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Despite having the wind somewhat taken out of his sails by this bureaucratic technicality, Grange Park Cllr Derek Pretty put up a staunch defence on behalf of the nearby residents (represented by two speakers from the public gallery who eloquently opposed the project). His alternative recommendations to address immediately the parking problems in residential streets and postpone any decision on the car park extension until it is shown to be necessary were supported by fellow Grange Park Cllr Louise Bloom.
Cllr House made it clear that he would prefer to spend money now - even to the extent of "buying out" the covenants that currently protect the land - to solve a problem that might or might not exist in the future. Cllr Dan Clarke agreed with his leader and showed off his growing Lib Dem loyalist credentials by quoting liberal luminary David Lloyd George(*). Like Cllr Clarke, Cllr Bruce Tennent chose not to support his Grange Park voters as he spoke in favour of the Lib Dem leadership line.
When it came to the vote, five were in favour of Cllr Pretty's compromise proposal and five against. Cllr Tony Noyce (West End) abstained, and Cllr Mick Wheatley (Hedge End) had mysteriously absented himself from the meeting without explanation. The tension of a five-five split was broken a few seconds later when Committee Chair Cllr Rupert Kyrle put his casting vote at the disposal of the Lib Dem party line.
The votes in favour of delaying the decision came from Cllrs Pretty, Bloom, Welsh and (Jenny) Hughes from Hedge End and Cllr Goodall from West End. Those against were Cllrs House (Hedge End), Fraser (Botley), Kyrle (Botley), Tennent (West End) and Clarke (West End).
Cllr Pretty's alternative recommendations having failed on the chair's casting vote, consideration then returned to the published recommendations. These were amended to include a plea to cabinet that any yellow lines required to discourage parking in nearby roads be payed for from corporate, not local, funds. It is surprisingly expensive to get a yellow strip painted along the gutter (there have to be consultations, reports, additional signage and all manner of legal and administrative high-jinks).
When it came to this second vote, Cllr Noyce came off the fence and Cllr Goodall was clearly satisfied with the additional request for money, and now sided with the leadership so that the proposals supported by Cllr House were passed seven to four. It therefore looks likely that the Lib Dem cabinet will bulldoze ahead with the car park extension despite the valiant opposition of some of our Hedge End councillors.
(*) Footnote: Cllr Clarke quoted an obscure Lloyd George aphorism that "there is nothing more dangerous than to leap a chasm in two jumps", which although witty and entertaining, was not exactly apposite in this case, because this is the second extension to the car park, so the Council supported by Cllr Clarke is doing precisely what Lloyd George was warning against.