Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Can Superstores be good neighbours?

We have a major, out-of-town superstore in Badger Farm. Most of the time this is a real benefit for local residents (including me, I'm about to go there and buy some sandwiches!)

However, the superstore in question owns several pieces of land around the store and these seem to be getting untidier and untidier. If it was council land I'd certainly have had the litter team out dealing with it before now. When I asked Badger Farm Parish Councillors to let me have their lists of litter blackspots in the parish, they all identified the superstore-owned land as the biggest problem. Of course, most people think the land in question belongs to the Council and blame us for the state it's in!

Some residents in Oliver's Battery have also told me that they've been disturbed at night by deliveries to the superstore. I hope this can be dealt with by sensible working practices by the lorry operators. Planning permission for weekend night deliveries was only granted on a trial basis. In about 3 months time we'll be able to review this and make changes if required.

Anyway, Brian Collin and I have a meeting with the superstore manager this afternoon. It will be interesting to hear his views on these issues.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Pavement Politics

It's a cliche for LibDems, but pavement politics still matter!

One of the challenges of being a District Councillor is that many of the things that people care about are handled by other tiers of local government. This weekend I had a very interesting chat with a gentleman from Oliver's Battery who had concerns about pavements (see above!), the Badger Farm Road junction and the Children's Play Area. I had to explain that roads and pavements are the responsibility of the County Council and that the Play Area belongs to the Parish Council.

Now, I don't mind getting questions about these things and I think I can generally help put people in contact with those they need to speak to. I do, however, find it a little frustrating that the road and pavement issues are outside the control of the City Council. I think I'm moving towards the idea of unitary authorities!

Of course, there are plenty of things that we do run, just wait until we get stuck into recycling and alternate weekly rubbish collection! But that can wait for another day.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


The Theatre Royal - Safe in Whose Hands?

I was at the Local Economy Scrutiny Panel last night and arrived just in time (I'd been at a work conference in London all day) to hear a presentation from the Chief Executive of Winchester's Theatre Royal. It was interesting. She told us about the variety of productions in the theatre, about the work done in youth theatre across the District and the important role that the theatre plays in the City's economy.

Now, the interesting background to all this is that the Tory opposition on the City Council want to slash the City's grant to the Theatre Royal. At the Council's budget meeting last month they proposed reducing the grant by £20,000 this year, then a further £20,000 next year and so on until the grant is reduced to £100,000 a year.

My colleague Simon Cook chipped in a great question last night. He asked the Chief Exec what the effect of a £20,000 grant reduction would be. Her reply was unambiguous. She was certain that the theatre would close in 3 months. The funny thing is, I was speaking to a complete stranger at the London conference yesterday who, when he learned I lived in Winchester, said "I often go down to Winchester, it's such a great centre for culture." Take away the Theatre Royal and you remove a critical piece from Winchester's cultural life.

While LibDems continue to run the City, the Theatre Royal will be safe.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Street Drinking

Taken from a Winchester City Council Press Release, but with comments from my Oliver's Battery and Badger Farm colleague, Brian Collin:

Winchester Community Safety Partnership's Outreach Project into Street Drinking and the effect of the Alcohol Exclusion Zone is now well underway. A full time project worker employed through the Trinity Centre in Winchester is gathering information, opinion and evidence for inclusion in the project report.

The project aims to find out why some street drinkers refuse to seek help for their problems and how services provided in the City by the Council and by other partners may best engage with them and help them with their problems. Winchester's Alcohol Exclusion Zone was launched in July of last year and triggered some displacement into neighbouring areas. As a result this project was introduced to help identify the outlining issues for street drinkers rather than just extending the zone.

Research is focussing on the habits of street drinkers (only a few of whom are currently thought to be homeless) and the ability of local services to connect with them effectively. Wide consultation is taking place with the active involvement of service providers, residents and the on-street drinkers themselves. It is hoped that the project will conclude at the end of March and a report will be produced in April.

Brian Collin, the City Council's portfolio holder for Healthy and Inclusive Communities comments, "I hope we will learn from this study. I don't want merely to extend the zone each time there's a problem. I prefer to think about solutions that don't need us to make new legal provisions and that are helpful to residents."

Shrubs and litter!

Shrubs and litter. Litter and shrubs. The last few weeks have had a certain theme to them.

Lots of issues have crossed my desk relating to the Badger Farm shrub beds. Working closely with officers from the City and County Councils, we’ve managed to get Serco working on pruning and tidying. Some of the work they’ve done looks pretty drastic to me, but I’ve been assured that the shrubs will grow again. In some beds, like the one at the bottom of Plough Way, I’ve also been promised re-stocking with more suitable plants. The whole objective has been to get the overgrown beds tidy and onto a regular maintenance programme. Properly maintained, these areas can contribute a lot to the environment of Badger Farm.

Several residents of Oliver’s Battery and Badger Farm have commented on the amount of litter on Badger Farm Road. I’m pleased to report that the Serco litter pickers responded quickly to my complaints and had a go at the road in early February. I am however concerned that, with extra traffic being diverted along BF Road because of the city centre gas works, the situation could soon worsen again.

Finally, a reminder that Brian Collin and I run a monthly Councillors Advice Centre. It’s at Badger Farm Community Centre from 6.30-7.15 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. If you have issues to raise or questions to ask, just pop in and see us.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


By-election night - 29th September 2005 Posted by Picasa

Full result:
David Spender (Liberal Democrat) 853
(Conservative) 584
(Labour) 56

There was a 46.32% turnout.


Thanks for taking the time to read this. My name is David Spender and I'm one of two Liberal Democrat Councillors for the Oliver's Battery & Badger Farm Ward of Winchester City Council. I was elected in September 2005 at a by-election and am therefore the most recent recruit to the City Council. I live in Oliver's Battery and have been a LibDem (and previously Liberal) member and activist since university. From 1982 to 1986 I was a councillor in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, but this is my first serious move back into local politics since arriving in Winchester some 20 years ago.

I hope my blog will be of interest to colleagues and constituents....and that somebody, somewhere reads it! I'll be trying to keep it up-to-date with news of the City Council and, especially, of Oliver's Battery and Badger Farm.

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