Review of the Year 2016 – January-April


DRIVERS face further significant delays on the A338 and A31 commuter routes as phase two of a major project gets underway.


The latest part of the multi-million pound initiative to spruce up the A338 spur road carriageway will result in the Ashley Heath roundabout being partially closed, speed reductions and a controversial diversion back towards Ringwood put in place.

Council chiefs have conceded they expect drivers to face queues and long delays and have reiterated their advice that motorists should plan their journeys before undergoing them.

New Milton Big Issue seller Ed Sirani, who says the job has been crucial in helping him get off the streets and stay sober, has been named local vendor of the year.


A familiar face in the town, Ed (58) travels by bus from Bournemouth around four to five times a week to sell copies of The Big Issue from his regular spot in Station Road. He told the A&T: “I know the town very well after seven years and the people are very nice – I see them like a family. Lots of people stop to talk to me and everyone seems ready to help out if they can.”

Ed was chosen to receive the Bournemouth office’s 2015 vendor of the year award for his commitment, customer feedback and sales record.

Tributes have been paid to DJ and children’s television presenter Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart who died after suffering a severe stroke at his home in New Milton.


The 74-year-old was best known as the host of the BBC Radio 1 show ‘Junior Choice’, which attracted up to 17-million listeners, and the hit TV show ‘Crackerjack’.

The final plans for the £1.3m scheme to replace 119 beach huts at Milford damaged by the Valentine’s Day storm of 2014 have been approved.

New Forest District Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the authority’s proposal.

Designed by Snug Architects and consultant engineers Ramboll UK, the new huts will be built further back on the lower promenade to reduce their exposure to the elements. Owners can choose a door colour from a designated palette and the huts will also have additional storm resilience.

A dung heap challenge at Longdown Activity Farm in Ashurst raised over £4,000 towards a special accessible toilet and changing room at the attraction.


The race to see who could move the most manure in 45 minutes featured nine teams including Longdown Mobile Farm, Longdown Management, Hadley’s Heroes, Brockenhurst PTA, Access Engineering, a group led by local Paralympic athlete Aaron Phipps and three from the Saxon Inn at Calmore.

The state-of-the-art disabled and changing facility, known as a Changing Place, will cost around £15,000 in total.

The challenge was organised by the farm and Sarah Brisdion, a mother-of-two from Brockenhurst, whose five-year-old son Hadley has cerebral palsy. She has dedicated her spare time campaigning for the facilities and raising awareness of the need for them.

Staff and volunteers at Lymington’s St Barbe Museum have been celebrating following their successful £1.78m bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant which they say will transform it into a landmark cultural attraction.

The new funds will enable the interior to be refurbished, the art gallery space upgraded, the café area improved and an enhanced entrance with a wavy wall frontage to be built.

A new public archive will also be created to allow people to browse in person or online to access local history collections.

A major project to create homes and jobs on the Bournemouth Airport site has been officially launched by a group made up of local business people and councillors.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) secured £40m for its Bournemouth International Growth (BIG) programme which will be implemented over the next four years.

Under the scheme around 60 hectares of employment land will be released for new business premises at Aviation Business Park, creating up to 10,000 new, highly skilled jobs over the next decade. Three hundred homes will also be built, 50% of which will be affordable.


A pony from the Fortune Centre for Riding Therapy at Wootton has been named the British Horse Society’s equine personality of the year.


Sonny, a 10-year-old Welsh section B, who works with children and young adults with a variety of complex physical, behavioural, learning and emotional difficulties was praised for his incredible temperament and adaptability.

The BHS equestrian awards took place at Saddlers Hall in London and the award was presented by BHS president Martin Clunes who is also a patron of the Fortune Centre.

Sonny was nominated by Claire Creasey, who works with him in specialist hippotherapy sessions at the Fortune Centre. She said: “Local special needs schools have sessions, along with children locally, so he provides a wide range of children the opportunity to experience a fantastic sensory experience and therapy. These children can be demanding with their needs which Sonny accommodates every day.”

Severe storms forced the cancellation of Ringwood School’s production of rock musical ‘Starlight Express’ when a temporary outside theatre was badly damaged.

A sell-out, the annual show had been due to go on throughout the week inside a large marquee which had been specially built by the school’s production team and featured tiered seating for up to 360 people.

