Review of the Year 2016 – May-July


THE co-director of a newly formed company welcomed an “overwhelmingly positive” initial response to its plans to build a new crematorium on green belt land at New Milton.

Eighty residents attended a special drop-in session at the town hall to find out more about the New Forest Crematorium Company’s proposal for a site currently used for grazing off the eastern side of Stem Lane, and the presentation launched the public consultation process.

Over 100 Bashley residents gathered for the grand opening of a brand new expanded version of their long-running local convenience store and post office.


Bashley Village Stores has been launched as a Cost Cutter in a newly constructed building next door to its previous site on Bashley Road.

For owners Denis and Carol Sparkes it was a huge triumph after a three-year battle against Post Office Ltd which had demanded they drastically cut back the branch service they provided. Having been joined in their campaign by New Milton Town Council, the couple were finally told in September last year that their branch had been granted community status.

The opening had a historic link to the shop’s former incarnation as the ribbon was cut by Mary Platt whose family ran the business as Platt’s Stores from 1934 to 1965.

Businesses and residents in Lymington are in revolt against communications giant O2 after the town dropped into a black hole of mobile phone reception.

Local O2 customers have reported a deteriorating situation since the start of the year, and many are now complaining of zero or badly fluctuating signal, being cut off, and having to make calls in their gardens to get a connection.

Scores of angry residents have taken to social media to vent their frustrations at the company, which reported a profit of £335m in the first quarter of 2016. Some have cancelled direct debit payments and others are demanding compensation having joined O2 with good reception.

A spokesman for O2 said: “We’re working on our mast in the Lymington area to increase service levels for our customers and have installed upgraded equipment to enhance the signal. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.”

The new operator of cash-strapped Totton College has pledged to reinvest 100 % of the proceeds from selling a former teaching site in Dibden Purlieu.

The Waterside Skills Centre in Lunedale Road, which has been mothballed for two years, has  been put up for sale and is being advertised with the potential to redevelop into housing.

It closed months before the college was rescued from severe financial problems in a takeover last year by Nacro, a London-based charity which provides housing, education and health support services, and also works with ex-offenders and drug addicts.

The promise by Nacro, now the centre’s registered owner, to reinvest the profits comes after the A&T revealed the charity had put on hold pay rises for staff amid expectations of having run an operating loss in the last 2015/16 financial year.

Confirming money from selling the site would not be used to bail out Nacro, a college spokesperson said: “Proceeds from a sale will be reinvested into Totton College.” She also stated there were no plans to sell off further parts of the college’s estate.

The college has had to make 14 people redundant this year to help balance the books, and A-levels have been scrapped to focus on becoming a “centre of excellence” for vocational courses.

A spectacular £9m dinosaur themed world is set to open to the public at Paultons Park following the biggest single investment in the Ower complex’s history.


Lost Kingdom boasts a host of new rides, world class roller coasters, themed play areas, and even the opportunity to get up close to a moving life-sized tyrannosaurus rex.

Planning for it began five years ago following the launch of Peppa Pig World, which is primarily aimed at pre-school aged children.

The new Jurassic themed land will cater for adventurous families with older children and feature a range of dinosaur attractions including two world-class rollercoasters, Flight of the Pterosaur and Velociraptor.

Protestors demanding Christchurch council scraps plans to build 12 overnight beach chalets on Highcliffe cliff top as part of a TV competition held a demonstration on the site.

Dozens of brightly-clothed campaigners against the scheme, which is being run by the producers of ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ in conjunction with the council, displayed a banner reading: ‘Say No To Highcliffe Beach Retreats’.

They also mapped out the size of one of the 6m x4m huts with paper to demonstrate the footprint of each, claiming that 55 standard day beach huts could be built in the space that would be taken up by the new structures.

More than 60 residents had previously attended a standing-room only meeting about the scheme where concerns were raised over the lack of public consultation, cliff stability, drainage and loss of vegetation.

Author Bill Bryson, who used to live in Christchurch and is a former president of Campaign to Protect Rural England, as also joined the fight to block the chalets.

