Saturday, 31 January 2009


Flying back from Baku this morning, it would entirely normal for me to guffaw outloud at some comical film that I was watching (last example was Ghost Town), listening on my headset, and then look around embarassingly to see if anyone had noticed.

What isn't so common, is a gasp of horror and incredulity as I read one of the most ridiculous stories in the Telegraph. Apparently Birmingham City Council is no longer going to use apostrophes in its street names, as they are confusing, and difficult to understand.

As the leader in the Telegraph writes, what "a defeatist position to adopt".

May I therefore ask, that if you, like I, are protectionist towards the beauty and history of the English language, and would like to see it preserved instead of butchered by local government, please go to the Daily Telegraph's website and sign its online petition:

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Planning Applications 28th January 2009

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

There's no new planning application for me to bring to your attention today.

However, on the topic of planning and our Waverley portal to associated plans and documents, I know that there's been a few issues the past week or so with getting access.

If you need anything urgently, and you can't find the documents you need, please email me, and I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Email is a wonderful thing

I may be 4 hours ahead, and a few thousand miles away, but because of technology and concerned residents, I'm able to know that in the past couple of days there have been some serious accidents on the main road through Wrecclesham.

My colleague in the ward of Wrecclesham and Rowledge, Pat Frost, was quick off the mark and has been able to speak with David Munro, our county councillor, and the county highways dept, and although I'm sure there's no immediate quick fix, I'm certain that much attention will be given to the root cause of the accidents, and what, if anything, can be done.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Am I really in Aisa?

Because this morning I seriously doubted it:

(a) I turned on the TV, and the first three news stories were: Barak Obama and his first presidential activites; the weekend's demonsration re Gaza in London; job losses in the US and UK.

(b) The shuttle to our offices here in Baku was playing: Spandau Ballet; Enrique Iglesias; and some other modern tune that I recognise but can't for the life of me think who it was.

c) Shops that caught my attention as we drove by: Mont Blanc; Mothercare; Macdonalds.

No-one could seriously accuse Baku of being a clone town, but I was really struck today by the ease with which cultural uniqueness can so quickly begin to be clouded by bland branding, with no local connections.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Caspian Sea

I saw the Caspian Sea for the first time today. It's almost too much for my brain to grasp that as I'm looking East, I'm actually looking over a big (well, enormous) lake, and it would take two days by boat to reach the other side.

Baku is my base for work the next 6 days, and I feel privileged to be here. There's so much changing - a building site (actually a new skyscraper office block or appartments) on every corner - that I'm sure if I were to come back in a handful of years it might almost be unrecognisable.

And so, I'm thankful to see some of the original buildings still here, before they are demolished to make way for modern erections that could be found in virtually any major city.

However, I can tell you one thing - I've never seen a city that knows how to illuminate its buildings so beautifully at night.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Your Local MP Broadsheet Columnist

Just spotted - Jeremy Hunt writing in the Telegraph about the BBC and competition in broadcasting in the UK.

Well, we stopped having a TV in our house about 5 years ago, and I can't say we've missed it. The internet is broadly as informative as the television, and certainly, if used wisely, can be a lot more balanced in reporting news, due to the wealth of news sites / reports that can be reviewed compartively.

Bring on pay-as-you-go TV, that's what I think. There are certainly some programmes we would watch, but if paying a licence fee - and the horrible intrusion of advertising and a terribly, horribly, unforgivably liberal media - is the price to pay, then buying individual DVDs is our preferred option.

Also, I'm with Charles Moore on the licence fee and their Stalinesque approach that accusea all without a licence of criminmal behaviour. Their copious letters, written in the style of court summons, with, in my opinion, language that must be surely be illegal, are awful, and for some people I know, terrifying.

