Last month's Borough Council meeting which saw the Lib Dem's Local Plan for Eastleigh bulldozed through with a massive majority was remarkable for the succession of Conservative speakers, both from the public gallery and in the council chamber, who insisted that the plan is not deliverable because Tory controlled Hampshire County Council will not release the land at Woodhouse Lane (which is currently leased to farmers) for housing.
Even 2010 parliamentary candidate Maria Hutchings had a statement read out on her behalf which is reproduced here. A representative of Botley Conservatives said it. Cllr Judith Grajewski (Hiltingbury West) said it. There is even a letter from Cllr Ken Thornber which says it. The Tories will not - apparently - sell the land that the Lib Dems want so desperately to build on.
The Lib Dems claim that the Thornber letter is only stating a personal view and is not representative of County Council policy. Hedge End Town Councillor Louise Bloom claimed that minutes of internal meetings prove that Cllr Thornber is wrong.
According to an Eastleigh officer's report to cabinet the Eastleigh plan is "deliverable" (paragraph 51 in this document), so the planners at the Civic Offices agree with the political administration that Cllr Thornber's opinion as leader of the County Council carries no weight.
|Broken Promise in 2011|
Bearing in mind that we are less than a year from elections for the County Council, claims by either party need to be treated with some scepticism. The Lib Dems have already made election promises they knew they would not keep. Hedge End Town Councillor Keith House, in introducing the Plan to Council last month, admitted he had been working on it for six years. Yet Hedge End Lib Dems promised in both 2011 and 2012 that they would "stand up against more building and traffic in our area" at the same time as they were working on a plan for increased building and traffic in Hedge End and Botley. Only Botley councillors have broken ranks with the Lib Dem leadership and voted against the plan.
|Only Cllr Kyrle has kept this 2012 promise|
Walk The Walk?
Cllr John Caldwell (Conservative, Hiltingbury East) claimed in the Council debate that only representations made in the final stage of the Local Plan consultation would be made available to the inspector who has to approve the plan.
If that is the case, then it is up to the Tories to prove to the Inspector that the land at Woodhouse Lane will not be sold for housing. This would make the Lib Dems' plan not achievable and force them back to the drawing board.
Consultation on the Pre-Submission Draft of the Local Plan runs from 17th August to 12th October.