Ferris Cowper’s County and District Newsletter

Summer's coming!

Dear neighbours,

Here is my May 2014 Newsletter. It’s a bumper edition with important news about a new threat of severe increases in aircraft noise over Grayshott and a few words about the loss of trees near Hammer Lane.

Highways

Crossways Road

During May the final traffic volume and speed measurements are being taken. That will be followed by a post implementation review in which the County Council will assess the effectiveness of the scheme. There will be local consultation. At the Parish Assembly, (see below), I promised that no further works wouldbe carried out until that review had been completed, only to be undermined by the appearance of a highways crew opposite Sue Ryder, just days later.You will see from my previous special newsletter that this work was undertaken by a contractor to HCC without authority and I have stopped it pending the post implementation review I promised.

Upper Hammer Lane

You know that I have been working on getting a new footpath to Woolmer Hill School along Upper Hammer Lane. I’m pleased to say that very good progress has been made with the MoD, (owners of the land on that side) and work should start by the end of the Summer.

In addition you will have noticed the deteriorating state of the edge of the road there, causing vehicles to drive around the bends in the middle of the road in an attempt to avoid the bumps. This is very dangerous. Some patching has been done but not enough. I met earlier this week with our area engineer and the Area Manager for HCC and they are to request funds to carry out further repairs just there. This is despite the probable footpath project later this year. Having received representations from the school, I have taken the view that the situation is so dangerous there that the short term repair is justified even though it will be partly built over in the Autumn.

Hurstmere Close

I’m pleased to say that following the patching work, my request for additional funds for an Operation Resilience project to completely resurface the road, has been approved. Date to be announced.

Boundary Road

Following many requests I have developed a one page summary of all the issues involved with Boundary Road. There is also a copy available from the Parish Office. If you don’t understand why the road is the way it is, drop me or the Parish Council a line and we will send you the document.

I am asking Hampshire Highways to assess the road safety risks and the damage caused to Crossways Road by the deposit of loose scalpings in Boundary Road from time to time. Whoever deposits these scalpings should seek legal advice as to their culpability for damage to Crossways Road bitumen surface, the costs of street cleansing and the consequences of any accident in Crossways Road caused by a vehicle slipping on the loose stones.

BOAT 13

The heavy duty gate has been installed and the situation has improved. Surrey CC has also carried out works on the Surrey bit of BOAT 13. The damaged road surface which attracts a lot of complaints, is in Surrey and so I can’t secure any repair works there.

Abuse of Build Outs

Like many of you, I have been astounded at the lunatic driving at the three “build outs” in Grayshott, one at each end of Headley Road and one at the A333 end of Crossways Road. During the post implementation review of the Crossways Road project we will be assessing the effect of installing bollards at these three locations, (and only there), to stop irresponsible drivers squeezing between the traffic island and people’s walls and hedges through the gap left for cyclists, in order to save about 10 seconds journey time.

Planning

Golf Driving Range Tree Felling

Many of you have contacted me with your concerns about the large scale tree felling along Headley Road by the junction with Hammer Lane. I’m going to lay out here my current level of understanding.

As I understand it, the land formerly owned by Iain Looms of the Grayshott Golf has now been sold to representatives of The Plymouth Brethren. This land is not owned by Applegarth Farm. As I understand it, the large scale tree felling has been carried out under the instructions of The Plymouth Brethren.

Now the “allegedly” word. I need to be clear, nobody from The Plymouth Brethren has made any contact with me even though they own a residence which allegedly has occasional worship, just a few doors away from me in Kingswood Firs. So, sticking with the “alleged” theme, allegedly they intend to drive a new access to the highway through the trees, hedges and banks, into either Hammer Lane or Headley Road.

Creating a new access to the highway requires planning consent, so of course it will involve me. Should the Plymouth Brethren wish to open up a new access to the highway, like any other landowner, they will have to submit a planning application to EHDC and the application will be referred to the Highway Authority, Hampshire County Council, where, as you know, I am also a councillor.

So far, I have directed the EHDC Arboricultural Officer to visit the site to ensure that all works are legal. No road safety assessment can be carried until a planning application is received.

I do realise that many of you are outraged at this act of vandalism on a stand of trees occupying a highly visible location on the approach to the village and the damage this has done to Grayshott. Because there are no Tree Preservation Orders in that location, the destruction was legal and could not be stopped. Many of you know that I am a strong advocate of applying Tree Preservation Orders to all trees close to and visible from the road, that define the approaches to our village. However I have not been well supported in that ambition and so we should not be surprised when these trees are destroyed.

All I can say in addition is that I am on this case. Those of you that know me, know that phrase means everything possible is being, or will be, done to protect the wider interests of the village.

