Havant Liberal Democrats in the Press

£100,000 investment plan for Leigh Park

Published Date: 31 October 2012

LEIGH Park town centre is set for £100,000 of investment.

The cash will go on improving public transport in the area – particularly bus stops.

Money will also be spent on improving pavements, road surfaces, seating, clocks, and litter bins.

It will tie in with recent improvements in Somborne Drive, at the top Greywell Precinct and Park Parade.

Judges were impressed by the newly-installed zebra crossing linking Lidl and the new Portsmouth City Council housing office to the town centre. New pavements, seating, bike racks, a notice board, trees and some short term parking spaces were installed.

Councillor Ann Buckley, who represents Leigh Park and Bedhampton on Hampshire County Council, said: ‘I am really pleased this scheme has received an award.

‘The area is looking better and this brings in shoppers.

‘It is good to see investment go into Leigh Park and all the team who have worked on this scheme deserve praise.

‘Now I would like to see improvements to the bus stops and the area outside the community centre which is uneven and full of potholes.’

Some of the cash will come from the government and the rest will come from developers, earmarked for investment in local infrastructure.

Cllr Buckley said retailers and residents should be consulted on what to do with the latest funding and landlord Mark Smith agrees.

In the past 18 months Mr Smith has invested £1m in buying up leases to shops to be let out at reasonable rents.

He has encouraged many new traders to the area and recently bought the lease for the empty former Netto store at the bottom of the precinct.

A new greengrocer opened opposite the site this week.

Mr Smith said: ‘Before they spend the cash the council needs to speak to the shoppers, on where they think improvements can be made.

‘The shop fronts are the responsibility of landlords, like me.

‘But what would be great would be perhaps directional signage, letting people know straight away where they should head if they want this or that.

‘And perhaps update bus stops to actually bring people in.’

Investigation into water company after Langstone Harbour sewage spill

Published Date: 4 October 2012

By Jeff Travis

SOUTHERN Water is being investigated after it admitted sewage was allowed to spew into a protected nature reserve.

Untreated waste was pumped into Langstone Harbour when filtering screens failed at the pumping station at Fort Cumberland, Eastney, and the water treatment works at Budds Farm in Havant, following heavy rain.

Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, described it as 'completely unacceptable' and has called Southern Water to be held to account.

The water firm has been taken to court and prosecuted 40 times in the past nine years for pollution offences.

Last year it was fined a total of £150,000 for sewage leaks.

Now, the Environment Agency said it is once again considering taking legal action.

But Mr Hancock said tougher fines needed to be imposed to deter the company from allowing it to happen again.

He said: 'There need to be bigger fines and stricter controls. The Environment Agency needs to make sure there's a careful watch and not wait for members of the public to report this.'

Normally, when there is heavy rain, Southern Water has consent to discharge some screened sewage into the harbour. But on September 23 and 24, the screens failed at both Budds Farm and Fort Cumberland – allowing raw sewage to enter the beauty spot, a site of Special Scientific Interest and home to rare wildlife.

The spills happened for almost 19 hours from Budds Farm and more than 21 hours from Fort Cumberland.

This comes despite a promise last year from Southern Water that extra pumps, monitoring equipment and a £2m improvement scheme at Budds Farm would prevent spillages.

The problems at Fort Cumberland are well-documented, with the screens regularly failing and an improvement scheme not due to be finished until 2014.

Mr Hancock told The News: 'It's completely unacceptable.

'Southern Water has spent a fortune of bill payers’ money on making sure this doesn’t happen.

'To have this number of leaks begs the question what they are doing – and what they are not doing.'

Ann Buckley, a county councillor for Leigh Park and Bedhampton, is angry after finding untreated waste on the Hayling Oysterbeds.

She said: 'We already have broken screens at Fort Cumberland. If the same thing is happening at Budds Farm, it’s very serious indeed.'

A statement from Southern Water said the two spills were caused when screens became blocked with non-biodegradable debris during heavy rain.

The statement said: 'Such debris, which includes sanitary towels, ear buds and cleaning cloths, should be put in the bin and not flushed down the toilet and can cause blockages at treatment works and in the sewer network.'

Officials said beach cleans were organised every time there had been a spill.

A spokesman added: 'We are working hard to remedy the problems at Fort Cumberland and to minimise the impact on the environment.

'We are also in the final stages of designing a £20m scheme to divert rainwater from the city's sewers, which will ease the pressure on the system during storms.'

Sheryl Newell, a spokeswoman for the Environment Agency, said: 'We have given Southern Water a notice to create a long-term plan to prevent further spills.

'We are working closely with Southern Water to initially implement a short-term solution to reduce the discharging and a longer term plan to tackle the problem completely.

'It is still under investigation whether legal action is to take place.'

FIRM 'ONE OF THE BIGGEST POLLUTERS'

SOUTHERN Water is one of the biggest polluters of rivers and beaches in the country.

Since 2003, the company has been taken to court and prosecuted 40 times for water pollution offences. Only South West Water has been prosecuted more times. Southern Water was fined last year for 36 illegal discharges in 2010.

Last year there were 47 leaks into the harbour. If prosecuted at crown court, there's no limit on the fines the company could face. Magistrates' court has a limit of £50,000.

The possibility of Southern Water's licence being revoked is highly unlikely. All water companies have rolling licences. The government would have to give it 25 years' notice if it wanted to revoke the licence.

Mr Hancock said: ‘There were always going to be protections given to these people as the government wanted to privatise as quickly as possible. I don’t think any government is going to try to buy them out – that would be the only way of doing it.’ Southern Water made £79.9m profit after tax in the last financial year – more than double the profits the year before.

Warren Park business park is a step closer to becoming reality

Published Date: 13 April 2012

By Elise Brewerton

A BUSINESS park which has been in the pipeline for decades looks as if it will finally be built – creating up to 2,000 jobs.

Portsmouth City Council, which owns 33 acres of empty fields on the outskirts of Warren Park, has applied for permission to build offices and a hotel.

If the outline plans are given the go-ahead, the scheme will provide up to 1,500 construction jobs.

Portsmouth City Council will have to find the money to build an access road, which will come off Hulbert Road, to make the site an attractive prospect to developers.

Havant councillor Mike Fairhurst, whose Barncroft ward includes most of the site, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that we are at the stage where a formal planning application has been submitted.

‘It will bring thousands of new jobs to Havant and is the most important development in the borough. It’s tremendously good news.

‘We need to find a way of putting together the infrastructure – the roads in the development and how it links with the outside world.’

Councillor Fairhurst said the access road could ease congestion on the Purbrook Way roundabout near Asda, where a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant is set to be built later this year.

Councillor Ann Buckley, who represents the area on Hampshire County Council, also welcomed the move.

She said: ‘This is very good news for Warren Park and Leigh Park.

‘The new jobs would be close to existing housing and there is now a good network of cycleways close to the site and good bus services locally.

‘The road access would not be through Warren Park or Leigh Park – which is important otherwise heavy vehicles and additional traffic would have been an issue.

‘There is a lot of merit in the proposals and there was a lot of support when this was discussed at the planning forum a few months ago.

‘There are lovely walks here and a hotel could do very well.’

A development consultation forum in October revealed that Leigh Park, Havant and Bedhampton, and Waterlooville Community Boards were all in favour of the business park.

A decision should be made by Havant Borough Council by the end of June.

If the plans are approved a detailed application will be submitted later this year.

£1m McDonald’s Bedhampton drive-through gets green light

Published Date: 1 March 2012

By Jeff Travis

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a McDonald’s drive-through near one of Havant’s busiest roundabouts have been given the go-ahead.

Despite fears from community leaders about the roundabout becoming gridlocked, councillors at Havant Borough Council voted to approve plans for the £1m restaurant off Larchwood Avenue, next to the Asda supermarket in Bedhampton.

Four local councillors, who do not sit on the planning committee, made representations, pleading with members of the committee to refuse the development until improvements are made to the Purbrook Way roundabout, which has five junctions.

The meeting last night came after a final decision was deferred in January until further traffic reports were carried out.

A total of 312 people signed a petition against the plans.

Cllr David Keast told the committee: ‘There’s a problem there. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s not.’

Cllr Faith Ponsonby said: ‘There have been a number of near misses. It is an accident waiting to happen.’

County councillor Ann Buckley feared the restaurant would become a service station for motorway traffic.

But Cllr Mike Fairhurst told the committee the extra 80 jobs were needed for young people.

He said: ‘We are rapidly becoming a dormitory town and here we have the opportunity to put that right.’

A traffic report, done by ADL Traffic Engineering Ltd at the request of McDonald’s, stated there would be one extra car in the traffic queues at each junction every five minutes – apart from Larchwood Avenue, which would have an extra six.

