Review of the Year 2016 – October – December


PEOPLE flying drones over the New Forest without special permission could face prosecution, the Forestry Commission has warned after fears their use is becoming more widespread.

The remote controlled devises are banned from use on the Crown lands under Forest bylaws, but the verderers committee heard of a “very close encounter” one of their members had while out riding his horse near Bolton’s Bench at Lyndhurst.

Lymington has won the battle for longer opening hours at Efford tip after warnings of huge queues and costly fly-tipping in the New Forest.

Hampshire County Council announced that the site off Milford Road will stay open for as long as its 23 other household waste recycling centres after it had originally been restricted to an earlier closing time in the summer.

Ringwood town councillors have backed setting up a new Saturday market despite warnings by the mayor it could jeopardise the current Wednesday one and “800 years of history”.

Members voted 7-2 at the latest full council meeting for the creation of a monthly crafts speciality market every Saturday from March to December in 2017. It will be based close to the council’s own offices in the Gateway Square.

That was despite Cllr Michael Thierry making a passionate speech which decried the council’s preference for a new event instead of working with Edward Morant, the charter holder of the existing Wednesday market.

Champion pumpkin growing twins Ian and Stuart Paton have beaten their own UK record with a massive 2,252lb specimen cultivated at greenhouses in Lymington.


During a weigh-in at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival at Netley near Southampton the delighted brothers learnt their fruit was more than 350lb heavier than the previous UK record breaker which they grew in 2014.

House prices in the New Forest and Christchurch have outstripped pay growth by surging more than 400% in 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the two decades to 2015, the Forest’s median house price (the point between the highest and the lowest) rocketed from £69,950 to £285,000.

Pay has not kept up, however, making it harder to buy. In 2002, when the earliest figures are available, the ratio of house prices to the Forest’s median gross annual salary of £16,449 was 9.73. By 2015, despite pay rising to £21,741, the ratio had reached 13.11.

The A&T is proud to be backing a fundraising drive to bring a hoard of archaeological treasure back to the New Forest – where it belongs.

The Boldre Hoard #make it happen campaign is being launched by historian and TV presenter Dan Snow who, together with St Barbe Museum &Art Gallery, is determined to acquire the historically important items and return them to Lymington. The treasure trove of Roman coins had lain hidden beneath the New Forest for more than 1,700 years until it was dug up from a field near Boldre.

The 1,608 coins are currently stored at the British Museum in London.“This hoard is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in the New Forest in recent history,” said Dan.

The appeal aims to raise £30,000 to pay for a secure display at the Lymington museum.

A PETITION to save Hythe’s historic ferry, which is under threat of closure, has gathered almost 6,000 signatures in just a week.

White Horse Ferries, which has run the service since 1991, announced the business was no longer viable due to falling passenger numbers and an increase in operating costs.

The ferry is used by commuters and shoppers as well as those visiting the historic pier which was built in 1879 and is home to the world’s oldest pier train.

Resident Maggie Blight, who has used the ferry for 22 years, set up the petition calling on Hampshire County Council to do more to save it. The council currently pays a £55,000 annual subsidy to White Horse Ferries and has said that in principle it would continue to do so under a new operator.

Safety fears over erosion have forced the temporary closure of a section of a popular clifftop path between Barton and Milford.

Following further cliff falls caused by recent adverse weather, a right of way access pathway to Taddiford Gap has been shut with signs from Hampshire County Council urging walkers not to use it.

The late Lord Montagu has been pardoned posthumously 73 years after he was convicted under legislation outlawing homosexuality.

The Beaulieu peer, who died in August last year after coming out as bisexual in 2007, is one of thousands of men finally to have their names cleared after being caught up in harsh laws that are being consigned to history.

His offence as a 27-year-old under the laws of the 1950s before homosexuality was decriminalised has been wiped clean after the government announced all those convicted of now abolished sexual crimes would be pardoned.


PLANS to unleash a “zombie infestation” in New Milton for Halloween were scrapped over fears they might be too terrifying for residents.

Youngsters aged 14-24 had been invited to the Forest Arts centre in Old Milton Road to put on scary costumes, be made-up by experts, and enjoy activities before parading through the town in the early evening.

But everything was cancelled the day before when concerns were raised about possible confusion in which tricksters dress up in particularly disturbing clown outfits, sometimes with weapons, and terrorise unsuspecting victims.

