I have to start with an apology for the poor performance of the waste collection service, and in particular the garden waste service. The contractor that provides the collection service has had a number of vehicles off the road due to vehicle recalls and a national shortage of certain spare parts. Their operator’s license does not allow free rein to swap vehicles, limiting our ability to hire in replacements, meaning greater strain on the remaining vehicles which then become less reliable.

On the bright side, by the time you read this EHDC hope to have signed a revised contract with the contractor freeing us from our waste contract relationship with Havant BC. It also includes more stringent service level agreements and spares holding requirements. Also we have committed to opening our own maintenance depot within the district which should further improve the service.

In my last column I encouraged you to respond to the consultation on the spatial strategy options for the review of the Local Plan – i.e. where should we put houses. The results of that consultation will be available shortly, before a consultation in the summer on specific sites for allocation of housing. Before Christmas the Government announced a consultation on revisions to the national planning framework, and EHDC were pleased to see that our pleadings for a more equitable split of housing allocations between areas of East Hampshire inside and outside of the South Downs National Park are gaining some traction, and this should lead to a lower number of houses required in the reviewed Local Plan.

I want to put in a plea to villagers. The Courtyard shop is a community enterprise, and provided a vital service during lockdown – we need to make sure that it is still there when we need it again. Next time you use the car to pop to Alresford or Four Marks to pick up something please consider that it costs about £1.50 in fuel as well as all those CO2 emissions! Please use the shop – or we may lose it.

Finally some information relating to elections. I am standing for re-election as your District Councillor on May 4th, so in the interests of fairness I will not be publishing this column ahead of the election. More importantly, to vote in these, and most future elections, you will need to provide a Voter ID with photo when you attend the polling station. Acceptable forms of this include a passport, photo driver’s licence or Older Persons Bus Pass. If you cannot provide one of these you can obtain a paper Voter ID from a Government portal which will be accepted at the polling station. Work passes will not be accepted. You will also need to provide ID to cast a proxy vote, but postal votes can be done as before as the ID is checked as part of the normal postal vote process.

The address for the Government portal to apply for a voter ID is:

https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/voter-id or call them on 0800 328 0280

Charles Louisson.

By paulE