Head teacher Christina Edwards said: “Everyone involved is understandably devastated. Hundreds of hours of hard work and rehearsals from dedicated students and staff have taken place over the last six months.”

She explained that after the storms hit a team of staff members spent several hours attempting to prevent any further damage occurring, untangling electronic cables and rescuing expensive professional equipment.

The chief fire officer of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has promised residents that budget cuts of £12m will not affect safety – despite the loss of 225 frontline jobs and downgrading a string of fire engines.

Chief officer Dave Curry was speaking as the final proposed changes to frontline services were unveiled. He said: “I’d like to reassure the community by saying I believe Hampshire has one of the best fire and rescue services in the country and these proposals will ensure that the technology we’re introducing will keep it as one of the best, while ensuring we maintain and enhance the safety of our firefighters and local residents.”

A disgraced ex-teacher who was sacked from a New Milton school has been jailed for six months after he downloaded “repulsive” child pornography and exchanged pictures of former pupils and ex-colleagues with others.

Tyrone Mark (40), who formerly taught at Arnewood School, was found to have made 185 images – some of which featured children as young as 10 – after he was banned from the teaching profession for life, Southampton Crown Court heard.

It was also said Mark, who lived in Caerphilly, Wales, chatted online with other individuals, who watched child porn and sent them photos of pupils he had taught and former teaching colleagues.

Judge Peter Henry sent Mark to jail despite pleas by defence barrister Tim Concannon that his client be sent for treatment.

A New Milton couple were married in a “magical” ceremony at a Scottish castle live on TV.


Caroline Luke and John Shephard were one of four winning couples chosen by ITV’s Good Morning Britain after it appealed for people to get wed on air at Auchen Castle near Gretna Green for a special Valentine’s Day feature.

Caroline (51), a hairdresser at Elegance in Lymington Road, met John (52), who works for South West Trains, when she cut his hair and they have been together for six years. The day of the ceremony was also John’s birthday.

Caroline told the A&T: “It was amazing, absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have been better. The GMTV team were fantastic and really helpful.”

Weather presenter Laura Tobin and showbiz editor Richard Arnold took part. Laura said: “The whole morning was magical. It was calm and romantic. It was an honour for myself and Richard to be there on their special day and allow the Good Morning Britain viewers to share in their day too.”

Plans have been unveiled to redevelop Lymington’s former bus depot in the town centre into retirement flats.

Ringwood-based Renaissance Retirement is drawing up proposals to build up to 23 high-end homes on the prominent site halfway up the High Street.

The developer has bought the site under an agreement conditional on gaining planning permission. The company said it hoped to register its application with the district council in the next few months with the hope of a decision in the summer.

But while Renaissance Retirement said it was answering the local need for retirement housing, critics warned against losing an opportunity to boost the town’s commercial centre with jobs and trade. An exhibition to be held in the town next month will give residents the chance to find out more.


AN online petition has been launched to persuade New Forest East MP Julian Lewis to accept constituents’ emails after his rejection of the technology made national headlines this week.

Dr Lewis is the only one of the UK’s 650 MPs to insist on residents communicating with him by either visiting his office in person or phoning, faxing or writing by post. He maintains emails are insecure and that making it too easy for people to get in touch would swamp his office.

The petition has been launched by professional photographer Catherine Ovenden (36), whose claim that he was “obstructing democracy” was first highlighted in the A&T and was later picked up by newspapers including the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Guardian and even discussed by John Humphries on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

More than 1,500 people have signed a petition to save a historic Ringwood cinema and theatre as a support campaign gathers pace.


Organisers behind the Ringwood Regal Action Group, which wants to save the Market Place building from being demolished, say they have been buoyed by the response.

The group campaigned outside the Regal building, gaining signatures, chatting to members of the public and displaying a series of large banners.

Chairman of the group, Mike Tuck, told the A&T: “The organisers were quite overwhelmed by the response from people who stopped to sign their petition and also the support that was evident from local councillors.”

The children’s centre in New Milton will shut its doors in a year’s time, it has been revealed, even as Hampshire County Council consults with residents over its future.

The Phoenix Centre is one of eight around the New Forest earmarked for closure as part of county-wide cutbacks to save £8.25m.

It was announced the decision had already been made to axe it in March when the lease runs out for Action for Children – the charity which runs all the New Forest’s children’s centres.

Former Brockenhurst College and Hounsdown School student Jon Dibben has achieved the first world title of his cycling career with a sensational ride in the points race at the UCI Track World Cycling Championships held at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark.


On his triumph Dibben said: “To do it in your home country, it doesn’t get much better than that. I saved it for the last five laps and went 100% to the line.”

The points race is a highly tactical solo event that combines endurance and sprinting, taking place over 160 laps of the track (40km) with additional points up for grabs for a sprint finish every 10 laps.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance charity has officially launched night-time lifesaving missions, which has been hailed as a major development in patient care.


The charity has upgraded its Airbus H135 helicopter and kitted it out with new equipment including night vision goggles, a high intensity searchlight, power line detection system, moving map display and two Garmin 750 GPS systems.

With the improvements it will now be able to provide full coverage of the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) region for 19 hours a day all year round. That marks an additional seven hours – from 7pm until 2am – to what it currently does.

A man jailed for life for stabbing to death a mother-of-five has had his bid to challenge his conviction thrown out.

Justin Robertson (37), of no fixed abode, was jailed for a minimum of 32 years for killing Pennie Davis at Beaulieu on September 2nd 2014. He had been found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder following a high-profile trial at Winchester Crown Court.

But he went to the Court of Appeal seeking permission to appeal those verdicts, claiming a man spotted wearing a blood-stained apron, or another seen up a tree with binoculars, could have killed Mrs Davis.

However, Robertson’s argument was rejected by top judges, and he will now have to spend at least the next three decades of his life in jail before he will be eligible to apply for parole for murdering Mrs Davis, a shop worker from Blackfield.


STORM Katie left a trail of destruction in its wake, bringing trees down across roads and railways and causing travel chaos as winds of around 100mph swept into the New Forest and Christchurch.


The violent weather hit the region at the end of Easter Sunday. Many properties were blacked out after power lines were brought down. Rail disruptions ensued on Monday after trees fell on the line between Brockenhurst and Bournemouth.

Police took to social networking site Twitter around 2.30am on Monday to warn motorists that the A35 at Holmsley was blocked by fallen trees.

There was also drama at Palace House in Beaulieu – a popular bank holiday visitor attraction – after a huge 200-year-old oak tree was brought crashing down in its grounds.

Heritage Lottery funding of £2.9m has been granted towards the transformation of a derelict part of Highcliffe Castle.

Planning permission for the latest phase of the Grade I-listed building’s Phoenix Files project, which will transform the east wing – also known as Penleaze Wing – into a heritage centre and learning facility, was recently granted by Christchurch Council.

The Post Office said it is working to ensure Christchurch retains a service in the town centre after the shock closure of its Church Street branch.

The shop closed without warning with a Post Office spokesperson citing “circumstances beyond our control”.

Noel Adams, who took over the running of the post office in February 2014, told the A&T she had taken the decision to close because she had struggled financially due to high business rates and rent, and claimed the products she was selling from the Post Office were not competitive enough.

A TV competition has been launched to design 12 new beach huts for Highcliffe.

Christchurch Borough Council has teamed up with the producers of Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces programme after the architect filmed at Mudeford Sandbank last year.

Local people are being invited to submit designs for the huts, which will be put up on a number of sites between the Cliffhanger Café and Highcliffe Castle. They will all be different but will have to conform to certain design specifications.

The winning designers will be given £8,000 each to buy materials to build the huts and the results will feature in a four-part mini-series hosted by George Clarke. The structures will then be available to rent from the council.

The authority’s community and open spaces manager, Matt Reeks, said: “The idea for this project came about when George Clarke was filming at Mudeford with a floating beach hut for his Amazing Spaces programme last year.

“We mentioned that we were looking at a project to regenerate the beach front at Highcliffe and the idea for the competition was born.”

Ward councillor for Highcliffe, Cllr Vicki Hallam, said: “This is a very exciting project and I’m sure it will give a boost to the local economy and help to rejuvenate the village. I know that there used to be beach huts at Highcliffe in the 1950s and it will be great to see them back here again and give a community feel to the area.”