Thursday, 14 April 2016

Get in touch with the Village Voices Community Magazine

I regularly receive emails and letters from people wanting to promote events and bring to my attention interesting items of local news and history.

If you live on the Hoo Peninsula – the best way to ‘spread the word’ about an event coming up, share news from where you live or to promote a local business – is in the dedicated Village Voices Community Magazine.


The publication is produced and delivered every month by a dedicated team of local people. It is delivered across the whole of the Hoo Peninsula – even the most remote properties in each parish!

Village Voices is a great magazine, with lots of community news, diary dates, updates from community groups and a superb collection of adverts from many of our local businesses.


13,500 copies of Village Voices are delivered every month, to Allhallows, Chattenden, Cliffe, Cliffe Woods, Cooling, Frindsbury, High Halstow, Hoo Marina Park, Hoo St. Werburgh, Isle of Grain, Spendiff, St. Mary Hoo, Upnor and Wainscott.

You can visit the Village Voices website by clicking here, where you will also find information about their quarterly publication The Strood & Hoo Peninsula Times (32,600 copies delivered by Royal Mail every quarter).

You can get in touch with Village Voices by emailing here.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Step up to oppose a massive game-changer in Hoo!

It’s (almost) that time again for battle plans to be decided upon and drawn up to oppose yet another mad-cap idea of building even more houses in Hoo – destroying what I thought were precious greenfield sites!

Although housing developer Taylor Wimpey are yet to submit a formal planning application for ‘their’ land west of Hoo, a leaflet about their proposal claims they are looking to build up to 500 houses.

Taylor Wimpey recently submitted a ‘scoping opinion document’ to Medway Council’s Planning department, number MC/14/1391. The purpose of this is to inform an Environmental Impact Assessment, which will eventually accompany an outline planning application.

For me, the idea of building west of Hoo is a massive game-changer. Not only would it destroy the existing ‘entry landscape to the Hoo Peninsula’ of open green fields, but it would just about join the villages of Hoo and Chattenden together, albeit with a road acting as an insignificant separation.

For what it’s worth – I feel a proposal to build 500 houses west of Hoo is completely unacceptable and would destroy something very special forever.

I will certainly add more information to this blog when more details are known about the contents of the planning application, but in the meantime – it is worth attending the exhibitions planned by Taylor Wimpey this week.




They will be held at Hoo Village Hall (Pottery Road) on Friday 27th June from 3pm to 8pm and on Saturday 28th June from 10am to 2pm.
  

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Hoo Clean Up on Saturday 24 May 2014

If you can spare a couple of hours on Saturday 24 May, from 9.30am, join the Hoo Clean Up!


Meeting outside Hoo Library (Church Street, Hoo), the monthly litter picking session is always a great opportunity to meet up and chat with other villagers.

After the session, everyone goes back to the library for free tea, coffee and nibbles, as generously supplied by Spar Supermarket.

See you there!
  

Friday, 9 May 2014

Village Voices (Edition 12) for Stoke, St. Mary Hoo, Allhallows and the Isle of Grain

The latest edition of Village Voices is now available online, just click here to take a look.


Take your time to browse the  selection of local businesses featured in Village Voices and show your support for them in these difficult economic times.

This edition includes local news, reports, photographs and information about community groups and events.

Take a look at the Village Voices website here.
  

Village Voices (Edition 53) for Hoo, Chattenden and High Halstow

The latest edition of Village Voices is now available online, just click here to take a look.


Take your time to browse the  selection of local businesses featured in Village Voices and show your support for them in these difficult economic times.

This edition includes local news, reports, photographs and information about community groups and events.

Take a look at the Village Voices website here.
  

Allhallows Life (May 2014)

The latest edition of Allhallows Life, a magazine produced by Allhallows Parish Council, is now available to read online, just click here.


This edition includes a range of local news and events.

Take a look at the Allhallows Parish Council website by clicking here.
  

High Halstow Times (May 2014)

The latest edition of the High Halstow Times, a magazine produced by High Halstow Parish Council, is now available to read online, just click here.


