Thursday, January 25, 2007

RESPECT Initiative Is All Spin!

I was not suprised to read in tonight's Daily Echo that only one resident bothered to turn up for the Southampton's RESPECT meeting in Millbrook. People in Southampton are right to be sceptical.

Southampton has been chosen as one of the areas where the Government is investing money in combating anti social behaviour under it's so called RESPECT initiative.

The Government has done an amazing job at marketing the Respect campaign. In the local Echo there have been numerous stories highlighting the investment of Government money. It has secured television and radio coverage and Labour politicans have lined up to say how wonderful it is. It was even the subject of a question in last Wednesday's Council meeting at the Civic Centre.

The reality however is rather different to the spin. Southampton City Council is getting £50k to pay for a super nanny. This is a tiny sum of money which I doubt will have any real impact on crime in the City. Bear in mind Southampton City Council spends over a £1m a day!

Typically the extra money will only last for a couple of years and then it will be withdrawn.

Maybe I am wrong and a £50k super nanny is the answer to dealing with low level crime in the City. If this is the case though I wish someone had mentioned it before. If someone had told me a few years ago that £50k is what it takes to sort out the scourge of anti social behaviour in the city I would have gladly supported the Council spending the money. Some how I expect it isn't answer!

Planning Meeting 30th January

The next meeting of the Planning and Rights of Way Panel is on Tuesday 30th January.

Click HERE for a link to the list of planning applications being considered.

There are 2 application in Freemantle Ward; one in Waterloo Road and one in Cawte Road. I have objected to both.

UPDATE 04/02/07: The planning application for Cawte Road was rejected by the planning panel.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

No To Gypsy Site In Swaythling

The Conservatives are strongly against Lib Dem and Labour plans to build a Gypsy Transit Site at Monks Brook in Swaythling.

Providing a Gypsy site is a good thing in principle, however:

1) There has been no consultation on alternative sites. Swaythling residents are simply told take it and don't complain. This is outrageous!
2) It is going to cost the tax payer millions for a site for 12 caravans
3) The roads in the area will need extensive changes and this will cost the Council Tax payers of Southampton an estimated £1m to £1.5m.
4) There are lots of higher priorities.
5) There is a perfectly suitable site already at Kanes Hill.

Here is an extract from the speech I gave to Council on Wednesday on the subject:

There are many competing demands on the council finances. The roads in the suburbs are in a terrible state and are in urgent need of more money, we desperately need a park and ride scheme in the city, vulnerable adults and children in the city need extra funding. So why is the Council planning to spend millions of pounds on a few travellers?

For me providing a gypsy site is important, as many things are but nowhere near as important as these other things.

The site at Monks Brook is going to be very expensive and its also going to cause a lot of disruption for those living in the area.

I sat on the gypsy and traveller scrutiny panel. It was a well informed and some interesting ideas came out of our meetings.

Tolerated sites - on patches of empty ground not near houses, under bridges etc. If travellers stopping on these sites are not causing problems then I don’t think it is a good use of public resources to seek their speedy removal.

However if we are going to be tolerant in some areas which we don’t deem to be really a problem we need to be even more vigorous in protecting sites such as parks and playing fields. We should have a policy of absolute zero tolerance on these sites.

In Freemantle ward we have had had two recent gypsy incursions, one of which was opposite St
Marks school. I did not get the feeling that there was any sense of urgency about removing the encampment. The police by contrast we extremely responsive and clearly do have the powers to act if they put under some pressure.

There is a permanent site at Kanes Hill. Our proposal is that we look at this site to provide a transit site.

UPDATE 22/01/07: I went to the public meeting in Wide Lane yesterday. I estimate that there was in excess of 350 people there. This really demonstrates the strength of opposition to the planned transit site. Until now these people have not been consulted as the whole process has been kept under a veil of total secrecy.

I think it is quite wrong that the transit site is being imposed on a local community without their consent. The Council's cabinet is meeting today at the Civic Centre at 3pm and the transit site is on the agenda. Lots of residents are expected to attend to make their views clear.

Local Lib Dem Councillors in Swaythling have said they are now against the transit site. This is despite voting in favour of it on Wednesday. I doubt however they will persuade the rest of the Lib Dem Councillors on the City Council to scrap the idea. If they don't then the Council will continue to push ahead with the plan.

