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Fire Service Launches New ‘Home Safe Home’ Campaign

Smoke Detector

Home Safe Home is a new safety initiative created by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service to help people stay safe while they’re staying at home to save lives.

The campaign covers all areas of home fire safety and over the next few months the fire service will share advice across their website and social media channels, giving members of the public top tips to protect their homes from fire.

From checking homes are protected by adequate working smoke detectors to cooking safely and ensuring electrical sockets aren’t overloaded – Home Safe Homecampaign advice and resources will cover everything people need to know.

Group Manager for Community Safety at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Glenn Bowyer said:

 We’re proud that members of our community are following the government’s advice to stay at home. Another way to keep your loved ones safe is to protect your home from fire.

If people follow these home fire safety tips they will also be helping to support the emergency services, by freeing up time and resources spent dealing with avoidable incidents.

Please share this home fire safety advice with your family, friends and neighbours as this is a great way for us all to support our community during these challenging times and protect the most vulnerable.”

Council smashes affordable housing target

Affordable Housing

Test Valley Borough Council has exceeded its affordable housing target for the sixth year in a row, providing a lifeline for residents looking for a home.

The authority delivered 273 homes in 2019/20 against a council target to achieve 200, smashing its initial goal by 37 per cent.

And over the past four financial years, the authority has delivered more than 1,000 affordable homes in total. Nationally, TVBC ranked 31st out of 326 local authorities for housing delivery in 2019. It has also exceeded its affordable housing delivery target by 20 per cent over the past six years. 

Portfolio holder for housing and environmental health, councillor Phil Bundy, said: “Affordable housing is absolutely vital to help meet the needs of our local communities. Properties in Test Valley are not cheap, which is why we are really proud of our record of delivering affordable housing in the borough. There are few things more important in life than having access to a decent home.

“Ensuring we can continue to build on this success is key. Our corporate plan is focused on helping people to live well and reach their potential, which is why making sure our housing delivery, including those affordable homes, continues to be a priority. This is also reflected in the council’s forthcoming Housing Strategy 2020 to 2025.

“It is great to look back over the past four years to see that we have delivered more than 1,000 affordable homes for those who need them, and I look forward to us helping to deliver many more in the years to come.”

National Stalking Awareness Week 2020


20th April marks National Stalking Awareness Week and this year the theme is 2020; See Stalking Clearly.

Despite the ongoing health pandemic, victims of stalking must remain visible and it is crucial that anyone affected by this serious crime is reassured that support through the National Stalking Helpline and other advocacy services has not changed during this period of uncertainty.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Stalking and Harassment Offences, said: “Stalking is a serious and prevalent crime and while I fully appreciate that the current coronavirus pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment, it is really important to note that the risks from stalking are unlikely to reduce during the lockdown period and in many cases may become more pronounced.

“We are fully committed to doing all that we can to bring offenders to justice and safeguard victims and during this week, we will be raising awareness of stalking, behaviour traits to look out for, how to report concerns and which organisations can provide support.

“I would always urge anyone who believes they may be subject of stalking to come forward at the earliest opportunity and report their concerns to police so we can work with them to protect them.”

The National Stalking Helpline responds to over 3,500 requests for help every year, and approximately 75 per cent of calls to the helpline are from people who have been stalked by some kind of technologically-assisted means. However, in most of cases, perpetrators are using a variety of different means to stalk their victims, both offline and online.

For more information visit The Suzy Lamplugh Trust website at https://www.suzylamplugh.org/.

To report concerns call 101 or 999 in an emergency. The National Stalking Helpline is available on 0808 802 0300.

Basingstoke and Deane Changes to Waste Collection

Waste Collection

Temporary changes to reduce waste collections to protect crews and sustain the bin collection service during the COVID-19 outbreak have started this week.

From today (Monday 20 April), Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, working with Serco, will collect grey waste bins fortnightly instead of weekly. Green recycling bin collections will take place as usual and waste bins will be emptied on the opposite week to the recycling bin. The day of the week that bins are collected will not change.

The temporary changes to the service mean that waste, recycling, glass and clinical waste collections can continue in the borough during the COVID-19 outbreak to provide a reliable service while also protecting those staff who may need to self-isolate.

The service will be monitored and reviewed regularly to respond to changes in government guidance as they emerge.

Many councils within Hampshire already have a fortnightly waste collection service and recently one other has had to reduce its waste bin collections following the outbreak of the virus.

In March, the borough council took steps to reduce the pressure on the service by suspending garden waste and bulky waste collections and these changes enabled weekly waste collections to continue for several weeks longer than anticipated. But this cannot be sustained indefinitely and measures have been put in place to protect the crews and ensure residents receive a reliable service.

