1st May 2012
Chairman's Corner
Society's AGM

This year our AGM hosted a presentation by the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society. Roger Cansdale the External Talks Organiser gave a fascinating and informative talk entitled “The Basingstoke Canal - its history, restoration and future potential”, Mr. Cansdale took us through an illustrated history, including ‘Harms worth’s epic voyage’ of 1913 to maintain access rights passing through the Greywell Tunnel (closed in 1932). Philip Riley, the Chairman then spoke of the present financial situation, the economics of running a canal and the need for a stable future.

Since 1991, the canal has been owned by the two County Councils, through which it passes, with much restoration undertaken by the Society. It suffers from a lack of water, 29 locks to maintain, and under-funding, but remains a vital recreational amenity to visitors both local and afar; the canal is also designated as a SSSI for its rich wildlife including some 25 species of dragonfly and landscape with a wider variety of aquatic plants than any other water body in Great Britain as recorded by Natural England. Roger and Philip were more than happy to answer questions from the audience who at the end signalled their appreciation with a rousing round of applause.

After a break for tea and biscuits we had the Chairman’s and Treasurer’s reports, this led on to the session at which the audience could raise questions to their local MP or local councillors.

The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove our local MP had sent his apologies for his absence but has indicated his intention to be present at our next general meeting. It was also disappointing that none of our newer local councillors managed to attend, in particular those representing Mytchett and Deepcut.; it was left to two local stalwarts Cllrs Whittart and Pitt to raise the council’s flag.

A number of questions were raised which were answered by the local Cllrs, Sgt. J.Castell, the Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Sergeant and Mr. Colin Wilson from the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust. Details can be found in the Minutes of the AGM.

On a more general note, a couple of things which I think are of interest:

Farnborough Airport and the Olympics

Regarding the Olympics, for the period that they are in process, all air movements at airports in the southeast will be strictly controlled by slot allocation with every slot having to be pre-booked. TAG has stated that Farnborough Airport has been allocated 20 slots per hour. It is estimated that this will result in up to 3000 extra movements during the period peaking at approximately 284 movements per day resulting in increased noticeable noise annoyance. In view of the circumstances, the local community will likely make allowances but I don’t think TAG should take any such acceptance in the future for granted.

Frimley Green Lakes

CEMEX are intending to dispose of their angling interests which include the lakes at the Hatches, Frimley Green. CEMEX will be seeking sealed bids for the purchase of these interests. Presently there is no information as to how this area might be parcelled or what might be planned for the area. We will be keeping tabs on progress,

UK and the Rest of the World

In the rest of the U.K. the coalition government seem to be able to upset everybody, changes to the NHS, changes to planning policies, attempts to gain power to intrude even further to one’s privacy, attempts to allow certain trials to be held in secret. Just a few of things they are trying to implement, no doubt all done for what they see as the best possible reasons, the problem being they haven’t done a very good job of explaining themselves.

As regards the rest of the world including the U.K, Economic crisis!, Political crisis!, Climate crisis. The media do seem to relish the bad news stories. Then you have the pundit’s, those who are like the chap from “Dad’s Army” – “We’re doomed, we’re all doomed” or as Job said in the bible “Woe unto me” or those who see everything through rose tinted spectacles “All we need is our form of democracy to be accepted throughout the world” or “Don’t do anything, it will all sort itself out”.

Personally, I think it is time for people to wake up and smell the coffee. If communities at a local, national and international level support each other and work together many things might be achieved.

Kevin Daley    (Chair, MFGD Society)