Please find below our report on last Friday's Hustings Public Meeting in case you were unable to be there. Committee members also present agreed it is a fair account and it is vital that we are all well informed about our candidates' responses to local questions prior to voting. Please note: Candidates' names only have been given. It is important to note that Hayling has only 1 County Council representative and we trust that they will put Hayling residents first at County level.
The HIRA hosted County Election Hustings drew an audience of about 90, similar to HIRA'S 2015 General Election Hustings. All the 5 candidates attending worked hard to provide answers but there was a sharp difference in individual responses revealing some surprising lack of knowledge. It is clear that voters need to know the best person for the job – the Hustings provided considerable insight.
Persistent questions regarding post-Brexit revenue sources were answered variously by ‘no evidence’ of a downturn, no cuts needed or re-distribution to Hayling of money currently wasted at County level. Concerns were expressed about Conservative Government’s proposed ‘Fairer Funding’ for Education & the latter proposal was decried by all opposition political candidates as ‘neither fair nor funding’ & evidence was given of actual cuts. After Mr. Quantrill’s advice for us to join in the national Consultation, the questioner advised that it ended on March 21st 2017.
Whilst all candidates opposed removing Hayling’s Medical Surgery to the mainland – if the Government’s proposed nurse-led ‘Superhub’ surgeries for 30K-40K residents takes effect -, only Mr. Coates provided a practical paramedic solution to our over-pressed Medical Services.
Transport featured pressing questions. Regarding potential Bridge failure, the example given of a sudden, unexpected Hammersmith Flyover closure – despite regular inspections – resulted again in mixed reactions. Whilst Mr. Quantrill, Ms Earnshaw, Mr. Gray were unsure about a second Bridge solution suggesting that residents should be consulted, Mrs. Holt preferred local services being made more robust in case of such an emergency, and Mr. Coates confirmed that a major incident plan is in place and the funding for a second Bridge is prohibitive.
Cycling provision was universally endorsed although Mr. Coates argued for the need to segregate cars from cyclists with Mrs. Holt highlighting the dangers to cyclists on Hayling's roads. Mr. Gray argued for engaging with cycling/community groups and Mr. Quantrill distinguished between recreational and road cyclists, citing the usefulness of year round Billy Trail useage. A point not mentioned is that cyclists routinely find the Billy Trail problematic during parts of the year.
Regarding Hampshire CC’s strategic study of the A3023, both Mr. Quantrill and Mrs. Holt supported this taking place over the whole year, not just holiday times. Ms Earnshaw highlighted poor or missing pavements making some pedestrian road use dangerous. Mr. Gray supported car sharing whilst Mr. Coates cited Hampshire CC Capital Programme Plan 2018-19 providing no money to Hayling other than for cycling additions. One could ask exactly where could demarcated cycling lanes be created on Hayling’s A3023?
One questioner argued for a ‘seamless’ bus service so that our buses could run through the night for workers and leisure users, taking more cars off the roads. Ms Earnshaw supported a community bus and reduction of bus fares. Mr. Gray was against the Stagecoach bus monopoly whilst Mr. Coates wants to subsidise a Hayling bus to the ferry for 2 years. All candidates supported the Ferry and the need for bus connection while Mr. Quantrill stated it must be commercially viable otherwise a costly subsidy.
Regarding fly-tipping concerns, Mr. Coates stated that 76K new houses, nationally, by 2026 will require £2.6 million for waste removals, whilst Mr. Quantrill stated that trades people can have a Trade Waste Licence for tip use. Finally, a question about the UK National Debt drew the following responses: Mr. Gray for better money management, fewer expensive Consultants; Ms Earnshaw wanted extra revenue from big business; Mr. Quantrill supported austerity and cited Eastleigh’s 6,000 new homes with a road through woodland; Mrs. Holt wanted wealth re-distribution and reduced inefficiencies; Mr. Coates argued for reduction of Consultancies and high paid posts – e.g. Chief Executive’s £220K pa income too high – greater efficiency and the money spent for example on Hayling’s promised 24 hour Police cover.
The Hustings closed at about 9:45 pm and was well received & much appreciated. Portsmouth News Reporter took photos & promised a report in the News tomorrow, Tuesday.