Sunday, 31 August 2008

Cut the red tape

The Wrecclesham Parish Magazine popped through the door this afternoon, and I found the most engaging page to be (as I often do), "And Finally...". My mother-in-law would especially like it (I must show her next weekend), being particularly interested in the calling of attention to ridiculous societal and legal red tape, and the proferring of alternative ideas to the juggernaut of central government.

This issue we had both. And the one paragraph of three that I've not stopped thinking about is a different approach to the Olympics. I quote:

Wouldn't it be wonderful if if the ... London Olypmic Games ... scrapped all the current plans, upgraded ... existing sports facilities, ... opened the Games with a simple ceremony involving the Queen cutting a ribbon, ... reallocated the medal count to favour sports in which anyone could participate regardless of wealth ... and spent some of the ten thousand million pounds ... in sports facilities for schools and local communities?

Now, I don't agree with everything here, but it's great to read of somebody thinking more broadly about how we could do the Olympics. By not spending so much money on what can be seen as a marketing exercise for the UK, rather than anything at all to do with sport, we would be putting our money where our mouth is, and actually spending it on our communities, and indeed making a far more powerful and longlasting political statement than any hollywood-quality, oscar-directed, cultural-navel-gazing, money-down-the-drain, corporate-ticket-nirvana opening ceremony.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Litter, litter, everywhere

Looking SouthLooking NorthThursday, 4th September, 6 pm

After my visit to More House School yesterday, I walked back to Wrecclesham along Gardener's Hill Road. It's a lovely walk, and feels a million miles away from the busyness of nearby Farnham and the A31.

However, I became more and more aghast at the state of the litter along both sides of the road. I don't know how many times I've driven along it without noticing, but there a million (obviously I exaggerate, but only slightly) plastic bottles, newspapers, sweet wrappers, shopping bags, drinks cans and other throwaway society items, scattered continuously in the ditches and below the hedges.

So, I thought I'd book some time in my diary to go down there and do some litter picking. I suppose it's arguable that 'someone else' should do it, or that we pay enough taxes. But, I know that those arguments don't really end up with quick action, and in the meantime the situation will simply get worse.

The Big Tidy UpTherefore, I'm hoping some readers might join me at 6 pm this Thursday (4th September) at the junction of Boundstone Road, Burnt Hill Way, and Gardener's Hill Road. I'll bring lots of black bin bags, and if you could bring your own gloves, we should be set. Depending on how many of us are, we may manage the whole stretch. But even if not, we'll have done a good thing.

See you there!

Friday, 29 August 2008

More for More House

More House SchoolIf any of you keenly scan the planning applications I post every Wednesday, you'll have seen one for new therapy rooms at More House School.

Since becoming a councillor some 15 months ago, I've been aware that the school is in the ward, but I've not visited it or crossed paths with any of the staff. So, when I saw the application, I took the opportunity to visit the school, and speak to the Headteacher, Barry Huggett, which I did this morning.

What a great place. The provision for the 340 pupils is fantastic - every kind of learning opportunity one could imagine - ceramcis, music, drama, sport, woodwork, design, photography - so much that is hands-on and vocational, as much as traditionally academic.

As the school prospective outlines, More House "has particular success with boys who have specific learning difficulties/dyslexia, or some associated language-based problem." And hence the application for extended space for therapy rooms, where pupils can receive the attention they need, in the right facilities.

I'm so glad I visited today. You can learn much more at their website, and see the planning application online, or summarised in my Wednesday post this week.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Transition Town. Farnham Florins?

Transition FarnhamHad a good conversation with Finn Jackson this afternoon - over a nice cup of tea. We were discussing his endeavour to draw together those in Farnham who are interested in exploring the future after oil. And I only discovered about it this morning in the Farnham Herald, reading the article on page three, and visiting his website, Transition Farnham.

There's a theory called Peak Oil, that describes how the world's oil production will peak, after which it will diminish because of the exhaustion of existing known supplies, and an expected decrease in discoveries, ultimately leaving us with little or no oil. Transition Towns are communities beginning to address new ways of being and doing, that don't rely on oil, and seek to use more sustainable methods. And some are even discussing using their own local 'currency' to encourage more spending locally.

I guess I should declare a conflict of interest - the fact that I currently contract for a major oil company might mean I may look too rosily on its own attempts to encourage alternative energy sources. But, even so, I do think that there's both a role for big oil to use its unique and powerful position to 'explore' new energy, as well as individuals and small communities to do the small things, take the small steps. As Voltaire said, "No snowflake ever feels responsible for an avalanche": it's individuals who make up the world, and everything starts with just one person, one intent, one action.