Those residents currently receiving an assisted collection, as they need help to put out their own bins and do not have anyone who can do this for them, will continue to get this support from the bin crews. The clinical waste service will also continue to run as normal for those customers who are registered to use this service. Households with smaller 140 litre waste bins will be able to leave out two extra sacks. Those households with larger 240 litre waste bins can only fill their bin as normal and no additional sacks will be taken.
Support and information is available through the council’s website, social media and e-newsletter to help residents reduce the amount of rubbish they put in their grey bin and maximise the amount of recycling they put in their green bin and glass container.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement Cllr Hayley Eachus said: “Our bin crews are working very hard to complete all of the waste, recycling and clinical waste rounds in the borough while facing the same challenges with staffing as organisations up and down the country, owing to COVID-19.

“This is a fast moving situation and we have been, and continue to, closely monitor the staffing levels every day with the crew’s health and reducing the risk of spreading the virus being paramount. We face a new challenge each morning and have had to look at all the options for sustaining a service for the duration of the pandemic.

“Our crews have been tremendous and their commitment to delivering a service for our residents during these challenging times is something both they and we are incredibly proud of. But they cannot put themselves or others at risk and they must follow the government guidelines if they are showing symptoms, therefore we have been investigating reducing our waste collection service in line with other authorities.

“We are very privileged to have a weekly waste collection service which we have tried really hard to maintain but it is clear this service is not sustainable during this difficult time. The sensible and most realistic option is to temporarily move to fortnightly waste collections.

“Temporarily moving to a waste collection service one week and a recycling the next means we can also maintain our glass and recycling collections for residents. We will keep this under review and will go back to normal collections as soon as possible after the government restrictions have been lifted and we can safely do so.”

“We apologise for this temporary disruption and thank our residents for their understanding and ongoing support during this difficult time. We will do all we can to support our residents to reduce the amount of waste they place in their grey bins and keep them informed of what to recycle in their green bins.”

Town Mills Redevelopment Put on Hold

The construction works to transform the area surrounding Town Mills into a picturesque park have been temporarily put on hold.

As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, contractors working on the main gas works in the area have been redeployed to focus on essential emergency work. This has led to a pause in the overall project, as progress to the new access road cannot continue until the main gas works are complete. As construction works have ceased the contractors have demobilised, back-filled all excavations and made the area safe until they are able to recommence work on-site.

Works to create a park along the river began in February this year, following a consultation in which residents said they wanted the space to become somewhere that people could stay, play, picnic, and enjoy the river. Over the past couple of months, significant progress has already been made to the area outside the Town Mills pub, with non-native vegetation having been removed from raised plant beds, and the diversion of the gas main and groundworks for the new entrance well underway.

Plans are now being put in place to ensure the temporary pause will not have too much of an impact on the proposed completion for 2020. Next steps in the project include completing the new access route to the car park and businesses from Western Avenue, the transformation of Town Mill road into a park area as well as the planting of new trees, a new park hedge and the installation of railings within the existing pocket park.

£900k lifeline for Local Community Centres

hey big lender

Community centres across Test Valley could each benefit from a £10k cash injection after updated guidance from the government confirmed that they could claim the same support grant offered to businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ninety centres are eligible for the grant in Test Valley and the borough council is writing to each of them to encourage them to apply for the funding.

With no bookings due to the nationwide lockdown and the continued burden of energy bills and other expenses, many community halls have been hit hard by the pandemic. The £10k grants will provide a lifeline for those currently struggling.

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “I am really pleased that the government has confirmed that community centres will also be eligible for the business support grants.

“These halls are integral to their local communities and play a vital role in bringing residents and groups together. Sadly they currently sit empty but these grants should see them through to the time when the restrictions are lifted and they are able to reopen once again.

“Our teams are working hard to get the business support grants out as quickly as possible. To date, we have processed and paid 1,329 grants to the value of £16.35 million.

“I would encourage all those eligible to apply for the funding.”

In March, the chancellor announced a variety of financial support packages for residents and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the government will guarantee £330bn of loans to businesses, as well as a range of grants.

COVID-19 Southampton Airport to Host Temporary Mortuary

Southampton Airport Mortuary
In response to the current coronavirus situation, plans are in now in place for the operation of a temporary mortuary at Southampton Airport to serve Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton. Separate arrangements are in place for the Isle of Wight.
The area set aside is a specially adapted secure location on one side of the airfield, known as the Grayson Site, and is completely separate from the passenger terminal.
Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health, Hampshire County Council said: “Local partner organisations across the wider Hampshire region, are working closely together to ensure arrangements are in place to support communities during this difficult time.  Integral to our planning is the need to ensure the area is equipped with additional mortuary space, should we need it.”
“While I understand that people may be concerned about this development, it is important that we are well prepared.”
“I would like to reassure the families and friends of those who may be accommodated temporarily at the Grayson Site that their loved ones will be afforded every possible respect, and that we have been liaising closely with faith leaders to ensure that required customs and practices will be observed at all times.”
He added: “We can also assure residents that all necessary precautions will be taken to ensure the highest standards of health and safety are maintained at all times onsite.”
Southampton Airport continues to operate a small number of daily ‘Lifeline’ flights – transporting essential goods to the Channel Islands.  Normal robust 24/7 security arrangements remain in place across the airport site. The site will also be a priority for enhanced police patrols in the area, both during the day and night. Access to the site is not available to the public.