£1m Boost to Freemantle Community Centre

Good News for Freemantle!

On Wednesday the City Council agreed funding of over over £1m over the next 2 years to rebuild Freemantle Community Centre.

The new centre will in part be used for day service provision for adults with learning disabilities.

Work with the Freemantle Community Association has been going on since 2002 but in January 2006 Council Architects were commissioned to design and cost the work that needs to be done.

We are all keen for these works to be completed as soon as possible. I asked Council officers when we should expect work to be finished and was told early to mid 2008.

Cllr Brian Parnell raised his concerns about the long term use by vulnerable adults of temporary accomodation at Freemantle Scout Hall.

We are hopeful the the investment will be a foundation for the community hub in Freemantle that local people are pushing for.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shirley Road Needle Exchange Not To Go Ahead

Earlier this month city planners gave the green light for a drug treatment centre at 14-20 Shirley Road. The Society of St James was granted planning permission for a new drop in service for drug users in Southampton.

Cllr Brian Parnell and I met with the Society of St James to discuss the application in advance of the planning meeting. We raised lots of concerns such as whether it was a suitable location, whether it would mean increased drug litter in the area and where it would increase dealing in the area. We received some very reassuring answers to our questions.

The site would have catered for the City's 1,400 hard drugs users. However the landlord of 14-20 Shirley Road has decided against using the premises for this purpose and so it will not now go ahead. The Society will now search for an alternative site.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Public Money Should Not Be Given to Political Parties

Coxford Ward's Conservative Candidate, Neil Fitzgerald, has rightly drawn attention to our local MP's mad plans to fund political parties using taxpayers' money.

I find it unbelieveable that Alan Whitehead wants taxes raised to fund the campaigning activities of political parties.

I think he must live on another planet. I have yet to meet anyone who agrees with this crazy idea.

I supect most people think political parties are rolling in money. This may be true of Southampton's Labour Party which is generously funded by the Trades Unions. The local Labour MPs also receive lavish expenses to pay for travel costs and for staff such as press agents and researchers.

The Conservatives in Southampton by contrast receive no external funding and are entirely dependent on the generosity of our local membership; donating money and coming to our fund raising events.

It is a lot of hard work to fund an election campaign. Over the years I have put on my fair share of events, cooking dinners, pouring cups of tea and coffee, printing and distributing flyers etc.

However it is also a lot of fun. I have made some great friends and met some fascinating speakers. Over recent months we have had a number of ex Cabinet Ministers, including Lord Hurd who came and spoke in Freemantle ward to our local members.

I think this is much healthier state of play than Government taking more money off people to fund politicians. Long may it continue!!!

IKEA in Southampton

I think it is fantastic news that Southampton may have an IKEA in the very near future. Previous attempts to site the store here have been thwarted by the planning process and the Government Inspector.

The Pirelli site seems ideal to me for a new store.

The other day I had a letter from IKEA. They are putting on a public exhibition on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. It will be held in front of the Bargate and will run between 10am and 4pm. This is to obtain the views of residents, shoppers and local business prior to them submitting a formal planning application.

New Version of Blogger

I just tried switching to the new (google) version of Blogger. It didn't work though. According to the help notes it could be because the blog is too big. I am advised to have another try later.

I am slightly concerned it might wreck my blog as I have fiddled with the code a bit over the years. I am not an IT expert and I really don't want to lose my entire blog and have to start again...! Any advice is welcome.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Update on Friends of The Field Survey

Below is an update from Cevn Vibert, chairman of the Friends of the Field, on the survey being carried out of local people's views on the future of the former Civil Service Sports Ground.


Not all the forms we delivered are back in for collation but here is a sample of our survey so far.

