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News Bulletin: January 2007

The term of office of all twelve Parish Councillors runs out in Spring 2007 and a new Council will be elected to serve for four years from May 2007. Not all our existing Councillors will be standing again so there will definitely be a number of new Councillors in office. Tradition in Hook is that all candidates stand “as themselves” and not on a party ticket. Another tradition which has worked well, particularly for candidates standing for the first time, is that if more than twelve candidates stand each of us drops leaflets for all candidates to a small number of houses so giving everyone an opportunity to communicate with every elector. Please consider standing and have a chat with Anne Atkins or any Parish Councillor.

Some time back George Wimpey applied to change the permission they had been granted for houses on the final phase of Holt Park. They wanted to delete 35 four and five bedroom houses from the plan and build 59 smaller houses on the same piece of land. The result would have been a density of 56 dwellings per hectare which we and many existing Holt Park residents regarded as far too high. We also all had concerns about traffic, parking, trees, open space and leisure. The Inspector appointed by the Government agreed with our views and dismissed the appeal. George Wimpey are now building houses as approved in the original Planning Permission. In the meantime, Stagecoach have extended the 200 bus service to include Holt Park. This extension to the 200 service has a subsidy from George Wimpey for the first few years. It’s important that people use it, for if they do not the service is likely to be cut back when the subsidy runs out.

The first phase of Community Speedwatch on Griffin Way South is now complete. Many thanks to our volunteers, many from roads off Griffin Way. During the 1 hour a day our team of 9 was able to monitor speeds 607 vehicles were recorded driving over the 30mph limit including 267 driving over 40 and 21 driving over 50. The drivers concerned will receive warning letters from the Police. Speedwatch is an educational campaign so there are no tickets or fines involved for those logged speeding on Griffin Way. There is an undoubted speeding problem and after phase two is complete we will be discussing possible ways forward with the Police. Some extra help in managing Speedwatch during the three weeks of Phase 2 in March would be very welcome. Do please ring our office to find out more!

We have recently discussed with Highways the poor condition of the piece of land between Casa Flora and the bus stop and jointly come up with a scheme to improve the landscaping. However we now discover that neither Highways nor Casa Flora own the piece of land concerned. We are keen to trace the owner because we naturally cannot undertake any work without the owner’s cooperation.

The item in December Focus on antisocial behaviour attracted helpful feedback including a letter which is published in January Focus. Information on the identity of those responsible for the current wave of vandalism and criminal damage is badly needed. Our Police strength in Hook was established at three salaried officers at the time that the Dickson House beat office was established but for much of the last year we have only had two officers assigned to Hook. Amazingly, given the current problems, we have just heard that it is proposed to reduce Hook’s beat officer strength to just one officer from January by transferring one of our team to a desk role. Although we will still have our excellent and fully trained volunteer Special Constable just one Police Officer is clearly inadequate for a Community the size of Hook at the best of times. We are currently trying to persuade the Police to reconsider.

And finally an important New Year reminder about Rubbish and Recycling as Focus drops through your door in the last week of December. The first Blue Bin day after Christmas is Tuesday 2nd January, along with glass. The first Black Bin Day is Monday 8th January. After 8th January our bin day will be Monday as usual.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor