A group of Hedge End residents met for a second time this evening, to informally discuss matters of concern in Hedge End. Three Town Councillors, Cllr Jane Welsh, Cllr Sheila Baynes and Cllr Keith Day were also present.
The inaugural meeting in November struggled to get going, but did eventually highlight that speeding and traffic issues were significant concerns locally, particularly the additional problems that would be caused by the major developments that are planned for Hedge End.
This evenings meeting settled an issue that was left unresolved at the first meeting, specifically the name of this embryonic group. Originally named the Hedge End Society, it was decided this evening that “The Friends of Hedge End” was a much more appropriate name.
The meeting was chaired by local resident Mrs Jill Burrows, to help address the criticism that the first meeting was too political. Councillors and local campaigners were there to listen, sat quietly at the back. The residents drove this meeting, which raised some interesting issues.
There was a distinct split amongst the residents. People who had recently moved to Hedge End felt that it had a lot going for it and residents shouldn’t be too negative about it. Those who had lived in Hedge End for a long time felt that it had deteriorated.
The centre of Hedge End was of particular concern, which was said to be “shabby” and “ignored”. One point of view expressed was that;
People are proud to live in the village of Botley, but the same cannot be said of Hedge End. It does not have an indentity, or has lost it through becoming too big and impersonal.
Comparison was made to the nearby suburb of Woolston, and the shopping centre in Victoria Road, which has declined in recent years following the closure of the shipbuilding yard. Some residents were concerned that the same thing was happening in Hedge End, with lots of charity shops and few quality shops because of the big “Out of Town” retail developments that have been built nearby.
But the opposite point of view was also expressed, i.e. that the Village Centre had Banks, Post Office, Doctors, Dentists and Opticians and was still busy because of those professions.
To resolve the problem with broken paving and potholes in the Village Centre, it was suggested that as many residents as possible should write to Hampshire County Council about the problem.
One observation was that there was little or no cohesion between the different areas of Hedge End. Grange Park for instance, is a completely different world to the older part of Hedge End.
The suggestion of resurrecting Hedge End in Bloom proved a popular idea that might help with that problem. It was argued that if residents across Hedge End could be persuaded to take ownership of their own little patch and brighten it up with plants and flowers, the Town might start to integrate more effectively and develop an identity, perhaps…?
Cllrs Welsh and Baynes, explained that the problem with the village centre is due to the complexity of who owns the shops, the roads & pavements and so on.
The Cllrs further explained that there was a Hedge End in Bloom competition, run previously as part of the Carnival week, but interest declined until it attracted only a handful of entries scattered across the whole Town. The idea was dropped a few years ago.
The Cllrs added that Hedge End Town Council meetings were poorly attended by the public. All of Hedge Ends residents are welcome to attend the full Council meetings and the committee meetings [n.b. the committee meetings are where most of the decisions are taken], which are publicised on the Hedge End Town Council website, and residents are warmly encouraged to do so.
The Friends of Hedge End plan to meet again on the 6th March, where it is hoped to progress the Hedge End in bloom idea. If you would like to join in with this discussion group (which is still evolving), please email email@example.com
The author of this article, Ray Turner, will be standing as an Independent candidate in the Hedge End, Shamblehurst, by election.