Monday, 30 April 2012

Town Councillors Accused of Misleading Voters

More Lib Dem Lies 
Hedge End and Botley's local election campaign descended into name-calling and threats today as the Conservatives called in County Council supremo Ken Thornber to refute claims made in the latest Lib Dem election pamphlet, accusing two Hedge End town councillors of  untruths and of misleading the electorate.

St Johns independent campaigner and blogger Ray Turner drew attention to their "half-truths" and "porkies" in his blog on Sunday.  As he points out, the message in their "Outrage" "newspaper" is deceptive because it conveniently ignores the Lib Dems' own plans to build nearly 4000 houses in Hedge End and Botley.

What Ray does not mention is the unresolved question why - if the Lib Dems really wanted to say "no" to more building and even more traffic in our area - they refused on no fewer than four occasions last year even to debate the Borough Council's plans at Hedge End Town Council meetings.  After all, Cllr Welsh has been chair of the Town Council for the last year, and Cllr Kyrle has been a member of the Town Council, even though he has only turned up for seven meetings since being elected.

I had planned to blog along those lines this evening and asked both Lib Dem and Tory sides for a reaction to Ray's article.  Conservative candidate Paul Redding replied in less than ten minutes (at 9:05):

Hi Keith

I think Ray said it all Keith, I couldn't possibly better what he said.



Fourteen hours later I have had no reply from Cllr Kyrle, Cllr Welsh or their agent, Cllr Anne Winstanley.

I did follow up with Paul Redding on one detail of the Lib Dems' claims (at 9:10 am):

OK Paul, thanks- what's the Conservative line on the Tanhouse Lane site?


Paul replied (12:16 am)

If you are looking for an official response to that question, then i'll ask my collegues at HCC to respond if you wish?


Keith to Paul (1:07pm)

It would be good to know.  The Lib Dems claim to be opposing HCC plans to build at Tanhouse Lane.  If HCC does want houses there, then - as Ray says - the Lib Dems are being hyprocritical and opportunistic.  If HCC has no plans to build there, then they are making things up and lying, which is a much more serious allegation.

Paul to Keith (1:14pm)

I have made enquiries Keith, I'll get back to you as soon as i can.


Imagine my surprise to see at 10:13 this evening on Eastleigh News that Cllr Ken Thornber has issued a press release refuting the Lib Dem claims, accusing them of misleading the electorate and threatening them with the Electoral Commission if they do not retract their false claims.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Give Us Back Our Local Elections!

Local candidates are going door to door canvassing, and their supporters are delivering a small forest's worth of leaflets, all to get a few hundred people to turn out and put an X against their name on May 3rd.  Some of them are discussing local issues, while some seem to be avoiding them.

I haven't heard from Labour or the Lib Dems yet, but the UKIP and Conservative candidates in Hedge End have been willing to engage on local issues in the pages of this blog.

The leaders of Eastleigh's Lib Dems and Conservatives are locking their electoral horns in the local press over local issues: the wisdom of buying the Ageas (Rose) Bowl, and the business case for demolishing the civic offices and moving to new accommodation in the centre of Eastleigh.

Yet all three major Westminster party machines seem intent on turning our local elections into a massive opinion poll on their national policies.

Labour's party election broadcast (presented, admittedly, by the reliable and knowledgeable Professor Robert Winston) is all about the NHS (the clue is in the 'N' - it's a national, not a local issue).  If you missed it on TV, it's available on i-player here.

The Lib Dems still think it's a good idea to have Nick Clegg in their broadcast, despite opinion polls showing that three quarters of us think he is doing a bad job.  Only last year he claimed "Localism is in our DNA", but here he is concentrating almost entirely on national issues of tax cuts and pensions.

David Cameron, described this week by one of his own MPs as an "arrogant posh boy with no passion to understand the lives of others", does at least start and end his broadcast with the claim that Tory Councils give "value for money services" (I guess no-one has told him that Tory Hampshire has been creating new cabinet posts while cutting youth services).  But the meat in his sound-bite sandwich is all about the national economy, interest rates, taxes and apprenticeships.