This edition includes a range of local news and events.

Take a look at the High Halstow Parish Council website by clicking here.
  

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A lovely cuppa at Grain Coastal Park

I popped over to the Isle of Grain earlier today to explore the ever improving Grain Coastal Park - located at the most easterly point of the Hoo Peninsula. It was a great surprise to find ‘The Beach Hut’, conveniently located opposite the main entrance to the beach car park.


The Beach Hut, with its comfortable outdoor seating area (sheltered from the wind), offers a variety of hot and cold drinks, cakes, ice cream, hot food, homemade filled baguettes, baps and sandwiches and much more.


Such a treat to have somewhere so close to Grain foreshore to enjoy a nice cuppa and something tasty to eat after enjoying a walk in the fresh air.

The Beach Hut is open every weekend and throughout the Easter holiday (see below).


Well done to proprietor Kerry Theobald and her mum Barbara, pictured above, who I met today. You’re doing a great job.

Keep up to date with The Beach Hut by viewing their Facebook page here.

Don’t forget - you can now go on a guided tour of Grain Coastal Park. Click here to find out more.
  

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Great Escape - a walk from High Halstow to Allhallows

With improved weather and a need to lose a few pounds (or more), I escaped the hustle and bustle of village life last weekend, to explore some of the great wilderness right here on the Hoo Peninsula.

With my Gravesend, Rochester and Hoo Peninsula map (Ordnance Survey 163) and some tasty spam sandwiches in hand, I set out on Saturday morning along footpath RS42, at the end of Longfield Avenue in High Halstow.


After zig-zagging through fields and a bluebell filled woodland I eventually joined up with Decoy Hill Road, where I headed north for Egypt Bay – on the signposted ‘Curlews, Convicts and Contraband’ walk.




Egypt Bay is at the end of Manor Way, along Halstow Marshes, and this quiet spot marked the completion of my first couple of miles – making it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat (a spam sandwich no less). Aside from imagining Abel Magwitch wading ashore from a dirty old prison hulk, made famous in the opening sequence of Great Expectations, Egypt Bay is a great place to observe shipping activity on the Thames and to glimpse over to the container port at London Gateway and neighbouring Canvey Island. The only interruption was a herd of curious cows (there must have been more than 50).








After the excitement of the cows, it was time to head east along the northern coastline, in the direction St. Mary’s Bay, St. Mary’s Marshes and Dagnam Saltings.










Although only a handful of miles from some of our local villages, the route along the Hoo Peninsula’s northern edge can feel extremely remote and distant. I met only four other walkers, a cyclist and a couple fishing the entire time I was out.




Four hours after setting off from High Halstow and having covered a distance of eight miles – I finally arrived in Allhallows, to the rear of The British Pilot pub. I didn’t have time though for a swift ale on this occasion.

It was great getting out to enjoy the fresh air and nice weather, and to spend some time appreciating our unique local landscape.

I hope to go for more long walks this summer, but maybe with fewer spam sandwiches next time!
  

Friday, 4 April 2014

At the heart of the Hoo Peninsula - Village Voices for Hoo and Chattenden (Issue 52)

The latest edition of Village Voices for Hoo and Chattenden is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the relevant editions page on the Village Voices website - then all you have to do is click ‘Issue 52’.


This edition includes information about the 90th birthday of the Medway Queen, good news from the Hundred of Hoo Academy as pupils receive recognition for their business skills, a special report about the refreshed outline planning application at Lodge Hill (for a new town), news from Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church about a war memorials project, details of a petition handed to local MP Mark Reckless from residents of Hoo Marina Park and huge amounts of other parish and community information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.
  

At the heart of the Hoo Peninsula - Village Voices for Stoke and St. Mary Hoo (Issue 11)

The latest edition of Village Voices for the parishes of Stoke and St. Mary Hoo is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the relevant editions page on the Village Voices website - then all you have to do is click ‘Issue 11’.


