suffered from low stall levels in recent months due to the high costs the organisation charges its traders. Fortunately the Council, through the Events Working Group that I sit on, has been able to come up with a much better deal for existing and new stall holders to sell their produce in the town.

Visitors to the new market can browse all their favourite traders including Hampshire Game, Greenfield Pork and a Market for All Seasons, as well as taking advantage of a number of new independent small holdings such as Oaktrack, Anna Valley Chillies, Mrs Mitchell's Kitchen & Garden, artisan crafts people and much more.

The market will be back from March and will be bigger and better than ever before! Until then please come along to the market this Sunday and show your support to them and the town's other traders set against the backdrop of festive music from Test Valley Brass in the Time Ring.

Anyone interested in taking a pitch at the first Andover Farmers' Market on March 16th should contact Heather Whittam, Andover Summit High Street Events Working Group lead, at hwhittam@testvalley.gov.uk or by telephoning 01264 368814.

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06 DEC 2013

Council Launches Community Asset Fund

A new Community Asset Fund aimed at supporting local projects has been launched by the Council today. This is great news for local communities and I encourage organisations in Alamein Ward to apply.

Clubs, charities, voluntary organisations, parish & town councils and local committees will be eligible for a share of £300,000.

The Council will award grants four times per year and cut-off dates for submissions for each round will be published on the authority's website. Groups have between Friday 6 December and Monday 6 January to submit bids for the first round of grants. Once applications have closed, the bids will be reviewed and the money will be awarded to successful projects by 13 February 2014. Full terms and conditions and an application form can be found online at www.testvalley.gov.uk/CAF.

Applicants can submit bids for 50 per cent of the cost of a project, up to a maximum of £25,000.  Projects potentially eligible for funding include community projects, new builds, refurbishments to existing community buildings, play and recreation equipment and public art.

Funding for the grants come from the Council's New Homes Bonus reserve, which is created by the Government matching the council tax income for six years from new homes created in the borough. The Council is able to use this money to help meet the needs of its growing communities.

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05 DEC 2013

Business Rates Reduction Will Help Andover Town Centre

In today's Autumn Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced measures to reduce businesses rates to help high street shops survive and thrive.

These include £1,000 off business rate bills for all retail premises with a rateable value up to £50,000 for 2014/15 and 2015/16. This includes shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.  Measures will also be introduced to halve the rates of businesses taking over premises that have been empty for a year or more.  This is excellent news for Andover Town Centre and will compliment the work TVBC have been doing to try an rejuvenate our high street.

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28 NOV 2013

Cabinet Backs Smannell Road Site for New Skatepark

Last night, TVBC's Cabinet voted to progress the scheme to build an urban sports facility (including provision for skateboard, BMX & scooter use) on the open space along Smannell Road. Residents have told us that a purpose built facility is needed in Andover and the potential new location is excellent news for young people in Alamein Ward.

The new site has been put forward due to the feasibility study on the previously proposed Shepherds Spring Lane site showing that the location was unsustainable.

The Smannell Road location was backed by young people 63 votes to 1 at a recent Skate Jam consultation event and was the home to a previous skating facility.

The Council will start the consultation process with local residents in December (Edited - this has now been moved to January to allow more time for feedback) and I have made sure that they will also undertake a full noise assessment. It is imperative that any concerns raised by local people are addressed.

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When will the meeting be?? It just says December but I would be interested in attending as will a few others
- Vince

There is quite a lot debate over location of this proposed project happening in the Spotted Andover Facebook page. I suggest someome looks at the feedback there.
- Jamie Lawley

Thanks for the feedback. There isn't a meeting planned for December but I suspect you are referring tothe local public consultation. That was due to take place in December but has been put back until January to allow local residents more time to reply as it won't be over the Christmas period.This has gone through a consultation process at the Skate Jam were young people overwhelmingly voted for this location. In my opinion the location is quite open so should be less susceptible to anti-social behaviour as it can be policed easier. Also it will be built to a much better specification to what used to be there. I will keep you informed of future opportunities to comment.
- Cllr Phil North

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27 NOV 2013

Planning Blueprint for Test Valley Moves to Next Stage

The Revised Local Plan which has been amended to take account of the public consultation held in March will be published in the second week of December.

The plan sets out proposals for the amount and location of residential, employment and retail developments over the next 18 years.

The Cabinet meeting on 18 December will consider the re-drafted document and if approved the plan will go before a meeting of the full Council on 8 January, before further public consultation.

A final round of public consultation will start in late January for a period of 6 weeks and the final document will be submitted to the Secretary of State later in 2014, followed by an examination in public held by the Planning Inspectorate.

I was generally supportive of the original document as it represents a good deal for Alamein Ward. I do have concerns over some aspects that I hope will be amended when the re-draft is published.

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26 NOV 2013

Endeavour Will Open Tomorrow Despite On-Going Heating Problem

It is likely that Endeavour School on Augusta Park will not now be fully open until Thursday due to the heating breaking down.  The school was closed today as the fault was addressed but it seems the problem will not be fully fixed until tomorrow.  It is not satisfactory for the children to miss two days of school and I know how frustrating this must be for parents who have to seek last minute child care.  I have been pushing the County Council to get this problem resolved as quickly as possible and am encouraging them to at least partially open the school tomorrow even if it is not fully operational. This is the latest from the County Council:

"The heating failure is down to two pumps failing, which is extremely rare. Property Services have sourced a replacement but it wont arrive until tomorrow morning (down from Dundee). The heating is therefore unlikely to be up and running sufficiently for the school to operate with it tomorrow.  We have asked them to look into the possibility of getting at least some of the school open tomorrow through use of temporary heaters, which staff are investigating. They need to check that they can get the rooms up to a reasonable temperature before confirmation that the school can partially open tomorrow. The worst case scenario is that it will be Thursday before the school is fully operational."

I will keep you updated with the latest developments.  The School will be communicating to parents through the usual channels.

Update: Endeavour School have confirmed on their website that the school will be open tomorrow - which is great news. It is a great testament to them that they have made temporary arrangements to keep it open.

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18 NOV 2013

New Room in Smannell Road Church Centre

Yesterday I attended the dedication service of the new Gabriel's Room in St Paul's Church Centre on the Smannell Road.

The Church Centre is used almost every night of the week by local clubs & organisations and the Church have created an additional room that can be hired out indepently, allowing more community groups to use the space.

The Bishop of Basingstoke, Peter Hancock, kindly blessed the new room named after Gabriel, who gave the good news of Christ's birth to the shepherds.  The new room announces to the community that there is a new facility to enable them to serve their community. 

Thanks to the Rev. Andrew Ashdown and Rev Ed Dines who have led the project along with architect Ralph Ball and Prestige Builders who created the new space.  After 32 years the Church Centre is still at the heart of the Alamein Ward community.

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14 NOV 2013

Enham Way - Consultation Success

I am currently leading a project to create an 'Enham Way' for electric wheelchair users to get to Andover Town Centre from Enham in a safe and convenient manner.

Last night I joined the Chief Executive, Peta Wilkinson and other board members as we consulted with Enham clients about the route options. The feedback we received was very positive with residents stating that they would definitely use the Enham Way and many have agreed to test the different options.

The Enham Way would become a signed route into the Town Centre with possible extensions to the hospital and the train station giving disabled clients the confidence to go into town on their own.

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08 NOV 2013

Running the Marathon for Enham Trust

I have once again taken up the challenge of running the London Marathon in 2014 to raise money for the Enham Trust and this year my mum is joining me.

It is a tremendous pleasure to represent the village of Enham Alamein and am proud of the fantastic work of the Enham Trust.  Enham provides opportunities for disabled people to exercise choice, control and independence over their lives, through housing options, work and training. This fundraising opportunity is our chance to help them and the people of Enham.

Please dig deep and donate today -

http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/team_north_

Donating through everyday hero is simple, fast and totally secure. They will also make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer.

In 2013 I completed the London Marathon in 4hrs 27mins raising £1,494.42 for Enham the challenge in 2014 is to beat both.

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30 OCT 2013

Alamein Community Conference Success

I chaired the first Alamein Ward Community Conference in King Arthurs’ Hall earlier this month to discuss how localorganisations can work together more effectively for the benefit of residents.

The Conference was attended by Alamein Ward Councillors, Alamein Community Association, representatives from Hampshire County Council, Augusta Park Community Association, Test Valley Community Services, Enham Trust, Enham Parish Council and Andover Town Council.

We have received some great feedback from the event and it was great to see so many of the different organisations that work in Alamein come together. For me, Alamein isn't just a ward boundary, but a community. It is my aim to ensure that all organisations and groups working in the area recognise the need to embrace the whole ward, from King Arthurs Way and Augusta Park to Smannell and Enham Alamein – and everything in between.

The conference identified ways in which groups can work together at a local level.  It also highlighted ways the Council can support them, so they have the independence and freedom to get on with things without being held back.

I plan to hold a series of follow up events to give community organisations working in Alamein the best oppurtunity to work together.

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25 OCT 2013

Advice Surgery in Andover - Tomorrow

I will be holding an advice surgery tomorrow, Saturday 26th October in the Rendezvous, Union Street. I will be there from10.00 – 12 noon so if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment. Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there you can always contact me here.

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21 OCT 2013

Andover Summit Successes – Your Chance to Find Out More

TVBC is inviting Andover residents to a special exhibition in the Guildhall outlining the work that has been going on inAndover to help rejuvenate the high street, what is still to come for the town centre and how we can all work together to continue to improve things

The event is being held on Monday 11 November between 4pm-7pm.

It has been a year since the Andover Summit meeting brought together local retailers, business leaders and Councillors to pool ideas, so it is an ideal time to reflect on what has been achieved.

As I set out in my Prospectus to improve Andover – of which many of the ideas have since been implemented – High streets are changing and it's important we recognise that when planning for the future.

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With reference to the High Street, I trust you are fully behind the re-opening of Breakers CIC? Certainly something that fits within the remit of your goals
- Mike

Yes. I hope it does re-open. Would be a great asset to the town.
- Cllr Phil North

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20 OCT 2013

El Alamein Commemoration Day

This Wednesday, 23rd October marks the 71st anniversary of the second Battle of El Alamein, the key turning point in the Second World War.  Today the village of Enham Alamein came together, as it does every year, to celebrate the victory at Alamein and remember those who died in the service of mankind.

Many of the injured from that battle were brought back to Enham to undergo their recovery and in recognition of their liberation from the axis powers, Egypt gifted Enham Charity £6m which was used to help and care for disabled ex-serviceman. To thank the Egyptian's for their kind gift the name 'Alamein' was included in the village's name as a lasting memorial to that battle.

As I never tire of saying we should be extremely proud of our local association with that battle and the success of the 8th Army in defeating Hitler.  The village and the on-going work of the Enham Trust is a jewel in the crown of this part of Hampshire.

The bell, pictured (displayed in Enham today), is the bell from the El Alamein railway station presented to the Alamein club for British and Empire troops in Cairo in 1942.  After the victory, Churchill ordered all the church bells across the country to ring in celebration.  As he later said 'before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat'.

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It's my honor to take part in this event this year. This is a good lesson to learn from in our peaceful life! Alamein, Egypt
- Hani Abdulall

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15 OCT 2013

Road Safety in Augusta Park and Proposed Parking Restrictions along the Diverted Smannell Road

Following concerns from residents, I have held various meetings with stakeholders, including the developers, highways, parents and Endeavour school to discuss measures to mitigate the school traffic problems along the East Anton spine road, Cheviot Way and Romney Road.  When the permanent Community Centre and Northern Local Centre get built there will be increased space for dropping off and picking up but it is clear action needs to be taken to ensure the safety of pedestrians at peak times.

Alongside this the plan by the developer to divert the Smannell road got the go ahead despite a public enquiry, and opposition from the Smannell Parish Council & local Councillors of all political parties. As predicted it is causing problems. Due to parked cars the road has effectively become a single lane increasing safety concerns for motorists and pedestrians.

A proposal for a traffic regulation order to prevent parking in certain areas (including the diverted Smannell Rd) has been drawn up by Highways officials and was presented to the Smannell Parish Council earlier this month. I am currently working with the Highways Authority to get it into their work programme. The order will go out to full public consultation and it is important we make sure that there are no unintended consequences.  I will keep you informed of progress.

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10 OCT 2013

Heroes Homecoming

Over 400 soldiers from 22 Engineer Regiment of the Corps of Royal Engineers will be marking their return from a six month tour of duty in Afghanistan by marching through the streets of Andover this Saturday. The Regiment will be exercising their right to the freedom of the Borough of Test Valley and I encourage Alamein Ward residents to come along to show their support.

The march will parade along Bridge Street from 10.30am, and travel along Winchester Street and Eastern Avenue before culminating in an eyes right salute to the Mayor along East Street. The march will conclude at Vigo roundabout where the soldiers will depart for a medals ceremony at Swinton Barracks in Perham Down. The soldiers will be accompanied overhead on their march by a flypast of a Lynx helicopter from the Middle Wallop Army Air Corps.

Spectators are encouraged to spread out along the whole route of the march, with the best views expected along the length of East Street near to George Yard and Black Swan Yard car parks.

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08 OCT 2013

Italian Market In Andover

The Italian Market comes to Andover High Street tomorrow. Running for 5 days until the 13th October the market providesan opportunity to sample delicious flavours of Italy as well as the opportunity to take home some authentic Italian ingredients.

Saturday 12 October plays host to a double bill with the Italian Market alongside the popular regular Saturday Street Market and Sunday 13 October goes one better and provides a triple bill of markets. Alongside the Italian Market, the High Street also welcomes the return of the local Retailers’ Out and About initiative, with 30 local independent retailers taking to the High Street. At the same time, in the Upper Mall in the Chantry Centre, Bert & Gert’s Vintage Market is back. All these events run from 10am – 4pm.

The weekend of markets has been organised by the Events working group (which I have the pleasure to serve on) formed as a result of the Andover Summit and seeks to continue to bring added value to Andover High Street.

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02 OCT 2013

Pop-up shop to Open in Andover

Andover's first pop-up shop will open at 4 Bridge Street next Monday as part of TVBC's continued action to try andrejuvenate the Town Centre.

Creating pop-up shops was one of the initiatives put forward by Mary Portas in her Government commissioned report.

Three local, independent businesses will benefit from the opportunity to trade in the town, with the first occupier being Phil Evans Photography. This will be followed by The Travelling Cupcake and Wow! Cosmetics. Each business will occupy the pop-up shop for three weeks giving local businesses an opportunity to try town centre retail and gain new customers.

If the pop-up shop proves successful, the Council will work in partnership with letting agents, private landlords other local independent businesses to facilitate other pop-up shop in the town centre using vacant retail units. Establishing a protocol for the use of pop-up shops was one of the recommendations I made in my prospectus to rejuvenate Andover High Street published last year so I will continue to press the Council to take this initiative further.

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20 SEP 2013

Environmental Improvements in Andover Town Centre

As part of the Andover Town Summit a series of environmental improvements are scheduled to take place over the comingmonths in the town centre.

These enhancements follow two street audits involving residents, retailers, councillors and council officers. The audits looked at the purpose, condition, location and maintenance of a variety of street furniture. As a result unnecessary clutter such as bollards and old style planters (dead foliage gone at last!) will be removed. This will make way for tree planters to be installed before the year end to add greenery and height, the development of a hanging basket scheme with local shop keepers for the spring and improved signposting to local shops.

A scheme is being developed to ensure that all new street furniture will be compatible with an overall theme for the town and repairs to paving complimentary to existing surfaces. There will also be a review of the cleaning and maintenance schedule for street furniture to ensure the town is kept in tip top condition. Plans are underway to produce an online directory of local businesses and to work with local residents to create a more vibrant look and feel to the town.

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17 SEP 2013

Augusta Park - Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch in Augusta Park is going from strength to strength with 4 schemes now up and running in Cowslip Way, Ryeland Way, Romney Road and Oat Way.

On Saturday I attended an event in the Community Centre to encourage local people to set up their own schemes. It was a successful morning with over 40 people finding out more and some volunteering to be Neighbourhood Watch coordinators.

The aim of the Neighbourhood Watch is to bring neighbours together to help create communities where crime and anti-social behaviour are less likely to happen. Find out more here.

If you are interesting in creating a Neighbourhood Watch in your community in Alamein then please let me know here.

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04 SEP 2013

New Andover Skate Park Could be in Alamein Ward

The Council have announced today that the potential new skate park for Andover could be situated in Alamein Ward onthe Smannell Road open space.

Earlier this year TVBC Council began undertaking feasibility assessments for a skate park at Shepherds Spring Lane car park but studies have found that whilst the  facility could be placed there around 40 per cent of the total budget would need to be spent on preliminary work to rectify ground conditions and make the site suitable for construction. 

As a result, an alternative site at Smannel Road, Roman Way, has be put forward for consideration. This has been home to a skatepark previously and as a result little work would need to be undertaken to prepare the area.  This means that the full budget could be spent on the facility itself rather than a significant proportion going towards mitigation and infrastructure work.

I welcome the intention to consult on the proposed new location. Residents have told us that a purpose built facility is needed in Andover and the potential new location is excellent news for young people in Alamein Ward. It is imperative though that local residents are involved in the process and that any concerns they may have are addressed. I would like to hear from constituents with their thoughts on this issue.

Indicative designs for both sites will be on display at the skate jam to give an indication of the scale of what can be achieved at either site. The Council is keen for users to provide feedback about the proposed plans and which location they prefer. Based on the feedback, plans for the preferred site will be progressed subject to land surveys, clarification of costings, submission of a planning application and referral to full Council if necessary. Public consultation will continue throughout the process and it is hoped the new facility will be delivered by summer 2014.

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28 AUG 2013

Andover’s Business Fair Returns

Building on the popularity of the Retailers' Out and About days and the success of the first Andover Business fair in June, a second Business Fair has been arranged in Andover High Street on Friday, 6 September from 10am – 4pm.

The fair provides the opportunity for local companies to promote their work to a wider audience and for residents to find out more about businesses that are right on the doorstep.

Feedback from local businesses who attended the first event was very positive.

It is important that we continue to build on the momentum of the busy and varied programme of High Street events that have already taken place during 2013. From September's Business Fair to October's four day Italian Market, to the popular Christmas lights switch on in November, by way of the monthly Hampshire Farmers' Markets and Time Ring entertainments, there is every opportunity to enjoy a visit to Andover in the coming months.

30 local businesses are now signed up for the fair.

This event has been brought together by the Council's High Street Events working group which was created as a result of the Andover Summit, and is part of a wider programme designed to breathe new life into the High Street and surrounding areas.

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23 AUG 2013

Skate Jam in Andover

Calling all young people. A skate boarding and BMX competition is taking place at the Depot on Saturday 7th September.

The Jam, which will run from 12-4pm, is a formal event which will include structured competitions with prizes.

Test Valley staff will also be on-hand to talk to skateboarders about what they would like to see in a new skate park.

Please see the poster for details.

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22 AUG 2013

Credit Union in King Arthurs Way Every Monday

The Hampshire Credit Union is now providing services in King Arthurs Way Hall and at TVBC's reception in Beech Hurst every Monday.

The Credit Union provides affordable loans, current accounts and saving accounts for residents and is a great way of avoiding the high rates of interest charged by some payday loan companies.

The service provided by United Savings & Loans operates from King Arthurs Way Hall from 10am-12pm and Beech Hurst from 12:30pm–2pm.

For more information click here or visit the website here.

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19 AUG 2013

New Seating on Smannell Road Open Space

Following requests from local residents, your Alamein Councillors, have arranged for the purchase of two new benches to be installed in the public open spaces on Smannell Road.

The locations have been selected to provide rest for pedestrians walking along Smannell Road and on the footpath from Smannell Road into Florence Court and Venice Court, also offering pleasant views into the park. Click here for a map of the locations.

It is intended that the seats will be installed in the Autumn.

The project has been funded by developer contributions.

Thanks go to former Alamein member, Len Gates, who raised this issue with me.

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07 AUG 2013

What's on in King Arthurs Hall

A new timetable of groups and activities in the King Arthurs Hall has been published with events catering for all ages.

Since the consolidation of services from the previous Askalot Shop under one roof, the refurbished King Arthurs Hall has become a real community hub.

Alamein Community Association have been working hard to put on an exciting programme of events that builds upon the previous services offered in the Askalot Shop.

The hall provides a base for key services such as the Credit Union, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the sexual health clinic and local job club with other groups such as the youth club, the parent & toddler group and the over 50's club also plying their trade.

To view the current timetable of activities please click here.  The hall is also available for private hire from the Alamein Community Association - 01264 333294.

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05 AUG 2013

Vintage Market's Final Visit of the Summer

Bert and Gert's Vintage Market will be hitting the High Street for its final visit of the summer this Sunday, 11th August.

The market offers an eclectic mix of arts, crafts, jewellery, homeware and much more, accompanied by music in the Time Ring from The Rockin Bandits.

This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the market whilst browsing the local shops.

As I said in my recent letter to the advertiser, the Council's figures show that events and attractions like this are increasing footfall, in some cases by almost 40 per cent, which is great news.

The market is part of a programme of activities brought together by the Council's High Street Events working group. Created as part of the Andover Summit, the group aims to encourage a wider variety and number of events and activities to draw people to the town. Upcoming events include an Italian street market in October and a second Andover Small Business Fair in September.

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02 AUG 2013

Commitment to Town Summit Objectives - My letter to the Advertiser

"Dear Sir,

There has been recent speculation from some quarters, published in this newspaper about the effect iveness of the Andover Summit in improving our High Street and the commitment of the Test Valley leadership in bringing forward its recommendations.

Regular readers will know that when I disagree with particular proposals - I will speak out. In the same vein I will back policies that I believe are working and starting to make a difference. Cllr Carr and the Test Valley leadership are treating the rejuvenation of our High Street as a top priority and there is an absolute commitment to follow it through.

Back in November I wrote a letter in the Advertiser outlining my prospectus of ideas to increase footfall in our town centre. Out of the 15 recommendations I made 11 have already been progressed including developing a programme of events and entertainment in our High Street, free use of the time ring for performance artists and greater flexibility in the planning system to allow more leisure based activities to name but a few. Another recommendation to collect quantative and qualitative data to assess whether these measures are working already indicates that footfall has increased because of the events put on by the summit team.

The summit is also bringing forward plans to improve street furniture and enhance the visual aspects of town centre as well as some innovative parking proposals.

High streets are changing, we all recognise that and there is still much more work to do. I know readers will expect more and so do I - but let's not pretend there has been limited progress. There has been plenty of success in the last six months with more to come.

Phil North
Alamein Ward"

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26 JUL 2013

TVBC Should Play its Part in Making Work More Attractive than Welfare

Earlier this week the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Committee (OCSOM) considered a report on the Council Tax Benefit (CTB) scheme.

Last year the Government decided to localise the scheme asking councils to implement their own criteria whilst reducing the grant funding by 12%. This change led to a report from Test Valley stating that all working age residents, who currently receive CTB, had to pay something towards their Council Tax bill. I am sure most people would agree with that – I certainly do, bar one exception. Regular readers of this blog you will remember that I campaigned for a special dispensation for disabled people who cannot work – and these recommendations were accepted.

Because the Government changed the goal posts half way through Test Valley's consultation and offered another grant if we didn't make anyone claiming 100% benefit pay more than 8.5%, coupled with the technical challenges , it was decided that Test Valley would keep the same level of benefits. Alongside this TVBC gave Parish Council's a one off grant to manage the change in their council tax base (the figure their precept is calculated on) as a result of the policy. It was suggested at the time that the Council would re-assess the scheme for 2014-15.

The report presented this week however proposes no significant changes for 2014-15 & 2015/16 – enabling those of working age and ability that currently get 100% CTB to continue to pay nothing towards their council tax.

I spoke out against this at OSCOM on Wednesday as I believe it undermines the Government's welfare reform agenda. It should be a feature of our welfare system that you should be better off in work, unless you cannot work – that is what Iain Duncan Smith is trying to achieve. The changes in welfare are designed to try and prevent people getting trapped in welfare dependency. As JFK once said 'the best route out of poverty is to secure a job'. So why then are we still intending to pay the full benefit and not do our bit in encouraging people into work?

I know there are technical difficulties because of the delay in Universal Credit in which it is difficult to protect those who can't work on the one hand whilst making those that should contribute pay-up (although I still think these can be resolved). However when I read in the report that the Equality Impact Assessment states that 'these customers do not see themselves as being liable to pay Council Tax' I really do despair. Of course they don't! That is why the Government is trying to get them off the scrap-heap so they can lead a fulfilling life and contribute to society.

On top of this – our Parish Council's that didn't significantly put their tax last year – will most likely have to this year, if they are to remain on a sustainable footing because of the changes in the tax base and no grant to cover the costs. Another blow for the hard pressed taxpayer!

Unfortunately my arguments weren't endorsed by the committee – but I did manage to get through a recommendation that we liaise with other Councils to find out how they are solving the technical difficulties.

The report will now go to Cabinet and I will be urging them to make changes to the scheme before it is endorsed.

