This year’s Annual Village Meeting was attended by more than 130 residents and representatives of local organisations. Community Awards were presented firstly to Tony and Rosi Taylor, in recognition of their many years involvement with a range of community organisations. Between them these include Hook Community Centre, Hook Squash Club, Hook Focus, both Hook and Robert Mays Schools. Due to their move to Kent, Tony’s 18 years as a Parish Councillor came to an end this year.
The Rev. Peter Quinnell accepted the second award on behalf of Shirley Clancy. This was presented in recognition of Shirley’s work with Hook nurseries, St John’s Church, Hook and Odiham Lions and for her involvement in organising community lunches, teas and coach trips.
Attendees at the meeting were asked for their views on a number of options for Christmas Lights for 2011-12. They were asked if the Parish Council should continue to spend money on Christmas Lighting displays in the centre of Hook as well as comment on the choice of lighting motifs. Whilst the Amenity Committee will consider the results of this consultation in June, initial indications are that residents expressed overwhelming support for entering into a further 3 year lighting rental agreement. There was an overall preference for traditional multi coloured motifs.
Questions raised at the meeting related to litter, snow clearance and safety concerns at the junction of Newnham Road and Old School Road. Hampshire Highways will be following up on the latter issue. A suggestion was made that taking a lead from The Big Society, residents might like to be more proactive in helping to reduce litter and manage snow.
On May 5th just over 45% of the Hook electorate turned out to vote for the District Council, Parish Council and on the Referendum. Thirteen residents stood for election to the Parish Council. The twelve successful candidates have introduced themselves in this month’s Focus. Five of the councillors were re-elected and no doubt their extensive experience will be invaluable to the seven new members.
The new council met for the first time on 18th May. Martin Whittaker was re-elected Chairman of the Council and Gordon Winter was elected Vice Chairman and Chair of Amenities. Jane Bonnin and Nigel Carpenter will continue to Chair the Planning and Development Strategy Committees respectively.
The Parish Council was asked to comment on a new application to open a pharmacy at Hook surgery. The previous application was refused by the Hampshire Primary Care Trust on the grounds there was insufficient evidence that Hook required two pharmacies. This application is exempt to the normal pharmacy approval process under the “100-hour exemption” rule. This means that if a pharmacy agrees to open 100 hours every week the application cannot generally be refused by the PCT. The application shows opening times of 7am-10pm Mon-Sat and 9am-7pm on Sunday: 100 hours. The 100-hour exemption was originally meant for large chain pharmacies, eg in shopping centres and was due to be withdrawn this year but has been given a stay of execution. The application was discussed by the Council on 18th May and serious concern were expressed about the potential risk that Hook would not be able to sustain two pharmacies. In the event that Boots was forced to close there would be significant impact on residents if the services and products provided by Boots ceased to be available in Hook. These concerns will be submitted in response to the consultation, but comments from residents would be welcomed.
Royal Mail plans to close Hook Sorting Office in October. Parcels will have to be collected from the sorting office in Basingstoke, near the Hospital. District Councillor Burchfield has urged residents to voice their opinion via the Royal Mail website. The Parish Council will discuss the matter and actions at the meeting on 1st June. Residents are welcome to attend or forward views on the change to The Clerk or Councillors prior to the meeting.
Anne Atkins – Clerk