Archive for October, 2015
The Council of Europe was established in Strasbourg in 1949 largely at the instigation of Winston Churchill, with the objective of promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout Europe after the Second World War. It has grown over the years and now covers 47 countries including Russia and the European parts of the former Soviet Union. The Congress, founded in 1994, is the local government section of the Council of Europe.
Cllr Saunders said “I am honoured to have been selected to serve on an international organisation that Britain did so much to found 65 years ago. The Congress has helped to strengthen local democracy in countries which for historical reasons have suffered dictatorship and lack of independence in recent centuries and I am eager to play my part in this ongoing work.”.
The Full Congress meets twice a year in Strasbourg.
Councillor Saunders sits on the Congress as an East Hampshire District Council councillor, but at no expense to the district council or the council tax payer.
More than eight centuries of British history will be celebrated at a Magna Carta-themed Alton Community Festival.
Held on Saturday 17 October, at Alton College, Old Odiham Road, the historic event promises lots of exciting things to do for all ages, while local sports, arts and community clubs will be offering taster sessions, information and advice.
Activities begin at noon with local school children performing alongside the Phoenix Theatre Company in the College’s Wessex Arts Theatre. The production is based on democracy and will celebrate the 800th anniversary of King John sealing the Magna Carta – the document which is central to British democracy and law as we know it today.
At 1.30pm the entertainments will fast forward two hundred years as the Four Marks Archery Club provide an Agincourt-themed demonstration to mark the 600th anniversary of the battle which has entered English folklore as one of our most famous victories. Following the demonstration the club will offer visitors the chance to loose off a few arrows too.
Local sports clubs will be running taster sessions in the Sports Hall from 1pm giving families the chance to join in and have a go. Live music, stalls and refreshments will be in the refectory during the afternoon.
There’s also the chance for children to have their say and win ToyShed vouchers – please ask on the day for an entry form.
A team of canvassers is going door-to-door across the district to encourage people to get on the electoral register.
East Hampshire District Council has recruited more than 60 workers to visit people who have not returned important information required from every home in the district.
During August and September every home in East Hampshire was sent a Household Enquiry Form, which by law must be completed. These forms enable residents to remain on the electoral register and also highlight potential new electors.
The canvassers, who will be out in the district from 6 October to 16 November, will emphasise the value of signing up to the electoral register and help residents complete the forms if required.
EHDC Chief Executive Sandy Hopkins said: “It is so important everyone signs up to the electoral register. If you don’t you will miss out on the chance to vote in national and local elections and you may not be able to get credit.
“Our canvassers are very friendly and helpful and will be happy to talk you through the process of completing the forms, including registration if you are a new elector.”
Every household has been sent a registration form or they can register over the phone or online.
If you are not on the electoral roll you will not be able to vote in local and national elections and you may not be able to get credit.
The Government’s new registration system, called Individual Electoral Registration (IER), requires each member of the household to register themselves. Previously one person could register the rest of the household.
The Government has introduced Individual Electoral Registration to make the voting system more secure, and reduce the chance of electoral fraud.
If there have been no recent changes to your household you can give your information over the phone on 01730 234350. To change your details or if you would rather complete the form via the internet go to www.registerbyinternet.com quoting the security codes on the form you have been sent.
Alternatively complete the form and post back to East Hampshire District Council’s Elections Team, Penns Place, Petersfield, GU31 4EX.
East Hampshire District Council has given a cautious welcome to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s announcement of a ‘devolution revolution’ for local government.
The announcement, made at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday, promised to let councils retain millions of pounds in business rates instead of handing them over to central government.
With this opportunity in mind, last month East Hampshire District Council Leader, Cllr Ferris Cowper, announced that the council had decided to support the Hampshire and Isle of Wight devolution bid, which could prove to be a key part of the Chancellor’s “revolutionary” vision.
He said that, while EHDC remains supportive of the bid, the exact benefits to residents and businesses within the district are unclear. By remaining within the bidding process the council hopes to influence the outcome to the benefit of everyone in East Hampshire.
He commented in detail about the possible cash bonanza from the headline benefit of 100 per cent retention of Business Rates by local councils.
“The headline proposal that local councils can retain 100 per cent of Business Rates, has to be set in the context of a 100 per cent sacrifice of all central government grants,” he said. “If true, in the case of EHDC there could be a small surplus but the gains match the losses almost pound for pound.
“However, the national press reported on Tuesday that the ‘tariff’, which is a further payment to the Government on top of the 50 per cent widely reported, will stay in place. If correct, then EHDC and all district and borough councils in Hampshire, will be out of pocket by a very large sum and of course we would reject that proposal.”
The Chancellor also announced that Business Rates could not be increased by local councils unless they chose to have an elected mayor.
Cllr Cowper was cautious about this idea. He said: “Local businesses will be pleased to note that the Full Council of EHDC was completely opposed to having an elected mayor for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. However, as the value of retained Business Rates closely matches the loss of grants and may even leave councils worse off, the Chancellor’s observation that local councils would be able to cut rates where appropriate would have a very limited effect at best.”
To be part of this ‘Devolution Revolution’, local councils are required to agree to an acceleration of the planned housing delivery programme and, in the case of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, an additional housing programme of 500 dwellings per year spread across the whole of the area. At this stage, EHDC visualises no material change in our existing programme.
The promised benefits include more infrastructure, a boost for business and employment and more localised management and integration of aspects of healthcare.
EHDC already has all of these programmes under way in the flagship regeneration town of Whitehill & Bordon and our hope is that the promised “revolution” will enable us to extend those benefits to the rest of the East Hampshire community.
Cllr Cowper concluded: “The ‘Devolution Revolution’ is definitely not a cash bonanza for the council but there are suggestions that there could be benefits when the details are fleshed out. Until then we remain in the bidding process with cautious optimism.”
The aim is to roll out a comprehensive network of strategically placed charging points to encourage motorists to switch to low-carbon electric vehicles. The first are expected to be installed by Easter 2016.
East Hampshire District Council Environment spokesperson Adam Carew announced the initiative. He said: “I am thrilled by this decision. Electric vehicles are green, clean and cheap to run.
“East Hampshire is determined to be a leader among rural authorities in rolling out a programme of electric vehicle charging points and by partnering with local communities and businesses we can ensure we have as wide a network as possible.
“Transport-related carbon emissions in East Hants are currently the second highest out of all districts in Hampshire, to date there is only one charging point in the district. We want to change all that.
“One of the biggest barriers to people and businesses owning e-vehicles is the lack of a charging network. By providing a network of charging points in key locations across the district more people will be able to switch to these ultra-low emission vehicles.
“E-cars are the future, not only are they are environmentally friendly, but they are fun to drive and surprisingly nippy.”
The government would like to see 60 per cent of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, and electric vehicle sales have soared by 300 per cent in the last year alone.
EHDC plans to become one of the greenest councils in the country and has adopted an energy strategy that will create a low-carbon, energy efficient, economically vibrant community. The car charging network is the first of many initiatives that will help people make environmentally better choices in their day-to-day lives.
If you drive an electric vehicle, or are thinking of installing a charge point for your business, get in touch with EHDC’s Energy Strategy Manager Jane Devlin by email firstname.lastname@example.org. See EHDC’s energy strategy for yourself at www.easthants/gov.uk/energystrategy