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County Councillor Report to Parishes

by Jackie Porter on 1 November, 2021

Every month, I write a report on a number of issues for information to Parish Councils. Many items are relevant to the public too. So, I have decided to place them on my website too. After 16 years, I think I’ve written nigh on 200! This is my report to Parishes and Alresford’s Town Council for November 2021

(Names of council officers are reduced to XX on my website but submitted to Parishes in full)

County Councillor Report to Parish Councils for November 2021

This is long- but please keep reading to the end! It includes grant opportunities!

The future of the Lengthsman scheme is still uncertain. Thank you for your comments to me regarding the scheme. Further to my comments last month, XX, whom many of you know,  reported to me that they are training Lengthsmen personnel so they can carry out maintenance on the ‘main carriageway’- the road, but in the same week, the budgetary costs for this service are proposed to be cut from the Roads and Transport budget at full County Council on the 4thNovember. 

I have asked for a meeting with Environment, Transport & Economy dept to discuss this further and will report back asap.

I still haven’t heard enough from you on the effect of closure on this scheme to the County’s footpath network, and hedge maintenance complaints.  Many of you use the money for these purposes. I’d like to hear more! 

The County Council meeting on the 4thNovember sets the Budgetand like your own meetings at this time of year, sets the scene for Council Tax. The papers are long (the total meeting has nearly 1000 pages!) but here are the ‘highlights’. The meeting can be watched online, retained on HCC’s website for 6months.  

The budget includes cuts to many grants,including rural and subsidised transport including ‘Good Neighbours’ transport schemes. I will continue to pursue this with the Community Transport team at HCC , and of course objecting to the cut of services. So far, suggestions of alternative routing to improve uptake seems to fall on deaf ears with bus operators.  

Other budget additions, rather than cuts are 

  • The improvement of the Council Chamber at a cost of around £800K. It’s certainly not my priority in a lean year!  
  • A secure budget of £2.4m in 22/23, rising to £3.4m by 23/24 for Intensive Workers for Children’s Services. This work has been trialled and is successfully keeping children out of care, enabling the children to remain with families, and importantly, also returning children to families from care. Although the total figure of children in care remains stable, it was reported to us for example, that 30 children left and 31 entered care in one week. 
  • The proposed budget also includes the addition of £7m towards highways works for Operation resilience (resurfacing) and Reactive Maintenance (potholes). 

I urge all complaints to be placed on the hants.gov.uk website system by Parishes, local Councillors and relevant residents who may have brought the defect to your notice. By putting up as a direct complaint, not only do you receive a tracking number, but also the number of complaints for each site does appear to have a relevance in decision making. You can also report on roads@hants.gov.ukor www.fixmystreet.com

Response in terms of action may often take months, maybe even into the next financial year, but only if it is logged on the system will the maintenance teams ever see the complaint.  

There are also two immediate Capital Investments of £22m to build , through prudential borrowing

  • an Extra Care facility for younger Adults with learning disabilities , 
  • to upgrade the Woodcot Lodge facility (to improve hospital to care discharge rates)

Adult Social Care now spends about as much money on younger people’s social care as on the elderly. Extra Care for younger adults will enable families to make plans for their children who need support throughout their lives. This is to be welcomed: currently many young people in this situation are forced to live in close contact with others in the same household to receive support from carers : a situation which they find difficult. This offers an alternative. 

A blow to the finance team is the expectation that the Adult Social Care  (ASC) Levy on the Council Tax was restricted in the Budget to 1%, against an HCC Budget plan for 2%, presumably because of the NI increase. This reduces the budget income by approx. £14m.

Conversations with residents, in this division and elsewhere, show there is support to reduce traffic speeds in villages without footways to 20mph.If you are interested in this, please let me know. A proposed pilot in Micheldever for 20mph just in the village itself was unfortunately overwhelmed by bureaucracy to designate a much longer area of 20mph through the area which has resulted in no change to average traffic speeds. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try again if this is the wish of Councils and residents. It may even help to reduce the bike riding speeds! 

So far, the County Council has been reluctant to do this. But I, (with fellow Councillors) am prepared to try again as part of the County’s LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans) :if you are interested, please email me with your wishes and we can put this forward. 

Broadband Update

Cllr Margot Power, Yvette Riley and I have been supporting the Community Fibre Partnerships that developed in the Winter /Spring of 20/21 and after a very slow response from Openreach, HCC carried out a Scrutiny in February 21, calling Openreach to account. It all seemed to speed up and quotes were received, but everything has stalled again.

HCC has provided me with an update for those CFP’s set up from this division:

Chilcomb: CFP 52735: Openreach was contacting customer on 22/10/21 regarding ‘self-dig’ route and feasibility

Bighton: CFP 55296: Estimate sent in March, no response from Community

Itchen Valley:CFP 53929: waiting on DCMS to approve vouchers Prp Ref OR 12183

New Alresford:CFP52531:  waiting on DCMS to approve vouchers Prp Ref OR 12181

Northington: CFP50686: out for survey to get final offer

Old Alresford:CFP49361: waiting on DCMS to approve vouchers Prp Ref OR12279

Itchen Valley/Kings Worthy: CFP53204: Believed to be the Burntwood application: Estimate sent in April. No response from the Community 

I was expecting there to be a CFP on the list for Wonston/Stoke Charity. If anyone knows the CFP number, please could you let me know? Thank you.

I have asked for HCC’s Policy and Resources Scrutiny  committee to review the CFP process again, hoping this will help to move the DCMS decisions forward. This has been accepted, date tbc.  XX and I expect the Burntwood and Northington CFP’s to be part of the Rural inclusion projects tendered out through the DCMS, but this has not been confirmed yet. 

Community Infrastructure levy. Many of you now have substantial CIL funds. The City and County Councils have to write an annual report with a record of expenditure and to spend their CIL collected. So I can help you to make the most of the money collected by the County and City, I would appreciate knowing how you have spent/hope to spend your Parish CIL . Many thanks.

The Parish and Town Council investment Fund is open to you and community groups to drive local initiatives forward.Search on the hants website for details or email PTCfund@hants.gov.ukwith your idea. Decisions may take up to 3 months and the applications are on a first come/first served basis.

Queen’s Green Canopy – a greener canopy for Britain to celebrate the Platinum Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. I am really pleased that Parishes are looking to support this scheme. For more details go to  https://queensgreencanopy.orgI was really pleased to be asked to plant a tree at home to add to my local QGC pledge and have many tiny oak trees (up to 30cm high) to offer if you want to plant something smaller! But beware, the saying is true: from tiny acorns, great oak trees grow! 

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