Agenda item

Questions under Rule 11.2


Councillor A Dowden asked the Community and Leisure Portfolio Holder the following question:


“The very successful Knightwood Woodfair at Valley Park has now not taken place for several years. Please can I ask the Executive Member for Community & Leisure to see that next year this event is reintroduced? Residents in Valley Park have been disappointed by it not taking place this year now that Covid is not a major issue.”


Councillor Swain responded that following the adoption of the woodlands in 1998, the first Woodfair was organised to engage with residents about how the woodlands might be managed with their help. There were no plans currently for the Council to re-instate the Woodfair. The event was initially funded using developer contributions however the funding had long been spent. 


A sustainable programme of activities and work parties had been developed in partnership with volunteer groups, which offered targeted and impactful engagement throughout the year. In other areas, community events would more typically be run by parish councils, community, or volunteer groups and the Council would be happy to work with Councillor A Dowden to explore how the Council might continue to support such community events going forward.


Councillor A Dowden asked a supplementary question enquiring as to why the Council would not wish to continue with a successful event which over 3,000 people visited from both within and outside of Test Valley. Councillor A Dowden noted that the important woodland had, for 14 years, been awarded green flag status and asked the Council to reconsider the event.


Councillor Swain confirmed that she would be happy to work with the community to explore how they might be able to manage the event going forward and offered to discuss the matter further with Councillor A Dowden outside of the meeting.


Councillor Gidley asked the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder the following question:

“Given that council officers increasingly work from home what considerations are being given to the long-term future of the Beech Hurst council offices?”

Councillor Flood responded to confirm that the Council ran an agile working pilot from July to December 2021 and a new agile working policy went live from 1 April 2022. That policy stipulated that staff should be in the office for a minimum of two to three days a week. This was important for a whole of host of reasons including team development and training and therefore it was not strictly true to say that Council officers were increasingly working from home.

Councillor Flood advised that the long-term future of Beech Hurst was under early consideration by officers. A Council presence in Andover town centre could provide potential regeneration partners with the confidence to invest in any future development and that a town centre location, like that of the FMC in Romsey, was a better option for the public.

The Chief Executive was committed to working with staff on a potential relocation and working to understand the requirements of Beech Hurst partners to ensure the future provision of those services in Andover.

Councillor Flood confirmed that Beech Hurst Park itself, would always remain a public open space and would be outside of any future development on the site.

Councillor Gidley asked a supplementary question requesting that all Borough Councillors be kept fully appraised of any potential relocation plans as she had not been aware of any proposals and had learnt about the potential proposal via her role on an outside body.

Councillor P North responded that Andover Vision members had received an update but would ensure that all Councillors were kept up to date on any future work in this area.