PLANS to turn the River Anton into a focal point of Andover will feature heavily in a new 20-year strategy aiming to improve the town, the Advertiser exclusively revealed. The waterway is set to play a leading role in the new Andover Vision project, which was officially launched. Among plans included in the 20-year scheme, which follows on from the previous Andover Vision, are proposals to improve access and landscaping beside the Anton. 

THE future of Andover’s town centre toilets remains up in the air following council plans to set up a new scheme, involving two High Street coffee shops. Test Valley Borough Council announced it is preparing to launch a new Community Toilet Scheme earlier this week. The council is to submit an application for “directional signage” that will promote the scheme in Andover town centre. The Advertiser asked what this meant for the future of the two town centre toilets. A spokesperson said that the future of Borden Gates and George Yard is “yet to be decided”. Three businesses have already signed up to the scheme – Costa, Caffe Nero and The Redbridge. (See July review in next week’s Advertiser).

A TELEPHONE provider has confirmed that two recently-restored phone boxes that are a lifeline for one Andover couple will remain in the town centre. St Mary’s ward councillor Iris Andersen was contacted by two concerned residents after one of the phone boxes, situated between the Guildhall and Topshop, was vandalised and the other was not working.
The couple, who do not have a landline or a mobile phone, felt that their lifeline had been cut off as they use the kiosks to ring relatives once a week and were concerned that the boxes were in danger of being taken away.

A NEIGHBOURHOOD watch group is calling on developers, local authorities, police and elected officials to “do your job” to prevent residents living in limbo for the next five years. People being knocked over by contractors, crime, poor lighting, dangerous parking, speeding and animals being injured are just some of the plethora of issues that the Picket Twenty group is reporting. But despite attempts at making the developer and relevant authorities aware, members say no one is taking responsibility.


VOLUNTEERS of a community woodland, planted with the help of hundreds of Andover schoolchildren, have spoken of their “heartbreak” after vandals left a trail of destruction following a drink fuelled party.
Supporters of Andover Trees United say the “thoughtless” group littered broken bottles, ripped up dozens of sapling stakes and used wooden seats to set a large fire at their site in Harmony Woods, Enham Alamein.

REDEVELOPING Andover’s former magistrates’ court into a new community facility will be one of the main aims of new Test Valley Borough Council leader Phil North. In his first interview since taking over as council leader, the Conservative described the policy as one of his key priorities for the town. Speaking to the Adverstiser, he said: “Plans are progressing for the redevelopment of Andover Magistrates’ Court.
“The new leisure centre is expected to be built by March 2019 and it (the court) could be ready five or six months after that, so maybe in Autumn 2019.”

ANDOVER has its first mayor in four decades following a controversial decision at a town council meeting last Thursday. At Andover Town Council’s annual meeting on 11 May Councillor Katherine Bird was elected as chairman for a second year and on accepting the role announced that she will now be known as the town’s mayor – without formally consulting the other councillors. Thanking the table for re-election Cllr Bird said: “Thank you very much and thank you to the council for all the support as chair.”
She continued: “There is something I would like to say, as you all know I am passionate about this town and I do believe that we should raise the profile of the town council.”
Explaining her reasons for the decision, Cllr Bird told councillors that she had discovered in the Society of Local Council Clerk’s guide that the local council chairman is known and referred to as the town mayor.
She added: “I do think we should adopt that so I hope that you will support me on this and that it will be a way forward. Andover Town Council has a new mayor.
“I hope to spend the next year raising the profile of the town and town council.”

AN ANDOVER firefighter is hoping that his dream ‘man cave’ can burn brightest in a televised competition aiming to find Britain’s most weird and wonderful sheds. Kevin Francis’s Engine House 07 is one of the finalists battling out to win Cuprinol’s Shed of the Year competition, which will be shown on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces. The Clatford Valley resident, who works as a watch commander at Andover Fire Station, is one of four shed owners competing to win in the pub and entertainment section. The father-of-two is hoping to extinguish his opponents with his fire station-themed creation, which includes its own bar, fireman’s pole and hordes of firefighting memorabilia.