An investigation is underway after Hythe ferry crashed into the pier with 15 passengers on board.


The incident occurred during a 9pm sailing from Southampton which was also carrying three crew members. As the ferry approached Hythe pier, passengers were reportedly told to brace themselves before it collided, wedging the vessel under the structure.

The crash caused damage to the wheelhouse, which showered the crew with glass, and some on board suffered minor back and head injuries. The service was suspended the next day.

A chain of New Forest estate agent offices has been sold off by administrators after racking up debts of over £370,000.

Penyards Country Properties (New Forest) – which has premises in Brockenhurst, Burley, Lyndhurst and Fordingbridge – is part of a group of companies now taken over by two solicitors linked to the Penyards parent company.

The couple who ran the failed businesses, Graham and Lisa Evans, of Downton, took over country house specialists Penyards in 2001 and according to Companies House were directors of five firms with variations of the same name.

Three of those businesses have now been sold as a package after going into administration.

The A388 Spur Road was fully reopened following a nine-month-long major renewal which cost £22m, although more night-time closures are expected.

All four lanes of the dual carriageway between Bournemouth and Ringwood were opened in time for the bank holiday weekend.

 Work is expected to start on a new 420-place primary school in Christchurch this summer after the government gave the go-ahead for its construction on green belt land.

Dorset County Council has had to provide temporary facilities for up to 30 children in each year group unable to find school places in the area since 2013, and the authority had approved the site at March Lane, off Fairmile Road.

But the controversial application, which was opposed by the town’s MP Christopher Chope and attracted 1,032 letters of support and 688 objections, was sent to housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis to decide whether it should be called in for a public inquiry.

Ina letter to Mr Chope, Mr Lewis confirmed the decision to allow the new school – with 1,000-square metres of floor space, external play areas, sports pitches, and games courts on a nearly three-hectare green belt site – would not be reviewed.

“I have decided not to call in this application,” he said. “I am satisfied that the application should be determined at local level.”

Responding to the decision, Deborah Croney, DCC’s cabinet member for learning and skills said: “This is fantastic news and signals the beginning of a very exciting time for the county council, the school, parents and the parents’ action group which has campaigned for a new primary school in Christchurch for many years.”


A LOCAL government shake-up that would spell the end of Hampshire County Council is set to kick off after the EU referendum, a top official has warned.

In a report to its ruling cabinet, the authority’s chief executive John Coughlan says that the government may move after June 23rd to back plans that could ultimately divide the county into two areas led by directly-elected mayors.

The winning designs in the hugely controversial TV competition to build 12 luxury overnight beach huts at Highcliffe have been chosen but Christchurch Council has admitted it did not have the final say.

The plans had previously prompted a petition, signed by over 1,400 people against the development, to be handed in to the council calling for planning permission for the scheme, which it claims is not needed.

The council says the chalets can be built under permitted development, which applies to buildings less than 4m in height, but Christchurch MP Christopher Chope has called on the chief executive to apply for planning permission.

A council spokesman told the A&T there had been 60 applications for the design competition but said: “The council has only one of three votes in the final voting process; Plum Pictures has one vote and there is also an independent judge.”

An Ashley lawyer is burying his late mother – a titled Lady and former wife of a High Court judge – in his own back garden, in what he says is a protest against “excessive” funeral costs.

John Wright began digging a four-foot-deep plot at his Holly Lane home for 101-year-old Lady Margaret Johnson after he was told a funeral for her would cost in the region of £5,300. “I think it’s outrageous,” he told the A&T.

A retired employment lawyer John (71) said: “I’ve checked online and the plot needs to be at least two-foot deep. I’ll dig about four feet down to cover it. I don’t need funeral supports as there’s no real danger of it caving in because it is not near a water course.”

Lady Johnson died at Ashley Lodge care home. “She led a full life, and I can’t complain really,” said John.

A new community clubhouse and skate part in Nomansland is to be officially opened after volunteers raised almost £50,000 for the project.

The Nomansland Sports Association, a charity set up in 1982 to provide facilities in the interest of social welfare, has spent the last four years raising funds for the new clubhouse at the recreation ground in School Close.

