Friday, November 24, 2006


Library cuts "threaten literacy"

Earlier this month I mentioned the threat to local library services. Yesterday's Hampshire Chronicle confirmed these fears. According to the Chronicle's front page story, the Conservative-run county council is looking at cutting around one-third of 80 professional librarian posts in branches and the Library Service HQ in North Walls, Winchester. As if that was not enough, the book fund could also lose £250,000 from its £2m budget.

LibDem County Cllr Peter Chegwyn, spokesman for Recreation & Heritage, said "This means fewer books and fewer qualified people to advise the public. Many librarians have given years of service to Hampshire and now, at a stroke, we will lose that expertise and knowledge. Hampshire already spends the least per head of population of any local authority in England on new library books and saw the biggest decline in book borrowing (9%) of any county last year".

I find this all very disturbing. Huge amounts of money are being spent around the county converting libraries into "Discovery Centres" and it's becoming clearer and clearer that this development is at the expense of providing the core library service. In the same week that the county council gave itself planning permission to spend £40m refurbishing its headquarters it seems content to throw to the wolves an important public service that promotes reading and literacy. I am not impressed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Park & Ride Latest!

Hampshire County Council has just announced that the new southern Park & Ride will be built on the "Tarmac" site alongside the M3. This is a complete change from their previous recommendation that it should be built off of the Bushfield roundabout. Strong views expressed by local residents during the consultation process seem to have tipped the balance. I welcome this decision and now look forward to seeing what associated improvements will be made along the Badger Farm Road.

From the HCC Press Release:
"The next step will be to take our proposals forward through a planning application. This will be submitted in spring 2007, and will be subject to statutory consultation. Because the development is proposed on land owned by Hampshire County Council, the County Council is able to act as local planning authority to determine this application. If planning and funding approvals are obtained, construction will take place during 2008, and the new park and ride facility could be open in spring 2009, delivering a further 850 much-needed spaces."

Monday, November 06, 2006


Collapse of Hampshire Public Library Services

Respected public library campaigner and blogger Tim Coates has reported on the Hampshire Library Service in his "Good Library Blog". It doesn't make happy reading.
When Winchester's new Discovery Centre opens next year to replace our old public library, will we see as many books on the shelves as before? I hope so, but I fear not.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Winchester - Best Place to live in the UK

Before I forget, here's a link to the piece about Winchester on Channel4 last week. Yes, it is the best place to live in Britain, and Oliver's Battery and Badger Farm are the best places to live in Winchester! OK, Channel4 didn't say the last bit, but we all know it's true.

Winchester Council Meeting and Badger Farm Bus Stops

Oh the sheer variety of a City Councillor's life!

Wednesday evening saw a short, only 2 hours, but interesting full Council meeting. I spoke a couple of times. First to ask a question about the move of the City's Museum Service from the Hyde Historic Resources Centre, I'm really concerned about how this will work, it's a subject I'll return to in a future blog entry. Second, to speak in the discussion on a petition calling for speed reduction in Battery Hill. Hampshire County Council seem very reluctant to take the sort of action necessary to protect residential roads from speeding vehicles. Trying to get 20 mph limits for some of the more dangerous ones is a major challenge; and I spoke to underline the point that the county refuses repeat 30 mph signs in existing 30 mph areas. Roads like Ridgeway in Badger Farm look just like the 40 mph road the driver has just left, but no repeat signs are allowed. What nonsense!

Speaking of Ridgeway brings me neatly on to the subject of bus shelters. The shelters in Ridgeway and Meadow Way are the responsibility of the City Council. In early October, following complaints from residents, I toured the shelters along with the City's senior Traffic Engineer and County Cllr Charlotte Bailey. They had all been vandalised to a lesser of greater extent. The good news is that they were re-painted yesterday! Let's hope the new paint job survives.

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