Archive for July, 2013

Robin Gibb In Concert – Ledreborg Castle, Denmark

July 26, 2013

The late Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees in concert at Ledreborg Castle in Denmark.

Occupy Firgrove: Destruction of the trees

July 26, 2013
trees in the morning

trees in the morning

Save Firgrove Green Betrayed by Rushmoor

Save Firgrove Green Betrayed by Rushmoor

agent for Bride Hall ordering folk off the green

agent for Bride Hall ordering folk off the green

Right of Way Across Firgrove Illegally Blocked

Right of Way Across Firgrove Illegally Blocked

they film us we film them

they film us we film them

fencers at work

fencers at work

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

massive support from passers by

massive support from passers by

camera shy Knight Security boss

camera shy Knight Security boss

cutting down trees

cutting down trees

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

dog left all day in hot truck

dog left all day in hot truck

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

healthy trees reduced to a pile of logs

healthy trees reduced to a pile of logs

camera shy Knight security

camera shy Knight security

Green Frontage: The town has an abundance of green edges, including in those spaces adjacent to main roads. This characteristic is a positive asset for the town, and enhances environmental quality. — Supplementary Planning Guidance for Farnborough town centre

Last month a planning application was passed to demolish three local shops, and an Indian restaurant at Firgrove Parade in Farnborough. This would also render homeless the people living in the flats above, flats that are in very poor state of repair.

The planning committee were told it was not of their concern they can go somewhere else, another town maybe.

Adjacent to the site a grassy green with trees, crossed by public footpaths. Used by local people for decades. It has proven popular in the last few weeks, as people seek out the shade of the trees.

Firgrove Green is the only green space in the town centre. It is earmarked for destruction for a 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

This is what in Farnborough is jokingly called town centre regeneration, destroy green space, cut down trees, destroy local businesses. George Orwell would be proud of this use of newspeak.

At the planning meeting, the committee was whipped into line by the head of planning. The committee was told the trees were in a poor state of health. And just in case they had not got the message, they were told there were no planning grounds to reject the application, and if they did, it would be lost at appeal.

Surprise, surprise, the trees are in a healthy state, nothing like they were described to the planning committee.

Two weeks ago, tree surgeons arrived to cut down the trees. Local people alerted to what was happening descended on the site. The tree surgeons managed to cut down three trees, an apple and two flowering cherries. All three healthy trees. Even the tree surgeons tasked to cut down the trees, were forced to admit, these were healthy trees.

Since then, the local community has been on high alert. They suspected the greedy developer Bride Hall would not give up. They were proven correct.

On Sunday, Knight Security started trying to remove cars under the false threat people would be fined. This could only mean one thing, Bride Hall wanted to bring in a lorry to fence the site, possibly even bring in a bulldozer or a digger to trash the site.

Before 7pm Wednesday morning, Knight Security turned up mob handed. But they were too late, local people were already on the green. A large number of police turned up, including riot police. The police were filming protesters, protesters filming the police.

The tree surgeons turned up. They drove a truck at high speed onto the site, putting protesters at serious risk of injury, and stopped very close to protesters. Fencers turned up and started to fence in the protesters. Passers by, so angry at what they saw happening, joined the protesters on the site.

A woman claiming to be an agent acting for the developer, ordered everyone off site. She refused to identify who she was. Inspector Justin Browne of Hampshire Police, then asked everyone to leave. If they refused, he would have arrested and charged for aggravated trespass. At this point, everyone decided to leave, as nothing was going to be served by being arrested. Everyone though still remained but outside the fenced off area. A group of kids outside the fenced off area, on a public right of way, were threatened with arrest. A report in the Farnborough News that protesters were evicted from the site not true.

A public right of way was unlawfully blocked. The police were asked to deal with this. They refused.

Bride Hall has not yet been issued with planning consent, and yet they have started work by clearing the site and fencing it off. In a press release, they said they would not be starting work until 2014. They told the local rag, they would not be starting for three years.

Why start now? It can only be to destroy the evidence of healthy trees on the site.

Keith Holland, head of planning at the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, was asked to serve enforcement action, as no planning consent had been issued to Bride Hall.

His response:

Having visited the site earlier today, I saw no sign of any development commencing on site. Temporary fencing had been erected to secure the site for health and safety reasons, whilst contractors removed trees from the site. The trees are on private land and are not covered by a tree preservation order. The removal of the trees does not constitute the start of development and no planning breach has occurred, as far as I could see.

