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News Bulletin: September 2008

Around 5pm on Monday 14th July, 22 large and expensive caravans towed by a similar number of expensive 4 by 4s invaded Hartletts Park. Unfortunately the grapevine failed to warn anyone in Hook that they had been evicted from a site near Yateley earlier in the day so we did not have the opportunity to padlock the entrance to the Car Park. We already held a Parish Council resolution to authorise the eviction of trespassers from private Parish Council land so steps to obtain the necessary Court Order were underway within an hour. Bailiffs, under Police supervision, duly evicted the trespassers on Tuesday 15th. Fortunately there was no damage to the football pitches or the drainage system which keeps the surfaces in playable condition in wet weather. Whilst the cost of the eviction is likely to total around £3,000, including the bailiff’s fees and having tow trucks on standby, the cost of repair to the football pitches and the drainage would have been higher and, more importantly, the pitches would have been out of use for the coming season. Many residents have expressed delight that we took such swift action and hopefully word has got round that trespassing on Hook Parish Council property is not worthwhile! We are investigating ways of making it more difficult for such an invasion to occur again.

No sooner had our landscape contractor cleared up after the trespassers when a small number of teenagers sadly decided to vandalise the new skate park with paint. Much of the language and drawings were totally obscene. As a result of thoroughly good Police work one of the culprits was identified and has received a formal Police caution. Enquiries to identify the others continue and PC Beale on 0845 0454545 would be grateful for any information.

McCarthy and Stone have withdrawn their appeal against refusal of Planning Permission to redevelop 25 to 31 Sheldons Road. We understand that the reason is their concern as to the current overall state of the housing market. We have no further news about the possible application by Sentinel to build on the Greenfield site at Owens Farm Lane which would be outside the Hook settlement boundary and in a totally unsuitable location. It may be that they have similar concerns.

It is almost five years since we opened the Parish Council Office in Ravenscroft. Having an office has helped us to work much more effectively with the Community and other organisations such as the Police and Highways. However we currently only have one room in which to deal with enquiries from the public, hold meetings and handle telephone calls and paperwork.. A Parish Council working party, which is due to report before the end of the year, is looking at options to provide us with additional office space and in particular to provide us with a separate meeting room. Whilst we do so we need to ask callers to restrict visits, except by prior appointment, to our normal office hours which now are 9am to 12 noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

We continue to liaise with the department responsible for footpaths at Hampshire County Council on the need for a new bridge at Shirlens Copse to replace the one that was destroyed by flooding. Hampshire has not only faced budget restraints but also the fact that much needed post flood replacement work has far outstripped their resources. We are hopeful of a new bridge being installed in the autumn.

We carry out daily safety checks on our main parks but we cannot check everywhere everyday for broken glass. Fortunately vandal damage has been relatively light over the summer but underage drinking continues and those concerned shift their haunts regularly so it would help if discoveries of broken glass were reported to the office so we can arrange for the glass to be cleared before it causes injury.

Newnham Road is currently closed at Owens Farm Lane to allow for strengthening work to the railway cutting. The work should be complete by early September. The speed limit on the section near Owens Farm is due to be reduced to 30 mph in the autumn. A 30 mph limit will then be in place in Newnham and all the way into Hook.

Rat Running in Four Acre Coppice was discussed with Hampshire Highways at our July Parish Council meeting. The outcome was that we have passed the issue, along with the research data, to the Highways Action Team for this area and to our County Councillor Jonathan Glen.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor