A VETERAN broadcast journalist and presenter has been recognised for his charitable and community work in the 2017 New Year’s Honours lists. Former BBC South Today and Antiques Roadshow presenter Bruce Parker is to receive an MBE for his longstanding contributions to a number of organisations across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. Since retiring from a lengthy career at the BBC, Mr Parker moved to Appleshaw with his wife Suzanne and took on the roles of chairman and trustee of the Friends of Winchester Cathedral along with being chair of educational charities the Elizabeth College Foundation – his Guernsey school – and The Gibson Fleming Trust, Guernsey. The 75-year-old is vice patron of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance and the Southampton branch of Smile Support and Care as well as an ambassador for Leukaemia Busters, Southampton. He is also former chairman of Appleshaw Parish Council, which he chaired for five years, and Harestock School governors in Winchester.

ANDOVER could be without a public swimming pool for up to TWO years during the construction of its new multi-million pound leisure centre. And Test Valley Borough Council has admitted current leisure centre users face years of “significant disruption” to services while building work takes place.

A MAJOR Andover-based charity has been stripped of a £12,500 prize after it allegedly breached data protection rules to fake votes in a UK-wide competition. Enham Trust has been stripped of its win in the 2016 Marks & Spencer Energy Community Energy Fund, following a “thorough investigation” by the High Street giant into an allegation the charity submitted hundreds of fake votes in the competition. The allegation was made by a former employee of the charity, who claims they witnessed a fellow staff member entering the fake votes using a list of e-mail addresses.

A TOWN centre GP practice ‘requires improvement’ according to inspectors following a recent visit. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated St Mary’s Surgery, on Church Close, as ‘requires improvement’ in three out of five areas. On whether the service was safe, inspectors found effective systems for incident reporting and safeguarding. However the report also stated: “Evidence from the training records showed that not all staff had received safeguarding children or vulnerable adult training at a level appropriate to their role.” (See June review)


THE launch of an exciting Advertiser campaign was marred this week when a High Street fracas broke out between two leading councillors. The incident, involving Test Valley Borough Council leader Ian Carr and Hampshire County Councillor Tony Hooke, took place in front of hundreds of watching passers-by on Wednesday. The pair were both in the High Street to celebrate The Advertiser’s new “Keep it Andover” campaign, when tempers flared between the two-long time rivals. Police were called after Councillor Carr pushed ex-Ukiper Hooke before verbally insulting him.

ONE of Andover’s most prominent social clubs is to close after landlords threatened to nearly double its rent. Andover Railway Social Club says it will shut at the end of March, having spent 63 years in the town. And the club, based on Station Approach, says it has been forced to make the decision after the landlords proposed to nearly double the rent. Trustee Neil Lambourne showed the Advertiser copies of the club’s current lease, which started seven years ago, for a yearly rent of £13,500. Landlords Saston Limited contacted the club in December offering a new lease, starting in March, of a five to ten year term of £24,000 (plus VAT) per annum. Terms and conditions of the lease also include maintenance of the building and insurance. Andover Railway Club has around 200 members and a core membership of 50.

LEASEHOLDERS of an Andover estate say they have been left feeling suicidal because their housing provider landlord is proposing to bill them up to £27,000 EACH to fund a £4.5m maintenance project. Kingsway Gardens residents have received letters from Aster Group detailing works to be carried out on Saxon, Stuart, York and Tudor Courts with estimates of charges per flat as much as £27,000.

A SEVERELY disabled man was left so “cold and dirty” after his boiler broke down that he considered admitting himself to hospital in a bid to keep warm at night. Patrick Germon, of Eastfield Road, says he feels Aster Group has not done enough to help him after his boiler stopped working on Saturday, 11 February. Mr Germon, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound, called them immediately and was told by an Aster representative an engineer would be out to assess the issue on Monday, 13 February. On the Monday he chased up the housing provider only to be told an engineer would not turn up until the next day. When one did finally arrive, Mr Germon was told parts necessary to fix the boiler would take another couple of days to be delivered. He then received a letter from Aster stating work would not take place for another two weeks. Aster has now apologised for the “distress” and told The Advertiser that it had finally replaced the boiler and would carry out an investigation to ensure it did not happen again.


FURIOUS residents have hit out at Aster after it hiked garage rents across Andover by as much as 68.5 per cent. The shock rise has sparked fears of parking chaos on the town’s residential streets if dozens of motorists are forced to give up their beloved garages and park on the roads instead. Aster Group informed customers their garage ‘licence fee’ would be increasing in April, stating in most cases this would be by 2.5 per cent. However many residents have said their rent for their “standard” garage will be increasing from £44.96 to £75.76 – which is a rise of nearly 70 per cent. The housing provider, which owns and manages 7,000 garages in the south of England, said it was standardising licence fees across its portfolio.

A COUNCIL has announced plans to set up a temporary swimming pool during the building of the new Andover Leisure Centre. Test Valley Borough Council says it hopes to erect the temporary pool at Shepherds Spring Lane car park while work takes place on Places for People Leisure’s new multi-million pound facility. The authority plans to operate the popup swim centre for 14 of the 18 months that the existing pool will be closed for. However, it is anticipated the facility will not be ready in time for the closure of Andover Leisure Centre’s swimming pool, which is scheduled to shut on 1 April. The Advertiser also understands the initial cost of the temporary pool will be in excess of £700,000, but it is anticipated that much of this will be recouped in entry fees.

STALWART Test Valley Borough Council leader Ian Carr has announced he will step down later this year after almost two decades in the role. The Conservative councillor has told the Andover Advertiser he plans to walk away from the position in May, stating “the time is right” for him to go.

AN INDIAN takeaway in Andover could be fined up to £60,000 after immigration enforcement officers swooped to arrest three illegal workers. Acting on intelligence, officers visited Andover Tandoori, King Arthurs Way. The business will be served with a civil penalty referral notice in relation to three illegal workers who were arrested. The notice warns that a financial penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker found could be imposed unless the employer can demonstrate that appropriate right-to-work document checks were carried out.

A YOUTH drop-in facility has thanked the community after it rallied together following a devastating funding cut from Hampshire County Council. The Junction faced closure following a £56,000 funding cut from the county council. The charity-run centre, on Junction Road, has helped thousands of vulnerable young people since it opened in 2004. Service users, residents and councillors joined in the fight to keep it open with protests, a petition with 1,172 signatures and a direct appeal to Hampshire County Council. Now the charity behind the youth drop-in facility, Alabaré, has announced it no longer faces complete closure thanks to local fundraising efforts.

TRAIN times between Andover and London Waterloo are set to be slashed by nearly 20 per cent after the Government handed the rail franchise to a different operator. The Department for Transport said the South Western Railway franchise will change hands, from Stagecoach to FirstGroup and Chinese company MTR, from August. It is predicted journey times from Andover to Waterloo will be cut by about 11 to 13 minutes by late 2018, putting the capital within an hour’s reach. This is seen as a massive boost to both passengers and businesses in the town.

Keep an eye out for the remaining parts as we look back over last year's top stories.