If you can make it, do attend Finn's meeting at the Farnham Maltings on Thursday 11th September, at 7 pm. £5 on the door.

I'm (ironically) away abroad (flight, car... oil dependent) on business for the oil company for which I contract, otherwise I would be there myself. Please support Finn.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Planning Applications 27th August 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1477: 14/08/2008
Proposed Development: Application for a Certificate of Lawfulness under Section 192 for the erection of a double garage and workshop for general storage of house and garden equipment for domestic uses. Minadhu, Manley Bridge Road, Rowledge.
E: 482453 N: 143708
Case Officer: Mr R Pearmain

Applicant: W Ramsdale, Rowledge Homes Ltd, 35 Rosemary Lane, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4DD
Agent: R Ball, Charter Design Associates, The Stable, Chamber Lane, Farnham GU10 5ET

WA/2008/1530: 25/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a detached garage. 11 Recreation Road, Rowledge.
E: 482163 N: 143217
Case Officer: Western Area Team

Applicant & Agent: M Payne, 11 Recreation Road, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4BN

WA/2008/1538: 30/07/2008
Proposed Development: Retention of a detached smoking shelter. The Cherry Tree Public House, Cherry Tree Road, Rowledge.
E: 482192 N: 143144
Case Officer: Mr R Pearmain

Applicant: E Roberts, The Cherry Tree PH, Cherry Tree Road, Farnham GU10 4AB
Agent: C Foo, C T Foo Associates, 4 Coltwood Business Centre, 3-5 Pickford Street, Aldershot, Hants GU11 1TY

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

In Her Shoes

We watched a 'chick-flick' tonight. It wasn't my choice - that was made by my fourth-cousin-by-marriage who is staying with us for the week. Instead, I attempted to read the biography of Ian Fleming that I'm dipping in and out of.

However, whilst it's a 'chick-flick', it's also quite poignant, and my philosophical and ideological radar began to work overtime when I realised that the film was less about two annoying sisters - one of whom (Cameron Diaz) enjoyed borrowing and breaking the other's (Toni Collette) Jimmy Choos - and more about forgiveness in all its guises.

And, it doesn't suffer exactly (although it does to some degree) the same weaknesses of other girlie / feel-good movies. It all ends happily in a sense, but in reality most of the characters haven't been reformed, and they aren't now a perfect family. The stepmother still hates/dislikes the daughter; the wayward sister is still happy-go-lucky.

But, forgiveness is shown for what it really is - primarily about, and beneficial for, the forgiver, before the forgiven. In the first place a healing process for the one forgiving, then potentially the one forgiven.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Hark the Herald? With a mountain of salt.

I'm not sure that the Herald could have spun some of their stories any more last week. Over the weekend I've been pondering this as I turned pages and was astounded at the ease with which they had turned simple statements of fact into sensational and solatious bits of gossip. Sometimes, at first glance, this may not be obvious, but the overall spin and misrepresentation / suggestion given by subtle or blatant word use, is a strong one in my view. I'm disappointed, as I work from the default position that the Herald is a quality local paper.

In an effort to counter such irresponsible journalism, here are my alternate headlines and bylines:

In 3rd place (see page 1, second story):
Revised East Street planning documents available for 21 days review
The revised planning documents for East Street are now available on the Waverley website, for review and comment over the next 21 days. East Street Action are writing to Mary Orton, the Waverley Borough Council Chief Executive, thanking the planning team for all their hard work in getting these documents available for public viewing.

(Note to Herald: sure, quote from ESA, but why not also ask them what they will write directly to WBC?)

In 2nd place (see page 2, middle of the page):
Waverley Housing Audit Opportunity
There is much hope that the next Audit Commission review of the housing services in Waverley will result in the awarding of more 'stars'. Much work has been done to improve both the services provided, and the access to those services through direct phone number to departments.

(Note to Herald: why use the word 'probing' with such negative connotations, and quote a complaint, but don't offer residents information of the myriad of phone numbers to ring, or the contact details of the residents' panel?)

And, in 1st place, and winner of the gold medal (see page 3, first story):
Lidl's Popularity in Challenging Economic Climate Leads to Unexpected Parking Fine
With the economy challenging everyone's pocket, it's no surprise that one of Farnham's retailers, Lidl, is growing in popularity, due to its low prices, easy layout, and with free parking. Unfortunately, one of its customers lost track of time and found himself out of pocket when charged the fee clearly displayed at the car park.

