Earlier this week I spent the day in Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams being shown around by the local Test Valley Councillors Alison Finlay and Nigel Anderdon.
As the new leader of Test Valley, I want to get to know each and every community in the Borough. Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams are the southernmost communities in Test Valley so it made sense for me to start my tour the furthest from home.
It was great to get a really detailed view of their area from Alison and Nigel. Planning concerns and the challenge of retaining the area's unique character were high on the agenda. Test Valley have done much to support this area and the local councillors' excellent advocacy of their community has identified other ways we can help, so it was good to understand how that can be achieved.
Alison Finlay said: "It was really reassuring to welcome Councillor North to the area, to introduce him to local residents and to be able to let him see the pressures under which the ward comes not just from planning applications but from the competing aspirations of neighbouring authorities. I was very impressed with the interest he showed and with his commitment to understand the individual communities here."
Newly elected County Councillor, Cllr Kirsty Locke and I had a meeting with the Programme Director of Hampshire SuperfastBroadband, Glenn Peacey, yesterday to discuss the BT broadband rollout to Smannell and Little London.
Since 2012 Smannell and Little London have benefited from a pilot broadband programme from Beaming. It is a subsidised scheme, with TVBC and the Parish Council making contributions in recent years in partnership with Hampshire County Council.
I'm delighted to confirm that Cabinet 87 has now been commissioned by BT and is now providing a fibre network to Little London. Unfortunately the Cabinet which will serve Smannell and Woodhouse won't be commissioned until December 2017 according to current timescales. This is exacerbated by the fact that the pilot programme is due to be switched of at the end of July – because the supplier cannot make a business case for keeping it going.
This leaves a small amount of residents who had signed up to the pilot in Smannell without a decent internet connection for at least 5 months – some of which run local businesses from their homes.
I have therefore asked Mr Peacey to progress three options:
First, to advise us of the alternative solutions for the residents of Smannell, including satellite broadband – and some idea of cost for residents compared to the current scheme.
Second, to approach the pilot supplier and ask them if they would be prepared to keep it going for 5 more months if the subsidy was still provided.
Third, if there is any way the County Council can prioritise the Smannell broadband Cabinet with BT so it is delivered in advance of December.
By getting greater clarity on the above then I am hopeful we can come up with a way in which residents of Smannell can still have access to some form of broadband before the rollout.
Test Valley Borough Council's Environmental Service team were out in force in Enham Alamein today giving the village a spruce up as part of our ongoing programme of Sparkle Days. The team swept and cleaned the roads and paths, removed fly tipped waste, cleared litter and power-washed signs and other street furniture. In total, the they removed around 3.5 tonnes of waste.
Sparkle Days have been part of the Council's ongoing Love Where You Live litter campaign since 2012 and provide an opportunity for the team to add an extra bit of sparkle to the borough.
I was honoured and humbled to be formally elected as the new leader of Test Valley Borough Council today.
I have some big shoes to fill. Cllr Ian Carr has led Test Valley assiduously and expertly for 18 years – and leaves an extraordinary legacy – of which he should be rightly proud.
I now want to build upon that success. I want to lead a Council that makes it clear that if you're a resident who lives in Test Valley, a business that plies its trade in Test Valley or an organisation that operates in Test Valley we will be on your side, helping you achieve your aspirations.
One of my first decisions is to create a new Cabinet post for Economic Development & Tourism, which shows that Test Valley is firmly focused on attracting investment into the Borough. I also recognise the major challenges facing our town centres which is an area the new Portfolio will focus on.
Another one of my priorities for the year ahead is to bed in the new leisure contract, and oversee the development of the new Andover Leisure Centre and improvements to Romsey Rapids and Knightwood.
There are also some exciting plans for the redevelopment of the former Andover Magistrates Court on the horizon. So watch this space.
I was delighted to attend the Inspire Andover Skatejam on Saturday. The Andover stakepark has been a massive success since itwas opened in November 2014 and events like this demonstrate just how well it's used, as young people hone their skills whilst having lots of fun.
It was also a pleasure to catch up with representatives from St Paul's Church Centre, the Scouts and Rewired youth group who all had stalls. Midway through the afternoon I topped the Rewired welly wanging leaderboard. Sadly there is no photographic evidence to prove this.
Click Here to Contact Phil
If you have any ideas, issues or concerns please feel free to contact me.
Address: Cllr Phil North, C/O TVBC, Beech Hurst, Weyhill Road, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 3AJ.
Call: 077324 23023