This is a meeting of the Council of Basingstoke & Dean Borough Council held on the 14th Dec 2023.

The last meeting of the Council was on the 22nd Feb 2024, and the next meeting will be 21st Mar 2024.

Meeting Status

Confirmed

Agenda Published

Yes

Decisions Published

No

Minutes Published

Yes

Meeting Location

Council Chamber - Deanes

Meeting Recordings

We know of no meeting recordings. If you know of one, let us know.

Agenda

Item Title Minutes
1 Apologies for absence

Apologies were received from Councillors Ashfield, Bean, Freeman, Grant, Gaskell, Jones, Konieczko and Miller.

2 Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3 Minutes of the meeting held on 19 October 2023 Printed minutes 19102023 1830 Council

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 October 2023 were confirmed as an accurate record and signed by the Mayor.

4 Office of Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the Year

Resolved: That

 

1)       Councillor Dan Putty be invited to stand for election as Mayor at the next Annual Meeting for the 2024/25 Municipal Year.

 

2)       Councillor Colin Phillimore be invited to stand for election as Deputy Mayor at the next Annual Meeting for the 2024/25 Municipal Year.

5 Announcements

The Mayor announced that:

 

·             He had presented certificates to two athletes, one being only 12 years old, in recognition of their quick actions to resuscitate another runner who had suffered a heart attack, whilst competing at the Popham Airfield Cross Country event.

·             He was visiting food banks and expressed appreciation for their work in the borough.

 

6 Questions from members of the public

From: Jessy Edara – Chairman of Capital Cricket Club

To:     Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Culture

 

The LRNA report highlights a shortage of cricket pitches in Basingstoke. Could you kindly share the council's plan to address this shortage? Additionally, we heard that the portfolio holder does not believe the war memorial cricket pitch is not used what evidence that led to this conclusion?

 

Answer

 

Thank you, Mr Mayor, I’m genuinely happy to see everyone here tonight, it’s really good to see all the cricketers turn up.  Just to be clear, this is from the latest LRNA (Leisure Recreational Needs Assessment), and it does inform us that the demand and future demand for formal cricket pitches in the borough is sufficiently met. That’s formal, that’s your squares and your pavilions, hard balls, pads, helmets. The council’s plan is to maintain and retain its current stock of cricket squares for formal cricket.

 

There is however not enough provision for informal cricket. The borough can track formal cricket use via its booking system and talking with cricket clubs. Informal cricket demand is much harder to track. When the question about the War Memorial Park artificial pitch was raised, I invited the councillor to discuss this further. That invitation hasn’t yet been taken up, but it is still very much open, and I would welcome discussions with Capital Cricket Club and other informal cricketeers who use the park.

I am pleased to state that following the last Council meeting, when this request was raised, I have spoken to officers and can confirm that the artificial strip will be repaired around February to allow informal play to continue at War Memorial Park. Once the new artificial wicket is in place, I hope cricketers will make good use of it and I hope we will have lots of sporting activity around the John Artlott Pavillion next summer. Thank you.

Supplementary Question

I understand it’s the Christmas season, a time of peace and generosity. Can the Council guarantee that the cricket pitch will remain accessible for us as it was before?

Answer

 

Yes, we’ll have to come to an arrangement because it’s in between two football pitches but obviously the seasons are different so I’m sure in the summer there’ll be plenty of time for the cricket pitches to be used. If we are to come up with some sort of booking system for use of it, it would be free, but it would just be so that we didn’t get everyone there at the same time, but generally I can’t see any problems. Just to add I’m happy to have a conversation afterwards.

 

7 Petitions

Councillor Mummalenani presented a petition regarding repairs to the cricket pitch in the War Memorial Park.  The Mayor stated it would be passed to the Head of Environment and Community Services for consideration.

 

8 Resignations and appointments Outside Body Appointments Dec 23

There were no resignations or appointments to committees or outside bodies.

9 Quarter 2 Capital Monitoring Report as at 30 September 2023 Quarter 2 Capital Monitoring Report 2023-24

Council considered a recommendation from Cabinet to approve additions to the capital programme to support the delivery of Council Plan Priorities to fund an increase to the Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) scheme and the creation of a new scheme for the regeneration of May Place.

 

During debate concern was raised regarding the lack of progress on works to the Anvil and it was suggested that it would be useful to fill the vacancy for councillor representation on the Anvil board.  Reference was made to the use of invested capital receipts or borrowing as options in place of maintaining planned contributions to the capital Programme from revenue.  It was questioned whether the council was poised to start borrowing money. 

 

Funding for the LAHF was welcomed.  Clarification was sought regarding funding for the regeneration of May Place and how that would be divided between the unallocated housing and homelessness capital and s106 developers’ contribution and the source of the contribution.

 

Comment was also made regarding the digital programme and it was suggested that the CRM implementation was incomplete and failed to deliver an improved customer experience for residents.

 

Delay to the delivery of the Sinclair Drive play area drainage works was also raised as a matter of concern.

 

The Co-Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Property responded to the comments.  He agreed to provide further information if available regarding the drainage works at Sinclair Drive.  He could not provide a full breakdown of s106 contributions as part of the May Place regeneration project but clarified that as it served most of the borough, most developments would have a s106 attachment that could be used for the purpose of hostels including May Place.  He gave assurance that the Council was not going to start borrowing, the intention was to put more money from revenue into capital over the next few years to support the future of the council.

