A Full Council meeting at the Assembly Rooms on the 11th February 2015 saw Alton Town Councillors endorse Alton’s draft Neighbourhood Development Plan for formal consultation.
The draft plan is the result of more than 12 months of work involving discussions with members of the community, businesses and other stakeholders. This has been carried out by volunteers from the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group who have held public meetings and conducted surveys. Local information and statistics have also been collated to help develop plan policies.
The purpose of producing the Neighbourhood plan is to give local people a say on development and infrastructure in the town. A site map is included in the plan showing where planned development in Alton could take place. There are six main policy sections which cover areas such as housing, transport, and education. The consultation process welcomes comments on these policy areas. Feedback received will influence the final content of the plan.
The Town Mayor, Cllr Graham Hill, says “The Alton Neighbourhood Development Plan has been developed under the auspices of Alton Town Council and started back in December 2013. The Town Council wanted all the people of Alton to have a say in many aspects of the town’s future but most importantly it wanted local people to have their say on where new housing should go rather than leaving this decision entirely to East Hampshire District Council as the planning authority. Alton is a great market town with a unique heritage and a dynamic future. Investment and change in the years ahead will only be worthwhile if they make a positive difference to the lives of local people and the future of the community”. Read the rest of this entry »
As Alton Town Council looks to review its management plan for Flood Meadows, residents’ views are being sought in the form of a public consultation as to “how Flood Meadow should be managed to meet the future needs of Altonians whilst still preserving its integrity as a mix of recreational space, consisting of semi natural woodland, grassland and riverside nature”.
The Town Council with the assistance of the Alton Society Environmental Working Party, currently maintains and preserves the natural aspects of the grass areas, woodland and the disused water cress beds. Flood Meadows has been recognised for its conservation work by South & South East in Bloom, gaining Gold Awards in the open space category and the Town Council is extremely proud of the fact that this area is enjoyed by a wide range of users from walkers (many with dogs), ramblers, joggers to schools undertaking orienteering lessons at the site.
People with learning, physical, mental health or sensory difficulties will have another opportunity to get active when East Hants Disability Multi Sports club is re-launched on Wednesday (21 January).
The club will run from 6.45pm-8pm on Wednesdays during term-time at Treloar School, Holybourne, Alton.
The club offers lots of sports and activities to have a go at each week including basketball, rugby, cricket, boccia, new age kurling and lots more.
Activities are led by a team of professional coaches who have a wealth of experience in coaching different sports activities.
The Disability Multi Sports club has been set up in partnership by East Hampshire District Council, Treloar School, East Hants Disability Forum and Sport Hampshire & IOW.
Councillor Nick Drew, East Hampshire District Councillor responsible for communities said: “Sport can be a great way to improve co-ordination and balance, as well as providing opportunities to meet new people. This club is an example of what can be achieved by working with our partners in the community. With the support of local volunteers, we will provide a valuable service that can benefit many people with disabilities over the coming years.”
The club is also looking for volunteers to help to ensure its long-term sustainability for the future.
If you would like to participate, get involved as a volunteer or are interested in coaching a session please contact Kirsty Cope, Sports & Physical Activity Officer on 01730 234015 or email email@example.com
Competition for school places in Alton and the surrounding area will be up for discussion at the next Community Forum held in the village.
There are concerns over the capacity and allocation of schools in the area, particularly in the light of new developments and a rising local population putting pressure on school places.
The Forum, run by East Hampshire District Council, will be joined by Martin Shefferd, School Organisation Officer at Hampshire County Council, and Pam Simpson, District Manager, Education and Inclusion, who will explain the position and answer questions.
They will give a short presentation and describe how new developers could help contribute to funding and improving education in the area.
Cllr Glynis Watts, chairman of the Community Forum, said: “There is a lot of pressure for new homes to be built in the Alton area at the moment and we must make sure we have the infrastructure to accommodate the new families who move in.
“I am delighted that Martin and Pam will be able to join us at the meeting and bring detail and expertise to the discussion. I would encourage anyone who is interested in school places and education in the area to come along and join the debate.”
The Forum will also feature EHDC’s budget plans for 2015/2016, including a recommendation to freeze Council Tax again.
The Forum is to be held on Tuesday 27 January at 6.30pm, at the Alton Maltings Centre, Maltings Close, Alton, GU34 1DT.
Conservative controlled East Hampshire District Council plans to freeze its share of the Council Tax in the coming year – the seventh freeze in nine years.
The freeze has been achieved alongside maintaining, or even improving, services despite the continual erosion of government grants to local authorities.
EHDC Leader Cllr Ferris Cowper says innovation and efficiency has allowed the council to thrive in the face of worsening financial conditions for the public sector.
Cllr Cowper said: “Government grants comprised 44 per cent of our income in 2009/10 but in 2015/16 will only amount to 27 per cent.
“To maintain, and in fact improve, services since 2009-10 while freezing Council Tax and still balancing the books, despite that swingeing loss of income is an astonishing achievement.”
