TAG Aviation, operators and owners of Farnborough Airport, have to pay an environment levy to compensate (not that it does) the environmental nuisance caused to the local community. The monies raised by this levy should go towards funding local projects beneficial towards the local environment.
Rushmoor, the local council responsible for collection and distribution of this money, has decided to allocate itself £5,000 towards the local council offices. The money will go towards sprucing up an inner courtyard at the council offices. The council is currently sitting on a pot of £100,000!
Sprucing up the grounds at the council offices is classed as 'sustainable' development, creating an important site for wildlife. Quite how the wildlife get into this site, is a moot point. Maybe the local urban foxes sign in at reception and receive a visitor's pass!
My back garden is more of a wildlife site. http://bit.ly/Y1PCY
We have seen examples of local sustainable development. In Farnborough, the town centre has been trashed to build a Sainsbury's superstore. An estate of 28 maisonettes, social housing, was destroyed to make way for the car park for the superstore, the residents kicked out of their homes and given miserly compensation. In Aldershot, there are plans for a retail cum leisure cum residential development alongside the edge-of-town Tesco superstore. This will kill off what little is left of Aldershot town centre. Were it not for the ethnic food shops, there would be nothing left in Aldershot town centre.
The concrete pond outside Farnborough Community Centre was recently renovated at huge cost to the local taxpayer. Several months, £100,000, or was it £200,000, later, a third of the pond was bricked off to create a wetland. It was praised by BVFoE (the local dysfunctional FoE group) as a key wildlife site for the locality! BVFoE once again making complete idiots of themselves. There are many important wildlife sites locally, most of which are under threat from development and/or lack of funding. The pond outside the community centre is not one of them.
Looking at the pond recently, the so-called 'wetland' consists of wood chips, which the local parks department has planted with low maintenance shrubs and a few clumps of lavender. In the middle of the pond sat half a dozen forlorn looking ducks. The wooden bench seats have been ripped out to be replaced by cold metal seats.
The lack of understanding of environmental issues was neatly illustrated in an article in the council comic (Arena July 2009) urging residents to turn off electrical devices on standby. About as effective as bailing out the Titanic with a tea strainer!
It should be the local community who decides how this fund is spent, not the local council.
It could go towards funding the Basingstoke Canal, a SSSI wetland which runs through the borough neatly dividing Aldershot from Farnborough. The Canal is currently facing a funding crisis.
It could go towards establishing a regular monthly farmers market in North Camp. It has the support of farmers and the local community, but needs the support of the council, and more importantly, council funding. The major cost is that of road closures. This 'cost' is one part of the council transferring money to another!
There used to be farmers markets in Aldershot and Farnborough, but both collapsed because they were not properly organised and received no support from the local council.
Neighbouring Guildford holds a highly successful farmers market on the first Tuesday of the month. Rushmoor has nothing.
Can the council even be trusted to hold money on behalf of the local community? This is after all a council that lost £2 million in Iceland. At the time assurances were given that the loss would have no impact. The council is now engaging on a wave of job losses and cuts in services. Savings which by a mere coincidence amount to £2 million! At the time the council was saying no cuts, an internal review was taking place. No cuts though in the over-inflated salary of the chief executive, and the councillors recently awarded themselves a massive inflation-busting increase in their already sizable allowances. Nice little earners if you can get it.
Chris Alexander, Council could cut more jobs, Farnborough News and Mail, 7 August 2009
Courtyard to become a haven for wildlife, Farnborough News and Mail, 7 August 2009