Friday, 23 September 2011
Lib Dem Let Down
In July I proposed a motion at Town Council opposing the Borough's plan to designate land at Woodhouse Lane opposite Hillier's garden centre a "preferred development area" and recommending that the sacrifice of countryside and green fields be shared more proportionately across the Borough.
This is important because those fields are the last area of largely unspoiled countryside within the historical boundaries of Hedge End, and no other parish is being asked to give up all its countryside. Combined with the proposed golf course development at Boorley Green, thousands of new houses and flats will generate an unthinkable strain on the local roads and other infrastructure. The proposed preferred development area also includes Bottom Copse, a designated Site of Interest for Nature Conservation for which the Town Council is responsible.
Taking all this into account, I thought that Hedge End Town Councillors might want at least to discuss the merits of the Borough's plan. In July the Lib Dem majority decided to postpone discussion of my motion because they needed more time to understand the proposals. This week it came up again at Wednesday's Town Council meeting.
As soon as the motion was on the table this time, Cllr Keith House stifled any debate on the issues by proposing an amendment which replaced all of my motion (apart from the first four words "Hedge End Town Council") with an anodyne procedural request to wait for the official consultation and for the Council's response to be determined by the Highways and Planning Committee in December.
The full wording of both motions, and details of the vote, are in the official minutes, here on the Council's web site.
The reason I voted against Cllr House's amendment was that as long as there is no opposition, the Borough will be developing their plans based on Hedge End as a preferred development location for 1,000 units. If we want get the plan changed, now is the time to do it, not when the "Consultation" is published. The "Consultation" will include Woodhouse Lane, that has already been decided. Town Council has missed an opportunity to reduce the number of houses proposed there. Residents are already mobilising in Botley and Eastleigh to oppose the level of housing proposed for their areas. Hedge End Lib Dems have missed an opportunity to provide some local leadership.
A mention in dispatches is appropriate for Cllr Sheila Baynes who not only seconded my motion so that it could be debated, but stood next to me in the face of the Lib Dem Borough bulldozer. Thank you Sheila. I hope it does not get you in trouble with the Lib Dem leadership.