Time for councillors to Act

Dear Editor,

The council, in two different capacities, has effectively supported the case to Save the Camrose. First, the local planning authority refused the Razzak/Basron planning application for flats and a large care home. Secondly, the council objectively decided to list the Camrose as an Asset of Community Value.

In the run up to the local elections, councillors and prospective councillors need to signal whether they support the town’s premier football club’s vision for a much-needed community sports hub.

A new artificial pitch with high levels of usage at the Camrose would be a boost to returning the ground to football but also to community health and happiness.

I would call on our representatives to support social investment as we emerge from Covid and tackle the need for more opportunities for getting active.

Jim Gould, Dummer


Broadhurst Grove and Saxon Way

DEAR Editor,

The history of Broadhurst Grove and Saxon Way is very interesting, with the design and materiality of houses along with the incorporation of the trees and open spaces.

At the time there was a collaboration between the Old Basing community, the developer and their designer. This land was in Old Basing and part of Cowdery Down. Betty Holmes visualised the village-style green in Broadhurst Grove.

Also, the biodiversity area was ahead of its time back then, and it won an award at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London, where they mock-up complete houses to showcase their houses.

The company that built them was David Estate Southern Ltd, who built these houses and all over the south of England.

The houses are nestled with and are surrounded by several different types of trees and ancient hedgerow.

The open spaces, biodiversity corridors and pathways were therefore integrated within the estate design to enable the deer, foxes, hedgehogs and wild animals including birds to move about under the cover of darkness, using the pathways and biodiversity corridors to do this.

Barton Lane itself is a biodiversity area linking Old Basing and Lychpit together, an area of natural beauty.

On May 1, 2020, we had disturbing news about an impending auction on May 21, selling the land in Broadhurst Grove and Saxon Way in one lot.

We were disbelieving at first, as we thought it belong to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, because they had been maintaining the area for 40 years, cutting the grass, shrubs and planting trees.

On making enquiries we found out that it still belongs to David Estate Southern Ltd. BDBC should have transferred the land from open space to public open space as part of the section 52 agreement.

Sadly, this never happened, and 40 tranquil and peaceful years later the situation began to unravel.

Many of the residents are still living here from 40 years ago, which they are affectionately known as ‘the originals’.

Naturally, they were devastated and worried especially as we were in the middle of a pandemic. You can draw your own conclusions on the timing of this, but opportunistic springs to mind.

We informed the residents and raised the money to purchase the land. Two days before the auction we were advised not to by our solicitor, who was given this information from BDBC’s legal team.

The section 52 would be enforced by the council, leaving the buyer of the land with £1. We decided not to proceed, because of the advice given.

The auction went ahead and to our dismay, the two areas were sold for just under £16,000, despite correspondence from the council clearly indicating their intentions to enforce the section 52, which we now know is not enforceable.

We had four opportunities to buy the land, as the land was separated, but each time was advised not to because of the enforcement of the land.

But the residents, who are dedicated and formidable, will continue campaigning to protect the beautiful open space in Lychpit for the recreational, sport and safe play for children.

A special appreciation goes to Cllr Gillian Moore and Broadhurst Grove and we would like to say thank you to Cllr Onnalee Cubitt, Cllr Sven Godesen, Old Basing and Lychpit Parish Council, The Basingstoke Gazette and to Joe Campbell at BBC South Today for giving us so much support to save the land.

Thank you to the Broadhurst Grove and Saxon Way team (Protect the Land group) and to Betty Holmes MBE.

Cllr Sheena Grassi, Broadhurst Grove, Lychpit


Cllr Putty should quit or apologise

DEAR Editor,

Cllr Putty is completely wrong in his assumption the Royals are racist because they ignored him.

I write this as a long time friend and former fellow ward councillor, 20 years with Cllr Putty in Hatch Warren. I was also his group leader for five years and well used to hearing him chastised for lack of work and failure to even read his paper work.

Having been to the Palace garden party, like Cllr Putty, three times I, unlike him, probably bothered  to read the instructions on protocol and listened to the briefing by officers. The protocol says the Royal party comprising 4 to 5 family members will not approach any of the hundreds of guests.

As the move from the Palace to the V.I.P area where they have tea with various dignitaries and ambassadors, they individually stop at various points where  guests can form a small group and chat with them.

In other words it is up to yourself to move to them.

On leaving, guests form two lines for the Queen to process through and  selected guests of special interest are chosen to meet her, I am afraid a Mayor does not stand out among lifelong charity workers, military heroes and world leading scientists.

So having brought your office and that of the Mayoralty into disrepute Cllr Putty, resign or make a formal apology. Next time be careful who you accuse of racist. It does no good to the cause of those actually suffering racism

Philip Heath, Basingstoke


Invest in Basingstoke

Dear Editor,

There is a growing consensus that as part of the post pandemic recovery we should take the opportunity to invest at historically low interest rates in social improvements.

These calls come across the political spectrum, not least from the Director General of the employers’ organisation, the Confederation of British Industries.

Is it too much to hope that our capital rich Council with capital reserves of £272 million might take a lead locally?

Obvious candidates for community investment are the Ice Rink and saving the Camrose as a community sports hub.

There is no need for the council to even borrow. Targeted social spend would hardly dent the reserves.

We should elect people willing to invest in Basingstoke for the benefit of residents.

Donald Herbert, Lychpit, Basingstoke


Parking controversy

Dear Editor,

Some time ago my shop, Squirrels Antiques, had a business parking permit for Joices’ Yard.

This was an “any car” permit, which allowed cars loading or unloading to use the bays paid for by Squirrels.

The bays cost me in excess off £1,000 each and are paid for as a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week permits.

In September last year, my “any car” permit was withdrawn without any consultation or sensible reasoning.

We were told that only cars that were on our permit could use our bays, up to a maximum of 4 cars.

I appealed the decision and even asked our MP for help. Local councillors did not even reply to my request to talk. All I got from the local council was “no, this is how its going to be”.

My thoughts on that were that this is from a Conservative council that are asking the public how to improve the town centre.

Surely this restrictive parking approach is only going to drive business and customers away from Basingstoke’s traditional shopping hub of the top of town?

One of my clients got a ticket for parking in my bay outside my shop at 7pm, whilst they were delivering some expensive jewellery to me.

We appealed the ticket with Tracy Baker, parking manager at BDBC. She turned us down.

So we decided to take it further as we were the only car in the car park at the time and thought it was totally unreasonable to get a ticket.

The parking enforcement officer could have knocked on the shop door (lights were on and it was obvious we were home). He chose to ticket us and leave the scene promptly.

We won our appeal with the parking ombudsman, on short term use in a permit bay without a permit.

Now there are grounds to appeal your parking fine if you used a permit parking bay for reasonable (undefined time) loading and unloading.

Basingstoke’s parking team have not given reasonable time for loading and unloading.

Instant ticketing or waiting just a few minutes, is unreasonable practice.

This gives anyone who has received a ticket, even if they have paid it, the right to appeal.

Parking regimes of local councils has to change if we ever want a vibrant town centre again.

I do hope you will print this, as it is vital for us small businesses that town centres do survive.

It’s tough at the moment and will only get tougher.

Daft council money grabbing schemes will make it unbearably tough.

Alan Stone, owner of Squirrels Antiques and founder of Hampshire Independents Party