Cllr Saunders visits human rights court

Cllr Robert Saunders recently attended the 32nd plenary session of the Council of Europe (CoE) Congress of Local Authorities in Strasbourg. The three day event included debates on a range of topics including tackling anti-gypsyism, supporting Turkey towards more local democracy and what can be done to make the democratic process more attractive and accessible to young people. The 33rd session will be held in Strasbourg in October 2017.

 
Cllr Saunders was also elected as a Vice- President of the Congress Governance Committee. The work of the committee includes ensuring good governance practice, democratic processes, accountable public finance, inter-authority/regional co-operation and e-participation. The committee also co-ordinates the annual European Local Democracy Week. The next meeting of the committee will be in Eupen, Belgium in May 2017.

 
0111e375e2b2af1adaf878741799bb5fdeb834521aDuring his visit to Strasbourg Cllr Saunders also took time to visit the European Court of Human Rights and met with the UK’s nominated Justice, Tim Eicke QC. Cllr Saunders said: “Despite the claims made during the EU referendum campaign the UK remains a fully committed signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court is an umbrella organisation of the Council of Europe, separate from the EU and not therefore immediately affected by Brexit. It has a fundamental role being one of the three key principles underpinning the work of the CoE – Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law”.

2017 Grass Cutting programme

 

The Grass Cutting programme for 2017 will begin on Monday 27th February. This programme includes the cutting of those Hampshire County Council highway verges and open spaces under the control of East Hampshire District Council . Each of these areas will receive nine visits during March to October. The grass will be cut with arisings left in situ whilst paths will be blown clear.

 Contract Monitoring Officers will be carrying out checks of grass cutting work however if you have any particular concerns regarding grass cutting in your area then please call the Customer Service Centre on 0300 300 0013 or report the problem on the EHDC website at ‘Contact us’.

EHDC set to make consecutive Council Tax cuts

Pioneering East Hampshire District Council is again planning to set itself apart from other local authorities in the country by cutting its share of Council Tax instead of putting it up.

If approved, the 2.6% cut would be the council’s second consecutive Council Tax cut, following a 2 per cent reduction last year.

And Conservative run EHDC has also announced its commitment to a third cut for 2018/2019 which will bring its share of Council Tax down to the lowest level since 2006/2007.

The move would leave £170,000 in the pockets of the district’s Council Tax payers and is part of the council’s strategy to become financially independent.

EHDC Leader, Cllr Ferris Cowper, said: “We are proposing to reduce our Council Tax at a time when nearly all local authorities are increasing their charge by the maximum amount allowed by Government.

“East Hampshire District Council has stated its ambition to bring Council Tax down to zero and is committed to making itself free from reliance on Government grant. This latest cut, and the promise to make further tax cuts next year, backs up this commitment with positive action.

“We have shown it is possible for councils to make their own money, without increasing the tax burden on their residents and without cutting services.”

The council has been able to make the cut thanks to the success of its business strategies and its property investments.

Council departments have been marketing their services to other authorities and local organisations to bring in extra income. EHDC’s Planning Services, Community Team, Communications, Programmes, Neighbourhood Planning and the regeneration team, RegenCo, are expected to make a collective contribution approaching £1m.

The council has also bought six high-quality commercial properties since 2013 totalling £12.5m, the latest being the Iceland store on Alton High Street. These properties generate approaching £850,000 in rent every year, around £700,000 more than could be gained through interest on cash deposits.

If agreed by Cabinet on Tuesday 14 February, the proposed cut will be put forward for approval by Full Council on 23 February.

If accepted it will make EHDC’s share of Council Tax for a Band D property £131.11, down from £134.55.

RingGo is a go go!

The notorious coin search for parking is no more in East Hampshire.

East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) has launched RingGo cashless parking as an alternative to pay and display in its car parks.

RingGo is an easy to use service which enables users to pay via credit or debit card, instead of having to use cash at a machine (although if you prefer to use cash then you can).

This parking service is accessible over the phone, by text, online or by using a free smartphone app.

When using the app for the first time, users are asked to provide their number plate, colour and make of the vehicle, as well as their payment card details.

Once registered, RingGo recognises your mobile number and retrieves the information given previously.  Each session booked using RingGo will cost the user 20p as well as the parking fee.

Users can also choose to receive an optional text reminder costing 10p, alerting them that their parking time is coming to an end, and if they wish to stay longer, they can top up their time without having to return to their vehicle.

Councillor Julie Butler, Portfolio Holder for Customer Services, said: “The introduction of convenience services such as RingGo is another way that EHDC is moving with the times.

“In August this year, we installed state-of-the-art solar powered parking meters in all of our car parks and now residents and visitors will be able to use this app to pay for their parking.”

Councillor Richard Millard, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Contracts, said: “If you lose track of time doing your Christmas shopping you can simply extend your parking using your phone.

“This new system will make paying for parking in Alton and Petersfield easier than ever, and that will encourage people to visit our towns and support our local economy.”

Recycle Right – Let’s get it sorted

Residents in East Hampshire are being given advice on how to become more waste aware. Recycle Right tells people how to sort out their waste and dispose of unwanted items by putting the right things in the right place.

Throuscreen-shot-2016-09-30-at-17-31-13_cropghout October, a colourful Recycle Right leaflet is being delivered to every household, along with next year’s bin collection calendar. The informative guide offers advice on reducing, reusing and recycling waste. It outlines the services that are on offer and explains the best ways to increase the amount of waste that goes into your recycling bin as well as reducing the amount of refuse we produce.

Speak your mind on waste collection and environmental services

A new survey is giving residents have the chance to have their say on East Hampshire District Council’s bin collections and other environmental services.

