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News Bulletin: January 2006

December Focus stated that Hart would finally make a decision on the Car Park issue at its December Cabinet Meeting. After Focus went to press Hart decided to postpone the decision until the January Cabinet Meeting which is on Thursday 12th January at 7pm in the Council Chamber at Hart. The Parish Council has requested permission to speak. This further postponement, which we were told was to allow more time for options to be considered, is deeply disappointing. It seems that there have been two underlying problems which we are working to overcome. The first is that there is a view within Hart that all Car Parks should have the same tariff structure regardless of the needs of those who park. The current District parking structure seems to suit Fleet as there are longer opportunities for shopping and entertainment but it does not suit Hook where the prime need is for short shopping visits, school runs and Surgery appointments. The second and longer term issue is that Hart are increasingly using Parking as a “stealth tax” to subsidise other services. Certain Parking charges are 25% to 100% higher than they were in 2004/5. Hart’s income from Parking is 37% more than the cost of running the Car Parks. We believe that Car Parks exist to provide parking on a tariff and at a price that suits the users of each Car Park and that costs and income should be roughly matched. Current feedback to us continues to be that the option to pay for 1 hour of parking and the removal of the night charge should be implemented right away. This view has the support of our District Councillors who are pressing for these changes to be effective as from the January Cabinet meeting. A good Hook attendance at the meeting in Hart would help our case!

Ever since the Multicourt was installed next to the Community Centre it has been our intention to floodlight it so as to provide an all weather surface that could be used both during the day and in the evening 12 months of the year. Up until now lack of funding has been the issue. The good news is that we now have money available for the work which will take place as soon as we can get a contractor on site to install the equipment.

This is the time of year when the Parish Council sets the amount we need to collect from you in 2006/7 to finance the services we provide in Hook. Hart collects the money on our behalf and this amount appears on your Council Tax bill. Our Finance Committee’s proposals for an increase on individual households broadly in line with inflation will be considered at our January Parish Council Meeting on 4th January. Our Annual report for 2005/6 giving detailed figures will be distributed to every house in April 2006 as usual.

Despite foul weather a fantastic number of people turned out for the Christmas Cracker on 2nd December. Feedback from those who attended has been excellent and we all owe a big “Thank You” to all those who supported the event, particularly Sue Gibson and her team for all their work both on the day and during the previous eleven months. The Cracker raised over £2,500 for Hook good causes.

Prior to the opening of the Police Beat Office many people asked for “Surgery times” when they could go and talk to a Police Officer. However these Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning Surgeries have been very lightly used and the Police are considering discontinuing them so that the time of the officer concerned can be used by being “out and about” rather than sitting waiting for visitors who do not appear. The joy riders who caused damage to Hartletts Park a few months ago have been arrested and charged with a series of offences.

Subscribers to Hart’s green sack garden waste scheme can leave their Christmas tree out for collection with their sack in the week from 10th to 17th January. If you don’t subscribe please take your tree to the Springwell Lane Hartley Wintney recycling point.

Several people showed serious interest in standing for the vacant seat on the Parish Council. In the event Pete Comley was elected unopposed and took his seat at our December meeting. Pete and his family have lived in Hook for over ten years. He is particularly interested in environmental issues.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor