As some of you will be aware we have recently had three burglaries in Whitchurch overnight on 18th and 19th October and 28th and 29th October 2009.
These have occurred in Clements Gardens, Daniel Road and Mann Close. On each occasion the houses were believed broken into after an implement was put through the letterbox to open the front door.
Community Police Constable Paula Deery says "It is extremely important that people double lock their front doors so that they cannot be easily opened by using an implement through the letterbox. Also to ensure that car keys and handbags are not left on view."
Bonfire, Fireworks, Guys, Pumpkins, Witches ....
The Halloween festivities on the Millennium Meadow brought out an amazing display of talent. Combining Halloween activities, which included many turning up in fancy dress as witches (without any comment on how many ladies from the town looked remarkably realistic in their costumes!), skeletons and devils with decorating pumpkins and making guys or just turning up with ordinary looking families to enjoy the bonfire and fireworks.
A break in the wet weather allowed a small team greatly enhanced by the presence of Ross Jones, Gary Hunt and Fletch and driven by event organiser, Nev Bright, to spend all Saturday erecting the bonfire and setting out the fireworks. The Festival Committee is indebted for crucial help on the day from Albright, S H J Piper, A A Wolfenden, Pyrotastic Fireworks, The Kings Arms, Clacy's Garage, Gladstones Handbags, Whitchurch Business Centre and the .
Hardly had they finished when the first group of spectators arrived to follow the trail of pumpkin lanterns that led into the Millennium Meadow. The evening's festivities started with Whitchurch Arts presenting the winners in its Guy and Pumpkin competitions with prizes which included meals donated by the Blue Ginger Restaurant and White Hart Hotel.
The crowd, by this stage well in excess of 1,000 and possibly closer to 2,000 (counting above 1,000 being quite difficult in the dark) moved towards the site of the bonfire which slowly at first and then very quickly burst into life with flames leaping above the Meadow's trees.
As the fire burned down the fireworks began and a daring group were seen dashing around in the thick clouds of smoke crated by the rockets to set off a great display. A fantastic final piece brought spontaneous applause from those in the crowd, who, after pausing for a final hot dog, left looking quite pleased (it was dark so no one can deny it!).
Graham Burgess for the Millennium Meadow and Rob Dunlop, Chairman of Whitchurch Festival Committee, both said afterwards how very pleased they were with the way the event had gone, for a first attempt.
At an impromptu meeting in the Harvest Home afterwards, a small group from the Festival Committee agreed it would be a good idea to do again next year, but to make it even better.
Thanks to all who helped and those who turned up to make a great evening.
Lots more pictures and full instructions on how to built a bonfire are here with more pictures on the Whitchurch Festival site and the Whitchurch Arts site has details of the pumpkin and guy competitons.
Key Town Centre Facility to Disappear
Following lots of good news about the Town, HSBC has just announced the imminent closure of its Whitchurch branch.
Our MP, Sir George Young has been told by letter that the Whitchurch branch will close on Friday, 22 January 2010. Apparently there has been no consultation with any of its customers. This decision will adversely impact many in Whitchurch, individuals, businesses and community groups, all of whom regularly use the branch for such services as banking cash and cheques and getting much needed change.
The decision is even more galling given the money, time and effort put into revitalising the Town Hall forecourt. The majority of the £120,000 given by Basingstoke and Deane and Hampshire Councils has gone into the project, ironically HSBC even donated to the 2 planters either side of its door.
Given the huge bonuses expected to be given to HSBC staff in the near future, wouldn’t the money be better spent on retaining services for its customers, they’re the ones that create the bank’s profits?
For the businesses, Bill Judge, the Working 4 Representative on the Town Centre Improvements Programme Steering Group, said “It’s a sad blow to the business community when so many of us are struggling with other problems to keep afloat in these difficult times and a hefty slap in the face for those who have worked so hard on the Improvements Programme”.
Bill already has offers of support for a campaign to get HSBC to reconsider from Sir George Young and County Councillor Tom Thacker, he’s now looking for similar support from Borough and Town councillors and, most importantly, the bank’s customers in Whitchurch.
There is a poll for your views on theWhitchurchWeb forum, 46 people voted about the dogs issue - how many are concerned about the loss of the bank?.
Bollards are go!
The SEEDA funded Community Arts Project, What a load of Bollards, has officially started, having cleared the myriad of problems associated spending public funds, health and safety whilst working in the highway etc.
John Buckley, who is responsible for delivery of the project, which is worth up to £6,000, says, “Hopefully. if all goes well we will see the first bollard appearing early next year, when the clocks change again! There are opportunities for everyone to Adopt a Bollard, Sponsor a Bollard and to simply Paint a Bollard. Submissions are now eagerly sought, with ideas already ranging from a Watership Down bollard to a lighthouse and a waterwheel”.
To be successful the project requires ideas from all, from schools to businesses and individuals to playgroups, to decorate a town bollard to help brighten up the Town Centre and add some Fun to Whitchurch.
The project has its own website which has full details of how to get involved.
Operation Christmas Child – 2009 Shoebox Appeal
The time has again arrived for filling a shoebox for distribution by Samaritan’s
Purse to children caught up in the midst of wars, natural disasters and extreme
poverty, to show them that they have not been forgotten. Please help; to most it
will be the only gift they receive at Christmas. The charity's aim this year is to
collect more than the 845 boxes collected last year – they are hoping for 1,000.
The shoeboxes should be around 30cm long, 18cm wide and 13cm tall, and
covered in festive paper. The gifts inside need to be for either a boy or a girl, with
age ranges of 2–4 years, 5–9 years, and 10–14 years. Ideas on what can go in
the boxes come under four headings:
Toys – something to love, e.g. soft toy, tennis ball, finger puppet, jigsaw,
yo yo, building blocks, small musical instrument, doll, truck or car.
Hygiene items – something to use, e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush,
comb, hair clips, bar of wrapped soap, flannel.
Other items – something to eat or wear. e.g. sweets (sell by date to be at
least March 2010 and not chocolate), gloves, scarf, hat, cap, sunglasses,
bangles, necklace, clip on earrings, make up or hair accessories.
Educational supplies are deemed the most important; if a child of school age
has things to write and draw with, it means he or she has a better chance of going
to school. There are also things that cannot be included in the boxes:
Food – chocolate (including Smarties), crisps, biscuits, tinned food or
cakes, or any other foodstuffs.
Medicine or vitamins of any kind.
War-related items such as toy guns, soldiers, knives or of a political or
Clothing other than that mentioned above.
Fragile items such as glass containers and mirrors.
Liquids of any kind – blow bubbles, shampoo, bubble bath, toiletry sets,
Dangerous items including marbles, sharp objects such as razors.
Due to import regulations, all gifts should be new and comply with the
conditions stated above. The boxes will be inspected for their contents before
they are sent from the warehouse and therefore the lid should only be held to the
base by means of elastic bands. Each box costs £2.50 to send and you are
invited to contribute this for each box donated.
The Methodist Church is acting as the drop off point for the boxes. They are
planning a service of thanksgiving on Sunday November 15 at 6pm, when it is
hoped there will be a speaker from Operation Christmas Child. Flyers about the
appeal are available from the Methodist Church, other churches in Whitchurch or
from The Cottage adjoining the Methodist Church on coffee mornings on
Thursdays and Saturdays. Further information from John Waterer on 892868.
SEEDA Funding Supports Tourism
Two ventures in the Town have been given financial support from the SEEDA funded Town Centre Improvements Programme.
The Silk Mill, which brings in thousands of tourists to the Town each year, is being given money to stage a stand at the Historic Houses Association’s National AGM next month. Historic houses are major users of traditional materials such as silk and hence those attending the AGM represent a prime potential source of business for the mill’s silk.
Hampshire Arts, a group of professional artists formed by those who exhibited in the town in August, has now made Whitchurch its home and is planning to stage 2 exhibitions per year here. Around 25% of those visiting the last show were from outside Whitchurch so the funding will go to advertising outside the Town. Next year the group hopes to have more venues and attract 25 professional artists, thus making Whitchurch a key arts centre in the county. Hampshire Arts next exhibition will be in the Parish Hall on 21 & 22 November - with another jazz concert to wind it up on Sunday evening.
New Shop Open
Dolls House Hampshire has opened in Whitchurch at 6 Winchester Street. Carolyn will be open each week, Tuesday to Saturday. The shop is already overflowing with "adult" houses and Carolyn is starting restocking with "children's houses.
Just one part of the display is shown on the left and the items available for a Christmas interior on the right.
With the other specialists shops, , Pauline Forsters' bridal wear and Glass-Foolery's original jewellery and unusual gifts and the unique Silk Mill, Whitchurch is even more worth a visit now!
The Dog Ban Saga, again
At a meeting of the Whitchurch Town Council’s (WTC) Environment and Leisure Sub-Committee last night, WTC and protesters put their respective points of view.
For the protesters, Mike Stead said that he believed the ban was unfair in that:
it constituted a collective punishment for all dog owners including the majority of responsible ones
the old, incapacitated and groups such as single mums were very much disadvantaged because of the lack of safe areas to exercise their dogs near to their homes
the dog owners felt let down by the Council as they had not been consulted
there had only been a small number of complaints about the problem
as a parent he had not experienced the problem of dog mess – he had spoken to 20 parents outside the primary school, none of whom had experienced the problem on the recreation areas
the existing legislation was not enforced so the ban was pointless without additional measures to enforce it.