 

Resolved: 

 

To approve additions to the capital programme to support the delivery of Council Plan Priorities as set out in section 9 of the report to fund:

 

  • An increase to the Local Authority Housing Fund scheme of £1.392M in 2023/24; and
  • New scheme May Place with a capital budget of £1.300M in 2024/25 and £0.800M in 2025/26.

 

10 Council Tax Discretionary Discounts and Council Tax Support Scheme 2024/2025 Council Tax Discretionary Discounts and Council Tax Support Scheme 2024/2025

In accordance with the Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings)

(England)(Amendment) Regulations 2012 and the Rating (Property in

Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018, Councils

are required to approve Council Tax discounts and the Local Council Tax

Support Scheme (CTS) for each financial year by 31 January.

 

The report considered by Council proposed that the Council Tax Support Scheme remained unchanged for 2024/25 (other than the uprating of premiums, applicable amounts, disregards and non-dependent deductions) and Council Tax discretionary discounts and long-term empty premiums for 2024/25 remained at the 2023/24 levels.

 

Resolved:    To approve:

 

1)  The care leavers council tax discount which is unchanged for 2024/202That council tax discretionary discounts are maintained at the 2023/24 levels for 2024/2025.

 

2)  That the long-term empty property premiums are maintained at the 2023/24 levels for 2024/2025.

 

3)  No additional premium is charged for second homes in 2025/26 and the current arrangements remain unchanged.

11 Polling District and Polling Place Review 2023/24 Polling District and Polling Place Review 2023/24
Appendix 1 - (Acting) Returning Officer’s Final Recommendations 2023
Appendix 2 - Notice of Review of Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations
Appendix 3 - Letter to Consultees
Appendix 4 - Table of Consultation Responses

The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 requires local

authorities to undertake reviews of polling districts and polling places every 5

years. The last review was concluded on 17 October 2019 and therefore a

review was required to be undertaken by October 2024.  The report under consideration provided feedback on the results of the recent public consultation and set out The (Acting) Returning Officer’s recommendations for changes to the current arrangements.

 

Resolved:  To

 

1)    Note that pursuant to the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 that the (Acting) Returning Officer has carried out a review of polling districts and polling places.

 

2)    Note that following public consultation it is proposed that 86 out of the existing 87 polling places remain unchanged.

 

3)    Approve the revisions to polling places set out in section 2 of the report, and more fully described in appendix 1 of the report.

 

4)    Note that the changes to polling places will take effect from the May 2024 Police and Crime Commissioner, Borough, and Parish Council elections and thereafter.

12 Calendar of Meetings 2024/25 Draft Calendar of Meetings 2024_2025

Resolved: The calendar of meetings for the 2024/25 municipal year be agreed.

13 Notice of Motion - Reintroduction and Support of Indoor Soft Play Facilities in Basingstoke and Deane

The following motion was moved by Councillor McIntyre and seconded by Councillor Compton-Burnett:

 

This Council notes that:

 

  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Basingstoke had several thriving indoor soft play facilities providing a safe and enjoyable environment for children to play and develop essential motor and social skills.

 

  • Due to the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, commercial soft play operators have departed from Basingstoke, leaving a void for parents and guardians seeking indoor recreational activities for their children.

 

  • The absence of these facilities has had a negative impact on our residents, with fewer local options for children's activity, especially during inclement weather, and a potential decline in communal bonding and social interaction among families in Basingstoke.

 

  • Therefore, recognising the vital role that indoor soft play facilities play in the well-being and development of our younger residents, and their significance in strengthening community ties:

 

This Council resolves to request Cabinet to:

 

  • Task officers with conducting a feasibility study to identify barriers that may currently prevent the re-establishment of indoor soft play facilities in Basingstoke and Deane and to seek potential solutions.

 

  • Explore potential incentives, financial or otherwise, that can be extended to commercial soft play operators to encourage them to establish or re-establish their presence in Basingstoke and Deane.

 

  • Engage with existing and potential soft play operators to understand their specific challenges and requirements, with a view to tailoring support mechanisms that are both practical and effective.

 

  • Engage with residents, especially families with young children, to gauge their needs and preferences in relation to indoor soft play facilities, ensuring that any future endeavours align with community desires.

 

  • Report back to the Council within six months with findings, potential action plans, and recommendations on the way forward.

 

This Council believes that the revitalisation of indoor soft play facilities is not just about play, but also about supporting the mental and social well-being of our community's children and their families. It is an investment in the future health and cohesion of Basingstoke and Deane.

 

The motion was debated and a range of views were expressed.  Comments included:

 

  • There were a few soft play facilities already in the borough e.g. 4 Kingdoms, Sports Centre, Flip Out.  Some members felt there were sufficient facilities already however others considered there to be a lack of indoor accessible social space particularly for young children at weekends.
  • Concern was raised regarding the profitability of soft play and reference in the motion to exploring financial incentives for operators. It was questioned whether this was good use of officer time and council resources.
  • Soft play provision was being considered as part of the leisure offer at the Leisure Park.
  • Soft play facilities were private businesses run by commercial operators that are affected by many challenges not necessarily local issues but nationally. 
  • Need to travel outside of the borough to access the larger multi-level soft play facilities which are more suitable and challenging for school age children.
  • The motion was not asking for commitment to financial support but looking at what the council could do to support soft play facilities and attract them into the borough.
  • Soft play facilities needed to be affordable for all residents.
  • Whilst soft play was important, mental and social well-being, health and cohesion should not be dependent on a soft play experience.
  • With an increase from government in free childcare provision, small businesses such as childminders use soft play to access a range of socialising opportunities which helps the local economy benefit from the government funding.

