The Andover Town Council (ATC) Forum is a new initiative to invite members of the public to engage with local issues and to get involved.
Andover and Villages attended to cover the meeting and was first to arrive, where Cllr Barbara Long and her husband, Cllr Nigel Long were already setting up in preparation of Barbara Long’s presentation on the Andover Neighbourhood Plan.
As the Andover and Villages reporter prepared, Cllr Barbara Long approached and told the reporter that she did not want her to report on the forum presentation, Cllr Barbara Long said that she wouldn’t mind a ‘potted report’ but did not want exactly what was said and happened in the meetings reported fully, she went on to say she did not like them.
The reporter explained that the reports were very well read and that in fact, the last reports were read over 5,000 times and that the public clearly wanted to know what was going on. Cllr Barbara Long said that Andover Town Council was just a Parish Council and there was no need for Andover & Villages to be there and do a report and she queried why the site does not cover every other parish council meeting in the area. Cllr Barbara Long said that people had complained on social media that everything they said was written down at the previous forum.
Andover & Villages explained that as Andover Town Council covered the main town centre for the area, it was relevant to all of the Andover & Villages readers. Andover & Villages suggested that as a compromise, they would not write down the names of any members of the public that spoke during the forum part of the evening that night.
Geoff McBride opened the forum by discussing the ‘Rules’ that were written, clearly, on a flip chart paper.
The attendance to the Andover Forum was around 12 with around 4 members of the public. Test Valley and Andover Town councillors sat amongst the public.
- Only one person speaks at a time
- Be brief and concise
- Respect others
- Please identify yourself and who you represent
Cllr Barbara Long talked through a power point presentation on the Andover Neighbourhood Plan which can be seen by clicking on the image below.
Zilliah Brooks asked if Barbara Long had attended any area where the Parish Council had implemented a Neighbourhood Plan.
Barbara Long said yes she had.
Zilliah Brooks asked how it was working.
Barbara Long said she had visited Whitchurch to see their exhibition and meeting and that they were almost at the stage of a referendum.
Zilliah Brooks asked if anyone actually had a plan up and running.
Barbara Long said Thame in Oxfordshire had a plan up and running.
Zilliah Brooks said she wondered if it was working somewhere before Andover puts in all the hard work to do it.
Karen Hamilton said that it may be worth doing a visit to Thame to see what level of work is involved in implementing the plan.
Barbara Long said that there are groups that help with Neighbourhood Plans but they do cost money and that three of the Andover Town Councillors were currently pushing the initiative forward. Barbara Long said there were grants available to help with the costs.
Zilliah Brooks asked how much the grant was.
Barbara Long said it was £7,000 but it was £30,000 to get the plan up and running but asked if cost should be a restriction to doing it. Barbara Long said she was prepared to put the time and effort into it to make it work and that it is said it takes around two years or as long as it wanted to be.
A Member of the Public suggested that the Planning Advisory Service may be helpful.
Barbara Long said that they apply for the grant from Locality.
Barbara Long said Test Valley don’t do this and don’t do that and this project was driven by the community and said that they should give it a go and that the three councillors on the committee felt it was a case of lets give it a go.
Member of the Public said it made sense.
Barbara Long said that they needed volunteers from people who have knowledge that can join the three councillors but that as she had sat on teh council for 5 years she now knew a lot about planning.
Member of the Public said he didn’t have time.
Geoff McBride said that what got him into the Town Council was a planning application that he was angry about but had ended up getting involved. Geoff McBride said you can only eat an elephant one mouthful at a time.
Barbara Long said that there was more consultation now and what got her involved was that TVBC weren’t consulting the people and that is why Andover Town Council was formed. Barbara Long said she wanted to be proud of the town and do we want to live in Milton Keynes or a leafy town.
Geoff McBride said that he had had digs at TVBC and will continue to do so but he wanted collaboration.
Barbara Long said Andover Town Council is only a parish council with no more rights than a village parish council, the rights are the same.
Member of the Public said that it was great that people are being given the opportunity to contribute to the plan, going on to say that there was always negative stuff said about shops coming to Andover. He went on to thank Barbara Long for taking this over.
Katherine Bird said that the situation is that it hasn’t been approved for long but it gives a bigger voice to the community about what is in the local plan, some things can’t be changed and it is relatively new.
Geoff McBride said that everyone was welcome to community planning sessions.
Karen Hamilton said that as a new Councillor she had seen behind the scenes at what both areas do and the public perception is sometimes, ‘why bother’ but its really needed everyone to work together for the better.
Member of the Public said that everything needed to be more visual for people to want to get involved and that an advert in the paper could make people interested.
Geoff McBride said that it could be made into a poster about what it means to the public with website graphics.
Katherine Bird said it was over to Richard Belle and Member of the Public.
Geoff McBride started to speak when Barbara Long interrupted him and said the meeting was about the Andover Neighbourhood Plan.
Barbara Long invited those present to read the presentation pieces on display and add a sticker from where they live on the map laid out in the room.
Sandra Hawke said that a lot of villages were also considering Neighbourhood Plans and that if it was going to cost Andover upwards of £30k will it; Stop Building? Stop any shops coming? What will it actually do for Andover?
Barbara Long said it wouldn’t stop building but could influence where things were built.
Sandra Hawke asked if it was for a period of 25 years.
Katherine Bird asked if it would influence where shops are and said Andover needed more two bedroom properties.
Barbara Long said they would stick with it.
Steven Hardstaff said that two others were being roped in.
Barbara Long said Elaine is coming on board.
By this time, the Youth Councillors and their families had arrived and all joined in adding their stickers to the map.
Andover & Villages Ed Comment
During the meeting, the Andover & Villages photographer, moved about the room, taking pictures of the forum and became aware of Cllr Nigel Long (Test Valley Borough Councillor, Liberal Democrat) taking pictures of the photographer taking pictures (see pictures). Whilst the reporter was writing notes, she became aware of a flash going off close to her face and turned to see Cllr Nigel Long pointing a phone at her face and taking pictures. Some days after the meeting Cllr Nigel Long told Andover & Villages staff that if the site was to take pictures of him, he would take pictures of those doing so.
As discussed in previous reports on Council Minutes, this is not the first time pressure, intimidation and obstruction has come from both Cllr Nigel Long and Cllr Barbara Long.
The Andover & Villages Andover Town Council meeting reports and pictures are an accurate reflection of what happens in the meetings, and are published to inform and illustrate the inner workings of local government and more importantly, to report back to the public of what those who have been voted for into public office are doing on their behalf. AaV will continue to report and photograph these and other local government meetings to keep Andover and its Villages informed.
Thank you to Paul Scicluna for the pictures