Ferris Cowper’s County and District Council Newsletter

Dear Grayshott residents,

Here is my combined County and District Councillor report, a bumper edition just in time for Christmas! I have decided to start publishing these as combined reports to assist with the workload.

I think it makes more sense also, because some of the jobs I do on your behalf rather mix up the various responsibilities. Now I am the Leader of East Hampshire District Council as well as your County Councillor, I think the combined newsletter will make more sense overall.

Highways.

Crossways Road.

The Crossways Road scheme is completed and I hope we can all allow some time for it to settle down. Please bear in mind the purpose was to manage the traffic volumes back to Headley Road, from whence they came before the Headley Road, Hindhead roundabouts were built and shut that road for quite a while. Crossways Road, quite simply, is too narrow and too dangerous with the bend and dip at Boundary Road, to take the high volumes of traffic, including commercial traffic. Headley Road also benefits from priority snow and ice clearance as it is a B road.

The build out opposite Sue Ryder has been removed at the end of the trial period. We await HCC’s analysis of that scheme and there will be a proper debate about how successful, or otherwise, it was.

Schoolchildren’s Safety.

The footpath to Woolmer Hill School is moving slowly but inexorably towards completion. The objective is to make the walk to Woolmer Hill School safer for the school children. I’ve walked it myself several times and the traffic speeds along there are frightening if you are a pedestrian. The footpath will be built on the MoD side, (open land), due to objections from Surrey. However the MoD is difficult to deal with and has imposed preconditions on HCC relating to a cycleway in another, quite unconnected, part of Hampshire. These will be met, but of course it all adds to the delay.

The other footpath to assist schoolchildren’s safety as they walk to school, is at Grayshott Primary School. The footpath will be on school property and will connect to the car park at Grayshott Pottery. Design options are being reviewed with the Head Teacher.

Kiln Way.

There has been a very substantial volume of requests, (including disabled users), to extend the footway from Applegarth Farm to Kiln Way. I was able to secure the required funds in the HCC November budget setting debate and this will be built in the financial year 2014-15.

Kiln Way residents are worried about the junction safety at Headley Road. I requested a County Council safety assessment which was negative. Then, supported by the Parish Council, I requested a speed monitor to be put on there. Residents had asked for the speed limit to be reduced to 40 mph. In fact the average speeds eastbound are between 41 and 42 mph, (85th percentile). Yes, there are higher speeds recorded and I know that can be frightening just there, but the County has strict rules and at the moment I don’t have an argument to put forward other than those already rejected by the County Council. This junction used to be a problem with several recorded accidents. The signage there was erected in response and since then, not one accident has been recorded. I know what you’re thinking and yes, crazy though it sounds, a recorded accident there would raise the priority. These are not my rules; they are the rules used by the County Council and the Police. I think they are ridiculous and have said so.

Hurstmere Close.

I have received a request for resurfacing the road. This will be very expensive and was too large to be included in the November budget setting meeting. I have asked for it to be considered in the plans for the County Council’s Operation Resilience programme in 2014-15. That will be considered over the next few months.

Halters End Flooding

Recent heavy rain has caused problems here. I have reported it to Hampshire Highways who are assessing the situation. East Hampshire District Council will supply sandbags on an emergency basis and at short notice but I can’t secure any bags for you to keep a stock of at home, I’m afraid.

Boundary Road Bridleway.

As you know, use of this road for through traffic is illegal. Residents are very concerned about safety from some traffic that drives along the road at high speed in robust 4×4 vehicles and as a former resident I can testify to numerous near misses as I nosed cautiously out of my driveway. The volume and speed of traffic is also eroding the bridleway surface. Scalpings put down simply wash onto Crossways Road in the rain and make matters worse. Over the next few months signage will be erected to warn users of the bridleway that it may not be used for through vehicular traffic.

Whitmore Vale Road/BOAT 13

As you know we have experienced serious and threatening anti -social behaviour by 4×4 users and trial bike users. Following a recent incident of criminal damage, the Police are now pursuing this as a crime and a programme of measures is in place to identify and catch the culprits. Substantial barriers will be erected to prevent the abuse. At present I can’t say when or even if, the BOAT will be re-opened. I have taken the criminal issue all the way to the Police and Crime Commissioner and also to the Chief Constable of Hampshire. There is good intelligence as to who the criminals are.

Hammer Lane Grayshott, Vehicle Count.

At the request of residents I arranged for a traffic count to be carried out. Volumes per hour northbound reached a maximum of 33 per hour, the busiest period being between 7am and 9am. Southbound, the maximum recorded volume was 32 and the busiest period was between 5pm and 7pm. These volumes are considered very low and I cannot foresee this matter going any further. The full database is available from me on request.

Planning.