Survey Choices (1st - 4th place choices):
67% wanted 100% Open Space and Community Use as 1st Choice
52% wanted A Community Hub as 2nd Choice
54% wanted A School merger as 3rd Choice
60% wanted Housing Development as 4th Choice
15% were strongly against any housing development

When asked if they were prepared to lose any space:
59% wanted zero housing development
25% would accept up to 25% housing (some only if it would benefit the community)
11% would accept some other percentages (higher and lower)

Comments verbatim from Survey:-
- A community hub would perhaps stop youngsters roaming the streets through boredom and perhaps it could be a place for families to do things together
- A lot of potential for a community centre for everyone, It will keep youths off the street causing trouble - get them doing sports etc!!
- Answers leaning towards youth but if youth club built times could be set aside for OAPs during daytime hours
- Anything would be an improvement on the present situation
- As the field is large and flat, thought should be given to entrance points (at least two), pathways (perimeter + within), lighting, boundary security (for neighbouring properties)
- Both my children will go through St Marks School, one is currently there. - They need somewhere for sports, athletics etc.
- Children need a play area; adults need a green space to stroll
- Children, teenagers and adults need this space more than private houses with more children and nowhere to play. Play areas are in short supply
- Good Community publicity and fun involvement always gains support
- How absurd even to have to debate this - the St Marks School and any other school/children clubs NEED outdoor space far more than we need housing development
- I am fed up seeing flats being built on every piece of land in this city and need to fight to keep as many natural fields as they are without building on them
- I am strongly opposed to any housing provision on this area
- I feel this should be used as a sports facility for all the community
- I really disagree with this field being built on. This green open space is needed for the school and the community
- I strongly object to the land being used for housing development.
- I think it would be a good idea to do football
I think that every available space is being taken for house building. I find this very disappointing, even though we need housing.
- I think the future generations are going to need every square inch of space and sturdy trees
- I think there is enough building taking place in Shirley at present leave this lovely green space alone
- I would like a casual space like this on a weekend, open to all for these sorts of things (tables, clothes, rails etc.) Car Boot, Craft sales on Saturday all day 8 - 5
- I would like to see it as more of an area that you would want to stroll around with the opportunity to engage/watch sport
- IF pay and play - not membership
- Indoor sports/gym would increase the number of adults using the area, in addition to sports pitches and outdoor facilities
- It is important to keep it for children’s use
- It is vital to keep this area for the school/community. I do NOT want it developed for housing at all
- It might be good to have a small community centre in place that could act as a base for outdoor activities
- It would be a callous use of land if built on. This community needs more spaces for leisure activities
- It is hardly a campaign to "save" the field when nobody has been able to use it for so many years!
- Just leave some a green area with some indoor venue
- My sister attends st marks and enjoys using the field and I hope to
- Once lost forever lost - what about our kids fitness and future
- Open Spaces in towns are so precious - Do not lose this one!!

- Loads of Grandchildren who would use this one
- Please could we keep this a dog free area?
- Please do not let Bovis homes win, we are fed up of them building flats in every space they find
- Please keep the green spaces - once you have left them to housing/building development - it is gone forever
- Safe local facilities which our teenagers and younger get to on foot or bike with staff on site
- Sense of community needs to be reinforced; more homes would not enable this to happen, what about infrastructure needed? Doctors, utilities, etc
- Southampton needs some open spaces
- The area is one of the few in a highly populated area. It is an oasis for children + adults. For school and homes, possibly for all
- The building should be designed for people to come communicate and should have a kitchen facility where people can use for parties, have a set fee for use, bar, creche
- The character of the area is changing, not for the better. Overdeveloped, no parking, no green space - we need green areas for all ages to develop healthily
- The community is crying out for an area for children to play especially older kids to reduce boredom which leads to antisocial behaviour
- The exceptionally high rate of building within this suburb needs green space for the residents to access and enjoy
- The Field should stay as is
- The field should stay green.
- The infrastructure will not support access to housing
- The last thing we need are more blocks of flats
- The space should be maintained as an open space with a strong focus on the young
- There are few areas where children can play safely locally - this would be an ideal site
- There is already far too much housing development in the area.

- Children (young) are forced to play in the street outside our house. This is unsafe
- There is enough in filling development in Southampton. Essential to preserve some green space
- There is nowhere for older people to relax in, it would be nice to see a seated area, plus children play area
- This is a densely populated area, small children and teenage need outdoor play space
- This is a green lung for this area we must look 100% at saving it - a park would be fantastic.
- This is a valuable piece of green
- To much land is used to build housing, although needed, so are leisure facilities.

