Twelve months ago Hampshire County Council introduced a new bus service intended mainly to provide transport for elderly and disabled people. The yellow “Cango Bus” operates to Basingstoke Hospital and in rural areas between Fleet and Basingstoke. Providing subsidised transport is not normally a Parish Council role but Parishes were asked to help support the service and we agreed to do so as a trial. Despite publicity usage of the service is below target and only a small number of people in Hook use it at all. We would welcome feedback from those who use it or their carers and any comments from those who have considered using the service but decided not to do so.
The road closure to through traffic on the B3349 continues and the section near the Leather Bottle is currently being reconstructed. The road between Hook and the Hook Road turning to Rotherwick is now completely finished.
Areas of management that used to be governed purely by common sense and initiative are increasingly being regulated by central Government. Parish Councils, like all businesses, are not just required to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act but also to formally document the extent to which disabled people can access the various facilities the Parish provides and to prepare a short, medium and long term action plan. Our documentation is now complete and the chief short term action involves lowering kerbs in certain places to improve wheelchair access. We have also needed to prepare a formal Risk Assessment of all aspects of our business categorising each hazard according to the likely risk and the impact on the Parish Council.
Final designs of the new Varndell Road Play Area have now been agreed and installation of the equipment will take place before the end of the year.
The consultations we have held so far with Hook retailers have shown that whilst most would like the successful Christmas Cracker event to continue and would be happy to support it, none feel able to contribute the substantial amount of time needed to organise and coordinate the evening; consequently it seems unlikely that there will be a Christmas Cracker this year. As a Parish Council we do not have resource available to take on the work which is heavily concentrated into the months of September to December. Depending on retailer and public opinion we will consider employing someone on a short term basis to handle the organisation of an event in 2005.
Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor