One Horton Heath Update

One Horton Heath met on 3 February to provide a project update;- The new road linking Tollbar Way and Allington Lane is to be called the Avenue.  It is not currently clear whether the road will join the newly constructed roundabout in Allington Lane or 50m or so north of the roundabout. Open spaces and cycleway infrastructure will have a prominent place. The development will have a Green carbon free focus, but a number of attendees expressed concerns that 1.5 car parking spaces per dwelling were insufficient.  Much conversation took place as to what form of transport will be predominant…

Southampton Airport

Southampton Airport has applied for planning permission to extend its runway by 164 metres.  Already, Southampton and Winchester councils acting as consultees have declared their opposition to the application on environmental grounds. However, advancements in Hydrogen technology promise to make decarbonised regional aviation a reality very soon, perhaps as soon as 2024.  Cranfield University are leading the way in this country and proved that hydrogen can be used to fuel an aircraft by demonstrating a hydrogen powered flight from Cranfield Airfield in December 2020.  American start-up, Universal Hydrogen have developed an aircraft hydrogen storage system using 2 metres by 1…

Mobile Network Operators join forces

The excellent news this week that mobile Broadband providers, Three, O2 and Vodafone have formed a partnership (the Shared Rural Network) means that there is now one voice for this particular technology.  That only leaves the other big player in this sector, Virgin Media.  Hampshire County Council already have a large contract with O2 so inviting them to also attend the next Policy & Resources meeting should be possible. Next question is how does the council bid for funding from the Gigabit Broadband programme?

HCC’s Response to Climate Change

Last January, I reported that Cabinet approved the proposal to establish a Salix De-carbonisation Fund of £1million to fund a range of energy saving initiatives on the County Council’s corporate built estate. The fund comprised a £500,000 allocation from the remaining £1.1million of County Council funding identified for energy saving initiatives with match funding of £500,000 from Salix. On 7 January 2021, the council have released details of the current status of its climate change strategy, starting with a reminder of the scope;- Corporate buildings Street lighting Business travel Their original carbon reduction target for 2025 was 40% of 2010…

Schools and COVID

Definition of critical workers has expanded significantly since lockdown 1 In primary schools a teacher cannot teach in class and remotely at the same time Schools will not open before the end of Half Term Lateral flow tests are not very reliable. Efficacy depends on the trading the operator has received. Just secondary schools using it. Reasonably simple to use. PCR test is more accurate however. If one child tests positive, the whole bubble has to go home. The difficulty is only sending children home who are at risk of spreading the virus. Saliva tests are easy to complete. Hamble…

Is Hampshire County Council a Going Concern?

The County’s external auditors EY have not been able to sign off HCC’s 2019/20 accounts by the end of November, because of two concerns.  One relates to the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) deficit which requires action by the MHCLG and the other relates to a “Going Concern” issue.  The DSG deficit is a technical issue and should be resolved quite soon, however the “Going Concern” is more serious and therefore only the draft annual accounts can be published until a resolution is found.  The Council believes that it does have sufficient funds through to March 2022 at least. To make…

Emergency Travel Fund

An emergency active travel fund of £3.28m was granted to the County on 13 November and will be used for the following;- Transforming high streets Implementation of cycleways Additional signage E-bikes and e-scooter trials Strategic corridors along A27 New web based platform to highlight initiatives Consultation with Districts

Hampshire Pension Fund

Pension Fund investments have the ability to do good in addition to the provision of an income for retirees.  I have previously reported that I like to influence the way the money is invested in the Hampshire Pension Fund and so it can be frustrating when constituents contact me wanting the Panel to do more to mitigate Climate Change, when it is my belief that our investments are one of the most forward thinking in the country.  The problem is that when they read what we are doing, it is in a very technocratic language.  I raised this last month…

West Sussex County Council criticised by OFSTED for inadequate running of its Children’s Services

A statutory direction has been issued to West Sussex County Council due to poor performance in children’s social care services.  See Gov.uk website West Sussex Council was found by OFSTED at an inspection carried out between 25 February and 8 March 2019 that its Children’s Services are “inadequate”.  The Secretary of State for Education has therefore taken away the Council’s administration of the children’s social care functions and handed them to neighbouring Hampshire County Council. Judgement Grade The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families Inadequate Inadequate The experiences and progress of children who need help…