Online public meetings

Over the past few months, many of us have become accustomed to holding meetings online using the various technologies available and it seems a common view that these meetings have been surprisingly productive.

If nothing else, this morning’s HCS Committee Zoom meeting served to reinforce our lack of diversity! (Expect to hear more of this in due course.)

One particular benefit noted is that these online meetings encourage active participation from a wider cross section of the community than might have been served by traditional on-site meetings. As such, we welcome last week’s HBC Cabinet meeting discussion on the use of online technology for forthcoming public meetings. So much so that we’ve written to HBC offering to help them with their testing of the technology with a public audience. Their stated plan to have ‘Cabinet and other public meetings’ opened online to the public by the mid-October is fairly aggressive, but is to be welcomed.

Warblington Farm – HBC flying under the radar

The Covid-19 situation seems to have given Havant Borough Council more excuse than usual to fly under the radar, with meetings held away from the public gaze and a distinct lack of scrutiny.

On the back of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s initiative’ on nitrate mitigation, it was obvious that Havant Borough Council were intent on looking for opportunities to play the same game. In common with many of the Solent district and borough councils, for example Eastleigh and Fareham, Havant Borough Council actually own much of the farmland on their patch, leasing it back to tenant farmers. Warblington Castle Farm has been the home of S.H.Young & Son Ltd, the dairy, for as long as many of us can remember, the old yellow electric milk float once a regular nocturnal sight on the town streets.

The heavily redacted documentation from the Council Meeting held on June 3rd didn’t do much to reinforce trust between HBC and local residents’ groups. The multiple references to ‘Warblington Farm’ which could be found by scanning its superficially blacked out pages proved suspicions that HBC were about to do a Little Duxley Farm job on our very own Warblington Castle Dairies.

On September 9, during Prime Minister’s Questions, our incumbent MP asked his PM to  “join me in thanking the farmers in Havant for the contribution they make to our country and our prosperity.” We assume he was referring to the contribution that Henry Young has been persuaded to make, giving up his livelihood so that Havant Borough Council can reap the benefits of the nitrate credit harvest.

The trouble is, we’re not convinced that the maths stacks up. The cashflow analysis of the Warblington Farm Nutrient Mitigation Scheme has not yet been made public.

We’re not holding our breath.

HBC – ‘Shaping our Future’ initiative

“Havant Borough Council (HBC) needs to make financial savings of £12.1M over five years while realigning its resources to the current priorities as set out in the Council’s strategies. The direct costs and loss of income resulting from coronavirus, the resulting economic downturn and Brexit have added significant uncertainty to the challenge. The degree of uncertainty means the nature and impact of these are difficult to quantify but it is prudent to plan for these to be financially significant.”

The paragraph above is taken from a report entitled ‘Shaping our Future – Transformation programme‘ which was presented at a Havant Borough Council Cabinet meeting last week. The report, which was approved for subsequent presentation to the full Council before presentation to East Hants District Council, sets out the objectives and vision for what is effectively a merger of the two administrations. The document notes their vision to “leverage their positive partnership with EHDC for the benefit of both councils.”

In a departure from previous Cabinet documents, which have had passages redacted in rather transparent black ink, this one contains passages encoded in a form of ‘Consultant speak’ popular in the 1990s. In it we learn that HBC aspires to become “outcome focussed and provider agnostic” with an “agile and financially sustainable operating model that delivers their transformation vision by October 2022“. Their “performance management regime that evidences a demand led and early intervention approach to the delivery of services” should achieve that and enable them to adopt an “agile, flexible and resilient ‘can do’ culture.” You’ll be pleased to note that they plan to “embrace a digital first approach” to their services, confident in the knowledge that they will be “brilliant at the basics; flexible, agile and resilient.

For those unable to decode the language of the report, the authors helpfully provide a couple of simple charts, reproduced below:

(For future audiences, a well known and well loved strategy for staying awake and appearing attentive during such presentations can be found here.)

New! HBC Meetings Diary

Finding it hard to keep up with when the Council and Cabinet are scheduling their public meetings? Well we’ve just made it easier for you!

Take the link to ‘HBC Meetings Diary‘ under ‘Around Havant’ on the main menu and take a look.

Moves to list former IBM Havant plant buildings

IBM  PLANT LANGSTONE, HAVANT The IBM Havant Plant, at Langstone, was cleverly designed to blend into its surroundings and  situated close to the newly-opened A27 (1965). Set back down a long drive and west of Bosmere Field, it was built on a grass mound, which housed various facilities.

The Plant was designed by Arup Associates and in 1972 it won the prestigious Financial Times Award for Industrial Architecture. The original office complex, including a systems assembly plant and computer centre, was completed in 1971. It was subsequently added to in the late 1970s, also by Arup Associates.

1972 ARUP TO THE FORE IN FT AWARDS                                                                    (Source: VADS Online Resource for the Visual Arts)              

‘The name of Arup looms large in the Financial Times Awards for Industrial Architecture 1972, recently announced. The winning building, IBM’s new plant at Havant, Hampshire, was designed by Arup Associates, as was one of the five commended buildings, the Oxford Mail and Times building. The parent practice, Ove Arup and Partners, acted as consultant engineers to a second commended building, Bernat Klein’s design studio in Galashiels, designed by Peter Womersley.’

Arup Associates was a major presence on the British architectural scene for more than half a century, emerged from the famous engineering consultancy founded by Ove Arup in 1946 and reflected  Arup’s  own vision of ‘total design’, formed in the 1930s in his ground-breaking collaborations with Berthold Lubetkin. With architects, engineers and other professionals working in groups, it offered a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to the design of buildings.

The former IBM Plant is an important part of Havant’s heritage and should  be  added  to the Havant Borough  List of Buildings of Local Interest.

Supporting Information and Images.
 ‘Arup Associates’ is now known as global Arup Architecture.  https://www.arup.com/expertise/services/buildings/architecture

Historic England website.https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/arup-associates/

IMAGES (Havant)       https://www.architecture.com/image-library/ribapix.html?PageIndex=11&keywords=arup

Twentieth Century Society  on Derek Sugden 

‘Sugden’s thorough experience of steelwork broadened the practice’s expertise, and he came to specialise in factories. As well as working as construction engineers, the firm was designing increasing numbers of its own buildings, and in 1963 it formed an independent multi-disciplinary practice, Arup Associates, with Sugden as one of the four founding partners. The New Museums site at Cambridge and work for IBM at Havant and Portsmouth were among his most important works.’

St Lucy’s Day pictures

Thursday 13th December marked the first of what we hope will become a regular event in the Gazebo Garden in the run up to Christmas.  This rather magical picture of our ‘St. Lucy’ sums up the evening.

lucymain

For those of you unfamiliar with the Scandinavian tradition of a St Lucy’s Day festival and procession, you will find some background information on Wikipedia here.

Ann Buckley and Canon Tom Kennar from St Faith’s were instrumental in bringing the tradition to Havant in 2018 and we hope to make it an annual event.  We couldn’t fault the lovely gingerbread snacks, the stollen, the mulled fruit drinks and the coffee, but next year we’ll be looking to encourage more enthusiasm in the ‘lantern’ department!

It was a lovely evening in the run up to Christmas and a fine example of the kind of event that the Gazebo Garden can be used for.

Christmas wreath making workshop success!

The Christmas Wreath making workshop was organised by the Havant Civic Society and held on Friday 7th at St Faith’s Church, a beautiful  and welcoming venue.

All proceeds were donated to the fund for restoring the historic banner depicting St Faith which is currently at the London School of needlework for assessment.
Hilary Deadman gave an interesting presentation about the banner and the restoration work that is now needed. A presentation about this can be seen on the St Faith’s website.

Planning for Biodiversity – FoE meeting

The meeting was organised by Havant Friends of the Earth and held at the United Reformed Church meeting place on Tuesday November 27th at 7:00pm.  HFoEmeeting

Sue Holt introduced Dr. David Rumble of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust who presented on the subject of Planning for Diversity.  The following notes provide a summary of the presentation, including a large number of active links through which the documents referenced by David can be viewed.  Just click the highlighted links to open the references in a separate tab in your browser.

1 – The national picture

David spoke of the decline in biodiversity since the 1970s, illustrated by charts showing the rapid loss of species throughout the seventies as a consequence of the implementation of intensive farming techniques. More recently, as the decline due to agriculture has flattened out, the impact of planning and development policy on habitat loss is more noticeable.

Four documents were referenced, please follow the links to access the detail:

  • National Planning Policy Framework – Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The NPPF contains comprehensive guidance intended to ensure maintenence and development of biodiversity.
  • A Green Future – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. DEFRA’s recently published approach to managing the environment.
  • Biodiversity Net Gain – Good practice principles for development from the construction industry and for developers, intended to ensure that projects leave biodiversity in a better state than before work begins.
  • A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife – Chris Packham’s recently published campaign document.

2 – The local picture

The Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) has resulted in plans for 104,350 new homes and 1 million square feet of new employment across the Solent area.

David outlined how direction and targets set by central government has left local authority planners ‘between a rock and a hard place’.  The current State of Hampshire Biodiversity document is now 12 years old and the importance of enforcement of the NPPF, DEFRA and Biodiversity Net Gain guidance in planning decisions was stressed.

Local biodiversity topics were covered, including the newly published Solent Waders and Brent Geese Strategy.

Bird Aware Solent is an initiative to raise awareness of the birds that spend the winter on the Solent, so that people can enjoy the coast and its wildlife without disturbing the birds.

There are a number of local coastal defence issues arising from predicted climate change sea level rise.  Havant Civic Society is already involved with the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership exercise on the Langstone shore, but David also stressed the issue of loss of habitat to the west at Southmoor where privately owned sea defenses are in danger of imminent collapse.