Council highway officials said they thought the drive-through would not make traffic worse.

However, they want to do a study in the future, looking at ways of improving the roundabout. Funding to pay for this could take several years to find.

Cllr Elaine Shimbart, who sits on the committee, said: ‘I can understand why people are saying it should not go ahead because of problems on the roundabout.

‘But seriously I don’t think McDonald’s opening there will cause a significantly different amount of traffic.’

Cllr Richard Galloway said: ‘It’s no good being open for business if the borough is one big traffic jam.’

Cllr John Smith added: ‘I would like to see Havant busy and prosperous, rather than have roads that are empty.

‘I think we need extra trade.’

The vote was unanimous to approve the plans.

Hayling pollution ‘unacceptable’ says county councillor

Published Date: 29 Feburary 2012

By Jeff Travis

WALKER Ann Buckley has spoken of her disgust after finding a trail of pollution along the coast at Hayling.

Mrs Buckley, who is a county councillor for Leigh Park and Bedhampton, noticed unsightly items close to the oysterbeds as she walked the Hayling Billy Trail.

She noticed a large number of tampon applicators and cotton buds.

Mrs Buckley, who lives in Oaklands Road, Havant, has pointed the finger of blame at Southern Water’s pumping station at Eastney, which, as reported, has released unscreened sewage into Langstone Harbour during periods of heavy rainfall on four occasions since December.

She said: ‘When you think we have visitors coming down, including children – this is what they are going to find and pick up. It’s really unacceptable.’

But a spokesman for Southern Water said: ‘It is not clear where these items on the beach have come from as man-made items often find their way on to beaches from boats.

‘Due to the dry weather, there have not been any releases from Fort Cumberland for two months. Water is only released during periods of heavy rainfall to help protect homes and businesses from flooding. Items such as condoms, sanitary towels, nappies and wipes should be out in the bin as they can block sewer pipes.’

A £10m scheme to improve the filtering screens at Fort Cumberland is due to be completed by the end of 2013.

Final plea in bid to stop housing estate being built

Published Date: 17 Feburary 2012

DESPERATE residents gave a last impassioned plea to an inspector not to give the go-ahead to a housing development.

For three days planning inspector Colin Ball has heard evidence in an appeal by Crayfern Homes against Havant Borough Council’s decision to turn down a 92-home estate off Scratchface Lane, Bedhampton.

The council’s planning committee rejected it on the basis that the noise from the A3M would be detrimental to people’s quality of life.

Jeffrey Lane is a trained psychotherapist and his home in Brooklands Road would be next to the proposed site.

He told the inspector he had done a lot of research into the effects of noise pollution on children.

‘The decision made in this inquiry will have far- reaching effects for many years to come,’ said Mr Lane.

‘With the opening of the Hindhead tunnel it’s probable traffic levels and traffic noise will increase considerably.

‘And based on my research it seems likely that levels of noise currently considered acceptable will in the future be regarded as unacceptable and dangerous to health, wellbeing and development.

‘The suggestion that children should be confined behind double-glazing to protect them from harmful effects of noise is to me both repugnant, cruel and in many ways simply ridiculous.’

Elaine Surrey, another resident of Brooklands Road, said: ‘We’re discussing a site which in the past was considered unfit for a cemetery because it was not tranquil enough.’

She went on: ‘I fear we’re on the verge of a great miscarriage of justice being implemented if this goes ahead.’

The inquiry heard from noise experts from Crayfern and the council who argued over whether the development is acceptable with the level of noise from the motorway.

Crayfern’s noise expert said although it is accepted that some of the site will fall under category C levels of noise – where building is only allowed with strict conditions – the increase from category B, which most of the site lies within, would not be perceptible.

Councillor Ann Buckley, who represents Bedhampton on Hampshire County Council, said: ‘The World Health Organisation identified noise as the second biggest environmental problem affecting health after air pollution.’

A decision will not be made for several weeks.

Councillors join forces to fight Sure Start mergers

Published Date: 6 April 2011

By Aline Nassif

SIX councillors have written to the chairwoman of Hampshire County Council demanding an extraordinary meeting to discuss proposals to merge children's centres.

One independent and five Lib Dem politicians have sent letters to Cllr Carol Leversha calling for a full council meeting to raise concerns about plans for the centres.

The council proposes to cut the number of centres from 81 to 53 and tender out large clusters of centres to a single provider.

Ann Buckley, who represents Bedhampton and Leigh Park, said: "There are flaws in the consultation and outstanding issues that need to be discussed.