This edition includes updates and reports from both Stoke Parish Council and St. Mary Hoo Parish Council, the latest news from Stoke Village Hall, more great photos of the ‘muddies’ working on the Stoke Saltings and lots more other useful community information. 

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.

Visit the website for Stoke Parish Council here, and visit the website for St. Mary Hoo Parish Council here.
  

At the heart of the Hoo Peninsula - Village Voices for the Isle of Grain (Issue 4)

The latest edition of Grain Village Voices is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the relevant editions page on the Village Voices website - then all you have to do is click ‘Issue 4’.

The bi-monthly publication is produced in partnership with St. James, Isle of Grain, Parish Council.


This edition includes reports and news from St. James, Isle of Grain, Parish Council, news from St. James’ Church, updates from the UJ Community Partnership and huge amounts of other parish and community information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.
  

Allhallows Life - April 2014

The latest edition of Allhallows Life is now available online. Click the image below to see the full copy.


This edition includes a summary of what happened at last month’s Project Day - when 17 volunteers turned out to help plant tree saplings, the latest news from Allhallows Parish Council, an appeal for help from Allhallows Youth Club, details of the Allhallows Summer Fete (to be held on Saturday 28th June) and lots more other useful community information.

Allhallows Life is the magazine for Allhallows Parish Council, take a look at their website by clicking here.
  

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Help throw the Lodge Hill project into the dustbin of bad ideas!

Yep, the outline planning application to build a new 5,000 dwelling town (or a ‘new heart for the Hoo Peninsula’ as I was unashamedly told by project architects last month) is set for its grand appearance at Medway Council’s Planning Committee within a matter of months.

The application, originally submitted in 2011, has reared its ugly head once more and local people are encouraged to speak up loud and clear.

Land Securities say numerous and extensive consultations have been carried out with local people over many years - and rightly so of course! That said, I think it strange, even bizarre, that so many local people are completely unaware of the Lodge Hill project. And those that do have knowledge of it either believe the whole thing is a done deal (because the site is owned by the Ministry of Defence) or that it’s a dead duck (referring, I suppose, to the SSSI notification - Site of Special Scientific Interest - confirmed by Natural England last year).

I believe the Lodge Hill project would have a major impact on the identities of existing villages and communities on the Hoo Peninsula. Despite this, the only ‘public’ sign of its re-emergence that I have so far seen is a solitary laminated A4 size yellow notice tied to a lamp post near SPAR supermarket in Hoo village centre - and it only uses the words ‘Lodge Hill’ once. (Update on 13/03/2014: Have seen two more signs - one opposite the parade of shops on Knights Road in Hoo and the other at Main Road (Chattenden) at the junction with Elm Avenue.


As far as I am concerned, the Lodge Hill project would bring chaos and disruption to our communities for the best part of 20 years. I see it as one of the biggest threats to the way of life enjoyed by so many on the Hoo Peninsula. Generation after generation of local families have appreciated our unique local landscape and we must do all we can to protect it for future generations.

Aside from the destruction of more countryside and the impact on wildlife (including the nightingales), there are many other reasons why the Lodge Hill project should be confined to the dustbin of bad ideas. We are told that it is ‘the most significant development in Medway’s history’, but the latest plans don’t even show any major changes or significant improvements being made to the existing road network, which already feels pressured by increased usage.

Local people can submit their views about the Lodge Hill project to Medway Council, as part of the consultation for the ‘refreshed’ outline planning application. The consultation formally closes on Wednesday 2 April, although I understand Medway Council will continue accepting responses until 12 noon the day before the application is presented to the Planning Committee. A specific date for this meeting is not yet known. (Update on 11/03/2014: The formal closing date on the consultation has been extended to Tuesday 15th April).

My advice to anyone reading this blog: get writing straightaway and submit your views to Medway Council. Be sure to tell all your friends, family and neighbours as well. Everyone needs to take this opportunity to voice their concerns, views and opinions in what is probably the very last chance to do so.

