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.

Preserving Stubbington’s “hamlet”

Fareham Council’s planning committee have backed refusal of two planning applications for a total of 190 houses off Newgate Lane.

The site, between the old Newgate Lane and the new relief road, is part of Fareham’s Strategic Gap.

Councillor Jim Forrest and several residents made deputations calling on the committee to refuse the sites.

Jim argued that they would destroy the “country hamlet” atmosphere of Peel Common – the long-estblished community of Newgate Lane, Albert Road and Woodcote Lane.

You can read Jim’s deputation here.

The developers had already appealed because of delays in bringing the plans before the committee, and they will be decided by a Government inspector.

But the committee’s view gives hope that the inspector will also refuse them.

Newgate Lane deputation

Either or both of these two developments would have serious implications both for my constituents in Stubbington, and for the borough as a whole.

Residents in Newgate Lane, Albert Road and Woodcote Lane endured decades of misery as a quiet country road became a rat-run, with non-stop queues of traffic on their doorsteps at all hours of the day.

The creation of Newgate Lane East brought respite, restoring Peel Common as a quiet hamlet where residents no longer needed to fear constantly for their children’s safety.

Within months, they have the prospect of seeing that tranquillity snatched away. Nearly 200 homes will mean hundreds of cars once more disgorging onto Newgate Lane. And the difficult exit to Newgate Lane east, across a 40mph traffic flow, will see a tripling in pressure.

As a ward councillor I’d be bitterly disappointed to see my constituents in Peel Common lose the haven they have only just regained.

As a Fareham councillor, my greatest concern is to see protection for the Strategic Gaps which prevent Fareham’s distinctive communities from merging into one giant urban sprawl.

We are in the middle of examining the Local Plan. If the proposals of the 2017 Draft Plan are accepted as part of that, we could see up to 475 new homes on the land east of the new road. Taken with the proposals in front of us today, that would mean a total of around 650 new homes filling the gap between Bridgemary and Peel Common. That would be a body blow to the concept of preventing coalescence of urban areas.

As well as the core benefit of physical separation, recent rulings by Inspectors have focussed on the concept of “valued landscape”. Peel Common has recently been given added value. A vista has been opened up of tree-lined paddocks, a sensitively restored farmhouse and cottages going back to Victorian times and beyond,

And I think the idea of “valued landscape” is about more than prettiness. It’s about a feeling of place. As you journey between Fareham and Stubbington or Lee, there’s a sense of passing from an urban landscape, through the countryside, to a seaside town. The Strategic Gaps are an asset to all of us in the Fareham-Gosport peninsula, and these proposals for Newgate Lane would put it seriously at risk.

I’ve focussed on two areas where these proposals conflict with our adopted Core Strategy. The officers’ recommendation cites 14.

Ir would be a mistake to risk irreversible damage to strategic gaps because of panic over the housing land supply figures. The projections of housing need we are working on were drawn up before the Covid pandemic. It will be many months before the results of the economic upheaval can be assessed. Employment patterns, incomes, transport usage are all likely to be altered.

While that assessment is being made, I urge members of the committee to base your decision on the sound planning principles that have served Fareham well till now.

Cllr Jim Forrest

Benches of remembrance

Fareham Council has approved the installation of a bench at Daedalus Common to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day (August 15).

It will be a similar design to the VE Day bench already installed.

Stubbington Councillor Jim Forrest passed on a request from residents for a VJ bench which came after he posted photos of the VE bench on Stubbington Matters.

At the online meeting where Executive Member for Leisure Cllr Sue Bell approved the new bench, Jim commented:

“I’m sure my constituents will be delighted that Daedalus Common will have permanent reminders that we have enjoyed 75 years of peace since the end of the Second World War.

“The Daedalus Naval air base made a huge contribution to the defence of Britain and the preparation and execution of operations which resulted in the liberation of Europe. And many Service men and women who were trained or stationed there went on to take part in the equally important struggle against tyranny in the Far East.

“It’s particularly pleasing for the Stubbington Community that those reminders will be in the public open space. For almost a century all of  Daedalus was a restricted area, and parts of the airfield understandably remain so. The creation of Daedalus Common is a huge contribution to residents’ freedom to enjoy the outdoors, and the benches will give them welcome places for peaceful contemplation within it.”

Jim also praised the designers for their innovative “looking both ways” concept.

“It can either offer a small group of people a better space for conversation than a normal bench , or enable more individuals to share it.”

…Two wheels better?

One consequence of the Coronavirus lockdown has been a big increase in both cycling and cycle sales.

For now, this is mostly for exercise, but as businesses and factories re-open, we can expect an increase in people cycling to work or school, either because they find they prefer it to the car for shortish journeys or because of limits on the capacity of trains and buses .

The Government has announced funding to make more safe cycling routes available, and many councils are already proceeding with plans. We hope Fareham in partnership with Hampshbire County Council will follow suit.

In the meantime, we request cyclists to respect the rights of other road users. Most people cycle safely and considerately, but a thoughtless minority don’t give pedestrians enough space to practice social distancing on pavements or share use pathways,, or fail to give warning of their approach.

No safe cycling option – a rutted track, a pedestrian promenade, or a busy, winding road

This can be a particular problem on the Salterns promenade in Hill Head, where Fareham Council has been unable to complete the gravel cycle track from Seafarers Sailing Club to Monks Hill because of land ownership issues.

Our photo (from archive, before social distancing) shows the rutted track cyclists have to use for the final stretch to avoid straying onto the footway – a sad feature on what is part of a nationally recognised cycle route.

Perhaps when the Stubbington bypass is complete the County Council should consider closing Salterns Road as a through route for vehicles, making it safe for cyclists. At present many drivers use it as a rat-run between Gosport and the A27, but if the bypass does the job it’s supposed to, there should be no need for that any more.

Taking vehicles off that road would also make it much safer for families walking to the beach through Seafield Park to cross Salterns Lane safely.