He claims not part of the work. The plans show a 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel on the green where the trees are growing. Or is Keith Holland agreeing with the protesters, that this work was to destroy the evidence that he blatantly lied to the committee?

He also states no TPOS on the trees. And why are there no TPOs? Because the local tree officer who seems incapable of differentiating a healthy tree from an unhealthy tree, refused to serve TPOs. And who does the tree officer work for? Why none other than the head of planning. And like his boss, he is a liar. He claimed in an e-mail, a copy of which was sent to his boss, he could not serve TPOs as planning consent had been issued. Planning consent has not been issued,

Thus we go round and round in circles.

He also contradicts the temporary borough solicitor Jeremy Rosen who wrote:

Your request for an emergency Tree Preservation Order is noted.  However, I have to inform you that the Council has no intention of making any such TPO. 
 
The reason for this is that the proposed works to the trees have already been considered by the Council’s Development Control Committee as part of the wider planning application for the redevelopment of Firgove Parade.  As you know, the Committee resolved to grant consent to the proposed development, which includes the removal of the existing trees.
 
Therefore, having followed the proper process, the Council has already decided to permit the removal of the existing trees.  It would therefore be inappropriate and indeed preserve for the Council to now make a TPO which would effectively reverse its earlier decision regarding the trees and make it impossible to implement the planning permission.

One says cutting down the trees nothing to do with the development. The other says TPOs cannot be served on the trees as would stop the development going ahead.

But this is what happens when you weave a web of lies, the web unravels and it is very difficult to keep your story straight.

The tree surgeons have cut all but two of the trees down.

They were expected to return in the morning, but no sign of them either yesterday or today.

Looking at the tree stumps and logs these were healthy trees that have been cut down.

One tree has been spared because it has a nesting pigeon. It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, to disturb a nesting bird, its nest, its young or its eggs.

Why did the tree surgeons return? They were given little choice. They were threatened with breach of contract, contractors charging three times the rate would have been employed, and they would have had to foot the bill.

The tree surgeons came all the way down from Luton. Local tree surgeons would not touch the contract.

Local people are extremely angry at what is happening. The one exception, a pathetic and rather unpleasant racist troll with an unhealthy interest in pictures of children, who if he keeps harassing people, under various fake IDs, will soon find himself served a Harassment Order. The only other, councillors and their officials who act in the interest of developers and Big Business, not the local community, local businesses.

The following night the Council met behind closed doors to discuss the Rushmoor Corruption Plan, oops sorry Rushmoor Corporate Plan, it states how much they value green space. There must be a hidden clause: Unless it is coveted by a developer, then our tree officer will condemn all healthy trees and we will rubber-stamp your planning application.

For the people of Farnborough, this was their Gezi Park moment, as in Istanbul, a green area in town, the only green area, being destroyed for development, by a corrupt council in bed with developers.

Local people are now calling for a boycott of Premier Inn and Costa, both owned by Whitbread.

To keep up to date, please follow on twitter

and on facebook

Note: All photos apart from the last two, courtesy Glenn.

Lip Dub Lincoln

July 26, 2013

A variant of flashmobs.

Hundreds of people from across Lincolnshire took part in the filming of an 8-minute ‘Lipdub’ video featuring Lincoln’s landmarks and people, while miming on Take That songs.

The video by BBC Lincolnshire spans Take That’s Shine and Never Forget. It starts at High Bridge on the High Street and proceeds through Steep Hill to Castle Square, culminating at Lincoln Cathedral.

Amazingly this was filmed in only one take, the video shows people lip syncing as they ran, drove, danced and marched through the historic heart of the city.

Participants included Jive dancers, RAF cadets, Mods on Vespas, Mystery Players, Nordic Walkers, a variety of choirs, a hotel buggy, cricket team, local shops, carnival characters, the Mayor, rock school, Ceilidh dancers, cyclists, gymnasts, choristers, Delta Dogs, Olympic torch bearers, and shepherds with Lincoln Longwool Sheep.

BBC Radio Lincolnshire managing editor, Charlie Partridge, said: “We really want to thank the people of Lincolnshire who were fabulous in supporting this venture and the Lipdub is – we hope – a fitting celebration of our county and the beautiful city of Lincoln.”

A society grows great …

July 23, 2013
when old men plant trees

when old men plant trees

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Thanks to Pandora.

Firgrove Parade: Bride Hall press release

July 21, 2013

Bride Hall gets go-ahead for Farnborough hotel

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Bride Hall secured planning consent for the development of an 80 bed Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant on the 19th June. Plans were submitted earlier this year for a new hotel and restaurant in Farnborough Town Centre as well as the provision of new retail and residential space. The plans secured unanimous approval at Rushmoor Borough Council’s planning committee on the 19th and are due to start on site early in 2014.

Nick Desmond, Managing Director of Bride Hall Holdings, said:

“Our plans are positive news for Farnborough and I am delighted Farnborough’s councillors have backed our commitment to the town. The scheme will pump millions into the local economy, create new opportunities for many, and contribute to the town’s long-term success. We will work swiftly to deliver the benefits.”

“Our plans for the redevelopment of Firgrove Parade are in line with council planning policy and will bring many long-term benefits to the town. The new Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant will create new jobs and encourage more people to stay overnight in Farnborough town centre, boosting the local economy. Firgrove Parade needs fresh investment and our plans will revamp the existing units into modern retail and residential accommodation and create an attractive entrance into Farnborough town centre. It is exciting news for the town.”

When ever I hear the name Bride Hall, I think of a brooding Gothic mansion, in a low budget Gothic horror film, with Nick Desmond as the evil ugly twisted bastard holed up in the house.

Contrary to the wild claims by Nick Desmond, Bride Hall is not pumping millions into the local economy. He clearly has no understanding of the workings or function of a local economy.

A local economy is all the monetary exchanges that take place within a local economy. A vibrant local economy is money circulating within the local economy.

A Beefeater Grill and a Premier Inn hotel, both owned by Whitbread (who also own Costa) will drain money out of the economy.

Nor is Bride Hall investing millions into Farnborough. Building an unwanted Beefeater Grill and Premier Inn hotel is not investing in Farnborough, it is Bride Hall out to make a fast buck throwing up an eyesore.

Investing in Farnborough would be to build a swimming pool or an arts centre.

Bride Hall in Farnborough is not positive news for Farnborough. That is why people want Bride Hall to sling their hook. Bride Hall may have the council in their pocket, they have not bought the people.

How will it create opportunities for many? A handful of low paid jobs for immigrants. Loss of trade for local hotels and B&Bs.

The plans are not good for the local economy, the plans will drain money out of the local economy.

Having seen St Modwen with the help of council collusion, trash the town centre, it is now the turn of Bride Hall to trash the town centre.

It will not be an attractive entrance into the town centre, an entrance to a service road. The ugly 80-bedroom hotel will be an eyesore on the northern edge of the town centre. It will destroy the only remaining trees and green space in the town centre.

The retail development will destroy four existing businesses: an Indian restaurant that has a good reputation and is very popular locally, a long established photographic shop that has been over fifty years in business, over twenty years on this location, a Nepalese general store that has already been forced out of business, and a newly established barber shop, the only one in town and already acquiring a good reputation.

Plans for these developments were submitted earlier this year. Long before that, behind closed doors, Bride Hall have been doing grubby little deals to ensure their plans get pushed through including quashing of a restrictive covenant that would have stopped their development going ahead.

The development is as exciting as squandering a million pounds repaving Queensmead.

Bride Hall is a slum landlord. They have neglected Firgrove Parade and let it fall into poor state of repair.

Bride Hall own The Tumbledown Dick just around the corner. It was a very popular live music venue. It has been closed and boarded up for several years. It is now in a very poor state of repair. The local Council should be serving enforcement notices, but they would not of course wish to offend their developer friends.

Bride Hall are trying to demolish The Tumbledown Dick and turn it into an unwanted Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

To keep up to date, please follow on twitter

and on facebook

Warning: @Save_Firgrove on twitter is a spam account operated by a pathetic troll. Please block and report for spam.

Urban Tree Benefits

July 21, 2013
Urban Tree Benefits

Urban Tree Benefits

– lower stress

– increase walking

– moderate temperature extremes

– provide shade

– scrub pollutants out of the air

– decrease incidents of flash flooding

– provide habitats for wild life

– provide a sense of place and community

– soften the harsh urban environment

– cut noise levels

– enhance the quality of life

And yet how often do we see new trees being planted, how often do we see trees being destroyed?

At Firgrove Parade in Farnborough, the only green space with trees in the town centre, is being destroyed to satisfy the insatiable greed of a property developer, aided and abetted by planners who lied about the state of the trees.

No 1 Top Story in Thinking Cities (Sunday 21 July 2013).

Occupy Firgrove: Picnic on the green

July 20, 2013
Occupy Firgrove picnic

Occupy Firgrove picnic

Firgrove Green is now being used for various activities. People meeting up of an evening or druring the day, a cool place to meet during the recent spell of hot weather, office workers having their lunch.

Today it was a picnic, a celebration of a graduation.

But greedy developers Bride Hall, aided and abetted by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor (as it is known locally), want to destroy the green and its trees, the only green space in Farnborough town centre, for an ugly 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

According to Rotten Borough of Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd, the site looks tired and in need of development. Not a view shared by local residents and those who use the green.

Late afternoon in Farnham

July 20, 2013

I set off so late, that I did not arrive in Farnham until around 5pm.

I decided to travel by train, rather then bus. But having walked down from the station, through Gostrey Meadow, the bus I would have caught passed me by. Had I walked into the town, I would have got there quicker by bus, even though the bus and train set off at the same time, at least I assume they did if the bus was on time. But it was a hot day, and travel by train is the pleasant option.

I sat for a few minutes in the shade of a tree in the churchyard, then walked into the church. Prayer card writ, but no candle lit, as no candles.

I walked out the graveyard, along the path to Bishop’s Meadow. As I walked out of the churchyard, I stopped to admire one of their magnificent yew trees.

I wonder why churchyards have old yews? Maybe one of the few places they have the peace and quiet and time to grow.

The hay has been cut, and collected. Some of the grass has been left standing. I assume to leave a little area for flora and fauna.

I had a chat with an elderly couple who told me a little of the history of the meadows.

They said the hay had only been cut the last three years, that prior to then it had not been cut for thirty years. They also told me of a Circus in the meadows, the elephants going to the river for water.

Of the pollarded willows, two weeks ago the cut branches were visible, one week ago visible, today a mass of new branches growing.

Late lunch at The Barn.

I had a return ticket, I could have caught a train, but as it meant walking to the station, then waiting half and hour for a bus at Aldershot, and as the bus stop is outside The Barn, I decided to catch the bus.

Dinner at the Tilly Shilling

July 20, 2013
burger and chips

burger and chips

A burger is not what I would normally eat, but decided that is what I would have.

So far everything I have eaten at the Tilly Shilling has come with a free pint, and Friday night was no exception.

Friday afternoon last week, Monday afternoon, and Friday night, I had a blond beer. Each time it was a different blond beer on the same hand pump.

I expected a burger in a bun, maybe a few chips, maybe even a soggy lettuce leaf.

I was quite surprised when it came. 6oz burger, rashers of bacon cheese, tomato, all somehow sandwiched between two halves of a bun, plus chips and a few onion rings fried in batter.

The burger was to my pleasant surprise quite tasty. But very very filling. Even though I had not eaten all day and this had originally intended to be late lunch, it was now gone 10pm and I was famished, and I was struggling with the last mouthfuls.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the Tilly Shilling. I have eaten there four times in the last few weeks, and each time the food has been quite good. Not what I expect in a Wetherpoon. The food in Guildford is awful. The one exception has been breakfast at the Wetherspoon at Gatwick Airport.

Firgrove Parade: Rushmoor press release

July 17, 2013
Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

The history of the Firgrove Parade site can be understood by looking at it from three perspectives, the original sale of the land, the Council’s strategic planning and economic growth policies and the recent planning application.

Land sale and covenant

In 1987, Rushmoor Borough Council sold the current Firgrove Parade site and some adjoining land to Bride Hall for £600,000.

At this time, a covenant was put in place to protect the Council’s interests by ensuring that a fair share of any future profits from the redevelopment of the land came back to the Council to support the provision of public services.

Due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements, again to protect Rushmoor Borough Council’s interests on any redevelopment of the site. These new arrangements secure 25% of any future uplift in value of the site following development for the Council.

Strategic planning and economic growth

The council has a strategic role to enable the future growth and prosperity of its town centres, including Farnborough.

The Farnborough Town Prospectus was agreed in May 2012 following public consultation. This built on the Farnborough Town Centre Supplementary Planning document (adopted in 2007) and identified Firgrove Parade and the adjoining space as a key gateway site which would benefit from redevelopment. The prospectus envisaged that this could be a mixed-use scheme offering a range of commercial, leisure and retail space.

