IT’S been a busy 12 months for news in Andover and, as we head into a new year, the Advertiser looks back at the events of 2018.


History lost — Plans submitted to convert George Hotel site into retail outlets - sparking fears that 500 years of pub history could be lost — ‘NEARLY 500 years of history’ could be wiped out under a plan which could breathe new life in to a former town centre pub.

The George Hotel, also known as The George Inn, is believed to date back to 1586 but has been closed down for at least five years.

But now the pub’s owner Faucet Inn Limited has submitted a plan to change the building’s ground floor use from a public house to four multiple-use units, including retail, financial services and a restaurant, café or takeaway.

While the current application has yet to receive any formal consultation feedback, North West Hampshire Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) pubs officer John Buckley told the Advertiser he thought it would be a loss of history if the plans get the go-ahead due to there being no pub provision included at the Grade II-listed building in George Yard.

Mr Buckley said: “The historic George had suffered a chequered history with a lack of investment under the previous PubCo ownership, and was allowed to fall into disrepair.

“To lose all of the premises from pub use would remove nearly 500 years of history.”

Test Valley Borough Council economic development and tourism portfolio holder Councillor David Drew said the proposals could provide new business opportunities in the town centre.

Councillors vote to demolish toilet block — Only two vote against — CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish a town centre toilet block have been given the green light.

A proposal to knock down the George Yard facility has been approved by Test Valley councillors at a meeting with only two councillors present opposing the move.

However, staunch opponent of the plan Councillor Iris Andersen could not vote or even debate on the application at the Northern Area Planning Committee.

Cllr Carl Borg-Neal was the first panel member to contribute to the debate to remind councillors the closure of the toilets was decided before the application was submitted, and that the meeting’s purpose was only to determine if knocking down the block would be detrimental to the conservation area.

Other councillors agreed with Cllr Borg-Neal’s latter statement, including leader of the council Cllr Phil North.

He added the toilet scheme was set up due to persistent drug use, which caused ‘significant’ public danger and an injury to a council staff member.

Derelict site gets makeover — Co-op to run store on site left empty for 20 years — AN EYESORE which has been left abandoned for more than 20 years looks finally set to be given a new lease of life but with a twist in the tale.

Building work on the former Haydon Cars dealership, in Salisbury Road, is already well under way after the derelict former car showroom was demolished.

As reported by the Advertiser nearly two years ago, an application to knock down the unit and build a convenience store and two hot food outlets was approved.

Sainsbury’s expressed an interest in the site, which would have been its third Andover store.

Permission was granted, but another planning application has now been submitted for a Co-op store, plus a pet shop instead of the two food outlets.

Save our carnival — THE Andover community has rallied to save one of the town’s biggest annual events as it faces the ‘very real threat’ of being cancelled.

Organisers of the Andover Carnival are urging people to help save the event, which attracts more than 8,000 people a year, as it could come to an end due to rising costs and a loss of some sponsors.

Plans for the carnival’s 11th year are already in motion but the committee of volunteers which organises the event is aiming to raise at least £4,000 within four weeks so the show can go on.

Organisers will meet next month to decide whether the 2018 event can go ahead.


Closure threat — A TOWN centre department store which has been trading for 81 years is under threat of closure in a move which has ‘devastated and disappointed’ residents and councillors.

Fifty jobs are at risk as Marks & Spencer (M&S) says it is consulting with its employees on a proposed closure of the High Street store.

The major retailer announced it will be shutting down six stores by the end of April, and have proposed to close another eight shops, including Andover.

Many have expressed their shock over the decision.

North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse and leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, in a joint statement said: “We are deeply disappointed that M&S are considering the closure of their store in Andover, which is valued by many local residents.

St Mary’s ward Councillor Iris Andersen, said: “This is one of our big retailers, there is not one person that I have spoken to that has not been saddened by the news.”

Hospital unit’s ‘clean bill of health’ — A UNIT at Andover hospital has seen an upswing in its fortunes with ‘well deserved’ praise from the health watchdog which criticised it just two years ago.

Andover War Memorial Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) service is now rated as ‘good’ rather than ‘requires improvement’ following an unannounced visit by national health watchdog Care Quality Commission (CQC) back in December.

