Parish Council Election – At the closing date for nominations, Hook had eight candidates standing for the twelve seats. As a result there will be four vacancies remaining. The first meeting of the new Council will take place on Wednesday 13th May at Hook Community Centre. The agenda will be posted in the usual places on 7th May. An updated Calendar of Meetings has already been published.
Vacant Seats – I am advised by Hart District Council that because the four seats still vacant have arisen following the full election and not from a casual vacancy, the Parish Council will need to co-opt the additional members. When the new Council meets it will agree the terms of co-option. Although the information on how to apply will not be published until later in May, we would welcome enquiries from anyone who may be interested in joining the Council by contacting the Parish Clerk for a chat about what is involved.
Local Plan – As we went to press, the April meeting of the Hart District Association of Local Parish and Town Councils was held. Representatives from Hart District Council informed the meeting that the expected additional requirement from Surrey Heath and Rushmore is 3000 dwellings. The impact of this will be considered by the joint Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Group who will be monitoring the progress of the Local Plan.
Hook Annual Village Meeting – Notices were posted early in April, rescheduling the meeting to Wednesday 27th May at 8.00 pm at Hook Community Centre. As the Annual Village Meeting is a community meeting, not a Parish Council meeting, the new date offers the opportunity for a more informative and constructive meeting because:
It is expected the revised housing numbers for Hook will be available from Hart during May.
The results of all the Neighbourhood Plan surveys will be available. The site selection, key themes and objectives will be further progressed.
The new Parish Council will have taken office.
There will be four remaining vacant seats on the Council and residents can find out about the role of Councillors and process for filling the vacancies.
Community Centre – The move back into the building began with the nursery, followed shortly afterwards by the Parish Council, HVHCA (who are managing the building) and the Café. We look forward to welcoming residents who visit our new office.
Transport - The Hampshire older persons bus pass (blue stripe) will now give free travel from 9.30am to 11pm, Monday to Friday from 1 April 2015. Weekend and public holiday travel is free all day for pass holders. In the case of a community bus operating between 9am and 9.29am and then no further departure before 10.31am, older persons passes will be valid from 9am on that specific journey.
This change will only currently affect Hook residents on the 65X bus to Alton College via Hartley Wintney, Fleet and Farnham. The Hartley Wintney Community Bus also comes to Hook on certain days and would give some opportunities for travel to Hartley Wintney and The Meadows. Please consult the timetables at the bus stops and the HCC website for details of the current timetable.
Parish Council Elections 7th May 2015 – All twelve Parish Councillors automatically retire in May, at the end of their four year term. At the time of writing it is expected that five or more of the current members will not be standing for re-election. Expressions of interest have been received from two residents, but it is not too late to stand. Nomination papers can be submitted up until 4.00 pm on Thursday 9th April 2015. These can be obtained from Hart District Council’s office in Fleet or online from www.hart.gov.uk/Elections
If there are insufficient candidates to fill all twelve vacancies, then there is no ballot. All the nominees will be elected unopposed and the remaining vacancies have to be re-advertised. This could lead to a further election being called or members being co-opted to the Council. Further, the volume and diversity of the work of the Council needs the skills and experience of a full team of 12 Councillors to operate effectively. Hook has always worked hard to fill vacant seats to ensure local democracy is at work, rather than seats being taken by residents who have not been elected by voters. The last occasion when Hook Parish Council found it necessary to co-opt was in 1982, when a casual vacancy arose. At that time the population was just over half of that today.
The work of a Parish Council is rewarding and varied. We work alongside residents, business and other organisations in areas such as Planning, Transport, Community Safety, the Environment, Sports and Leisure, Finance, Law, Marketing and P.R. The emerging Local Plan and Hook Neighbourhood Plan will provide a basis for the longer term strategy of the Parish Council. The expected growth of Hook will provide opportunities for the new Councillors to work to improve the management of sport and leisure facilities and other services provided by the Parish Council.
If you are interested in more information on the role a Parish Councillor and how that works in practice in Hook, please contact the Parish Council office. Once elected, there is an induction programme and ongoing training available so members can develop their own skills as required.
Hook Annual Village Meeting - Wednesday 22nd April 2015 from 8.00 pm. As the move back into the Community Centre had not taken place at the time writing, please check Noticeboards, Café Terrace information screen, Facebook, Twitter, the Parish Council website or sign up for Hook Announcements (via our website) for final confirmation of the venue.
Community Centre – The construction reached the final stages in March and the building is looking bright and welcoming. Until the Project Manager completes the final snagging list and awards the Certificate of Practical Completion to the contractor, full occupation cannot take place. It is expected the building will be fully operational during April, but we are all crossing fingers and eagerly anticipating moving out of the ‘blue tin cans’ and getting back to normal.
