District bucks trend with plans for 2% council tax cut

Conservative run East Hampshire DC is set to cut its council tax by 2%, the only authority so far known to be contemplating a decrease this year.

LGC’s Council Tax Tracker http://www.lgcplus.com/politics-and-policy/finance/lgc-council-tax-tracker-2016/7001621.article?blocktitle=News&contentID=19120 has found financial pressures have forced most councils to propose increases http://www.lgcplus.com/politics-and-policy/finance/freeze-ends-as-almost-50-councils-plan-maximum-tax-hikes/7001732.article of 1.99% – just below the level that would trigger a local referendum – while almost all top tier councils are taking advantage of their new power to raise tax by a further 2% to pay for social care. Just six of the 28 districts for which LGC has so far obtained details of council tax intentions are proposing a freeze next year.

However, papers due to go to East Hampshire’s cabinet this week say council tax for a Band D property would be £134.58, down from the current charge of £137.33.

Leader Ferris Cowper (Con) said he hoped to end reliance on government grant by 2019-20 and reduce council tax to zero by 2024.

Cllr Cowper said East Hampshire would rely instead on “money-making business ventures, selling its services to other local authorities and through investment in blue-chip commercial properties”.

The council has started buying commercial property as an investment and so far owns five buildings including a bank, supermarket and offices.

These generate around £759,000 in annual rent, a sum it said exceeded the interest on equivalent cash deposits by around £650,000.

Councillor grants pave the way for Alton lunch club

Trips to an Alton lunch club for over 60s will be all the sweeter after grants from East Hampshire District Councillors helped pay for an improved access.

A crumbling pathway into the Vokes Lunch Club, on Normandy Street, had been causvokes-lunch-club-420_croping problems for many of its members, especially as some of the diners were well into their 80s, and not too steady on their feet.

Seven councillors from EHDC clubbed together to pay for the new £1,440 pathway. They each donated money from their Councillor Grants budget, a £4,500 pot awarded to each councillor to spend in their community.

Terry Blake, chairman of the Vokes Lunch Club, said: “We’re very grateful for the generous donation from the EHDC councillors which has enabled us to carry out much needed repairs to the pathway into the lunch club.

“It has been causing difficulty for some of our members and it is much appreciated by the trustees and the members themselves.”

Two of EHDC’s Alton councillors, Cllr Graham Hill and Cllr Andrew Joy, visited the lunch club last week to see the difference it made to their members.

Cllr Hill said: “I am delighted to have been able to give something towards this important work.

“The Vokes Lunch Club is an important part of the lives of its members, ensuring not just a delicious hot meal but also an opportunity for them to socialise with friends.”

Cllr Joy added: “The old path was clearly becoming a problem for some of the older members of the group and had to be resurfaced.

“This was a costly job and not something the club might have been able to achieve on its own and that’s why the Councillor Grants are such a valuable tool for every councillor.”

The full list of grants given by local councillors are: Cllr Edward Brandt, £220; Cllr Graham Hill, £225; Cllr Andrew Joy, £225; Cllr David Orme, £225; Cllr Dean Phillips, £220; Cllr Robert Saunders, £225; and Cllr Glynis Watts, £100.

Community groups or projects run for the benefit of the community are eligible to receive money through the Councillor Grant scheme. To apply or find out more information about the scheme contact your ward councillor or go to www.easthants.gov.uk.

Hear EHDC’s radical financial strategy at Alton Community Forum

East Hampshire District Council Leader, Cllr Ferris Cowper, will reveal progress made in the council’s radical plans to end reliance on Government money while maintaining public services, at the next Community Forum in Alton.

Cllr Cowper will outline the council’s budget for 2016/2017 at a meeting on Tuesday 26 January and will explain the council’s long term plans to free itself of reliance on annual Government grants and, if possible, reduce council tax to zero.

Cllr Cowper said: “The council’s financial strategy is quite radical. Nobody else in the country has a strategy like this.

“Our plan is to remove our reliance on Government grant by 2019/2020 while also maintaining all our key services to the public – that is unique in the UK.