"My constituents haven't had an opportunity to ask questions at a public meeting.

"There are concerns about plans to merge Park Futures and Sharps Copse which would change the catchment area and leave many Leigh Park parents being expected to go elsewhere.

"I worry about the implications of the mergers, and how managers have been given no time to come up with their own solution to cost-cutting instead of factoring them out by tendering large clusters to single providers."

The other councillors who have put pen to paper are Chris Thomas (Eastleigh), Brian Collin (Winchester), Alan Weeks (Totton), Jenny Radley (independent for Church Crookham) and Sam Darragh (East Hants).

Elyse Scott, who organised a balloon release at The Haven centre in Gosport this week to raise awareness of the Save Our Children's Centres campaign, welcomed the councillors' actions.

She said: "The idea of a single provider for several centres doesn't make any sense.

"Each centre has its own unique quality which is invaluable to the communities they serve – we want them to stay that way."

Cllr Thomas, who has led calls for the executive meeting, said: "It’s time for the fog to be lifted and the views of the public to be heard. I hope the county listens."

In a statement, Hampshire County Council said it would be responding to the councillors who have called for the meeting.

Meanwhile, Hampshire council leader Ken Thornber has cancelled a scheduled meeting with mum Becci Frost, 24, who uses the Oak Meadow centre, citing a legal challenge against the county as the reason.

Vickie Taylor, 30, a volunteer at Rowner, in Gosport, has enlisted solicitors to threaten the council with High Court action if it doesn't withdraw the consultation.

Row as council members ask for more cash

Published Date: 21 February 2011

COUNCILLORS have come under fire after asking for an increase in their petrol allowance while front-line services face massive cuts.

Tory Waterlooville Councillors Robin McIntosh and Ian Beagley made a written submission to an independent pay panel at Hampshire County Council. They said the 40p per mile rate was "unrealistic". Last year members voted to give themselves the choice of claiming a mileage rate of anything between 53.8p and 40p – while cutting the 53p per mile claimed by thousands of staff to 40p.

Cllr Beagley said mileage rates should be based on the "true costs of running a car" which he said increase steadily every year. He told the panel: "Despite the widespread misunderstanding, the 40p/m figure is not a recommended mileage allowance but merely the figure at which HMRC chooses to level tax on mileage allowances. It is thoroughly out of date, having been in existence at the same level for 19 years.

"If inflation over that period is applied, then 40p becomes 64p which remarkably is the same figure that the AA calculate to be the cost per mile of running a medium sized car today."

Cllr Beagley added: "There is no reason why members should accept an artificially low figure and thereby subsidise travel connected with carrying out their duties."

But Lib Dem Leigh Park Cllr Ann Buckley told The News: "I feel the 40p is more than adequate. I think they are being unrealistic." Members on the allowances panel backed the recommendation for a single 40p rate for all 78 councillors. A final decision will be made this week.

Campaign to save 'Maisy Mouse' mobile library

Published Date: 18 February 2011

THE FIGHT is on to save a mobile library service which users say is vital for their community.

The Family Library Link bus, which has a 'Maisy Mouse' picture on the side, visits play and toddler groups across Leigh Park and Havant but looks set to be cut as Hampshire County Council bids to save 600,000 a year from the library service budget.

The Family Library Link was founded in 1983 to develop a love of books in families who may not otherwise have visited libraries.

Under the county's proposals it is scheduled to be taken out of service in July - but the Liberal Democrat councillors in Havant want to save it.

Councillor Ann Buckley, who also represents Leigh Park on the County Council, said: "I am appalled that Hampshire proposes to cut this service.

"It has been running for more than 27 years and has introduced thousands of children in the Leigh Park area to books and a love of reading.

"Books give children such a good start in life, so it is wrong to take away this excellent service which is much appreciated locally.

"There was so much praise for the service when the new Maisy Mouse bus was launched six years ago. I am campaigning hard to keep this service." The mobile library bus is crammed with 2,000 books with the aim of reaching 750 children a month.

But it costs Hampshire County Council 43,000 a year to run. Council libraries boss, Councillor Margaret Snaith-Tempia, said: "The Family Library Link is a branch library on wheels taking services which can be found at the local branch library, to children and parents in the community. All the services delivered can be found at the branch libraries which is why we're proposing, in these difficult economic times, to cut the service and to use our Outreach team to encourage parents and their children to use their local library.