Only two exhibition events about the Lodge Hill project (concerning the refreshed outline planning application) have been organised by Land Securities (agents acting on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation). Despite the impact that this proposal would have on everyone living on the Hoo Peninsula - both events will be held in Chattenden. It is, of course, completely understandable and correct that events are held in Chattenden, as it is the front line community affected. I do think though that it would have been appropriate for additional events being held in other villages too. Nevertheless, the scheduled events will take place at Chattenden Community Centre (Swinton Avenue, Chattenden, ME3 8PH) on Thursday 20 March (6pm to 8.30pm) and Friday 21 March (4pm to 8pm).

Should approval be given - it will mean valuable parts of the Hoo Peninsula are permanently deleted from the map, no doubt opening the door to developers for many more years to come.

I wish someone somewhere had the imagination, vision and confidence to look seriously at the advantages of protecting the entire Hoo Peninsula landscape. If handled correctly, sensitively and in partnership with local communities and interest groups - our area, particularly the natural environment, historically important locations and sites of local heritage, could be positively transformed for the benefit of the whole community and visitors. This could be achieved without damaging or destroying the things we care about. Take a good look at other parts of the UK, like Scotland, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Norfolk, Suffolk, Wales etc. These areas have sympathetically and fundamentally protected important areas like the Hoo Peninsula. By doing so they have created thousands of new jobs and opportunities for local people. It can be done!

To read the refreshed outline planning application for the Lodge Hill project (MC/11/2516) click here. By clicking the ‘documents’ tab you will find all application documentation. To go directly to the feedback section, click here.

Alternatively, you can email your responses to: planning.represenations@medway.gov.uk and quote reference MC/11/2516. You can also write to: Development Control, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TR - remembering to quote the application number on all correspondence.

If you would like further reading - take a look at an informative article by Martin Harper (RSPB Conservation Director). This was produced earlier this year - click here.
  

Saturday, 8 March 2014

At the heart of the Hoo Peninsula - Village Voices for Stoke and St. Mary Hoo (Issue 10)

The latest edition of Village Voices for the parishes of Stoke and St. Mary Hoo is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the editions page on the Village Voices website - then click ‘Issue 10’.


This edition includes a couple of great old photos of the ‘muddies’, fundraising news from St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Upper Stoke, the latest developments from Stoke Village Hall and huge amounts of other parish and community information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.

Visit the website for Stoke Parish Council here, and visit the website for St. Mary Hoo Parish Council here.
  

At the heart of the Hoo Peninsula - Village Voices for Hoo and Chattenden (Issue 51)

The latest edition of Village Voices for Hoo and Chattenden is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the editions page on the Village Voices website - then click ‘Issue 51’.


This edition includes news of a meeting held to discuss improving youth provision in the parish of Hoo St. Werburgh, details of a photography competition launched by the RSPB, the latest from the Hoo Clean Up team of volunteers and huge amounts of other parish and community information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.
  

Allhallows Life - March 2014

The latest edition of Allhallows Life is now available to read online. Click the image below to see the full copy.


As well as lots of information and news from the Parish Council and community groups, this edition also includes an appeal for adult volunteers to join Allhallows Youth Club and the latest exciting updates about Allhallows Summer Fete on Saturday 28th June.

Allhallows Life is the magazine for Allhallows Parish Council, take a look at their website by clicking here.
  

Wild about you!

Join other local residents and the RSPB for a monthly wildlife adventure at Northward Hill, getting hands-on with nature whilst enjoying the fantastic local landscape.


As well as these monthly sessions, I highly recommend a visit to RSPB Northward Hill. Fresh air, great views, stunning nature and plenty of exercise (if you want it).

Take a look at the RSPB Northward Hill website by clicking here.

I’ve previously mentioned some of my visits to this beautiful part of the Hoo Peninsula, take a look by clicking here.
  

Road Closure – Britannia Road, High Halstow

Medway Council will be carrying out works to repair the highway drainage on Britannia Road in High Halstow from Monday 10th March until Friday 21st March.


During this time Britannia Road will be closed to through traffic from 8.30am to 5pm (Monday to Friday) to enable the works to be carried out safely, but it will be open outside of these hours and during the weekend. Access to Clinch Street will be maintained at all times.

