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Botley Councillors reject ‘plan B’

September 24, 2011
By

Keith House presides over Cabinet meeting

Two senior Eastleigh Lib Dems Councillors broke ranks at last week’s meeting of Eastleigh Council’s cabinet to speak out against the adoption of Boorley Green as a preferred option for 1400 new homes while at the same meeting the cabinet member for housing claimed the proposed housing was to meet the needs of local people and was not meant for “foreigners or people from Portsmouth”.

Deputy Mayor Rupert Kyrle and the Cabinet Member for Health Cathie Fraser backed the majority view of their Botley constituents  by branding the Boorley Green as plan as “unsustainable”, contrary to the Lib Dem party line.

The cabinet had convened to discuss the findings of the recent borough wide household survey on development plans but also, it later transpired, to endorse its findings.

The proposed development is part of a larger plan to build almost 10,000 additional homes in the Borough.

Although the Council claim that 58,000 leaflets had been distributed at a cost of £13,000, only 1,786 ‘valid’ responses had been received – a response rate of 3.08% – with a narrow majority of 58 in favour of development at Boorley.

Several cabinet members  expressed their disappointment with the level of response although Cllr Lousie Bloom (who used to work in marketing) judged a 3% response rate as a success.

Leader of the Council Keith House stressed that the consultation had been ‘consultative not quantitative’ and that despite the low response it had been a worthwhile exercise as comments submitted on the forms had provided valuable feedback.

He stressed it had been a snapshot of local opinion – not a referendum – and that some people had ‘got hold of the wrong end of the stick’

Disappointment with the planning survey was not confined to councillors.

A spokesman for developers who addressed the meeting thought the questionnaire had not gone far enough and should have included the option of alternative land around Boorley which would enable them to build even more houses.

This was later picked by Cllr Bloom as an indication of what could happen if developer aspirations were left unchecked.

Cllr Godfrey Olson, leader of the Conservative group, claimed the council had conducted a ‘Sham Survey’ and was creating a ‘false impression’ that public opinion was being fully considered “when it is inevitable that the councils preferred choice of option B  will be the one that is adopted”.

BPAG

Botley resident Mike Jarvey who is part of a working group that is trying to formulate a community led plan for the area asked the cabinet, unsuccessfully, not to proceed with the planning process until it had considered the results of the groups survey which had recieved a 14% response rate but the results which had not yet been collated.

Sue Grinham of the Botley Parish Action Group who had campaigned against the previous proposal to build 6000 houses in the Botley/Boorley area criticised the Cabinet for not fully explaining why the Allington Lane site was unsuitable and for failing to consider alternatives.

She told the cabinet that BPAG had conducted house to house inquires in Boorley which had shown that 97% of respondents were opposed to local development.

Prior to the meeting I had discussed the high level of response to the working party survey with one of the group members.

I asked why there had been such a high response to their survey and such a low response to the councils and if there was such a high level of opposition to the proposals why had only 100 householders responded to the council out of 2000 dwellings?

I was told  they believed that not all the houses had received their leaflets; though I understand when this allegation was put to the EBC communications department they insisted all leaflets had been distributed properly.

Foreigners

Concerns are frequently expressed by locals that housing demand is being driven by immigrants and by social housing overspill from Portsmouth.

Cabinet member for housing Anne Winstanley seemed anxious to reassure residents that extra housing was needed solely to meet local demand by saying:

“It is not for foreigners, for other parts of the country or from other countries or even from Portsmouth”

This statement was met with a stunned silence followed by some nervous laughter.

Keith House has since explained in an email that affordable and social housing will be offered to those on the Eastleigh housing list other properties will be available on the open market.

It is likely though, that there are foreigners on the local housing list and it’s not clear how they, or ‘people from Portsmouth’ could legally be excluded from buying into local developments.

‘Unsustainable’

When both the councillors for Botley spoke out against the decision to progress development at Boorley it  came as something of a surprise to objectors as both councillors had previously supported all options at full council.

Councillor Kryle – who is not a cabinet member- addressed the meeting from the public gallery with all the confidence of a man whose status within the local party hierarchy is sufficiently assured to allow him the luxury of voting as he pleases on issues of his own choosing (n.b just don’t make a habit of it).

Cllr Fraser’s performance was less assured and bordered on the apologetic at times as she reminded the cabinet that she had been an early supporter of the strategic gap in the area and made it clear it was her intention to defend it.

Both councillors branded the plan as unsustainable on infrastructure and environmental issues which earned them a round of applause from the gallery.

The sustainability issue is an important point as both Keith House and Anne Winstanley insisted that the localism bill was designed to allow more housing developments to be built and not less, and predicted that any opposition to council plans would be futile.

However earlier in the day the Minster for local Government Eric Pickles had written in The Guardian.

“It is simply not true to suggest that under our proposals it will be “almost impossible to resist development”. If it isn’t sustainable, it must not, and will not, happen”.

The cabinet with the exception of Cllr Fraser, voted to go forward with option B, Boorley Green and draft proposals will be drawn up for further discussion and consultation.

Those opposing development at Boorley on the grounds of sustainability will have to ensure they can persuade the planning inspectorate to agree with them.

see also:

Homes for Sale in Eastleigh

Concrete proposals

Bad news for Boorley Green



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8 Responses to Botley Councillors reject ‘plan B’

  1. Ray Turner on September 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

    What an excellent and comprehensive report. Thank you.

