Chairman's Blog

Some thoughts and words of wisdom from your Chairman.

 

Broadband

On the 29th August I attended a meeting at East Boldre Village Hall called by Councillor Ken Thornber, County Councillor Brockenhurst Division to discuss the delayed roll out of the fibre optic cable and cabinets for the South East area of the New Forest.
In addition to the South East area Parish Council Chairman two representatives from HCC were present, Neil Jones the assistant director CCBS-Business Services and Glenn Peacey, Hampshire Broadband project manager. A representative from BT was also present.
An impressive power point talk was given by Glenn Peacey using up-to-date maps of the roll out in Hampshire. This information is available to all by visiting the website hampshiresuperfastbroadband.com
Without going into all the tedious detail about the delay in delivery of broadband in our area it is because we are unique. There are so many statutory bodies, quangos and government agencies that have to be consulted, many of whom have raised objections, which has contributed to the delay. In the case of our parish most have now been overcome.
The good news is most of our Parish will be getting broadband but there are some areas that at the moment are outside the scheme. However, for those who are there is some further good news. We are the only parish getting fibre optic to premise. This should make for some very fast broadband speeds for our village. Hopefully by January.
The speaker in concluding did say if you want superfast broadband buy a house in Beaulieu!

Green Cabinets

Living in a beautiful area like the New Forest does not come without problems, with various layers of government, quangos, and stake holders all wanting to play their part. HCC who are rolling out broad band in Hampshire have to consult and obtain agreement from several interested parties these principally being for us, The Verderers, The Forestry Commission, Natural England, the District Council and also the Parish Council.

Rural Loneliness and Village Agents

One of the priorities of the Hampshire Association of Local Councils is around social isolation hence the reason they support the County Village Agent Scheme.
We have an aging population, no current ability to ramp up on our local government spending on care and a need to support communities being resilient and sustainable.
It is widely recognised that older people, often living in rural areas, have specific vulnerabilities owing to loss of friends and family, loss of mobility or loss of income.
 
20% of the 65+ population are estimated to be mildly lonely across Hampshire
 
8% - 10% of the 65+ population are estimated to be intensely lonely across Hampshire.
 
The impact of social isolation on an individual's health and well being has been shown to be significant. Both isolation and loneliness impair quality of life and well being.
We have invited Gail Allen to come and speak to us about this problem at our February Meeting of the Parish Council. All are welcome to attend.
Some pilot schemes are already running focused on proactively identifying and targeting these individuals who are currently most at risk from the impact of social isolation. The aim then is to support them in re-engaging with family and friends with whom they have lost touch and with their local communities or with the many communities of interest to be found on line.
Age Concern currently offers computer training in rural areas. It is a service involved by many over 50's who are able to benefit from their computer classes for a small donation of £4.50. Although from experience it is not the cost of the course but affording a computer and line rental.
We will watch the pilot schemes with interest and try to identify if loneliness in our parish is a problem.
 

Twinning

One of the few civic duties that your Chairman undertakes is welcoming people from our twin village Hautvillers in France. Yesterday I was privileged to undertake this duty again in the company of the young. Beaulieu has been twinned with this pretty village in the champagne region for 28 years and actively exchanges young and old nearly every year. Many close relationships have been built up over the years including at least one wedding.

Our Past Our Future

A £4.5m landscape scheme for the New Forest will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats and develop forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the forest.
Parish Councils with their local knowledge are being consulted and asked to get involved. There are several proposed projects such as working woodlands which aims to bring some 40% of unmanaged privately owned woodland into sustainable management.
Better Boundaries seeks to enhance and create boundary features such as hedgerows. The Forestry Commission will work with local communities to improve their knowledge of the importance of the historic boundaries.
Communities will be encouraged to feel a sense of guardianship which will enable them to identify and deal with issues in that area such as fly tipping and ditch clearance.
SINC's are Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. These vary from small ponds, woodland and grassland. There will be small grants available through the projects for encouraging active and appropriate management.
Parish Councils will be asked to help identify areas of archaeological and historical significance and to protect heritage areas that may be at risk.
All bridleways, drift ways and footpaths to be surveyed and parishes are to be asked which routes they consider important and to appoint Historic Route Champions.
Volunteers are also to be asked to record built heritage. There will be training courses in traditional building skills.
A further objective will be to develop areas of wild play. Youth organisations are to be consulted and the Hampshire and Isle Wight Wildlife Trust are also to be involved.
It's all about taking our past into the future!