“We are also hoping to have a Council Tax of zero by 2024.”

It is expected that general Government grants to councils, traditionally one of a local authority’s main sources of income will reduce by 48 per cent between 2016 and 2020 and eventually disappear altogether.

The council intends to make up this shortfall in cash through money-making business ventures, selling its services to other local authorities and through investment in blue-chip commercial properties.

People will have the chance to listen to the plans in detail and ask questions of Cllr Cowper at the meeting.

The meeting, to be held at Alton Community Centre, will also feature an important presentation on the Alton Neighbourhood Development Plan.

The plan will help to shape the town over the next decade and beyond as it will be used to guide planning decisions taken by East Hampshire District Council.

It includes policies on transport, housing, education and many other aspects of the town and will play an important part in guiding Alton’s evolution over the coming years.

Recent changes have been made by the planning inspectorate and these will be outlined by the people behind the document.

On Wednesday 24 February Alton residents will be asked to vote in a referendum on the plan.

Glynis Watts, chairman of the Community Forum, said: “Residents must soon decide whether they want to use the plan and then vote either for or against it at the referendum on 24 February.

“I would urge everyone in the town to take a look at the plan and understand it. You can read it online and you can come to events such as this to find out more about it.

“Come along to the meeting on 26 January and find out about the aims and objectives of the plan from the people involved.”

Residents can come and discuss the plan with members of the steering group from 6pm while the meeting begins at 6.30pm.

The Community Forum will be held at Alton Community Centre, Amery Street, on Tuesday 26 January.

Alton dog owners get their chips for free

Hundreds of Alton dog owners can get their pets microchipped for free this month.

New laws say all dogs over the age of eight weeks need to be microchipped by Wednesday 6 April 2016.

East Hampshire District Council’s Animal Welfare service is offering dog owners the chance to have the procedure done for free. They will be at EHDC’s Alton office on Cross and Pillory Lane on Wednesday 20 January.

Natasha Watson, EHDC Animal Welfare Officer, said: “Microchipping is all part of caring for your dog responsibly and will also soon be a legal requirement. Microchipped animals are much easier to identify and have a much better chance of being returned to their rightful owner if they are ever lost.

“Come to see us in Alton and we will happily explain the process and microchip your dog for free.”

Microchipping sees a tiny computer chip implanted into the dog. The process takes seconds and the animal feels no discomfort or ill effects.

The chip, which is encased in a strong bio-compatible glass and small enough to fit into a hypodermic needle, has a unique identification number programmed into it.

The ID number can be read with a special scanner and will identify your pet throughout its life. This identification cannot be lost, altered or intentionally removed.

If kept up-to-date the chips help officers quickly reunite lost dogs with their owner.

If a dog is not microchipped by this date the owner will have 21 days to ensure that it is or face a fine of up to £500.

Alton residents urged to have their say on health services

NHS North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for planning, developing and paying for health services in the area. In partnership with the organisations which provide care locally, the CCG is currently reviewing how and where care is provided for the people of Alton and surrounding villages.

With the population of Alton and the surrounding area increasing substantially over the coming years the CCG is considering what changes might be needed to ensure that health and care services are fit for the future. This includes GP and community services, hospital care, mental health services and health-related social care.

With more people living longer and increasing rates of long term conditions such as diabetes, as well as the continuing financial challenges for the NHS and social care, the CCG is focussing on developing patient-centred services, with all the organisations which provide care working together as efficiently as possible.

As part of the review process, and to make sure that local people are kept informed and are engaged as much as possible, the CCG is holding a public event in the town next month.

People who live or work in the area are being encouraged to go along to the Maltings Centre on the 12th January 2016 any time between 3.00pm and 8.30pm where they will be able find out more about the review of services, ask questions and give their views.

Graham Wallis, the CCG’s Accountable Officer, says: “We are keen to hear the opinions and experiences of the people who use health and care services in the Alton area so that we can take their views into account when we are planning for the future. The CCG is leading a very comprehensive review of health and health-related care services in Alton and a key element of that review is to hear the views of the people who use those services. We need people to tell us what works well and what could be improved for the future.”