Portsmouth Road

I’ve asked for a Planning Application for 3 The Martins, Portsmouth Road to be heard by the Planning Committee next Thursday. This is on the grounds of possible overlook to their neighbours at 16, Tudor Close.

Aircraft Noise Problems

At Farnborough there is an airport used extensively by private business jets. In my heady days as a Corporate hot shot I used to commute from there. The airport is now owned by TAG Farnborough who want to make it very successful; it has been rebuilt recently and looks spectacular.

They have asked the Civil Aviation Authority, (CAA), for permission to land jets at a lower altitude as part of a package of measures to take off at a steeper angle and to increase usage of the airport. The snag is that Grayshott, (and in fact in a very wide area around Grayshott going as far out as Whitehill and Tilford), is going to suffer from the increased noise from the reduced altitude of inbound flights.

Bizarrely and quite contrary to way EHDC handles Planning consultation, the CAA require the applicant, (TAG Farnborough), to conduct the consultation on behalf of the CAA into TAG’s own application. This has led to deep suspicion about aspects of the TAG Farnborough website which seem to be difficult to understand and, indeed, some local authorities have been confused.

Typically the proposed altitude will be half the current flight level. Noise levels increase faster than this because as altitude reduces the more dense air requires the engines to work harder, so a halving of altitude more than doubles noise levels. Not far from us is a crossover area and under the proposals, overflying aircraft will generate noise which is equivalent to standing one metre away from a vacuum cleaner.

I don’t think you want this intruding into your home at all hours of the day and evening. It will be incomparably worse than the noise we now hear from the A3 and will affect everyone in the village.

As Leader of EHDC I have sent the CAA an objection written in the strongest possible terms. We are joined in the protest by our MP, Damian Hinds and also by our neighbours, Waverley Borough Council. As the time of writing, Grayshott PC is still considering its position.

You can add your voice to the objections by writing to the CAA. You DO NOT need to answer the questions on the TAG Farnborough website which are, in my personal opinion, loaded anyway. All you have to do it write in your own words to;

Airspace Change Proposal Consultation

Farnborough Airport

Hampshire

GU14 6XA

For your information, I have reproduced the EHC letter here, but please don’t cut and paste from it; copies will be excluded from the consultation;

Dear Sir/Madam

Farnborough Airspace Consultation

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the TAG Farnborough Airport Airspace Consultation.

This reply is submitted by East Hampshire District Council.

The Council is strongly opposed to the proposed flight path changes because of the serious adverse impact on residents and businesses.

East Hampshire

East Hampshire district covers nearly 200 square miles to the south and south-west of the airport. It principal settlements are Alton, Liphook, Whitehill & Bordon, Petersfield and Horndean. The population is nearly 120,000.

The district includes market towns, large areas of beautiful countryside, rolling hills and the highest point of the chalk ridge of the South Downs, Butser Hill. 57% of the district is within the South Downs National Park. Alice Holt Forest, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the series of wooded hills known as “the Hangers”, are popular visiting destinations; all are directly affected by the proposals. The district includes protected species, European protected habitats, and a distinct and attractive natural environment.

Noise and pollution impact

The current proposals envisage a massive increase in impact on East Hampshire settlements from increased overflying.

As a case study, Whitehill & Bordon is one of the settlements that will see a 31% increase of overflying (comparing the proposal with the ‘do nothing’ scenario). The population of the town and adjacent village of Lindford is expected to be around 24,000, as Ministry of Defence land is redeveloped. The flight path proposals envisage flights at 3,000-4,000 ft altitude. Noise levels will be up to 70dBA, equivalent to a vacuum cleaner at a distance of 1 metre.

Other settlements, including Petersfield, Liphook and Alton will also be affected badly by the proposals.

In addition, the scale of the airspace being proposed for new control will mean that existing flights (e.g. light aircraft, gliders, balloons, as well as the regular Chinook training flights from RAF Odiham) will occupy a more constrained and lower space.

As a direct result of the airspace change proposals, noise and pollution levels for settlements in East Hampshire will be severely compromised, directly resulting in harm to quality of life.

In addition, low and increased quantity of flying over environmentally protected areas (e.g. Woolmer Forest, Butser and Hangers Special Areas of Conservation) will impact on the incredible diversity of wildlife. We would urge that a proper assessment of the impacts of lower and increased flying from Farnborough Airport, and the consequent increased concentration of other leisure flying, be undertaken to assess the harm to local wildlife and protected species, before a final decision is taken.

Economic impact

East Hampshire’s tourist economy is largely based on its astounding natural beauty. With so much of the district within a National Park, the area’s tranquillity is a highly attractive feature. A network of hospitality businesses supports this, including hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and rural pubs. Many of these are small businesses, highly vulnerable to changes in visitor patterns.

