Cllrs should hang heads in shame

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the letter by Daren Bavister in September 26 edition [Council shirking its responsibility].

I can only agree with everything that he says in regard to the state of Basingstoke. We are beginning to look like a third-world country with uncut grass, overgrown hedgerows, and rubbish strewn around – because it is hard to get to the tip.

When the grass eventually gets cut, it doesn’t look much better, because they miss bits and leave the cut grass all over the roads.

We are the fifth richest economy on earth, but you would not believe it.

The councillors should hang their heads in shame, but they won’t do that because these days there is no honour in politics, only excuses and hypocrisy.

If you go out into the countryside, the hedges around fields seem to be kept cut back which makes a mockery of the excuse that leaving everything in a mess in town is good for the wildlife.

But it is not all down to the council, I have seen lovely houses around town where people can not be bothered to clean the paths outside their front doors or cut their hedge back that is growing across the path. So perhaps we can do our bit as householders and then phone the council to complain.

Francis Henry, Roman Road, Basingstoke

A 'vivid' plan to destroy a park

Dear Editor,

Vivid, in conjunction with Basingstoke and Deane Council, are planning to destroy a park based in Winklebury next to Carisbrooke Close – a green community hub that has been well used for generations.

Vivid held only one public meeting, more like a biased sales pitch attended by 3 per cent of the local Winklebury community. They received only 75 feedbacks from a community of 6,180.

Unproven anti-social behaviour is being used as the reason to destruct the park. Destroying a park to solve anti-social behaviour is a definition of madness.

 Vivid offer to open a new park nearby at the demolished Fort Hill school playing field. It is seemingly generous, but Vivid cannot build on this protected land.

Vivid claim they will increase green space and biodiversity. But in fact, by destroying the local park, they are removing a unique and irreplaceable green space. The community will end up with one less green space, thereby decreasing biodiversity and adding to global warming. Two parks are always better than one.

 Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s support to destroy the park ignores the results of its own community action plan based on 450 household feedbacks. The results showed a priority to protect, develop and maximise green spaces and provide access for all, but the community has continuously been ignored.

Vivid plan to build 400 homes - mainly flats - in an already densely built-up area. Why not consider a two-park solution, which will be far greener and will create a nicer environment for all people in Winklebury?

Most people support a rebuild, but should we not build better for the future? Instead Vivid offer to replace old dense flats with less green space and denser bigger blocks of flats.

Pat Horan, address supplied

Loose dogs at wildlife reserves

Dear Editor,

May I remind commercial dog walkers that they must not walk any dogs in Pamber Forest nor Upper Inham's Copse. They are managed by The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. All commercial activities are banned in these nature reserves. Also, dogs must be under control - kept on leads.

If dogs are very lively and likely to harass other dogs of people walking in the reserve, they  must be kept on a lead, and not free to chase wildlife. Dogs have been seen chasing deer and other wildlife, this is illegal, for which dog walker is responsible and can be prosecuted.

If the dog is aggressive to other people, the person walking the dog can be prosecuted.

Name and address supplied

When writing to our local MPs

Dear Editor,

I’m hearing the same from many people from in and around Hampshire area that when they email or write to their local MP they only ever receive an automatic response, but that’s it. Whether it is Brine (Winchester), Malthouse (Andover), Jaywardena North Hampshire) or Miller, people are telling me the very same – they never get a reply. It has been like this for well over six months.

After all, they have a salary of circa £82,000, plus expenses. For the most part in the last 18 months, the only time they actually turned up at Westminster was a couple of weeks ago when they were ‘recalled’ from summer recess to ‘debate Afghanistan’.

So where are they, where have they been, conspicuous by their absence?

Am I right in saying that all MPs are obliged to reply to constituents? After all, they are highly-paid public servants to serve us – the voter/constituent. Are they not, or has that concept been lost in the last 18 months?

Nigel Johnson, Kempshott

Manmade Armageddon?

What have we done to our precious world?
We’re ruining the planet,
It’s pointless living in denial,
We all will suffer for it!
Blame it on the ancestors,
Industrial Revolution,
Or people in other countries,
Lest we note our contribution!
Fossil fuels producing gases;
(Only when they’re burnt),
We can’t blame nature all the time,
The lessons must be learnt.
I realise that we cannot live
Just like our predecessors,
They cut down forrests everywhere,
It’s time we should do better!
Wind and sea and solar power,
The’re the things we need,
But of course, the biggest problem
Must be human greed!
Dawn Mitchell, Beggarwood

Banning peaceful protests

Dear Editor,

Not many people are talking about the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

But if it passes the Parliament, it will have an impact on all our lives.

The bill gives unprecedented powers to the police to ban peaceful demonstrations outright and to ban ‘noisy’ protests. The definition of a noisy protest includes a protest involving noise made by just one person.

It’s been revealed that the Police Federation was not consulted on this huge extension of police powers. Furthermore, a respected group of former police officers has expressed grave concerns.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, they said: “Echoing the concerns voiced by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and other professional bodies, we believe that this Bill has dangerous and harmful implications for the ability of police officers to enforce the law and for the health of our democracy as a whole.”

If the next time a group of residents, or even a single resident, wants to protest against a housing development or a council decision, the Police could just say ‘No’.

You might expect this from the Chinese Government in Hong Kong, but we shouldn’t put up with it in the UK.

If any other of your readers are worried at the prospect of their right to protest being curtailed, I would encourage them to write to their MP and ask them to oppose this repressive legislation. Or they could support organisations like Unlock Democracy which are campaigning against the Bill.

Stephen Philpotts, 47 The Crofts

Fixing something that is not broken

Dear Editor,

I see absolutely no reason for the upcoming elections bill. It is a case of fixing something that in my view is not broken.

Why on Earth is there a need to provide ID? Whenever I go to the polls it is the same two old ladies behind the desk. It is solving a problem that doesn't exist.

More alarming still, the Elections Bill will allow ministers to define and curtail ‘campaigning’, and in a move reminiscent of backsliding democracies everywhere could make coordinating opposition an offence, and permits political meddling in the Electoral Commission. By putting restrictions on campaigning and cross-party co-operation, this bill stifles healthy opposition.

In our current system, unaffiliated organisations, charities and even the person on the street can be part of the debate, and even stand if they have a deposit to waste. And where independent groups can provide voters with information on parties and their policies.

The real menace to our democracy comes from the fact our national print media not only feels the need to present opinion as fact, but the loudest opinions are also skewed to one side and are often counterfactual. Also, the fact that offensive or untrue statements are allowed to profligate unchallenged on social media - it is everybody's job to challenge these, not the platforms.

This bill has either been dreamt up in response to some sorts of conspiracy theories, rather than listening to the governments' own security services (who only recently published a report on election meddling), or worse this and other Bills reducing the power of judicial review of Ministers' decisions are a completely cynical attempt to keep the ruling party in office perpetually, stamp out healthy (and necessary) dissent and make the UK one of the growing numbers of democracies in name only.

The Policing Bill which banned 'noisy protests' (what other kind of protests are there?) gained significant coverage in the media. The Elections bill seems to have invited silence, and democracy dies in silence.

Robin Sutherland, address supplied