(Note to Herald: what nonsense. I realise it wouldn't be as exciting a piece, but why so irresponsibly quote a spurious accusation, and then so weakly - "sought to dispel" - report the borough council repudiating it?)

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Courgettes, French Beans, Raspberries & Tomatoes

I had a great time in the garden today. It's the first time in ages, and I had as my objective the clearing of our courgette and french bean beds, which would enable me to tie up the raspberries better, and allow more sun to redden the very green tomatoes.

It's the first year we've grown our tomatoes outside, rather than in the green house, and it's been a great success. For the record, I'd call myself a sceptical environmentalist, but all the same, I never use to think that growing tomatoes outdoors in the UK was an easy thing to do. I do now.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Olympic? No, black gold.

Black GoldOn the night when the Olympics finished with the customary 4x400m relay, Rach and I are watching a film about a much more unfair relay in which only the final few runners make any money, and the starter gets virtually nothing.

In summary, the Ethiopan farmers - who work in co-operatives, in villages, all dependent on the coffee trade for their lives - receive 200 times less that the retailer grinding and selling their coffee for an americano, a latter, or a capaccino.

Since opening our coffee shop we've strived to everything possible to buy responsibly and relationally, and we believe that buying our coffee through Union Hand Roasted does that. But, watching the movie, we're struck by the drop in the ocean that Union respresents. However, bit by bit, small purchasers in the coffee markets, and small retail purchasers, can make a real difference.

Friday, 22 August 2008

The [Technical] Luddite

A councillor colleague of mine has broken through her 'luddite' (her word, not mine) approach to computers, and launches her own website. Please visit and check it out.

Ten Answers, from Jeremy Hunt MP

Last week, on the day that Jeremy left for China, I blogged about the ten questions he wanted to answer whilst at the Olympics.

Well, his ten answers are now available on the ConservativeHome website.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Planning Appeal Decision

Appeal Ref: APP/R3650/A/08/2071540
Fernbrae Cottage, Long Road, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4EB
• The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
against a refusal to grant planning permission.
• The appeal is made by Mr and Mrs Genziani against the decision of Waverley Borough Council.
• The application (Ref.WA/2007/1815), dated 6 August 2007, was refused by notice dated 26 November 2007.
• The development proposed is the erection of a single-storey conservatory to rear elevation.

1. I dismiss the appeal.
8. I conclue that the conservatory, taken with previous extensions, would represent a disproportionate addition to the dwelling. The development would therefore conflict with Policy RD2 of the LP.

Click here to go to the Planning Inspectorate website, and here for this appeal summary, from where you can access the full documented appeal.

Planning Inspectorate

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Planning Applications 20th August 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1453: 17/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a first floor extension for new therapy teaching rooms. More House School, Moons Hill, Frensham.
E: 484075 N: 142862
Case Officer: Mr P Falconer

Applicant: B Hugget, More House School, Moons Hill, Frensham, Surrey GU10 3AP
Agent: R Ball, Charter Design Associates, The Stable, Chamber Lane, Farnham GU10 5ET

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Press! Press! Press! Press!

Waverley Theatre ForumPress releases flooded into my Waverley email account today, but rather than inundate everyone else, I'll just mention one of them.

It's one about a Waverley Theatre Forum on Wednesday 27th August (next week), being held in the Ben Travers Theatre, Charterhouse. I mention it particularly as I blogged about theatre in Farnham last week, and so wanted to give this a bit of a push.

You can get more details, and information on how to attend, by visiting the Waverley website.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Face recognition, and other stories

A few random thoughts today

1. I sometimes find it hard to put names to faces, especially when out of context. I bumped into a lovely lady in the Wrecclesham Post Office today, who I know I've spoken with at a village meeting (I think), but in the PO, I really couldn't place her name. It happened to me the other day on the train - a regular customer at our coffee ship, and blow me if I could work why I knew her, and why she was smiling nicely at me in familiar ways.

2. I'm still envious of Jeremy. Watching the pursuit cycling team win gold today was the reason.

3. The pile of reading material on my bedside table has increased by one. I received a booklet about Audit Committees, as I joined that committee this year, and the next meet is in a month or so. I'll take it on a flight with me somewhere I think.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Ten questions, from Jeremy Hunt MP

I'm envious. Our MP Jeremy Hunt is off to the Olympics in Beijing. So-called 'Super Saturday' and my brother-in-law's infectious excitement, has made me more envious that I thought I would be.