"All the play and toddler groups are close to Havant or Leigh Park libraries.

"It costs 43,000 a year to run plus the cost of book stock. That's about the same as two very small static libraries. All the groups it visits are close to good libraries which is why we are encouraging people to use these instead."

Cllr Buckley and her colleagues will be campaigning outside Leigh Park library on Saturday. To comment on the proposals email library.customercomments@hants.gov.uk before Monday February 14.

Plan for church revamp gets thumbs down over its design

Published Date: 18 February 2011

A £2m plan to revamp a church has been refused by a council over fears it could become an eyesore.

Planners at Havant Borough Council had recommended the proposals for Emsworth Baptist Church, in North Street, Emsworth, be approved.

But councillors voted three to two in favour of refusing it because they said the proposed design would not fit in with the rest of Emsworth.

The plan was to demolish the church hall and build a new one with twice the floor space.

The proposed building would be single-storey and include a large foyer and auditorium, which would seat 300 people.

Cllr Ann Buckley, who voted for it, said: "I was not completely happy with it, but when I saw inside the building and heard about their vision, I was happy to support it.

"I think other members felt it did not fit into historic Emsworth. It’s not in the conservation area but is next to it."

The Rev Dane Baker said he was disappointed with the decision as the church had already modified the plans after lengthy discussions with the council.

He said: "We are going to take advice from our architects and look at what the church leadership think is the best way forward.

"It seems the councillors who voted against had not perhaps appreciated that we had done that much work over the past year modifying plans."

Parents' anger at plans to scrap children's centres

Published Date: 17 February 2011

By Aline Nassif

PARENTS are opposing plans to slash the number of children’s centres across Hampshire.

Hampshire County Council wants to reduce the number of 81 government-funded Sure Start centres to 53.

In Gosport and Fareham, this would see the current 12 centres cut to eight, while Havant’s nine centres would come down to six.

The council also wants to hand over all the centres – currently run either by schools, the council or independent organisations – to a single provider in each area.

Elyse Scott is a member of the Parent’s Forum at Bridgemary’s Haven Children’s Centre, which is rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Forum members have already collected more than 200 signatures objecting to the plans.

She said: "We're angry about what we believe is a sham consultation which will lead to fewer centres, a reduction in services in some of the most deprived areas and bulk management by third-party contractors – all of which would be detrimental to the quality of Haven and its services.

"The biggest threat is that we will no longer be managed by the nursery school (The Hive), which we work so closely with and is fantastic. The council wants third parties to put tenders in but we don’t know who they will be.

"The schools and groups that run the centres now have been given no time to prepare bids, and many couldn’t manage a cluster of eight, which rules them out in spite of doing an excellent job."

Mrs Scott, says the council consultation as just "a tick box exercise", is encouraging people to attend meetings and campaign against the plans.

The centres are funded through government’s Sure Start programme worth £16.9m.

The plans would save £6m which would be given to other early years schemes.

Those to merge and remain

East Hampshire (5 to 4)

Centres to be merged: Hillside/Treetops

Centres to remain: Bushy Leaze, Chase, and Heath.

Fareham and Gosport (12 to 8)

Centres to be merged: Oak Meadow/Merry-Go-Round; Sovereign/Strawberry; Meadow Haselbridge/Little Waves; Sure Start Rowner/Stubblee Hill

Centres to remain: Keepsake, Merryfields, The Tree House, Haven.

Havant (9 to 6)

Centres to be merged: Park Futures/Sharps Copse; Orchard/Starfish; Mill Hill and Small Steps/Crookhorn Lane

Centres to remain: Links, Branches, Trospacc.

County councillor adds her voice to concerns

ANN Buckley, county councillor for Bedhampton and Leigh Park, has added her voice to concerns.

She is worried that plans to hand over the centres in each 'cluster' area – such as Havant – to a third party provider would lead to a drop in quality at the centres.

She said: "The speed this is moving it is worrying me and looking at the consultation and the impenetrable document that is going out, a lot of people won't participate.

"If there was more time, there is a possibility current employees could set up a not-for-profit scheme and continue to run the centres, which they do excellently. But with little to no time, and the council's insistence of a single management to run all the centres, there is a real danger we will lose the personal touch."

Cllr Roy Perry, who is in charge of children’s services at the county council, said: "The proposal to manage centres in clusters is designed to achieve economies of scale, streamlining management and backroom support functions to ensure they operate cost effectively and efficiently.