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24 JUL 2013

Broadband in Augusta Park - An Update

Last week I met with Graeme Scott from Independent Fibre Networks Ltd who supply the Broadband network in Augusta Park to discuss the provision of other suppliers in the area. Paul Blake from the Community Association was also there to present resident's feedback.

The provision of broadband on Augusta Park has been one of the biggest issues in the area for some time and with only two providers 'See the Light' & 'Beaming', many residents have complained to me about a lack of choice and competition.

I have been working hard to resolve the problem and have held meetings with both Taylor Wimpey and IFNL. In May last year INFL admitted that there had been unforseen delays in encouraging other providers but assured me that they are now in the process of encouraging new suppliers. In that time they have brought 'Beaming' on board but there is still a lack of a major player.

Paul's notes from the meeting can be seen here – which will explain the current situation. I will continue to liaise with INFL and as soon as there are developments I will update you.

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If you lobby Virgin infrastructure directly and can prove enough customers are interested then they will come on board.
- Stephen C

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18 JUL 2013

A Youth Council for Andover

The Andover Town Council is inviting young people to the Guildhall next weekend to tell us about youth related challenges in our town and to recruit some of the 14-17 year olds as Youth Councillors.

The event will take place on Saturday 27th July from 2pm- 4pm and pizza will be available.

Andover Town Council has already resolved to set up an Andover Youth Council and the Youth Advisory Panel have been setting the ground work for the project.  

It is our aim to enable Youth Councillors to have a devolved budget so they can decide on what issues and ideas to debate, discuss and ultimately fund.

If you know any young people who would be interested in attending please forward them this leaflet.

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17 JUL 2013

New Over 50's Club in King Arthurs Way

The new King Arthur's Way over 50's club has been going strong since it launched earlier this year and has just released its programme of activities for the next three months, ranging from dancing, to bingo and advice on trading standards.

It is orgnaised by my friend and colleague, Iris Andersen and a great addition to the growing events and activities taking place in King Arthurs Hall.

The club meets every other Wednesday from 2:30pm-4pm and encourages residents to drop in for a chat and a cuppa. Please click here for the latest timetable.

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16 JUL 2013

Farmers Market in Andover This Weekend

Hampshire Farmers Market is set to return to Andover this Sunday as they showcase their delicious produce in the High Street.

The market will be held from 10am – 2pm and will feature the usual exciting range of breads, cheeses, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables & alcohol.

Supporting the Farmers Market is just one way you can help to rejuvenate our High Street, whilst boosting local businesses and enjoying some great food. I hope to see you there.

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12 JUL 2013

Ron Khuman Elected to the Town Council

Congratulations to Ron Khuman the independent candidate, who was victorious in yesterdays Winton by-election for theAndover Town Council. I advocated a community minded individual to come forward as soon as the vacancy arose and it is great to see that the Winton shopkeeper won the contest.  I look forward to working with Ron on the Town Council.

As soon as the previous Councillor re-signed my party said that we weren't going to call a by-election and wanted to co-opt a community candidate which is standard practice for Parish & Town Councils.  Unfortunatley UKIP's decision to call an election cost the Town Council upwards of £8k which would have been even more if we hadn't made the decision not to send out poll cards.  The whole Council is due to face fresh elections in 2015 anyway.

Here are the full results:

Cleary, Maurice - UKIP - 337

Khuman, Rana - Winton Community Shop Keeper - 560 - Elected

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11 JUL 2013

22 Engineers to Celebrate their Homecoming Through Andover

At a recent Full Council meeting, TVBC members agreed to host an Armed Forces march through Andover for the 22 Engineer Regiment who have the Freedom of the Borough of Test Valley.

The march which comes as a result of a previous Full Council motion will take place on Saturday, 12 October 2013, when the 22 Engineer Regiment, based in Perham Down, will celebrate their return from operational duties in Afghanistan. The parade will provide the opportunity for families, friends and local residents to support the locally based regiment and show their appreciation for the work of individual serving soldiers and the wider Armed Forces.

After an address by my Alamein Ward colleague the Mayor of Test Valley and military dignitaries, the parade will march along Bridge Street and East Street towards the Vigo Road roundabout, giving spectators lots of opportunity to view the parade. The Army Air Corps will be providing a flypast on the day and the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers will be playing.

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10 JUL 2013

Vintage Market Returns to Andover this Sunday

The second Vintage market is coming to Andover High Street this Sunday 14th July from 11 am – 5 pm.

Bert and Gert's Vintage Markets will be bringing an eclectic mix of arts, crafts, jewellery, homeware and much more, accompanied by music in the Time Ring from Grubby Jack and a range of refreshment opportunities.

The market offers something a little bit different to tempt Andover residents and complements the mixed programme of High Street events being put on by the working group - created as a result of the Andover Summit.

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09 JUL 2013

Andover Football Club Set to Return to Refurbished Stadium

At last nights full Council meeting Councillors voted unanimously in favour of TVBC making a £200,000 investmentin Portway Stadium so that Andover Town Football club can return.

The Council have entered into a lease agreement with Sparsholt College who together with the football club will pay for a £325,000 refurbishment of the currently empty ground. Sparsholt will use the stadium as a classroom for sports students and Andover Colleges students in the 14-19 year old football academy programme will also use the facility.

The Council will recoup the money spent from its capital budget through the collection of rent over the 15 year lease period.  You can read the full report here.

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You might want to update this with the correct information as Andover Town FC are not returning to the Portway Stadium. Andover FC folded and with them went 128 years of history. Andover Town FC are a brand new club formed out of the combined colleges and have no connection at all with the original club which collapsed owing the council and any amount of local people tens of thousands of pounds
- Kerry Miller

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02 JUL 2013

Councillors Surgery in the Guildhall this Saturday

I will be attending the advice surgery this Saturday, 6th July in the Guildhall from 10.00 – 11.30am.  If you haveany issues that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment. Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me here.

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27 JUN 2013

Augusta Park Set to Become Recycling Pilot

Today in Full Council, I took the opportunity to quiz the Environmental Portfolio Holder, Cllr Graham Stallard about the Council's forthcoming scheme to promote recycling and ask him if Augusta Park could become one of the pilot areas for the project.

Speaking at the meeting I said: "The figures suggest that as a new development, Augusta Park has scope for a major improvement in its recycling rate. The new Augusta Park Community Association is doing great work and are the ideal organisation to help us promote greater recycling."

Cllr Stallard gave assurances that Augusta Park would be one of the target areas for the campaign and that this could be taken forward in conjunction with the Community Association.

I will outline more details about the pilot after the scheme is launched at next week's carnival.

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06 JUN 2013

Vintage Market in Andover this Sunday

Bert and Gerts Vintage Markets will be bringing an eclectic mix of arts, crafts and all things vintage to Andover High Street this Sunday. With everything from jewellery to glassware, memorabilia to vintage clothing and cupcakes to hampers in Andover between 11-5pm. A blend of Jazz and Blues music with a dash of Skiffle for good measure will be provided by local band The Frenzied and The Diligent in the Time Ring. A range of refreshments including a traditional hog roast will also be available.

If you love your first visit to Bert & Gert's market there will be two more opportunities to enjoy the experience on 14 July and 11 August.

The programme has been brought together by the Council's High Street Events working group - which I am a member - created as a result of the Andover Summit. The group aims to encourage a wider variety and number of events and activities to draw people to the town centre.

So support your high street this Sunday!

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04 JUN 2013

Smannell Road Re-Routing Comes into Effect

The diversion of the Smannell Road through Augusta Park has now come into effect and as predicted this has caused local consternation.

The plan by the developer got the go ahead despite a public enquiry. The Smannell Parish Council along with local councillors of all political parties were against the plans including the re-direction of farm vehicles around the new development.

Due to parked cars the road has become a single lane and in my opinion increases safety concerns (This photo was taken on a weekday afternoon). I have asked one of TVBC's senior highways officials to visit the site to see what can be done to help mitigate the problem.

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I think they also have to take into account the increase in traffic through the estate. Parents and children already find it hard to cross the road safely with cars blocking the view. Now we have to juggle crossing by a roundabout that is too high and blocks the view of traffic with increased traffic flow.
- Nicola james

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02 JUN 2013

King Arthurs Hall to Become Community Hub

King Arthurs Hall has become the sole community hub for meetings of local groups and the provision of services and advice for residents in King Arthurs Way.  All the current community services provided at the Askalot Shop and the hall will now be consolidated under one roof. The Alamein Community Association currently manages the hall and will run these additional services supported by a new Community Manager and administrator. Recruitment to these two positions is currently underway.

The hall now provides a base for existing key services such as the Credit Union, sexual health clinic and local job club with the Community Manager aiming to increase the number of activities, groups and volunteers to benefit the community. A major refit of the hall, which is just 100 yards from the Askalot shop, has been undertaken providing a new kitchen, office accommodation and replacement windows, doors and redecoration. The refurbished hall will provide a sustainable first class venue for the local community.

Consultation with the community at the end of last year identified that the two facilities of King Arthurs Hall and the Askalot shop were underused and not fully meeting local needs. The decision to make the hall a community hub flows from listening to local residents' views.

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17 MAY 2013

Action on Town Centre Parking

I welcome the four point action plan that the Andover Summit parking and signage group has recently published to try and improve footfall in the town.

As I have said before and on several occasions parking is absolutely key in terms of driving footfall and I am glad the Council is now developing strategies to maximise this.

The plan focuses on the possible introduction of on-street dash and go parking, selective reductions to parking charges to boost the number of Christmas shoppers and visitors to events, the phasing out of old style ticket machines to facilitate alternative payment methods (one of the recommendations I made in my Town Centre prospectus) and reviewing the provision of long term parking for the town's workers.

Potential sites for dash and go on-street parking will now be identified but will require approval by Hampshire County Council. An initial pilot for new high tech ticket machines in Andover will commence in 2014. Specific proposals for parking charge concessions to encourage shoppers and visitors to the town at key times and long term parking provision will be developed over the coming months.

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Phil, What's your view on "dash and go"? I got the impression that most people were actually after a free hour or two at certain times of the day. Also, the hi tech machinery would have had to be introduced anyway, so to list it as part of an action plan is a bit misleading.
- Paul Jones

Paul - I think 'dash and go' is a good idea. Re: A free period of time - we already have the free after 4pm. As you can see from my past comments on this blog I am not in favour of over zealous parking charges but obviously costs of a free first hour at anytime would have to be looked at.
- Phil North

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16 MAY 2013

Janet Whiteley Becomes the Mayor of Test Valley

Congratulations to my Alamein Ward colleague, Cllr Janet Whiteley who was voted in as Mayor of Test Valleyyesterday.

It was an honour to be able to propose her. I know she will do a first class job and will be an excellent ambassador for our great borough.

Janet was Mayoress for her husband Neville when he was the Mayor of Test Valley in 2004-5 - so has the experience. Whilst she was at his side then, I am sure Neville will provide her with wise counsel during her Mayoral year.

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16 MAY 2013

Love Your Local Market and Head to the High Street this Sunday

Why not visit three markets in one this Sunday in Andover as the town celebrates Love Your Local Market fortnight which launched this week.

More than 40 stalls will be in place in the High Street, as the Farmers' Market, Retailers' Out and About and Gardeners' Market come to town. With great local produce, flowers, photography, wine, homeware, plants and children's toys to name but a few, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Local duos Morrison and Common Ground will also be playing some great music in the Time Ring, so make sure you come along to join the fun! The event runs from 10am to 2pm with music from 10.30am to 1.15pm.

The add-ons to the Farmers' Market and the live music in the Time Ring has been organised by the Events Group, which I am a member of, which came out of the Andover Town Centre Summit set up by TVBC.

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09 MAY 2013

Augusta Park Playing Fields Get Royal Seal of Approval

At last night's meeting of the cabinet Test Valley formally nominated the Augusta Park community playing fields for inclusion in the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge. The nationwide scheme by Fields in Trust will officially dedicate 2,012 public open spaces nationwide to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. The open space will now be officially named as Diamond Jubilee 'Queen Elizabeth II' playing fields.

When developed the playing fields will cover an area of over 4 hectares and will provide valuable formal sports facilities for residents and the wider community. Once completed this site will include space for a mix of sports including, football, cricket, a sports pavilion, children's play area, Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), landscaping and a circular walk. During 2012 HRH Princess Royal visited the site as part of the celebration to create a 45 acre Jubilee woodland which is situated just north of the playing fields.

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03 MAY 2013

County Council Election Results

Congratulations to Tim Rolt, Tony Hooke and Pat West who all won Andover seats at the County Council Elections yesterday. I especially look forward to working with the new County Councillor for Andover North, Tim Rolt concerning Alamein Ward issues.

It was disappointing to lose great Councillors and good friends David Drew and Pam Mutton who were first class representatives for Andover South and Andover North, especially by such fine margins but I'm a democrat and I will always respect the ballot box.

The rise of UKIP at these elections sends a strong message to the national leadership not just about Europe (the Conservatives have already pledged a referendum when they have a parliamentary majority and I would campaign for withdrawal) but about other issues as well – and I am sure the Conservative Party as it always does, will adapt.

I am pleased that the Conservatives remain in control of the County Council – albeit with a reduced majority and I am sure will go on delivering efficient and effective local services whilst keeping your Council tax low.

The full election results for Hampshire County Council can be found here.

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26 APR 2013

Support for Local Plan but More Work Required

The first stage of the consultation for Test Valley's Local Plan ends today and I have submitted my comments to the Council's planning department.  The Local Plan will set out how the needs of the local communities, including housing and employment, will be met for the period up to 2029 and include the Council's planning policies in which development will be judged against.

I am supportive of the document and it represents a good deal for Alamein Ward.  I do have concerns over some aspects, set out below, which I will be lobbying within Council to amend.  These are my comments:

"I am generally supportive of the document and welcome most of what it says. Although I do have concerns in a couple of areas that I hope the Council can reflect on and address.

I am pleased that no further strategic housing sites have been allocated in Alamein Ward. With the building of Augusta Park the Ward has already taken its fair share of development.

I support policy E3 which will protect the Local Gaps between Enham Alamein & Andover and Smannell & Andover.

I support policy T2 which takes advantage of the scrapping of the maximum parking standards and commits to minimum standards. The Council can now insist on proper parking provision.

I support policy LE14 which promotes the use of large retail floorspace at George Yard/ Black Swan Yard.

I am pleased that policy LE8 will extend Walworth business park and will continue to focus on its vitality and viability, creating employment.

I am delighted that policy LE11 now enables and promotes flexibility in town centre uses for larger premises - including entertainment and leisure uses alongside traditional retail. Town centres are changing and becoming more of a social place. It is vital if we are going to re-invigorate our high streets that we maintain this element of flexibility.

On this note therefore, I am concerned that policy LE13 is too inflexible if we are going to embrace the change set out at paragraph 6.47 on page 78. Policy LE13 states that classes other than A1-A5 will not be permitted on ground floor units. We need to be more flexible by
allowing leisure facilities in some of the smaller units in our town centre. This can be done without opening the floodgates and I would like to see this added in.

I also have concerns about the sweeping statement on page 98 under 'climate change' that states "The Council supports other proposals which mitigate and adapt to climate change. This can be achieved through the use of renewable and low carbon sources of energy" If the Council are going to promote the use of renewable energy such as wind turbines and solar farms in countryside locations, then this should sit alongside a separate Supplementary Planning Guidance document that sets out the criteria for the building of these new energy sources - such as locations, concentrations and height."

The draft document can be found here and I will keep you updated about the next stages.

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22 APR 2013

Marathon Mission Accomplished

Yesterday I completed the London marathon in just under 4 and 1/2 hours raising over £1,300 for Enham Trust.

It was the toughest thing I have ever done but so worth it. It was great to be cheered on by friends and family and the crowd were really amazing pushing you on all the way to the finishing line.

I am sure I echo the sentiments of everyone who ran for Enham that it was an honour and a privilege to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. Enham has such a proud history and I am delighted we and everybody that sponsored us were able to do our bit so Enham can continue to support disabled people with independent living, learning services and real employment.

You can still sponsor me here - www.justgiving.com/philrunsforenham

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving and they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. They will also make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer.

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14 APR 2013

Extra Parking Provision in King Arthurs Way

Last week I met with highways engineers and the regional director of Aster Housing Association to discuss parkingprovision on King Arthurs Way.

I have been speaking to Aster for some time about extra parking in the area and was delighted when they made an investment recently to put in an additional 26 spaces in Camelot and Galahad Close.

King Arthur's Way was built in the 60's when families had a maximum of one car between them. Now families have two or three cars and it is continuing problem.

Highways are going to cost up a scheme to use some of the grassed area at the top of Galahad Close to see if we can create any more . I can't promise anything at this stage but will look at the costs and speak to highways and Aster about how we can take things forward.

Photo: With colleagues, Cllrs Whiteley, Brook & Mutton in Galahad Close

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02 APR 2013

New Skate Park for Andover

A report outlining plans for a new £140,000 urban sports facility for central Andover will be discussed at a meeting of the Test Valley Cabinet next Wednesday.

If the proposal gets the go-ahead the facility including skating, bmx and scooter activities will be located at Shepherds Spring Lane Car Park and be constructed from free-form concrete.

The project would be funded from developer contributions from the building work around Andover and New Homes Bonus money from the Government.

The Council has carried out extensive consultation amongst young people - and it was they who suggested this site that didn't appear on the Council's initial short list.

If the report is accepted it is anticipated that it will take about 12 months for the facility to be built and opened. The full report is published here.

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about time its only taken 10 years
-

Not exactly central is it, 2 miles away??? When are you going to build one on the other side of town for kids the other side of the 303? Round watermills area would be a good idea.
- Steve

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22 MAR 2013

Changes Required in Bid for Additional 350 Homes at East Anton

Following on from my previous post about the application for an additional 350 homes at East Anton I have received this letter from Ben Howard at Hampshire County Council giving his assessment on the impact the extra traffic would have on the road network. My concerns as I previously outlined, were in relation to capacity of the Finkley Arch amongst others.

As you can see from the letter "further information is required before the highway authority can confirm that the development will not have a significant impact on the operation of this junction." Mr Howard also raises concerns about the validity of previous traffic surveys as they don't include the extra traffic that would emanate from the permission granted for 50 homes at the former Shepherds Spring site. He also raises various other points as outlined in the letter.

As you can see from the last paragraph, Mr Howard recommends that TVBC refuse the application unless the extra work is carried out to address the problems referred to.

Having spoken to the Senior Planner earlier today,Taylor Wimpey will have some time to see how they propose to counter these problems before the file is closed. What I can say with some confidence is that no permission will be granted based on the current plans and Taylor Wimpey will have to make some changes before a recommendation of permission can be achieved.

I have already confirmed with the planners that if a recommendation of permission is reached then the application must come to a formal planning meeting, so the application can be scrutinised by Councillors before a final decision is made.  If permission is recommended, I want to make sure that the road networks, with the additional traffic that will be generated from houses rather than the secondary school, will cope.

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21 MAR 2013

Changes to Bin Collections

Test Valley's Environmental Services department has recently undertaken a review of its waste collection roundsto streamline the service and avoid additional costs. As a result, some changes are planned to some householders' bin collections including the urban part of Alamein ward. These changes will be undertaken in two stages.

Stage 1 - The Council currently collects half the borough's black and brown bins one week and the remaining black and brown bins the following week. From the week commencing Monday 15 April all black bins will be collected one week and all brown bins the following week. Households that are affected by Stage 1 are all those that currently use a yellow bin collection calendar.  If you are affected by this change you will recieve a letter confirming the changes along with a new blue bin collection calendar.  From 15 April all households will be using the blue bin collection calendar and the yellow bin collection calendar will be void.  A copy of the blue bin calendar can be found here.

If a household already uses a blue bin collection calendar, then Stage 1 will not affect them. The bin collection day will not change for anyone at this point.

Stage 2 – In Autumn 2013, Environmental Services will review the waste collection rounds across the borough which will mean some householders' bin collection days will change.  Test Valley will contact all affected householders nearer the time and keep you updated on its progress.

If you would like more information on the bin collection changes including a map of the affected areas please see www.testvalley.gov.uk/bincollectionchanges.

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14 MAR 2013

Advice Surgery - Saturday 23rd March

I will be holding an advice surgery on Saturday 23rd March in the Rendezvous, Union Street. I will be there from 10.00 – 11.30am so if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment. Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there next Saturday you can always contact me here.

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27 FEB 2013

Extra Grit Bins Installed in Augusta Park

Following responses from residents to my request for feedback I am delighted to report a further 3 grit bins havenow been installed in Augusta Park by Hampshire County Council including one opposite Endeavour School.

The majority of the development is still unadopted but the County are close to adopting some of roads built in the first few phases and with the developer's permission have provided 3 grit bins to complement the 4 already on the site provided by Taylor Wimpey and Bellway.

I provided the County Council with a list of locations determined by residents and thanks to County Councillor Pam Mutton 3 have now been installed.

I will keep an eye on demand when we get the next cold snap to see if further bins are required in areas – and of course I always welcome your feedback.

The new grit bins have been installed at the following locations:

1) The North end of Barley Road

2) Cheviot Road opposite Endeavour School

3) At the junction of Long Barn Road/ Augusta Way East

These are in addition to the 4 already installed by the developers:

4) In Shears road opposite the Augusta Way Central sign

5) At the entrance to Sedge Road

6) Half way along Cowslip Way

7) At the entrance to Jacob Close

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26 FEB 2013

Local Plan Consultation Begins on 8th March

TVBC's draft Local Plan got the go-ahead from the Full Council last Friday to go out to public consultation.

The consultation process will begin at 9:00am on Friday 8th March and will run until 4:30pm on Friday 26th April.

The Local Plan will set out how the needs of the local communities, including housing and employment, will be met for the period up to 2029 and include the Council's planning policies in which development will be judged against.

It is an extremely important document and it is essential we get it right. In the next few weeks I will be going through the plan with a fine tooth comb and will be responding to the consultation. I have set out my initial thoughts here.

At the moment the document represents a good deal for Alamein Ward with no further strategic housing sites allocated and protection for the local gaps. As soon as the consultation starts I will detail the ways in which you can respond to it. You can read the draft document here.

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24 FEB 2013

TVBC Tax Increase Gets Go-Ahead

On Friday evening, TVBC Full Council met to discuss the budget and Council tax level for 2013/14.

As I explained previously the proposal was to increase Test Valley's share of the Council Tax by 4.1% by putting an extra £5 on the average band D.

The motion was passed by Full Council but as promised I did not vote to support it. I explain below in my speech why I couldn't sanction a 4.1% rise for my constituents. 7 of my Conservative colleagues joined me by not supporting the rise.

"Thank you Madam Mayor,

When Government is making huge spending reductions to counter the budget deficit it is inevitable that some of that burden will fall on local Government. We haven't been surprised by this and thats why a great deal of work has already been undertaken to find savings and greater efficiencies. I know the Cabinet are focussed on finding more.

I also know the recommendation in front of us to raise the tax hasn't been taken lightly –but it is on the proposed tax rise, where I am going to focus my remarks this afternoon.

The Government are reducing our grant considerably this year, but by not accepting their offer to freeze the tax we will be losing out on another £120k of Government money.

I can't justify to my constituents that Test Valley taxpayers will have to pay 220k extra next year for the council to be 160k better off.

Let's be clear the offer on the table from the Government is to freeze the tax.

Part of the argument that has been presented suggests that we have a one off opportunity from the Secretary of State, but he has not said that it is going to be a one-off.

The letter we received from the DCLG is clear, it says: "The Government strongly encourages all authorities to accept the grant on offer for freezing council tax in 2013-14,and make a real difference to the living costs of hard-working families" In his statement to Parliament, Eric Pickles also said that 'All councils have a moral duty to freeze council tax'.

It may be tough to do – and I understand that – but it can be done.

In research conducted by the Local Government Chronicle it seems that around 75% - 80% of other Councils are accepting the Government offer this year. Our nearest neighbours Basingstoke & Deane, who are also eligible for the £5 increase mechanism are managing to freeze the tax. It can be done.

Our corporate plan is called doing things differently but perhaps we need to take that mantra further. We need to be more radical, look at what we provide, make greater efficiencies and critically share more services. Yes we need to protect important front line services but we also need to be honest and identify what Councils should provide and compare that to what we are currently doing. I know there are a lot more savings needed to be made in future years.

I am glad the Liberal Democrats are supporting a tax freeze today. They say that they supported their [Conservative] friends at the County Council yesterday by freezing the tax – but they didn't support them. They may not have voted against – but they didn't support it.

But back to the now. We have to vote on this budget with regard to the situation we are in today.

I know this is a tough time for this Council but these are still tough times for our residents and we should be freezing the tax. I know permanent funding from reserves is not sustainable but if it means using an additional £160k from our reserves this year – whilst we embark on a more radical policy next we should do that.

I applaud the savings made so far and I know this is a difficult decision but I cannot support a tax rise for my constituents."

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13 FEB 2013

Time Ring Free for Performance Artists

It was one of the recommendations in my prospectus to improve Andover town centre and I am glad that this weekend will see the introduction of free bookings for organisations to use the Time Ring in the High Street.