Today, he's penned ten questions for trip, and they're published on the blog, the home of all blogs Tory.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Speechless? Not quite

This is how I felt when I read a lengthy email thread that I thought said that Surrey Local Committee would not be discussing the Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) at their next meeting on 12th September.

However, I misread the email thread contents, and, it turns out that the AQAP is indeed on the agenda, just probably not with a focus of Farnham, or with associated transport matters which bring the AQAP into specific relief.

Councillor Alan Lovell, who proposed an amendment at the last full council meeting, to ask for an urgent meeting between WBC and SCC on the AQAP and Farnham (yes, I'm trying to use as many TLAs and ETLAs as possible), alerted me to the presence of this issue on the agenda of the meeting on the 12th September, as well as then ringing me up to point out I'd arrived at the wrong end of the stick about it initially.

I'm extremely grateful to him for keeping me up-to-date, and accurate!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

It's been a long week

And not with council work, but with other work.

So, a short post, just to say that sometimes it's hard to juggle everything, and still end up having replied to every email, every phone call, and read every horribly frequent bit of post through the door about council matters.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Planning Applications 13th August 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1384: 15/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a two storey extension and alterations. 23 High Street, Rowledge.
E: 482334 N: 143642
Case Officer: Mr R Pearmain

Applicant: Mr & Mrs H Watson, 23 High Street, Rowledge, Surrey GU10 4BT
Agent: Kerry Field, 4 Hillary Road, Farnham GU9 8QY

WA/2008/1413: 22/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a new dwelling with detached garage. Land adjacent to Appletrees, The Long Road, Rowledge.
E: 482503 N: 143233
Case Officer: Mrs H Murch

Applicant: D & R Bridge, 18 School Lane, Lower Bourne, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3PF
Agent: Mrs Rosalind Hunt, Hadleigh, 28 Tilford Road, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8DL

WA/2008/1414: 28/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extensions and alterations to roof 3 Bryn Road, Farnham.
E: 482691 N: 145045
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: J Parnell, 3 Bryn Road, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4PZ
Agent: Douglas M Blyth, 17 High Street, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4BT

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


Did you know that the British Board of Film Classifications (BBFC) are only an advisory body, and that local authorities are ultimately responsible for classification of cinema releases? I didn't, and I only found out this morning when reading a piece on

In fact, this power is within the Licensing Act 2003.

I'm asking this, as I've been following the debate over whether the latest Batman film should be rated 12A or not. I saw it in Chicago two weeks ago, and it is much darker and more realistically violent than previous incarnations of the chiropteran crusader. Specifically, there is concern that the villain's fascination with knives is inappropriate in light of our growing problems with knife-crime in England's urban areas.

The online comments at ConHome show a balance between (presumably) Libertarian ones which countenance allowing the film to be 12A, and those that would wish the BBFC to take a more leading role in setting standards of viewing and appropriateness by classifying it at 15. I'm with the latter. But I'm not even sure how one would go about initiating any process to investigate reclassification locally!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Aspiration. Inspiration.

FTAI'm going to join the Farnham Theatre Association.

I've been pondering this on and off over the weekend, as on Friday, I was inspired by Anne Cooper and Abigail McKern. Listening to their passion for theatre, the positive impact on a town and its culture, and the potential for youth involvement, I couldn't deny what a good aspiration it was to have a professional, commercial, and successful theatre in Farnham.

Whilst I wouldn't call myself a regular theatre-goer, I have seen quite a lot of shows in London over the years, been to the Maltings a few times, and I used to perform in a light operatic society some time ago (as well as attending tap, modern and jazz classes, but don't tell anyone).

But, it's not that I'm a buff: much more that I was captured by Anne and Abigail's passion and aspiration. And, my support is independent of whether the Redgrave is retained.

I simply like the idea of an active theatre in the town, and all that it could bring.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Ancient Tithing of Wrecclesham

In preparation for the next meeting (on Monday evening at 5 pm at the Farnham Pottery if you're interested) of the Wrecclesham Village Design Statement Group, I spoke with Pat Heather, the secretary of the Farnham and District Museum Society.

Pat Heather has an absolute wealth of knowledge regarding Wrecclesham, and in order for us to properly plan for the design statement we need to know more about the village history. We'll be relying on work that Pat did for the previous (2002) Wrecclesham Conservation Area Appraisal, but in the meantime, I'm intrigued by her comment on an email to me this morning: "... your ward is only one part of the ancient tithing of Wrecclesham - I think you will be surprised when you learn how large it was."

