HIRA Sept. Article 2022
Recently Hayling’s Mengham Park was again occupied by Travellers despite the Council’s positioning of boulders to prevent a repetition of previous similar actions. Adding to residents’ frustration is that HBC’s own Planning Application May 2022 proposed “bunds, swales” around the Park’s perimeter to prevent such incursions. Local residents had earlier complained that, after dozens of volunteers planted about 400 Jubilee saplings around the Park, these were destroyed by Travellers driving onto the Park. Whilst these saplings were later replaced by volunteers, HBC’s promise to water these was instead followed by earth being dumped over them, presumeably to create barriers but effectively destroying all the saplings on 3 sides of the Park.
Why is this significant? Climate Change powerfully reminds everyone of the need to protect existing green spaces and plant for the future. Hayling’s Tree Wardens and resident volunteers repeatedly did exactly that. HBC appeared to support such initiatives but in practice failed to do so. At a Cabinet meeting 2021, after mainland residents’ complaints that they had been unable to use their park for community activities because of Travellers’ occupation, Councillors decided that only tree planting and boulders were necessary to prevent future Travellers’ incursions onto the site. Mengham Park’s experiences demonstrate that that isn’t enough. Ratepayers’ funding provides the structure and staffing to ensure effective management of public facilities and amenities and HBC is responsible for their delivery. Their failure simply encourages further anti-social behaviour for which the rest of us endlessly pay.
Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance members met in July, at the invitation of HBC’s Planning Policy Manager David Hayward, with Cllr. Elizabeth Lloyd, Cabinet Lead for Local Plan, Environment and Water Quality, and Caroline Harvey, HBC Insight Manager, for discussion on the priorities for the new Local Plan and to share the consultation strategy for the Autumn Consultation. 10 Residents’ Groups’ representatives submitted over 20 questions for David Hayward to answer over coming weeks. These included a wide range of local housing issues, transport infrastructure including Hayling’s A3023 data modelling, widespread environmental concerns, borough employment, Southern Water, proper consultation with residents and the 2021 Census with reduced population growth. The residents again offered the Council constructive engagement during the current re-working of the Plan. Cllr. Lloyd and Caroline Harvey repeatedly assured us that the next Local Plan’s Autumn Consultation will include: off- and online paper copies available at Libraries, a Consultation telephone number, Exhibitions with explanations, every effort to include the non-digitally minded resident. Cllr. Lloyd was surprised that HBC didn’t make better use of local ratepayers’ newsletters, and she promised to discover why HBC isn’t using Hayling’s Herald to disseminate Council news and planning, acknowledging that I’d repeatedly raised this at Council meetings over the past few years. It is well past time that the Council amended this absurd anomaly. Finally I pressed Cllr. Lloyd and David Hayward to meet with Hayling Island’s Infrastructure Advisory Group given that it was this Group’s members whose comments during the Inspectors’ Hearings contributed substantially to the Inspectors’ rejection of HBC’s Local Plan.