WTC had received 14 letters of opposition to the ban, 11 using the protest website’s template and 3 others these were read out; the points in all the letters were made in Mike’s speech.
There had been no campaign to solicit the letters of support but there were 4 letters in favour of the ban which cited issues such as:
the dangers to health of the mess
the smell when the grass was cut in the summer
the possibility of several dogs off their leads being exercised by one individual causing dog fights which was a danger to passers by.
Cllr Barry Jackman, Chairman of the Sub-Committee, gave the background to the current situation.
complaints had been received for many years
several initiatives had been tried by WTC
requests for help from all, including dog owners, had been made, including notices and articles in the eYe and the Parish Magazine
the grass cutter employed by WTC on the areas, who did a similar task on many other grounds, says that Whitchurch’s are the worst for the quantity of dog mess
a mock Town Council held during the last 12 months by Year 2 pupils from the primary school had debated items of their choice, keeping the recreation areas clean was their number 1 priority
He went on to explain that the ban was the latest attempt by WTC to resolve this long running problem and that, as no one was employed directly in policing the law, he looked to all to act as the eyes and ears of the Town and report dog fouling to the Community Wardens, Police/PCSOs (who were represented at the meeting) or WTC. He also asked that if anyone had any other suggestions they should contact WTC.
Councillor David Titcomb said that he had visited the 2 areas a number of times in the last 3 weeks and spoken to all those there, whether they had a dog or not. The ratio of those in favour of the ban was 3:1 compared with those against it.
The Mayor, Councillor Vince Bradbury, asked that the safety of children was put before the feelings and convenience of dog owners and their pets; he also pointed up what he considered the significance of children’s mock council meeting.
It was pointed out that the vandalising of the signs was a criminal offence and whoever was doing it was providing a very bad example for the Town’s children.
In response Mike Stead
pointed out that he didn’t vandalise the signs – WTC representatives said that no one had accused him of doing so
said it was not his responsibility to police the recreational areas
pointed out that he was being asked to police the areas at the same time as being collectively punished by being banned from them
cited 3 old ladies in Kingsley Park who would be seriously inconvenienced by the ban
asked whether he was being asked to hide in bushes to spot law breakers and then wrestle them to the ground.
Councillor Jackman summed up by stating that WTC did not want to upset anyone but was trying to deal with a historic problem having many attempts in the past. Whitchurch is not a heavily built up urban area and no homes, most of which have gardens, are a significant distance from an open space where dogs could be exercised. The current ban is not legally enforceable, it is a polite request, but the law against fouling is. The ban could be made enforceable but that is another step. The current ban will remain in place and WTC will monitor the situation and review the results of the ban before deciding whether any further action is necessary. He encouraged everyone to report dog fouling and that further information would be made available.
On 31 October the Whitchurch Festival Committee is organising a bonfire and fireworks display on the Millennium Meadow, starting at 5.30pm.
There will be hot dogs, burgers, soup and hot drinks to add to the warmth of the bonfire, which, thanks to the generosity of local businesses, will be large; particular thanks go to Safeline Couriers for transporting most of the wood and Pipers and Brian Jackman for wood. There'll be a Fancy Dress Competition for all ages with some valuable prizes, so come along dressed up and then go on to one of the Halloween discos around the town afterwards. R E Thompson has kindly donated funds to support the event. Whitchurch Arts is organising pumpkin decoration and dress the guy competitions which will culminate on the night; the Blue Ginger Restaurant and White Hart Hotel have donated meals as prizes.
The display will consist of a professional set of
fireworks let off under controlled conditions. In the interests of safety, no private fireworks, including sparklers, will be allowed on the Meadow.
Entry will be FREE but there will be a collection to help pay for the fireworks. You can see an example of just one of the fireworks below.
Iran, Afghanistan and now Whitchurch!!!
Vote rigging seems to be happening in Whitchurch. There has been a heightened interest in theWhitchurchWeb forum since the poll on the Council's dog ban on the 2 recreation areas was advertised. The reports that the website generates daily showed 6 votes all apparently coming from the same place. Detailed records provided by site's hosting company showed that the votes were made during in just 2 short sessions and 3 of the 6 e-mail addresses supplied proved to be false.
Following an e-mail challenge to the real addresses, the 6 names have now mysteriously disappeared from the forum with their votes making the voting now 60/40 in favour of the ban as opposed to the 50/50 reported in the press.
It is not expected that the matter will be passed to the UN for investigation.
Fund Raising Quiz
The latest Harvest Home fund quiz raised £106 for the Millennium Meadow Trysting Seat. Christine Brown would like to thank all those who helped and turned up on the night.
The next quiz is one of the fortnightly Sunday Evening series at 9pm on 25th October.
Two buildings in the Town Centre have had a face lift.
The Old Chapel refurbishment inside and out is nearly complete, ready for the opening of Dolls House Hampshire when it moves from Chandlers Ford.