191 bus services will continue to operate as normal, using Christmas Lane to both access and exit High Halstow – using Harrison Drive for turning.
  

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Hoo Church needs you!

The vicar of Hoo Parish Church, Reverend John Smith, is appealing to the community to support a fantastic new fundraising project.


The church needs to raise money locally, in order to qualify for the recently awarded, but conditional, £250k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Statement from Reverend John Smith:

St. Werburgh Church would like to offer you a unique opportunity to have your name written into the fabric of the church.

In January we announced that St. Werburgh Church has received a £250,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grant will pay for the conservation work that needs to be undertaken to address the problem caused by woodworm infestation and for laying a new stone floor. We need a further £90,000 to pay for under floor heating which must be installed at the same time as the stone floor.

When the new floor is installed there will be more than 1,000 tiles laid in the church. You can have the opportunity to have your name and the names of members of your family inscribed on the back of the tiles. This will mean that in 100, 200 or however many years time, when the tiles are lifted for repairs to be undertaken, your name will be there!

Most of us want to leave a mark to say that we have passed this way - that we have been valued members of our family and community. That is why we purchase headstones and memorial plaques. This is an opportunity for your name to be cemented into a nationally recognised Grade 1 listed building which will continue to be here for more than a thousand years. You can also remember a loved one who has died in this way.

In addition to having your name written on a tile, if you wish, we will record your name in a book printed especially for the purpose. The book will be kept in the church and be displayed. Alongside your name, you will be able to write a short message which will be there for future generations to see. There will also be space in the book for a small photograph of yourself on your own or with other members of your family beside your name. The book will be kept as part of the archive of the church for people to see in generations to come and will form an important record of this generation of residents in Hoo.

Please inform family and friends who have moved away from Hoo who you think might like to take part in this venture.

We hope that people will be willing to donate between £30 and £50 per tile. We will be very grateful for larger donations of course! We will also accept donations of £10 or £20 as we would not want anyone to miss this opportunity for financial reasons. This is especially the case for young people of school age or in full time education who are not part of a family group.

We realise that this may seem a lot of money to some. This is because we have a lot of money to raise and the easiest way is to spread the cost evenly amongst a large number of people! Please give generously and play your part by investing in the heritage of Hoo St. Werburgh. Your contribution will be remembered for many generations through the tiles and the book.

Please contact us in one of the following ways if you would like to donate and we will send you a form. If you are a tax payer please remember to fill in the part of the form which says that you will Gift Aid your donation. The Inland Revenue will give us an extra 25%, at no extra cost to you - this will be a great help - thank you. If you have any questions about Gift Aid please contact us.

Please send your name, address and contact number by emailing here, or by post to: The Organiser, Hoo Church Tiles Project, The Vicarage, Vicarage Lane, Hoo, Rochester, ME3 9BB. You can also telephone or text the St. Werburgh Church Appeal Line on: 07530 374332.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Even if, like me, you aren’t a regular church goer, there’s no doubt having a church in the village does help maintain a sense of community, so please help this worthy cause.
  

Guided tours of Grain Coastal Park

My old friend Michael Dale, who served as Police Officer on the Hoo Peninsula from 1966 to 1992, is very busy these days organising guided tours of our fabulous Grain Coastal Park.


Having been involved with the Friends of Grain Coastal Park in their formative period, it’s great to see that so many improvements have now been made to enhance and improve the foreshore and surrounding countryside.


The guided tours are an excellent way to learn more about the history of Grain and its fascinating military past.


Last year the guided tours attracted 165 people - well done Michael and to everyone else involved.
  

Monday, 10 February 2014

High Halstow Times - February 2014

Here’s the latest edition of the High Halstow Times - packed full of stories, reports and things to do. Click the image below to see the full copy.


This edition includes details of the High Halstow and District Gardening Club, news from the Friends of St. Margaret’s Church, a report from the High Halstow Hikers and reports and other useful information from High Halstow Parish Council.

