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News Bulletin: February  2010

Hook Community Awards will be presented again this year at the Annual Village Meeting on Tuesday 27th April at the Elizabeth Hall. We have already received several nominations but more are most welcome and should be sent by letter to the Clerk at the Parish Council office or by email to clerk@hook.gov.uk. The only firm rule is that any individual, group or business must have contributed to our Community over some years on a voluntary basis. Brief details of the reasons are all that is needed as we can work with those making the nomination if required. Closing date for nominations is Monday 1st March so that our panel can reach decisions during March.

Our car park refund scheme has inevitably got off to a very slow start indeed because of the weather. It does now need strong support from residents for unless the scheme becomes popular Hart will not pay for a machine that is able to issue tickets to allow one hour of free parking and the project will be abandoned. We appreciate that the need to supply used reminder slips to one of the outlets that are working with us is tedious but we need to prove that demand for an hour of free parking exists. Hart’s car park is massively underused and our scheme, if it becomes permanent, will help shoppers, visitors to medical facilities and those on the school run as well as reducing short term parking on residential streets. This really is a case of “use it or lose it!”

The Parish Council car park in Ravenscroft is heavily used at school pick up time and we believe that some are driving “the long way round” because there is no space to park near the schools. Using our free car park trial is surely a good way to save time and petrol and help show if the scheme should become permanent.

The most important item on our January Parish Council meeting, which was postponed to 20th January because of snow, was to set the Parish Council Precept for 2010 to 2011. At the depth of the recession we were able to set the 2009/10 precept at £299,000 compared to £312,000 in the previous year by making economies and by deferring some projects. We currently have £24,000 of projects under investigation so by putting the precept back to £312,000 we will be able to carry out some of them if they prove to be cost benefit justified. They include keeping the public toilets open and free parking for up to an hour in Reading Road car park. This expenditure would be in addition to normal running costs and the work that we are planning to the Community Centre. A fuller update will be included in our Annual Report which will, as usual, be distributed to every home in April.

The exceptionally heavy snowfall in early January caused major disruption in our area and to the country as a whole. In such a situation Hampshire County Council Highways must put their resources into clearing and keeping clear the 25% of main roads that carry 85% of the traffic. Much of this work is carried out by their own vehicles and crews but they also have arrangements with farmers who will turn out with snowploughs when required. Our own landscape contractor and his team concentrated on clearing routes to school including our Car Park in Ravenscroft along with footpaths on Parish Council owned property. All this means that there is very little resource in terms of manpower or money available to clear residential roads. However we and the local Highways office are considering ways in which some “self help” facilities might be made available for residential roads.

The freeze and thaw followed by rain will produce potholes and it would help Hampshire to schedule repair work if potholes are reported to roads@hants.gov.uk mentioning the road involved, as accurate a location of the pothole as possible, the fact that it is in Hook, and the size of the pothole by rough diameter and depth.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor