Blow to bright youngsters

One effect of Brexit is that students from the UK will no longer be able to take part in the Erasmus exchange scheme which enabled them to study at universities in Europe.

The Government is proposing the alternative Turing scheme, enabling exchanges with universities in other parts of the world, but details and funding ar not yet clear.

Focus team member John Hoar has written to Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage protesting at the withdrawal from Erasmus. John writes:

Dear Caroline

The EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement (1,246 pp) could not have been properly scrutinised in Parliament in such a short time. It raises the likelihood of a whole range of errors and omissions being discovered years hence.

Although the Agreement did not mention Erasmus by name, I understand that the UK will not participate further, to be replaced by the Turing Scheme. Yet in January 2020 the Prime Minister said that we would remain a partner. I was a lecturer to many European students, including Erasmus students, at Southampton Solent University and City University, London.

Although the net cost was cited as the reason for leaving Erasmus, we all know that where there is political will, money is found. So we are left wondering the real reason why the Government doesn’t want to continue with Erasmus.

This seems similar to the decision by Cameron to deny 16 and 17 year-olds the vote in the 2016 Referendum, i.e. but it is their future! Shamefully, Cameron thought it might set a precedent for general elections, because of young people’s support for Labour. (Tim Shipman, All Out War, p89). How do you sell these ideas to the Young Conservatives?

One interpretation for the decision to quit Erasmus is that the Government is trying to minimise the interchange of bright young people between the EU and UK.

If this is the case, then it is a particularly mean-spirited and isolationist decision, unless you can convince me that there are more worthy reasons.

Sending exchange students overseas by air is contrary to efforts to stem climate change, when there are excellent European universities a train ride away.

Guarding our shops

Councillor Jim Forrest persuaded Fareham Council to alter Stubbington’s retail status from its previous “Local Centre” to “District Centre” in the debate on the Draft of the Publication Local Plan on October 22.

We won’t see any changes to the village as a result of the change in definition – and that’s precisely why we asked for it.

Jim says: “My aim was to give Stubbington increased protection under the section “Strategic Policy R1” in the draft plan, which says: ‘Any development that would significantly harm the vitality and viability of a defined centre or small parade will not be permitted’.

“The definition of District Centres includes providing ‘…day to day food and grocery shopping facilities…’. The definition of Local Centres does not.

“Stubbington’s shops are the main suppliers of daily needs for many hundreds of people. We saw that spectacularly demonstrated during lockdown, when our local shops stepped up their game, and gave a lifeline to people who could not travel to the big supermarkets, or access their online delivery services.

“I wanted to help protect the future of our local shops against possible developments which might threaten them, by tightening the criteria against which councillors or planning inspectors will measure planning applications.”

Jim’s motion was carried unanimously at the Council meeting, meaning it was supported by all parties and by all the Stubbington and Hill Head councillors.

But Jim Forrest points out: “It remains a proposal, not a done deal, until residents have had their say.

“A public consultation on the Local Plan opens on November 6. Please watch for the edition of Fareham Today which you’ll be getting shortly, and follow the explanatory material about how to comment when it goes on the Council’s website.

“It’s not a simple process, it’s a huge, detailed file of documents, but if you want your views heard by the Government inspector who will rule on the plan, it’s worth taking the time.

“And in the meantime, if you want our shopping centre to thrive, vote with your feet, shop local, and let’s live up to the title of our local traders’ and community group:

Love Stubbington.

Blooming well done

The open space at Puffin Crescent is looking a lot brighter, thanks to local residents and business.

Allan Priestley asked Councillor Jim Forrest if residents could plant flowers at the edge of the green, which was being ploughed up by cars parking or turning.

Jim put them in touch with Fareham Council’s gardens chief, the idea was approved, and Allan went to work with neighbour Graeme Sign, helped by a donation of plants from The Fruit Basket in Stubbington Green.

Allan, left, and Graeme show the finished flowerbed

Jim Forrest says: “Well done Graeme, Allan and The Fruit Basket. We’re really lucky in Stubbington to have so many people prepared to dig in and keep our vilage beautiful.”

A word of thanks to our sponsors…

Over-grown Tree

While attending our Saturday stall in the village, the Ad Lib team noticed that people waiting for the bus were having to duck under the over grown tree as they rosde from the bench.

Jimmy asked the council if they could prune it back, and they’ve now done so.

Christmas crunch Update

Jimmy Roberts of the Ad Lib Focus team has asked Hampshire County Council if they have plans to replace the damaged bollard and railing.

Hampshire County Council Have now replaced the damaged railing and bollard.

The restored barrier (above) and bollard (below)
How they looked last winter

Preserving our wildlife

Bob Seymour and Jimmy Roberts explore concerns about the over-exploitation of the shellfish on the Solent shore.Click on the image to view video.

Since 2010 the Solent fishery has been declassified for commercial activity because water quality has been considered unsafe. 
From 2014 the native oyster fishery for the whole of the Solent was closed because of the collapse in the population.

Many of us in the area will have enjoyed collecting a few Cockles for our families.
 But it’s a totally different vision to see large numbers of people go out on the shingle with large bags and buckets and sweep the area clean of everything that is alive.

Police believe some of the people involved may be controlled by gang-masters in a version of modern day slavery. We’d clearly wish to stamp out such inhuman exploitation.

Some legislation already exists to help prevent over-exploitation of the food source, through the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations of 2006.

But what is really required is a long term strategy to protect the resource this sea-life represents. 
Seabird numbers are in decline, largely because of a noticeable reduction in food supply.

One way to halt that decline might be some form of ban on shellfish and bait digging along our foreshore between the Hamble river and Lee beach. 

Closed seasons, between March 1 and October 31, already exist for shellfish in the Portsmouth area.
 A Special Nature Conservation order has been in place for many years in Fareham creek prohibiting commercial bait digging.

Crofton Lib Dems are studying what measures might be possible and we’ll report back.