Planning application

In February, Bride Hall submitted a planning application which was fully in accordance with current planning policy. The Council, in its role as Local Planning Authority, considered and approved the application in June after public consultation. This development will represent a significant investment in the town.

In terms of the protesters’ concerns about the trees, as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment. The trees are not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, but there’s no doubt that they add some amenity value. However we need to weigh this up with the investment benefits that the new development will bring to Farnborough.

In terms of a public right of way crossing the land, as with other developments, as long as there is an alternative route then the right of way can be extinguished or rerouted, provided the proper procedures are followed.

— Andrew Lloyd, chief executive, Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

How kind of Andrew Lloyd to issue a press release on Firgrove Parade. Shame he fails to address any of the issues.

Andrew Lloyd is past master at saying something without saying anything. This press release issued yesterday, is a classic example, as it is basically waffle.

We are told that ‘due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements’.

What does that mean, it does not say? Has the borough got a better deal, it does not say? What we do know is that the Cabinet met October 2012 and quashed the existing restrictive covenant. They did so behind closed doors, therefore we do not know what grubby little deal was cooked up. They did so without any consultation with the public. What we do know is that the existing restrictive covenant was ‘onerous’ for the developer, and that was why it was quashed. What we do know is that the quashing of the restrictive covenant was squashed on payment of £1000 by the developer Bride Hall. What we also know is that the previous year before the restrictive covenant was quashed, Bride Hall in an exchange of e-mails demanded of the Council that they quashed the restrictive covenant as it would otherwise stop their development taking place.

This paints a different picture to what Lloyd is telling us of the Council negotiating a better deal. It would appear from Lloyd is telling us, and from what we already know, that Lloyd is not telling the truth.

We are told the town has to grow. The obvious question is why? And we are told this is the strategic gateway into the town, ie a back service road into a Sainsbury’s car park.

To date the town centre has been trashed, raped may be a better word, to satisfy the rapacious greed of a developer. A large number of independent business have been destroyed for a Sainsbury’s supermarket, an estate of 28 maisonettes social housing destroyed for a car park for the Sainsbury’s supermarket. We are left with a Poundland, tax-dodging Starbucks selling rubbish coffee, a tattoo parlour, a few High Street chains, charity shops and boarded-up shop units. £1 million of tax-payers money is being squandered on poorly laid paving slabs which no one sees as an improvement.

This is called town centre regeneration. George Orwell would be proud of this use of newspeak.

Into this mix steps Bride Hall, with a planning application to destroy the only remaining green area in the town centre for an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and a block that will destroy four remaining small businesses (one of which as already been forced out). The gateway into the town, ie into a service road, will be an ugly Premier Inn hotel, that in mass and bulk and height, will dominate the site, a site that is currently open green space with trees.

A budget hotel, when there is another budget hotel a few minutes walk down the road, is clearly of little benefit to the town. A budget hotel that will only have seven car parking spaces.

Lloyd says ‘as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment’. No attempt was made to achieve a balance. We have a harsh ugly urban environment, with the green area and the trees helping to give some respite.

It is true the trees have no TPOs, trees which Lloyd admits have amenity value, and to his credit he does not repeat the lie peddled at the planning committee that the trees are in a poor state of health.

As the trees have no TPOs, are at risk, then why does not Lloyd instruct that Emergency TPOs be served.

The investment brings no benefits to Farnborough, but we lose valuable green space, the trees on a busy junction helping to keep the air clean.

Lloyd correctly recognises that no development can take place whilst public rights of way cross the land, and if these are to be extinguished proper procedures must be followed, to which he should have added, these can be challenged.

As Lloyd recognises public rights of way cross the land, he must make it clear contractors cannot obstruct these rights of way, as tree surgeons did last week when they tried to cut down the trees.

Lloyd fails to address the most important issues, and presumably because he cannot, and that is that the planning application was predetermined by the quashing of the restrictive covenant in October 2012 to facilitate a development for which an application had not yet been submitted and the discussion which took place with the developer before that where the developers was demanding the restrictive covenant be quashed as it would stop their development taking place.

Lloyd has failed to address a related issue of the restrictive covenant which if had not been quashed would have stopped a multimillion pound development, that of it being quashed for a mere £1000.

Lloyd has failed to address the destruction of four local businesses, the Firgrove 4, but then Lloyd has never had an interest in local, family run business. Indeed for more than a decade Lloyd has been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing of small, independent, family run businesses from local town centres within the borough, as we have seen in Aldershot and Farnborough.