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Key Issues for Council

In early November the Council voted for its recently published Regeneration Document; it was frustrating that there was no debate or even discussion by Councillors on the well researched points made in the three Deputations that specifically covered Hayling and the Town Centre. Two key issues still need to be addressed by the Council. The Regeneration Programme documents must be freely available to the public, with commercially sensitive information redacted as necessary. We need to see local communities of residents represented at the External Stakeholder level, along with those professionals responsible for our health, education and safety.

We also noted that, over the next five years, the only change to be delivered will be the Civic Plaza site. Surely there must be tangible benefits in each of the regeneration areas in order to achieve ‘buy in’ from the communities. One important element of the document is that it provides the Council with the right to ‘intervene’. This could be encouraging if only residents and relevant professionals as Stakeholders were trusted to view the documents underpinning this interventionist policy. One Councillor did assure me, after the meeting, that the Operations and Place Shaping Board on which she sits had been assured that every stage of the Regeneration plans must pass the Council’s approval. Does this mean that Councillors will rigorously challenge proposals or pass them with no real debate as we’ve seen over recent years? Surely this is why we need External Stakeholders on board in any Regeneration and they need to be properly engaged.

“Communication is crucial for the regeneration programme” states the Document, but many residents already feel disenfranchised by the absence of the Council’s public consultations in hard copies distributed around the Borough Libraries. The Council’s information magazine ‘Serving You’ has a lead time of 3 months, so is unsuitable for time sensitive material. Residents complain to HIRA that even with a mobile phone, they cannot trawl through consultation documents nor even access many surveys with that device. At my November 7th Deputation I asked the Council to ensure that all its communications be inclusive. No resident should have to request this fundamental democratic right.

In November the Council’s Operations and Place Shaping Board put Southern Water under scrutiny by allowing local residents’ deputations to and questioning of the company. Whilst the Council has no absolute authority over Southern Water, it nonetheless represents the Company’s customer base – the public. Southern Water was not prepared for the detailed level of questioning by both residents, and the Council’s Board stated that it was ‘very disappointed with the Company’s response’. There will be meetings in the near future at which local residents hope to learn more from Southern Water’s local area representative. The objective is to discover the company’s possible solutions to the sewage problems that recur on Hayling, requiring tanker fleets on our roads. New housing developments, recent and in the future, have now ‘unadopted’ roads, leaving new residents with the responsibility for any problems arising from them, the pipes below or the sewage system. Hayling’s unusual topography with an often high water table, presents a challenge to our infrastructure.

Contact HIRA or drop boxes: Hayling Community Centre, West Town; Morris Dibben, Mengham; The Terracotta Pot and Gift Shop, Eastoke; Library Elm Grove.

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