Reporting Street Faults - If you spot an issue of broken glass, graffiti, uneven pavements, fly tipping etc. please go online to www.hart.gov.uk/fixmystreet where you can report a wide variety of problems. If the concern relates to the parks, open spaces or play area please contact the Parish Council Office, not Hart.
Concessionary Bus Pass Change - The Hampshire older persons bus pass (blue stripe) will now give free travel from 9.30am to 11pm, Monday to Friday from 1 April 2015. Weekend and public holiday travel is free all day for pass holders. In the case of a community bus operating between 9am and 9.29am and then no further departure before 10.31am, older persons passes will be valid from 9am on that specific journey. This change will only currently affect Hook residents on the 65X bus to Alton College via Hartley Wintney, Fleet and Farnham. The Hartley Wintney Community Bus also comes to Hook on certain days and would give some opportunities for travel to Hartley Wintney and The Meadows. Please consult the timetables at the bus stops and the HCC website for details of the current timetable.
Parish Council Elections – Election Day is 7th May 2015. All twelve Parish Councillors automatically retire in May, at the end of their four year term. Not all the current members will stand again, so there is an opportunity for anyone living or who has been working (for the last 12 months) in Hook to stand for election to Hook Parish Council.
At the end of each election term we lose members with a range of expertise they have brought to the Council. They will also leave having gained experience and skills which they can use to improve their future life and career. The key requirements for being a successful Councillor are an interest in local affairs, enthusiasm and a willingness to get involved in the community.
Our work crosses into a wide range of areas including Planning, Transport, Community Safety, the Environment, Sports and Leisure, Finance, Law, Marketing and P.R. Planning and development will continue to be a ‘hot topic’ as we move forward with the emerging Local Plan and support the development of the Hook Neighbourhood Plan. With the anticipated growth in housing and associated facilities, there has never been a better opportunity for someone with interest, knowledge or skills in the management of sport and leisure facilities to make a difference in Hook.
There is an induction and ongoing training programme to support new Councillors in this interesting and varied voluntary role. Please contact Parish Council Office to find out more.
If you wish to stand for election, nomination forms will be available from the Hart District Council Civic Offices, Fleet from Thursday 19th March 2015. Nomination papers can be submitted between Monday 30th March 2015 and Thursday 9th April 2015 at 4.00pm for the Local Election.
Local Plan - At a recent meeting at Hart District Council, with the Parish Council and representatives of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, it became apparent that Hart are considering several sites, including new submissions, around Hook. These could be included in the Local Plan. We are expecting the first stage preferred sites to be identified by Hart at the end of February, which will include an indication of housing numbers. There are sites being considered for shortlisting, which will accommodate additional dwellings of between 325 and 1800. As soon as the numbers and sites are known to the Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, the information will be available via our mutual websites and mailing lists.
Parish Council meetings - Members of the public are most welcome to attend all meetings of the Council and its Committees to observe the proceedings. Meetings normally take place on the first Wednesday in each month. Agendas are posted on our notice boards in Grand Parade, Wellworth Park and Holt Lane. There is a short time slot on the agenda of full Council meetings, for anyone to raise a question or address the council on a matter relevant to Hook. If you are generally interested in what we do, or may be considering standing for election, please come along or ring the Parish Council Office on the number below to find out more!
Hook Community Awards – If you would like to nominate somebody who makes a real difference to the community, please write or e-mail the Clerk by 13th March.
SAVE THE DATE – The Hook Annual Village Meeting will be held in the newly refurbished Community Centre on Wednesday 22nd April 2015. Further information will follow in early April. Watch out in Focus, Noticeboards and our website for details.
Defibrillator - A number of concerned residents have contacted the Parish Council office regarding the red flashing light on the defibrillator at Grand Parade. The defibrillator cabinet is designed to flash to indicate it is working properly and to draw attention to the fact it is there and is available. If there is an alarm sounding from the cabinet, all is NOT well and we would appreciate a call.
Closure of Bartley Heath Car Park - The Parish Council wrote to Hampshire Wildlife Trust following a number of complaints from residents about the closure of this car park. Please see elsewhere in Focus to read their response and explanation for the closure.
Hook Quality of Life Survey – At the time of writing completed questions had started pouring in. We very much appreciate the feedback and support of residents. This work will be an important part of identifying key area for the Neighbourhood Plan to focus on.
Major site planning appeal – Although an appeal had been lodged, the developer of the proposed Hop Garden site submitted a further application which was discussed at the Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 21st January, after the copy deadline for Focus. The Parish Council’s response can be seen on Hart’s website – 14/03077/MAJOR.
Parish Council Elections – The elections are now only 15 weeks away. All twelve Parish Councillors automatically retire in May at the end of our four year term. A number of existing members have indicated that they will not stand again, so there will be a need for some new members. More important still is that there will be a need for people with a number of skills gained either through experience or a personal interest in the area concerned. These include Highways, Community Safety, the Environment, Sports, Marketing and P.R. A willingness to work on new ideas is always most welcome!
Please contact the Parish Council Office to find out more. Nomination forms will be available in late March and need to be lodged with Hart on a tight timescale. Election Day will be on Thursday 7th May and the new Council will take office soon after.
Hook Community Awards – In keeping with previous years, we are open to receive nominations for our Community Awards, which are presented at the Hook Annual Village Meeting in April. The awards recognise voluntary works and achievements for the benefit of our Community by individuals or businesses. Please send nominations to the Clerk in writing or e-mail by the end of March.
Parish Council Precept – The Precept (the Hook portion of the Council Tax) for 2015-16 was approved at the January Council meeting. It was agreed that there should be no increase in the precept in real terms, but that the total amount collected should be adjusted for inflation and to compensate for the further reduction in the Council Tax Support grant. The approved precept is £321,400, which with the change to the Tax Base means an increase of £1.04 pa for an average Band D Household. All the money we need to run the services you require us to provide comes from this source and we do not receive any funding from any other level of government.
Dog Fouling on Bassetts Mead - We have become aware that a local commercial dog walking business is regularly using Bassetts Mead and not picking up after the dogs they are responsible for – some are walking up to six dogs at one time. They have been spoken to by both the Hart's dog warden and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust warden. If they continue to with this antisocial behaviour, we will have no option but to name and shame them. We have also received complaints of fouling in other parts of Hook and patrols are being increased.
Dog faeces may contain various harmful parasites which can cause infection in both pets and humans (especially children). It is extremely important to always pick up after your dog. Hook Parish Council provides free dog bags that are biodegradable, so there is really no excuse for not picking up after your dog.
Hard Ball games on the road - We have had a number of residents complain recently about children playing with hard balls in the street, sometimes causing damage to property or vehicles. Please be a considerate neighbour and encourage your children to play only in suitable places with hard balls, either in large open spaces, or in the multi-purpose court next the Community Centre in Ravenscroft. This is for their own safety and also to minimize the number of cars that are getting damaged.
Hook Quality of Life Survey – In 2004 we undertook a survey, which subsequently informed the Hook Parish Plan. Since then Hook has seen growth and a number of changes. A new Council will be elected in 2015, during another period of development and change.
Early in January a survey questionnaire will be delivered to all households in Hook. This survey will assist the Council in developing its strategy going forward and the Hook Neighbourhood Plan.
This survey questionnaire aims to seek the views of everyone who lives in Hook (all ages included). Please will you take a few minutes to complete and return the form via the designated boxes at Tesco’s, Doctor’s Surgery, Infant and Junior Schools, Post Office, Elizabeth Hall, and the red post box at the back of the Community Centre from 5th January.
All residents are encouraged to respond and additional copies for all members of your household will be available from these return locations and the Parish Council office. The form can also be downloaded from our website at www.hook.gov.uk, completed and returned by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or printed and dropped in the return boxes. An online version can also be completed by following the link to Survey Monkey via our website.
Major site planning appeal – An appeal has been allowed for 13 residential dwellings at Blue Prior Business Park, Redfields Lane, Church Crookham, GU52 0RJ (Application 13/01882/OUT and Appeal Ref: APP/N1730/A/14/221702). The determination of this appeal is of relevance to the Hop Garden appeal to be held in May 2015. The Inspector has found that Hart cannot justify a 5 year land supply, one of the main issues in defence of the Hop Garden proposal. Officers at Hart remain optimistic, at the time of writing, that the appeal can be successfully defended.
Hook Community Centre - The Parish Council is delighted to announce that agreement has been reached with Hook Village Halls Charitable Association (HVHCA) to manage the Community Centre when it is completed. Members of HVHCA and the Parish Council will be collaborating closely on a smooth transition and opening of the new building.
Bus service changes – In December Stagecoach announced a range of service effective from 4th January 2015. Changes that affect Hook are:
Fleet Buzz Route 30 will be replaced by new routes for the No 10 and 13 routes between Basingstoke, Hook and Odiham (see Alton & Basingstoke section). There will no longer be a bus to connect Hook with Fleet and Farnborough.
Timetable information was not available by the Focus copy deadline. These changes may also affect the timings of the Hook Taxi Bus service. Please watch out for further announcements once we have details of the new timetables.
If you have any comments on these service changes please contact Stagecoach South via their website www.stagecoachbus.com or write to their address in Chichester.