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News Bulletin: October 2008

It has always been our intention to contract out the management of Bassetts Mead because we do not have the necessary expertise to manage it ourselves. We have now entered into a management agreement with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. A local farmer has taken a crop of hay and the Trust has cut the long grass and nettles along the path by the Whitewater. A dozen cattle are now grazing in the field closest to the river. They are Luing (pronounced Ling !) and are a good tempered hardy breed that originates on the island of Luing off the west coast of Scotland. They are a cross between the beef shorthorn and the highlander. If humans don’t bother them they won’t bother humans and it seems they are not fussy as to diet so will eat poor grass as well as good grass. The cattle are in one of the three fields at Bassett’s Mead so facilities for dog walking in the other two fields are unchanged. There are three pedestrian entrances to Bassett’s Mead: opposite the Crooked Billett, near the Dave Deadman play area and from Athoke Croft.

The Outline Planning application by the owner of the Hook Barbers and Dry Cleaners has been refused by Hart. Hart concluded that the proposal would be over dominant in the street scene and out of keeping with the area. They also expressed concern about the likely lack of amenity space and landscaping. At present we do not know if a new application will be submitted or if the owner will appeal.

Most of the parking spaces in front of the Fairholme Parade shops, which are opposite The Raven and controlled by Hart, are occupied all day by commuters. Hart will shortly be advertising a proposal to limit the length of waiting time so as to make the spaces more readily available to shoppers.

Users of the Elizabeth Hall may be aware that the timber used for the stage has already proved to be unsatisfactory and that gaps have appeared because it was not properly seasoned before being laid. As a result the entire stage is now being re-laid and will be ready for the Hook Players autumn performance.

Domestic, non-rechargeable, batteries such as AA, AAA, C and D cannot currently be recycled by Hart because of the conditions in which they need to be stored before being sent on for processing. We are considering setting up a scheme under which residents would be able to drop these batteries at convenient points within the Parish. Comment and feedback on the idea would be very welcome either by email to the clerk or by telephone to the Parish Council Office.

A joint application by O2 and Orange to install a new phone mast on land near the B3349 at Reading Road, near the junction with Griffin Way, was refused by Hart in November 2007. The applicants appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and that appeal has now been dismissed. All decision letters by the Inspectorate have to be very thorough because the only ground of appeal against an Inspector’s decision is on the basis of maladministration, not on disagreement with the decision itself. However the five page decision letter is unusually lengthy. The Inspector was satisfied that there is a need for better coverage in north Hook and was also satisfied that coverage could not be provided from existing installations. In his opinion there is no better site for a new mast than the one proposed in this application. The appeal was therefore dismissed for just one reason: namely the visual harm to the area. He considered that the stark and prominent appearance of the mast could be reduced through the use of additional landscaping to the north and between the site and the road. The applicants had said that there was the opportunity for additional planting but had not taken it so he concluded that the proposal did not minimise the harm that it would cause. Early indications are that the phone companies will put in a new application designed to overcome the Inspector’s sole reason for refusal. In the meantime those who objected to the application are delighted whilst those living in the low lying roads off Great Sheldon’s Coppice still have an inadequate mobile phone service.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor