New Milton councillors set to use £15k fund to improve ‘dangerous’ Ashley Parade
A DILAPIDATED New Milton shopping parade looks set to finally be improved after town councillors grew tired of waiting for their county equivalents.
The pavement outside Ashley Parade has been labelled as “dangerous” and “long-neglected”, and members of the town council’s amenities committee have shared frustration with Hampshire County Council’s lack of action
But now New Milton councillors are set to syphon a £15,000 share of New Forest-wide funding into improvements.
Speaking at a recent amenities meeting, mayor Cllr David Hawkins said the grant could now allow it to take on the £30,000 project, together with another £15,000 in community infrastructure levy funds.
As reported in the A&T, New Milton was awarded the £15,000 from a £1m allocation of UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) given to the district council as part of the government’s Levelling Up agenda.
Instructed it was to be used for town centre improvements, the council has until March 2025 to spend the sum.
“The pathway outside the shops is diabolical,” Cllr Hawkins told the meeting.
“I know it’s Hampshire County Council, but if you wait for them, you wait for the end of the Earth.
“I think we should just take up the cudgel and do it ourselves.”
Back in March, the committee, which had long been calling for the parade to be improved, expressed disbelief that HCC said it could not provide any funding for landscaping work there.
Cllr Valya Schooling branded it “positively dangerous” as Cllr Christine Ward warned: “Someone’s going to have a serious accident one day.”
Calling the proposed scheme “worthwhile”, estates and facilities manager Mark Jeffries said it would certainly improve the overall parade and Ashley Crossroad area.
It was again acknowledged that 90% of the forecourt was privately owned, but the matter could be discussed with traders.
Cllr Schooling welcomed the idea, adding it “beggars belief” that HCC had not already dealt with the issue.
“I’m really pleased that we can bring this back into the fold as a half-decent shopping area, as these businesses pay their rates as well,” she said.
“I’m very happy that at long last money’s going to be spent on that long-neglected part of this parish.”
The area could also be brightened up by flower displays, but Cllr Hawkins vetoed Cllr Judith Baker’s suggestion of a parade of trees.
He argued the walkway was too narrow for this, citing pushchair and wheelchair users.
Members agreed that the matter should be referred to full town council for approval.