EHDC’s expenditure will be about the same as in 2014/15, with no loss of service and several improvements. Such improvements include 50 per cent more money for Councillor Devolved Grants, three dedicated PCSOs and five number plate recognition cameras dedicated to East Hampshire.
There will be a much bigger motor sport event – Autotest and Autosolo – for young people following last year’s successful trial and a massive programme is underway in Whitehill and Bordon as the foundations of the new town are laid.
Funding from the government continues to fall, even when taking into account new grants, such as the New Homes Bonus, given to local authorities for the first six years after a property has been built or brought into use after a long period unoccupied.
It is expected that government grants will dwindle to zero over the coming decade but the council has ambitions to generate its own income through new business ventures.
“With another freeze on Council Tax and services being maintained or improved the difference is coming from efficiencies and the early stages of our new business ventures strategy,” said Cllr Cowper.
“The income from the new business ventures strategy will enable us to be completely free of dependence on government grants by 2019/20 and we hope that five years after that may enable us to reduce Council Tax to a very small sum indeed, nil if possible.
“Other councils have achieved Council Tax freezes by cutting services wholesale. We’ve done it by taking a hard-nosed attitude to efficiency that compares with the very finest efficiency programmes in the corporate world.
“However as that opportunity gradually reduces, these new income streams will give unlimited life to the retention of that strategy into the future. So much so, that we visualise that the new business ventures strategy could generate so much additional income by 2024-25, that the need to levy Council Tax could disappear altogether.”
Find out more about EHDC’s financial plans at the forthcoming Community Forum at Alton Maltings on Tuesday 27 January.
The plans are currently under consultation and will not be finalised until EHDC’s Full Council meeting on Thursday February 26.
The public are warmly invited to attend the next meeting of the Alton & Surrounding Villages Community Forum on 27th January 2015 to discuss the topic of future education provision in Alton. Please click the link below for further information.
Residents can now download bin collection calendars from the internet as part of a new method of distribution.
As well as downloading their calendar from the website www.working-together.org.uk residents can ring 0300 300 0013 (charged at the local rate) at any time and ask for a calendar to be posted to their address.
After Christmas residents can also put out real Christmas trees for collection with their garden waste sack or bin during January.
New Alton sports centre to be built next door to current facility
Conservative led East Hampshire District Council is set to build a new Alton Sports Centre next to the existing facility.
The proposals, agreed by EHDC’s Cabinet this week, involve constructing an improved, modern sports centre on the current site on Chawton Park Road. The existing centre will remain open until the new centre is in place.
What the new sports centre will offer has not been fully decided but it is planned to include improved facilities and a six lane swimming pool.
A full business case will now be developed and brought for consideration by Cabinet in March 2015. An outline planning application will be submitted, also in March next year.
Cllr Richard Millard, EHDC Deputy Leader, said: “This is a great step forward along the road to providing a new sports centre of the size and quality the people of Alton deserve.
“Building a new centre while continuing to use the current facility means there will be no break in service and also affords us the time to get the new centre right.
“Our job now is to look in detail at what the centre will offer and how we can deliver an enhanced sports centre in the quickest and most cost-effective way.”
East Hampshire District Council has stepped in to pledge support for the staff affected by the proposed closure of the Molson Coors brewery in Alton.
If the proposal were to be confirmed, the brewery would close at the end of May 2015, meaning the loss of more than 100 local jobs.
EHDC’s Economic Development Team has already made contact with the company and other local authorities with a view to the future of the affected staff and of the brewery site.
Cllr Julie Butler, Portfolio Holder for Economy, said: “The announcement of the proposed closure of Molson Coors brewery in Alton is clearly very sad news and we are committed to ensuring that impacted staff receive the support they need to secure alternative employment.
“We will be holding an immediate high level meeting with Molson Coors, Hampshire County Council and other partners to ensure there is a co-ordinated multi-agency response to the proposed closure along with a long term plan for the regeneration of the brewery site.”
East Hampshire residents can still benefit from help to fund energy efficient home improvements even though funding through the government’s Green Deal Home Improvement Fund has now been allocated and the scheme closed.
Residents can get help from East Hampshire District Council (EHDC), which is part of a separate scheme called Green Deal Communities. We have up to £3 million to allocate on a first come first served basis, so long as there’s money left in the pot, this scheme will continue to run until March 2015.
East Hampshire residents and landlords can access cashback to improve the energy efficiency of their homes through measures such as extra insulation, a new boiler and even solar panels.
By going through a simple process residents can get between 10% and 70% cashback on the cost of energy efficiency improvements.
The first step is a professional assessment, which tells you the best suited energy-saving measures for your property and how much you could save on bills.
If you don’t have savings to pay for the work you can arrange a Green Deal finance package, which is paid back through savings on your energy bill – this will still attract cashback.
Cllr Melissa Maynard, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Energy, said:
“I want to reassure East Hampshire residents that this great offer is still available to them.
“Our cashback scheme will reduce the cost of energy-saving measures. This is a popular scheme so don’t delay, register today and you won’t miss out. ”
For further information on East Hampshire’s Green Deal Communities please visit www.easthants.gov.uk/greendeal