Cabinet Meeting: Insight
The following is an observer's view of last Wednesday's important Meeting. Meetings reveal much of their participants as well as final decisions taken. There is still work to do if we are to send the massive national house-building programme back to the Government for a re-think: let's see democracy in action!
Deputations in order of appearance:
Rosie Law (SWHayling spokesperson), made strong presentation for the permanent removal of site UE18 (area bordered by North Shore Rd., Sinah Lane and Hayling Billy Trail) for known environmental and sustainability reasons.
Sue Holt (Friends of the Earth), made a strong case for HBC to be 'innovative and courageous' in protecting our green spaces.
Mr. Robert Tutton (for West Bedhampton) strongly argued against the so-called '40 Acres' site development on environmental and safety/infrastructure grounds.
Hayling Cllrs. John Perry, (sustainability, 'better lives for all' arguments), Clare Satchwell (repeating residents' concerns re Traffic, Flood Risk and Prevention, Medical Provision, the need for infrastructure and citing that imposition of decisions goes against the Localism Act), Andy Lenaghan (delivered by Cllr Fairhurst), arguing for not compromising the well being of our communities, ongoing problems of flooding and transport, the current Plan unable to demonstrate that infrastructure is deliverable to cope with proposed development), Joanne Thomas, (repeating residents' concerns re lack of cycle lanes, road transport problems, flood risks, bridge capacity).
Cllr Smith (Bedhampton) familiar arguments re traffic gridlock, access, unsustainability, failure to find alternatives to countryside.
As for the Cabinet's discussion between the Councillors sitting on the Cabinet....
Cllr Michael Wilson argued for the need to lobby the Secretary of State against the imposition of so much increased housing and expressed concern that a comprehensive infrastructure review may not protect us against a Government Inspector.
Leah Turner asked for reassurance re infrastructure review and Andrew Biltcliffe assured everyone that this had largely been done for the 2012 Plan and that PUSH had taken it into account. This was not questioned.
Leah Turner also asked if Affordable Housing needs for young people would be met. She was assured that HBC has an Affordable Housing policy. [My note: at a meeting between 6 representatives, including myself, of the Havant Borough Residents' Alliance and 3 of the Planning Team (J Hassett, Andrew Biltcliffe, David Hayward) a month ago, we were told categorically that HBC's Affordable Housing requirement can NOT be insisted upon with developers. They did not state this on Wednesday and no-one questioned them further during the discussion on Wednesday.]
David Guest asked if the Plan was sustainable and A. Biltcliffe replied that it was. This was not questioned further and A. Biltcliffe did not clarify exactly what 'sustainable' might mean in the various documents.
Leader of the Council Michael Cheshire stated that he would be attending an LGA meeting the next day and, in response to Cllr Briggs suggesting that HCC should combine with other authorities to bring the Housing pressure issue to the Government's attention, agreed to put this matter to the top of the Agenda.
All members of the Cabinet approved the amended Plan as per my earlier email to you. Please be aware that, because this is pending an infrastructure review, they may be re-listed as development sites. It is imperative that you each continue to write in. We are aware that many of you are receiving standard letters. Now however you can add request of Cllr Cheshire to know what the outcome of the LGA's meeting was - it is essential that this matter is taken to the highest authorities.
Please be aware that Alan Mak MP, in his surgery yesterday, expressly stated that he will not be involved in any way regarding the Local Plan and will not involve himself with the appeal to the Secretary of State either. The only thing he may get involved in is obtaining funds to support the infrastructure to enable the housing increase. His view is that the whole issue is for the HBC and bordering authorities to resolve. He also intimated that the Infrastructure Review is nearing completion. We are intrigued that this major Review can be delivered so quickly given that we had heard nothing about it when the Plan was first presented to us July 30th.
The Islander plans a full spread on this matter December 1st so does not want me to write about it in my forthcoming HIRA Article in too much detail! Please write in your letters to the Islander asap.