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A job for King Canute

Major repairs to Hill Head’s sea defences were carried out earlier this winter – but the sea continues its onslaught. During the Covid restrictions Hill Head beach has become a valued recreational space for hundreds of new visitors, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that it’s a resource that has to be enjoyed with care.

Steel … concrete … timber… This corner of the beach has been heavily reinforced. But as high tide approaches, it’s completely inundated, and the steep shelving means deep water is not far away.

Even in the relatively sheltered Solent, wind and waves search relentlessly for new gaps in our defences. The trees behind this damaged fence have been partially uprooted in recent storms.

Beachside householders have a never-ending battle against the weather

A few yards further along from the new defences, shingle is being clawed from under the earlier fencing by the swirling tides.

This stretch of beach is a popular walk, but its dangers should never be under-estimated. Repairs have been carried out after the collapse of parts of the biggest groyne, near the concrete pillboxes, but as this montage shows, crossing it entails a scramble over steep, slippery rocks. And on it’s eastern approach, selfish walkers who ignore warnings of high tides and try to cling to the fence to stay above the waves risk damaging the structures that protect us all, as well as risking their lives.

Best to time walks for low tide, when wide stretches of firm shingle are exposed. Around high tide, the only safe route is via the signposted stairway to Hill Head Road, returning to tthe beach at Giblets Ore. Less scenic, but less risk of a broken ankle or worse.

Why the “Pong” returned

A recent upsurge in the “Peel Common Pong” was caused by emergency works elsewhere, and has been dealt with, say Southern Water.

And they say there will be further reductions in odour..

Southern Water explain: “Our Peel Common site recently had to take and store sludge deliveries from another site that was undergoing maintenance.

“This took longer than expected but has now completed and Peel Common is back to its normal operating levels, reducing the odour levels.

“Work is also being done on the odour control units which should reduce the odour further.”

The explanation came in answers to questions raised at an online seminar with the Chief Executive of Southern Water, convened by Caroline Dinenage MP, following concerns about Sewage discharges into rivers and coastal waters.

You can see the full list of questions and answers here.

Jim Forrest says: “When I first became a Councillor, I attended many meetings of the Peel Common Odour Forum, at whch Southern Water discussed complaints with residents. A huge amount of engineering work has gone on since then to address the problem, and complaints are now very few and far between.

“But there are still occasional issues like this. Southern Water still keep a complaints line open, which you can find on the Contacts list attached to the Calendar we’ve just delivered across Stubbington and Hill Head.”

  • Many more people are now regularly swimming from local beaches – you can find information about water quality at the Beachbuoy site run by Southern Water.
  • Slide presentation from the online seminar.

Facelift for message centre

We’re delighted to see that the noticeboards near the bus stop and the path to the library have at last been resurfaced.

A big thankyou to Love Stubbington, who join a long list of people who have contributed to this important local service.

The boards were erected in the mid-1990s, when under the Lib Dem administration, councillors were allowed an annual budget to fund local improvements in their wards.

Local funding was discontinued under the Conservatives, but when the original boards fell into disrepair, Cllr Dorrine Burton-Jenkins persuaded the Council to replace the surfaces in 2002.

When those in turn became worn, the Council said they would only replace them if they were brought under Council control, with locked glass cabinets.

That would have ended the easy access that makes the boards true “people’s voices”. Jim Forrest and UKIP Councillor Carolyn Heneghan helped negotiate an arrangement whereby Love Stubbington (Stubbington traders and voluntary organsations) would supply new boards.

The support posts and the ground they stand on remain council property, but without the Council being seen as promoting any commercial firms who advertise there.

Over the years, the local community has used the boards responsibly, ensuring they remain reasonably tidy (former Councillor Heneghan’s work on that deserves mention) and free from unsuitable content.

Solent secrets

We’re delighted to have an expert on the Solent’s wildlife as guest speaker after our AGM. Non-members welcome – the private business session should finish by 7.30 – but please let Sandra know you’re coming.

Tell us when the sea stinks

Hill Head beaches need up-to-date advice to say when it’s unhealthy to swim, says local environment campaigner Meg Lampard.

Meg is urging Fareham Council to install information boards at Salterns and the Meon Shore to warn of sewage releases, and Crofton Lib Dems are giving her campaign full backing. Sewage discharge into coastal waters and rivers has become a major national issue in recent weeks, and Hill Head is in the front line.

The prime need is for the Government to stop dragging its heels and force water companies to act to stop spills, but our beaches need protection in the meantime.

Southern Water’s Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) pipe at Hill Head released as recently as November 2, contaminating the area with untreated raw sewage combined with local run off water.

We’re all aware of the huge post-pandemic increase in swimming, paddle-boarding and other water sports, which now take place all year round.

Portsmouth is working with Southern Water to install powered boards with live information about spills. Fareham needs to do the same to keep our lovely beaches safe to enjoy.
See the full text of Meg’s proposal.

Just for the record…

Fareham’s Revised Local Plan, submitted to the Housing Secretary of State on September 30, proposes to allow the building of more than 1,000 homes east of Peak Lane and south of Longfield Avenue, and 180 homes south of Oakcroft Lane and west of Peak Lane.

Both sites are in Stubbington ward, and in the Strategic Gap, and your LIb Dem team have consistently opposed applications in these areas..

In leaflets delivered before the elections in May 2021, Conservative candidate Pal Hayre pledged:

“If elected, I will oppose and vote against further building in Stubbington – the infrastructure simply isn’t there.”

She was duly elected … and here’s what happened:

From the minutes of Fareham Borough Council meeting, June 7, 2021:

Having been duly proposed and seconded, and upon being put to the vote, the
recommendations (a) to (d) of the Revised Publication Local Plan Consultation
report were CARRIED
with Councillors I Bastable, Mrs S M Bayford, F Birkett,
Miss J Bull, T M Cartwright, Mrs L E Clubley, M R Daniells, P J Davies, T
Davies, S Dugan, Mrs T Ellis, J Englefield, M J Ford, N Gregory, Miss T
Harper, Mrs P Hayre, Mrs C L A Hockley, Mrs K Mandry, S D Martin, Ms S
Pankhurst, N J Walker, Mrs S Walker and S D T Woodward voting in favour … and Councillors J Forrest, G Kelly, Mrs J Kelly, R H Price and Mrs K K Trott
voting against.

Tories and Independents caved in and supported building in the Strategic Gap: Lib Dems stuck to their guns and continue to oppose it.

Lost countryside – for what?

Below is a submission Stubbington Councillor Jim Forrest made to the consultation on Fareham’s Local Plan.

Lib Dems on the Council voted against the plan. We believe the Council should have stuck to the plan they agreed in December 2019 which was based on a lower and more up-to-date assessment of housing need. Large stretches of Fareham’s countryside will be destroyed to meet out-dated and unrealistic targets.

On specific proposals for Stubbington, Jim argued that the Government inspector who will rule on the soundness of the plant should remove Housing Allocations HA55 (1250 homes south of Longfield Avenue) and HA 54 (180 homes at Oakcroft Lane, near Crofton Cemetery.

Jim writes:

“Allocation HA 55, south of Longfield Avenue, is a new salient into the Strategic Gap rather than a coherent extension of the urban area. The proposals are said to include provision to “maximise the open nature of the existing landscape”, but the “green infrastructure” indicated includes a high proportion of parkland, play space and a sports hub. Presentations in Council have suggested a large part of this will be sports pitches or playing fields.

“This will transform much of the area into a bland, suburban landscape, rather than a stretch of mainly farmed countryside – more tha a kilometre wide even at its narrowest point – which changes with the seasons. The nightscape of predominantly dark sky will be lost in a huge increase in artificial lighting.

“The allocation should also be viewed in conjunction with allocation HA54 (Oakcroft Lane near Crofton Cemetery) and with the Stubbington bypass, whose junction with Peak Lane will be light-controlled. Taking these together, the Strategic Gap will shrink to a few metres around what will inevitably be a busy junction at all times of day. 

“At present, all residents travelling between surrounding parts of Fareham, Stubbington, Hill Head and western Gosport benefit from a clear sense of separation, as they pass from one urban landscape, through a stretch of countryside and into another quite distinct settlement.

“That sense of separation will be entirely lost: Allocations HA55 and HA 54 are at odds with the Local Plan’s aspirations fro “the conservation and enhancement of natural and historic landscapes and assets ” (Paragraph 1.2). They should therefore fail the test of soundness.”

Lib Dems have also pointed out the unsoundness of the proposed housing allocation HA 56 on land west of Downend Road.

As well as exacerbating traffic pressures from other development east of Downend Road, the allocation proposes an access road from the slip road between the M27’s Junction 11 and the Delme roundabout which will pose huge problems on the main route between central FAreham and the motorway.