    • Vocal Local on September 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Don’t forget that Cllrs Kyrle and Fraser need the support of Botley voters to maintain their positions on the council. An ‘under the radar’ meeting will have taken place with Lib Dem leadership before the meeting and it will have been agreed that they should oppose the development in order to make LD re-election possible. The Lib Dems want their strangle hold sustained. Cllr Dan Clarke of West End has been heard to say that he doesn’t want building at Allington Lane (his patch) as he wouldn’t get re-elected if it went ahead. His voting decision was based purely on his self interest and anxiety to keep hold of his allowance. That reflects the quality of our elected representatives.

      • Botley Bloke on September 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

        Totally agree with you. If Fraser & Kyrle felt so passionately about the proposals WHY did they vote in FAVOUR of them at the full Council meeting on 14th July?? The circus act that I am sure was orchestrated for the benefit of those attending the cabinet meeting was i am sure well rehearsed before hand.
        Fraser apparently even went to House after the meeting all smiles to ensure her ‘Act’ was good enough!
        They now know how opposed the residents of Botley & Boorley Green are against this crazy rigged proposal that they now fear for their seats at the next elections!

        Too Little too late!!

        The vote on 13th Ocotber at the full council meeting will I am sure have the same circus act.

        Making a desision using a 3.3% return would NEVER stand up in industry, it is a sham.

        I would encourage as many residents to attend the Full Council meeting on 13th October and tell House & his cronies exactly what residents think of this sham and crazy proposal.

  2. maureen on September 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    So the developers are pushing to put the SDA basck on the agenda?? Sounds like they were circling like vultures at the meeting, but then it’s cheaper for them to develop green field sites than brownfield.

  3. Peter Stewart on September 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    The Government admits 40% of new builds are to cater for immigration. Most is uncontrollable because of EU open-borders legislation. All these mass house building programmes were planned decades ago to cater for mass immigration of cheap EU labour. But most of these new houses will NOT be occupied by immigrants themselves. Some are needed to cope with an expanding Eastleigh population but most are probably needed to cater for population overspills from outside Eastleigh as a direct result of the mass immigration from the EU.

  4. Daniel Clarke on September 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Umm Vocal Local, I have never made any such comment, so your post is factually incorrect. Perhaps in future, when you slur others, you will have the courage to give your name rather than hide anonymously.

  5. Peter Stewart on September 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Here’s one I posted on EastleighNews earlier:

    Peter Stewart on June 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    The temporary scrapping of mass house building targets is a Tory scam. This Tory coalition has calculated it can get away with it while it remains in office. It knows it will get booted out in a few years. By that time mass EU immigration will pick up again and these house building targets will be RE-imposed with a vengeance by the EU. Then the Tories can stand back and blame whoever gets in. Meanwhile the likes of Eric Pickles get to tell us they are scrapping unpopular legislation which they blame on Labour.

    The truth is, under EU open-borders legislation, any “self employed” EU “citizens” can come to Britain to live and work. This Tory coalition government CANNOT stop them! Sure! Right now the economic situation means lots of Eastern Europeans are going back home. But lots are still coming.

    Let’s assume there really is a net decline in mass EU immigration. If so the DEMAND for mass house building will decline anyway. Voila! More breathing space for the deceptive Tory coalition to say they are doing away with mass house building targets!

    But get this! As long as there is a huge labour rate differential between Britain and Eastern Europe, the mass immigration of cheap EU labour WILL continue. It is the law of the market place (but only so long as we remain annexed by the EU). Mass house building MUST continue.

    Those who say mass immigration of cheap EU labour will eventually stop because Eastern European labour rates will rise to our levels, ignore the fact there are still another 350 million workers in Eastern Europe who will happily come to Britain and undercut those over here foolish enough to hold out for more than the minimum wage!

    So this continuing downward pressure will drive mass EU immigration for the next century! The truth is, this mass immigration will continue NOT until Eastern Europe’s labour rate comes up to match ours (which would take a century) but UNTIL OURS goes DOWN TO MATCH THEIRS (which would take perhaps 10 to 20 years). I reiterate: This can only continue as long as we remain annexed by the EU.

    Meanwhile the EU is bankrupting Europe and Britain. Let us pray it folds sooner rather than later. Only then will be able to get on and rebuild Britain’s manufacturing base and put a stop FOREVER to mass house building in Botley. But under this Tory coalition it just won’t happen. So my prediction is that Botley will be spared for a few years until the economy picks up.

  6. John Edwards on September 25, 2011 at 10:44 am

    So as in concrete, so appears the first cracks in the local Lib Dems as they realise that this issue is not going to win them votes needed to maintain majorities on the respective councils. Lets face it, we are by now used to the Lib Dems flipping thier opinions.

    Its also going to be interesting to see how the local Tories are going to play this issue when it is a known fact that nationally, developers are known to have donated up to £3.3 million to party funds.

    Will the local Tories support the local residents in thier fight which will put them at odds with party HQ in London? If so, will they follow the lead of thier counterparts in Buckinghamshire where local Tory asociations are withholding subscriptions / funds payable to central office, in protest over the proposals for HS2, the proposed white elephant high speed train link from London to Scotland?

    It is good for democracy that elected council members have broken ranks and are having the courage to speak thier minds. Its also good to hear that the suggestion from The English Democrats of a local referendum is being spoken of in the public domain. Now that will be democracy.

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