Hampshire Libraries Go Digital

Andover library

Hampshire County Council is reporting an unprecedented rise in digital library use, as people who live, work and study in Hampshire are turning to the library service for access to books during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “Even though we’ve had to close library buildings due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the library service continues to provide resources to Hampshire’s residents online and is experiencing a massive surge in new digital users; a 770% increase in people joining our digital service, putting Hampshire’s digital library among the largest and fastest-growing in the country.

“Our digital library service, which includes thousands of books, audio-books, popular magazines and newspapers, and even some more specialist resources, has been steadily gaining popularity for a long time; and now, with many spending more time indoors, we’re seeing an incredible boom as people begin to make the most of it. The latest figures show that 2,000 more titles were borrowed digitally than the previous two weeks.

“We have responded rapidly to increasing demand for our existing online resources so that people can access even more content through their mobile phone, tablet and computer for work, study or entertainment. I hope that many will continue to use this excellent service long after the Coronavirus outbreak is behind us.”

Hampshire Library Service has been gradually building its online offering over the last few years and use of the digital service has steadily grown. Between November 2018 and November 2019, Borrowbox – the app offering thousands of free audio-book and ebook titles for children and adults – saw a rise from 4,668 registered users to 22,912.

For the seven days commencing 17 March 2020, there were 200 new Borrowbox users compared to 23 in the previous week, resulting in a 770% increase.


Coronavirus Coughing Local Man Assaults Officer

Kieran Mander Charged with Assault on Tidworth Police Officer

A Tidworth man has been charged with assaulting an officer after claiming to have Covid-19 and coughing in his face.

Kieran Mander, 22, of Vockins Close, was arrested yesterday and has since been charged with using threatening or abusive words/behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress, and common assault of an emergency worker.

However, Mr Mander denies the charges saying on his Facebook page, “I never cough in the police face hence why I’aint in jail now 😂😂all right for 2 police officer to attack me tho belive what u want the news reports has two false statements I never got charged It with it either en the offence is stright remand offence it’s bullocks have fun with comments en come say it to my face”

He’s been remanded in custody and appeared via video link at Swindon Magistrates Court yesterday (8th April 2020).

‘Playing online games online reduces anti-social behaviour’ Here’s where to find the best game hosting providers

Best Game Hosting

Since the coronavirus outbreak, especially in Andover, has been rapidly increasing globally, many psychologists have suggested that many will face a lack of social interaction. Games have always been a way of both children and adults to interact with people around the world.

A way of interacting with your friends is renting a game server, there are various websites like Best Game Hosting that compare and review others and show you the best game server hosting providers around. 

Games like Minecraft, Ark and Rust are among the most popular when it comes to multiplayer. And Minecraft is by far the most popular with over 110m active players. The website also has sections like the cheapest Minecraft server hosting

These sites allow you to get the best game servers for cheap or if you have a large budget then you can find the fastest server.

You can also have free connectivity like Skype and Teamspeak to which friends can communicate while playing their favourite game. 

Boredom in Andover

With many residents flowing into social media about the current situation due to COVID-19, while live sports are cancelled, many are wondering what to do with their time.

As we mentioned above, millions of hours are spent weekly playing games and you can add to that, by renting a server from one of the best GSPs and playing with your friends, children or anyone for that matter!

Esports/Games Industry Booms

Live sports are halted worldwide due to the pandemic of coronavirus. The shutdown leaves unavoidable programming holes – and sports fans want to scratch the competitive itch, who spend weeks isolating themselves, for their favourite pastimes. 

Nevertheless, as the quarantine continues, the gaming and esporting community face the task of filling this hole. The numbers speak for themselves: in the first quarter of 2020, Twitch hit all-time records for hours watched, broadcast time and average competitor user, according to a survey by Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet. During the second half of March Twitter announced a 71% rise in talk volume and a 38% rise in unique authors. Meanwhile, after quarantine took effect, Verizon has seen a 75% rise in the use of games. 

In short, there’s a moment for the gaming and sports industry. Nevertheless, unforeseen problems emerge with the opportunity. Sports like “Overwatch,” “League of Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Call of Duty” were companies behind the largest sport leagues, closing down live events and walking away from home. 

Not only does this pose organisational technological problems, but it also reduces fan engagement enthusiasm. However, esports enthusiasts – and even those who are robbed of mainstream sports in pursuit of competitive entertainment – take part in swelling events.

So, both esports and games are making huge amounts of profit in light of the coronavirus outbreak. So, it might be time to increase your social interaction through games!