Community and Culture gets back to business

Hedge End Town Council’s Community & Culture Committee returned to business as usual this evening, after failing to raise a quorum in December.

Present this evening were Cllr Lousie Bloom, Cllr Daniel Clarke, Cllr Cynthia Garton and Cllr Stan Sthankiya, which was sufficient to form a quorum.

Apologies were formally received from Cllr Hicks, Cllr Baynes, Cllr Caitlin Bloom, and Cllr Pretty.

The business that could not be carried out last time was incorporated into this evenings agenda and an effective meeting was held.

This year is Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and the Council had recently received some correspondence about the chain of beacons that are to be lit on the evening of 4th June 2012. The committee had to decide whether to organise a beacon in Hedge End or not.

Cllr Louise Bloom, who was chairing the meeting said that there would be some insurance costs , but lighting the beacon could be organised around another event and any profits given to charity. The main concern was that many people would be away that week. Was it something that the Committee wanted to do…?

Cllr Dan Clarke chipped in to say;

“I’m a Republican, but feel that if we’ve got to have a Monarch we couldn’t do any better than the Monarch we’ve got. The Diamond Jubilee is going to be a big event nationally, it is right that we take part, residents will expect us to do something and it is important that we don’t let Hedge End down.”

All of the Councillors agreed, with Cllr Cynthia Garton adding that;

“It would be a good idea to mark the occasion, as it is a once in a lifetime event, something that has not been seen since the days of Queen Victoria and might not be seen again for a very long time.”

The Committee’s decision was to ask the Carnival Committee if they would be able to take this on, as they’ve more experience of organising these major events in Hedge End.

Next on the Agenda was the HEWEB (Hedge End West End Botley) Youth Council report which focused on the events of the preceding evening, which Cllr Keith Day has also reported on his blog.

The provision of Youth Services in Hedge End is currently in a state of flux, with local Councils and community organisations filling the gap that has been left by Hampshire County Council.

Cllr Dan Clarke reported that cuts imposed by Hampshire County Council have meant that minimal funding of Youth Services by HCC has now been reduced to zero, so the HEWEB Youth Council has been disbanded, with various job losses.  At pains to say that;

“We don’t let people down”

Cllr Clarke went on to explain that a new HEWEB Youth Partnership has been created, with local Councillors (himself, Cllr Rupert Kyrle and Cllr Jenny Hughes) and representatives from various local organisations acting as the Trustees. The Partnership will initially be funded by HEWEB, Hedge End Town Council, Botley and West End Parish Councils.

Cllr Louise Bloom reported that Hampshire County Council had provided some transitional funding and added that the Partnership has also been set up in a way that will allow the Trustees to bid for funding from other sources. It will also be possible for the Trustees to apply for charitable status a little further down the line.  Overall she felt that the new arrangement would be;

“More responsive to the needs of local people”

Hedge End’s Christmas lights were discussed next. These are installed and maintained by a contractor, rather than the Council directly.

The Councillors reported that the feedback from the public on this years lights had been all positive, with the illuminated trees being particularly well liked.

A proposal to spend nearly £11k on the provision of additional power points was unanimously rejected by the Committee, on the basis that it was not good value for money and nobody had commented on some lights that were used in previous years being missing in the 2011/12 season.

The power points would have been needed to overcome a problem that was caused by Hampshire County Council’s street light replacement programme.

The Xmas lights that were previously strung along the front of the shops in Hedge End could not be used in the 2011/12 season because they could not be plugged into the new street lights.

The Councillors then unanimously agreed to proceed with the idea of producing a Hedge End calendar, to help the Town Council raise funds that could be put towards the annual Christmas lights.  The town of Alton has already done this successfully. The proceeds clearly wouldn’t cover the whole cost of the contract for Hedge End’s Christmas lights, but would help reduce the pressure on Council Tax.

The meeting then proceeded to discuss Hampshire County Council’s cuts to the library service, and the proposals to keep Hedge End library open by using volunteers.

Cllr Louise Bloom announced that the intention is to start by keeping the library open on Wednesday and on Saturday afternoons, possibly extending opening hours further when the volunteer scheme gets off the ground.

She added that there will be a meeting in Hedge End’s 2000 Centre, at 7pm on the 21st February, which will explain the scheme to anybody who is interested in volunteering to work in the Library, and which will hopefully recruit a strong pool of volunteers.

The Committee then discussed the Berry Theatre.  Cllr Louise Bloom reported that the Christmas show at the Berry Theatre  had been a huge success  and the same theatre company has already been booked for next Christmas.

Hedge End Town Council and HEWEB would support the production of a third brochure promoting the Berry Theatre, a temporary measure until the advertising revenue picks up.

At this point, the meeting was closed to the public and the press, so that the committee could deal with some exempt business. Specifically the “Serving the Community” and “Young Person’s Serving the Community” Awards.

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