"Under the proposals children's centres will continue to be sensitive to community needs and offer services in response to those needs."

He said anyone who does not understand the proposals could phone 01962 847 651 to speak to someone.

The consultation, which ends on March 14, can be viewed on the council’s website at consultations.hants.gov.uk/active.aspx.

Lib Dems hoping the Clegg effect will help them make progress

Published Date: 29 April 2010

By Elise Brewerton

The Liberal Democrats say they are hoping to make major inroads on Havant Borough Council because of the Nick Clegg effect.

The Conservatives' hold on the authority is the strongest in the county.

They dominate politics in the borough with just three seats each for Labour and the Liberal Democrats out of 38.

But Susan Stocker, leader of the Lib Dems, who will be fighting to hold on to her Leigh Park Bondfields seat, thinks the political landscape is about to change, particularly with the resurgence of her party thanks to leader Mr Clegg.

She said: 'People are watching the debates and I think that's made all the difference.

'It's opened people's eyes to the Liberal Democrats.

'I personally think it's very important that there's a good opposition to scrutinise the work of the leading group, it's good for politics and I hope we can build on our group in this election.

'At the moment it is frustrating and it would be good if we had a lot more seats but that is up to the electorate.'

The Lib Dems are fielding younger candidates in this election than the opposition which they hope will energise their campaign.

Labour leader Richard Brown, who will be fighting to keep hold of his Warren Park seat, fears that despite the good work of his Labour colleagues in the borough – Leigh Park especially – people will vote as in the General Election and give the party a bloody nose.

He said: 'I feel I've been good value for money over the past eight years and I've worked hard.

'But a lot of people feel they have been let down by politicians from all parties and personally I think we have been tarnished with the same brush as them even though I don't claim expenses, only my basic allowance.

'We do need a strong opposition in Havant and I hope we get it to break the stronghold the Tories have here.'

Tory leader Tony Briggs, who represents Cowplain, said he does not believe there will be a sea of yellow in the council chamber come May 7.

He said: 'I compare the Nick Clegg show to The X Factor. It's all about performance and no substance.

'What people really want to know is how bad are the country's finances and what are they going to do about it.'

And he said he is looking forward to next Thursday's battle, adding: 'We enjoy a fairly big majority but at some stage or another other parties are going to eat into that. I believe that every authority needs a good-quality opposition.'

Hospital issue a key point in Havant election debate

Published Date: 28 April 2010

By Elise Brewerton

It's an issue that has left the community reeling - and it's got competing politicians hot under the collar too.

The long-promised but quickly axed plans for Oak Park Community Hospital was one of the main biting points of The News sixth pre-election hustings in Havant.

Housing, education and even fox hunting were debated in what was a lively hustings at Leigh Park Community Centre last night.

But Susan Stocker, leader of the Lib Dems, who will be fighting to hold on to her Leigh Park Bondfields seat, thinks the political landscape is about to change, particularly with the resurgence of her party thanks to leader Mr Clegg.

Liberal Democrat Alex Payton, Labour's Rob Smith and David Willetts, the current Conservative incumbent of the Havant seat, clashed over the fallout of the axed hospital.

Mr Payton, a barrister, told the audience he did not accept that all hope was lost and said his party were the only ones still pushing for the much-longed for facility.

He accused Mr Willetts of not doing enough to save the hospital and compared him unfavourably with the Chichester MP who successfully fought to keep open the A&E unit at St Richard's Hospital, Chichester, last year.

'A campaign to keep St Richards' is different to a campaign to open something that does not currently exist', said Mr Willetts.

'We need to get health needs met. There are several different ways in which it can be done and the best way should be a community hospital, but I'm trying to be imaginative and flexible.'

None of the candidates supported the figure of 6,300 new homes which central government has told Havant Borough Council must be built within the next 20 years.

But Mr Willetts said there was an urgent need for new housing for families. 'Young families come to my surgeries and they are sleeping on sofas at friends houses, camping in spare rooms or the kids are sleeping box in a box at the bottom of the bed. There is a real problem locally.'

Mr Smith, a teacher, said he favoured a figure of 4,000 new homes and said: 'I think it is necessary for government to lead on this. I do think local authorities need that push.'

Mr Payton said the Liberal Democrats would make gardens greenfield sites in order to stop back garden development.

They each agreed that Portsmouth City Council - which owns large swathes of the area's social housing - should take more responsibility in tenants needs in the Leigh Park area.

When quizzed only Mr Willetts supported overturning the ban on fox hunting.