A series of entertainment events have already been lined up to link with the 2013 programme of Farmers' Markets in the town, kicking off this Sunday with local group Test Valley Brass.  Future dates to look forward to include the Winchester Celidah band Threepenny Bit on 17 March and the Middle Wallop Military Wives Choir on 21 April.

I am currently working with fellow Councillor, Iris Andersen, the Manager of The Lights Heather Whittam and the Owner of the Quality Hotel, Mark Lazenby to bring more entertainment to our high street not just on Sunday's but on Saturdays as well a the rest of the week.

The High Street Events working group are keen to hear from performers, choirs, schools, charities and other local groups who would like to perform in the Time Ring. Two hour slots are available for either 10am – 12pm or 12pm - 2pm seven days a week. Bookings can be made online at www.testvalley.gov.uk

Photo: Andover UK

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07 FEB 2013

Test Valley Local Plan is Published

This week the Test Valley Local Plan has been published and following the go-ahead at a Cabinet meeting next Wednesday will go out to public consultation in March – April 2013.

The Local Plan will set out how the needs of the local communities, including housing and employment, will be met for the period up to 2029 and include the Council's planning policies in which development will be judged against.

It is an extremely important document and it is essential we get it right. In the next few weeks I will be going through the plan with a fine tooth comb and will be responding to the consultation.

Some of the main things I have picked out so far:

- No further strategic housing sites have been allocated for Alamein Ward. With the building of Augusta Park the Ward has already taken its fair share of development. This means the speculative site touted by the developer for more houses opposite Lillywhite Crescent has not been included.

- The Local Gaps between Enham Alamein & Andover and Smannell & Andover have been protected.                                                          

- Due to perverse rules under the previous Government our last local plan included maximum parking standards which meant we couldn't insist on more parking on new developments. Thankfully the current Government has abolished these so instead minimum parking standards are included.

- Although the plan promotes flexibility in town centre use, in my opinion it doesn't do enough to promote a more diverse range of activities taking place in our high street. We need to amend the use class restrictions to re-invigorate our high street with more leisure based offerings. I will be making this point in the public consultation.

I will post another notice on this blog when the public consultation opens and would encourage you all to contribute.

Pictured: Test Valley Borough Council's current local plan.

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06 FEB 2013

Hampshire Police Should Be More Transparent on Spending

Hampshire Police Commissioner Simon Hayes has said that he will be putting up the Police's portion of the Council Tax by 3.4% this year. Equivalent to £5 a year on an average band D property.

With many Councils around the country freezing the council tax (including Andover town Council) and Hampshire County Council already confirming they will freeze their part of the tax, it is disappointing that the Police Commissioner sees fit to raise it by so much.

I called him out about this on twitter and already suggested some further ways he can reduce spending and cut waste. Unfortunately the Police aren't as transparent as local Council's even though they take a higher proportion of the Council tax than Test Valley and it is difficult to highlight the waste when you don't have access to the accounts.

The Police should publish all their spending on non-confidential items over £500 on-line, similar to local Councils. I have pushed Simon Hayes to do this so the public can get scrutinising his spending. Maybe I was wrong that an elected politician would be less tempted to just raise the Council tax so much but now the Police Commissioner is an elected position it is our duty to hold him to account.

Maybe he will give more details when his policing plan is published in March.

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01 FEB 2013

Update on Adoption of Roads in Augusta Park

Your local Councillors are currently working with the developers and highway officials on the adoption of Augusta Park Roads. When the roads become adopted the County Council will become responsible for them.

The legal work for the adoption of the spine road through the Bellway homes site is underway and is expected to be completed in the next couple of months. The same is the case for all the roads west of East Anton Farm. There is also a schedule in place for the other roads currently built with a lead time of 12 months. Full details below:

1. Phase 1 Spine road (re routed Smannell Road through Bellway homes site).

A list of remedial works that the developer needs to finish has been agreed and drawings are being prepared. Upon completion of the work and the legal documentation adoption can be completed. This is likeley to be in the next month or so.

2. Phase 2 Spine road - Cheviot Road.

Road works need to be completed by the developer including carriageway surface .The adoption of this section of road will be linked to the completion of works in Harebell Road, Cowslip Way, Ryeland Way. Adoption is likely to be at least 12 months away.

3. Bellway Homes site(Romney Road, Herdwick Road, Jacob Close)

Adoption to be progressed following completion of building works and highway works. This is likely to be at least 12 months away following conclusion of a statutory maintenance period.

4. Phase 1 All roads to west of East Anton Farm Road.

A list of remedial works including lighting has been agreed with the developer and upon satisfactory completion together with the signing of the Deed adoption can be progressed. We are hopeful that adoption will be within the next few months.

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Hi Phil, Just so you are aware, I have been contacting Taylor Wimpey (Southern Counties & West London) in regards to the 'Ryeland Way' Road Sign. There is 2 issues with the road: 1) The Sign currently installed is spelt incorrectly. 2) The Sign is located half way down the road and not at the start, missing out 6-8 houses. Causing issues with directions, deliveries etc. Just thought i would highlight these issues as nothing has been done about them in the last 12 months. Obviously I understand the council cannot do anything until preparing for adoption of the roads. Kind Regards
- Stuart Randall

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31 JAN 2013

Andover Town Council Freezes It's Share of the Council Tax

Last night I presented the Andover Town Council Budget for 2013/14.

The budget recommended that for the third year in a row we freeze our portion of the Council tax. I am pleased to report that the proposal was unanimously accepted and the precept for an average band D property will remain at £9.85.

My full speech is as follows: "It is a pleasure to once again present to you the budget for Andover Town Council. I want to thank, my vice-chairman, Cllr Katherine Bird and all members of the Policy & Resources Committee for helping to put together our financial plan for 2013-14.

Last year was an unprecedented year with the Diamond Jubilee and the phenomenal Olympics in London. The Town Council played its part in celebrating the Jubilee by allocating £5,000 to the events budget which allowed us to put on a painting competition for local schools, the best dressed window competition in the high street, a plague recreating the scene of the 1953 Coronation outside the Guildhall and of course the fabulous best of British concert in the lights. Thanks go to Cllr Long who led the panel and Cllr Pond for supporting. Special thanks should go to former Councillor Tony Raper who also served.

As we look ahead to this coming year it is clear the Town Council needs to play its part in reinvigorating our high street. We have the therefore taken the decision to put aside the same amount of money that we allocated to Jubilee activities last year, and create a new budget heading – 'Development of the Town centre' which will be funded to the tune of £5,000.

It is important we work alongside TVBC on this and the Chairman of the Amenities and Town Development Committee, Cllr Lynn is driving this project forward. Town Council committees are currently looking at how we can promote entertainment in the high street, maximise tourism and improve the environment aesthetics

We will also retain £1,000 in our budget for high street events following the successful community days, organised by Cllr Hamilton last year.

Talking of cross authority working the budget also proposes £500 this year to spend on grit bins and a list of proposed sites will come to the Policy & Resources Committee in Februray. We have already worked with Hampshire County Council to get additional grit bins installed across the town.

The Town Council will continue to provide the Christmas Lights and have budgeted to continue contributing towards the successful switch on event enjoyed by almost 10,000 residents. Having signed a 3 year deal with a contractor we have managed to reduce the budget by£2,000.

The Allotments committee continues to be led by Councillor McBride and Cllr Evans and we will shortly be publishing a list of maintenance work on the website that the Town Council has completed in the last year along with a list of future projects. The budget put aside for Allotments has risen again this year by £2,000 to £20,000.

Once again the budget contains provision for £1,000 of grant funding in which Andover model railway club and Test Valley Brass benefited from last year. The grants are designed to help organisations with small capital projects.

We have also budgeted £1,000 to continue to support the development of a Youth Council that Cllr Fitchett is taking forward.

Councillors will be aware of the changes made to the Council Tax Benefit this year which has had implications on our Council Tax base. Test Valley have agreed to provide us with a one off grant of £18,324.19 to compensate for this. Test Valley have indicated that their policy will be looked at again next year so the benefit will become more self sufficient.

Because of this uncertainty some Town & Parish Councils have decided to increase their precept. But I have some good news for you.

For the 3rdyear running this budget proposes a freeze in the council tax. Will still live in difficult times and there will be no increase from us.

The Policy and Resources Committee have recommended a budget of £132,440 for the year 2013/14 with a precept of £115,717. This equates to a Band D equivalent of£9.85p. The same as last year.

This budget ensures there is enough money to fulfil the Town councils functions and aspirations over the coming year including focusing on our town centre. Our aim is to provide the funds necessary for the Council to be effective whilst keeping the tax as low as possible. I believe this budget does that.

We are complying with audit requirements of maintaining half of our precept in reserves and in fact this budget proposes we add another £1,600 to our reserves.

We have enough funds to allow the Council to continue to grow, we have set a level of reserves which meets recommended guidance, we have recognised the difficult times on hard pressed tax payers and despite inflationary pressures have delivered a freeze in Council tax.

I urge all Councillors to support the budget."

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25 JAN 2013

Grit Bins in Alamein - Your Feedback Please

During the recent bad weather I didn't have as many enquiries as usual about gritting. I suspect one of the reasons for this is because of the large amount of blue grit bins that relatively recently have been rolled out across Hampshire.

I hope you found then useful in gritting minor roads in the last week or so.

Do let me know if there are any areas in Alamein where you think there should be further grit bins and I will do my best to locate one.

One area where I had a larger number of enquiries was in Augusta Park. As the majority of the development is currently unadopted, the County Council will not provide grit bins there. After all it is not their land. On the plus side I have been pressing the developers of both Taylor Wimpey and Bellway to install grit bins for residents to use. In the last few months I have persuaded Bellway to install a grit bin on the slope at Jacob Close and some others have already been located on the Taylor Wimpey side. If you feel that more grit bins are needed then do please let me know and I will liaise with County Councillor Pam Mutton and the developers to see what we can do.

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The bottom of St Swithin Way Roselawn gardens does not have any grit provision. This would be appreciated.
- Andy cook

Andy - Thanks for this. As you don't live in Alamein I will pass your request onto one of your local Councillors.
- Phil North

Hi Phil, I saw your article in the Augusta Park Newsletter and thought I would supply feedback. I can understand the council are unwilling to supply grit/grit bins for unadopted parts of Augusta Park, but the developers still need to do more. The grit bins provided didn't seem to have enough grit, and i felt the worst of all areas was by the Primary School, surely the school should be covered by the council? I have to say, the community put a lot of effort into clearing the roads themselves while the developers didn't do anything. I have shared my views with the developers, but once they have our money, they don't listen anymore. Kind Regards
- Stuart Randall

I think a grit bin should be placed in Barley Road. The recent bad weather turned the road into a slalem with all it,s bends, People park on the pavements and with small children playing near the road it is quite dangerous, The road is far too narrow to be used as a main thoroughfare as is Sunflower Way. Taylor Wimpey has put profit over road safety and running the main road to Smannell through the estate was another stupid idea and an accident waiting to happen,
- Sandra Edwards

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15 JAN 2013

Scary Set to Return to Winton School Next Month

Following his successful visit to Andover in October The Scary Guy is set to return to Winton School in February for phase three of his inspirational programme.

The project put together by the former acting director of Testway, Ivor Evans and myself is designed to help students build their resilience by understanding that they do not have to take on the attitudes and comments of others who might try to hold them back. Scary Guy has helped students to understand what bullying is and how they can deal with it. As part of the programme he addresses issues of anti social behaviour and how young people can stray into this. He helps the students see how this might happen and how to avoid it giving young people the tools to create positive behaviours through Scary's innovative theories and concepts.

Winton pupils are already benefiting from Scary's wisdom and have changed the way they think in negative situations. Sophie, a pupil at Winton, said: "Everything you have said to us has been inspirational. Thank you for coming to show us and help us with how we treat others. I feel kind of different right now."

Winton's head teacher, Chris Mcshane was so impressed with the outcome of the first phase of the project he immediately took up the opportunity to welcome him back.

Scary will build on the workshops he delivered to pupils, parents and teachers in phase one and two by delivering the third piece of training, which will enable students to clearly see that when someone else speaks, the words are a direct reflection of that person speaking. Scary will show students exactly what to do in the moment that someone produces negative words around or about them.

Scary said: "it is not what the name-callers put out or create that I focus on, it is what I do with what they create that I focus on. It is time for people to stop living as reactionary machines, instantly becoming what they see and hear. I am teaching the students at Winton clear strategies for their capacity to make choices, about everything that they see and hear from others – so that they can live without becoming a victim or a bully based on what is around them. "

I am pleased this project is already having a positive impact amongst the pupils of Winton School. It is satisfying when the private and public sector come together to support our young people. I thank, Stannah, Hampshire Police, TVBC, Aster and Winton for supporting the project so far. We are hopeful that we can develop this project further with even more schools across Andover.

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11 JAN 2013

Enham Alamein Exhibition at Aldershot Military Museum

A new exhibition opens at the Aldershot Military Museum tomorrow charting the history of the village of EnhamAlamein. The exhibition, which runs until 22nd March raises awareness of the fascinating history of Enham, from a rehabilitation centre for disabled World War One servicemen to the wide-ranging disability charity of today. It tells the story of how in 1945, the village was renamed Enham Alamein following a gift from the Egyptian people in gratitude for the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein.

Click here for more information on the Aldershot Military Museum website and here for opening times. If you want some more background before you go and visit there is a brief history here.

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02 JAN 2013

Recycle your Christmas Tree

As you start to take down their tinsel and box-up your baubles, The Council will be on hand to help you recycleyour real Christmas tree.

Though pine needles may be turning brown, residents can stay green by dropping off their trees at the following disposal sites in Andover:

Homebase, Enham Arch Retail Park

Andover Garden Centre, Salisbury Road

The sites are in operation from today to Wednesday 9 January 2013.

For those registered with the Garden Waste Collection Service, the Council can now collect whole Christmas trees. Trees over six feet high should be cut in half.

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31 DEC 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year. It is sad to see the end of 2012. What a year it was for Britain! We rediscovered our national and civic pride and as we welcome in the New Year it is important we continue to embrace the community spirit that we all enjoyed in the past year. As I look forward to 2013 I want to focus on 10 key priorities for Alamein Ward, Andover and Test Valley. These will be my guiding principles for the next 12 months. I will blog on each one once I have made progress. Keep a check and judge me at the end of the year.

1) Freeze the Council Tax.

2) Campaign for more shared services with other Council's to save money.

3) Continue to push for the rejuvenation of Andover Town Centre and ensure work gets underway to deliver the action plan.

4) Make sure no more additional housing developments are allocated in Alamein Ward in the new Local Plan.

5) Ensure the local gaps between Enham and Andover & Smannell and Augusta Park are protected in the new Local Plan.

6) Ensure disabled residents who can't work are protected from Council Tax benefit changes.

7) Continue to campaign for more competition amongst broadband suppliers in Augusta Park.

8) Reinvigorate the Turnaround Project in King Arthurs Way working with the community to reach its full potential.

9) Support the new Augusta Park Residents Association and help them deliver their aims.

and last but not least........ 

10) Complete the London Marathon raising money for Enham Trust.

Alongside these I will continue to take up residents concerns in Alamein Ward and do my best to get the best deal for Alamein campaigning for effective and efficient services.

 

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24 DEC 2012

Christmas Bin Collection Dates

During the Christmas and New Year period waste left in bags beside the black bin on a household waste collectionday will be also accepted.  Recyclable materials in cardboard boxes left beside the brown bin on recycling weeks will be collected throughout the year.  During the festive period, the Local Recycling Centres will be monitored and emptied regularly.

The Household Waste Recycling Centres will be open except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

You can check on the TVBC website when your next few collections will take place for garden waste if you are a subscriber to the service.

Normal day Christmas collection day 

Tues 25 Dec 12 Thur 27 Dec 12

Wed 26 Dec 12 Fri 28 Dec 12

Thur 27 Dec 12 Sat 29 Dec 12

Fri 28 Dec 12 Mon 31 Dec 12

Mon 31 Dec 12 Wed 2 Jan 13

Tues 1 Jan 13  Thur 3 Jan 13

Wed 2 Jan 13 Fri 4 Jan 13

Thur 3 Jan 13 Sat 5 Jan 13

Fri 4 Jan 13 Mon 7 Jan 13

Mon 7 Jan 13 Tues 8 Jan 13

Tues 8 Jan 13 Wed 9 Jan 13

Wed 9 Jan 13 Thur 10 Jan 13

Thur 10 Jan 13 Fri 11 Jan 13

Fri 11 Jan 13 Sat 12 Jan 13

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20 DEC 2012

Legal Agreements Set to be Signed to get Bus Station Project Underway

Legal agreements are almost ready to be signed between the County Council, TVBC and Friends Life for the development of a new bus station in Andover.

If all goes well construction should start on this £2.4m project in spring 2013.

The legal agreements will provide the relevant permissions for HCC to access the site to guarantee a high standard of maintenance and repair over the coming years.

The project includes two additional bays for buses and coaches, new internal waiting area, covered bus boarding area for passengers, Stagecoach Customer Enquiries office, new café, Shopmobility, Test Valley Community Services offices, electronic passenger information screens, Stagecoach manager's office, drivers' rest room and CCTV coverage. The new bus station will create a much improved visual gateway to the town centre and the café will create an area where people can spend time rather than simply pass through. The project will undoubtedly help to boost trade for local businesses. The project is funded by developer contributions taken predominantly from the East Anton, Andover Airfield and Picket Twenty developments.

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05 DEC 2012

Andover Summit Agrees Town Priorities

Earlier this year I proposed a recommendation as part of the Council's scrutiny committee that the rejuvenation of Andover High Street should form part of the Council's action plan. I was pleased this was accepted by TVBC's Cabinet and the Leader convened a Summit, made up of Councillors, landlords and local business to come up with a plan for the High Street.

Agreement was reached on the following priorities:

Reviewing Planning Controls – to reinvigorate the town to become a more multi-functional area enabling public services, leisure and housing to sit alongside retail premises.

Environmental Improvements – undertake work to enhance the town centre including planting, street furniture and improvements to the upper High Street.

Parking – to seek ways to encourage more shoppers and visitors to the town by reviewing parking arrangements, including pay on exit

Town Centre Management and Andover's Unique Quality– to consider the various options for the management of the town centre and identify a common theme to foster a greater pride in the town and its many benefits.

Signage - improve signage to the town and its attractions from the A303 to encourage visitors.

High Street Event – encourage a wider variety and number of event and activities to draw people to the town.

Many of the ideas agreed I set out in my prospectus published in October and I am sure many more will be realised soon. Alongside the immediate action to make the Town Centre look more attractive I am pleased TVBC have agreed to review their planning policies recognising that High Streets need to become more leisure focused. I was also delighted that TVBC have already agreed to drop all charges for performance space in the town.

I will still be pushing for a public register of high street landlords so landlords are more accountable to the public and that they make the best use of town centre assets. Action is being taken but there is still lots more to be done.

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04 DEC 2012

Planning Application for an Additional 350 Homes Submitted at East Anton

A planning application has been submitted by Taylor Wimpey for an extra 350 homes at East Anton on the land that was allocated for a Secondary School in the original outline permission granted in 2006.  The County Council decided last year that the Secondary School is now not needed.

The extra houses are not in the Local Plan and at the moment don't have any form of permission. The Council will have to judge this application on its own individual merits. As I have said before over development is not the answer and your local Councillors have ensured that no further strategic housing sites in Alamein form part of the Council's next local plan due to be drawn up in detail next year.

Obviously, if built these extra dwellings would have an impact on highways, most extra vehicles are likely to use the opened up Finkley arch but some will inevitably have an impact on local roads to get to the A343 and could put additional pressure on Enham arch. We must ensure that if permission is granted then the developer makes extra improvements to the highway network and provides additional community benefit projects for the area. Allotments for example already form part of the application.

I have already made sure that this application will be decided by councillors in a public planning committee rather than being delegated to officers so we can reject the application if it is not good enough or negotiate some further mitigating works to address the negative aspects if permission is granted.

You can view the planning application on line here  by putting 12/02497/OUTN in the search bar and submit your comments on-line which will be considered by the planning officer. You may also want to send your comments to me.

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30 NOV 2012

My View on the War Memorial Debate

There has been much debate in Andover recently about the Town's War Memorial and whether or not it should be removed from St Mary's Churchyard and put back in the High Street.  A member of the campaign group, Mr Ron Wood recently wrote to me asking for my opinions on the matter and whether there should be further consultation with Andover residents.

As you can see from my reponse below it is my personal opinion that the Memorial should stay where it is.  However as a democrat I am not opposed to gathering further public opinion on the matter but this needs to be balanced with the burden placed on the taxpayer for such a consultation or referendum.  Ceratinly before that can happen there needs to be more work done by the campign group;

"Mr Wood,

Thank you for contacting me in relation to the Andover War Memorial.

I understand your strong views on the matter and I agree on the need for greater prominence but I am yet to be convinced by the argument that it should be moved.

As you point out there has been much debate on this subject and I listened intently to the public debate hosted by the Town Council. At that meeting there was no clear consensus to move it, nor has that been the case on the letters page of the Andover Advertiser. I speak with confidence that it is not a significant priority for residents when I speak to them on the doorstep. I recognise what you say about the poll in the Andover Advertiser but for the War Memorial to be moved there needs to be clear consensus and I don't believe that is yet the case.

In principle, I not opposed to gathering further public opinion on the matter but obviously that has to be balanced with the burden placed on the taxpayer for such a consultation or referendum. Before any consultation can place though, there needs to be more information to find out if it is even feasible to move. I am surprised that the campaign has yet to present any survey information detailing how it could be moved and how much it would cost. Without that information it is impossible for the public to come to a reasoned decision.

My own personal view is that it should stay where it is. I love to walk through the churchyard and look inspiringly at the War Memorial as it sits there in its quiet majesty. It looks absolutely magnificent on an autumn's day with the leaves gently falling around it and I think it would be sad if that changed. Many War Memorials are located in the grounds of the local church and I think that is the right and proper place for it to be situated. My other concern is with the Second World War plaques that sit around it. These would be given less prominence if the War Memorial was removed and I don't want that to happen.

There is work being undertaken to establish whether it is feasible to open the churchyard from the Newbury Street/Black Swan Yard side with a path leading up to the Memorial. Providing the plans look attractive I would be prepared to support that.

Yours sincerely,

Phil North
Alamein Ward"

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27 NOV 2012

On your Marks, Get Set, Ho, Ho, Ho!

The spectacular Santa Fun Run through Andover Town Centre takes place this weekend. It is a great way to get your Sunday off to a healthy start so join me and take part.

You can walk, jog or sprint your way around the one mile route wearing fabulously fetching festive running gear. Registration will take place at Andover Leisure Centre at 9am and the run will start at 10am this Sunday 2nd December. There will be a mass warm-up session at 9.45am.

The entry fee, which includes a Santa suit and finishing medal, is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children aged between six and 12 years.  Any surplus money will be donated to the Mayor's Charity Appeal. Tickets should be purchased in advance from Andover Leisure Centre or by calling 01264 347100. You can also buy tickets from ALC on the day.

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19 NOV 2012

Disabled will be Protected from Council Tax Benefit Changes

Disabled customers in Test Valley will not be affected by any changes to their Council Tax Benefit next year according to report due to be debated at Cabinet on 28th November.

In fact following the Governments last minute offer of a special grant to cap Council tax liability to an increase of 8.5% for those already receiving full benefit - there will be no changes made to the levels of benefit for the next 12 months.

The Council is still required to come up with its own localised scheme and because it has less money to do this will recommend that the second home discount the exemption on uninhabitable dwellings and the discount on long term empty properties are all removed.

It is likely that the Cabinet will accept this report which will allow further time to implement changes to Council Tax benefits in time for 2014/15.

I am pleased my joint campaign with the Enham Trust to protect disabled people who cannot work from a £100 a year increase in their tax bill has ultimately been successful. No changes are being made this year and we have laid down the marker that when further reform is implemented in 12 months time those protections should remain in place.

I support the recommendation in the Cabinet report but it is clear further work has to be done to ensure our scheme encourages work for those that are able to and that work always pays when further changes are proposed.

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14 NOV 2012

If you Don’t Vote Don’t Complain to me

Tomorrow you have a chance to vote for a Police Commissioner. Of course it is up to you whether you vote or not but don't complain to me that Hampshire Police aren't following the right priorities if you don't bother.

Some say they won't be voting because they are against the 'politicisation' of the police or they would rather see the police get on with the job rather than having to listen to a politician – but let's look at the rational argument.

The PCC position is all about politics – okay not necessarily party politics but it's about representing people, raising taxes and spending your money. Would you rather have a Chief Constable spending your hard earned taxes on advertising on the back of buses rather than catching burglars, on diversity projects rather than patrols to counter anti-social behaviour or would you rather have an elected representative in charge that you could kick out at the next election if they weren't doing what you wanted.

Last year the current chief constable of Hampshire Police, Alex Marshall, proposed a 3.25% hike in his portion of the Council Tax. This despite the Government's offer of help to freeze it and despite the fact the Town council, District Council and County Council here in Andover were all proposing no increase.  In the end he was voted down by the Police Authority but would an elected representative sensitive to public opinion really propose a rise of over 3%? Well clearly they didn't, as elected Councillors voted for a freeze.