On the positive side, the Havant thicket reservoir project could create significant biodiversity net gain.

More information can be found on the HBIC – Hampshire Biodiversity information Centre website. David presented a summary of the Ecological Network Map for Hampshire detail from which can be seen by taking the link.

3 – What can be done.

In addition to aligning with county based initiatives,  Havant Borough Council should revisit and revise the ‘Havant Biodiversity Action Plan’.  The latest version of this document, viewable here at the Havant FOE site, dates from 2011 and is out of date.

The Wildlife Trusts and friends have convinced Westminster Government of the need for a new law – an Environment Act – to improve protection for the country’s wildlife.MPs will be voting on this soon, so we need them to support a strong Environment Act.  You can find out more and take individual action here.

HIWWT have written a Discussion Paper entitled ‘Wilder’, opening discussion on creating a wilder Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Havant Borough Environment Group Questionnaire

Ray Cobbett presented the work-in-progress findings of the Havant Borough Environment Group questionnaire.  More than 670 responses have been received to date and if you’ve not already had your say, please take the link to complete it.

Havant Friends of the Earth can be found here.

You can follow David Rumble’s blog at this link.

Regeneration Strategy Approved! No surprise there then

The ‘Opportunity Havant‘ Regeneration Strategy Document first surfaced in public at the Cabinet Meeting on October 24th.  Just two weeks later, it was presented to the full Council this evening and after being proposed by Cllr Pike, questioned by three deputations from the public, seconded by Cllr Wilson and ‘debated’ by the full council, was approved unanimously.

Havant’s much vaunted Regeneration Programme has hit the road running!  Or so you might be led to think…

This is the town where bundles of tumbleweed and old McDonald’s boxes have rolled slowly past the faded hoardings at 44-54 West Street for more than a decade. The town where nothing happens. Don’t build your hopes up, despite all the trumpeting about ‘a new interventionist approach’ and ‘using compulsory purchase powers to bring forward schemes, making the required budget available’, it looks like the tumbleweed will be here to stay for at least another five years.

What we saw this evening was certainly not a debate in any accepted sense of the word.

debate
From the editor’s ‘Concise Oxford’, bought at a real bookshop in 1970, at a time when ‘selfie’ would never have been accepted as a noun.

Not once were any of the points raised from the lectern by HCS and the other representatives of the public speaking,  questioned or debated.

1) The Regeneration Programme documentation must be freely available to the press and the public. We see no justification for the exemption of entire documents; redaction of detail where necessary should suffice.

2) The Governance approach is lacking. We expect to see local communities of residents represented at the External Stakeholder level along with the professional communities who provide for our health, education and safety.

3) Phase 1 – i.e the next five years – must deliver tangible benefit in each of the regeneration areas in order to achieve buy in from the community. As published and approved, the only change delivered in that time frame will be on the Civic Plaza site.

Cllr Buckley could have triggered some real debate when he remarked that the most important word in the document was ‘interventionist‘ (it hadn’t been lost on us either).  In his opinion, the new approach would provide a means of empowering the council to do great things, providing the issues of Governance could be understood and grasped.

A deafening silence ensued.

One of our own ward councillors broke her meeting silence only once, raising the important question of whether or not the Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office could be worn if his driver wasn’t present.  Our other ward councillor agreed to investigate and respond.

Bless ’em.

#rethinkhavant

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If the content you find here is of interest to you and if you share our desire to make an active and positive contribution to the regeneration of Havant, please consider joining us. The outlay is small but the potential impact our combined voice can have is significant.  Please take this link to view the various membership options available, including a simple online form. 

HCS and the Havant Tree Wardens kick-off a new joint project

Malinda Griffin, The Havant Tree Wardens’ coordinator, outlined a proposal for a ‘tree walk’ for Havant at a meeting in the Wheelright’s Arms on Monday evening, 15th October, to an enthusiastic group of 16 present.

Malinda Griffin outlined the work of the tree wardens across the Borough and passed round leaflets showing tree trails in other areas. A leaflet to download from a website is another option.

She also spoke2968190994_1b845e66df_o about the importance of trees and hedgerows how trees are measured and various web sites where information can be found.  She will circulate all the details to the chairman who will publish them on a new project page set up for the purpose.

Havant has a low tree canopy percentage but also has many magnificent trees.  More mapping is needed. Malinda introduced Rob Foord who is the new Tree warden for Havant and has considerable expertise working with both environmental groups and the charity sector.

There was enthusiasm to set up a tree trail based around the historic  town trail, extended to the New Lane cemetery in the North.  The walk could link with others in  surrounding areas such as Emsworth and Hayling.

Rob Foord will lead the group,  Helen Boulden volunteered to be a link with Fairfield School and Bob Comlay will provide the HCS support.  Bob will set a date for for a project kick-off meeting in November and will look to include a member of HBC’s Landscape Maintenance team.

Friends of the Earth, represented at the Wheelright’s by Ray Cobbett, have offered to make a donation to the project.

#rethinkhavant