Residents plead for better transport to hospital

Published Date: 20 March 2010

By Jeff Travis

RESIDENTS have stepped up the fight for better transport to and from Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital.

In just two hours, 148 people signed a petition to demand a dedicated bus service between Emsworth and hospital.

It comes as many elderly residents are struggling to get to and from Cosham.

As reported in The News, the hospital encourages Emsworth residents to take the train to Havant and then catch a bus to Cosham.

But David Willetts, Tory MP for Havant, has worked out it takes at least 69 minutes - 20 minutes more than it takes to get to Chichester's St Richard's Hospital, which is further away.

Havant Lib Dems have now started a petition, which was unveiled in St Peter's Square, Emsworth.

The petition will be presented to Mel Kendal, the councillor who heads transport in Hampshire.

Alex Payton, Havant's Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, who helped to collect signatures, said: 'A round trip depending on time of day can take up to three hours for many Emsworth residents.

'There are rail links too but they involve long walks for most people, some rather elderly, at each end.

'We think more direct action is now needed to convince bus operators that a direct service is necessary and viable.'

The petition comes after Havant's Oak Park Community Hospital was scrapped by NHS Hampshire because of a lack of money.

Meanwhile, Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital, in North Street, is set to be sold off by NHS Hampshire.

Cllr Kendal told The News that current transport provision was more than adequate.

He said: 'We are sympathetic to Emsworth residents' request and have worked closely with bus operators, the community transport sector, hospital authorities and Portsmouth City Council to try to deliver the best public transport links to the QA hospital.

'Emsworth is served by two principal services that, between them, provide four journeys an hour to Havant bus station.

'From Havant bus station there are six buses an hour from Havant to the hospital. Using service 700, with one change of bus, Emsworth residents can be at the QA hospital in 37 minutes.'

Cllr Kendal said the authorities and community groups provide patient transport, such as 'Call&Go' for the elderly and vulnerable.

He added: 'Over £700,000 a year is spent supporting local bus services in the Havant area.'

Councillors told to scrap free parking at Havant offices

Published Date: 23 February 2010

By Elise Brewerton

Councillors have been asked to scrap free parking for them outside their town hall.

Havant Lib Dems put in a motion calling on senior officers and councillors to pay to park next to Havant Borough Council.

Councillor Faith Ponsonby, who represents Battins ward, in Leigh Park, said this would put the council in line with other organisations, including hospitals, where doctors and nurses must pay.

Tory council leader Tony Briggs said he would now look at the idea as part of the major review of the council's travel plan for the £13m redeveloped civic campus.

Cllr Ponsonby said the money raised in parking charges - which she has worked out to be around £25,000 a year - could be used to fund temporary skips around the borough for people without transport who cannot afford to pay for rubbish to be taken away.

'It should only be until 4.30pm so that people attending meetings at 5pm could park for free,' said Cllr Ponsonby.

'If you have council work during the day you get an allowance and that could be used to pay for it.

'Anyone doing a job of work expects to pay for parking, even if you work at a hospital.

'I don't think it's right that we don't pay when everyone else has to.

'It's what we get an allowance for.'

Cllr Ponsonby said fellow Lib Dem colleague Cllr Ann Buckley refuses to use the free car park on principle, preferring to pay at the council-run car park across the road from the civic offices.

But at the full council meeting where the matter was debated Hayling councillor Victor Pierce-Jones was visibly angered by the proposal.

He said: 'If I am forced to pay I will simply park for free at Tesco down the road, park there for two hours, and push off.'

Cllr Ponsonby withdrew her motion at the council meeting after Cllr Briggs' decision to include it in the travel plan review.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Briggs said: 'We're looking at a travel-to-work plan coupled with the development of the public service village.

'I will undertake with Cllr Collins for him to look at the costings (of the skips) so we fully understand the cost implications.'

Time to act now on 'disgraceful' roads

Published Date: 04 February 2010

By Jeff Travis

Residents are fighting for crumbling roads to be resurfaced.

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians say the state of three main roads in Havant is horrendous and have likened them to dirt tracks.

This winter's icy weather has left the surface of Middle Park Way, Park House Farm Way, and Southleigh Road in a terrible condition with much of the surface disintegrating.

Ann Buckley, who is the county councillor for Leigh Park, said something had to be done as large chippings were flying up at pedestrians and drivers - and were heavy enough to crack a car's windscreen.

