We need councillors, not cyphers

Fareham’s Local Plan could be derailed because of yet another change of mind by Whitehall, yet the Council committee which oversees planning strategy is not due to meet until after the May elections.

The Full Council meeting on December 17 was told that the Government had vetoed a reduction in the assessment of Fareham’s housing need. Numbers would be revised back upwards – just as consultation closed on the Publication Local Plan which had been based on the reduced figure.

The news came days after the Chairman of the Planning and Development Scrutiny Panel told members that its January meeting would be cancelled. No other meetings were scheduled in the current municipal year.

But even before the housing announcement, Panel members were unhappy at the cancellation.

Councillors Jim Forrest and Shaun Cunningham, the Lib Dem and Independent spokesmen on the Panel, had written to the chairman asking him to reconsider.

They cited a number of important and urgent issues which the Panel should be considering, including:

  • The future of the Welborne plan, which is overshadowed by doubts over funding for the motorway junction it depends on;
  • A progress report on schemes to solve the Nitrates issue, in particular clarification on how a proposal for rewilding the Strategic Gap between South Fareham and Stubbington could be funded;
  • The future of our shopping centres – district and local centres as well as the town centre. Threats to traditional shopping were apparent even before the impact of the pandemic.
  • Prospects for improving fibre-optic cabling in the borough to meet the growing demand for online access for work, shopping and leisure – again a trend accelerated by the pandemic.
  • Examination of the Partnership for South Hampshire’s Statement of Common Ground and its suggestion of Strategic Development Opportunity Areas.

Jim Forrest says: “The modern council structure, giving power to a six-member Executive has led to quicker decision-making. But it needs close scrutiny by specialist panels of councillors, to ensure decisions are well thought-out and reflect what residents want. Planning and Development isn’t the only panel being starved of business.

“Councillors are being reduced to cyphers, rubber-stamping the actions of an increasingly unaccountable elite. Fareham needs the support of all its councillors in fighting off Whitehall’s vision of an urban sprawl across the whole of South Hampshire.”

Swans in danger

A local resident has recently reported a number of dead swans in the Fareham Creek area, and they have been found to have had Avian Flu.

Fareham Borough Council’s Environment Department have confirmed to
Councillor Katrina Trott that they are liaising with both the lead agencies, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the
Environment Agency.

Katrina has now received this report from FBC’s Head of
Environmental Health:
“As you know now the swans that died a couple of weeks ago were
tested by DEFRA and the result was positive for Avian Flu, also
contacted and advised at the time were APHA (Animal and Plant
Health Agency) and Public Health England.

“It appears that there was a process in place where DEFRA advertise
the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77, and this is where dead
birds should be reported. They will either come and remove the birds
for testing and/or contact the Council’s depot to arrange removal of
the birds.

“It seems the APHA are only interested in more than 5 birds
and that’s really only for surveillance in the environment and to allow
them to take measures to protect farmed birds.

“Public Health England have informed us that the strains of Avian flu
found in the UK recently pose little risk to human health and we were
advised yesterday that we could put signs up if we wanted to.

“Coincidentally yesterday some more dead swans were reported on
the Cams Golf Course side and we are arranging for signage to be put up as soon as possible now, which will basically advise the public
not to go near dead birds and advise them to report to the DEFRA
helpline.

” We urge you NOT to walk along the coastline of Fareham Creek
where swans congregate and certainly not to feed the birds at
this time.”

Paula Headley, a caring and very concerned local resident contacted Katrina, and DEFRA, RSPB and RSPCA. Fareham Borough Council
is at last producing and placing notices.

Praise must go to Paula who had already placed notices in the area to warn the public, as shown here.