It is the job of the PCC to represent you, channelling your priorities to the Chief Constable and taking action if those priorities haven't been achieved.  Here are the candidates standing in Hampshire along with the list of their priorities – www.policecrimecommissioner.co.uk/Hampshire

I am not going to patronise you by asking you to support the Conservative candidate you can make up your own mind but the most important thing is to vote, help shape the priorities for Hampshire Police and make sure the police are answerable to us, the public.

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13 NOV 2012

Christmas Lights Switch On This Friday

Andover's festive celebrations will begin in the High Street this Friday as the Christmas Lights are switched on.  Celebrations get underway at 4:30pm and the switch on will take place at approximately 7.25 pm.

Once again the BigTV will be edged into place in front of the Guildhall, ensuring that everyone enjoys a great view of the activities on the stage. Look out for the Happy Cam and see yourself on the big screen!

There'll be fun rides for the children, stilt walking snowmen and a rolling programme of great live music on the stage all introduced by The Breeze's Steve Randall. Portway Junior Glee Club, The Dragon Fly Rhythms, Holly and Laura, Jake Ward, Common Ground and Andover Pop Factor winners, Allowance, will all be entertaining the crowds in the run-up to the countdown with Father Christmas.

All this, together with fabulous festive food, the Chantry Centre Firework display, and the town lights provided by Andover Town Council should get the town well and truly ready for Christmas.

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09 NOV 2012

Running the Marathon for Enham Trust

I have taken up the challenge of running the 2013 London Marathon to raise money for the Enham Trust and am today launching my fundraising campaign for the big day on 21st April 2013.

It is a tremendous pleasure to represent the village of Enham Alamein and am proud of the fantastic work of the Enham Trust.  Enham provides opportunities for disabled people to exercise choice, control and independence over their lives, through housing options, work and training. This fundraising opportunity is our chance to help them and the people of Enham.

Please dig deep and donate today -

www.justgiving.com/philrunsforenham

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving and they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. They will also make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer.


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07 NOV 2012

Proposals to Protect Disabled from Council Tax Benefit Changes Passes First Test

My recommendation to protect the most vulnerable from changes to Council Tax Benefit was supported unanimously at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Oscom) last night.

Oscom has now formally recommended the proposal to the Cabinet – who I hope will now make changes to the original scheme being consulted on.

As part of the Government's wider package of welfare reforms every council has had to come up with their own localised Council Tax Benefit scheme. The initial proposal was that everyone of working age should pay at least 10% of their Council tax liability even if they are currently entitled to the full benefit. I agree with that sentiment but was uncomfortable in voting through proposals that would have seen disabled people that can't work having to pay an extra £100 plus per year.

The proposal if accepted by Cabinet on the 28th November will mean all those disabled customers not capable of work and entitled to Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Income Support (with a disability premium) or Disability Living Allowance will be protected from the changes.

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01 NOV 2012

Leaf Clearance gets Underway

The Council started its annual leaf clearance this week and it will continue for a period of six weeks.

Once again your Alamein Conservative Councillors have asked the Environmental Services Team to concentrate on heavy areas of leaf fall including King Arthurs Way, Roman Way and Cricketers Way.

Leaf clearance teams have been in King Arthurs Way for the last two days and will be moving on to Cricketers Way next week and Roman Way the week after.  Teams will be returning to all locations again before mid-December.  If there is heavy leaf fall in public areas that need tackling then please get in contact.

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31 OCT 2012

A Prospectus to Improve Andover Town Centre

I am today publishing my Prospectus to Improve Andover Town Centre and will this evening present it to TestValley Borough Council's cabinet.

Earlier this year I proposed a recommendation as part of the Council's scrutiny committee that the rejuvenation of Andover High Street should form part of the Council's action plan and I am pleased the report tonight addresses this issue.

High streets are changing it is important we recognise that. For them to survive and thrive they need to offer something different. The Council needs to ensure that Andover looks fantastic which forms some of the priorities I recommend in my prospectus but more importantly we need to make sure it feels fantastic. That means taking clear strategic decisions so Andover becomes a place where people want to spend their leisure time.

Yes this means attracting more shops and ultimately the holy grail of a department store but we must also take a serious look at our planning policies to diversify the offerings in our high street. I am confident my 15 point prospectus to improve Andover sets the framework which will enable businesses, partner agencies and the public to make a real improvement to Andover Town Centre.

For example we need to look at our planning policies to allow public services and other non-retail leisure based activities to take place on the ground floor of our town centre. We need to take the lead in publishing a public register of high street landlords so the public can hold them to account and make sure they are making the best use of their assets. Talking of accountability we must also make sure our Chantry centre partners are doing the best for retailers.

I am delighted that a protocol has already been agreed with landlords to for the use of pop-up shops and that the free hire of the time ring is being considered for performance artists.

My document is not designed to be an exhaustive list of ideas but once we get the strategic decisions right it will allow further work to be done. It is down to all of us to take control and drive continued improvement, but it is local Government that must provide the impetus, direction, resources and democratic mandate to kick start the process and I am pleased that this will now form part of the councils corporate action plan.

My recommendations in full:

1) Actively encourage a town team in Andover.

Many individuals and groups have indicated that they wish to improve Andover Town centre. TVBC should help to set up a town team to implement ideas. This should include providing officer support for projects when it is viable to do.

2) Publish the new Andover Vision priorities.

The Andover Vision is currently re-priortising its aims. When conclusions are reached about its future TVBC should publish a list of its priorities. This will give guidance to the public and the town team of how they can best interact with the Vision to promote the high street.

3) Introduce a public register of high street landlords.

This is about transparency and accountability. The public don't know who all of our high street landlords are and we need to keep a better track. Having a public register would mean landlords would have to make their contact details available. This would enable the town team to engage with Landlords on specific projects. The Government have urged all local authorities compile these lists as part of their response to the Portas report.

4) Relax the use class policy to allow public services and other leisure activities to operate in the High Street.

Due to current restrictions in the Council's planning document– no public service operators such as doctors or dentists or leisure services such as gymnasiums are able to deliver services on the ground levels of the high street. The changing use of High Streets should be recognised within planning policy and the fact that public services will attract people into the town centre. A balance needs to be struck so the floodgates are not opened to non-retail units but there should be some flexibility in the current rules.

5) Meet with AXA Insurance on a regular basis to discuss the vacancy rate and marketing plan of units in the Chantry Centre.

TVBC should meet with AXA on a regular basis to discuss how they are trying to maximise the take up of their vacant units in the Chantry Centre. This would include their marketing of the units or any plans they have to split and reduce the rate of some units. The results of these discussions should be published to members and any non-confidential items to the town team.

6) Work with private landlords to establish a protocol for the use of pop up shops and market the opportunity.

There is no point in shops standing empty. Even if a business wants to use a shop for a temporary period of time or to try out the market they should be given the opportunity to do so.

7) Work with organisations to develop a programme of events and street performance in the town centre.

TVBC should work with the Town Team, town council and the Andover Vision to promote a programme of food festivals, sporting opportunities and street performance to encourage a more leisure based environment in the town centre.

8) Free hire of the time ring for performance artists on market day.

This would encourage local musicians and others to perform in the town centre. They would do this to raise their profile and pickup donations – whilst providing something extra for visitors to enjoy whilst passing by. It would be a pre-requisite to register and subject to agreement could be administered through the Town council.

9) Market tables for a fiver - 3 x £5 starter pitches for small businesses and charities.

The market has agreed in principal to provide space for five businesses and five charities to have a one table pitch for £5 per week. This would encourage small businesses and charities to sell their wares for little risk and provide an enhanced market for customers. If small businesses can make profit from this they could potentially move on to a bigger pitch. The same business or charity would only have access to this offer once a month to prevent an unfair advantage to existing market retailers. The Andover Town Council is already looking at this and subject to agreement could be administered through them.

10) TVBC to liaise private landlords of empty shops to seek permission to put up high quality images in the shop windows.

The streetscape should be enlivened by the production of high quality images to appear in the windows of vacant shops. Empty shops in the high street make the town centre look run down and unloved. By putting up images, for example of local landmarks, would make the high street more attractive.

11) Encourage Al-fresco dining.

Continue to encourage al-fresco dining by working with cafe's, pubs and restaurants to approve tables and chairs licenses. It is important to re-commit and advertise this priority to demonstrate the fact the high streets have become more of a place for leisure.

12) Street furniture to be repaired and cleaned.

Some of the street furniture in Andover, including benches, recycling points and planters are looking tired and in the need of a spruce up. These should be repaired and cleaned to promote an enhanced environment.

13) Install enhanced on the go re-cycling centres.

Recycling is becoming a part of the daily routine for many people. The installation of an 'On-the-Go' recycling zone, designed for post-consumer waste, will provide an image for a town centre that is clean, attractive and environmentally friendly. There is a small recycling facility in Andover at the top of the high street. This should be improved and another one installed in the walkway by the bus station.

14) Install a pay on exit system in the multi-storey car park when finance permits.

With no time limit on customer stays pay on exit car parks will encourage people to say in town longer, especially with increased focus on leisure activities.

15) Establish a system to capture quantitative information about Andover Town centre's but also to understand what people think and feel about how it works and how it's performing.

This should include making the most of existing footfall counters to assess the impact of different projects set out in this document as well as carrying on with the high street surveys to establish how customers feel about the town centre. Findings should be published so they are available to retailers and the public.

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I think we need to encourage more small indies into town than a department store. Why be like a small Basingstoke? Some good ideas there!
- @AndoverUK

I think your ideas are good and especially to have a town team to do everything possible to promote and look after our town. Agree that the business rates have to come down. Some rates are better than no rates coming in - no brainer! Keeping the town clean and maintained - not letting it get run down before doing any updates or repairs. Also to getting more entertainment, a great idea to have an ice rink in town for a few days.
- AAndrews

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23 OCT 2012

Alamein Ward Profile Published

The new Alamein Ward profile has now been published on the TVBC website containing demographic and socio-economic information about the communities that make up Alamein Ward.

TVBC are currently preparing profiles for all Borough Wards to help us with identifying need and priorities within communities as we plan for the future. They are also a key tool for our work with the Local Government Association and the development of ward budgets.

They have been made public so partner agencies, Parish Councils', Residents Associations' and individuals can use the information in the work they are doing locally and as a point of reference.

It is envisaged that they will be updated periodically when more detailed census data is available. To download the profile, click here.

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21 OCT 2012

El Alamein Commemoration Day

"This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

The reaction of Winston Churchill after the allied victory at the battle of El Alamein, the turning point in the Second World War.

Hitler's so called 'soft underbelly' had been exposed', the vital supply line of the Suez Canal was secured preventing the Middle Eastern oil fields from falling into enemy hands, Tobruk was recaptured and perhaps just as importantly it improved moral at home. Churchill ordered the church bells to ring out across the Country.

It certainly improved the fortunes of the great man himself, who since the Battle of Britain, had to survive 2 votes of no confidence in the House of Commons.  But the battle changed everything. As Winston later said: "Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat."

Today is El Alamein Commemoration Day and Tuesday 23rd October will mark 70 years since the beginning of the conflict.  

Many of the injured from the battle were brought back to Enham to undergo their recovery and at the end of the Second World War Egypt gifted Enham Charity £6 million to thank Britain for liberating them from the Nazi's.  This was used to help and care for disabled ex-serviceman. To thank the Egyptian's for their present the name 'Alamein' was added to the village of Enham.

To mark the 70th anniversary this weekend there was a series of special events in the village with a 1940's evening to raise money for the Trust,  the firing of the 25 pounder gun (pictured), the cottage on the green turned into a 1940's house and a concert in the Landale Wilson Hall.

The commemoration service today was especially poignant as we remember all those that fought for the freedom of mankind.

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Great occasion today Phil, good to see you at Enham Alamein.
- Janet

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19 OCT 2012

Farmers Market gets fruity for National Apple Day

Andover's Hampshire Farmers' Market will be filled with fabulous fruity treats this Sunday 21 October, to celebrate National Apple Day.

Helping to keep the doctor away will be Blackmoor Farm Shop, with its selection of well known and not so well known apple varieties, alongside beautiful bottled apple juice and sensational cider.

This Sunday also marks the last day of National Baking Week so there will be eggs in abundance along with jams and seasonal fruits for cake and pie fillings and meat for home baked sausage rolls. Sopley Salads, a new addition to the Andover market, will be offering a wonderful selection of salads and vegetables.

The market, which runs from 10am to 2pm, is held in the pedestrianised area of the High Street and hosts the tastiest treats from top local suppliers.

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18 OCT 2012

Princess Royal Plants first Tree in Jubilee Wood

HRH Princess Royal visited Alamein Ward today and planted the first tree of the new Diamond Jubilee Wood.

There are 60 new woods being planted across the Country to mark HM the Queen's 60 year reign and it is special to have one of these woods in Alamein - situated between Augusta Park and Smannell and Enham.

The project organised by the County Council, the Diamond Jubilee Wood Project and Andover Trees United will see 44 acres of woodland planted on land secured from the Nelson Dance family and named the Queen Elizabeth II wood. A copse will be named after our late colleague David Kirk, who did so much for education across Hampshire.

Pupils of Endeavour school and Smannell and Enham Primary planted further trees at the ceremony with other schools across Andover planting and maintaining the community woodland in the coming months.

It was great to welcome Her Royal Highness to Alamein Ward as we celebrate a lasting legacy of Jubilee year.

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15 OCT 2012

Walking the Testway for Enham

Yesterday I completed the 25.5 mile trek of the Testway from St Mary Bourne to Romsey Memorial Park to raise money for the Enham Trust.

It is a tremendous pleasure to represent the village of Enham Alamein and I am so proud of the work of the Trust.  Enham provides residential care and employment to disabled people designing individual programmes to develop confidence and skills.

I completed the walk/jog in 5hrs 20mins and raised over £50 (not as much as last year as I am also running the marathon for Enham in April).

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12 OCT 2012

Local Plan Consultation Deferred

The public consultation on the revised Test Valley Borough Local Plan has now been deferred to the new year.

The Revised Local Plan will set out how the needs of the local communities, including housing and employment, will be met for the next 20 years. The decision to delay is to allow additional time for the Council to take account of further Government guidance and the implications of the current South East Plan which is due to be, but not yet revoked.

The Council wants to ensure that it has a robust and up to date local plan to consult on and submit to the Secretary of State. In order to do so the Council needs to seek clarification from the Government as to their timetable to revoke the South East Plan, which it is still legally obliged to follow.

The regional plan contains a centrally imposed housing figure for Test Valley some 350 homes higher than the proposed local plan, which has been established based on the needs of the local community.

It is frustrating that the Government has been prevented from reacting quickly to deliver on its promise of revoking the South East Plan, as a result of European legislation.

The Council are seeking clarification from them as to their proposed timetable to revoke the current plan. This will then free the way for us to finalise our new plan based on local needs.  

Through consultation with planners my colleagues and I have made sure that the Local Gaps between Andover and Enham Alamein & Smannell have been protected in the proposals. Alamein Ward has already taken its fair share of housing at East Anton and it is important we protect the remaining local gaps wherever possible.

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11 OCT 2012

Road Closure Signs to Return to Icknield Way

Following the removal of the 'road closure' signs from Icknield Way last week it has become clear that drivers are contravening the closure order and are illegally using the bottleneck past Lillywhite Crescent and Loveridge Close as a cut through to the A343.

Many residents have contacted me about this is last few days outlining their concern and rightly pointing out the dangerous situation.

I feared this would happen and had previously made my views know to the highways team and developers.  I was assured that as buses didn't use this route anymore then we would not need select barriers - but it seemed obvious to me that such a small hump would not deter motorists wanting to use the cut though. I had previously been promised if this did happen then we could make the developers provide a more permanent block.

I have been touch with the highways team and have arranged for road closure signs to go back up tomorrow morning.

Working with the developer, we are also looking at a scheme to place permanent bollards at one end and lockable bollards at the other which will allow access for emergencies and maintenance but will solve the problem.

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08 OCT 2012

Council Tax Freeze for a Third Year

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has today announced that Council Tax will be frozen again next year. Test Valley has frozen the Council Tax for the last two years and we will now be set to do it again. In these difficult times it is important we keep the tax burden as low as possible and I will certainly be urging my colleagues to take up the Governments offer.

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03 OCT 2012

New figures show TVBC can protect Disabled Residents from Council Tax Benefit Changes

I have blogged before on the localisation of Council tax benefit and the Council's initial proposals to ensureeverybody of working age pays at least 10% of the Council tax bill.

I fully support that ethos but I do have concerns about the plight of disabled residents in Test Valley – especially many of the clients of Enham that could be affected. Those who cannot work should be treated as an exception.

I have been working with Enham Trust and the Head of Revenues and Benefits at TVBC to come up with a practical way we can ensure that happens. If Test Valley were to protect all disabled people currently claiming ESA (Employment Support Allowance), which provides financial help to people who are unable to work – this would cost 45K, a manageable amount to find.

The Council could pay for this by taking the hit or it could cover it by adding 2% to the minimum contribution other working age people would have to pay bringing that minimum to 12%.

As I have said before with less money – it is clear tough choices have to be made but I am convinced we should protect those unable to work. Increasing the minimum threshold to 12% for those who can work would encourage employment and make work pay.

Members of the Council's Scrutiny Committee will be looking at this next Wednesday and I will be proposing that we recommend to Cabinet that this change is made.

The Council's public consultation runs until 12th November and you can respond here.

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01 OCT 2012

Augusta Park Newsletter

The latest Augusta Park resident's newsletter has been published today and you can download it here - Augusta Park Newsletter. It gives further information about the new Augusta Park Residents Association who are organising their first community event on the 31st October as well as current opening times of the community centre. It also details more information about the Neighbourhood Watch, community litter pick and the opportunity to claim £50 for new homers to purchase cycling equipment from Halfords courtesy of the developers.

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30 SEP 2012

Andover Invests in a Scary Solution

The Scary Guy is coming back to Andover later this month so he can deliver his inspirational programme to a new generation of school children.

We live in a world where anti-social behaviour can and in many instances does blight our lives. Andover is no different and has its fair share of problems. We want to help change this.

The Scary Guy – his legal name, has a 15-year track record of delivering highly effective emotional intelligence education programmes worldwide. He delivers the tools for every individual to create positive change in behaviours at a core level.

Myself and former director at Testway, Ivor Evans, have been striving to bring this project to fruition and we have now received sufficient funding from business, TVBC, Winton School and Hampshire Police to set up a pilot. We are hopeful that we can turn this into a sustainable long term project with even more schools across Andover participating.

In his 4-day visit to Winton School, The Scary Guy will share with staff and students the same powerful theories and concepts that he recently presented to the United States Air Force Cadets in Colorado on their annual leadership-training programme.

There will also be an opportunity to meet the Scary Guy at the Parent & Community Event at Winton School on Thursday 11th October at 6 – 7.30pm, designed to explain to businesses and community leaders how their support can help even more young people. It will also give parents the opportunity to hear directly from the Scary Guy in relation to the ongoing benefits of the project.

If you would like to participate in or support the development of this project, then please let me do let me know and I will arrange for you to attend the evening.

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19 SEP 2012

Review of the Funfair on Smannell Open Space

As many local residents will know the funfair came to the open space on Smannell road last week and operated from Thursday 13th until Sunday 16th September.

In previous years the attendance of the fair has sparked debate locally about the amount of noise and disruption experienced by residents. A decision was therefore taken by TVBC, with the support Alamein Ward Councillors to reduce the number of funfairs per year from three to two. One in the Spring and one in the Autumn.

Following last weeks fair – I received one complaint and the Council received one other about the level of noise taking place until quite late at night. There was a concern from one of the complainants that quite a few residents simply suffer in silence and tolerate the fairs.

It is important to get the balance right so people can enjoy the fair but also that it doesn't unduly affect local people. I have agreed with TVBC that we review things before the schedule for 2013 is drawn up – this might include placing a restriction on the finishing time, reducing further the amount of visits or the amount of days the fair is there for.

With such a small number of complaints at the moment – I am not convinced that any changes necessarily need to be made but I want to hear from local residents.

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With so many other suitable areas , I fail to understand why you don't move the fair to a field elsewhere ?? It would make sense ! How about charlton lakes !
-

This is certainly something that can be considered when we look at the fair next year. Traditionally it has been on the open space on the Smannell Road as it attracts lots of customers there.
- Phil North

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17 SEP 2012

Update on Roadworks in Roman Way

I have today received an e-mail from Senior Highways Engineer, Dave Irving via County Councillor Pam Mutton setting out the current situation with the ongoing roadworks in Roman and Viking Way.

The works to improve the road and parking lay-bys are being undertaken by Taylor Wimpey's contractor as part of the planning permission at East Anton.  Whilst the works are essential and will make the lives of residents in that part of Roman Way easier with increased parking capacity, they are taking an age to complete.

The situation is incredibly frustrating and after being told two weeks ago that they would be done at the end of that week - I then got a note to say they had been delayed for a further week and should have been finished last Friday. On Friday I received a phone call saying it could take up to another 2 or 3 weeks.  This is unacceptable and I have

 made that clear to Hampshire County Council who are overseeing the work.  As you can see from the e-mail below keeping up the pressure has worked to a certain extend and the developers contractor have now promised to commit more resources to the works so they are finished by early next month.  I will be keeping an eye on proceedings to make sure this agreement is not breached.  See below for the e-mail

"Dear Pam,

Frank Smith has just sent me some information on what has happened. These works on Roman Way are covered by a Section 278 Agreement and are being constructed by the developer as part of the East Anton MDA.

The delays are mainly due to utility diversion works which have effectively delayed these works by 6 weeks. In addition the contractor has not provided sufficient resources to make up the time lost. Unfortunately as it is the developer not Hampshire County Council employing the contractor, we oversee the works so they are built to our standards, we have no control over them. Frank has asked the contractor on a number of times when the works will be completed and was given a number of different dates all of which have not been achieved which is as frustrating to us as much as it is to Councillor North.

However, our Inspector has had a site meeting today with the Project Manager for the developer, Taylor Wimpey and the contractor to discuss the delays and to agree the timescale to complete the works.The following was agreed with the contractor and we are more confident these dates will be achieved as the contractor is brining in additional recourses from tomorrow and we are assured they will remain on site until the works are complete.

The construction works on Roman Way on the side of the residence will be completed except for the final surfacing in the laybys and footway so the can be opened to residence use by the 21 September. All other works will be completed by the 5 October including the final surfacing of the laybys and footways. We are more confident know that these dates will be achieved as from tomorrow the contractor has agreed to use additional resources which will remain on site until the works are complete.

There are also some street lighting works to be completed but again we are making every effort to ensure that the Street Lighting Contractor will also be complete by the 5 October.

Regards
David Irving Highways Manager- Test Valley & Eastleigh Hampshire County Highways"

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14 SEP 2012

Enham Joins the Campaign to Revise Council Tax Benefit Proposals

Yesterday I joined representatives of the Enham Trust to meet with head of revenues and benefits at TVBC to talk through the new council tax benefit proposals.

As I have said before – whilst in favour of the ethos that residents of working age should contribute at least 10% to their council tax bill. Disabled residents who cannot work should be protected.

This could be funded by reducing the amount of discount someone of working age and ability should receive. Increasing the minimum threshold to more than 10% would encourage employment and make work pay.

I set out this proposal in more detail yesterday and TVBC have agreed to do some more work and calculate more figures whilst the consultation is ongoing.

Members of the Council's Scrutiny Committee have also ensured that before any decision is made - a full options appraisal and modelling exercise is carried out - including figures on protecting those who cannot work. This report will be presented to the Councils Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the 10th October at 5:30pm in Beech Hurst. It is a public meeting and you are quite welcome to come along. You can also speak at the meeting telephoning 01264 368011 by 12 noon on the day before.

If the Committee decide there is a better way forward they can make recommendations to the Cabinet before the final scheme goes to a meeting of the Full Council.

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13 SEP 2012

Community Day this Sunday

Following the successful community awareness day in March, Andover Town Council has organised a secondcommunity day due to take place this Sunday the 16th September from 10am - 2pm.

Stalls will be run by community groups that work in Andover promoting what they do in the town. So please do come along and meet the volunteers that do so much for Andover. The event will run alongside this month's farmers market so there will be plenty to see.

Refreshments will be served in the Guildhall.

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07 SEP 2012

Advice Surgery Tomorrow

I will be holding an advice surgery tomorrow the 8th September, in the Rendezvous in Andover Union Street. I will be there from 10.00 – 11.30am. So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment. Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me here.

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05 SEP 2012

Council Tax Benefit Proposals need to change to Protect the most Vulnerable

Folowing my recent post I would like to hear from residents about TVBC's consultation on the reform of Council Tax Benefit.

The Government is reforming Council Tax Benefit as part of their wider package of reforms and have tasked every Council to come up with a localised scheme to be implemented by April 2013. Under the new scheme the Government funding will be reduced by about 12%. Council Tax Benefit helps households on low incomes to pay their Council Tax.

The Council has launched a public consultation which runs until 12th November seeking views on how the new scheme might work and on proposed changes to the rules on Council Tax exemptions and discounts on empty homes.

Under initial proposals set out by the Council, disabled residents who cannot work or can only work a small number of hours will have to pay at least 10% of their council tax – even if they are currently entitled to the full amount – which could cost them up to £100 a year.

With less money – it is clear tough choices have to be made. I fully support the ethos that residents of working age should contribute at least 10% to their council tax bill but I do have concerns about the plight of disabled residents in Test Valley – especially many of the clients of Enham that could be affected. Those who cannot work should be treated as an exception.

This could be funded by reducing the amount of discount someone of working age and ability should receive. Increasing the minimum threshold to more than 10% would encourage employment and make work pay. I would like to see more flexibility in Test Valley's scheme and this will form the basis of my response to the consultation.

There is also an argument to protect the current 100% benefit for those with children under five who are currently entitled to the full amount– reducing the risk of child poverty. I would be interested to hear the public's view on this. These are both measures that other Council's are taking to protect the most vulnerable and to encourage work.

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30 AUG 2012

Archaeology Field Walk Augusta Park

Local residents are invited to take part in a special archaeology field-walk to learn more about the history of the new community woodland site at Augusta Park off Icknield Way.

The field-walk is being held on Saturday 8 September 2012 from 1pm to 4pm, to unearth the site's ancient history before the Jubilee woodlands are planted. Crop patterns on the former farm-land site indicate the presence of buried archaeology, possibly spanning the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods.

During the field walk, local metal detector clubs and the County Archaeology team will be on hand to help identify any finds and explain more about the site's past.

The community woodland, created in partnership with Andover Trees United and Test Valley Borough Council, will be one of three Diamond Woodlands planted by the County Council to commemorate Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

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22 AUG 2012

Consultation Launched on Council Tax Benefit Reforms

The Government is reforming Council Tax Benefit as part of its wider welfare reform programme and has asked councils across the country to develop a localised Council Tax Support scheme to be introduced by 1 April 2013.

Test Valley has this week launched a public consultation from now until the 12 November, seeking views on a proposed new scheme and how it might work.

Council Tax Benefit helps households on low incomes to pay their Council Tax but when the Government provides councils with the overall funding for the new locally based schemes it will be reduced by around 12%. This means that Test Valley Borough Council will have £70,000 less to fund the new scheme.  The shortage in funding means that the Council will have to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial support and how much.

The Government has stated that pensioner claimants or those due to become pensioners, must be protected from the effects of any changes. Under the new scheme, support for pensioners will remain at the same level as now.

The Government's proposed changes to the Council Tax Benefit scheme and the reduction in funding available for this scheme will most likely result in all working age residents, who currently receive Council Tax Benefit, having to pay something towards their Council Tax bill.

This is something I fully support -residents of working ability should contribute at least 10% if not more to their Council tax bill - but I do have major concerns about the plight of disabled residents in Alamein Ward - especially many of the clients at Enham that could be affected.  There is an argument that those who cannot work or don't earn enough through work because of their disability should be treated as an exception and if their whole council tax liability is currently funded through benefits then it should remain this way rather than having to pay a minimum of 10% if they can't afford to do so.  I will be working with the Enham Trust in my response to the consultation to try and get the best deal for disabled residents in Alamein who could be seriously affected by these chenges.

Other measures being considered are:

• Capping the level of benefit to a Band D property for those working age claimants living in properties on a higher Council Tax band (E, F, G & H)

• Making working age customers responsible for at least 10% of their Council Tax liability

For second homes and empty properties:

• Abolishing the current 10% Council Tax discount for second homes

• Abolishing the current 50% Council Tax discount for vacant properties, that applies after the current 6 month 100% exemption period, so that the full rate of Council Tax is payable

• Reducing the current 100% exemption period for vacant properties from 6 months to 3 months, after which the full rate of Council Tax is payable

• Introducing a premium Council Tax payment of an additional 50%, on top of the full rate, for properties that are vacant for two years or more.

A copy of the draft Council Tax Support scheme can be viewed here and you can respond to the consultation here.

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18 AUG 2012

Farmers' Market in Andover Tomorrow

The famous Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers are set to showcase their award winning wares at the Hampshire Farmers'Market in Andover town centre tomorrow.

The market,  held in  the High Street from 10am to 2pm, will host their delicious Stoney Cross and Old Winchester cheeses, which received top marks at the recent Nantwich Cheese Awards.

Supporting the Farmers' Market is just one of the ways the Borough Council hopes to achieve its aim of helping to stimulate the local economy. To see such a wonderful variety of small businesses from across Hampshire selling their outstanding produce, is great news.  Do go down and check it out.

Future dates for the Sunday markets in 2012 are as follows:

16 September
21 October
18 November
16 December

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13 AUG 2012

Local Gaps Protected as Consultation for Local Plan set for Autumn

 

At the end of last month the Council agreed to a revise the timetable for the production of the Local Development  Framework and has decided that it should now consist of two documents. These are a 'The Test Valley Borough Local Plan' covering housing and development needs for the next 20 years and a 'Gypsy & Traveller' document. The decision to extend the process by 3 months will ensure the Council has a more robust and up to date local plan to consult upon and submit to the Secretary of State.

The amalgamation of the previous Core Strategy and Designation Development Plan Document into a local plan will bring together in one document the housing and employment allocations as well as the necessary development control policies

Since agreeing the original timetable, when the Core Strategy and Development Management Development Plan for the Borough were launched in October 2011, a number of issues have arisen to make it sensible to revisit the format and timing of the exercise. The

Government have now produced the National Planning Policy Framework and the Borough Council needs to ensure its proposals are consistent with the new guidance. It is now proposed to consult on the next draft of the local plan starting in the autumn.

I stood up at full Council on 26th July to ask whether the delay and the need to follow the NPPF (which sets out TVBC should have a 5.25 year land supply) would mean more strategic housing allocations for TVBC and in particular the North of the Borough. I was assured by the Portfolio holder that it didn't.

The previous Designation DPD contained the settlement boundaries, local gap boundaries and other designations used to inform the core strategy and determining planning applications. This will now be included in one document 'the local plan' but the detail affecting Alamien has not changed. The village envelope at Enham Alamein remains the same and the Local Gap between Andover and Enham Alamein and Andover and Smannell (what remains of it) has been protected.

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12 AUG 2012

Shepherds Spring & Enham Alamein Planning Applications

Apologies I haven't updated my site in a while.  I have had some problems changing hosting providers and have only just managed to get back in to update it.

Since my last article there have some been some important decisions taken affecting AlameinWard that I want to briefly outline.  Unfortunately the controversial planning application for the 50 homes to the rear of the former Shepherds Spring School has been given the go ahead by the Planning Control Committee. It was previously turned down by the area Planning Committee – where I spoke against application on the basis of road safety. The access and egress to the site is between the two centres of education (Spring Meadow & Andover Education Centre). I believed the application was against the existing borough local plan -specifically policy TRA 05 which states - "Development will not be permitted where access to the highway is unsafe for existing and proposed users". No development should have been allowed in this area until an alternative access was established. Unfortunately this has not been the case but my colleagues and I have ensured a condition has been put on the application stating the following:

"Notwithstanding the submitted details, no development whatsoever shall commence until such timeas a detailed traffic calming scheme for the access road has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be to a maximum design speed of 20mph, and this shall be evidenced within the submission. The scheme shall be provided when the access road is constructed, which shall occur prior to the commencement of any other development hereby permitted, other than in respect of the requirements of condition 12. The scheme of traffic calming measures shall thereafter remain in place in accordance with the approved details."


Secondly– The application by the Enham Trust to build an extra 395 dwellings in the village has been turned down by Test Valley. I spoke and voted against this application for a number of reasons. Fundamentally it is against policy and the amountof development proposed for Greenfield land was unacceptable. Furthermore the enabling argument deployed by the Trust was proved to be financially unsustainable by an independent report conducted by Savills. I am a big supporter of the Enham Trust and understand the need to re-develop some of their accommodation. However this needs to be done in a way that is sympathetic to the village and the existing residents. I look forward to talking with the Chief Executive about future plans and have tasked them to come upwith a plan B.

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28 JUN 2012

Anton Lakes Path Re-woodchipped

50 volunteers from Lloyds banking group are today assisting the Council in laying new wood chips at Anton Lakes Local Nature Reserve.

The path runs from the bottom of the main lake along to Tintagel Close in King Arthurs Way.

The path was levelled yesterday ready for the installation of further wood chippings and it is hoped that this will reduce the build up of water that currently creates boggy conditions.

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27 JUN 2012

Endeavour School Opens

Last week I attended the official opening of Endeavour Primary School on Augusta Park.

It was a fantastic morning of celebration. After being shown around by the children, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan cut the the ribbon to open the school. Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins was also on hand to open the sun house.

It is amazing what you can do when you build a school from scratch. The layout, the use of space and modern technology provides the perfect environment to help the children as they embark on their journey of learning.

Each classroom is named after an explorer, ranging from Edmund Hilary to Ellen MacArthur, showing children the sorts of careers they can aspire to if they keep up their 'endeavour' to do their best.

Although in its early days there is real culture of aspiration flowing through the school.

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22 JUN 2012

Licence for Burger Van Turned Down

You may recall that last month an application was submitted to TVBC for a street trading licence for a hot snack van to be situated in the lay-by adjacent to the Adult Education Centre and Spring Meadow Children's Centre along Smannell Road.

I blogged here on why I was opposing the application on the grounds that it is unsafe, will create public nuisance and will be damaging to the environment. My fellow Alamein Ward Councillors, Janet Whiteley and Alex Brook also objected to the proposal.

I can confirm that the application has now been rejected by the Borough Council as it is a totally inappropriate site.

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20 JUN 2012

Advice Surgery this Saturday

I will be holding an advice surgery this Saturday the 23rd June, in the Rendezvous in Andover Union Street. I will be there from 10.00 – 11.30am. So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment.  Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me here.

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13 JUN 2012

Success of Andover Farmers Market Leads to Extension

The success of the new Andover Farmers Market will see it continuing until the end of 2012 at least as residents have been showing their support. A drop in visitor numbers last year led to fears that the market would close, but negotiations between Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire Farmers' Market resulted in an agreement to trial a 'new look' Farmers Market in Andover for six months.

The first of these took place in January this year and since then there has been a steady increase in both the number of stalls and visitors. The success of the project now means that the collaboration between Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire Farmers' Market has secured a continuation of the market in Andover until the end of 2012.

The next Andover Farmers Market will take place this Sunday, 17 June 2012 in Andover High Street.

Future dates for the Sunday markets in 2012 are as follows:

15th July, 19th August, 16th September, 21st October, 18th November & 16 December.

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12 JUN 2012

Test Valley to end Social Tenancies for Life

As I said on this website last November the time has come to end council houses for life.  We need to free up houses for people that need them most and the individuals and families that can afford not to live in a council house should find housing through the private sector.

Powers under the Localism Act mean that that ideal is set to become a reality in Test Valley.  The Council has produced a draft  tenancy strategy setting out plans that expect Registered Social Landlords (RSL's) to grant a fixed tenancy of 5 years.  After which the tenancy could be terminated if the tenant could afford to rent privately or buy a house.

The Localism Act sets the minimum fixed term tenancy at two years - but there are some obvious disadvantages of adopting the minimum, such as the way tenants on short term arrangements will look after their properties.  Therefore I think 5 years is the right balance to strike and if an individual or families can then afford to rent in the private sector or buy their own home they should have to do so - freeing up houses for people that need them most.

The new policy is set to be decided by Test Valley's Cabinet in July - as I have said before the new plans cannot be applied retrospectively so tenants that already have a tenancy can stay there.

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31 MAY 2012

Shepherds Spring Application Turned Down

The planning application submitted by Hampshire County Council for 50 dwellings on the land to the rear of Shepherds Spring School was tonight turned down by the Northern Area Planning Committee.

I spoke out against the proposed application on the basis of road safety. The access and egress to the site was proposed to be between the two centres of education (Spring Meadow & Andover Education Centre). I believe the application was against the existing borough local plan - specifically policy TRA 05 which states - "Development will not be permitted where access to the highway is unsafe for existing and proposed users".

The committee suggested it is likely that some development will take place there but due to the amount of traffic generated and the proposed access not one member voted for the application.

Unfortunately though as the planning officer recommended it for permission it will now be referred to the Council's Planning Control Committee which will have to decide whether or not to uphold the decision tonight.  I will be asking my colleagues on that committee to turn it down.

I have suggested to the County Council that they should withdraw the application and only come back when they have a better plan that is more acceptable that doesn't put children's safety in danger.

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28 MAY 2012

Objection to Burger Van Licence

A street trading licence application has been submitted to TVBC for a fast food van proposed to be situated on the service  road directly opposite to the Children's Centre and next to the Andover Education Cente on the Smannell Road.

The applicant has asked for a licence to trade between the hours of 7am - 11pm  6 days a week and between 3pm - 11pm on Sundays.

As one of your Borough Councillors I have been notified as an official consultee and have subsequently lodged an objection.  I have no problem with someone wanting to develop their business in this way and I have no problem with burger vans.  However this is not the right location.  It is unsafe, will create public nuisance and will be damaging to the environment of Alamein Ward.  My full leter of objection is set out below:

"I wish to formally object to the application for the following reasons.

1) Highways - the service road is used by people parking for the Church Centre, Spring Meadow Children's centre or the Education Centre. To allow such an application would reduce the capacity of parking. This would lead to extra cars stopping on the Smannell road - causing a danger to parents and children trying to cross the road at this uncontrolled point.Cars stopped on the Smannell road so close to the roundabout will lead to an unacceptable build up of traffic at peak times - which would be exacerbated if the planning application for 50 dwellings on the land to the rear of the former Shepherds Spring school gets the go ahead.

2) Litter - the granting of this application will have a detrimental effect on the environment of Alamein Ward. Evidence from other sites suggest that chip and burger wrappers will be strewn about half a mile in each direction. Although dropping litter is against the law - and it isn't the applicants responsibility to enforce it - increased levels of litter will result as a direct consequence of this operation.

3) Anti-Socail Behaviour - the requested hours of operation make this a prime site for young people to gather late at night and either during or after consuming alcohol. This would lead to increased levels of anti-social behaviour in what is a predominantly residential area.

It has also been suggested that allowing a fast food van so close to a centre of education would be detrimental to the health of young people.  It is not the role of the Local Authority to dictate to people what they should or should not eat, that is a matter for them, but it is the role of the Council to prevent crime and disorder, uphold public safety, protect the environment and prevent public nuisance and it is for these reasons that I object to the application."

Highways have also submitted an objection on safety grounds and I am hopeful that this application will be rejected.  I will of course notify you through an update to this website on the outcome.

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25 MAY 2012

Smannell Road Stopping up Set for July

The work to stop up the Smannell Road will start in July it has been confirmed this week.  The plan by the developer to re-direct Smannell Road through Augusta Park got the go ahead last year despite an enquiry.  The Smannell Parish Council along with the borough councillors of all political parties were against the plans including the re-direction of farm vehicles around the new development.

The works is scheduled to start on the 16th July and last for a period of 12 weeks.  The detailed Traffic Management scheme will need to be agreed with Hampshire County Council in June and this will determine precisely when within the 12 week period Smannell Road will be stopped up.

I will be making representations that there should be continuing access down the current/new Smannell Road route whilst the works go on.

 

 

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22 MAY 2012

Broadband on Augusta Park - Public Meeting 30th May 2012

Speaking to residents the provision of broadband on Augusta Park has been one of the biggest issues for some time and with only one provider in 'See the Light' many residents have complained to me about a lack of competition.

I have been working hard to resolve the problem and have held meetings with both Taylor Wimpey and the owners of the fibre network cable, Independent Fibre Networks Ltd (INFL). IFNL have admitted that there had been unforseen delays in encouraging other providers but have assured me that they are now in the process of encouraging new suppliers, other than 'See the Light' - including an imminent deal with one particular supplier.

INFL's representative - Graeme Scott has agreed to attend a public meeting to explain the situation and I have arranged for him to come to the community centre on 30th May 2012.  The meeting will start at 6:30pm and after his initial update - you will have the opportunity to ask him questions.

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21 MAY 2012

Enham Planning Application to be Decided on July 12th

The Enham Charity planning application is set to be decided at a planning committee meeting on 12th July 2012.

The application comprises of the erection of up to 900 square metres of offices/workshop (Class B1) for use by the charity and its related businesses. The erection of up to 395 homes for both sale and rent. Up to 1,200 square metres of charity facilities (Class D1).  Up to 200 square metres extension to existing charity shop (Class A1), children's play spaces, village square, greens and gardens, sport and recreation facilities, allotments, tree and plant nursery, footpaths and cycle ways and associated infrastructure works on brownfield and greenfield Land.

The planning meeting starts at 5:30pm in Conference Room 1 at the Council Offices in Beech Hurst, Weyhill Road. It is a public meeting and you are quite welcome to come along.

I know many local residents have strongly held views about this application – and I have spoken to many of you about this personally. I too have concerns about the level of greenfield houses proposed and will be standing up for residents views at the planning meeting.

If at any time details change and the application is not discussed on the 12th July – I will notify you on this website.

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17 MAY 2012

Jubilee Jamboree - 3rd June 2012

 reminder, if you haven' seen it already that you are invited the fabulous 'Jubilee Jamboree' event that will be taking place on Sunday 3rd June in Beech Hurst Park.

The event has been put together as part of the Andover Vision Live programme and is a celebration of all things British. The event is free for the whole family and will feature live music including performances from Test Valley Brass, community farm, creative workshops, stilt walkers, face-painting, community craft and food market and of course, a sea of red, white and blue bunting.

Andover Live have also worked with the Andover Carnival to ensure that as part of their 'Wheels of Andover' event in the High Street that day, the free open top bus will take people from the town centre up to the park.  I hope that you will be able to make it along to this great event which runs from 11am - 5pm.

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16 MAY 2012

Shepherds Spring Application set to be Decided on May 31st

The planning application submitted by Hampshire County Council for 50 dwellings on the land to the rear of Shepherds Spring School is set to be decided by the planning committee on the 31st May.  You may remember this application was originally due to be decided by the Council on the 8th March but was deferred due to the requirement of extra traffic survey information.

The planning meeting starts at 5:30pm in Conference Room 1 at the Council Offices in Beech Hurst, Weyhill Road. It is a public meeting and you are quite welcome to come along. The application is currently scheduled as first on the agenda.

I know that many local residents have strongly held views about this application - which is why my colleagues and I called it to committee to be debated and decided in public. It is also why we organised a public meeting so we could put your concerns to the planners and the applicant.

We will be outlining the public's view about this application when it is decided on 31st May.

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11 MAY 2012

An Invitation to Join Andover's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

Andover Town Council is inviting all Andover residents to join us at 12.30pm on Sunday 27th May to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in front of the Guildhall

This prestigious event will see the dedication of the Elizabeth II Jubilee Plaque.  Identical to the plaque  put up on The Guildhall in 1953 to mark the Coronation (pictured).

Canon John Harkin, Vicar at St Mary's Church will conduct a patriotic service in front of the Guildhall and local Scout and Guide Groups will form a guard of honour to salute our Queen.

Her Majesty has shown 60 years of dedication and service and it is only right that Andover formally marks the occasion.

There is something quite romantic about recreating the events in Andover in 1953 and after 60 remarkable years we can again celebrate the reign of Her Majesty.  We want to bring the people of Andover together  in celebration and commemoration of this great moment in our National history".

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10 MAY 2012

Improvements to Andover Railway Station Commence

I am pleased that the second phase of the partnership enhancement project to improve Andover railway station is due to start this coming Monday, May 14th.

This phase will see substantial changes to the layout of the area outside the front of the station and should take three months to complete. The forecourt will be re-paved and the boundary walls to the segregated short stay car park removed. The result
should see a more open and attractive area with improved taxi rank and easier access for drop offs and pick ups.

Within the station there will also be significant change. A new freestanding shop will be constructed on the main platform with the old shop becoming the new waiting room. Customer toilets will be provided within the existing buildings on the main platform as well as a refurbishment of the existing toilets on the island platform.

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11 APR 2012

Spring is in the Air: Farmers Market this Sunday

The Farmers Market returns to Andover High Street this coming Sunday. In addition to the wide range of local produce all  Fernlea Nurseries and Andover Country Market will be bringing along a great selection of trees, shrubs and plants.

Hampshire Organic Gardeners will also be making their first visit to Andover Market so if you'd like to know more about
organic gardening then they should have all the answers.

Sunday will also see a wonderful selection of Hampshire produce including free range meats, award winning cheeses, wine, apple juice, fresh and smoked fish, jams and chutney. In addition, local bread producer The Flour Stall will bringing a wonderful selection of artisan breads and bakes to mark the beginning of National Bread Week, 16th – 22nd April.

The Farmers Market forms an important part of revitalising our High Street so please go along and pick up some great produce.

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30 MAR 2012

Easter Holiday Activities at East Anton

The Community Devlopment Officer, Sharon Goodridge, funded by the developers at Augusta Park, is putting on a range of activities in the area throughout the Easter holidays.

A family games morning will take place between 10 am and 12 noon on Wednesday 11 April at the open space near the play park at Hedgerow Walk. As well as activities and games there will be an Easter Egg Hunt and refreshments kindly supplied by Sentinel Housing Association.

On Thursday 12 April, there will be an hour long Easter Holiday Family Health Walk which will leave the community centre at 10 am.  Children will be invited to create a map of the route after the walk at the  community centre where refreshments will be served.

Adults and children are welcome at both events. For further information please contact Sharon on 01264 368622.

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27 MAR 2012

National Planning Policy Framework Published

The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which has been drawn up following consultation, has been published today. The document is designed to give guidance to local councils in drawing up local plans and determining planning applications. The Framework reduces over 1,300 pages of complicated planning policy to just 52. The new policy can be found here.

The NPPF still suggests favour towards 'sustainable' development but the definition has been strengthened by the public consultation. It now includes specific references to brownfield land as well as outlining the five guiding principles: living within the planet's means; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance and using sound science responsibly. This was never a developers charter but I am more happy now that the word 'sustainable' has been defined, that this will not lead to bad development.

The planning system must achieve a balance and I am glad the policy gives more power to local authorities to determine what is right for them.

We are currently putting together our local plan in Test Valley and I will be going through the NPPF to see if we can add anything of value into our plan that is not already there.  We have already changed the rules on car parking scrapping the maximum standards to ensure that if more car parking is needed we need not be restricted by our local plan.

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19 MAR 2012

Olympic Torch Relay Route Revealed

The Olympic Torch Relay is coming to Andover on Wednesday 11th July and this morning the route has been revealed.  It will get under way at 4.15pm at the Lloyds TSB offices in Charlton Place before being carried past St Mary's Church and down the High Street.  It will then go up Weyhill Road and finish at East Portway at just after 4.40pm.

For a map of the route click here.

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08 MAR 2012

Shepherds Spring Planning Application - Withdrawn

The application seeking outline permission for 50 dwellings on the land to the rear of the former Shepherds Spring School has been withdrawn from tonight's planning meeting.

There have been some anomalies discovered in the transport assessment which has implications on the highways advice.

This was always the most controversial aspect of the application and it was the traffic survey and access arguments that I was planning on raising tonight. Those figures are open to interpretation and was the argument that many of the public comments made.

I will keep you updated on the application process and let you know the date when it is due to be discussed again.

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04 MAR 2012

Sponsored Sleep In for Alabare Sponsored

On Friday night I joined friends and colleagues for another sleep in in King Arthurs Way to raise money for Alabare Christian Care. It was the 4th year I have bedded down in King Arthurs Way Hall.

Alabare provides supported housing, information and advice to homeless people, ex-offenders and youngsters.

The purpose of the sleep in was to raise sponsorship by gaining an insight in what it is like to be homeless. It was not a complete simulation as we were not out on the streets, but the uncomfortable nights sleep raised money this important cause.

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29 FEB 2012

Shepherds Spring Application set to be Decided on March 8th

The planning application submitted by Hampshire County Council for 50 dwellings on the land to the rear of Shepherds Spring School is set to be decided by the planning committee on the 8th March.

The planning meeting starts at 5:30pm in Conference Room 1 at the Council Offices in Beech Hurst, Weyhill Road. It is a public meeting and you are quite welcome to come along. The application is currently scheduled as first on the agenda.

I know that many local residents have strongly held views about this application - which is my colleagues and I called it to committee to be debated and decided in public. It is also why we organised a public meeting so we could put your concerns to the planners and the applicant.

We too have concerns about the access, parking and the subsequent safety issues that could arise from this. We have met with the senior planning officer in charge of this application to make her aware of these concerns.

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26 FEB 2012

Visit to Endeavour Primary School

Earlier this week I visited the brand new Endeavour School in Augusta Park - built by the developer as part of the contract with the Council.

The school has recently moved into the permanent building from their temporary accommodation.

I was shown around the 14 classroom school by Federation Head Teacher Anne Hughes, who also leads Knights Enham and Roman Way schools.

It is a fantastic new building that will be able to accommodate 420 pupils at full capacity. A great learning environment with lots of open space for outside activities, a solar house, a purpose build assembly hall with room for a stage and a large library.

