Around 65 Parishioners attended the Annual Village Meeting on 27th April along with nine Parish Councillors, two District / County Councillors and representatives from the Police, Highways, and Neighbourhood Watch.
The Elizabeth Hall Development Committee described the plans to build a new Hall. Unless action is taken the existing dilapidated building, which does not meet the requirements of the disability act and struggles to meet the needs of the Community, will collapse. The project, which is likely to cost around £1million, will be funded by a mix of Elizabeth Hall funds, developer contributions, grants, Parish Council precept and borrowing. The meeting overwhelmingly endorsed the project, there being two abstentions and no votes against. The reason for the increase in the Parish Council precept for 2004 / 2005 is to permit £60,000 to be put aside towards the project. Similar provisions will be needed in each of the next few years.
Two parishioners asked at the meeting about the road safety hazard in Great Sheldons Coppice at the point where dog walkers park their cars close to a bend. We understand that accidents have occurred at this point. We will discuss the topic with Highways at our next meeting with them which is in June. A lay-by would be expensive and double yellow lines hard to enforce but there may be other ways forward. In the meantime it would help if dog walkers would park further away from the bend. Following an enquiry from a dog walker we confirm that the only public footpath in the field across the stream and through the kissing gate is the one that goes straight ahead and up the hill in line with the signpost. The two routes to the right across the field and along the hedge are private.
Many thanks to those who returned the questionnaire that we included with the Annual Report. We received almost 400 replies which is a very good response rate. Leading market research company N. O. P. are generously analysing the replies free of charge as a community contribution and we will provide information on the results as soon as we have them, along with a public presentation in the autumn.
A number of instances of graffiti have occurred recently and we condemn this antisocial behaviour, which will be one of the topics discussed at our new Community Safety Committee, which will have its first meeting shortly. The Parish Council cannot undertake to clean private property and indeed the cleaning responsibility in all cases lies with the owner of the property that has been defaced. We believe a number of community minded individuals may be considering running an informal clean up working party but it is crucial that they take professional advice on cleaning techniques and essential that they obtain the specific permission of the owners of the property concerned, as incorrect cleaning can easily make the damage worse.
May marks the start of the new Parish Council year and a few changes in our internal roles. Our grateful thanks to Tony Taylor for chairing the Parish Council for the last three years. He is succeeded by Antony Hunter, whilst Angus Ogilvy takes over as Chairman of Planning. Martin Whittaker continues as Chair of the Amenities Committee. We recently completed interviewing for the post of Deputy Clerk and are delighted to welcome Christine Randall, who joins us during June having previously been Parish Clerk at Odiham. Christine’s particular areas of responsibility will be Planning and a number of Amenity issues including Parks and Gardens.
Hart’s green bag scheme for garden waste continues to attract adverse comments relating to the small size of the bags, the difficulty in moving them when full and the lengthy queues at the Hartley Wintney recycling depot. As a Parish Council, we support the aim of recycling garden waste but believe that the method Hart has adopted is simply not practical. We are continuing to provide feedback to our District Councillors.
Thursday 10th June is Hart District Council and European Election Day. Don’t forget to use your vote!
Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor