Chairman's Blog

Some thoughts and words of wisdom from your Chairman.

 

Parking in Beaulieu Village

A worsening problem in our community is the difficulty of parking in the village. Finding space in the High Street or the Village car Park, the only public areas for parking, is not easy.

A simple survey conducted by the Parish Council brought some interesting results. It would appear that most of the parking spaces in the High Street are taken by residents or those with businesses in the village. As most of the High Street is unrestricted the parking tends to be of a long term nature and also involves others from outside the village that see the benefit of free long term parking in a forest village.

The lack of public parking then causes a problem for some of the businesses with their own customer parking. At peak times these areas get used by non-customers. It was also noted that some businesses dissuaded their staff from using their own parking facilities and instead staff park in the free public areas.

The number or parking slots in the High Street is 52. On an average week day there are 44 traders and residents parking in the High Street. On week-ends this figure rises marginally to 46. This leaves approximately 8 free car parking slots for visitors to the High Street during the week and 6 at week-ends.

It is also apparent that the village car park is also quite often full, especially when used by organized walking groups.

In recent times several businesses have expanded with higher staffing levels but little regard has been paid to increasing parking facilities and coupled with a general increase of the day visitor number we arrive at a parking problem.

Beaulieu High Street has a number of small retail businesses that need good foot fall to survive. Many parishioners wish to shop locally but are frustrated in being unable to do so because of the impossible parking situation. Public transport is not a solution to this problem and is virtually non-existent.

To keep the village vibrant more car parking is very desirable.

New Forest District Council are going to run a series of workshops during the summer to address the issues in the New Forest towns and villages regarding car parking better public transport and charity shops. Beaulieu Parish council will be attending.

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.