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News Bulletin: March 2009

The Annual Village Meeting with be on Wednesday 22nd April at the Elizabeth Hall from 8pm and will start with an informal exhibition and a chance to walk round and talk with those organisations with which we work closely all year. This year we will be joined for the first time by Odiham Cottage Hospital, the Royal Air Force and the Hook History Group. The time at the formal meeting, which will start around 8.45, will be spent on answering your questions. Further details will be in the April edition of Focus. The Parish Council Annual Report will be distributed to every household in the weeks before the meeting.

Due to pressure on budgets Hart District Council are looking to reduce their costs by passing some responsibilities to Parish Councils. We would only take over a service from them if we could provide it at a higher standard at a lower cost and if the asset involved was transferred to the Parish Council. For example they currently send a crew out from Fleet to maintain Mitchell’s Field, next to the tennis courts, yet local maintenance by us would be cheaper and easier to manage given that it is close to our office and that our landscape contractor is regularly on site. Ownership of this field and two small parcels of land near the Bowling Club will be transferred to us in April. We are in the very early stage of discussion with Hart about the possibility of our taking over the Car Park and the Public Toilets. If we are able to take these over, without significant cost to Hook tax payers, we would run the Car Park with the aim of encouraging people to use it rather than park in surrounding residential roads and it seems certain that if we do not take over the toilets Hart will close them.

Hart will be sending Council Tax bills out in mid March including the Parish Council’s share of the tax which we set and they collect on our behalf. In the current economic climate we believe that residents would welcome a reduction in our tax, however small, so we have set our precept at £299,000 for 2009/10 compared to £312,000 in 2008/9. This may well mean that some work will have to be postponed to 2010/11 but we will not defer any expenditure which could have an impact on safety.

Permission has been granted for the electricity generating wind turbine application at Tesco. There were no objections to the application which will be lower than the existing mast in Osborne Way. The permission is limited to 15 years and by the end of that time no doubt technology will have moved on a long way yet again!

An application was submitted some months ago to redevelop the site currently occupied by the Hook Barbers and Dry Cleaners. There can be no doubt that the current building is worn out and that a replacement building is needed, however the original application was refused for a range of reasons and a new one has now been submitted. After considerable thought we have objected to the new application as have a number of residents. We feel that the proposal for six flats on the site, in addition to the shops, is a massive overdevelopment of the site and that the proposal is detrimental to neighbours and to the street scene. The parking proposals assume that occupants of the six flats and their visitors will be prepared and able to park offsite which seems to us to be totally unrealistic.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor