Future of Andover

Dear Editor,

I see that the new ‘park’ by the river leading up to the Town Mills has been completed. The park is very pleasant to walk through or to stop and sit by the river. It seems to me that the Andover Masterplan will deliver much more of this sort of feature to the town, but on a much larger scale. I am sure this will make the town ‘greener’ and a more pleasant environment.

I do, however, question whether this will be enough to revitalise the town centre. People will still do most of their shopping online or in the out of town superstores which will leave the town centre much as it is now with mainly coffee shops, hairdressers, pop up shops, pound shops and the like. I do not object to this and it will still draw us locals, but it will not generate the footfall that will draw in the new and varied shops required to ‘revitalise’ the town. What we need are more people to visit the town.

It seems to me that we do have the opportunity, under the Masterplan, to consider this issue through the Andover Vision group chaired by Phil North (also leader of TVBC). I suggest that anyone with any ‘vision’ above and beyond the current vision of the ‘greening of Andover’ should put them forward.

I have several of my own ideas that centre around drawing in some of the national and international tourists that by-pass Andover on their way to Salisbury, Winchester and Stonehenge (these people are generally out to spend money). The Masterplan will deliver an attractive town, but that alone will not attract tourists, we would need to create some identifiable attractions that can be advertised nationally. Clearly we cannot create a Winchester Cathedral or a Stonehenge but a few smaller attractions could, together, draw in people who would otherwise not even know Andover existed. For example we have more rivers in Andover than any town I know, and perhaps something could be created around part of the river system beyond just being a nice place to walk.

I suppose my first question to the Andover Vision group would be, ‘would you consider planting, on the backdrop of the Masterplan, a ‘tourist vision’ to increase footfall which is essential for a thriving town centre’?

Ed Treadwell, Chilbolton

Burying shame

Dear Editor

Test Valley’s record on waste recycling is shameful and yet our councils consistently bury the news deep in your pages and remain in denial.

Latest Government figures show that the annual waste generated per person here reduced by less than the weight of 2 bags of sugar in 5 years. Only 36.9% of the waste collected from homes in Test Valley is recycled or reused compared with an average of 47.6% for the South East as a whole. This should be on the front page.

And yet Tory Council leader Phil North dodges the bullet by pointing to inadequate facilities at Hampshire County Council. Is it just coincidence that the top 3 councils for recycling in Hampshire are all controlled by Liberal Democrats? When councils such as Eastleigh or Winchester get serious about food waste, glass collection or supporting zero-waste businesses suddenly figures leap. Last time I looked, Eastleigh (43%) was in Hampshire too!

HCC too needs a clear plan to invest in renewables to create green energy.

Liberal Democrats have the climate emergency at the heart of all of our policies. We will target zero emissions by 2035, 15 years ahead of the current vague and unambitious plan. We will rethink public transport, support greening homes, tackle air quality and demand a healthier Hampshire for all. We need action in Test Valley not excuses. We need ambition in Hampshire not empty words. If we don’t take action locally, it will literally cost us the Earth.

David Hall, Test Valley Liberal Democrats

Planning policy

Dear Editor,

Recently Test Valley, in their wisdom voted by seven to four to pass a planning application in Chilbolton for two large urban style houses crammed onto the small site of a three-bedroomed bungalow, and situated on a blind bend on a very narrow road.

The fact that the boundaries of the plot shown were inaccurate and that an extension of one neighbour’s house, which will be affected by the build, and was built many years ago, was not shown on the plan, seemed not to matter. This application was first made in 2018, so this tells us that it has not been without its issues.

At about the same time Chilbolton set up a working group in order to develop a Chilbolton Village Neighbourhood Plan, our parish in balance for the future. A previous government set this policy in motion so that residents could have a say in how their communities developed in the future and many parishes across the country now have these in place.

In surveys carried out residents voted firmly against more large houses being developed in the village and wanted to see smaller units to keep a healthy balance within the village. This is just one of the many policies that the planning committee has chosen to ignore.

This is not a quick process, taking almost three years to come to fruition. The working group had to jump through numerous hoops both at local and county level culminating in a meeting with an independent inspector who had to approve the document and who had the power to alter parts of the document and change policies that they were not happy with.

The final step a referendum in the village was delayed from last year due to the pandemic and will now be held on May 6 this year. The chair of the working group was assured by Test Valley that the plan would be given full consideration given the unprecedented circumstances causing the delay. One has to wonder how this was viewed by the planning committee given that they appear to have ignored many policies in the document.

Chilbolton Resident

Choral Society

Dear Editor,

I thought the choral music loving residents of Andover and our supporters, might be interested to hear that Andover Choral Society (Charity Number 1104982) have continued to rehearse and plan throughout the pandemic. It has been a very trying time for singers with no venue, social distancing, masks etc, none of which are conducive to enjoying live music, not to mention enduring total lockdown. We could not take a chance on the health of our members.

However, in order to keep in touch with everyone and keep our voices going, our brilliant musical director and accompanist, Peter Ford and Julie Aherne, put together a programme of Zoom rehearsals. We have sung favourites from choral works, like the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah, to short complete songs, such as Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart. Our plan is to meet up when allowed, so that we can get together and sing many of these pieces in person. Andover Choral Society have also carried out a virtual recording project which we hope to broadcast soon. However, nothing compares with the joy of singing together in person in a choir.

It is sad that all last year’s performances and the one planned for May 2021 have been cancelled, but we are still hoping to put on an event on 4 December 2021, particularly as this year is our 50th anniversary. We are really looking forward to welcoming back old members and new ones who wish to take part in the uplifting experience of singing some of the most beautiful music ever written.

If you are interested in joining us or supporting us, please contact our Registrar, Alexandra King, by email (alexi.king@hotmail.com) or Chairman, Frances Lynn, (email: lynncf35@gmail.com). We also have a website with lots of information, www.andoverchoralsociety.org.uk.

Frances Lynn, Chairman, Andover Choral Society