More flights, at lower altitudes, with greater noise pollution will harm the visitor experience and local employers that rely on visitors.

In addition, we are deeply concerned about the direct impact on some significant local employers. The proposal to restrict airspace to ATC Lasham and the Lasham Gliding Society, for example, and the consequent impacts on supply chains, risks hundreds of local jobs.

Airspace Consultation

The Council regrets that the airspace consultation was interrupted by a “technical fault” on its website, and is concerned that the responses made by local residents and businesses over five days have been lost.

Conclusion

In summary, East Hampshire District Council strongly objects to the proposed flight path changes due to the direct impact on quality of life, local economy and the environment.

Yours faithfully

Tom Horwood

Executive Director

Parking

General enforcement

Please may I remind you that as Leader of EHDC, I instruct the Civil Parking Enforcement Team to take firm action over illegal parking in disabled bays. Please do not park there unless you are displaying a “blue badge”. I’m a wheelchair “pusher” myself and so the creative array of excuses offered up for illegal parking in disabled bays cuts no ice.

Stoney Bottom/Crossways Road

You have all seen the line of cars, mostly with Polish number plates, parked in Crossways Road at the junction with Stoney Bottom. The problem with their parking, apart from the fact that it is illegal, is that it obscures the sight lines for vehicles emerging from Stoney Bottom This comes after HCC spent quite a lot of money improving those sight lines and also we know that bend and dip are notoriously dangerous and these parked vehicles just make it worse.

The owners have received a Police visit. However things don’t seem to have improved. The offences committed are Obstruction, (of the footpath) and parking too close to a road junction. I am pressing the Police to take firmer action.

The offence of Obstruction can be reported by the public and I have been asked how to do this. You need to take a photograph of the offence such that the offence itself is clear and also the registration plate of the offending vehicle is readable. There needs to be a reliable indicator of the date and time the photo was taken; for example, a jpeg file reference is good enough. You can then email the photo with your written comments to the EHDC Community Safety Manager at Karen.dawes@easthants.gov.uk and she will liaise with the Police.

Buses

It’s a busy period for lobbying big organisations! Hampshire County Council are proposing a 12% cut in the ‘buses budget. This budget is for the cost of subsidising services that cannot be run commercially. I don’t need to run through the reasons

why ‘buses are vital in rural communities so if you want to object please write to Peter Shelley, Head of Passenger Transport, Hampshire

County Council, Capital House, 48-52 Andover Road, Winchester SO23 7BH or try logging on to www.hants.gov.uk/transportconsultation2014

Parish Assembly

As always, March’s Grayshott Parish Assembly was truly excellent. We are all very lucky in Grayshott to have an excellent parish council who are very ably supported by two of the best Parish Clerks in Laura and Katie. The headline speaker was the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes. He spoke very well and his appearance in our village was a real coup for the Parish Council.

Grayshott Market

I was very honoured to open the first ever Grayshott Market on the 19th April. We were blessed with fine weather and the whole event was a real treat. The proceeds go to the fund for maintaining The Square. Many thanks go to Moray Thomas and Tim Wickes for inventing and organising the monthly event.

Grants

The new season to apply for my EHDC Devolved Grant budget has just started. I have £3,000 to spend in the year for grants up to £750. My County Council Devolved Grant budget doesn’t open until June and runs until February 2015. In that one I have £8,000 and grants can be up to £2,000. Also open is the EHDC Community Investment Fund which will take larger grant applications up to £5,000.

…..and Finally

On Thursday 24th April, the EHDC Chairman held his annual charity event at Old Thorns hotel. There was a nice meal, welcome drinks, wine on the table and my newly reformatted rock band played until past midnight. Grayshott was very well represented at a superb event, with one full table in my name and most of another table as well. Over £9,000 was raised for the two charities which were Parkinson’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy.

A couple of bits of personal news from me. My eldest daughter Adele, (Paediatrician and adventurer into Somaliland and currently Bangladesh), is getting married at St. Luke’s on 19th July.

Also my other daughter Laura, (swimmer and all round water baby), is swimming across The Solent to the Isle of Wight in a charity swim as part of the Bestival event. She is raising money for “Cardiac Risk in the Young” and if you want to help her with a bit of sponsorship please go to;

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/LauraCowper and I’m sure each stroke against the waves and the current will be made that bit easier.

Lastly do please note that I don’t use my AOL address for Council business any more. You can get in touch with me on 01428-609858 or email me as follows;

District Council; ferris.cowper@easthants.gov.uk

County Council; ferris.cowper@hants.gov.uk

Enjoy the nice weather!!!

Cllr. Ferris Cowper.