EHDC had to resubmit its Local Plan Core Strategy in October, the subject of several previous newsletters from me. The resubmission has been examined and the indication is that it will be accepted with very minor adjustments.  The Council should have confirmation of this next month. For Grayshott this means no house building targets at all up to 2028.

However we do have an identified need for 35 to 40 “affordable housing” dwellings. This means that any reasonable planning application for “affordable housing” is likely to be approved. By that I don’t mean that building will be just “plonked” anywhere; there will be tests of sustainability and context. No sites have been designated, although in the next phase of the Local Plan sites can “come forward” from developers and then be debated in a public consultation. If that doesn’t happen the requirement will be met through ”windfall” sites, in effect, relying on luck to find plots to build on or existing properties to convert.

Once the Core Strategy is approved we start to put the flesh on the bones in the “Allocation Phase”. The Core Strategy has the committed house building numbers for East Hampshire, (582 pa up to 2028) and also has it broken down by settlement. It also contains skeleton planning policies. The settlement allocations and the skeleton policies will be spelled out in more detail in the Allocation Phase. This phase will see intense public consultation.

One concern across local government is that this phase can take 2-3 years. Our MP, Damian Hinds raised the matter of the lengthof time EHDC will be without a Local Plan in Parliament. This led to an invitation from the Planning Minister, Hon. Nick Boles MP, forDamian and me to meet him up in Westminster to discuss the problem. In short, he and his senior civil servants felt we could progress the plan in 9 months as we were so far advanced with our Core Strategy. He agreed to lend us some ministerial staff to assist with this accelerated timescale.

On Friday 29th November I attended the AGM of the Waggoners’ Residents Association. One of the District Council’s policies that appeals to them is “H9” which would give that estate special protection from unwanted development and protect the definitive architectural style of the famous Berg homes and the enviable open plan and spacious nature of the plot layout on the estate. H9 will be carried forward into the new Local Plan and I expect to engage council officers on this designation during 2014, (see above for timetable!). As with all planning matters, it will be subject to proper public debate.

Parking.

I am aware of the dreadfully anti-social parking in Avenue Road and as a result stretches of that road will be regulated in the New Year to protect residents’ access to their property.

I hope that we will finalise the reduction of parking regulation posts erected in School Road, also early in the New Year.

Parking Enforcement teams visit Grayshott twice a week and specifically look for obstructive parking and illegal use of Disabled Parking bays. Recently I have requested teams to enforce early evening parking outside Sainsbury’s, in response to residents’ complaints about obstruction of the footpath and also blocked access beside Grove House.

Please note that obstructive parking is not just illegal but it can also be dangerous and thoughtless to park wholly or partly on the footpath.  Spend an hour pushing a pram, buggy or wheelchair around Grayshott and you’ll soon see why. The Police have this as one of their Community Safety priorities locally, to discourage the worst examples of this offence.

I have spent quite a bit of effort to get the village interested in having a new car park. I’ve been surprised at how little support there has been. I’m not the only one who wants to stop off and do a quick bit of basic shopping on my way to or from work and finds that I can’t do it in Grayshott because there is nowhere to park. Candidly I’m embarrassed at the times I shop in Haslemere, Liphook or Petersfield. There seems to be a relaxation of the mood lately and I will arrange for some preliminary work to be done in the 2014-15 council year. However, due to the uncertainty, I have missed the capital budgeting deadlines for that year and so if any acquisition was to be required to get the land, it could not now happen until 2015-16.

Grayshott Wins Business Awards.

You may have seen in the local newspapers that Grayshott businesses and personalities won several awards at the inaugural EastHampshire Business Awards, run by a consortium called Business4EastHampshire. I was pleased to be asked to present many of the awards including awards for lifetime achievement to Phil Bates and Peter Hatch. It was a  great night for Grayshott’s businesses.

Grants to Grayshott.

There have been quite a lot! That’s because we have such a thriving community here. Here is some of the recent grant activity that I have been involved with.

  • Hill Road, new street lights, £2,000.
  • Grayshott Community Plan, £500.
  • Grayshott Panto subsidised children’s tickets, £360.
  • Grayshott’s new Christmas Lights, £2,000.
  • St. Luke’s Church replacement boiler, (this application is still being considered), £5,000.
  • Grayshott Community Care, assistance with running costs, (still under consideration), £TBA.

…..and finally,

It was great to see some of you at the Sue Ryder 60th Anniversary dinner at Headley Park Hotel, an event so ably organised by Tina Wareham. Actually the band wasn’t too bad either….

I do hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and successful New Year.

If you need to contact me there is a new email address; ferris.cowper@easthants.gov.uk but my ‘phone number is the same, 01428-609858. The old Aol email address for me will discontinue soon.

Best wishes,

Cllr. Ferris Cowper

Leader of East Hampshire District Council,

District Councillor and County Councillor for Grayshott.