Don't pay your licence fee.
Don't let a TV licence fee inspector in your door - they do not have any rights to do so.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Perhaps my new nickname for PC Simon Anderson, although I'm sure I should check with him first :-)

It's because I've just seen his picture in today's Herald, riding his new electric bike. My father-in-law has one and uses it daily in the summer. I tried it once and couldn't quite get used to it - although my bad memory of it is probably more to do with my wife beating me up the hill home than anything else!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Planning Applications 21st January 2009

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

WA/2009/0009: 09/01/2009
Proposed Development: Erection of a two storey extension to provide annexe. 19 Echo Barn Lane, Farnham.
E: 482602 N: 144314
Case Officer: Emma Schofield

Applicant: R James, 19 Echo Barn Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4NQ
Agent: Massingdale and Phillips, 85a West Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7EN

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Great news

The work on the junction of School Hill, Sandrock Hill Road, and Echo Barn Lane, starts next Monday.

David Munro has just let me know, and he's making sure that full information is posted through the letterboxes of the immediate neighbours to the junction.

I'll add more as I know more, but I'm sure that the Herald will also pick this up next week.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Bumper Book of "Local" Government Waste...

... is what we are very consciously avoiding in our budget plans for 2009/10 (even though the book isn't yet written, I reckon it's only a matter of time). In fact, the past two years' budget have had a phenomonal amount of success is drawing out unnecessary line items that, whilst good in one sense, are not central or essential to the working of the borough, and are needed in order to keep our budget balanced.

This year is particularly challenging for all sorts of reasons, but even so, even with the 'Star Chambers' (challenge sessions where heads of service at Waverley have their budget reviewed in great detail and are requested to submit saving proposals) complete, and the budget drafted, we can still find some items that should go.

Tonight at the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny committee a number of items were highlighted including:

(1) £54,000 for a Marquee Theatre Space; and
(2) £35,000 for headstone risk assessment.

It's not certain these will get removed, but, the whole point of the O&S committees is too provide a rigorous challenge to the plans of the council, to ensure that anything approved is actually required. In our present economic situation, it's only right that items such as the ones above have to be proved beyond doubt to be important for 2009/10, and essential to the carrying out of Waverley's duties.

More news as we get closer to the full council at which the budget - in whatever form - must be approved.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Tea: milk, one sugar

What a encouraging experience I had today of our local water suppliers (or 'water board' in old English).

We stepped out the house at about 9 am on our way to church, and notice a very heavy stream of water eminating from our water meter outside the front boundary. On returning from church a couple of hours later, and noting it still churning out, I phoned the water board.

Within 30 minutes somone was on-site (see photo), and within another 40 minutes, a gang were digging a hole and fixed the problem and tidied up in 30 minutes flat.

Seriously good service. And all for a phone call, a mug of tea (and the water bills of course).

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Planning Applications 14th January 2009

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

No new applications to report this week.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


A few bits and pieces today:

(1) I'm on my way to chilly Chicago, and so catching up with emails in the lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5. It's interesting being here today for a couple of reasons: firstly, that the terminal is amazing, and whilst I'm sure the first few weeks really were chaos, I think it's a pity that news programmes and papers can trash a company's reputation in just a few minutes of video, and yet not deem it important or ethical to restore reputation by reporting on the great job done since. Secondly, the newspapers I'm reading are full of titbits on the imminent announcement about a new runway at the airport.

(2) One of the emails my Inbox contains that I'm determined to get to today, is a councillors briefing from the NO2ID campaign. Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm keen to see repeal of various powers contained within the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, that can be overused by local authorities. This briefing note has been forwarded to me by a kind colleague who believes it will be of use to me, as it relates to privacy of personal data, and the prevention of a bigger and bigger state.

{Note: there have been murmurings in the recent news about amendments to this act to prevent its misuse}

(3) Finally, apologies for a few days last week when I didn't get the blog updated quickly. Manic at work, and I simply had to prioritise family when I wasn't in the office.

Monday, 12 January 2009


Tonight I'm attending the Community O&S committee (right now), and I've suggested that we recommend to the Executive that we increase the community themed organsation funding via the Waverley Community Partnership, by 5%.

Not achieved unfortunately, but, we did as a committee make a recommendation that the overall pool of money available is revisited, in order to increase it specifically with regard to greater increases for these community themed organisation.

There's a few more opportunities to pursue this (Executive, and then full council), so watch this space.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

I'm an M&S man

Yes, I confess it, I'm an M&S man, and today I even managed to buy some clothes on my own, and, when I arrived home my wife approved! ;-)

More importantly though, one could notice a distinct lack of shoppers.

