Archive for January, 2016
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 causing 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”