Indoor Activities listed:-
A Youth club for older children would be great, including basketball, squash, badminton, pool, etc
Any activity which would be acceptable to the residents living in very close proximity to the field
Any sports, parent meetings, etc.
Anything that would be useful for the community sports leisure
Badminton, basketball
Badminton, squash courts, etc
Badminton, squash, kiddies club, gym tots, bar, cafe
Badminton, tennis, community events
Ball pool, ice rink/roller rink, climbing walls
Bowls, Keep Fit, Netball, Basketball, Judo
Bowls, rounders, cricket
But I think there should be an area indoors
changing facilities, social club
Childrens playgroups etc
Club House, Toilets, Changing Facilities
Community Buildings for groups
Community centre
Community centre, activity centre for the public
Community for children of all ages
Community sports
Community use, adult education and family education, social events, a meeting place for mums & dads with young children, a cafe
connected to community activities e.g. Youth club, OAP drop in centre, mother and baby club, etc
Cricket and football
Don’t mind
Five aside football, badminton, basketball, sponge pit for tumble tots - mothers get together
Football or tennis or snooker or badminton or boxing
Football, badminton, youth club
Football, basketball, tennis, etc.
Football, bowling
Gym / Indoor Sports, Adult Education
Gym, Indoor Tennis, Any other type of sport
Gym, Indoor Tennis, Any other type of sport
Ice skating
Indoor Sports / Community Centre
Indoor sports/rec
Indoor Swimming Pool
Leisure for teens
Playing games
Possible sports hall which school and community can use?
Possibly a Sports Hall
Provision for young people e.g. Table tennis, snooker, indoor 5-a-side style games
School Sports Day
Similar to Oaklands
Skating Rink
Small sports hall for basketball/badminton/five-a-side football
Snooker, dance, general things lads and young people are interested in
Sport and leisure facilities or school buildings
Sports and an after school club or any community use
Sports and archery
Sports and community activities
Sports and social for area
Sports Centre
Sports facilities
Sports Hall
Sports hall
Sports Hall
Sports hall
Sports Hall, ideally including a swimming pool
Sports like swimming for ladies
Sports or youth club for younger people
Sports such as badminton, table tennis, gym
Sports, community classes
Sports, Community Events
Sports, music, community groups
Sports, youth activities
Sports, Youth Club Coffee Bar, Juke Box
Sports/music hall
Squash and bar
Swimming pool, gym, amateur dramatics, disco
Swimming pool, gym, amateur dramatics, disco
table tennis, pool, etc
Table tennis, gymnastics
Table tennis, squash, gym, gymnastics, childrens activities
Tennis and squash
Tennis, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Gymnastic
Tennis, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Gymnastic
Those that can be enjoyed by the whole community - not just sporting or keep fit activities
Toilets, Facilities for car boot, etc
Use buildings as changing rooms for schools + toilets
Youth centre for teenagers - indoor sports
Youth Centre, Sports Hall,
Youth club, community centre
Youth club, basketball, pool, indoor football, squash courts, meeting rooms for clubs, keep fit

