What democracy?

Dear Editor

A “decision” snuck out of the council office last week in the form of a Draft Traffic Order to finalise parking charges at Eastrop Park with just seven days’ consultation.  

The new Order reduces the parking charges at Eastrop Park but still establishes the principle of charging for access to our open spaces.

This is my local park.  I am already working out where else I can drive so that my little girl can cycle safely – I will not be alone - this is human nature.  

Parking charges disadvantage access for families/carers with children, some older people, the infirm and those on a low income.

And the fact that some people park there and do not use the park is selfish but true – however, there are not enough of them to fill the car park, so is there really a parking problem for park users?  Of course, the answer is “no” – although we should be delighted that the council has finally come clean about the revenue raising attractions of this proposal.  

This Draft Traffic Order was issued on Thursday morning – after the Gazette went to print – with just seven days’ consultation – to expire the day that the next edition of the Gazette is published.

This offers no sensible timeframe for public consultation.  
As a commenter on the last proposal, I was not sent the decision by the Council – instead my local Councillor had to send it to me – thus delaying it further.  

Given that there were 132 responses to the last consultation, plus 98 signatories to the Model Boat Club’s objection, this quiet announcement plus the very short consultation period smacks of dirty tricks to force the decision through. It comes hot on the heels of last week’s Council decision to reject the motion for greater public scrutiny of Member Advisory Panels meetings held in camera by councillors.  

This refusal to even publish minutes was despite the Mayor, Onnalee Cubitt pointing out that there is a requirement for public accountability.  This quiet suppression of democracy cannot continue. 

Paul Basham, Basingstoke

Plans below par

Dear Editor

In response to the Gazette's latest update regarding the new houses that are to be built on the site of the Basingstoke Golf Course.

Many of your readers will already be aware that the relentless 'urban sprawl' to the south west of the borough was to be continued with an extra 1,000 houses on Kempshott Park. However, Basingstoke has already grown so much that the existing facilities can barely cope.

The North Hampshire Hospital do their very best, but we all know how difficult it is for them with not enough doctors and nurses to look after us all.

Basingstoke Golf club has been in existence on its present site at Kempshott Park since 1928, and for many years has been the most prestigious Golf Club in the area. It has been an excellent 18 hole Parkland course with a long and varied history. The course was designed by James Braid who was one of the top golf course architects of the early part of the 20th Century. He also won the British Open Championship on five occasions. Prior to 1928, Kempshott Park and the nearby Kempshott House were the home of the Gourlay family who had their own private 6 hole golf course there. The daughter of the family was Miss Molly Gourlay who was the Ladies English Women's Champion in 1926.

As I continued to read through all the latest news regarding the forthcoming plans for Dummer G.C. it became clear that Dummer was being looked upon as being below standard in some ways and that the course was 'too easy'.

I wish to remind readers that the course at Dummer was designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark who were both golf professionals with a long and successful playing career.

Later in their lives they worked together to design quite a few golf courses including Dummer.

Sadly, Peter Alliss passed away quite recently and cannot reply to the criticism of his work.

Had he been able to do so I feel sure that he would have done so in an accurate and highly entertaining manner! In his absence I feel that I must briefly add a few points in support of the quality at Dummer. The course occupies a fine position with excellent drainage, therefore players can usually enjoy all year round golf without the fear of finishing their round with muddy golf shoes. Also, as the course is sited on a fairly elevated position it is frequently affected by the wind, hence many holes become tricky to play as golfers have to deal with strong cross winds.

For the last five years or so the greens at Dummer have been in excellent condition throughout the year.

This is all thanks to Alan King and his staff and all their hard work. Most of the greens have slopes and undulations, and so holing long putts requires quite a lot of skill.

The amount of changes that are planned will certainly cost millions of pounds, and I am sure that it will all be carried out in a thorough and professional way. Sadly though, the Basingstoke district will have one less golf course and in return have 1,000extra houses that the majority of people do not want.

Melvyn Hills, Kempshott

Wartime research

Dear Editor,

I have been researching the town war memorial for a number of years and one or two articles’ have appeared in the Gazette of me and my research around the 1914 100 year anniversary.

From these people did come forward with information but I am always in need of more.

I have written two books, the two covers are attached but are subject to change, one on each of the wars, 233 names First World War and 141 names Second World War.

If all goes according to plan both books will be published at the beginning of November.

I would like to ask if I could make an appeal through the paper for any information about the Second World War Names, as I have never done so before and especially as time is running short.

I am especially after information on several names of both wars that remain unidentified.

From the Great War:

P Dear (not to be confused with PE Dear)

F. Elliott

J. North

E. Roberts

From the Second World War

Corporal S.F. Clark

C Clark

D Clark

Boy 1st Class E.D. George (possibly Navy)

A Kelly

Private A A Ward.

I have found someone who appears to be the right person but then the army says they are not dead.

I appreciate any help.

David Stewart, Basingstoke

MPs are not alone

MPs are not alone

Dear Editor,
We were all shocked and saddened by the brutal murder of Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP for Southend. 
Our condolences go out to his family, friends and constituents who lost a good and accessible constituency MP. 
As one commentator pointed out, his accessibility and dependability became his vulnerabilities. 
 Unfortunately, MPs are not alone in being targeted. Both their staffs and also local councillors are subject to harassment, abuse and worse whether online or often in person. 
This approach is often stoked up by those who cannot win their arguments democratically either by evidence or appeal to our strong British liberal values.
If we want to prevent more of these attacks, as in last five years we have also lost the Labour MP Jo Cox, we need to do more to call out and combat those who wish to do our democracy harm by attacking our elected representatives. 
We need to do more to encourage diversity and inclusivity in our representatives and this will not happen if their working conditions are so fraught with risk. 
I do hope that decency and competence win over, and those that want to go out and make the world a better place by non-violent and democratic means, whatever their political persuasions, triumph over those who peddle abuse and hate.
Cllr Luigi Gregori, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson, North West Hampshire

Will it be any COP?

Dear Editor,
After the petrol crisis caused the panic buying hysteria that led to record breaking queues at gas stations resulting in garages running dry and forced to close, I am in agreement with the Environment Minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith’s statement that the shortages highlight the need to end our dependency on fossil fuels.
It’s not just petrol but the gas price rises that everyone is struggling to pay including businesses. 
In recent weeks the gas price crisis has also shown us how vulnerable our dependency on fossil fuels is making us. 
The solution to petrol crisis, gas price crisis and climate crisis are the same - a just transition to sustainable renewable energy. Granting new oil and gas projects won’t do anything to ease these crises in the short term and will only lead to more climate devastation.
We will have to wait and see what plans Boris Johnson and the UK Government come up with at UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and how many of those plans will be fulfilled.
Jeannette Schael, Tadley