This hi-jacking of the local elections presents voters with a dilemma.   National politicians will be interviewed on national television on election light claiming any slight increase in vote, or number of councillors, as an endorsement of what they are doing nationally.  And if you think that the Coalition's flogging off of the NHS to Richard Branson is the single most unforgivable breaking of several election promises, it must be tempting to vote Labour to stick up for Robert Winston.  On the other hand if you vote for one of the coalition parties you can be sure they will take any good news on May 3rd as an endorsement for their national policies.

Local elections should be about electing local candidates to represent local people.  If the national parties are going to insist on using them as expensive, publicly funded opinion polls on national issues, perhaps the answer is to take the parties out of local politics and if you have a good, local, independent candidate, to give them your vote.

Relevant links:
Conservative candidate Hedge End St John's ward
Conservative candidate Hedge End St Helen's ward
UKIP candidate Hedge End
Labour party election broadcast
Lib Dem party election broadcast
Conservative party election broadcast

Hedge End's Most Present Councillors

Cllr Allingham 
Hedge End Town Council has come to the end of its annual cycle of meetings with this week's meeting of the Finance and Administration committee, which was only just quorate.  In fact the Town Clerk was so concerned that four of the six Lib Dem members of the committee had announced they would not be turning up he phoned me during the afternoon to make sure I would be there.  If the committee does not meet, the Town Council's bills don't get paid, so it was fortunate that Cllrs Val Houghton and Derek Pretty were there as well to approve the monthly expenditure.

Cllr Worley
In the course of the year there are many legitimate reasons why an individual councillor might miss a small number of meetings - illness, family or work commitments, or clashing meetings for dual-hatted members who serve on other councils as well.  Some dual-hatted councillors seek to reduce that last problem by avoiding any involvement with the Town Council's committee work (which is a shame as a lot of important decision making is delegated to the committees). 

Hedge End Blogger therefore salutes two councillors who throw themselves with commitment into committee work and who have managed to attend 41 meetings in the last year.  Cllrs Margaret Allingham and Ray Worley have been present at 93% of the meetings at which they were expected, having missed only three meetings in the year. 

Unlike Borough and County Councillors, Town Councillors are not paid an allowance, but if they were, Margaret and Ray would be giving excellent value for money.  Overall, Hedge End Town Councillors turned up for 74% if the meetings at which they were expected, a percentage brought down by three members who could only manage to attend less than 50% of the time.

Attendance Record at Full Council May 2011 to April 2012
Worley, Ray100%12
Garton, Cynthia100%12
Day, Keith100%12
Allingham, Margaret92%11
Welsh, Jane92%11
Baynes, Sheila83%10
Bloom, Louise83%10
Pretty, Derek83%10
Clarke, Daniel75%9
Corben, Helen75%9
Houghton, Val75%9
Hughes, Peter75%9
Tennent, Bruce75%9
Sthankiya, Shankerlal67%8
Watson, June67%8
Kyrle, Rupert58%7
House, Keith42%5
Bloom, Caitlin33%4
Hughes, JennyAnn33%4

Attendance Record - Full Council and Committees
Allingham, Margaret414493%
Worley, Ray414493%
Garton, Cynthia384290%
Sthankiya, Shankerlal375271%
Day, Keith323397%
Corben, Helen314372%
Hughes, Peter314470%
Houghton, Val273382%
Welsh, Jane263379%
Baynes, Sheila253278%
Pretty, Derek254260%
Watson, June213364%
Bloom, Louise192190%
Clarke, Daniel142167%
Tennent, Bruce91275%
House, Keith82236%
Hughes, JennyAnn82335%
Bloom, Caitlin72133%
Kyrle, Rupert71258%

Attendance as recorded in meeting minutes published on Town Council web site.
Calculations and tables exclude councillors who did not serve a full year.