The High Halstow Times is the magazine of High Halstow Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here.
  

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Village Voices for Stoke and St. Mary Hoo (Issue 9)

The latest edition of Village Voices for the parishes of Stoke and St. Mary Hoo is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the editions page on the Village Voices website - then click ‘Issue 9’.


This edition includes a special report about the work to raise money for repairs to the roof of Stoke Village Hall, updates and reports from Stoke Parish Council and St. Mary Hoo Parish Council, news of an injured Shetland pony at the Anim-Mates animal rescue sanctuary at St. Mary Hoo and lots more local and parish information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.

Visit the website for Stoke Parish Council here, and visit the website for St. Mary Hoo Parish Council here.
  

Village Voices for the Isle of Grain (Issue 3)

The latest edition of Grain Village Voices is now available online.

The bi-monthly publication is produced in partnership with St. James, Isle of Grain, Parish Council. Take a look by clicking the image below, which will take you to the editions page on the Village Voices website - then click ‘Issue 3’.


This edition includes reports and news from the Parish Council, feedback on the recent village pantomime by the Showin’ Grain Theatre Group, news from St. James’ Church and lots more local and parish information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.
  

Village Voices for Hoo and Chattenden (Issue 50)

The latest edition of Village Voices for Hoo and Chattenden is now available online. Click the image below, which will take you to the editions page on the Village Voices website - then click ‘Issue 50’.


Following last month’s announcement that Hoo Parish Church will be receiving a £250k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this edition includes another article from the Reverend John Smith about a new and very exciting fundraising project at the church. You will also find updates and diary dates from the Milly Moo Right Now Foundation, the latest news about Deangate MX (a junior motorcross site in Hoo), Ann Sheppard’s Parish Reporter column, details of the new operating company that is running the old BAE Club at the top of Bells Lane (now re-named the Peninsula Club) and huge amounts of other local and parish information.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.
  

Friday, 31 January 2014

The first Hoo Clean Up of 2014

It was good to join the first Hoo village litter pick of the year, last Saturday (25 January). It was great to see 20 local residents turning up to help!


The Hoo Clean Up meets every month (usually the last Saturday of the month) and the new meeting point is Hoo Library (Church Street, Hoo). Many thanks to the staff at the library for all their help and assistance with organising the refreshments after the session. Special thanks to SPAR supermarket for supplying all the cakes and nibbles (for free).

The next opportunity to get involved is on Saturday 22 February, meeting at 9.30am outside Hoo Library.


See you there!
  

Allhallows Life - February 2014

The latest edition of Allhallows Life is now available to read online. Click the image below to see the full copy.


This edition includes a report on the 2013 Santa Delivery (an annual fundraising event), information about the next Project Day on Saturday 15 February (meeting at 8.30am at All Saints Church), photos from the Christmas Tree Exhibition, the latest news from the Slough Fort Restoration Project, information about Allhallows Summer Fete and lots of other community information, news and reports.

Allhallows Life is the magazine for Allhallows Parish Council, take a look at their website by clicking here.
 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Volunteer at Grain Coastal Park (Sunday 16 February 2014)

The next opportunity to volunteer at Grain Coastal Park will be on Sunday 16 February.


The Friends of Grain Coastal Park will meet at 10am at The Pavilion Car Park (Pintail Close, Isle of Grain, ME3 0DW).

Find out more about the work of The Friends of Grain Coastal Park by clicking here.
  

Friday, 10 January 2014

The first Hoo Clean Up of 2014

The next Hoo Clean Up event will be on Saturday 25 January, meeting outside Hoo Library (Church Street) at 9.30am.


As well as being the first litter pick of 2014, those attending the event will celebrate the second anniversary of the Hoo Clean Up group. The first ever event was held in January 2012 (pictured below).


Well done to all of those who have given up their time every month to help make the village ‘litter free’, albeit for a little time each month. Such a great effort all round!

The last Clean Up session of 2013 (held on Saturday 30 November) was the most well attended event to date (pictured below).


See you on Saturday 25 January!