The horror-film-inspired clown trend started in America and spread to the UK with disturbing sightings last month in New Milton and Christchurch.

Cost-cutting plans to axe a tourist information office in Lyndhurst visited by 136,000 people a year have been approved by New Forest District Council.

Members of the ruling Conservative cabinet voted to shut the service which is based at the village’s New Forest Visitor Centre, with the loss of five jobs, and also privatise the authority’s tourism service.

It will close in April 2017 although the museum, library and shop which operate from the building will all stay open.

A new glass-fronted visitor centre at Lepe Country Park has got the green light as part of a £2.7m transformation programme of the site.

The landmark building will sit on concrete stilts to offer uninterrupted views of the Solent and counter coastal flooding. The Hampshire County Council modernisation plan approved by the national park authority also includes landscaping and better parking. Work is due to start in the New Year and be completed during the spring of 2018.

A new link road between the A338 and Bournemouth hospital could be created as part of a major £8m plan to improve access and tackle congestion.

A two-phase programme which will see a new southbound slip road built to join the link road across Wessex Fields, and the construction of a bridge, and a northbound slip road, has been proposed by Bournemouth Borough Council and Dorset County Council’s Local Enterprise Partnership.

The new plans are the latest initiative of the Bournemouth International Growth Programme, a set of transport and infrastructure projects to transform access to and around Bournemouth Airport, Aviation Business Park and Wessex Fields.

The first of a series of apprentice rangers have started work as part of a Heritage Lottery funded initiative to look after the New Forest.

New recruits Katherine Argyrou (21) and Joe Ison (18) will be engaged in promoting awareness and understanding of the Forest during their 13-momnth practical training programme.

A Barton street has been chosen to star in a national Christmas advertising campaign because of the spectacular festive illuminations it hosts each year.

Byron Road was visited by a 40-strong film crew from confectioners Cadbury. They arrived with a box laden with hundreds of boxes of chocolates.

Their advert tells the story of a small boy named Lex who enlists a group of friends to help light up the home of an elderly couple on the street.

A rare Chinese vase bought for just £10 at a Lymington car boot sale has fetched £50,000 at auction in Salisbury.

The Qing dynasty vase, dated by experts to the mid-18th century, was reportedly spotted at the Strawberry Fields sale by the eagle-eyed dealer, who wishes to remain anonymous. He only realised the true value of his purchase when bidding on eBay reached over £10,000, leading him to remove the item from the site.

Campaigners have won a shock victory in their battle against a controversial £1.5m wetland restoration project that they warn would destroy a popular beauty spot in the New Forest.


At a packed meeting, national park authority planners decided by just one vote to send the plan to the government for a final decision – but with a crucial nod towards throwing it out.

There was a round of applause from campaigners who for years from have fought the Forestry Commission’s proposal to restore Latchmore Brook to its original course between Fritham and Hyde, and lay 96,000 tonnes of gravel and clay, to turn the clock back to more boggy conditions.

Why Christchurch council ploughed ahead – against huge public opposition – with a controversial scheme to build beach huts at Highcliffe for a TV contest will now not be revealed until February.

Council members have also been told they will not be allowed to see the terminated contract for the subsequently abandoned deal, signed by chief executive David McIntosh.

The reasons why the authority pressed ahead with the project without any public consultation had been due to be revealed this week.

A petition has been launched to save a popular children’s nursery based at Totton College, which faces closure next month.

Happy Days Nursery has been deemed unviable by Nacro which took over the financially failing college and the adjacent nursery last year.

Employer Kirsty Ellen Langrish has set up an online petition to save the facility, which is also used by college staff and pupils and has so far attracted more than 350 supporters.

Police have apologised for refusing to help a frightened mother-of-two who discovered a makeshift petrol bomb under her car in New Milton.

Mel Brown (29) had to raise the alarm twice from her home in Barton Court Road before a Royal Navy explosives team was belatedly dispatched from Portsmouth to deal with the device.

The amateur-looking DIY bomb comprised a bag of petrol, a homemade firework and matches. It had been placed underneath the fuel tank of her BMW, according to Mel, who has a two-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son.

A Hampshire Police apologised for the failure to respond straight away and a spokesman said: “As a force we regret the delay and the distress it caused. We have learned from it and are working to ensure it does not happen again.”


AN arson investigation has been launched after a huge fire gutted two shops in Ringwood – just as one owner was about to fly off on holiday to celebrate getting the all-clear from cancer.


The blaze is thought to have started in a bin just after 8am on Sunday morning behind the Sue Ryder Charity Shop in Meeting House Lane.

No one was hurt but the fire largely destroyed the charity shop and adjoining Celebrations card store owned by Nicky and Mike Beeston.

A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: “Following an assessment by colleagues at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, we are treating the fire as arson. No arrests have been made so far.”

Mr and Mrs Beeston were about to board a plane to Las Vegas when they received news of the fire. Nicky explained they were making the trip to celebrate Mike getting the all-clear from cancer and opted to continue with the holiday.

It may be the last call for 80 phone boxes in the New Forest under plans by telecoms giant BT to remove them.

The company wants to take out the kiosks, including some of its iconic red models, to save on maintenance costs, leaving just 40 remaining.

A survey carried out by BT showed that 35 had not been used once during the 12 months to August this year.

However, parish councils and New Forest District Council are pushing to save some where they are needed by older people or for emergency calls, and in more deprived areas.

Hythe and Dibden Parish Council has a “significant fight” on its hands as it faces a fresh attempt by Associated British Ports to develop Dibden Bay, a councillor has claimed.

Members of the council met to discuss its formal response to ABP’s Port of Southampton draft master plan, which sets out the likelihood of the need to develop the port over the next 20 years. The potential development of Dibden Bay would double the size of the existing docks.

However, an application for the development of the bay 12 years ago was rejected after a year-long inquiry.

The council’s response to the draft master plan includes many reasons why any development should not go ahead, including the disruption to the New Forest’s tranquillity, the increase in shipping movements which would negatively affect the boating community and the increase in light and air pollution.

Cllr Alex Wade said: This will clearly not go away – we really need to engage the community to support this campaign and prepare ourselves for a significant fight.”

A former Bashley Football Club manager and coach has become the latest figure to be embroiled in the child sex scandal engulfing the sport.

Bob Higgins has been named in a number of national newspapers after several former Southampton Football Club players claimed he had sexually abused them.

Mr Higgins is one of several coaches who have been accused in what is rapidly becoming a major issue for the Football Association which has launched a review into the claims.

The future of a brain injury charity based in Totton has been secured after a planning appeal by the landowners to demolish the building and use the site for car sales was dismissed.

Headway Southampton currently operates out of the building in Commercial Road, where it has been based for more than 10 years. It currently has a further nine years on its lease.

A planning inspector ruled that the landlord’s application would result in the loss of a facility that provided a community service and employment site.

A dramatic shake-up of health services across Dorset, including the proposed closure of a hospital near Ringwood, has been unveiled by NHS chiefs.

Launched by the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the plan suggests the Royal Bournemouth Hospital become the major emergency hub for the area and maternity and paediatric services be moved there from Poole Hospital.

Entitled ‘Improving Dorset’s Healthcare’, it suggests using Christchurch Hospital as a community hub and closing St Leonards Hospital in East Dorset.

The plan has gone out to a 12-week public consultation and there will be a series of public events held to explain the proposals for the next five years.

Oakhaven’s popular Santa Dash took place in Lymington attracting a record-breaking 1,750 participants who pounded the streets dressed as Father Christmas, elves and presents. It is hoped once all the sponsorship has been collected the total raised will exceed last year’s figure of £19,000 to support the work of the hospice in Lower Pennington Lane.
Photo credit: Carrie Bugg Photography
Photo credit: Carrie Bugg Photography

A controversial bid to build 17 retirement flats on Lymington’s former bus station has been thrown out over fears they would spoil the historic Georgian heart of the town.

The multi-million-pound plans for the prominent High Street site were roundly rejected by New Forest District Council’s planning committee amid warnings they would harm the setting of the surrounding conservation area and listed buildings.

Despite changes, the scheme remained opposed by the town council and sparked 50 letters objecting to the loss of the bus station, “out of character” architecture and a lack of homes for first time buyers.

The land was bought by Renaissance Retirement – on condition of gaining planning permission – from Go-Ahead, the parent company of local operator MoreBus. It was closed last year as too expensive to maintain.