Picture credit Hedge End Town Council

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Conservative Candidate Opposes Housing Plan

Paul Redding 
All the Hedge End candidates in the May 3rd local elections have been invited to say a few words to their voters on the pages of Hedge End Blogger.  The latest to reply is Paul Redding, the Conservative hopeful in the Borough St John's ward election.  Here is the text of Paul's letter to St John's residents:

Dear Resident,

I am proud to be standing as your Conservative Party candidate in the Hedge End St. Johns ward in the forthcoming local elections. I am standing because I believe the area needs a councillor who will listen to the needs and concerns of local residents and work hard to resolve them. As someone who lives in this Ward of Hedge End, I understand the need for our local representatives to be at the heart of our community. My partner Selina and our children all love living in Hedge End and want to see it go from strength to strength in the future.

When talking to local people, one of the issues they raise with me most frequently is the need to preserve the natural environment and local beauty of the immediate area. That is why I am actively campaigning against the plans of Lib Dem controlled Eastleigh Borough Council to force unwanted housing development on the people of Hedge End when residents are firmly opposed to such plans and relevant infrastructure is not in place to support such development.

Another issue I am passionate about is restoring genuine democracy to the way Eastleigh Borough Council is run. With a stronger Conservative group on the council standing up for the concerns of residents, we can make decision makers at the council take greater account of local people’s views. This can only occur if the large majority the Liberal Democrats currently hold on the council is broken.  This is why I need your vote in these local elections.

It has been a pleasure to meet so many of you when knocking on doors in recent months. As I previously mentioned, if elected I am determined to be a strong local voice for the people of Hedge End St. Johns. In the 2010 general election, voters in the ward showed great support for the Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings. I hope I am able to similarly win your support on May 3rd.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Redding

Follow this link to see what Paul had to say at the Shamblehurst by-election in March. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

UKIP Keeping It Consistent

Michale O'Donoghue 

Lib Dem Broken Promise
I could name a few politicians and parties who change what they tell their voters after an election compared to what they said in order to get elected.  We all remember the Lib Dems' promise in 2011 to "stand up against more building and even more traffic", a promise that was followed a few months later with plans to build nearly 4,000 more houses in Hedge End and Botley, something they seem to be keeping quiet about this year.

No such problems with UKIP.  Asked to contribute some words to this blog to support his candidacy in the elections on May 3rd, Michale O' Donoghue has confirmed that his views and opinions have not changed since he stood in the Shamblehurst by-election in March.  Here's what he said then:

My name is Michale O’Donoghue and I am standing for the Parish Council By Election for the Shamblehurst Ward of Hedge End on 1st March 2012 on behalf of the U.K.Independence Party. I have lived in Hedge End for just over 20 years and currently run my own office stationery supplies business providing office products to businesses, schools, colleges, and health centres.

The reason for standing is threefold.

Firstly – over the past few years – the residents of Hedge End have rarely had a choice at local elections where parties other than the Liberal Democrats fail to field any candidates. The result is that the Liberal Democrats are returned unopposed – no election is held – and that cannot be good for democracy. Indeed – the Parish election of 2011 for the Shamblehurst Ward never happened as there were 3 candidates for 3 vacancies – all Liberal Democrats. It is therefore encouraging to see on this occasion a 4 way battle demonstrating renewed interest in local politics.

Secondly – I was always taught that whilst it is easy to be critical – it is better to be proactive by becoming involved. Hedge End has developed massively in the time I have lived here and the Council by virtue of being almost a single party Council would benefit from new ideas from alternative viewpoints. To the Council I would bring experience of business management from my current role - providing a reasoned argument for or against vanity proposals.

Thirdly – it is more important that we all recognize that Europe as a political basket case is intruding more and more into all our lives – making judgements by unelected commissioners enforceable despite the wishes of our own democratically elected politicians. We see at a national level high risk foreigners being unable to be deported because of “Human Rights”. These people have to be housed somewhere – and Hedge End is a possible somewhere. We see our money being used to support Foreign Aid in countries wit a greater wealth than ours – whilst our own people are struggling with high living costs. As a member of UKIP – I am a traditional old school Tory. Trade with Europe Yes – Be controlled politically by Europe – No.

I hope the Shamblehurst Electorate will allow me the opportunity of representing them on Hedge End Council – and will be pleased to answer any questions by Phone to 07760 778130 or email to

Michale is standing for St John's ward in the Borough poll, and for St Helen's ward in the Town Council by-election.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"Huhne Doomed": The Sun

Hedge End voters are set to give the Lib Dems the boot according to a YouGov poll for The Sun newspaper.  In a massive blow as the local election campaign moves towards its climax, support for the Lib Dems has slumped in their heartlands and target areas.

Polling in the 76 proposed new constituencies either held by the Lib Dems or winnable by them shows support for the party has fallen from 41% at the 2010 election to 24% now.

Even in the South of England, excluding London, which would include the Eastleigh constituency, support for the Lib Dems is down to 25%, with the Conservatives (34%) and Labour (26%) both profiting from the crash in Lib Dem support.   UKIP are on 8% and The Greens on 6%.

If these results are repeated in 2015, the only Lib Dem cabinet minister to survive would be Ed Davey, who replaced Hedge End's MP Chris Huhne as energy secretary.  Only seven Lib Dem MPs would be returned.  Chris Huhne, Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell, they would all pay the price for misleading their voters on tuition fees, welfare cuts and NHS privatisation.

Paul Redding, the Conservative candidate trying to unseat sitting councillor and chair of Hedge End Town Council, Jane Welsh, in St John's ward will take some comfort from this poll, but last year's borough elections, and the recent by-election in Shamblehurst ward, show that local Lib Dems have a dogged resistance to national trends.

Other Borough seats, notably in Chandler's Ford, are more likely to fall to the Tories, and Labour's targets in Eastleigh and Bishopstoke will be looking more winnable in the light of this poll.

YouGov Commentary
YouGov Data

(Dead bird graphic from

Monday, 16 April 2012

Conservative's First

Jerry Hall, Conservative candidate in the St Helen's ward by-election, is the first of all the Hedge End candidates on 3rd May to respond to Hedge End Blogger's invitation to engage with their electors online.

All the Town Council candidates have been asked the same five questions and here are Jerry's replies:

1. What do you think of the way that Hedge End has changed and developed in recent years?

Awful! The Lib Dems have built on every piece of green space we have, they just cannot leave it alone, railings, fences, posts and signs. Green space should be just that, green and spacious.

2. How would you like to see it change and develop in the future?

No more housing development for outsiders. More facilities for older people and a good youth club.

3. What qualities and experience will you bring to the Town Council?

I have been involved in local politics for many years and I am known as an independent minded fighter for local residents. I am never scared to be a voice of one at a Council meeting, if I am fighting for Hedge End people.

4. What would your priorities be for Hedge End and St Helen's ward in particular?

Protection of all open space including the green in front of the Village Hall and the Laburnum tree!
Sometimes less is more, let’s protect and improve what we have and stop the constant filling in of all spaces with “token stuff” to make us look busy.

5. Is there anything else you would like to say to your potential voters?

I never give up. You need me back to restore some balance and shout for you!
Vote for me.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Did Huhne OK Web Snoop Plans?

Working for You or Spying on You? 
Lib Dem activists led by their president Tim Farron have been much exercised in recent days by the leaked coalition policy to extend the government's internet snooping powers introduced by Tony Blair's administration.

Having rolled over on tuition fees, and welfare reform, and NHS privatisation, the Lib Dems (keen, no doubt, not to do even worse in this year's local elections than they did in 2011) have, according to one activist, decided to unite against this policy like they have never united before.

How embarrassing then for Hedge End MP Chris Huhne that his old boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, is claiming that Huhne and Nick Clegg have already approved the proposals at a meeting of the National Security Council.

(Photo credit: David Spender)

Pro-Pollinator Policies Proposed

Bees are again on the agenda as the Town Council's Recreation and Amenities committee pepares to discuss how to implement the Council's new bee-friendly policies

The council wants to engage with residents to establish a network of wildflower gardens starting with one on the Recreation Ground as part of its application for a Green Flag Community Award.  In addition it will ensure its own plantings are of species beneficial to pollinators, encourage the installation of bee nest boxes in its parks and green spaces and allow bee hives to be managed on the allotment site.

New evidence has been published recently confirming that pesticides, in particular neonicitinoids, are detrimental to bee colonies, so it is clear that bees need all the help they can get at the moment.  More information is available at Southampton and Eastleigh Friends of the Earth.

Other items on the agenda for Wednesday's R&A meeting include:
New gates for the war memorial garden
Use of the Turnpike Way Pavilion by Hedge End Junior Cricket Club
Use of the Norman Rodaway Field for a Hedge End Rangers charity event
Gates and signs at Greta Park and Bridget Mary Gardens.

Also meeting this week on Tuesday is the Community and Culture Committee which will discuss:
HEWEB Youth Council report
Hedge End Festival
Diamond Jubilee Street Party.

Finance and Administration, which would normally meet on the second Thursday in the month, has been postponed to 25th April.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Election Time Again

Borough Council Poll

Voters in Wildern and Grange Park wards of Hedge End are spared elections this year, but some voters in St John's get to vote twice.

Long-serving Lib Dem councillor and outgoing chair of the Town Council, Jane Welsh, is defending the St John's borough seat against strong local candidates from the Tories and UKIP.  Both Paul Redding and Michale O'Donoghue recently honed their electioneering skills in the Shamblehurst by-election.  Labour, once again, have been unable to find a candidate who lives in Hedge End, and are putting forward Christine McKeone of Bishopstoke.

St John's is the only Hedge End ward to return a Conservative councillor in recent years, with Jerry Hall coming top of the poll in 2002.  The Lib Dems have held it consistently since 2003, and four years ago Jane Welsh had more than 50% of the vote and a majority of 326.

Paul Redding is likely to be a more energetic candidate than his Tory counterpart in 2008, but Michale O'Donoghue will be trying to take the votes of anti-EU Conservatives.  Christine McKeone will be hoping that Labour's strong position in national opinion polls is reflected locally and that Labour supporters who voted tactically for the Lib Dems in the past will return.

Town Council By-Election

A Vacancy on Hedge End Town Council caused by the death of Cllr Pearl Hicks has led to a by-election in St Helen's ward which will be contested on the same day as the Borough poll.  

Labour are not contesting this one, resulting in a three-way contest between Lib Dem new boy Paul Carnell, high profile Tory activist Jerry Hall and UKIP stalwart Michale O'Donoghue.

Hedge End Blogger will be trying once again to contact all the candidates in the Hedge End elections and inviting them to answer a few questions of interest to local residents on this blog.  Only the Lib Dems refused to participate in this exercise in online democracy last time.  It clearly did them no harm, as they romped home to success in the Shamblehurst by-election, but I hope they reconsider this time round and join in with the other parties.

Elections in Botley Too

Hedge End Town Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Eastleigh, Rupert Kyrle, can expect a tough fight standing up for the Lib Dem plans for 4,000 houses in Botley and Hedge End as he defends his Botley Borough Council seat against local Conservative Graham Hunter.  UKIP will again be trying to split the Tory vote as they are represented by Elizabeth McKay of Chandler's Ford, and Labour have a local candidate in Kevin Williamson of Holmesland Walk.

Ex Lib Dem County Councillor Derek Blampied is standing as an independent for Botley Parish Council along with five other independentsGwyneth Lester is also no longer standing as a Lib Dem.  Six Lib Dems and four Tories make up the rest of what looks like an interesting ballot in our neighbouring parish.

Voting in all these elections is from 7:00am to 10:00pm on Thursday 3rd May.

Statements of all candidates nominated are published on Eastleigh Borough Council's web site, here for the Borough elections, and here for Town and Parish Councils.