She is angry as residents campaigned for two years for the pothole-ridden roads to be resurfaced.

Residents counted as many as 130 potholes in Park House Farm Way.

After all the campaigning, residents breathed a sigh of relief when resurfacing work was done last autumn by Hampshire County Council.

But the crumbling surface is now providing more misery for residents.

Cllr Buckley described the roads as 'disgraceful'.

'These busy roads are bus routes and were resurfaced last year,' she said.

'Immediately, chippings started to break away and have scattered over the road surface and pavements.

'It is increasingly difficult to negotiate these roads without chippings flying up from the road.

'The work has clearly not been undertaken to the right specification. These roads were dreadful before the freeze and the bad weather has made things even worse.

'Most of the surface laid has now disintegrated.'

Richard Brown, 66, of Oxenwood Green, Warren Park, said: 'The chippings have come out of the holes.

'It's worse if you are on a bike than anything else.

'The stuff is being chucked up straight into people's windscreens.'

County council officials said the road surface was redressed as part of a rolling programme.

The work involves spraying bitumen on the road and then covering it with a layer of stone chippings.

The chippings only become fully embedded under the action of vehicle tyres, a spokeswoman said.

She said the recent weather had taken a huge toll on road conditions generally. Despite calls, no-one was available to comment, but the council said it was looking to repair weather-affected roads.

Lib Dems pick Havant candidate

Published Date: 28 January 2010

By Alex Forsyth
Political editor

Havant Lib Dems have chosen their candidate to fight Tory MP David Willetts in the General Election.
Alex Payton, a former Berkshire councillor and mayor, beat ex-Portsmouth councillor Alex Bentley to the job.

The 35-year-old told party members it was time to change the face of Havant politics, which are currently dominated by the Conservatives.

'People's trust in MPs has been betrayed by scandals and poor performance,' he said.

'Our first job is to restore to politics decency, honesty and fairness.'

Cllr Ann Buckley, Lib Dem county councillor for Leigh Park and Bedhampton, said: 'Alex Payton's experience as a councillor, mayor, campaigner and his commitment to live in the constituency, if elected, makes him an ideal challenger to the Tories.'

Mr Payton currently lives in Greenham near Newbury. He is a practising barrister and often works in Portsmouth County Court.

As a former councillor he campaigned against Post Office closures, health service cuts and council tax increases.

He has worked with the Royal Berkshire Hospital and Reading University.

£1.2m recycling centre for Havant

Published Date: 23 January 2010

By Jeff Travis

A state-of-the-art £1.2m recycling centre is set to be built in Havant.

For years residents have struggled to use the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Harts Farm Way because of poor access.

Cars regularly queue up as people try to get into the facility to offload bulky waste, like clothing, furniture and freezers.

But those days are set to be over as Hampshire County Council has confirmed it will overhaul the town's recycling centre - which is the busiest in the county because of its proximity to the A27.

The multi-million pound project will transform the facility with a new dedicated access road, more car parking spaces and more waste container bays.

It will also eliminate the current problem of the recycling centre closing to the public. The gates often have to be shut for health and safety reasons every time a waste container is changed over.

The county council hopes the new facility will be much more 'customer-friendly'.

A bigger centre is more needed than ever as the amount being recycled in Hampshire has more than doubled over the last decade to more than 284,000 tons a year.

The revamp was music to the ears of county councillor Ann Buckley, who represents Bedhampton and Leigh Park, who has been pressing for the makeover.

'I am really delighted it's being updated,' she said.

'We have wanted this for some time. I think it will make a huge difference to local residents. It will solve the dreadful problem in the road and people will not be waiting outside for a long time.

'I think it will encourage more people to bring their waste to the site.'

Although Havant is the busiest recycling centre out of the 24 in the county, the site has one of the lowest recycling rates because of its outdated facilities.

The county council hopes the new-look centre will help boost the town's recycling rates up to 60 per cent in line with other modernised sites.

Approving the plans, Councillor Ken Thornber, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: 'Hampshire has some of the best recycling and waste disposal facilities in Europe and by making it easier for people to recycle their bulky household and garden waste in Havant, we will be able to build on the success Hampshire has already achieved in this field.

'Thanks to the county's impressive recycling rate, together with our three Energy Recovery Facilities, we have been able to divert almost 90 per cent of household waste away from landfill, making Hampshire the top performing county council in this area.' A timescale for the project is not yet clear.

A planning application needs to be submitted and then the county council will have to find a contractor before work can begin.