Friday, 23 September 2011

Lib Dem Let Down

For the second time in as many months Hedge End Lib Dems turned down the chance to keep their infamous election promise to "Save Our Countryside" and "Stand Up Against More Building and Traffic".

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.


  1. "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."

    See ya! Wouldn't want to be ya!

  2. I'm not sure that the minutes tell us much really. They're procedural, dry and matter of fact rather than reflecting the strength of feeling and the mood of the meeting.

    But that's only a perception that I've got based on certain things that I've read elsewhere. As you know I wasn't there, but I do now wonder if we can rely on these minutes to tell us everything that happens in Council meetings and how much they conveniently gloss-over...

  3. Well the minutes should be a factual record of who was there (and who wasn't) and what decisions were made. In that respect I think the clerk has done a good job on this occasion, although there is one small discrepancy as one cllr is shown as both attending and having sent apologies.

    You'll have to rely on local bloggers and tweeters for the mood and atmosphere etc, so it was good to see some in the public gallery on this occasion.

    It's hard to be objective when you are a participant, so this posting is obviously how it looked from where I sat. I found it easier to blog about the last local area committe (back in June - "Lib Dems Steamroller Town Councillor") when, if I recall correctly, all the Borough councillors voted against a care home for the elderly in West End. Was that nimbyism?.

  4. Alice had never been in a court of justice before, but she had read about them in books, and she was quite pleased to find that she knew the name of nearly everything there.

    'That's the judge,' she said to herself,'because of his great wig.'

    The judge, by the way, was the King; and as he wore his crown over the wig, he did not look at all comfortable, and it was certainly not becoming.

    'And that's the jury-box,' thought Alice, 'and those twelve creatures, I suppose they are the jurors.'

    The twelve jurors were all writing very busily on slates.

    'What are they doing?' Alice whispered to the Gryphon. 'They can't have anything to put down yet, before the trial's begun.'

    'They're putting down their names,' the Gryphon whispered in reply, 'for fear they should forget them before the end of the trial.'

  5. So you didn't see it as a Mad Tea Party then?

  6. Just observing here that the article posted by Eastleigh News gave me everything that the official minutes didn't.

    As you say though, minutes are supposed to be matter of fact.

    This is why we need local journalism!