The council is keen to get views on its waste and recycling collections as well as street cleaning, ground maintenance and public toilets.

The survey can be completed online on EHDC’s website at http://www.easthants.gov.uk/environmental-services-residents-survey

EHDC Deputy Leader Cllr Richard Millard, Portfolio Holder for Contracts, said: “We would like to hear our residents’ opinions on a number of services provided by contractors on behalf of the council.

“We are looking at how these services can be provided in the future so understanding how our residents feel about these services at the moment is very important to us.”

The survey is also being sent out to around 3,500 randomly selected residents.

The survey will run until Friday 28 October.

Council demands clarity on Farnborough Airport plans

East Hampshire District Council is demanding more information about plans to alter the airspace around TAG Farnborough Airport.

Councillors expressed their deep concerns about the noise and environmental impact of proposals that would lead to more planes flying lower over parts of East Hampshire.

During a debate at Full Council, on Thursday 22 September, councillors said they needed more information from TAG, the company that runs Farnborough airport, detailing noise levels and pollution.

Such is their concern EHDC Leader, Cllr Ferris Cowper, and East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds, have asked to meet with the Civil Aviation Authority to discuss the plans.

Cllr Cowper said: “The proposals represent an unacceptable intrusion into the right for a peaceful existence.”

The new air routes would funnel traffic to and from Farnborough Airport over parts of the district, with Liss, Liphook and Grayshott most at risk from increased noise levels.

The plans would also threaten the future of Lasham Gliding Society, the largest such organisation in the country, which operates from Lasham Airfield.

East Hampshire District Council’s Cabinet will discuss the issue further when more information can be obtained.

Business rates discount to encourage new premises

Businesses in East Hampshire could soon get discounts of up to £150,000 on business rates to build new premises.

The scheme will help new and established businesses build new premises enabling them to expand and develop modern working environments.

East Hampshire District Council aims to be the most business-friendly council in the UK and is keen to start this fantastic scheme. Details will be published on the EHDC website shortly.

Prior to this new council-led scheme, many businesses experienced difficulties in finding suitable premises in which to expand or relocate within the area. This discount of up to £150,000 for new-build premises will open up opportunities for growing businesses to do just that.

Councillor Glynis Watts, Portfolio Holder of Economic Development, said: “Business rate incentives will boost the delivery of new business premises, jobs and economic growth across the district as part of the council’s strategy to be as business-friendly as possible. This is a really good tool to have in our armoury to attract inward investment and support the viability of new developments.’’

Improvements to Alton Station Forecourt

Improvements will be taking place at Alton Station Forecourt to enhance it as a key ‘gateway’ into the town and to the South Downs National Park – this is your chance to comment on the plans.

East Hampshire District Council, working with South West Trains, Hampshire County Council and Alton Town Council are proposing a number of measures for the forecourt area which will help to make the forecourt a more attractive entry point into the town, improve pedestrian and cycle access, ensure bus services are clearly signed and review the current parking arrangements.

Key stakeholders and members of the public are invited to view the plans of the proposed improvements which will be on display at Alton Assembly Rooms, High Street, Alton, GU34 1BA, on Wednesday 28th September 2016, 3.30-8.30pm where staff will be available to talk through the proposals and take comments.

Local government for the future

With an innovative strategy and ambitious targets, East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) is developing a new model of local government that will protect and improve services for the future.

East Hampshire District Council’s Annual Report 2015-16, which is called Overview, tracks the progress of the council in the last financial year, and there are many positives to take from it.

By finding alternative sources of income and making efficiencies during 2015-16, the council has been able to reduce its share of residents’ Council Tax by two per cent. EHDC is possibly the only council in the country to have done this.

The council is leading the way with the transformation of Whitehill & Bordon following the departure of the Army from the town. The town was awarded Healthy New Town status and this will make the town a blueprint for how other communities across the country can be healthier and more vibrant. Whitehill & Bordon is one of only 10 towns in the country to be named a Healthy New Town.

Over the year the council has delivered over 100 daily services to over 4,000 businesses and 116,000 people, with a keen eye on value for money and the needs of customers. The council has also achieved:

  • Funding for sporting talent and apprenticeships, grants for local community groups and money into business start-ups that are supporting the district’s residents, businesses and visitors.
  • Prudent investments in property that are providing better returns than low savings interest rates.
  • Efficiencies are also being made, including joining with Havant Borough Council in an innovative procurement project to manage back office services that is forecast to save £3.8m over an eight year contract and a shared team managing a contract to deliver waste collection and landscape services.

Leader of EHDC, Councillor Ferris Cowper, said: “While other local authorities are cutting services and increasing Council Tax rates, East Hampshire District Council is bucking that trend.

“We realised long ago that local government can no longer expect to rely on grants from central government. That’s why we have been working towards removing our reliance on those grants by 2019-20. Cutting our share of Council Tax for 2016-17 was the first step towards independence.

“Our music festival, Butserfest continues to delight local young people and attract visitors from all over the country with the 10th Butserfest taking place on Saturday 10 September.

“We have funded Police Community Support Officers that are solely based in East Hampshire and are helping to maintain the safety of our communities.

“We have also helped local communities to develop neighbourhood plans, that are informing the decisions made by our planning committees and ensuring that new developments work for local people.

“Our ambitious and adaptable staff have embraced the challenges that have faced them, finding opportunities to improve services, save money and generate income.

“With devolution of powers on the government’s agenda, East Hampshire District Council is showing that taxpayers’ money is safe in our hands.”

To view the annual report online or download an interactive PDF, go to www.easthants.gov.uk/annualreport

Cllr Robert Saunders


3 Borovere Lane
Alton
Hampshire
GU34 1PB

01420 82669

info@robertsaunders.info

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The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.