The facility includes spacious changing facilities and a large meeting room and  will be used by a number of community groups including Red Stripes Nomansland Football Club, which competes in the City of Southampton Sunday Football League.

Two Christchurch youth centres have been saved from closure in the face of funding cuts and handed over to local community groups to run.

Business cases were successfully put forward by Burton Parish Council to save Burton Area Youth and Community Centre in Sandy Plot, and by Christchurch Activities for Young People CIC to safeguard the future of Somerford Youth Centre in Bingham Road, which were two of 22 Dorset County Council-run clubs earmarked to shut under plans to slash the £2.2m youth services spend by around £1m per annum.

Fifty scouts were evacuated from their coach after it burst into flames on the A31 near Minstead.


The alarm was raised just after 9am when a motorist drove alongside the Wheelers Travel coach and told the driver its rear was ablaze as it travelled along the westbound carriageway, prompting him to pull over onto the slip road to the petrol station at Picket Post.

All the youngsters who had been on their way to Brownsea Island from Chandlers Ford for a day trip , were cleared from the coach unhurt before firefighters arrived at the scene., They were assisted by staff from the nearby Travelodge and Little Chef.

Two fire crews from Burley and Redbridge wore breathing apparatus as they spent about an hour and 40 minutes battling the flames which wrecked the vehicle. Major disruption ensued as police closed off one lane to allow firefighters access.

A spokesperson for the Scout Association said afterwards. “The scouts went on to enjoy their Scouting adventure on Brownsea Island – the birthplace of Scouting – and are now home and well.”

Residents will get their chance to comment on proposals for 28 new homes in New Milton when they are unveiled.

The plans are for a disused farmyard and fields off Gore Road, next to Milton Barnes, and comprise a mix of one, two and three-bedroom, traditional-style properties including detached and semi-detached houses and flats.

New Forest-based Pennyfarthing Homes is the developer behind the scheme, which will be exhibited at a public drop-in session at New Milton Memorial Centre.

A spokesman said the “exciting redevelopment” of the largely empty site would provide homes with private gardens, as well as public open space including a play area.

Numerous parties were held around the area to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.


In Ringwood more than 2,500 people gathered in the town’s market place for a street party and there was a special table set up where 13 local residents who turned 90 this year enjoyed the festivities alongside their relatives and Ringwood Mayor, Cllr Michael Thierry and his deputy Cllr Tim Ward.

Theo McKenzie-Hayton, one of the stars of dance GROUP Diversity – which performed on the ITV show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – carried a boom box around with him and gave special mini-dance performances.

In New Milton warnings of torrential rain forced organisers to move much of the birthday celebrations indoors with thousands of revellers packing the New Milton Memorial Centre to capacity. They enjoyed a host of music, song and dance acts.

Hundreds of Milford residents gathered for a community picnic on the village green while in Lymington over 80 people attended a celebration tea party at All Saints’ Church.

In Pennington the WI hosted a community event having decorated the WI hall with Union Jack bunting and flags. It was jam-packed with people dressed in red, white and blue and many took part in the ‘hat fit for a Queen’ competition.

The retirement developer looking to build on Lymington’s former bus station in the High Street has submitted formal proposals that now show a shop and five fewer homes.

The application, by the Ringwood-based Renaissance Retirement, includes 18 sheltered flats instead of the 23 originally announced, plus a retail unit at the front on the urging of planning officers. A decision on the planning application is expected in September.


LEAVE campaigners have been celebrating winning last week’s EU referendum with big local support – but the result may end European funding to the New Forest worth millions of pounds.

Local MPs applauded people for voting to “take control” of their democracy, money and immigration. Christchurch’s Chris Chope said:” I have not stopped smiling since the result. It’s a brilliant outcome which I have been working on for a long time.”

The national outcome was relatively close, with Leave claiming 51.9% of the votes. In the New Forest the margin was wider with 64,541 for Leave (57.7%) and 47,199 (42.2%) for Remain. The turnout was 79.25% with 111,786 ballots cast.

Christchurch also chose Leave with 18,268 (58.8%) votes, against 12,782 (41.2%) for Remain. The turnout was 79.3% with 31,066 people voting.

But the vote has cast uncertainty over funding including the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS), a 10-year agreement with environment body Natural England that includes £19m of EU and UK government cash.

Thousands of homes are set to be built on green belt land, under proposals by New Forest District Council, to meet the demand for housing.

The council is drawing up a new Local Plan – the 20-year strategy for where building can take place – which aims to deliver just over 10,000 new dwellings in the areas it controls outside the national park.

That includes nearly 4,900 allocated for sites on green belt land which curves in a fragmented band south from Ringwood and along the coast to Lymington.

It takes in fields and woodland next to settlements that include Bransgore, New Milton, Hordle, Everton and Milford.

The total represents about 500 homes per year compared to the 200 in the current Local Plan.The escalation is driven by government pressure to tackle the UK’s housing crisis by ordering local authorities to have a strategy by 2018 to ramp up building – or face losing local control over planning.

A man from Lymington got down on bended knee and popped the question to his girlfriend in front of thousands of fans at the Glastonbury music festival after enlisting the help of a singing superstar.


Tom Bowles (28) proposed to Zoe Taylor live on BBC television on the main Pyramid stage during Gregory Porter’s set.

Zoe, who had been dating Tom for three years, said yes, sparking applause and cheers from the watching crowd. The moment became a hit on social media and was covered by several national newspapers.

Speaking to the A&T Tom, who works as a carpenter for Sunseeker International, said he had planned the event beforehand with the singer.

“Me and Gregory had exchanged just two or three emails and I was really nervous on the days leading up to it.

“People couldn’t believe I managed to pull it off. Other people were saying there was not a dry eye in the crowd.”

Proposals to build a back-up power plant the size of half a football pitch on the site of the former Fawley power station have been unveiled.

Energy giant Centrica published the plan online and said it will submit it formally to New Forest District Council within “the next few weeks”.

The planned gas-powered plant will run remotely, it says, and be capable of producing enough power to meet the needs of around 20,000 homes.

Campaigners have pledged to fight on after plans were approved to close all but one of the New Forest’s children’s centres.

One mother, Catherine Ovenden, from Totton, immediately launched a funding appeal to try to challenge Hampshire County Council in the courts, while opposition councillors acted swiftly to “call in” the decision in a bid to overturn it.

Hampshire County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Keith Mans, approved a plan to axe 43 of 54 centres – including eight in the New Forest. The plans will see the equivalent of 145 full-time posts lost.

The centre at Cadland Primary School in Holbury will be the only one locally to survive. Plans will see the creation of a reduced Family Support Service to assist troubled families, with a single hub in each Hampshire district.

Efforts to modernise Lymington’s market have been criticised as “bullying” which will threaten its future by driving away stallholders.

The popular Saturday event draws crowds of shoppers to the High Street, and to stop the approximately 100 stalls from dwindling the town council is working on improvement plans for upgraded facilities, smoother management and updated regulations.

Councillors have blamed fewer stalls recently on bad weather, reduced bus services and competition from internet trade. But critics have accused them of alienating stallholders with a crackdown on rules and treating the market like a “cash cow”.

At a town council meeting, former councillor and Lymington resident Ted Jearrad reported traders were being put off by updated regulations banning traders who miss too many Saturdays and insisting new stallholders pay by standing order.

He said: “Is it any wonder that coupled with these threats and a recent increase in rental charges it is decreasing the size of our market? It is not online purchases or a lack of buses.

“When one considers what great effort is required to manage a market stall to be ready to trade, regardless of monsoon rains, blizzards etc, the threat of being ejected for reasons that could be impossible to foresee – weddings, funerals, holidays, illness – does indeed smack of bullying.  It is my opinion that if something is running smoothly don’t try to fix it.”

Deputy mayor Cllr Anne Corbridge is leading the council’s efforts to rejuvenate the market, which has been a feature of local life since 1250.  It is a prized fixture of the town’s economy but in recent years the waiting list for stalls has disappeared and attendance has fluctuated. She denied the council was treating traders unfairly and told the A&T “There are actually not many new regulations. They have been in place for a long time, but the fact is that they have not been implemented,”

“The standing orders requirement, for example, is very much for the safety of our market supervisors so they are not carrying round a lot of cash.”

A Pennington woman has said how “immensely proud” she was after a cherished family project to rebuild her grandfather’s plane saw it take to the skies as part of a Battle of the Somme commemoration.

Jeni Bremner said she and her father Chris were choking back tears after a long defunct Bristol Scout biplane, which her family spent 14 years rebuilding, completed a memorial flight marking the centenary of the first day of the battle.

“We were both so immensely proud,” Jeni told the A&T. “It was a labour of love over years and years.”

The plane had belonged to Francis Bremner, known as ‘Bunny’, who flew the aircraft during the First World War and had always hoped to see it fly once more.

The family had found battered remnants of his aircraft while having a clear out following his death in 1983 and had always wanted to honour his wishes to rebuild it.

Support is gathering for an environmental regeneration project with ambitions to make Lymington the “oyster capital of the Solent”.

The scheme would restore 10 million native oysters with a significant proportion located on the town’s saltmarshes, as well as in the Beaulieu River, and at Keyhaven.

The hope is to improve water quality, protect habitats and boost the area’s fishing industry and food scene – potentially with seafood festivals and events.

A meeting was held at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club to present the plans and recruit backing for the proposals, which are being led by the government –funded Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Blue Marine Foundation conservation charity.

It attracted representatives of marinas, harbours and high streets in the western Solent, with appeals for contributions towards the £250,000 cost of getting it off the ground.

Pedal car racers fought it out through the streets of Ringwood, watched by crowds of up to 6,000 people, at this year’s Pedal Car Grand Prix.


Held over a mile-long course in the Market Place, the event was so popular it attracted more than 50 teams, meaning two races had to be run to accommodate them all.

The end result saw ‘Apollo Racing Team’ crowned the winners, having completed 70 laps – one more lap than the runners-up ‘The Odd Balls’.

New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne has been sacked from his ministerial post by the new Prime Minster – and, despite revealing he agreed with the view she is a “very difficult woman”, said she would do well.

Mr Swayne lost his job as a junior minister in the Department for International Development. He was a known supporter and confidante of Theresa May’s predecessor David Cameron, and said he was part of what he called “the slaughter of the Cameroons”. He said: “I have what the police refer to as ‘previous’ when it comes to my relationship with the new Prime Minister. Ken Clark was absolutely right, she is a ‘very difficult woman’. But, as I have said before, she will make a formidable PM at a time when we certainly need one.”

A plumbing and heating company has apologised following complaints its prize-winning entry in Lymington Carnival was “racist”.

Staff from the family firm Barry Frampton Ltd, who are regular participants in the town’s popular summer event, ‘blacked up’  to portray members of an Olympic Jamaican bobsleigh team in their pastiche of the hit 1993 comedy film ‘Cool Runnings’.

The entry scooped the trade class gong from the judging panel, but it angered a few of the parade’s onlookers, one of whom told the A&T: “I am shocked that Lymington Carnival allowed one of the entries to ‘black out’ their faces which were pretending to be the Jamaican bobsleigh team. This is racist and should not have been allowed.”

Company director Mish Frampton told the A&T: “We are sorry for any offence caused. It wasn’t the intent of our carnival entry.”

Plans to build retirement flats on Lymington’s former bus station had suffered a major blow after council planners said they were not appropriate for the town and urged the developer to make a “fresh start”.

The controversial proposals for 18 homes on the prominent High Street site were heavily criticised in advice by the New Forest District Council conservation officer, Warren Lever.

He accused Renaissance Retirement of largely ignoring the pre-application guidance with “confused” plans that risked damaging the town’s historic conservation area and the setting of nearly listed buildings.

Town councillors have added their opposition too, and now the developer has promised it is “seeking to revise” its scheme – but remains “committed” to the site.