If M&S is being abandoned, I must presume that the recession is biting.

Friday, 9 January 2009


I found out this evening that I'll miss the next Neighbourhood Panel at Weavers Gardens, as I'll be at the Community Overview & Scrutiny instead. It's a special pity, as I'd love to raise the issues of litter and grafitti, particularl blights on our village at the moment. However, my wife will be there, and probably will do it more eloquently and passionate that I.

One thing I'm interested in though - would any reader like to explore setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group? With the best will in the world, it will be nigh on impossible for our local bobbies to organise evening meetings for each small neighbourhood, to which Waverley representatives attend to discuss important issues about the community.

Neighbourhood Watch can provide this framework, led by residents themselves. If you're interested, do get in touch with me, or go direct to Farnham Police Station.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

I'm not a naturally gifted brickie

I finished bricking up our fireplace tonight - hurrah!

However, I did learn that my skin reacts badly to cement - doh.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Planning Applications 7th January 2009

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

WA/2008/2214: 18/12/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of dwelling and garage following demolition of existing (variation of WA/2008/1268). Minadhu, Manley Bridge Road, Rowledge.
E: 482453 N: 143708
Case Officer: Cameron Stanley

Applicant: W Ramsdale, Rowledge Homes Ltd, Bend-Or, Rosemary Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4DD
Agent: Michael Conoley Associates, Serendipity, 9a Compton Way, Farnham, Surrey GU10 1QY

WA/2008/2215: 18/12/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of dwelling and garage following demolition of existing (variation of WA/2008/1268). Minadhu, Manley Bridge Road, Rowledge.
E: 482453 N: 143708
Case Officer: Cameron Stanley

Applicant: W Ramsdale, Rowledge Homes Ltd, Bend-Or, Rosemary Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4DD
Agent: Michael Conoley Associates, Serendipity, 9a Compton Way, Farnham, Surrey GU10 1QY

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

It's good to talk

Had a great meeting this morning with the head of development control at the council, and a gentleman who runs a small charitable organisation in Farnham, helping the lonely elderly. It's purpose was to determine whether a planning application was required for change of use for some premises to which the organisation wished to move.

And it was great. I can't always say that about planning meetings / conversations, but this one was good. It was excellent to openly discuss the details of the intended activities, and to get open and simply worded feedback. Planning can be an intimidating process, and so to have such a face-to-face meeting, putting a personal touch into the process, and removing some of the fear and trepidation of a faceless bureacracy, was a good thing.

I write this as it was an early and encouraging example of the new planning advice process Waverley has put in place from 1st January. A much more robust and open pre-application process, hopefully leading to more accurate and complete applications, and a higher expectation of the outcome being swift and appropriate.

Watch this space for further news on performance on these pre-application measures. But for now, it's looking good.

Monday, 5 January 2009

One week turned into two...

... as I realised how much I needed a rest with my family, and so my apologies to one and all that it's been almost two weeks since I last posted. It's been a lovely time with family in Herefordshire, and a deligth to watch Caleb (our 19 month old) make fast friends with Polly - the 14 year old Labrador -, and Barney - the 6 month old 'Springador' (as I believe they're called).

Returning home seemed so much sweeter after time away. However, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the amount of litter in the streets here in Wrecclesham. I suppose we were spoilt over the holidays, being a few miles from the nearest shop, but I really can't believe that just because we live close to a popular newsagents, we should suffer so much horrible rubbish - mostly sweet wrappers - quite literally covering the pavements.

Some months ago I experimented by announcing on this blog that I would be litter picking along Gardener's Hill Road. Well, it didn't turn out to the be roaring success I hoped, but that's probably more to do with the fact that my blog had 3 readers, one of whom was my mother-in-law in Herefordshire!

This time, I'm going to do it properly. Not sure how, but I'm going to try to organise a series of litter picking activities in the village, and tidy the place up a bit.

{And writing this has reminded me that I need to take a photo of the graffiti that has yet again appeared on the wall at the bottom of School Hill.}