 

Following debate, upon a recorded vote there voted 36 votes in favour of the motion and 9 abstentions. 

 

Resolved: The motion be carried.

 

14 Questions from Members of the Council on notice

1)         From:   Councillor Mummalaneni

To:       Cabinet Member for Climate and Ecological Emergency

 

In the Brookvale and Kings Furlong ward, a majority of residents lack off-street parking. Back in 2021, the Conservative Administration proposed the installation of up to 30 EV charging points on the roads within my ward. The detailed plan specified streets and types of chargers. However, this proposal seems to have vanished from the website. Could the portfolio holder please confirm if it is still in the plan, and if so, when can we expect these installations to take place?

 

Answer

Thank you, Councillor Mummalaneni for this question. Supporting communities to swap diesel and petrol vehicles for zero-emission electric vehicles is a core part of our work to tackle the climate crisis, and so the continued delivery of chargers is of great importance to myself and Cabinet colleagues.

This council has made good progress so far with the charging infrastructure, including rolling them out in our own council-owned car parks and more recently in community centres. But I do agree with you that we desperately need more on-street charging points. Hampshire County Council (HCC), as the body responsible for controlling the process for this, must do more to help us make it happen. As part of the Council’s work to increase the number of electric vehicle chargers locally, in 2022 the previous administration and the officers started working with HCC to prepare their bid for government funding for further vehicle on-street chargers. Early proposals were made for chargers where they could be created across the borough including Brookvale and Kings Furlong, but it noted in that report that final numbers and locations were subject to successful funding bids and further technical assessments. Unfortunately, since working up the scheme it has been subject to delays, including procurement issues at the county council and then, more recently, the withdrawal of the relevant application form for the funding by Government.

Despite these delays, we are determined to drive forward the delivery of these on-street chargers and we’ve continued to work with the county council on these proposals throughout this time and I can announce that, to make up the funding gap that frustratingly the current Government can’t seem to make its mind up to deliver, we will be proposing in our February budget to use the climate funding, the climate change reserve, to provide this essential part of our environmental strategy. Again, the Government is once again demonstrating that it has little interest in moving towards net zero by further demonstrating that they are not helping residents.

So, I envisage working with my colleague Councillor Andy Konieczko as the lead cabinet member for infrastructure to make further detail available on our system and how we’re going to roll these out, in the new year. Our officers are working on an electric vehicle charging strategy to provide the direction and this will help us with future funding bids and we’ll continue to develop plans for additional charge points in the future. Thank you.

Supplementary Question

Thank you, Mr Mayor, so can the Portfolio Holder confirm that the previous locations which were promised by the earlier administration will be delivered with the new strategy, with the new funding from the local council?

Answer

Sorry, no I can’t actually. Until that report is done, and the county council come up with that, we are in a state of flux so I cannot commit. But we will try everything we can do to deliver them, thank you.

2)         From:   Councillor Slimin

To:       Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure

 

Action required on regulating HMO conversions in Tadley area

 

As you will be aware, this council set the following policy on Article 4 Directions in 2014 which has limited scope.

 

Conversion of dwelling houses to Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Planning permission is required to convert a dwelling house to HMO in Basingstoke Town and Chineham and the surrounding villages of Old Basing, Oakley and Sherborne St John.

 

The building of new homes in Tadley, Pamber and Baughurst is restricted because they are in the AWE Detailed Emergency Protection Zone (DEPZ). This has resulted in homes being bought, extended or internally changed and converted to HMOs without requiring planning permission for this change. This has led to residents not being consulted about the conversion and in many cases these conversions are adding to parking problems already experienced in some of the estates. Mainly because of the increased number of cars at such properties without sufficient parking places on the property.

 

Tadley Town Council has made several requests that this Article 4 Direction be extended to Tadley and have highlighted a number of applications where properties seem likely to become HMOs without being flagged as such. While it is understandable that there is a market for such development it seems to fly in the face of the DEPZ objective as it is leading to an increase in population which the DEPZ is designed to prevent. Having a requirement to obtain planning permission before conversion also helps ensure any such property is also licenced and operated in line with legislation. 

 

Will the portfolio holder please request the planning department to consider whether they can extend the same policy to cover the Tadley area so that such conversions are dealt with through the proper planning process. This will ensure due consideration is given to that conversion and that the property has the correct licence to operate as an HMO.

 

Answer (Co-Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Property on behalf of Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure)

 

Thank you for that question, Councillor Slimin. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advises that all Article 4 directions should be applied in a measured and targeted way. They should be based on robust evidence and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.  On this basis officers can meet with Councillor Slimin to discuss the evidence that is available, although at this stage it’s considered unlikely to be possible to provide the evidence base for the whole of Tadley to be included within an Article 4 direction. But certainly, we’d welcome to have a conversation with Councillor Slimin to see what can be achieved in the hotspot areas of Tadley where it’s become an issue.

 

Supplementary Question

 

That’s very interesting because obviously in 2014 there seemed to have been evidence provided that included the villages of Old Basing, Oakley and Sherborne St John. I can understand there may be evidence in Basingstoke, but I can’t quite understand why there was evidence in those villages at that time when I don’t suspect they’ve still got a problem, and maybe that could also be looked into when the consideration is happening.  Could the portfolio holder take that up?  Thank you.

Answer

It’s certainly something we can look into. Obviously the NPPF has been updated since 2014, so it may be something to do with that. Clearly, we can only work with the current legislation but it’s a question she can ask in our meeting with officers.

3)         From:   Councillor Dillow

To:       The Leader of the Council

 

Cllr Harvey, can you clarify the Council's current strategy for ensuring that Planet Ice fulfil their obligations to maintain the Ice Rink?

 

Answer

Thank you, Councillor. When I read your question, I’ve got to be honest I did think it was rather ironic. A Conservative councillor asking about a strategy for ice, that certainly wasn’t lost on me. As the councillor knows the strategy is as we have stated publicly, to work with the two responsible organisations to get them to fulfil their responsibilities. Keeping ice in Basingstoke is something I am sure we can all support, and we know how frustrated the ice users are, we shared their frustration for many years while in opposition. Given the years of neglect of the ice rink on the previous administrations watch during the New River Retail debacle, where many promises were made, utterly all of them never real. Is there any wonder we face such a complex and difficult situation today? You’ve left a real mess behind you, and we are going to work through it, but nobody should be under any illusion that the complex muddle we have inherited is going to take some time to resolve.

Supplementary Question

Residents in my ward of Kempshott and Buckskin are continually raising their concerns actually, about the condition of the ice rink with me, and in the past Councillor Harvey, yes, you have been very vocal about Planet Ice’s responsibility to maintain the ice rink to a satisfactory standard. And I quote from our friends at the Gazette, and these are your quotes:

‘We are as keen as the ice rink users to see the poor condition of the ice rink addressed as soon as possible. We are investigating options to bring this to a conclusion as quickly as possible, as the uncertainty has gone on too long, and we respect that the ice users deserve an answer’.

And that was back in September. So given the ongoing issues which include a recent incident affecting the young ice hockey players that had to cancel a recent match, or the Basingstoke Christmas Ice Skating Show that had to move to Gosport to put on their show because the seating isn’t safe for an audience and also, the concerns for the livelihoods of many ice-skating coaches who rely on this for their income. So, my question is, what specific actions is the current administration taking to ensure that Planet Ice and Standard Security adhere to their maintenance responsibilities, and how is this Council leveraging its position as the landowner to ensure the communities interests and the safety of the rink’s users are prioritised?

Answer

Thank you, Mr Mayor. We are keen to see it resolved. It’s a difficult situation, we all know that. We all know there are parties involved that need to come to the table and need to work together to resolve it. But I’ll tell you what, and I’ll finish on this. I am not taking any lessons from that side of the chamber on the ice rink having stood there for years arguing the case on this side of the chamber for the ice users. So, I hear them, I understand them, and there are many ice users, not just in your ward, but across the town and across the borough and the issue is very difficult. But we’re seeking to resolve it and we’re seeking to work through it so that ice can stay in Basingstoke. But I will not take lessons from the Conservative Group when you stood there for years rubbing New River Retail down our throat as being the best solution since sliced bread for that Leisure Park. You spent seven years telling us something that was utterly unreal and promised us fairy lights as to what it would be possible to deliver on that Leisure Park through New River Retail, and through all those years that ice rink deteriorated and deteriorated and all the money that was spent on it. So, let’s just step back a little bit and put it back into the issue that’s relevant. How do we keep ice in Basingstoke, and that’s what we are focused on.

4)         From:   Councillor Mummalaneni

To:       The Leader of the Council

 

On December 8, 2023, a resident of my ward spent 20 minutes on phone attempting to contact a council staff member to report a damaged bin. In addition, the resident described the experience as "officious and unhelpful," which stands in stark contrast to our commitment to steadfast service, where no resident should face such challenges. Could the portfolio holder provide information on the average time taken to answer phone calls? Could the administration elaborate on the measures being implemented to address these customer service issues and ensure a more efficient and resident-friendly response?

 

Answer

Thank you for your question, Councillor. Given it is nearly a week now since this incident took place, it is disappointing that you have not raised this with me directly. Of course, such a wait is not acceptable. Let’s just be clear, we have now adopted a new Customer Strategy that directly addresses the standards and processes in responding to all inquiries and questions and our officers aim to respond to 70% of all calls within 30 seconds. Officers have shared with me the log of the call in question and that there were particular circumstances on that day which led to longer response times, and it is understandable that that would have caused frustration to residents. But it is also important that we get all the information we need during calls to help answer residents’ questions and deal with their requests. It’s important that residents help us to enable officers to help them. In this case, where a replacement larger bin is requested, as in this case, our advisors need to understand the reasons. Now I’m not going to go into the details of the case, it would be wrong to go into detailed case details in this council chamber, which is why I wish you’d brought it to me, Arun before you asked the question on the floor of Full Council this evening. If you want to pick this up offline, as an individual case for your constituent, I will be very happy to explore it with you, but I’m not going to go any further for the individual case this evening because that would be inappropriate on the floor of Full Council but thank you.

Supplementary Question

I want to clarify this. This is one experience that is brought to me, and the question is, is it across the borough? That is why this question is in this Chamber Mr Mayor.

Answer

I can answer that very quickly and say it is one experience and it is not typical by any stretch of the imagination but nonetheless bring the case forward, let’s talk about it because one case needs to be dealt with even if it’s just the one. That resident needs to be supported and I’m happy to do so, but I can say that the officers did respond appropriately, in a good fashion, to that resident.

5)         From:   Councillor Vaux

To:        Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Culture

 

Over the last few years, we have all been sharing the rollercoaster ride being experienced by Basingstoke Community Football Club and its supporters, both on and off the pitch. 

 

I was very pleased that as a council we did everything we could to support the Club, including refusing planning permission for housing at the Camrose site, which we lost on appeal; and granting the site Asset of Community Value status, which we won on appeal.  This designation provides community interest groups the opportunity to bid for the land should it come up for sale.  They would have 6 weeks to register a written interest to be a potential bidder, which would it turn trigger a 6 month moratorium to enable the community group to develop a business plan and secure finance. 

 

Basingstoke Community Football Club submitted their business plan for a new stadium to the council in October.  We then heard late in November that Basron notified the council on the 31st of October of their intention to sell the Camrose site, as required as an Asset of Community Value.  The six week window for the football club to register an interest in bidding for the land therefore closed on Monday 11th December.

 

Please would the portfolio holder confirm whether Basingstoke Community Football Club, or any other community interest group, has submitted a written request to be treated as a potential bidder?

 

Answer

Thank you, Councillor Vaux, for your question.  We were notified by solicitors acting on behalf of Basron of its intention to sell the land it owns at the Camrose Stadium on 31 October. As the site is listed as an asset of community value, we took the appropriate steps to publicise the proposed sale and informed the ward councillors for South Ham and Basingstoke Town Community Football Club who originally requested that the stadium be added to the list of assets of community value. The deadline for any community interest group to register their interest in being treated as a potential bidder for the site was 12 December. No expressions of interest have been received. Thank you.

Supplementary Question

So please would the portfolio holder clarify what actions the council is now going to take in response to the Basingstoke Town Football Club’s business plan for a new football stadium and what the council’s plans are for the 30% of the Camrose site which it owns, especially now that a planning application has been made to demolish all of the stadium buildings? Thank you.

Answer

Thank you. That’s pretty much two supplementary questions, I won’t cover the Camrose question because that covers multiple different areas, it’s not just sport. As for the plan for Basingstoke Town Football Club, if I reiterate what I said before, we’ve held talks, the club has talked to us. Those talks will continue. We have a priority to deliver the Aquadrome at the Leisure site. There are opportunities there, as that develops, but at this stage, the business plan that’s been submitted to us does require significant investment as I said before and so we’re still in talks with the football club and that will develop as we go on and we want to keep that communication open. So, thank you. 

 

6)         From:   Councillor Jenny Vaux

To:        Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Culture

 

The council has recently published its latest Leisure and Recreational Needs Assessment, which informs various leisure and sporting strategies and delivery plans, including the Playing Pitch Strategy.  I would like to thank all the officers involved in updating the LRNA, which is a highly complex document requiring work with multiple external agencies and local sporting organisations. 

 

Anyone who has attended any Basingstoke Rugby Football Club events or matches at Down Grange will have been struck by how friendly and welcoming the club is.  With comparatively minimal support from the council they are running multiple teams across all the age groups, including flourishing women’s and girls’ teams, and a vet’s team.  Their first men’s team have bounced back from a hard season last year, with 7 wins from 8 games so far this season.  It takes a lot of heart and commitment to achieve this when everyone is a volunteer, and their grass pitches get a hammering with multiple training sessions and matches especially with our recent wet weather. 

 

The Club works hard to raise its own funds, including paying for the construction of its covered seating stadium.  They welcome the local community to their social events with a convivial bar and dining room.  They support local businesses where they can, including Global Kitchen, who do a brilliant job, catering for their pre-match lunches and club fund raising parties.  They really do everything they can to sustain a flourishing local club.

 

In 2015 our LRNA assessment, reflected in the Playing Pitch Strategy delivery plan, said that Basingstoke Rugby Club should have a plastic playing pitch at Down Grange, to be delivered in the “medium term”.  That was 8 years ago.

 

Our new LRNA says the same, that the rugby club should have a plastic playing pitch, but the delivery plan remains silent on when this should be, just in the “medium term”.  I have asked for clarification and not received a target date.  We have great plastic pitches for hockey and multiple artificial grass football pitches. Rugby is clearly falling behind. Our flourishing town rugby club, a real asset to Basingstoke in so many ways, deserves more support from the council.  Please would the portfolio holder provide a clear target date for the club to have a compliant artificial rugby turf pitch?

 

Answer

Thank you. There is no external grant funding currently available for the £1.1 million up front cost of an artificial rugby pitch. In the future, the rugby club will need to work with the council to create a strong business plan that demonstrates the increased revenue opportunities and rugby provision that would be achieved with an artificial pitch. The team will also be working with the club and the Rugby Football Union to look out for grant funding as well as using any developers’ contributions that are available.

Supplementary Question

I find it interesting, the £1.1 million. The Rugby Union Affiliation Society says about £400,000 would be about what we expected. The other point is that they don’t want the cage pitch, as they call it, is not what they want to be created, it’s plastic turf, it’s their training. So, at the moment there’s no training facilities for them. They have to rent 4G from somewhere else. So, I would ask the portfolio holder, is there an opportunity for the club to work with you and the council to establish a sustainable way for them to continue training because at the moment, the grass is not fit, thank you.

Answer

I’m certainly open to talking to the rugby club. Prices have really gone up. I know back in 2017 there was funding available and also they put in planning permission to put an artificial pitch in at that point. Unfortunately, money got pulled because of overspend on the Twickenham stand. So, the cost may well have been the cost back then but unfortunately with the delay, it’s now for a proper sized pitch we’re talking about, is £1.1 million. If the rugby club want something different, then by all means, I would love to come and talk to the rugby club. Please send me an email. Thank you.

7)         From:   Councillor Ganesh

To:       Leader of the Council

 

In light of the recent fire incident in your ward, Oakridge and subsequent enforcement notices, what measures is the council taking to ensure housing associations like Vivid are maintaining clear and timely communication with residents regarding safety upgrades and fire prevention measures? Additionally, how is the council working to guarantee that these critical safety works are conducted promptly and effectively across the borough?

 

Answer

Thank you, Councillor Ganesh, for the question because you give me the opportunity to make some important points. The residents of Oakridge Village want to know they’re safe. They wanted to know that immediately after the fire and have continued to seek assurance. The investigations that have been conducted have now led to enforcement notices. To be clear Vivid, as the responsible authority, have responded to the points raised in the enforcement notices issued by the Fire Brigade. Their Chief Executive confirmed this to me just this last week. Vivid have written to all residents in the fire damaged blocks stating that they are continuing to work with the loss adjusters who are completing their assessment of the fire damaged building so that they can ensure that work to repair it can start as soon as possible. Once they are in the position to begin the work, they will update residents on the potential timescales for the works to be completed. They have also written to all residents in Oakridge Village. On many occasions, they have told us the safety works, which relate specifically to the enforcement actions, are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Residents have been able to stay in their homes while the works have been in progress, and they will receive a further update to confirm the completion.

This has been a traumatic experience for our residents, we continue to work with them and support them. I was only speaking to a number of them this weekend at the community event in Oakridge, to residents affected, as we do all the time. In respect to your wider point about the borough, the fire service provides support and advice to building owners and where further fire prevention measures are needed, they will serve enforcement notices and monitor the progress of this work. We are assured that they undertake this work and communicate with the responsible authorities, and in this case the responsible authority was Vivid, hence the communication from Vivid to the residents in regard to both Oakridge Village but also the specific fire damaged block.

Supplementary Question

I understand the authority responsible is Vivid in this case but considering the apparent gaps in this communication and the action from Vivid as reported to us last week in our local media, what is council’s role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing, what specific steps will you be taking to enhance the oversight and accountability of the housing association in the borough? This is a serious issue and it is a traumatic experience for your residents.  I completely understand our residents in the borough but how will you ensure such lapses in communication and safety measures are not repeated to guarantee the safety and peace of mind of all the residents, not just within your ward or just this specific incident but all around the borough in future? Thank you.

Answer

Thank you, I think you make a very important point about communication actually and my experience of Vivid’s response to their residents, our residents, has been that in that immediate first period there was daily contact between Vivid officers and our officer team, the housing team and residents in that immediate crisis. And that was very important, that daily consistent support. Vivid have continued to work with us in partnership and by us trying to support them in fulfilling their responsibility by being a good partner in a relationship that we enjoy and have to ensure that those residents when the works are being completed, understand what’s expected, what’s coming, that they then have given confidence during the process when the works are going on and they are then informed of the completion when the works are completed. So Vivid have a constant set of communications ongoing with residents, who in the broader Oakridge Village the specific issues of the fire damage building is a lot more complicated because that has relied on loss adjusters. It has relied on external surveys and external investigations and our partnership with the fire brigade is also important in that because the fire brigade are also partners in this relationship. So as a local authority, by binding together using our ability to be the partner with these other organisations who are the responsible authorities, we can make the system work, we can make it work between everybody to try and fulfil that sense of communication that you’re talking about, if you’re talking about the broader borough which is important because it’s not just Oakridge. Oakridge is the current community that has suffered immediately, but your question is also the broader borough and I think again it’s an important point. I’m confident that the fire brigade take their role and implement that role with other owners of other buildings across the borough, and where they were to issue enforcement notices, where they were to issue future notices to buildings, owners, landlords and so on, responsible authorities as would be, then again I would perceive it would be our role as a local authority to be working in partnership with them in order that those enforcement notices were fulfilled. But we have to understand that both the responsible authority fulfils its responsibility, that’s why it’s the responsible authority, and the fire brigade undertake their actions as the fire brigade and our role as the local council is to make sure they do that and to work with them in partnership in good faith which we most certainly do.

8)          From:   Councillor Mummalaneni

To:       Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services and Housing

 

Council officers have declared the Eastrop dancing fountains beyond repair. Once a beloved attraction in the town centre and a communal outdoor space for families with children living in residential high-rise buildings, these fountains are now deteriorating and vulnerable to vandalism. Could the portfolio holder kindly elaborate on their plans for this site?

 

Answer

Thank you, Councillor, for your question. I wrote to the administration last year, while in opposition to express my deep disappointment with the administration and your intention to close the fountains, and like you say, weren’t they beautiful. I remember those, and I remember the officer designing those fountains and we were so proud of those, they were incredible. It was on your administrations watch that the fountains condition deteriorated to the point that they could only be repaired at a huge cost. I’m not sure what the councillor means when you refer to vandalism of the fountains, as they literally come out of the ground. They’re underground and the mechanism itself is underground and is not publicly accessible. It’s the mechanism that has deteriorated and it’s not been vandalised. We are in the process of looking at the options there could be for the future of the water in this area and how it will link to the Town Centre and how it links to the access and to the opening of Eastrop Park. It’s great that the fountains are next to Eastrop Park and how it’s going to be sited and we’re really excited about the future and what that might look like. The park is an award-winning park and it’s full of play equipment, paddling pool, boating lake and it’s full of other activities for the families. And it is this administration that recognised that park in that area and the importance of it to the town and therefore that’s why we decided that we would make parking free and ensure that people can enjoy that area. We were very disappointed when you introduced a parking charge. And it’s amazing we have a green and blue space in our town, in the centre of our town that people and families can enjoy.

Supplementary Question

Mayor, I would like to remind my esteemed colleague it was me who asked the question in this Chamber about these fountains. I asked this in the Chamber to my own administration at that time. When I mean the vandalism here, Mr Mayor, it is the vandalism surrounding it. I reported to the council several times about the damaged sitting area and we have to replace it because it is underused, that is constantly damaged and we have to invest money to replace it. That is what I mean by the vandalism. Thank you.

Answer

In visiting the site, there is no vandalism around. Where there is vandalism is on the walls to the subway and they are needing work, and I understand from the local council that the County Councillor, has reported it. We have reported it as officers as well to the County, that area belongs to County, and we’re told by officers in this council they’re very unlikely to actually do something because of the financial situation they’re in but we also need to ensure that when we do this work, that we look at how we link to that area and how we link to Eastrop so we want to make this an area that we’re really proud of. One thing I do know is that County do remove the graffiti. There is a notice at the moment, some graffiti on the walls there and therefore we know that County are quite quick to respond to that but obviously that area is a disappointment but we’re not likely to get them to do that work.

 

9)         From:   Councillor Mummalaneni

To:       Leader of the Council

 

In late summer, this chamber approved a motion to provide regular updates to ward councillors regarding the Crown Heights cladding work. Subsequently, the leader informed us that the commencement would be in September, later revised to November. Mr. Mayor, as we've entered December, there is still no indication of any progress. Could we please receive an update on the status of the works and the reasons behind the delay?

Answer

We met a resident and ward councillors in September, and we have engaged further with Barratt. The start date for the work has been delayed until the summer of 2024.  Barratt are responsible for this delay and they have told us that they have written to all residents to explain themselves. Residents had raised a number of issues about the timing of the works and Barratt have suggested they have listened to those residents. We fully recognise the need for the remedial work to be completed as quickly as possible, given the impact on tenants and leaseholders. For this reason, we recently met with the senior representatives from Barratt to understand the reasons for these delays and to discuss what support they will provide to residents whilst the works are being carried out. Barratt have committed to supporting residents with any ‘out of pocket’ expenses for such items such as extra heating costs or dehumidifiers that may be needed whilst works are being completed. However, Barratt is not prepared to meet the cost of increased insurance premiums. We feel very strongly that as residents and leaseholders were not to blame for the building safety problems and are also not responsible for the delay to these works being completed, and yet are having to foot the bill for the increased insurance costs, we are calling on Barratt to change their policy in respect of building insurance costs. We also impressed upon Barratt how important it was to improve engagement with the residents and leaseholders and they have committed to being better at communicating directly with residents.  They gave us such an assurance. Following requests from some residents and local councillors, the council have written to the Valuation Office to request that the council tax bandings for properties at Crown Heights are re-examined to ensure that residents are paying the correct amounts. This is a matter for the Valuation Office, it’s in their gift and it is something that is beyond the control of this council, but we have followed through on what we promised we would do. We realise just how difficult this situation has been for all residents and leaseholders in Crown Heights.  That’s why we have written to all residents to update them, and we will continue to do so.

Supplementary Question

Thank you, Leader for your proactive approach here. I understand that Barratt has changed its contractor. Why has the contractor changed all of a sudden in between when he’s supposed to start the contract?

Answer

You may well be right Councillor Mummalaneni that they have changed their contractor. Can I suggest you write to them and ask them directly why they’ve done that because that is their business.

10)      From:   Councillor Edwards

To:       Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure

 

Residents are very concerned about the East of Basingstoke development for various reasons including odour issues, access, and bus routes. Can I ask, what are the cabinet are doing to ensure Hampshire County Council - the landowners are doing to address the concerns?

Answer (Co-Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Property on behalf of Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure)

 

Thank you very much for your question, a very well-written question. As you well know, the East of Basingstoke is allocated in the Local Adopted Plan (2021-2029). It’s included within the settlement policy boundary for Basingstoke where the principle of development is established. The allocation of 450 homes is supported by a detailed criteria-based policy which development on the site will need to meet. Any application, because it’s one of the larger sites, it’s got a specific policy and a briefing document that was published in 2017 that goes with it. Any application on that site will need to go through the normal development management processes where the impacts of future development will be assessed against the policy and take into account relevant information including that related to the above. So, it’s got to go through the planning process, so the policy is already there, it was approved by the previous administration, but you will notice that I know Hampshire County Council, to their credit have done a lot of work over the summer to consult with residents and try and get their feedback. I think they’re looking to publish those results and feedback in early 2024 when we’ll see. Clearly not my ward, and not my county area. Your County Councillor may have more information.

 

15 Questions to the Chair of Cabinet and/or a committee

There were no questions.