The inspector’s report found how all five key categories of safe, effective, well-led, responsive to people’s needs, and caring service are now ‘good’ compared to only two areas given that rating in the 2015 inspection.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals, said: “This report recognises the amazing care and professionalism that all of our staff, clinical and non-clinical, demonstrate day-in and day-out despite the recognised pressure on our services.

Honour for life-saving officer — A POLICE officer whose actions to save a man’s life were “nothing short of heroic” has been recognised with an award.

Firearms officer PC Martin Parker has been presented with a Chief Constable Congratulations award by Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney.

Time was of the essence when PC Parker and his team were called to the aid of a man who had hanged himself from a tree in Stockbridge in April 2017.

With a ladder placed against the tree, PC Parker quickly climbed to the top and took the man’s weight of around 17 stone.

But, the ladder suddenly collapsed beneath them.

PC Parker not only managed to grab onto the tree, preventing himself from falling, he was also still able to support the man 30ft above the ground, knowing that any sudden movement would end in tragedy.

Fortunately, his team were able to get the ladder back up and safely cut the man down.

An award citation read: “The strength, courage and selflessness of PC Parker caring for the man and saving his life was beyond incredible.

“Congratulations to PC Martin Parker.”

Latest plan for derelict club site revealed — DEVELOPERS bidding to transform a derelict building into a health centre and eight new homes are hoping it’s a case of fifth time’s the charm.

An outline application has been submitted to partly demolish the former Wykeham Club, which has been closed since April 2014, and build a ‘much-needed’ medical surgery, pharmacy, and eight three-bedroom houses.

Four previous applications for the site between Western Road and Osborne Road have either been refused by Test Valley Borough Council or withdrawn.

The last plan by the developers, Osborne Road Development Ltd, to build the surgery, pharmacy and a block of 10 flats was refused last month.

The developer has called for the plan to be approved, claiming it will ‘make this area better for everyone’.


M&S to close after 81 years — A MAJOR retailer has confirmed it will be shutting down its town centre branch after 81 years of trading.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) revealed this week it will be closing the High Street store on Saturday, 21 April.

Aaron Spicer, M&S head of region for Wessex, said: “Proposing to close the store was a difficult but necessary decision.”

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) leader Phil North, said: “It is extremely disappointing that M&S have chosen to close their current store before opening up a ‘food presence’ in Andover, which they reiterated their desire to retain at our recent meeting.

“They have suggested that they would be able to sublet their existing store to a High Street multiple and I have pledged TVBC’s help to facilitate occupation by an attractive new tenant as soon as possible.

Fire destroys historic homes — THE owner of a Grade II listed, thatched cottage has been left “heartbroken” after he watched his home and priceless possessions go up in flames.

Steve Nicholls watched on helplessly as 70 firefighters tried to tackle the blaze which destroyed two historic cottages and raged for more than 14 hours.

Mr Nicholls said: “I was just hoping they were going to save it. I have lost all my personal possessions in the loft going back to my childhood and I’m absolutely devastated for the house itself. It is over 320 years old and there are parts of it that have been there from when it was built.”

‘We meet targets’ — Housebuilding challenge — TEST Valley Borough Council has responded to the government’s warning that local councils will lose their planning powers if they miss house building targets.

The borough council says it is meeting and exceeding targets with, in 2016/17, the authority delivering 891 new homes, including 215 affordable homes, which was the highest number in Hampshire.

Councillor Nick Adams-King, planning portfolio holder at the borough, said: “Test Valley Borough Council has always taken a strategic approach to allocating housing sites and this has involved making some tough decisions in the past. Although inevitably we have faced some challenges, this forward-thinking planning has meant we have met and exceeded our targets and continue to do so.”

Some residents have questioned housebuilding in the borough, saying quantity is prioritised over quality.

Adam Buckenham, deputy chair of the Picket Twenty Community Forum said: “I can safely say that at least 80 per cent of housing at Picket Twenty has a fault of some description.”

Andover Lions Club forced to close — CHARITIES have been left devastated by the closure of a club which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for good causes over more than half a century.

After 54 years, Andover & District Lions Club has announced its closure after an unsuccessful bid to recruit new members left the group of just seven unable to carry on its charitable work.

The group has raised around £5,000 annually in the past years, but believes when it had more members, it raised far more annually and so the total amount raised over the years is well over £250,000 and possibly far more.


Planning chiefs throw out crematorium expansion proposal — A PLAN for a crematorium which would see up to 10,000 bodies ‘whisked’ to a site in Charlton was slammed by the planning committee.

Councillors heard the case for a new crematorium, access roads and a car park at the former Charlton Nursery, in Hatherden Road, but refused the proposal as it was deemed an inappropriate development in the countryside.

The applicant, Pure Cremation Ltd, proposed to carry out “traditional funerals” on site with 1,000 predicted from the Andover area, as well as up to an estimated 10,000 unattended cremations of the deceased coming from across England and Wales a year.

Councillors debated concerns over a lack of local need, traffic, pollution, industrialisation of the countryside and “lack of dignity”.

Councillor Jim Neal said: “I find it quite difficult. For me, there is a lack of dignity.

“It is a total commercial operation, people being whisked in vans 10,000 a year, locally no more than a 1,000 down that narrow road. I find it difficult to support this in its present form.”

Proposals for a crematorium on the former Charlton Nursery land were approved in 2002, however these new plans lodged in October last year were to expand the enterprise.

A spokesperson said this week: “Whilst we are disappointed that the enhanced scheme we submitted to the planning authority was refused without legal basis, we are committed to building a crematorium in Andover and are pleased that work to construct the existing permitted development will begin in the next few weeks.”

Inspector Bob signs off after 25 years — A VOLUNTARY inspector at Hampshire Constabulary is retiring from duty after completing 10,300 hours of service.

Special Constabulary inspector Bob Cooke joined the force’s voluntary service in 1993 while working his full-time job as a gamekeeper in Fosbury.

Bob, 60, started as a special constable for the Andover district before climbing the ranks of sergeant and inspector, where his responsibility grew to all of Test Valley.

Bob said: “Originally I thought of changing career to the police, and then I decided to have the best of both worlds and joined the Special Constabulary.When I joined it was a bit different. It was an interview at the police station then once you are accepted, it was me and another girl, we just went down to the magistrates’ court, got sworn in, and then went out that night.

“My first night was a burglary in King George Road. It was quite nerve wracking, I didn’t really know anything.”

Bob went on to do 700 hours in his first year, despite 200 hours being the usual requirement. Over his career, he has won four awards, for special constable of the year, special team of the year, a superintendent’s congratulations and a Mayor of Test Valley’s special award.

Bob became a special inspector in 2003 and took up training constables which Bob feels is one thing he did really well at.

Murder charge - A MAN has been charged with murder after a 28-year-old was stabbed to death in Andover on Friday morning.

Tommy Ferris was found injured in an alleyway off Smannell Road in the early hours and was pronounced dead on arrival at Southampton General Hospital.

Police then launched a murder investigation.

Four people were initially arrested but released on Saturday, before police arrested a 20-year-old man on Monday.

Zandrae Kiah Smith, of Octavia Court, Bradford, West Yorkshire, has since been charged with murder and will appear at Winchester Crown Court today.

The Smannell Road alleyway has become a tribute to Mr Ferris, with flowers, candles and messages left in his memory.

Pupils join together to say thanks to air ambulance — PUPILS from across Andover joined together to raise over £5,500 for the air ambulance with a special yellow and green day.

Youngsters from 23 schools, two play-schools and the Scott Centre took part in fundraising for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) as a thank you. The town-wide event was organised by Samantha Turner after the charity helped save the life of three-year-old family friend Joshie Thomas in November last year.


A charitable legacy for Amazing Alice — “I’M STILL so proud of how she did that journey and that is what keeps me going, her bravery.”

Those are the words of the mother of an inspirational Anna Valley girl whose memory and spirit are being kept alive by her family and a charity established in her name.

Amazing Alice is named after Alice Razza who died a year ago at the age of 15 after a four-and-a-half year battle with cancer.

During that time, Alice made the most of her life, having the opportunity to enjoy new experiences with the help of charitable funds.

Her mum Debbie has spoken to the Advertiser about how determined the family is to help other families make memories precious with their children in palliative care through the Amazing Alice charity.

The charity, which helps children in palliative care to make memories precious, will be hosting an afternoon tea to mark the anniversary, and reflect on the cause’s journey, so far already raising more than £22,000 since July 2017.

Debbie said: “Alice always loved going out for afternoon tea. Approaching Alice’s anniversary, it is really important to us, as a family, that we are honouring her memory.”

Plan for new centre at hospital revealed — MULTI-million-pound plans to revolutionise healthcare in Andover have been unveiled exclusively to the Advertiser.

Proposals have been developed to create an urgent treatment centre at Andover War Memorial Hospital, as well as a new health and wellbeing hub in the town, in a bid to provide more “joined up services” and ensure “care is closer to people’s homes”.

Aster residents hit with £26k bill each for repairs — ANGRY residents say they could be forced to sell their homes after being told they will have to pay repair bills of up to £26,000 EACH.

Neighbours in Kingsway Gardens, Andover, went to a tribunal with the Aster Group to determine if some of a multi-million pound maintenance contract should be paid by leaseholders and if work on the blocks was necessary and reasonable.

The tribunal ruled last week that while some of the renovation work discovered in a 2014 survey could be solved by remedial works or even smaller-scale works, leaseholders will still have to pay for contractors to carry out the scheme.

Gary Rayner, of Stuart Court, said that Aster has “creamed off” those who earn an average wage, adding: “This is just the tip of the iceberg as to where we are all at in Kingsway Gardens.

“We need to look at it in a more long-term picture as to the financial effects to all the residents.”

Aster has welcomed the determination and has offered help to those leaseholders who are concerned about the amount they are expected to pay.

Want me to move my machine? Well … no tanks! — “STOP complaining about my tank”.

That’s the message from a disabled veteran this week who says he has received verbal abuse and complaints over a tank he uses for charity work.

Steve Cleater uses his collection of 13 tanks to help good causes but has received backlash from neighbours and residents for parking one, ‘the size of a van’, outside his home in Saxon Fields.

The 39-year-old ex-tank commander believes those who are complaining are ‘incredibly selfish’ as he provides his services free of charge to charity events and gives rides to disabled children and to those at the end of their lives.


Stabbed to death - A MAN has been charged with the murder of a 26-year-old who was found stabbed to death in an Andover home.

William Rudiak was discovered at a house in Turin Court in the early hours of Monday following reports of a serious assault.

Emergency services rushed to the incident at 3.11am but Mr Rudiak, of Winchester Road, Chandler’s Ford, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police then launched a murder investigation and arrested a 21-year-old man the same day.

Ben Harvey of Ridges View, Little London, has been charged with murder and was due to appear at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on Thursday.

He has also been charged with aggravated burglary, and trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence.

Gong for mayor — THE current mayor of the Test Valley was among the Hampshire figures who have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Councillor Ian Carr has become a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to local government and the community in the borough of Test Valley.

The former leader of Test Valley Borough Council said he was “chuffed to bits” after receiving the letter in the post.

Cllr Carr stepped down as leader of the council last year, a post he had held for the past 18 years.

Currently, for the second time in his career, he is also the mayor of the borough.

Speaking of his joy at receiving the award, he said it was something he ‘never expected’.

Cllr Carr said: “I had a letter through the post and it had the word ‘cabinet’ all over it.

“I either thought I was in trouble or it was an award!

“I’ve been in local government long enough to know what those letters look like.

“I am absolutely chuffed to bits with it. It has been horrible and painful keeping it from my closest family, friends and colleagues.”

End of an era — A MUCH-loved electrical shop which has traded in the town for 125 years is closing down due to the owner’s retirement.

P Squires, on Bridge Street, started its closing down sale which saw tears from customers, as owner Alec Holloway is set to retire after working in the shop since 1947.

In its early days, the store sold items from motorcycles to prams and toys.

The store holds fond memories for the Little Ann resident, as he worked 15-hour days when he first started out.

Mr Holloway came on board as the future son-in-law and began running the shop 12 years later.

Over the years, Mr Holloway said business has changed dramatically with people buying online making a big difference to trade.

Mr Holloway wanted to leave a last message of thank you to all his customers. He added: “I just to thank them in the past. It will certainly be a change of life, 71 years I’ve worked here.”

Flower surprises — A STATION Road florist took part in a national day to leave bouquets out for people to find.

Bloom Station florists Nicky Trowers and Georgina Armer joined in Lonely Bouquet Day on June 24, laying out four bouquets for passers-by to pick up and make their day.

The arrangements of flowers were left in Beech Hurst park, near the fire station, another near the Cenotaph and one on a bench outside the hospital.

Nicky said: “It is just an act of kindness and was actually great fun placing the bouquets around Andover for people to find.”