Whitehill & Bordon Town Council leader looks to the year ahead

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Cllr Tree at the new leisure centre

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THIS has been a very different year! We started 2020 fairly normally, when I hosted a public meeting with the Police & Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and local police officers. We did not yet know what was to come!

In the absence of public meetings, we had to get creative about how we held those in power to account.

In September I interviewed the Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company project lead James Child and posted the recording online.

I also made sure that every question asked via Facebook and letters into our office was linked to their answers on the hard copy document.

This can be viewed at: https://tinyurl.com/yyd7lxzc

There have been some positives though. The new leisure centre finally opened in December and the Makers Market (now being called ‘The Shed’) is being built.

I understand that supermarket negotiations are entering what is hopefully a final phase, with an announcement expected shortly.

The area to keep an eye on next year is health provision in the town!

I understand East Hampshire District Council is still working up a business case to potentially fund a health hub which links to what the regeneration company says about a hub planning application being ready in 2021.

This is a contentious issue for residents as there is a lot of concern over reducing services at Chase Hospital and about why a health hub is proposed instead.

I will be taking a keen interest in reviewing any proposals and any planning application would come to the town council as a statutory consultee.

Having excellent health provision in Whitehill & Bordon is of paramount importance.

After winning the town council election in 2019 and 18-months of negociation, I was finally given a seat on the district council’s ‘strategic board/group’, made up of individual decision-makers.

I had been disappointed in 2019 with exclusion in some important areas.

But this year the councils leader Richard Millard does appear at face value to have responded positively in wanting to cultivate a useful and friendly working relationship to benefit residents.

Time will tell if this results in a successful and genuine partnership.

One area where residents hold strong views is over development and protection of our greenspaces and mature trees.

We hear this loud and clear, and not only are the town council controlled Bordon Inclosure and Nature Reserve safe, we are also looking to improve drainage at Mill Chase Recreation Ground.

And we strongly opposed building an extra 1,300 houses in Whitehill & Bordon, as announced by the district council.

We believe that the delivery of facilities and infrastructure promised in a new town centre and protection of greenspaces must be the priority.

Moving into 2021, we now have a Strategic Plan.

As a town council not only do we have control over our own assets and services, we also strive to do more in terms of involving ourselves across many areas -including the development of Whitehill & Bordon and being the voice of our community.

I want to thank all my fellow councillors for their ideas, support, and contribution – in particular former deputy leader Bisi Kennard who is now focusing on community events and youth, and new Deputy Leader Tina Strickland.

Both are friends and colleagues that I respect immensely, and both have offered me sound advice and constructive feedback on all areas of council working.

They continue to be huge assets to the town council and residents.

I also want to thank our hard working, valuable town council staff, Lorraine (town clerk & general manager), Katie, Wendy P, Steve, Sarah, Wendy B and Marvin.

They have had to adapt to home-working this year and as the council’s backbone, we wouldn’t be able to implement any of our ideas without them.

I want to offer huge thanks to all doctors, nurses, NHS staff, volunteers and key workers across Whitehill & Bordon, including ‘Bordon Buddies’ and Bordon Food Bank who made me so proud of our community.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

Having had the Christmas rules changed and now the frustration of being in Tier 4 lockdown since Boxing day, I am incredibly excited that the vaccine has arrived in our town and is being rolled out!

I am very pleased they decided to offer the vaccine to residents within Whitehill & Bordon itself.

While there is still some way to go whilst elderly and clinically vulnerable groups are prioritised, I am greatly encouraged that this is the beginning of the end of this horrible period and there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.

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