The fight against fly-tipping is to be stepped up by East Hampshire District Council following Hampshire County Council’s decision to cut hours at waste recycling centres.
EHDC fears that an increase in fly-tipping will be the inevitable outcome – a view backed up by staff at the centres themselves.
A recent residents’ survey, which revealed that most people are ‘satisfied or more than satisfied’ with the way the district council conducts its business, pinpointed the issue as one of the big bugbears of their lives.
District council leader Cllr Ferris Cowper said: “The inevitable increase in the curse of fly-tipping was simply ignored by the Leader of Hampshire County Council when he tried to defend his policy of cutting hours at the centres, closing them altogether on Thursdays and charging some people to use them.
“I know very well that for many of our residents fly-tipping is a nightmare which looks terrible, causes accidents from concealed sharp objects, destroys the appearance of their local community, encourages anti-social behaviour and even contributes to the spread of diseases. The local East Hampshire District Council is strongly opposed to these closures and we are deeply disappointed that the county council over in Winchester sees fit to press ahead despite being clearly warned of the consequences.
“I have met with my Cabinet and senior district council officers to judge our response. We know already from our recent residents’ survey that our fly-tipping service is considered important and is well regarded. We also run a highly respected “zero tolerance” service on littering. As a result we are now evaluating the idea of investing more money in our littering zero tolerance service and extending that to the fly-tipping issue. We have to be ready with extra resources to clamp down on this nasty problem when the county council presses ahead with its regrettable closure programme.
“East Hampshire residents can be assured that EHDC will be investing in extra measures to deal with the consequences of the county council’s decision. Obviously the county council’s cost saving benefits to the public purse evaporate quickly when your local district council has to spend more money to clear up the ensuing mess.
“It’s all very well for the Leader of the county council to promote a County Unitary in his response, which would end your local district council, but based on this example, the County Unitary idea will put cost savings ahead of service provision. That’s not my view at EHDC and I don’t think it’s your view as local residents and businesses. County Unitarisation is a one trick pony; it cuts costs, but at what cost? EHDC cuts costs, cuts Council Tax, improves and adds new services and does all of this at record satisfaction levels.”
The Serving Hampshire Consultation sets out the potential options for how Hampshire County Council and the 11 district councils in Hampshire could change, or be reorganised, to meet the huge challenges from ongoing cuts in funding from central Government and rising demand for services from a growing population.
Please tell us what you think. The consultation is available here: www.hants.gov.uk/servinghampshire. It closes on 20 September.
People living in and around Alton are being urged to have their say on the future of health and care services in their area at the next Community Forum to be held in the town.
With the population of Alton and the surrounding area increasing substantially over the coming years residents are being asked to consider what changes might be needed to ensure that health and care services are fit for the future.
NHS North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for planning, developing and paying for health services in the area, will be speaking on the issue at the Community Forum on Tuesday 26 July.
A panel of experts will attend the meeting to guide residents through the issues and answer questions.
The CCG is reviewing how and where care is provided for the people of Alton and surrounding villages. 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.
Glynis Watts, chairman of the Community Forum for Alton and the Surrounding Villages, said: “We have a panel of four highly-knowledgeable people involved in the process who will really be able to talk you through the situation.
“They will bring you the latest information, take your questions and listen to your concerns. You will not get a better opportunity to find out the facts of the matter than at our Community Forum.
“Pressure is growing on all our public services and important decisions will have to be taken in the future. These services touch all our lives, whether for ourselves or our families, and I would urge everyone to come to the meeting, listen to the plans and express their points of view.”
The panel includes Zara Hyde-Peters, Director of Integration and Transformation, North Hampshire CCG, Paul Davey, Head of Communications and Engagement, North Hampshire CCG, Olwen Long, Alton Review Stakeholder Reference Group and Rosie Lewis, Alton Review Programme Team.
The meeting will be held at Alton Community Centre, Amery Street, GU34 1HN at 6.30pm. Before the meeting, from 5.30pm onwards, local Police Community Support Officers will be available to meet and chat to local people about policing issues in the area.
Residents have given East Hampshire District Council a ringing endorsement, according to the results of the latest survey into the council’s services.
Questionnaires returned by people chosen at random showed a far higher level of satisfaction than the previous survey in 2011.
More than 75 per cent of respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of EHDC’s services, compared with 60 per cent five years ago.
Cllr Richard Millard, Deputy Leader of East Hampshire District Council, said: “These results are superb and show the people of East Hampshire are more than happy with the vast majority of our frontline services.
“It is harder than ever for councils to keep council tax low and maintain excellent public services but these results indicate our services are improving even as we cut our share of council tax by 2 per cent.
“Every year financial support from the government dwindles further but EHDC is determined not to cut back frontline services and instead seek out new ways of generating income.
“These results are a testament to the success of that ideal and the hard work and the smart policies of council.”
The survey saw an impressive result for the council’s waste collection, its most high-profile service, with 93 per cent agreeing they were either satisfied or very satisfied.
A total of 77 per cent of residents were also satisfied or very satisfied with electoral registration as were 72 per cent with the council’s collection of council tax.
Street cleaning, playgrounds and parks, car parks and planning also received a thumbs up from residents.
See a snapshot of the residents’ survey results here
Community groups that benefit young people in East Hampshire can apply for grants of up to £250 to help pay for their activities.
Run by East Hampshire Youth Council (EHYC), the grants support existing or new community projects as long as they are used by young people in the district.
The deadline for applications to the fund, called Money Pot, is Friday 1 July 2016.
All applications will be considered and granted by the members of East Hampshire Youth Council.
Mathew Knight, the current chair of EHYC and previous money pot coordinator, said: “Last year we awarded £3,035 in total to 15 different organisations from all over the area. This benefited 1,650 young people and contributed towards new resources, set up costs, training and events. We are really pleased that we could help them and look forward to helping more groups this year.”
Previous recipients include the East Hampshire Young Carers Group which received £250 after one of its members, Yasmin, drew the winning design in East Hampshire Youth Council’s Christmas Card competition.
East Hampshire Youth Council is for all young people aged 11-21 years who either live, learn or work across the district. The youth council strives to give all young people a voice in their community and to make a real difference.
East Hampshire District Council recognises the importance and benefit of listening to children and young people to change, improve and introduce new services.
State-of-the-art, solar-powered car park meters are to be installed in East Hampshire District Council car parks to give drivers more ways to pay and display.
The council’s Cabinet agreed on Thursday (Feb 4) to spend nearly £110,000 replacing 27 out of date and obsolete coin-only meters in its 13 car parks in Alton and Petersfield.
The new meters will allow people to pay by debit and credit card as well as cash.
Councillors were told that the existing meters were more than ten years old and that parts were no longer available to repair them.
The council has already been testing a new meter in Central Car Park, Petersfield, and will now extend the scheme across its car parks in the district.
Cllr Richard Millard, Portfolio Holder for Commercial Contracts, said: “Our car parks are a vital part of our infrastructure so it is very important that we keep up to date with technology.
“The new meters will give people the best and easiest experience whether they are out shopping, on a business trip or visiting as tourists.”
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.
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.