 

Council leads work to deliver state-of-the-art health campus

Plans for a state-of-the-art health campus in Whitehill & Bordon’s new town centre are shaping up with a potential developer on board – less than a year after East Hampshire District Council pledged to take a proactive role in making it happen.

Speaking at a packed community forum in January last year, the Leader of the council, Cllr Ferris Cowper, said that he was determined to ensure the early provision of healthcare facilities  –  and these are now part of the proposals for a new ‘health campus’ at the heart of the new town centre.

Cllr Cowper has been working hard behind the scenes and has secured the interest of a developer who is keen to work with the council and other partners to deliver the facilities by 2019. The developer has considerable experience of the care homes sector and one of our other lead partners is a highly regarded clinical practitioner.

East Hampshire District Council has taken the lead in pursuing top health facilities for the town, even though it is out of its remit, because councillors feel that it is a vital part of the town’s regeneration.

The council has worked with partners involved in health care provision, local doctors, as well as design teams to develop proposals.

The health campus, which could be built in the new town centre, could have purpose-built facilities including:

•    an extended primary care centre (with GPs, specialist nurses, therapists, hospital consultants and pharmacists working together to meet the health needs of residents) with access to advice seven days a week

•    facilities and expertise to deal with minor injuries and provide diagnostic care to avoid travel to hospitals in Guildford, Basingstoke or Portsmouth

•    a dentist – a local convenient service on site

•    leisure centre – to support healthy living and rehabilitation e.g. for patients recovering from a heart attack

•    ‘care ready homes’ – flats designed specifically to allow vulnerable people who may normally need hospital or residential care to continue to lead independent lives. These homes will be designed to take into account the care needs of future occupiers, so that accidents such as falls or trips are less likely than those living in standard accommodation

•    ‘nursing home plus’ – a new nursing home which will care for people with more complex needs

•    the campus site will have open spaces with a play area, park and sculptures – all designed to improve health and wellbeing

•    a healthy living centre – this will support and inspire people to prioritise their own and their families’ health

•    an education hub – this will enable the training and development of care professionals so that they are armed with the knowledge and skills to deliver outstanding care

•    a café – will provide opportunities for social interaction and community involvement

Currently, residents have to travel to other locations (in a 30 mile radius) to access some of these vital services.

Chase Hospital will remain an important facility for local people while the new campus is developed. The new campus would encompass all the facilities currently provided by the Chase – as well as the significant state-of-the-art new facilities.

Cllr Cowper said: “East Hampshire District Council has led the work to develop these proposals for a health campus in the new town centre – since I called for it to be provided in January last year.

“Health care is outside East Hampshire District Council’s specific remit but we have been really proactive and led the development of these plans because they are so important to creating a thriving, healthy town where residents have a fantastic quality of life.

 “This is a vital facility for Whitehill & Bordon and will be a great example of how a town centre can be planned with health and wellbeing at its very heart.

“As well as plans for a health campus – we are working hard to design a town which promotes health and wellbeing at every turn.

“This will ensure that Whitehill & Bordon is not only a green town but a healthy green town.”

EHDC’s top ten tips to avoid a merry muddle over Christmas

Get your refuse and recycling right this Christmas by following these ten top tips from East Hampshire District Council.

During the busy Christmas period households are often too pre-occupied with the festivities to make sure their refuse is removed and the right items are recycled.

So to prevent these seasonal slip-ups EHDC has issued these ten simple steps:

•    Make sure you check your collection calendar for changes to the collection days

•    Remember Garden Waste collections are suspended over Christmas so crews can help with the extra volumes of recycling and refuse at this time of the year

•    Remember to TREECycle by putting your Christmas tree out for collection as indicated on your collection calendar.

•    Remind yourself which items can and can’t be recycled so you don’t contaminate a whole bin with a few items

•    Wrapping paper cannot be recycled – try to reduce the amount you use

•    Make sure your empty bottles go to a recycling bank or are put out for kerbside collection

•    Plan meals carefully so you only use what you need

•    Use your leftovers as soon as possible or freeze them for later use.

•    Compost as much food waste as possible

•    Only use your green refuse bin as a last resort.

Commenting on the tips Cllr Adam Carew, Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: “Everyone can play their part to help the environment, not only over the Christmas period but throughout the year, by following this simple advice and making sure everyone at home knows which items go into which bin.

“We wish everyone a Happy Christmas and now is the perfect time for that New Year’s resolution to reduce refuse and recycle more during 2016.”

Have your say on the future of the Molson Coors site

Residents have the chance to contribute their ideas for the future use of the former brewery site in Alton.

East Hampshire District Council, Alton Town Council and Molson Coors are working together to prepare a development brief to guide the future development of the site.

Their first act is to hold a public exhibition on 16 December to explain what the brief will achieve and to talk with local people and interested groups.

The event, to be held at Alton Assembly Rooms, between 5-8pm, will provide an opportunity for the public to contribute ideas for the future use of the site and give their views on priorities, opportunities and potential challenges.

This input will contribute to the early stages of work on the development brief.  There will be further public consultation next year as the brief is developed, and before it is formally adopted by the district council.

When finalised, the development brief will be used to consider any future planning application for redevelopment of the site.

Cllr Angela Glass, EHDC Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “The exhibition on 16 December will give everyone a chance to get on board with this process at the earliest possible opportunity.

“This is a key site in the heart of Alton and it is very important we think carefully about how it will be used. That is why we need residents to come to the event and let us know their long-term aspirations.”

Leah Coney, clerk to Alton Town Council, said: “We would like to see as many residents as possible come along to this first public engagement session. We are greatly encouraged that Molson Coors and East Hampshire District Council are keen to understand how the community would like to see the site developed, so it is really important that Altonians have their say and make their views known.”

Free parking a gift to kick-off Christmas shopping

Shoppers in Petersfield and Alton can start their Christmas spree by parking for free on Saturday 5 December.

East Hampshire District Council car parks will be completely free on Saturday 5 December, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Fees will be waived in car parks in the two towns – EHDC car parks elsewhere are free all year round – as part of the council’s drive to promote Small Business Saturday.

The national campaign seeks to encourage shoppers to focus on local, independent businesses.

Research shows that for every £100 spent in a local business £68 is likely to stay in the community, compared to just £43 of that spent in a national chain.

Cllr Nick Drew, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said: “At East Hampshire District Council we know that small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy.

“As a result we work hard to support the vital independent businesses wherever we can, whether it is through £500 grants for start-ups, business advice or supporting apprentices.

“We want to be one of the most business-friendly councils in the country and our commitment to providing free parking on Small Business Saturday shows that we recognise the importance of our independent shops and the benefit they bring to the local economy.”

Cllr Richard Millard, EHDC Deputy Leader, said: “Saturday 5 December is one of the biggest shopping days of the year as the Christmas period gets underway in earnest.

“We recognise the value of small businesses and we know that if you have plenty of healthy and successful independent businesses you have a healthy and successful economy in East Hampshire.

“Shopping locally not only means you get a fantastic personal service but it also ensures that more of your money will stay in the area and that benefits everyone.

“Free car parking is a great way to kick-off the Christmas shopping period. I hope everyone takes full advantage of the day and remembers to pay our small businesses a visit.”

Find out more about Small Business Saturday at www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com.

The car parks to be free on the Saturday 5 December are:

Alton:

Lady Place
Lady Place Public Gardens
Vicarage Hill
Manor House
Mount Pleasant
Turk Street
Church Street
Victoria Road
The Bank
Rogers Court

 

Planning appeal dismissed

I am pleased to report that the Government inspector has dismissed the appeal against EHDC’s refusal to grant planning permission for 97 dwellings on land south west of Old Odiham Road.

Click to read: appeal decision

 

 

Cllr Robert Saunders


3 Borovere Lane
Alton
Hampshire
GU34 1PB

01420 82669

info@robertsaunders.info

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