I'll find out some more, and when I do, I'll try and plot the boundaries of this ancient tithing on the ward map I keep on this blog.

If you're interested in the society, you can find our more on the Waverley website, where information is given about the museum and the society.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Our Great Post Mistress

Anne's great. She knows her customers, serves them kindly, and gives great advice. And, she's campaigning against the government's insidious actions that are driving the Post Office to a point of no return.

This week Anne (Wrecclesham PO Branch Manager) has posted to our MP Jeremy Hunt, over 100 objections highlighting the very real threat that pensioners and benefit recipients will lose their right to collect their money at the local post office. I quote:

POCA2"People have a right to choose to continue to claim their pensions and benefits at the Post Office.

Just this week I have heard from pensioners who normally receive their benefits by Girocheque, that they have had letters asking them for bank details even if it is an account for another member of the family! One old lady was in tears saying that she did not want to do this as she still wants to collect her money at the post office.

Another customer didn't receive his Giro as normal last week or this week as his money had been paid into his Building Society account without notification or his permission. This gentleman is deaf and dumb and extremely distressed that he cannot get his money at the post office."

It's time for our government to stop claiming they support local communities on the one hand, whilst on the other they destroy the threads of the fabric of those communities. And it's wonderful ladies like Anne, and MPs like Jeremy who need our support to represent us.

If you want to join the campaign, visit the website of the National Federation of SubPostmasters.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

My Expenses - Now live

I've now populated the 'My Expenses' section of the right hand menu with a summary table of monies received so far. Later this week I'll have scanned in the actual paper submissions I've made, and clicking on the date of each expense claim will show you the exact details.

You can visit the Waverley website to get more details about the rules on expenses, and the allowances that councillors receive. There are various special amounts for responsibilities such as leader of the council, or chairman of a committee. I'm presently none of these!

Planning Applications 6th August 2008

No new applications received in today's weekly update.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Keep In Touch

In TouchBumping into David Munro (our County Councillor) this morning was opportune. He mentioned he was off out delivering our latest 'In Touch', and I decided to check the contact information on it. I was hoping to find that my blog had been listed.

Unfortunately it hadn't - an oversight on my part. However, more of a mistake (my mistake agin) was that I hadn't ensured the contact information had been updated. Both the email address and phone number shown are incorrect. The right ones to use are below:
07894 108040

Monday, 4 August 2008

CA Waverley - Second to none

Wonderful news. I've just heard that CA Waverley were runners-up in the CAB Volunteer Team of the Year Award 2008. In her letter Hilary Watkins (Chair of Citizens Advice) describes this as “an outstanding achievement in a field of exceptional candidates”. Congratulations to all at CA Waverley on a great achievement, richly deserved.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

My Expenses

Coming SoonWith such a miserable August morning, we're quite slow in the coffee shop today, so I've popped to my computer to try and get my work expenses done.

And, it's reminded me to mention a new section in the right hand menu bar that I'll be populating in the next week or so, and then updating regularly. It's going to show my expenses for borough council work. In the light of much attention given to MPs' expenses, I think it would simply be appropriate for me to be open about what I claim with regards to what I do as a councillor.

There are various rules of course about what is a valid claim, and I confess to having to check them every time, as I'm never certain. Mileage comes into it of course, but did you know that councillors can claim for child care? Very sensible I think, although I haven't had to claim that myself yet.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Farnham Herald in the Chicago BA lounge?

If they did stock the Farnham Herald in the BA lounge at Chicago O'Hare (doing my bit for BA in the midst of their 88% drop in profit), I'd have spotted what I've just spotted now - David Wylde's letter in this week's Herald, kindly referencing my blog, and responding to the 6 questions on East Street that I posed a few days ago.

He's really captured the essence of what I'm trying to do with the blog. He rightly points out that all councillors are constrained by a code that persuades against open debate in public. Not that I'm saying the code is a bad concept, not at all, but that the way in which it works out - councillors not being able to speak their minds about major issues, mostly planning, in the borough - really doesn't smack of local and representational democracy. And so, my blog is an attempt to be as open as I can about what I think and say and do, and encourage debate.

BA TailsPersonally, I'm not on the planning committees of Waverley, and so I can be much more free about what I think. My questions are not my only or final say on East Street, and I will post more about it soon.