Orchids spared

Dear Editor,

Our prompt and polite interception of a groundsman at The Hampshire Golf Club prevented the complete mowing down of a truly spectacular display of native pyramidal orchids, the best we’ve ever seen in this area. Many had already been destroyed, but an estimated six thousand purple blooms remained in an area roughly the size of a tennis court near the entrance to the club on Winchester Road, which thankfully remained uncut after we alerted and informed the golf club.

Other nearby places known for wild orchids also seem to be having a bumper year. There are good numbers to be seen on the northern slopes of Danebury Hill Fort, and among the unmown verges near the car park at Rooksbury Ponds, where it is also possible to find the colourful bee orchid. It’s not too late to enjoy these beautiful but scarce native wild flowers before they go to seed.

There is hope for our environment if we can all do something, however small. By leaving verges and meadows (and some golf course roughs) uncut for a little longer each spring we are giving wild flowers and insects a chance to recover and flourish. After joining in with ‘No Mow May’ at home, we were rewarded with four pyramidal orchids in our own garden - a somewhat unexpected and very pleasant surprise.

Paul Fox, Goodworth Clatford

Horrified over loss

Dear Editor,

Several times a week I drive through Charlton past the crematorium and have enjoyed seeing a patch of pyramid orchids on the mini-roundabout. So, I was absolutely horrified to see that they have been completely cut down. I cannot understand the reason for this sacrilege.

I was under the impression that the council is trying to leave the verges to encourage nature and wildlife. Surely, we should be doing all we can to protect these lovely flowers.

Marion Scull, Stoke Gate, Stoke

We were let down

Dear Editor,

Whilst out walking in Vernham Dean a few weeks ago, we lost a set of keys. A lady found the keys and she very conscientiously took them to Andover Police Station. She was told to ‘bin them’. Feeling uncomfortable to do this, she left them with the man on duty.

When we found this out, we went straight to the Police Station and it was confirmed by the member of staff on duty that her visit had been recorded. There was a big box of keys kept at the station, but our keys were not there.

I completed a complaint form through the official website but got no reply. I then wrote a letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, which generated a call from a member of the Police force who asked me a number of questions but said that any lost property is not kept if it is unidentifiable, as they do not have the space.

Our keys had a tag on them with the name and telephone number of a charity in Andover. They could easily have rung the number. Apparently, there is no trace of the keys being handed in, or so I am told despite being advised on our visit it was logged.

We had come to terms with the loss of our keys when we saw the notice placed in the Andover Advertiser on July 9, page 3 which stated that ‘The Andover police are on the hunt for a member of the public who left a pair of sunglasses outside the police station.

It seems that a pair of sunglasses are more important than a set of keys which have mysteriously disappeared. We are incensed.

We are disappointed with the integrity of the staff at the Andover Police Station, this is the first time we have ever needed the assistance of the police and feel totally let down and our confidence in the police is severely dented.

Name and address supplied

Pothole plague

Dear Editor,

With the easing of restrictions and the fine weather, we have all been emerging from our own little bubbles. One of the hard facts that stares us in the face when out and about is the general disrepair of the roads. Vegetation appears to have run out of control, and the roads have a pandemic all of their own. This pothole plague is a blight on our roads damaging vehicles, creating a fatal hazard for cyclists, and hospitalising pedestrians. This problem can be squarely laid at the feet of Conservative councils and Conservative government.

Every new year Conservative Hampshire trumpet some new gizmo or wheeze that promises to fix the problem and then after a blaze of publicity it disappears into thin air. Remember the magic dragon? Meanwhile the pothole plague continues unabated. Now you might regard this as inevitable, but we should not. Conservative Hampshire refuses to pay damages unless the potholes are reported and yet it is one of the major payers of damages. We should continue to report potholes, but it has been depressing watching the slow rate of repair and the really bad repairs carried out. This incompetence is clearly the responsibility of Conservative Hampshire County Council.

Moving on, we have the usual blame game with Conservative councils blaming the Conservative government for lack of funding. This may cause some confusion as the common denominator is Conservative. You cannot do a proverbial washing of hands worthy of Pontius Pilate when the levers of power and tax raising sit with the same party.

The first message to take away is that voting or not voting has inevitable consequences. Hampshire is a rich county yet has an exceptionally low tax take. Not only can it not fix potholes, it is heading towards bankruptcy. The second message is do not assume that Conservative councils are capable of managing our money and services effectively.

Luigi Gregori, Charlton Road, Andover

Draining the poor

Dear Editor,

On July 13 (Tuesday), 333 MPs voted to cut £4bn worth of aid and help to the worlds’ poorest, in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s been difficult here in the UK but with our relatively stable system of govt, first class NHS and govt support for those who can’t work, it’s been far better than our poorest siblings around the world who live in slums and cannot isolate or who simply die if they can’t work as they live hand to mouth.

Several Conservative MPs stated in the debate that ‘we need to help our own first.’ I would believe them if they had not also voted against feeding hungry children across the UK just eight months ago. Maybe this is not about ‘helping our own’ first after all.

Why is it that over the last 11 years it’s always been the poorest and those without a voice who have been on the end of the ‘difficult decisions? You never hear, ‘we are going to raise the top rate of tax to bring in more revenue’ or ‘we are going to cap excessive board room pay’ or ‘we are going to tax bankers’ bonuses because we are all in this together.’ Instead, they cut child benefit, tax credits, education spending, per capita NHS funding – the things that the poorest in our society rely on.

It has often been said to me, ‘Andy, why don’t you just join the Tories, then you might actually get elected!’ and there may be some truth in that. Potentially I could have won more than two out of the eight elections I have stood in. However, in politics, as in life, it is often our principals that make us different. As I said to one of the election counters who said to me why don’t you join the Tories, ‘What good is it to gain the whole world (or a council seat) and lose your soul.’

Andy Fitchet, Chair, North West Hampshire Labour Party