 

Meeting Attendees

Councillor Andrea Bowes photo
Committee Member
Chair of the Human Resources Committee
Councillor Andrea Bowes

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor Androulla Johnstone photo
Committee Member
Councillor Androulla Johnstone

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor Andy Konieczko photo
Committee Member
Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure
Councillor Andy Konieczko

Liberal Democrat

Apologies

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Councillor Gavin James photo
Committee Member
Co-Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Property
Councillor Gavin James

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor John McKay photo
Committee Member
Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships and Inclusion
Councillor John McKay

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor Jo Slimin photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of Standards and Community Environment and Partnerships Committee
Councillor Jo Slimin

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor Kerry Morrow photo
Committee Member
Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Culture
Councillor Kerry Morrow

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor Mike Bound photo
Committee Member
Councillor Mike Bound

Liberal Democrat

Apologies

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Councillor Ronald Hussey photo
Committee Member
Councillor Ronald Hussey

Liberal Democrat

Present, as expected

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Councillor Abdel Ibrahim photo
Committee Member
Councillor Abdel Ibrahim

Labour

Present, as expected

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Councillor Alex Lee photo
Committee Member
Chair of Community, Environment and Partnership Committee
Councillor Alex Lee

Labour

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Councillor Andrew McCormick photo
Committee Member
Chair of the Development Control Committee
Councillor Andrew McCormick

Labour and Co-Operative Party

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Councillor Angie Freeman photo
Committee Member
Chair of the Manydown Committee
Councillor Angie Freeman

Labour

Apologies

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Councillor Gary Watts photo
Committee Member
Chair of Economic, Planning & Housing Committee
Councillor Gary Watts

Labour

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Councillor Jacky Tustain photo
Committee Member
Leader of the Labour Group
Councillor Jacky Tustain

Labour

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Councillor Marc Connor photo
Committee Member
Deputy Leader of the Labour Group
Councillor Marc Connor

Labour

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Councillor Sajish Tom photo
Committee Member
Councillor Sajish Tom

Labour

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Councillor Stephanie Grant photo
Committee Member
Councillor Stephanie Grant

Labour

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Councillor Tony Jones photo
Committee Member
Chair of the Licensing Committee
Councillor Tony Jones

Labour

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Councillor Kate Tuck photo
Committee Member
Councillor Kate Tuck

Independent Member

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Councillor Onnalee Cubitt photo
Committee Member
Cabinet Member for Major Projects and Regeneration
Councillor Onnalee Cubitt

Independent Member

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Councillor Sven Godesen photo
Committee Member
Councillor Sven Godesen

Independent Member

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Councillor Michael Howard-Sorrell photo
Committee Member
Councillor Michael Howard-Sorrell

Green

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Councillor Abigail Compton-Burnett photo
Committee Member
Councillor Abigail Compton-Burnett

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Arun Mummalaneni photo
Committee Member
Councillor Arun Mummalaneni

Conservative

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Councillor Dan Putty photo
Vice-Chair
Deputy Mayor
Councillor Dan Putty

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor David Leeks photo
Chair
Mayor
Councillor David Leeks

Conservative

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Councillor David McIntyre photo
Committee Member
Councillor David McIntyre

Conservative

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Councillor Diane Taylor photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of Licensing and Manydown Overview Committee
Councillor Diane Taylor

Conservative

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Councillor Graham Falconer photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of the Audit and Accounts Committee
Councillor Graham Falconer

Conservative

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Councillor Hannah Golding photo
Committee Member
Councillor Hannah Golding

Conservative

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Councillor Hayley Eachus photo
Committee Member
Councillor Hayley Eachus

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Jay Ganesh photo
Committee Member
Councillor Jay Ganesh

Conservative

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Councillor Jenny Vaux photo
Committee Member
Councillor Jenny Vaux

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor John Izett photo
Committee Member
Councillor John Izett

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Ken Rhatigan photo
Committee Member
Councillor Ken Rhatigan

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Laura Edwards photo
Committee Member
Councillor Laura Edwards

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Nicholas Robinson photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of Development Control Committee
Councillor Nicholas Robinson

Conservative

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Councillor Paul Gaskell photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of the Audit and Accounts Committee
Councillor Paul Gaskell

Conservative

Apologies

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Councillor Paul Miller photo
Committee Member
Chair of Scrutiny Committee
Councillor Paul Miller

Conservative

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Councillor Rebecca Bean photo
Committee Member
Councillor Rebecca Bean

Conservative

Apologies

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Councillor Richard Court photo
Committee Member
Councillor Richard Court

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Samir Kotecha photo
Committee Member
Councillor Samir Kotecha

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Samuel Carr photo
Committee Member
Councillor Samuel Carr

Conservative

Present, as expected

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Councillor Sean Dillow photo
Committee Member
Councillor Sean Dillow

Conservative

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Councillor Simon Minas-Bound photo
Committee Member
Leader of the Conservative Group
Councillor Simon Minas-Bound

Conservative

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Councillor Chloe Ashfield photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of the Economic Planning Housing Committee
Councillor Chloe Ashfield

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

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Councillor Chris Tomblin photo
Committee Member
Cabinet Member for Climate and Ecological Emergency
Councillor Chris Tomblin

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

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Councillor Colin Phillimore photo
Committee Member
Councillor Colin Phillimore

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Present, as expected

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Councillor Karen Watts photo
Committee Member
Councillor Karen Watts

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Present, as expected

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Councillor Laura James photo
Committee Member
Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services and Housing
Councillor Laura James

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Present, as expected

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Councillor Paul Basham photo
Committee Member
Chair of the Audit and Accounts Committee
Councillor Paul Basham

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Present, as expected

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Councillor Paul Harvey photo
Committee Member
Leader
Councillor Paul Harvey

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Present, as expected

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Councillor Tony Durrant photo
Committee Member
Vice-Chair of Human Resources Committee
Councillor Tony Durrant

Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Present, as expected

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Source

This meeting detail is from Basingstoke & Dean Borough Council website