The school has been built to specifications that will allow maximum use for the community in non school hours. With meeting areas and kitchen facilities available for residents to use.

The classrooms are named after historical explores such as Scott and Darwin with some modern additions such as Ellen Mcarthur thrown in to inspire pupils to achieve. A great addition to the new community.

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24 FEB 2012

Test Valley Delivers Council Tax Freeze - Again

At this afternoon's Council meeting, I joined many of my Test Valley colleagues to vote through a freeze in our portion of the Council Tax.

In these difficult times it is important we keep the tax burden as low as possible and despite abstentions from opposition members - I was glad we were able to freeze the Council Tax for the second year in succession.

The County Council, Hampshire Police, Hampshire Fire Authority, the Andover Town Council and Smannell Parish Council have all decided to freeze their portion of the tax as well - so the majority of residents in Alamein will enjoy a freeze across the board. The only exception to this is Enham Alamein where the Parish Council have decided to raise their share of the tax, but only by 19p on a Band D property.

Considering the reduction in central Government grant, high inflation and low interest rates it was a significant achievement to achieve the freeze and balance the budget.  This was a budget for hard times and there are harder times ahead.  I am confident though that we will be able to cope wih these external pressures and continue to deliver efficient and effective services.

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23 FEB 2012

Test Valley Launches New Website

Today, sees the launch of Test Valley Borough Council's new website.

The site is designed to meet the needs of residents and businesses in Test Valley providing a quick and easy route to access our services.

The content and navigation of the site has been developed using information taken from the most visited pages on the previous site, the subject of calls to our Customer Services Unit and website best practice.

Visitors to the site have shortcuts to check services such as bin collection days, pay bills, apply for permits and licences and report any issues. Joint hosting with Winchester City Council will see the new site deliver savings of over £12,000 per year, paying for itself within 4 years.

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22 FEB 2012

The Freedom to Pray

The ability for Local Council's to put prayers back on their agenda have been given the ahead this week after the Secretary of State signed an order to bring in the general power of competence two months early that was established as part of the Localism Act.

I very much welcome this solution following the strange decision by a judge, who last week ruled that prayers at Council meetings should be banned.

If you are religious or not I think that prayers at the beginning of a Full Council meeting provide an opportunity for quiet contemplation about the decisions ahead. Considering we have an established Church in this Country - all of our institutions play some part in upholding the Church of England. Once that becomes disregarded, I believe we are on a slippery slope and traditions become eroded.

I agree with the Secretary of State that the banning of prayers is intolerant but it is now up to the Councillors, and if the majority of Councillors want it then it should go ahead.

I have already made representations to the Leader of Test Valley that we should now go back to our usual practice, enjoyed at our last Full Council meeting, where prayers formed a formal part of the agenda.

The full statement by the Secretary of State:

"On 10 February, the High Court ruled in a case against Bideford town council, banning the practice of prayers at the formal beginning of council meetings. The basis of this ruling was a narrow interpretation of section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972. In short, the Court asserted that councils do not have an explicit power to hold prayers as part of the formal business at council meetings.

I do not believe it was ever the intention of Parliament when it passed that Act 40 years ago to prohibit council prayers, which are a common-day practice that dates back many centuries. It is my view that this judgment was another example of the public sector marginalising faith by promoting an illiberal and intolerant secularism.

I believe Christianity continues to play an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation, especially given we have an established Church. As the Prime Minister asserted in his speech in Christ Church, Oxford, in December,

"We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so".

Of course, we respect those with other faiths, and those with none. The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty, and the fight for religious freedom in British history is deeply entwined with the political freedoms we take for granted.

While Parliament's prayers are protected by the Bill of Rights, local councils have no such shield. Last week, I decided to fast-track the commencement of the general power of competence in the Localism Act 2011. Previously local authorities have only been able to do those things that the law specifically empowered them to do or which are incidental to those things. The new general power of competence turns the current situation on its head. Rather than looking to Whitehall to hand down specific powers, it enables councils to do anything that an individual could do unless it is specifically prohibited by law. These new flexibilities for councils include the freedom to pray and hold prayers at the start of council meetings, should they wish. It is also a major constitutional innovation in itself, opening the doors to greater innovation in local government and will help councils make savings through greater joint working and sharing of services.

Following the signing of a commencement order on 17 February, the power is now in effect for all principal local authorities in England and by April for parish councils meeting the necessary requirements, following the ratification of necessary (affirmative resolution) orders in both Houses of Parliament. My Department has also published an advice note on how the general power of competence will relate to parish councils and practical steps that parish councils can take in the meantime. I am also considering if further steps need to be taken to remove legal obstacles to town hall prayers.

By effectively reversing that ruling, I believe we are striking a blow for localism, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism, for long-standing British liberties over modern-day political correctness, and for parliamentary sovereignty over judicial activism."

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19 FEB 2012

Happy Birthday Church Centre

30 years ago this weekend, the Church Centre in Alamein Ward was dedicated by the Bishop of Basingstoke, a culmination of lots of hard work and fundraising by the local community.

I was pleased to join the congregation today, to celebrate a building that has not only played such a significant part in my life - as a nursery, a venue for Cubs and Scouts, my 18th birthday party, a church and polling station! But to celebrate the importance of the building for the whole community. It is more than just a Church - used almost every evening by uniformed organisations, for parties, wedding receptions and family gatherings. I even used it yesterday for a public meeting.

Some of the congregation could remember the events 30 years ago, some have been sadly lost and some weren't born. Matthew 5 - read by Revd. Andrew Ashdown summed it up:

"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

As you go about your life, comfort the poor in spirit, mourn with the mournful, seek solidarity with the meek, and that is just what the Church Centre and its people have been doing for 30 years. It is a metaphor for life. We should look after the nation, love our neighbour, we should not plunder our treasuries because we want to pass our good works onto our children.

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17 FEB 2012

Public Meeting Tomorrow

Don't forget the Public Meeting, to tell us your views on the Planning Application to develop the land to the rear of the former Shepherds Spring Primary School, takes place tomorrow at 10:30am in St Paul's Church Centre, Smannell Road.

Your local Borough councillors want to make sure your comments are heard and debated when the application comes up in front of the Council's planning committee and this is your opportunity to make your views known.

If you can't get there tomorrow and want to send your opinions to me you can do so here.

 

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16 FEB 2012

Don't Forget the Farmers Market this Sunday

The Farmer's Market returns to Andover this Sunday in its new format to provide another opportunity to stock up with some of Hampshire's finest ingredients.

The Market had over 3,000 visitors last month and local support is essential for the market to continue. The range of produce available at the market this month will include free-range meat and eggs, sausages, preserves, oven-ready game, a variety of cheeses, fresh fish, wines, cider, freshly baked bread, cakes and desserts and spring plants ideal for early planting.

KidsRome Farm will again be bringing along their mobile farm with its farm animals for children to pet.

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14 FEB 2012

Chief Constable's Proposal Rejected as Tax Freeze Gets Go Ahead

The proposal by the Chief Constable of Hampshire Police, Alex Marshall to increase his portion of the Council Tax by 3.25% has this afternoon been overruled by Hampshire Police Authority.

This morning I wrote to the Chief Constable asking him to reconsider his proposal but this was not necessary as The Police Authority – made up mostly of elected Councillors – recognised the public will and supported the Government backed freeze. Hurrah!

With Test Valley, Hampshire County Council and the Fire Service all set to freeze their portions of the tax a 'no increase' across the board is now likely.

The first elections for the new post of Police Commissioner will take place in November. I can't see them being as blasé over peoples money.

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14 FEB 2012

Hampshire Police Propose Council Tax Hike

The Chief Constable of Hampshire Police, Alex Marshall, has today announced that he is proposing a 3.25% hike in his portion of the Council Tax this year, despite the Government's offer of help to freeze it. Considering Andover Town Council, Test Valley Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and the Fire Service are all proposing no increase - it is the Police's decision that will push your Council Tax bills up this year.

For those of you not yet convinced about the merits of elected Police Commissioners - ask yourself this. Would an elected Police Chief have proposed a tax increase by such an amount? Or would he have listened to constituents concerns - just like elected Councillors and frozen the tax? 

I have, this morning written to the Chief Constable to ask him to reconsider.  I await his reply.

"Chief Constable Marshall,

I was concerned to read that Hampshire Constabulary are proposing a Council Tax increase of 3.25% this year, despite the
Governments over to help you freeze it.

Residents of Alamein Ward will be rightly dismayed that even though the Parish of Smannell, the Andover Town Council, Test Valley Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and the Fire Service are all proposing a freeze in their portion of the tax, their Council tax will go up because of the actions of Hampshire Constabulary.

Striving for efficiency savings is one of my priorities as a local Councillor and that has involved some tough decisions. In these difficult financial times elected Councils understand the value of restricting the tax burden on residents.

Test Valley and Hampshire County Councils have also had to cope with the reductions in central Government funding and I am
surprised that in such a large organisation you are unable to find the back office savings necessary to freeze the tax.

Since May 2010 the coalition Government have announced a number of measures to cut police red tape.  One of these was to remove the requirement for the Stop and Account form; measures to reduce police bureaucracy and to save money.

I would urge you look at this decision again and do all you can to freeze your portion of the Council Tax.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Phil North"

Update: This afternoon - the Police Authority (including elected Councillors) - made the decision to reject the Chief Constable's proposal and freeze the tax - hurrah!

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12 FEB 2012

Public Meeting - Tell us your Views on the 50 Homes Planning Application

As explained on this blog previously, a planning application has been submitted to the Council from Hampshire County Council requesting outline permission for residential development on the land to the rear of the former Shepherds Spring Junior School. The application requests outline permission for the Erection of 50 dwellings together with vehicular access from Smannell Road.

The application will have an impact on Alamein Ward and I previously encouraged you to make your views known to the Council.

I know that many of you have strongly held views about it, which is the reason I called the application to the Planning Committee so democratically elected Councillors can make the decision in a meeting held in public.

Before that meeting takes place - I along with my colleagues, Janet Whiteley and Alex Brook want to invite you to a public meeting so you can share your views with us in person.

As we are all members of the Planning Committee we can then make sure your comments are heard and debated at that meeting.

The meeting will take place at St Paul's Church Centre, Smannell Road on Saturday 18th February - 10:30am.

So please come along and have your say.

You can view the planning application online by visiting www.testvalley.gov.uk and typing in this number: 11/02729/OUTN into the search tool on the planning page.

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A number of us attended a Roman Way/Swallowfields forum last Saturday and this matter was discussed at length. It was agreed amongst us there that come the Planning meeting we should have just 1 person airing our objections to make full use of the 3 minute ruling. I assume that, as you see the need to hold a seperate meeting, that there will now be 2 voices going for a minute and a half each! I understand that you were invited to last Saturday's meeting but none of the Alamein Cllrs chose to attend. Why could you not join forces with the other local people or do you see the situation as something that only Conservatives can act on? You are, after all, the Chair of the Town Council. I suspect, being a cynic, that this is just party politicking. If so, it's a shame that you choose to do so at this local level.
- Paul Jones

Mr Jones - Thank you for your comment. I wasn't invited to the meeting last week and I am not the Chairman of the Town Council. Cllr Drew is the Chairman of the Town Council. I think it is a good idea to join forces and have just one member of the public airing your views, to take full advantage of the full 3 minutes. I am not proposing to split that. As one of your 3 Borough Councillors, I sit on the planning committee and have 5 minutes to speak at that meeting as well as a vote to determine the application. The 3 minutes for public comment is completely seperate. I want to make sure the publics views are well represented an that all arguments are put across. The point of having the meeting is for local people to tell us how they feel so we can make sure their views are heard in full and debated amongst Councillors at the planning committee. If you want to have a chat about this - do call me. My number is on here under the contact section.
- Cllr Phil North

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10 FEB 2012

Advice Surgery Tomorrow

I will be holding an advice surgery tomorrow the 11th February, in the Rendezvous in Andover Union Street. I will be there from 10.00 – 11.30am. So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment.

Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me here.

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03 FEB 2012

Winter Weather Update from Hampshire County Council

The weather forecast indicates that cold temperatures are coming in towards Hampshire from the North West, likely to bring snow in the next 24/48 hours.

Hampshire County Council salted the priority two routes this morning with 15g of pre-wetted salt, which sticks better to the dry roads, and the priority one routes last night. Depending on the forecast, the plan is to salt the priority one routes again this evening, and then again Saturday morning.  The lorries will return to the depots to refill and do a further run– this will mean that a substantial amount of salt will have been putdown on the Priority One roads prior to any snow arriving.

A band of snow and rain is currently predicted to fall on Saturday through the evening.  The County Council's priority will be to keep the main roads open but they will also be salting the community routes on Saturday and Sunday – these are the routes that include roads to smaller schools and other areas of community activity.

Around 3,000 salt bins have been distributed across Hampshire, including many here in Andover and Alamein Ward.

Alongside this Hampshire have available resources on standby over the weekend so operatives will be out either salting the roads or filling community salt bins as necessary. 

You can follow HCC on Twitter @Hantsconnect for the latest informationon when roads are treated, you can see which roads are on which priority or community routes and where community salt bins are located here: http://www.hants.gov.uk/roads/winter-maintenance.

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02 FEB 2012

Improvements to Andover Station Continue

Improvements to Andover Station are being delivered by Southwest Trains working in partnership with Test Valley. The first phase, includeding provision of a new ticket office and cycle storage areas, is now complete.

The second phase is due to commence later this year. This will include a new freestanding shop on the main platform, an enhanced forecourt area, improvements to the short stay car park and drop-off area in front of the station.  There will also be refurbished toilets and waiting rooms on both platforms.

Contributions have been secured for the project through the Andover Town Access Plan  which have gone towards supporting this scheme. This project has also been match funded by National Station Improvement Programme funding.

The project brings much needed rejuvenation to our train station.

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25 JAN 2012

Go that Extra Mile

Andover is once again hosting the Sport Relief Mile so get your 2012 year of sport underway and sign up.

The Andover event is being organised by Andover Athletic Club and will be held at Charlton Sports and Leisure Centre on on Sunday 25 March from 11am.

You can choose to run 1, 3 or 6 miles and whether you take part as a family team, with friends or test yourself against the clock you're sure to have a fantastic time. So whichever distance you decide to run, secure a place now. It's £6 for adults, £3 for children and £15 for a family of four and the money you raise is spent by Comic Relief to help change lives across the UK and the world's poorest countries.

For further information or to enter the Andover Mile visit www.sportrelief.com/the-mile

Im signing up, will you?

 

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24 JAN 2012

Conservative Councils in Name Only

There was an interesting article on Conservative Home today about Conservative Councils that are planning to increase Council tax this year despite the Governments proposals for a freeze.

"After the news of Surrey, Peterborough, Chelmsford and Aylesbury Vale there are reports of two more Conservative councils, Scarborough and East Cambridgeshire, planning Council Tax rises for 2012/13 - snubbing the offer of extra funding to pay for a freeze."

"Scarborough, which is Conservative-led, but yet it is an unelected Council Officer, Nicholas Edwards, who seems to call the shots. He proposes a 3% rise."

"By stagger(ing) the increases to avoid a referendum (they) keep off the radar of accountability but still get away with fleecing the residents of more of their money. This is not a game Conservatives should play."

It certainly isn't. To those who say freezing the tax again this year will mean bigger rises next year - I say stop treating residents like a cash cow.  Raising the tax should not be the default position of local authorities. Boris has frozen the rates for the last 3 years and is proposing another freeze again this year.  It can be done.

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19 JAN 2012

Andover Town Council will Freeze the Council Tax

Earlier this evening I delivered the Andover Town Council Budget speech and was pleased to recommend a Council Tax Freeze which was unanimously accepted:

"It is an honour to once again present to you the budget for Andover Town Council. I want to thank, my vice-chairman, Cllr Katherine Bird and all members of the Policy & Resources Committee for helping to put together our financial plan for the next year.

This year was the first full year of the properly constituted Andover Town Council. The Allotments have been transferred to this Council and we are and will be carrying out essential maintenance work – being expertly led by Cllr Geoff McBride. The Christmas lights were erected and the Town Council contributed towards the successful switch-on event enjoyed by almost 10,000 residents. The Grant Aid policy has been drawn up and grants will be distributed in the next couple of months and additional grit bins are also being sought.

Looking forward, 2012 is an unprecedented year – Her Majesty the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics in London, of which we have the honour of the torch relay coming through our town.

Despite the excitement - planning ways to celebrate these events have proved costly for some neighbouring Town Councils who have in turn increased their share of the Council Tax.

But I have some good news for you.

Thanks to our careful planning this budget proposes a freeze on the council tax. These are difficult times and there will be no increase from us.

The Policy and Resources Committee have recommended a budget of £134,820 for the year 2012/13 with a precept of £131,123. The Precept calculation has been made using the new tax base figures which equals a Band D equivalent of £9.85p. The same as last year.

Next year the Town Council will maintain its growing ability to respond to the Town's needs – delivering services and putting on events for the community.

This budget ensures there is enough money to fulfil the Town councils functions and aspirations over the coming year, including projects which have been identified in our Draft Business Plan, a document to which all councillors have had an opportunity to contribute.

As it is a 'valued' service to residents - We have allocated a further £2,500 to this year's budget for allotments to improve sites and carry out further maintenance work.

The Town will run a regular charities day event which is being ably organised by Cllr Karen Hamilton – and of course we are planning events to celebrate our Queen's 60 years on the throne. The Jubilee panel led by Cllr Barbara Long and assisted by Cllrs Tony Raper and Veronika Pond has some big ideas for this summer – which will involve the entire Town and bring the Community together. That is why we have put aside £5,000 for Town Council events.

As the Vice-chairman pointed out earlier with his call for ideas - we have also allocated £1,000 in next years budget towards youth development.

Due to our prudence this year it was also possible to allocate some of the money from this year's budget to our reserves, which means we are complying with audit requirements of maintaining half of our precept in reserves. We have also been able to allocate some extra. As I said last year this money is not being hoarded, indeed we have used some of the underspend from this year to fund the tax freeze but it will ensure we remain on a stable financial footing. As the Chairman stated earlier there may be a cut in the County support for the Andover Vision and Andover live. It may be possible to use these reserves to support such valuable causes for the Town.

Our aim is to provide the funds necessary for the Council to be effective whilst keeping the tax as low as possible. I believe this budget does that.

We have enough funds to allow the new Council to grow, we have set a level of reserves which meets recommended guidance, we have recognised the difficult times on hard pressed tax payers and despite inflationary pressures have delivered a freeze in Council tax.

I commend the budget to you."

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15 JAN 2012

Nolan No More - Councillors can now Speak out on Planning Applications

Back in November the Localism Bill received Royal Assent and has become the Localism Act. Finally we have a Government in this Country which has started pushing powers downwards and outward. It is not perfect but it is a very good start.

Today we see one of the clauses of that Act come into force - the rules on predetermination and bias (the Nolan Regulations).  Before the Election the Conservatives promised that they would scrap the perverse rules that prevented Councillors speaking up about issues that they have campaigned on. For example Councillors could not vote on a planning application where they had previously stated a firm intention to oppose or approve – leaving the electorate confused about their own representatives position. Some Councillors even used the rules to hide behind.

Today they have gone.

Section 25(2) of the Localism Act states:

A decision-maker is not to be taken to have had, or to have appeared to have had, a closed mind when making the decision just because -

(a) the decision-maker had previously done anything that directly or indirectly indicated what view the decision-maker took, or would or might take, in relation to a matter, and

(b) the matter was relevant to the decision.

This changes the previous law and is designed to ensure that councillors can in future express a view on a current issue without the fear of this being held against them in court.

Of course Councillors should still take into account all the evidence before making a final decision but they can now be more frank with their constituents.

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12 JAN 2012

Farmers Market this Sunday: Use it or Lose it

The first Andover Farmer's Market of 2012 will be held this Sunday, 15th of January in Andover High Street.

This is the first opportunity for local residents to show their support for the Farmer's Market which was threatened with closure in 2011. A fall in customer numbers led to calls for the market to be withdrawn but Test Valley Borough Council stepped in and negotiated with Hampshire Farmers' Market Ltd which resulted in an agreement to retain the Market for the next six months.

Firm bookings have been received from thirteen traders for this Sunday so the "mini market" will carry a range of local produce including cheeses, free-range eggs, bread, pastries, venison, game, sea food and wine as well as a hog roast. In addition, KidsRome Farm will bring along their mobile farm with it's farm animals for children to pet.

It is good news that the market has attracted a good variety of producers and I hope the new look Farmers Market will thrive. It forms an important part of revitalising our High Street.

The dates for the next six months are:

15 January 2012
19 February 2012
18 March 2012
15 April 2012
20 May 2012
17 June 2012

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10 JAN 2012

Time to Reduce Local Authority Dependency

The Local Government Finance Bill receives its Second Reading today – which will reform the way local councils are funded.

In June 2009, I wrote to the Andover Advertiser advocating a shift in power from Whitehall to Town Hall.

"I want Local Government to be more responsible, more accountable, if the electorate believes that a particular governing party (whoever they may be) are not doing a very good job – then they can throw them out at the ballot box – because ultimately with increased power that authority would be responsible. No excuses."

For Local Government to be more democratic and accountable it needs to be economically independent.  The proposals set out in the Bill don't propose full economic independence but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

One of the most important part of today's discussions is the collection of Business rates. Business rates are currently collected by local authorities, pooled centrally and then redistributed each year through a Formula Grant.  In 2011-12, £19 billion of business rates were collected and redistributed in this way. It has also had the perverse effect of creating a dependency mind set in local government, with councils investing their efforts in lobbying central government for funding and demonstrating deprivation, rather than investing in local growth.

The Bill introduces a business rate retention scheme will allow councils to raise over 80 per cent of their revenues locally and give them a tangible stake in supporting local shops andlocal firms. It would have been better if local councils were able to set the rate and keep 100% of returns to encourage more business – but this is start.

The Bill also allows Local authorities the greater flexibility to help keep overall council tax levels down. Under the new rules Councils will be able to reduce or remove council tax relief on second homes and empty homes, allowing them to use the money to keep overall council tax bills down, or improve frontline services. Empty homes frequently blight local neighbourhoods. There is nothing morally wrong with second homes, but special tax relief at the expense of ordinary residents is hard to justify.

These improvements complement the Governments other reforms to council tax: cancelling Labour's council tax revaluation which would have forced up bills for millions of homes; deliveringa two-year council tax freeze; and giving local residents a new right to veto excessive council tax increases.

Power is being pushed downwardand outward.  We need more of it please.

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06 JAN 2012

Consultation on Core Strategy Opens

The Council's Core Strategy Document and Designation Document is available for public comment from today, Friday the 6th January until 4:30pm on Friday 17 February 2012.

The Core Strategy is an important document as it is the first stage in setting out the future housing and employment needs for Test Valley and shows the Council's proposed locations for development and its approach to planning for the next 20 years. The Designation Document sets out the boundaries for the settlements ofthe borough and local gaps.

The Core Strategy will help inform whether the balance of need for new homes, employment provision and the scale of development has been adequately addressed.

My colleagues and I havemade sure, through consultation,that the Local Gaps between Andover and Enham Alamein & Smannell have been protected. Alamein Ward has already taken its fair share of housing at East Anton and it is important we protect the remaining local gaps wherever possible.

I hope thatas many people as possible will make their comments known. To enable this to happen the Council are offering a variety of ways for people to access the documents. At the end ofthe consultation period, all comments will be given careful consideration tohelp ensure we have the appropriate type and level of housing and employment for Test Valley in future years.

Comments can be made online here, by e-mailing ldf@testvalley.gov.uk or by downloading a comment sheet which can be returned by post. Hard copies of thedocuments will also be available to view at the library in Andoveras well as at the Council Offices at Beech Hurst.

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04 JAN 2012

Application for 50 Homes Submitted to the Council

A planning application has recently been submitted to the Council from Hampshire County Council requesting outline permission for residential development on the land to the rear of the former Shepherds Spring Junior School.

The application requests outline permission for the Erection of 50 dwellings together with vehicular access from Smannell Road. 

The application will have an impact on your area and I want to make sure I stand up for your viewsvwhen the application is decided. So please have your say.

You can view the planning application online here by typing in this number: 11/02729/OUTN and pressing search.

You can also view the application at the Council Offices in Beech Hurst by making an appointment with a planning officer - call 01264 368000.

You can then comment on the application in the following ways;

Online - Comment directly through the website or by e-mailing the planning department your views: planning@testvalley.gov.uk.  Please do copy me in - cllrpnorth@testvalley.gov.uk

By Post - Sending your comments to: Planning Department, TVBC, Beech Hurst, Weyhill Road, Andover,Hampshire, SP10 3AJ.

Please quote the planning reference number when sending in your comments.  All comments should reach the planning office before 13th January 2012.

Next Steps

The Council's dedicated Planning Officers will look at every detail of the current application and prepare a report to Councillors which also details the view of the public based on your viewpoints that you send back into the Council and whether, in their opinion, the scheme fits in with Test Valley Borough Council Planning Policy.