The old cinema in London Street has just received a long awaited coat of paint.
Seasonal Flu – Protect Yourself and Others
Free vaccinations against seasonal flu are available for people aged 65 and over and for adults and children aged 6 months to 65 years in certain risk categories from October 2009.
Amid all the publicity surrounding swine flu, it is important not to under estimate the impact of seasonal flu. Every year it accounts for approximately 8,000 deaths. It can bring on serious complications for people in “at risk” groups and lead to other serious illnesses such as pneumonia. In the average winter, up to 15% of the population will be affected.
All people aged 65 and over qualify for the free annual seasonal flu jab, and in addition adults and children aged six months to 65 years with the following conditions should also contact their GP for a free seasonal flu jab:
a heart problem
a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema
a kidney disease
lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
a liver disease
had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
a problem with, or removal of, their spleen e.g. sickle cell disease.
The jab can never offer 100% protection from seasonal flu, but does have a success rate of between 70 and 80% while others are more likely to get milder symptoms.
Don’t forget, the seasonal flu jab does not protect against swine flu.
Patients with seasonal flu typically have a fever or a high temperature (over 38°C / 100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms:
shortness of breath or cough
loss of appetite
diarrhoea and/or vomiting
In those circumstances you should stay at home, keep warm and rest, let a member of your family or friend know that you are ill, drink plenty of liquids and eat what you can. If you are in an at risk group or your symptoms get worse and you have chest pains or experience shortness of breath, you should contact your GP.
Seasonal flu peaks each winter between December and March, which is why the Department of Health and (insert your user group name if appropriate) is urging those in the at risk groups and those aged 65 and over to make sure they get their free jab now before flu starts to circulate.
Dog Sign Vandalism
Community Police Constable Paula Deery says "The Town Council put the signs up because of the numerous complaints from those of the dog fouling in areas that children play".
"My concern is that these signs have been removed from both areas and more signs will have to be purchased to replace them!"
"This is a criminal offence to either cause criminal damage or theft. Persons caught doing this will be dealt with by the Police.
Neil Bennett, the Police Community Support Officer will be patrolling these areas on a daily basis."
New Green Event
A new environmental event is being added to next year's Whitchurch calendar.
March 20th will see the first Whitchurch Green Fair in the Gill Nethercott Hall with an array of displays, demonstrations and workshops, on topics such as energy conservation, sustainable food, and transport. Later in the day WADS will be providing an exciting evening of fun and entertainment based on an environmental theme.
The Fair launches Whitchurch GreenAware Week with a programme of events and activites ranging from a gentle cycle ride for all to a recycled art project on the Millennium Meadow. Other events are being added as plans for the event grow.
The week culminates in the recognition of Earth Hour on Saturday 27th March, when, at 8pm lights throughout the world, including Whitchurch, will be switched off as part of the global message that we only have one planet.
If anyone would like to participate, have a stall at the Fair, hold a talk/workshop, give a demonstration, or simply provide some ideas or help, please contact the organisers Beth Wright and John Buckley through either Whitchurch website.
Parish Hall Filled
A full saw comedian Dominic Holland, who uncovered some previously unrevealed facts about some of Whitchurch folk present that amused them and everyone in the Hall. He was also singularly complimentary about the Hall's decor and the evening's organisation. Dominic's presence was largely due to support from Hog the Limelight, Hampshire County Council’s rural touring arts scheme.
Dominic was followed by a meal which featured large quantities of shepherd's pie and a large range of sweets produced by Gill Webb who is probably several pounds lighter from her much appreciated activities in the kitchen all evening.
The evening wouldn't have been complete with a prize draw for a hamper and time for everyone to enjoy a good chat. The Hall's new interior design and lighting was seen for the first time.
Dogs on the Grass - Again
The Town Council erected signs appear to have been vandalised. Four of the 7 signs have been damaged. Two of the 3 at Kingsley Park and 2 of the 4 at Alliston Way have had the sign removed from the posts and one of the posts at Alliston Way has been removed from the ground.
The protestors have been told by the Town Council that the issue will be raised at the Leisure & Environment meeting will be on 19th October and invited a spokesman to address the meeting. Meanwhile the damage will need to be repaired at our expense - is this the work of the youth who are normally blamed for these things or are others causing the damage?
The last quiz at the Harvest Home raised £235 for Naomi House. Chris Brown would like to thank all those who came along.
Website - Still Growing
TheWhitchurchWeb is set to attract well over one third more visitors this year. The number of visitors last year ~ 20,000 was passed on 23 September and at looks as though by the end of the year ~28,000 will have visited the site.
There's around 200 pages and over 650 images and those numbers are growing each week. But if there's something missing about Whitchurch, please use the contact page to let me know.
Website produced in support of
Working 4 Whitchurch