Outdoor Activities listed:-
Across the sporting board, with in-situ equipment such as goal posts that can be adapted for a multitude of sports
All Sports
All sports i.e. Football, cricket
All sports, including tennis, adventure playground, and death slide, etc! A ball pit for young children
Along the lines of what is used for already - school, community, etc
Any for children
Any games or sports
Any sports facilities
Anything for sports
Anything that would be useful for the community sports leisure
Athletics, Car Boot Sales, Funfairs, BMX/Mountain Bike Track, Skateboard Ramps, Permanent Football Goals
Athletics, cricket, football, etc
Athletics, skating
Basketball, football
Basketball, football
Bowls, rounders, cricket, tennis
childrens play area with swings, etc
Childrens Play area, football, rugby, cricket
Childrens play area, wildlife are/environmental studies
Community & school & sports
Community Activities
Community Gardens/Park Running Track, Nature Area, Playground, Activity Area, Dog Walking
Community tennis courts, real football goals, not a playground
Cricket, football
Cricket, Football, Bowls, Croquet
Cricket, hockey, tennis, running track
Encourage football. Put safety net around the perimeter for other casual sports Build roller board facility (to keep kids off streets). At weekends for adult sales, car boot, craft fayres to fund facility
Football etc
Football field, sports training ground, netball, hockey, basketball
Football in winter, Running Track (summer), plus swings etc. for younger children
Football or rugby or tennis or golf or pitch & putt or crazy golf or skateboarding
Football pitch (suitable for cricket in summer) & childrens playground (toddlers to early teens) + tree planting + landscaped gardens
Football, basketball
Football, basketball, cricket
Football, basketball, volley ball
Football, benchball, dodgeball
Football, Cricket & Bowling Green
Football, cricket, and an outdoor play facility for younger children
Football, Cricket, Athletics, Rugby
Football, Cricket, Bowls, Tennis, Schools Sports Day, Community Fairs
Football, Cricket, Bowls, Tennis, Schools Sports Day, Community Fairs
Football, Cricket, Climbing Frames
Football, cricket, netball, athletics, tennis, use for St Marks outdoor activities
Football, cricket, rugby, rounders, athletics, tennis, fetes
Football, Cricket, Running Track, Play Area for small children
Football, cricket, swings
Football, etc
Football, Hockey
Football, Hockey, Basketball, Netball
Football, netball, tennis, cricket, athletics, skateboard park, BMX track, childrens adventure playground
Football, play area, tennis
Football, Race Track, Rounders, netball, open days (car boot)
Football, rugby
Football, rugby, cricket, tennis
Football, rugby, tennis, rounders, cricket, play areas, outdoor gym, equipment i.e. wooden bars, etc, landscape area + seating
Football, sports days
Football, tennis courts, cricket
Football, tennis, athletics, etc, kids play area
Football, tennis, basketball, pool
Football, tennis, cricket
Football, Tennis, Rugby, Hockey, Bowls, Track/Field
Football, swimming pool, sports facilities, running tracks, etc
Fundays, football, school pe
Games, a fitness course (as one has been removed from common)
General sport, e.g. Tennis, rugby, football
Hide and football, football, sports day
Hockey, Netball, Athletics, Football, Tennis
Netball, hockey
Netball, hockey
Outdoor games football, tennis, hockey, etc
Park, Playground, Public Sports, Cycling Track
Pitches for rounders, cricket, football, etc, tennis
Recreation, sports, children playground
rounders, cricket, tennis
Rounders, cricket, tennis
rounders, tennis
Running Track, football, tennis, field sports
Running track, garden type space, open field, natural but some walking space
Running track, paths + plants
Running, rounders and football
School can use these facilities
School PE use. Any outdoor Activities that children need
School Sport, possibly open to the general public (after school hours)
School sports use
School sports, football, rounders, athletics etc.
Small area of childrens playground - swings slide climbing frame etc
Sport - football, tennis, most import this is a childrens park
Sport, recreation
Sports activities
Sports and recreation, community outdoor activities
Sports and special events i.e. charity events
Sports community events
Sports or youth club for younger people
Sports pitches, open space for community use, dog walking
Sports, athletics, football, cricket, tennis, etc
Sports, Athletics, Games, Children Playground (safe)
Sports, community activities
Sports, community events
Sports, Football, Training
Sports, leisure facilities for community groups
Sports, particularly for young people
Sports, playground, nature pool
Sports, swings, etc
Sports, Swings/Slides
Sports, tennis maybe, all sports
Swimming pool, tennis courts, football
Tennis, cricket, football
Tennis, cycling
Tennis, Football
Tennis, football
Tennis, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Gymnastic
Tennis, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Gymnastic
Tennis, Walking Area, Green Play Area
Those that can be enjoyed by the whole community - not just sporting or keep fit activities
Various sports, boot sales, community functions
Walking, Jogging, Cricket, Cycle Track, Football, Tennis, Outward Bound type assault course for children/adults

Christmas tree collection and Christmas card recycling

You can leave your tree at the boundary of your home on the same day as your domestic waste collection, between Monday, January 8 and Saturday, January 13. They will be turned into much-needed mulch for the city parks and open spaces. Christmas cards can be put in your kerbside recycling bins but not Christmas wrapping paper unfortunately.

If you are interested in supporting the Woodland Trust drop your old Christmas cards in collection boxes at Tesco, TKMaxx and WHSmith. They will be there until Wednesday, January 31. Funds raised will be used to plant and maintain woodlands.