After reading this report Councillors at the Northern Area Planning Committee meeting will decide whether to accept or refuse the application. The planning committee meeting is, of course, open to the public and I will keep you informed of a date for the particular meeting

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22 DEC 2011

Cabinet Accepts Parking Charge Increase

Last night the TVBC Cabinet resolved to increase parking charges in Test Valley accepting in full the recommendations in the report.

Thankfully the increases are not as dramatic as they first proposed.  I did however make one last plea - to prevent the most popular parking time increasing by a whole 10p.  Unfortunatley it wasn't enough.

This is what I said:

"Why would anyone come and do their shopping in Andover High Street when they can get everything they need in the out of town supermarkets and retail parks?

Why would anyone come to the High Street when there is good out of town shopping facilties such as a Next at Enham Arch?

Why would anyone come to the high street when they can park for free in Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys?

Not my words - but the words of AXA insurance - the majority owner of the Chantry Centre when they met with our head of Estates and the Economic Portfolio holder recently.

I am a bit more optimistic about the future of our Town Centre - but they have backed up everything I have said on parking charges over the last few months. I believe out of town shopping and the High street can thrive. I want to talk up our high street but we need to encourage not discourage visitors to our Town Centre.

That is why I welcome the reworking of the report in front of us tonight, and I want to praise the leadership of Test Valley for looking at this again. We are in a much better situation now than we were in October and I want to thank you for that.

In these difficult financial times we need to be supporting our retailers and doing everything we can to reinvigorate our high street.

The charges for 30 minute and 45 minute stays have now increased by 5p instead of 10p and that's a good thing I also welcome the reduction in the 3 hour charge - but fear it will not be enough to counter the potential overall reduction in visitors.

It is the councils policy to attract a department store to Andover but we can only do that if there is enough footfall in the town to justify a business case. Increasing parking charges doesn't help this - it will just drive more customers to our out of town supermarkets where the parking is free.

Our own sensitivity figures even if they are time limited show that overall less people will be coming into the high street if parking is more expensive.

The 1 hour stays has still gone up by a full 10p. The Cabinet may think this is small but the public perception is different.

I will therefore make one last plea – that the most popular time the 1 time hour slot is increased by 5p instead of the full 10p.

Let's be clear I would have favoured a freeze across the board and I think we could have saved the 61 k another way. However I recognise the enormity of our financial situation and we have budget gap to close. I know that there cannot be dramatic change.

That is why I am happy with the increase from 4 hours onwards and the move to direct debits for season ticket parking will mitigate this. But we must consider the 1 hour charge again."

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If carparking is free at ASDA in Andover would somebody mid explain why we, were fined by the Test Valley for parking there without paying? We pulled into the carpark unaware it was a Park & Pay carpark, nor that it was administered by the Local Authority. We wer also unaware that thre were no facilities for vehicles with trailers or caravans. As an aside could something be done about the poor signage for this council owned "honey pot" which led us to be there in the first place. Roger Barham
- Roger Barham

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21 DEC 2011

Visit to Fusion Youth Group

Last Friday, I visted the Fusion Youth Group based at the Vineyard Warehouse near Enham Arch.

Fusion is a fantastic organisation run by volunteers that gives young people from Alamein and beyond an oppurtunity to meet with their peers and have some fun in a controlled environment.

The youth group regularly pulls in 70+ young people on a Friday evening where they are able to watch films, play football, basketball or pool and take part in a variety of workshops.

The existence of the youth group is a major factor behind the significant drop in anti-social behaviour in the area.

The Fusion volunteers led by Mo Sweeney, also carry out pastoral care visits and our a supporting influence to many local families.

There are some issues with the facilities at the Warehouse and I am committed to working with Fusion to try and find a solution.

I am incredibly proud that they based in Alamein and our one of the success stories in Andover.

Picture: Fusion Volunteers picking up their Pride of Andover Award.

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19 DEC 2011

Farmers Market Stays Open

Yesterday should have seen the Hampshire Farmers Market in Andover's High Street for the last time.  However thanks to some help from Test Valley the event will return for 2012.

Hampshire Farmers' Markets, will be coming to Andover on every 3rd Sunday of each month for at least another 6 months after gaining a grant of £1,500.

During this period Council Officers will be assisting with marketing activities in the hope that the Market will once again flourish and increase in size. 

This is fantastic news for our High Street and opefully it will become sustainable and grow further.  It is now up to Andover residents to vote on its future; use it or lose it. 

 

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14 DEC 2011

Parking Charges Re-considered but Still not Good Enough

TVBC's Cabinet have today published a report recommending a rise in parking charges across the Borough. However the revised report recommends smaller increases than the one published in October which had to be withdrawn, and the 3 hour parking charge has been cut.

The decision on implementing the revised charges is due to take place at Cabinet on the 21st December.

As someone who spoke out against the previous proposals I welcome the news that the increases has been reconsidered.  I want to praise the leadership of Test Valley for reworking the plans. In these difficult financial times we need to be supporting our retailers and doing everything we can to reinvigorate our high street.

It is the councils policy to attract a department store to Andover but we can only do that if there is enough footfall in the town to justify a business case. Increasing parking charges doesn't help this - it will just drive more customers to our out of town supermarkets where the parking is free."

The charges for 30 minute and 45 minute stays have now increased by 5p instead of 10p but the 1 and 2 hour stays have still gone up by a full 10p. The Cabinet may think this is small but the public perception is different.

I am disappointed that the leadership haven't seen fit to freeze the charges. The councils own figures show that this will discourage people from visiting the high street. The Council has a budget gap to close but I believe this can be done through other means rather than at the detriment to our high street.

I welcome the reduction to the 3 hour stay but fear it will not be enough to counter the potential overall reduction in visitors.

At the last election, I, amongst other Conservatives stood on a manifesto commitment to focus on economic development in our Borough - some good things have been achieved, such as the new apprentice scheme but it is now time to focus on our town centre.

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05 DEC 2011

Christmas Activities and Events Planned at East Anton

The Community Developement officer at Augusta Park, Sharon Goodridge(funded through developer contributions), has organised some festive activities for residents to get involved and take part in.  The details of which I have outlined below.  I will be at the 'Evening Get Together' so if you come along I will see you there.

Christmas Activities and Crafts

Monday December 19, 2011, 10.30 - Noon, at the Community Centre.

Free event for children aged 4 – 11 years and their parents/ carers

To book a place please contact Sharon on 01264 368622 or sgoodridge@testvalley.gov.uk

Evening Get Together

Residents at Augusta Park are invited for Mulled Wine and Mince Pies, Carols and Chat.

Tuesday, 20 December, 7 - 9pm at the Community Centre,

RSVP to Sharon on 01264 368622 or sgoodridge@testvalley.gov.uk

Health Walk

Residents are invited for a walk followed by coffee and mince pies on Thursday 22
December, leaving at 10am from the Community Centre.

Festive Door Wreath/ Window Decoration Competition

Residents are invited to enter this competition to win a Christmas Hamper (sponsored by Sentinel Housing). Residents are asked to let Sharon know if they'd like their festive door wreath/ window decoration entered in the competition. Judges will walk to resident's houses to view the festive decorations and the best will be announced at the Evening Get Together on Tuesday 20 December.

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04 DEC 2011

Christmas Bin Collection Dates

This year, changes to collections over the festive season will be minimal. With Christmas Day and New Years Day falling on a Sunday, only Monday 26 December 2011 and Monday 2 January 2012 will be Bank Holidays. This means there will be no waste or recycling collections made on these two days. All collections will be a day later than usual with crews working on the Saturday of each week. All collections will be back to normal for week commencing Monday 9 January 2012.

Normal Collection Day                                                           Christmas and New Year Collection Day

Monday 26 December 2011                                                     Tuesday 27 December 2011
Tuesday 27 December 2011                                                    Wednesday 28 December 2011
Wednesday 28 December 2011                                               Thursday 29 December 2011
Thursday 29 December 2011                                                    Friday 30 December 2011
Friday 30 December 2011                                                         Saturday 31 December 2011
Monday 2 January 2012                                                            Tuesday 3 January 2012
Tuesday 3 January 2012                                                           Wednesday 4 January 2012
Wednesday 4 January 2012                                                      Thursday 5 January 2012
Thursday 5 January 2012                                                          Friday 6 January 2012
Friday 6 January 2012                                                               Saturday 7 January 2012

 

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02 DEC 2011

Have Your Say on Future Development in Andover

Last month the Council agreed to publish for public consultation the Test Valley Local Plan for the next 20 years.

The Council is intending to produce two Development Plan Documents in tandem. The Core Strategy Development Plan Document (DPD) will set out the Council's vision and strategy for the Borough for the next 20 years and include proposed locations for development. It also includes a number of development management policies which will be used in the consideration of planning applications.

The Designation DPD will contain the settlement boundaries, local gap boundaries and other designations used to inform the Core Strategy and determining planning applications.  These designations follow a review of those boundaries currently identified in  the Borough Local Plan.

Your local Borough Councillors have made sure that the Local Gaps between Andoverand Enham Alamein & Smannell have been protected.  Alamein Ward has already taken its fair share of housing at East Anton and it is important we protect the remaining local gaps. Upholding the identity of our villages is of paramount importance.

The public consultation will run from 6th January to 17th February. Only those comments received during that period will be taken into consideration. Draft Core Strategy and Development  Management DPD and Designations DPD can be viewed here: http://www.testvalley.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=6516

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30 NOV 2011

Council Offices Open for Business

Most of Test Valley staff have taken the responsible decision to come into work today. Both Council Offices are open at Beech Hurst and Duttons road and the strike is having minimal impact on front line services provided by the Council.

Waste collections will be undertaken, revenues and benefits will be open, customer services are open, the housing service is open and estates and leisure facilities are all able to provide a normal service. There is a more limited service in planning and licensing, though residents should experience little or no disruption.

I am pleased that the irresponsible behaviour of those who have decided to take the day off hasn't inconvenienced my constituents in Alamein Ward.

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18 NOV 2011

Time to end Council Houses for Life

This week the Localism Bill received Royal Assent and has become the Localism Act. Finally we have a Government in this Country which has started pushing powers downwards and outward. It is not perfect but it is a very good start.

Some of the most exciting changes that come about as a result of the act are in the realm of housing. Many of the clauses will not come into force until next April but there is now an opportunity as part of the councils Strategic Housing Plan to end Council houses for life.

We can advise our social Landlords to implement fixed term tenancy agreements with minimum tenancies of two years - so if someone's circumstances change and they can afford to buy or rent in the private sector they should do that.

That is real fairness - we can free up more houses for people that need them most and the individuals and families that can afford not to live in a council house can find housing through the private sector.

We have an absurd situation in this Country at the moment - where people like Bob Crowe, the leader of the RMT union is earning over £100k per year but still lives in a tax payer subsidised Council house.

The law cannot be applied retrospectively so tenants that already have a tenancy can stay there. However there is a revolution coming in Social Housing so that the people with the greatest need are adequately housed.

I raised this in Council last night and will be pushing the TVBC cabinet to treat this as a priority.

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14 NOV 2011

Bottle bank Opens in Augusta Park

A new local recycling centre was located in Augusta Park today. A mixed glass recyling bank and a foil bank were placed next to the Community Centre close to Endeavour Primary school.  Now that close to 450 houses are currently occupied in Augusta park it is important that local facilities match demand.

The school is open, the temporary community facility is open and now the bottle bank is open.  I have had various requests for a post box and I am liaisng with the post office to try and make that happen.  Convinience shops will also open on the new development in due course.

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13 NOV 2011

A Celebration of Remembrance

Today I joined fellow Andoverians in the garden of remembrance at St Mary's church to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. As I lined up on Eastern Avenue to take the salute of the parade, I stood in pride at the hundreds of Andover residents that had turned out to pay their respects.

Some may feel 'celebration' is not the right word to describe the act of remembrance but to me it is so fitting. The day is one of reflection and thanks, of course it is, but it is also a celebration of freedom, the triumphalism of light over darkness. Whilst we all strive for peace - conflict in this imperfect world is somewhat inevitable. In the Gospel according to St Mark - Jesus says:

"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles"

Since the armistice was signed 93 years ago there has only been one year when British Servicemen have not been involved in conflicts around the world. War is never glorious but there is nothing more glorious than freedom - which is why it is so important to give thanks to those of have fought tyrants across the globe both in the last century and this.

The blood of heroes never dies.....

"Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields."

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07 NOV 2011

London 2012: Olympic Torch Relay Comes to Andover

The London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay route will be coming to Andover – and that's official.

Andover is one of over 1,000 villages, towns and cities announced by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and the Olympic torch will be passing through on the 11th July 2012.

This is great news for residents of Andover who will get to experience the magic of the Olympics on their doorstep.

In Test Valley, we are already well underway with our Olympic legacy projects and saw the completion of the first project with the opening of the new Astroturf facility at Charlton athletics track last week.

Sebastian Coe has said that he is "thrilled to confirm that Andover will act as a host location for the Olympic Flame, extending an invitation to people in Test Valley to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay during its journey around the UK. This is the UK's moment to shine and I want to encourage people across Test Valley to start planning how they can be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity as we count down to the start of the Olympic Games".

The 70 day Olympic Torch Relay, will start at Land's End, Cornwall on the morning of 19 May 2012. On leaving Land's End, the Olympic Flame will travel 8,000 miles around the Uk.

On the final day of the Olympic Torch Relay, it is LOCOG's intention that the Olympic Flame will travel down the River Thames as it makes its way to the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the official start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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02 NOV 2011

Leaf Clearance Underway

Test Valley Borough Council's Environmental Service is now in full swing on leaf collecting duty. They make a great effort to keep the streets clean and free from rubbish all year round but at this time of year though there is the added problem of collecting
tonnes of leaves from public highways, footways and verges.

Last year, over 420 tonnes of leaves were collected and delivered to a local composting plant where they were recycled into a high grade soil conditioner.

This year, regular sweeping and quick response times will ensure that roads and footways continue to be kept as safe and clear as possible. Assistance from residents in letting the Council know about significant accumulations of leaves is of course essential to its success.

To report any accumulations of leaves, please contact the Customer Service Team on 01264 368000 or email environmentalservice@testvalley.gov.uk. Alternatively you can report them to me here.

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31 OCT 2011

Maximum Parking Standards to be Scrapped

Back in February I called on the TVBC Planning Portfolio Holder to scrap the maximum parking standards that form part of the current local plan. Under a diktat from the previous Labour Government the Council was forced to accept a maximum number of car parking spaces for a particular development.  This was a crazy situation where if a developer wanted to add more spaces to an application, he was told it was unacceptable because of ridiculous 'sustainability' regulations.

Now that the new Government has given local authorities more freedom, I am pleased that TVBC has moved to remove these silly rules.  In the proposals set out in the new Core Strategy document the maximum standards have been scrapped.  Instead we have included a set of minimum parking standards to make sure that when a new development is presented for planning permission there are sufficient spaces available to meet the need.

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28 OCT 2011

Local Gaps Protected

Following the meeting I attended last night about the Councils Core Strategy and Designation Plan (the planning documents for the next 20 years) I can confirm that the local gaps between Andover and Smannell & Enham Alamein have been protected.

Alamein Ward has already taken its fair share of housing allocations and the building work at East Anton continues to progress. What is left of the local gap - the area which clearly splits the villages from the urban conurbation will be protected in this new document.

The Core Strategy will now appear before the cabinet in November and will then go on to a period of public consultation and finally an assessment by a Government planning inspector.

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27 OCT 2011

4th Birthday Celebrations

The Askalot Community Shop in King Arthurs Way will be celebrating its 4th Birthday this Saturday 29 October 11am - 3pm.  I will be there for half an hour from 11am. 

A special Hallowe'en event has been organised and there will be lots of fun activities for all the family including face painting, pumpkin carving, a fancy dress competition and much more along with agencies providing informal advice such as sexual health, police community support officers and Testway Housing.

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26 OCT 2011

Speaking up for Local Gaps

Tomorrow evening I will join fellow Councillors from the North of Test Valley to help draw up the new Designation Document that will accompany the councils Core Strategy (local plan) for the next 20 years.

Following a question I asked to the Planning Portfolio holder in September, all Test Valley Councillors are being asked to influence the 'Designation Document' – which as part of the Governments National Planning Policy Framework can add extra protections to areas that are not at the moment nationally recognised.

Tomorrow evening I will be speaking up for the local gaps between Enham and Andover and Smannell and Andover, and will doing my best to make sure what remains of these gaps are protected in this document.

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16 OCT 2011

El Alamein Commemoration Day

On the 23rd October 1942 - Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery lead the British Eigth Army into the Battle of El Alamein to fight the Axis powers. It was a key turning point in the Second World Ward and the Allied Victory 14 days later secured the Suez Canal and prevented the Middle Eastern oil fields from falling into enemy hands.

Many of the injured from the battle were brought back to Enham to undergo their recovery. At the end of the Second World War Egypt gifted Enham Charity £6 million to thank Britain for liberating them from the Nazi's - this was used to help and care for disabled ex-serviceman. To thank the Egyptian's for their present - the name 'Alamein' was added to Enham's name.

69 years later the work supporting disabled people still goes on and the history of the village and the battle is commemorated every October. Today was El Alamein commemoration day - and as the Veterans get older it is even more important to remember the North Africa campaign.

Today's commemorations included and exhibition in the church, the firing of a 25 pounder gun, similar to that used in the battle and a church service to honour the fallen and thank the veterans. The most moving part of the service was when the current Chairman of Enham read the poem entittled 'El Alamein' by John Jarmain.  Jarmain was killed in the Normandy campaign 3 days after D-Day;

"El Alamein"

There are flowers now, they say, at El Alamein;

Yes, flowers in the minefields now.

So those that come to view that vacant scene,

Where death remains and agony has been

Will find the lilies grow

Flowers, and nothing that we know.

 

So they rang the bells for us and Alamein,

Bells which we could not hear.

And to those that heard the bells what could it mean,

The name of loss and pride, El Alamein?

--- Not the murk and harm of war,

But their hope, their own warm prayer.

 

It will become a staid historic name,

That crazy sea of sand!

Like Troy or Agincourt its single fame

Will be the garland for our brow, our claim,

On us a fleck of glory to the end;

And there our dead will keep their holy ground.

 

But this is not the place that we recall,

The crowded desert crossed with foaming tracks,

The one blotched building, lacking half a wall,

The grey-faced men, sand-powdered over all;

The tanks, the guns, the trucks,

The black, dark-smoking wrecks.

 

So be it; none but us has known that land;

El Alamein will still be only ours

And those ten days of chaos in the sand.

Others will come who cannot understand,

Will halt beside the rusty minefield wires

And find there, flowers.

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14 OCT 2011

War Memorial - Refurbishment Work to Start this Week

Refurbishment work will start this week on Andover War Memorial in preparation for the Remembrance Day Service on the 13th November.

Over the next few weeks, the Memorial will be cleaned and a  graffiti damaged slab on the wall to the rear of the memorial replaced. The plinth/steps which surround the memorial will also be cleaned and the railings repainted. There will also be some work on the grounds to the front of the memorial. Spring bedding planting, re-gravelling, some minor tree works and a general tidy-up will also enhance the area.

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13 OCT 2011

Bus Station Upgrade Gets Go Ahead

An upgrade to the Andover bus station was given the go ahead at the planning committee tonight.

It will feature an enhanced canopy and waiting area, a cafe, an improved shop-mobility kiosk and more capacity for buses.

The growth of Andover means the existing bus station needs upgrading and the £2.4million funding for this initiative has therefore been secured from the major development projects in the Andover area as part of the planning process. The enhancements have been a long-term aspiration of the both Test Valley Borough and Hampshire County Councils.

The work to improve the bus station will be phased to help minimise disruption to bus users and visitors to the Chantry Centre.

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10 OCT 2011

Charity Walk Completed

Yesterday I completed a 25.5 mile walk of the Testway raising just over £720 for Enham Charity.

I started off at the Bourne Valley pub in St Mary Bourne and meandered my way to Longparish, through Wherwell onto Chilbolton, Leckford, Stockbride and Mottisfont finishing up in Romsey Memorial Park. It took me 7 hours and 40 mins at an average speed of about 3.3 miles per hour.

The walk was expertly organised by Romsey Rotary Club and there were hundreds of walkers taking on various distances to raise money for their particular charity. I walked it with Paul Sexton a fellow Governor at Smannell and Enham School - he was raising money for Parkinsons.

Other charities to benefit from walkers dedication - were Macmillan, Naomi House and Help for Heroes. I was proud to raise money for the original Help for Heroes - Enham Charity who 90 years after they were formed to rehabilitate soldiers of the first world war, continue to support disabled people giving them more choice independence and access to employment.

If you would like to donate you can still sponsor me at www.justgiving.co.uk/Phil-north1

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30 SEP 2011

Parking Charge Increase to be Reworked

Plans to increase parking charges across Test Valley which were due to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting this Wednesday have now been withdrawn from the agenda so they can be looked at again.

I am pleased that the Cabinet have been sympathetic in recognising these plans need to be reworked.  We have a budget deficit to fill - but driving people away from our high street is not the way to do this.

An increase in parking charges, some as much as 25% - which was originally proposed would have disastrous consequences for Andover and will have a negative impact on the prosperity of our high street.  In these dire financial times we need to be
supporting our retailers not accepting a drop in visitors to our town centre because it could boost the Council coffers.

If we are to improve the shopping experience in our higt street and attract that desired department store we cannot pursue policies like this.

In the recent election, I, amongst other Conservatives stood on a manifesto commitment to focus on economic development in our Borough. The manifesto clearly stated 'No increase in parking charges' yes that related to 2011/12 - but it is something I strongly believe in and something I think we have to stick with.  Our actions need to match our words. 

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28 SEP 2011

This is not the Time to Increase Parking Charges

The TVBC fees and charges report for 2012/13 was published as part of the 5th October Cabinet Agenda yesterday and despite making previous representations that an increase in parking charges was a bad idea, the proposal has been set out to increase them across the board.

This will have disastrous consequences on the economic development of our Borough, especially in Andover and will have a negative impact on the prosperity of our high street.

The challenge we face today is to improve our high street to increase the number of people using it by encouraging more shops to come to Andover this could all be wrecked if we support this short sighted proposal to close our budget deficit.

At the election just a few short months ago I, amongst other Conservatives stood on a manifesto commitment to focus on economic development in our Borough. The manifesto clearly stated ''No increase in parking charges and free after 4pm', yes that related to 2011/12 - but it is something I strongly believe in and something I think we should stick to.

I will address the Cabinet in public on this mater next week to try and persuade them otherwise but if they approve the recommendation then the proposal will go ahead to the next stage of the budget process to increase parking charges across the board. Short stay and long stay (where are car parks in Andover are not at capacity).

TVBC has a £1 million budget gap to fill due to a reduced grant from central Government and I take this very seriously - but I strongly believe this can be closed through other means - rather than inflation busting and high street busting parking charges. For example the up to 30 minutes charge has gone up by a staggering 25%.

I will do all I can to prevent any rise in charges, however at the very least there should be a freeze on short stay (up to one hour) and long stay (where are car parks don't reach capacity).

We don't want to discourage those residents who want to do some quick shopping in under and hour - instead of heading down the road to one of our supermarkets. By freezing the charges in the long stay we may encourage customers to park there - using the currently under capacity spaces better.

In short we need to support our retailers - we are never going to attract that department store if there are less people using the high street.

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27 SEP 2011

Street Light Improvements set for May 2012

Hampshire County Council is currently rolling out a 5 year programme of street lighting replacement and upgrading across the authority. Following a presentation made to the Town Council last week it has been confirmed that construction works in Andover are expected to commence in May 2012. They should last about 6 months.

As a result of this the County are carrying out a briefing session in the Guildhall on the 29th November at 6.30pm, where you can learn more about this project and feedback any issues which may impact on the works. The lighting is due to be upgraded to 'white light' especially in the higher risk crime areas and in some areas the lights are designed to dim in the early hours of the morning.

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19 SEP 2011

Love where you Live and Keep Britain Tidy

Test Valley Borough Council's litter campaign 'Love Where You Live', was launched earlier this year.

The campaign, which encourages everyone to help improve where they live and work in Test Valley has been a great success so far and has included several large community clean ups. Residents have also taken the 'Report It' message to heart and a number of environmental issues have been reported by email, phone and text.

The campaign has encouraged residents to become Community Litter Pickers and local groups and businesses have arranged Community Clean Ups.

It is important as many residents as possible carry on their good work and to
continue to report any environmental issues and to support the campaign. Whatever people choose to do, by taking part,
they will be showing they Love Where They Live.

The Council is also supporting Keep Britain Tidy's national "Love Where You Live Week" campaign which starts today. Their
week long campaign will be encouraging everyone to be proud of their surroundings and to pass this message on to everyone they know. More information about this can be found at www.keepbritaintidy.org.

If you would like to report any local environmental issues, text 'love' to 60060 followed by what you have seen and where you have seen it (you will be charged your usual network rate). You can do the same online at www.testvalley.gov.uk/love.

To report any issues by email or by phone or to request further details about Community Litter Pickers or Community Clean Ups email the Environmental Service at Test Valley Borough Council on environmentalservice@testvalley.gov.uk or
call Customer Services on 01264 368000.