A WHITCHURCH vineyard has won a top notch award after beating nearly 300 English and Welsh wines to the title. Coates & Seely’s La Perfide Blanc de Blancs 2009 was awarded overall winner at the first UK Wine Awards, which was announced on Wednesday. The vineyard took home four of the eight trophies in total, including the Supreme Champion,
Best Overall Sparkling Wine and Best Sparkling Blanc de Blancs for its Coates & Seely La Perfide Blanc de Blancs 2009. This also included taking home Best Sparkling Rosé for its Coates & Seely Rosé 2009.

A DISABLED grandfather, who claimed he was wrongfully stripped of benefits for a “vital” motability car, has won his nine-month battle to get the payments reinstated. Bob Bavister, of Artists Way, was told by a tribunal that the Department of Work and Pensions would be forced to reinstate his enhanced Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – just hours before he was due to attend a hearing in Southampton. The grandfather-of-four, who suffers from a rare debilitating condition called hereditary spastic paraplegia, lost both the benefit and his specially adapted BMW motor car following a mandatory assessment in September last year.

According to an assessor, the hard-working 58-year-old could walk “more than 20 metres aided or unaided” – which Mr Bavister says he cannot. He was subsequently stripped of his enhanced benefit, which allows him to pay for a disability-friendly vehicle under the government’s Motability scheme. But following a nine-month battle, in which the divorcee collected evidence, including doctors’ notes, Mr Bavister was finally told he would have his payments returned.
He said: “I’m over the moon.”

TWO new council wards could be created in Andover under new proposals for the biggest local authority shake-up in the area for almost two decades. The creation of seats Andover Romans, covering the new Augusta Park estate, and Andover Downlands, spanning the Picket Twenty development, feature in the Local Government Boundary Commission’s draft proposals for a new-look Test Valley Borough Council.
As a result of the proposed changes, the number of councillors in the Andover area could rise from 15 to 16 – although TVBC say each member will represent a higher number of residents than before.
This is because the overall number of councillors across Test Valley could drop from 48 to 43 under the plans, while the number of wards would be reduced from 24 to 20.

Other changes in the Andover area include expanding the Charlton ward, currently held by former leader Ian Carr, to incorporate Penton.
Subsequently, the two seat Penton Bellinger ward could be cut to a one seat ward, named Grasslands. Another ward which could be dissolved is the Amport ward, currently held by independent Benjamin Brown.
Under plans, the ward will be merged with the Anna area, which currently covers villages such as the Clatford and Anna Valley. Meanwhile, the majority of the lost wards will be in the middle of Test Valley.
Broughton and Stockbridge, Kings Somborne and Michelmersh, Over Wallop and Dun Valley are all set to go. They will be replaced by one large “Mid Test” ward, which could have three councillors.
(See October review in next week’s Advertiser).

AN ANDOVER fire chief has blasted an “idiotic” group whose ill-placed campfire came “just seconds” from becoming a major and possibly fatal blaze. Red Watch crew manager James Street says the small fire, which was lit in a wooded area of Watermills Park, was less than a minute away from erupting into a full-blown forest fire. According to the 43-year-old, the recent dry weather could have allowed the fire to spread quickly and may have led to evacuations of nearby homes. He also claims that rising smoke could have drifted across the nearby A303 and led to disruption or even closure. He said: “This was just sixty seconds away from becoming a major incident.

TEST Valley Borough Council has been branded “out of control” by angry residents and business owners after awarding its staff a third successive two and a half per cent pay rise. Councillors approved the below inflation increase for all staff, including £117,000-a-year chief executive Roger Tetstall at a general purposes committee meeting last week. The rise, which follows on from similar two and a half per cent hikes in 2015 and 2016, is set to cost the council more than £400,000. The move has sparked anger among some Test Valley taxpayers, who have seen the authority’s annual tax demand rise by almost eight per cent over the past two years. Business owners have also questioned the hike, with some claiming said they have not been able to offer a pay increase to their own staff for over five years.

A TOWN centre GP practice impressed health care inspectors during a recent follow-up visit after an earlier report showed it ‘required improvement.’ St Mary’s Surgery, on Church Close, is now deemed to be ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).