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16 SEP 2011

Advice Surgery Tomorrow

I will be holding an advice surgery tomorrow the 17th September, in the Guildhall in Andover High Street. I will be there from 10.00 – 11.30am. So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment.

Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me here.

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15 SEP 2011

Lottery Grant Unsuccesful

It has been confirmed today that the bid in excess of £400,000 submitted by the Alamein Community Association to the Lottery in respect of the Turnaround Project and its community work has disappointingly been turned down.

Unfortunately the August Lottery Grants Committee received 140 bids seeking in excess of £43.3 million and while the Community Association put forward a good bid, the lottery only had £15.5 million to allocate and the turnaround Project bid was unsuccessful.  The project are now approaching the lottery to get some feed back for any future applications

The money, amongst other things, would have gone towards funding two community development workers that would have complimented the work already taking place, most notably in the Askalot where we have everything from Job Clubs to Sexual Health Clinics - that work will still continue.

The Turnaround scheme remains strong and was held up as a model project when a member of the Cabinet Office visited Alamein recently.

The key now is to empower the community to take the project onto the next stage and to mould it to their needs. The Alamein Community Association is doing a great job in taking this forward.

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13 SEP 2011

We need to focus on our Town Centre

Last week at a meeting to discuss the the Test Valley Economy I pressed home to the Portfolio holder the need to do all we can to improve our shopping centre and highstreet in the middle of Andover.

Some great work has been achieved in Andover in recent years. We now have a thriving theatre, a popular cinema, we have have attracted another supermarket to the town in Asda and Next has taken up residence in the Enham Arch retail park. The Airfield is being developed and the Council have a new business partner in Kier that are already making improvements to the Walworth Industrial Estate to increase it's occupancy rate. Improvements are bring made to the bus and train stations. However the missing link is the town centre itself and the amount of empty shops.

Unfortunately the Council does not own any of the leases in the High-Street itself apart from two - which are already occupied. However that is not the case in the Chantry Centre - where TVBC owns a 40% stake to AXA insurances 60%.

This is a significant stake and gives Test Valley real leverage to find out from AXA - what they are doing to Market their empty properties and get some more tenants into the Chantry Centre. Unfortunately the Council's approach to this in recent times has been very poor. Meeting with AXA on just two occasions in two years and both times not even raising the issue of empty shops.

It is clear that AXA own more centres than just the one in Andover - so if we are not keeping them on their toes then it is a fair assumption they will be putting their effort into the ones where pressure is being applied.

The Economic Portfolio Holder has agreed to seek an urgent meeting with AXA and then update the panel on his progress. Rest assured I will be keeping a close eye on this. We need to do all we can to improve the shopping in our town.

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12 SEP 2011

Charity Walk Breaks 600 Pound Barrier

In less than a months time I am taking up the challenge of a 25.5 mile trek of the Testway to raise money for the Enham Trust.

The walk takes place on October 9th and so far I have raised £610.  This money will go towards ensuring that Enham can go on supporting disabled people and giving them more choice and independence.

It is a tremendous pleasure to represent the village of Enham Alamein and I am so proud of the good work of the Enham Trust. This is our chance to help them and the people of Enham - http://www.enham.org.uk/

So please dig deep and donate now. Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving and they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. They will also make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer.

So please donate today - www.justgiving.com/Phil-North1

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10 SEP 2011

Andover Station Improvements

Hampshire County Council has this week agreed to release of over £300,000 of developer funding towards improvements at Andover Railway Station.

The Andover Town Access Plan that was developed by TVBC in partnership with HCC identified the need for something to be done to improve access at the station.

Hampshire has agreed to allocate this money to support the provision of pedestrian access to the northbound platform. The funding will also allow the refurbishment of the northbound island platform to provide improved toilets and waiting facilities so people can buy a ticket, get refreshments or a newspaper without having to go to the main station.

The decision by Hampshire helps the ambition to develop a new car park on the north side of the station. It has been clear for a long time that the demand is there for another car park and that is firmly on the horizon.

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09 SEP 2011

Test Valley Moves to Protect Local Gaps

In response to the Governments National Policy Planning Framework - which I blogged about here. The Council has taken steps to amend the course of action we are taking in developing our next Core Strategy (Local Plan) to ensure we get the best deal for Test Valley. An amended plan was approved in Cabinet on Wednesday evening and passed by full council yesterday.

In took the opportunity yesterday to ask the following question of the Planning and Transport Portfolio Holder;

"Thank you Madam Mayor. I am glad we have reacted quickly in the face of the Governments new National Planning Policy Framework. I say in the face off - because I have concerns as well as others that this could give the green light in favour of 'sustainable' development and of course the word sustainable is always, to an extent subjective. We need to make our plan robust, therefore I am pleased that we are going down the route of a Core Strategy sat alongside a 'Designation Plan'.

The national policy allows councils to 'designate' or protect valued green space and local gaps which are outside nationally protected areas such as AONB's, SSI's and the Greenbelt.

What mechanism does the Portfolio Holder envisage to allow local members to feed into this process - so our 'designation plan' can be drawn up by a collaboration of Councillors?

I am particularly concerned about protecting - what is left of the local gaps - between Andover and Smannell and Enham in my ward."

His response was positive - and gave a commitment that all local members will be invited to a meeting when the 'designation plan' is drawn up to have their say on the issues that affect the wards they represent.

If you want some more explanation around what TVBC are doing as a result of the Governments new Planning Strategy then you can contact me here.

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08 SEP 2011

Andover Birth Centre: Have Your Say

Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust (WEHCT) is consulting with residents about a range of birth choices to women who live in and around Winchester, Andover and Eastleigh – this includes the future of Andover Birth Centre.

The Trust say they can "no longer justify round-the-clock midwifery cover at Andover Birth Centre given the small number of births there (around four per week)".

WEHCT has agreed with NHS Hampshire and Hampshire County Council's Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee to consult on three options for the future provision of midwife-led birth services in its area (ante-natal, post-natal and other community-based maternity services are not affected by these proposals). The consultation will run from 1 September to 31 October 31.

The following link will take you to the Consultation document. https://engage.hampshire.nhs.uk/consult.ti/andoverbirthcentre/consultationHome

It sets out the three options and the main upsides and downsides of each one. I would encourage you to have your say through the consultation.

Every option includes some future for the ABC – providing Ante and Post Natal care. However Option 3 also includes Domino Services – where low risk births can take place at Andover Birth Centre.

You can respond to the consultation by visiting the website at https://engage.hampshire.nhs.uk; downloading a feedback form from the website and emailing it back to WEHCT at yourviewscount@hampshire.nhs.uk; or by printing a copy of the feedback form (or requesting a copy by calling 023 8062 3294) and returning it by post to FREEPOST, NHS Hampshire.

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07 SEP 2011

Competition: Name the Augusta Park Open Space

Test Valley Borough Council would like to officially name the open space areas and community parkland on the Augusta Park housing development.

These are:

(1)  The central open space area to the north of Smannell Road

(2)  The Neighbourhood Park area, north of the local centre

(3)  The Community Playing Fields and Pavilion

As  local residents, your suggestions would be very much appreciated to help TVBC decide
on suitable names for these areas.

Ideas so far include a Roman theme or agricultural theme to complement road names.  The Leisure portfolio holder and local members including yours truly will choose the most appropriate names.

Please email your suggestions to: sgoodridge@testvalley.gov.uk or her on 07990 755104. Alternatively drop your ideas into the Temporary Community Centre on East Anton Farm Road or post to: Sharon Goodridge (Community Development Worker) TVBC, Beech Hurst Offices, Weyhill Road, Andover, SP10 3AJ by October 1st 2011. Remember to include your name and contact details.

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06 SEP 2011

Events at Augusta Park Community Centre

A timetable has today been published by Community Development worker - Sharon Goodridge detailing the sessions and events that are scheduled to take place at the new temporary Community Facility in Augusta Park.

They include informal drop in sessions, Police beat surgerys, Sentinel Housing advice sessions, Parent & Todler Groups and Health Walks.

You can see the Full Timetable here.

The Community Facility and the wages of the Community Development worker have and are being paid for by the housing devloper as part of the conditions of the develpment.  So Alamein Ward residents can enjoy these community events without a cost to the public purse.

You can copntact Sharon Goodridge by phoning 01264 368622/07990755104 or by e-mailing sgoodridge@testvalley.gov.uk

 

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05 SEP 2011

The National Planning Policy Framework: Explained

In recent weeks the Government has produced a draft National Planning Policy Framework. It is currently out for consultation so if you want to have your say you can do so by clicking on this link -

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/draftframeworksummary

In view of recent coverage of the planning reforms in the national press I thought it might be helpful to comment on a number of issues which this has raised.

Planning  for the future and in a way which encourages growth is essential if we are to deal with the economic mess that we are currently in. On the other hand it is worrying that the policy gives the green light  to 'sustainable' development which is very subjective.  The local plan (core strategy) is still supreme (however we will still have to conform to the same rules in terms of planning appeals etc).

It is important that we preserve our heritage so the framework will continue to protect Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Green Belt.

This approach to planning is based squarely on giving local people a greater say over future development and putting sustainability at the heart of the planning system.

Under Labour local residents and district councils were prisoners of John Prescott's old regional housing numbers. It is taking an Act of Parliament finally to kill off these targets but that is exactly what the Localism Bill, nearing the end of its passage through Parliament, does. Local communities will, therefore, have an opportunity to play an unprecedented role in shaping their future through neighbourhood planning.

The sheer complexity of the current planning rules makes them inaccessible for local residents. England's existing national planning policy is now over 1,000 pages long. Then there are the vast volumes of Regional Strategy documentation created under the last Government – in addition to councils' own Local Plans. The planning regime has increasingly become the preserve of lawyers and pressure groups, rather than local communities. The Government is condensing these 1,000 pages of complex guidance down to a succinct 52 page policy document.

Although the draft has been warmly welcomed by many groups, some bodies have suggested that it is a green light for all development. This is not the case. The Framework is about making existing policy simpler and more accessible whilst retaining key protections. The Framework continues protection for heritage, it makes no change to designations such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest; and continues to preserve the Green Belt. In other areas, local councils will decide where to locate development when they draw up their Local plans (Core Strategy) – subject to meeting environmental safeguards. As well as protecting the Green Belt, the Framework provides a new designation for councils to protect valued green space which is outside nationally protected areas.

But there is also a need to provide for the future of our communities – that is, after all, what planning is all about. We need to look at how we encourage economic growth and private sector job creation on which our prosperity depends. Thus, one of the key changes in the new Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The presumption simply means that where a proposal does not give rise to problems it should be approved promptly.

The local plan (Core Strategy) sets out what is and is not acceptable and remains at the heart of the planning system.

The planning system must play an active role in guiding development to sustainable solutions. Local planning committees such as ours in Test Valley, will still be able to reject applications which are not in accordance with our local plan, and local plans will not be able to provide for development which would significantly and demonstrably cause harm.

We will still be able to prioritise the use of brownfield sites. Indeed the Framework encourages us to produce plans by using natural resources prudently and enabling the re-use of existing resources.

The current planning system does not do this. It is unwieldy and complex, difficult to put into practice, impossible for the general public to engage with. The Government are fixing this broken system by simplifying planning in a way that promotes sustainable growth, protects the environment and places local people back in charge of their own communities.

I would urge you to engage with the consultation

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24 AUG 2011

Over-Development not the Answer

It has been made public today that a further 360 houses could be built at Augusta Park. I believe that we need to treat these plans with extreme caution.

Taylor Wimpey have presented a scoping report to the Borough Council for the extra homes because the County Council have said the Secondary School originally planned for the site is now not needed. The extra houses are not in the Local Plan and instead of jumping in and welcoming these plans we need to go back to first principles and remember that.

After the 2,500 houses were approved we warned against any further development North of the railway line - just think about the junction at the Enham Arch. It is clear there may need to be a rejigging of the plan because there is to be no Secondary School - however over development is not the answer - we need to focus on the quality of housing.

There is a mass of development taking place in Andover at the moment. Not only the 2,500 at East Anton but permission has already been granted for 1,750 dwellings at Picket Twenty and a further 700 at Picket Piece. The Council has already approved many affordable homes in the area. When the contract with the developer for improvements to local infrastructure was drawn up with the Council it was based on 2,500 homes. To add almost another 400 dwellings will have a huge negative impact on the infrastructure and surrounding villages.

At the moment it is only a scoping report that has been presented. Any increase in the amount of houses will have to be formally submitted by the developer and it will be up for the Councillors to decide whether the extra houses go ahead.

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23 AUG 2011

Don't lose your vote in 2012

Voter registration forms will soon be dropping through letter boxes across Test Valley. Householders are urged to re-register on-line, by phone or by text to reduce the cost of administration.  However if you’re unable to access these options, please return your form by post as soon as possible.

These forms are used to compile the next electoral register for Test Valley. If you haven’t received your form by 8th September 2011 you can contact the Electoral Registration Office on 01264 368021 or print one off at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

Registering to vote is very simple. If your details haven’t changed, you can re-register on-line or by phone or by text. Doing it this way reduces the cost of administration and so saves the council money which we can use to provide other services.  If your details have changed, all you have to do is update the annual registration form with the details of everyone in your household who is eligible to vote and return it to us as soon as possible. 

You have to register  every year to retain your vote in national and local elections so please complete your registration form as soon as possible so that you don’t lose your right to vote.  For more information, contact your local Electoral Registration Officer at Test Valley Borough Council on 01264 368021.

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18 AUG 2011

Road Markings to be Re-instated

Following a report from a constituent - I have contacted Hampshire County Council about the lack of white lines along the Smannell Road where it intersects with the Icknield Way.

Residents will remember that we managed to get that section of the road fully resurfaced earlier this year due to severe potholes. Whilst the road is now smooth the white lines were never reinstated. However following my conversation with the County yesterday the have apologised for the error and have promised to reinstate the road markings.

I will keep on the case until the work is carried out.

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17 AUG 2011

Advice Surgery this Saturday

Sorry for the light amount of posts recently.  I have been away on holiday for a few days in Cornwall - who needs to go abroad when you get scenery like this in England.  As there are limited Council meetings in August I am cramming in my holiday during this month and I am off camping to the East coast, in Suffolk, next weekend.

However I will be holding a Surgery this Saturday the 20th August, in the Guildhall in the High Street. I will be there from 10.00 – 11.30am. So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with me about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment.

Alternatively if you want to lobby me on any Test Valley Borough Council matter then please just pop in, I will be pleased to hear from you. If you can't get there this Saturday you can always contact me here.

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11 AUG 2011

Charlton All Weather Pitch Upgrade

The Astro-turf pitch at Charlton Leisure Centre, West Portway will be closed from 15 August 2011 to 30 September 2011 to allow for a new pitch and upgraded fence to be installed. The new pitch will be a 3rd Generation (3G) sand and rubber in-filled surface to FIFA (football) and FIH (hockey) accredited standards and will offer an enhanced surface to the local clubs and organisations in and around Andover that hire this popular facility.

It is anticipated the pitch will be open for use by w/c 3 October, and the opening will be marked by a small sports event.

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The NEW 3rd Generation pitch has been well worth waiting for by the users in the local community. As the operations manager of the site I am regularly interacting with the astro turf users and I am pleased to say how well it is complemented by them. We are finding more groups want all year round bookings and not just the winter season. This certainly means the pitch is being well used. The all weather pitch can also be used for rugby training, especially with the juniors. www.andovercommunityservices.co.uk/facilities-for-hire/charlton-3g-astro-pitch
- Adam Fakes

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09 AUG 2011

Meeting with Testway Regional Director

This evening I met with the new Regional Director of the Aster Group, Jean Dalziel to talk through various constituents concerns about Testway owned land and property throughout the Alamein Ward.  I raised the parking issue in Genoa Cout and asked them to look at solutions as well as the flooding issue that is affecting the flats in Venice Court.  I received an update on their tree lopping programme and pressed the case for more overhanging branches to be cut back in Roman Way and King Arthurs Way.  I also raised an individual issue on behalf of a tenant in Tiberius Road.

I will continue to have regular meeting with Testway Housing - so if you want me to raise anything on your behalf you can contact me here and I will contact them on your behalf.

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08 AUG 2011

Community Centre Opens

On Saturday morning - I joined my fellow Alamein Ward Councillors, the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health and Communities Cllr Sandra Hawke, Community Development Worker, Sharon Goodridge (funded by the developer) along with other members of the Community, to officially open the Community Facility in Augusta Park.

This has been a long time coming - it should have been delivered by the developer on 100 occupations of the site but here we are after 400 occupations and it has only just opened. My frustration over this and battle with the developer to get on with it has been well documented but this was a day for celebration.

The Community Shop - which will be open every Wednesday throughout August from 9am - 12 Noon. It is designed to be a drop in centre for residents to pick up information about the development, local facilities, services and community activities in and around Andover.

I will publish a full timetable as soon as I have it of the opening times in September - suffice to say there will be evening opening hours.

The Temporary Community Centre is also a hub for Sharon Goodridge to plan and organise more community activities - so we an do all we can to help build some community spirit in the new development.

A permanent, larger community facility needs to be delivered by the developer, by 700 occupations and I am keeping up to date with progress. This will provide a facility for wider range of activities and allow so activities can be run for and by the community.

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05 AUG 2011

Councillors Surgery in Augusta Park Tomorrow

Your Alamein Conservative Team have organised a Councillors Surgery in Augusta Park tomorrow, Saturday 6th August 2011. It will take place in the newly opened community centre from 10:00 - 11:30. So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with us about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment.

The new community centre has been a long time coming and we wanted to give all Alamein residents opportunity to come along and have a look and chat to us at the same time. If you can't get there tomorrow you can always contact me here.

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04 AUG 2011

CREW Success in King Arthurs Way

Earlier today I visited the Community Respect and Environment Week programme that has been going on in King Arthurs Way this week.

It was a great event with various agencies including the police, Testway, Twice as Nice, Bravehearts, Transition Towns joining TVBC officers and neighbourhood wardens on the various stands inside King Arthurs Hall. Events like this are fantastic because they really bring the community together and certainly the people I spoke to yesterday were enjoying themselves. Children and teenagers took part in a litter pick as part of the respect agenda and also had some fun playing football with the PCSOs.

The week was much more than this though as the Council and Testway working in partnership cut back hedges, removed graffiti and cleared up any fly-tipping in the area.

As a local councillor there is only so much you can see and get sorted when you walk around the ward – but with a team of people you can really blitz a specific area and improve the environment. It does not stop here though – if there is anything you feel that could do with improving in the Alamein Ward please contact me.

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02 AUG 2011

CREW week in King Arthurs

Test Valley is bringing the Community, Respect and Environment week to King Arthurs Way for the next few days - as you get a chance to get involved.

Test Valley Borough Council, Hampshire Police, Testway Housing and a range of other agencies are working in partnership in the area to work with the community to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime and to undertake activities to improve and enhance the environment.

There are a wide variety of activities taking place until Friday - the timetable of which is below. So go along and get involved.

Timetable of Events

Tuesday 2 August

Football
Meet the Community Wardens at Galahad Close Open Space at 11am

Community Litter Pick
Meet Sean at Askalot at 1pm

Wednesday 3 August

Football
Meet the Community Wardens at Galahad Close Open Space at 11am

Beat Surgery
Meet your local Safer Neighbourhood Team at Askalot from 2pm to 4pm

CREW Family Fun Day
at King Arthur's Hall and Askalot from 11am to 3pm
Cycle coding – Get your bike coded
Get fire safety advice and see the fire truck
Learn to juggle
Get pet advice
Go pond dipping
Ride the Smoothie Bike
Find out how to be green and save money
Learn to grow your own
Love Food Hate Waste
Play recycling games

You can also:
Find out about drug and alcohol issues
Meet the Anti Social Behaviour Officer to discuss any problems
Meet Testway Housing Officers
Report issues to the Council's Pollution Team
Get benefits advice
Find out about Love Where You Live
Get healthy living advice
Find out about recycling and home composting
Get crime prevention advice
Report road and footpath problems

Thursday 4 August

British Heart Foundation Clothing Donation
At King Arthur's Hall from 11am to 3pm

Sexual Health Clinic (for 13 – 25 year olds)
At Askalot from 3.30pm to 5.30pm

Health Walk to Anton Lakes LNR
Meet Sharon at Askalot at 2pm

Friday 5 August

Football
Meet the Community Wardens at Galahad Close Open Space at 11am

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31 JUL 2011

Andover Carnival Success

 

Today saw the best carnival Andover has had in years. A beautiful sunny day, thousands of people lining the route and a party in Vigo Park afterwards. It was a day when Andover came together to enjoy some summer cheer.

Thanks go to the organising committee, Mark Lazenby, Iris Anderson and Brenda Thomas to name just a few. Along with Andover companies - transplus to name just one who provided the floats, Andover Sound and the Andover Advertiser for sponsoring and covering the event so well.

For my part I helped Marshall the route by walking behind the fantastic Samba band in the procession - shaking a bucket for the carnival charity; Parkinsons UK.

Thanks to all those, young and older alike who donated their loose change for a very worthwhile cause.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in Vigo Park afterwards as the music acts took to the stage - and after a very hot procession it was nice to relax with an ice cold beer provided by the George Inn. A perfect end to a great day.

 

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30 JUL 2011

Fencing Work to be Carried out at Anton Lakes

A week long project to restore fencing at Anton Lakes Local Nature Reserve will take place this coming Monday, 1st August. The work sees the erection of two stretches of post and rail fencing. The first will run alongside the pathway between Tintagel Close and Saxon Fields, the second will run between Meliot Rise, Ryon Close and Cole Close. The project is being carried out as part of the ongoing management of the site and will see the northern end of the reserve returned to grazing pasture. Access will be maintained to all areas of the reserve through the use of kissing gates. The long term scope of the project aims at increasing the plant diversity of the area and therefore attracting populations of insects including butterflies.

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28 JUL 2011

Advice Surgery comes to Augusta Park

Your Alamein Conservative Team have organised a 'mobile' advice surgery in Augusta Park on Saturday 6th August 2011.  It will take place in the newly opened community centre from 10:00 - 11:30.

So if you have any issues or concerns that you wish to raise with us about Alamein Ward then please come along, there is no need to make an appointment.

The new community centre has been a long time coming and we wanted to give all Alamein residents opportunity to come along and have a look and chat to us at the same time. If you can't get there on the 6th August you can always contact me here.

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27 JUL 2011

Getting things fixed in Alamein

I was out and about last night making sure the various issues in the Ward that I have reported have been fixed.

I am pleased to inform that the large pothole along Viking Way has now been filled in by the County Council along with some other smaller potholes in that area.

The drain cover has been replaced in Rhodes Square, along with work to sort out the loose and uneven paving slabs in that area. These have now been tarmaced.

The overgrown verges along the A343 from the King Arthurs Way roundabout heading towards Enham have now been cut back. The large overhanging tree in Swallowfields will be cut back shortly and other works to trees in that area will also take place.

If you have anything to report in Alamein that you want me or my colleagues to take action on - then please drop me a line or contact me here.

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26 JUL 2011

CREW Returns to King Arthur's Way

King Arthur's Way will be at the heart of five days of community building activities during the next Community Respect and Environment Week (CREW) from Monday 1 August 2011.

There will be plenty of action during the week which will be aimed at improving the local neighbourhood, with lots of ideas for everyone to try, wherever they live.

There will also be a CREW Family Fun Day taking place at King Arthur's Hall and Askalot on Thursday 4 August from 11am to 3pm. There will be lots of activities to try from pond dipping to learning to juggle. Everyone can also find out how to be green and save money, get fire safety and crime prevention advice and donate their unwanted clothes to help the British Heart Foundation.

Other events taking place during the week include football with the Community Wardens, a community litter pick, rubbish clearance, graffiti removal, pruning and tidying overgrown areas and a thorough 'sprucing up' of the public places.

The really important feature of CREW is that members of the community are involved throughout – highlighting what they think needs to be tackled and getting involved in some of the exciting projects that will help to give their surroundings a 'make-over'.
During the week there will be opportunities to talk about what can be done to deal with anti-social behaviour and crime and many local organisations and agencies will be coming along to give support and to get involved including Hampshire Police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Testway Housing and of course Test Valley Borough Council who are organising it.

If you would like to join in or find out more - please contact me here.

 

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25 JUL 2011

Government Launches New Proposals on Business Rates

Last week the Government issued its consultation paper on the localisation of business rates. I welcome the proposal which will allow Councils to keep their own business rates; that will provide a real incentive for further economic development. However I am disappointed that local authorities will not have the power to set their own level of business rates.

The level of business rates will still be controlled by the centre, so if Test Valley wanted to cut business rates to increase investment in our Borough we cannot do so. Some localism eh!

However we must be grateful that the previously broken system is to be reformed. At least this is a step towards proper Localism – where Councils become self financing. Under the current set-up business rates charged on most non-domestic premises, including shops, offices, pubs and factories, are calculated and collected by local authorities and put into a central pool before being redistributed to all councils. Thankfully this pointless channelling of money is to be brought to an end. The new plan allows councils to retain their locally-raised business rates, which will help to free councils from dependence upon the central Government grant and give us a strong financial incentive to drive local economic growth.

However when I respon