Hedge End Town Councillor Keith Day was forced to vote against his own proposals after the motion he had forwarded was amended beyond recognition.
The sole opposition member on the Lib Dem council, Cllr Day had tabled a motion objecting to Eastleigh Borough Council’s decision to designate land at Woodhouse lane as a preferred location for development.
Given that there are nine borough councillors on the Town Council – including two cabinet members (one of whom is council leader) – it was never likely that the motion would be adopted but it was the manner in which it was brushed aside that proved surprising.
In his introduction Cllr Day said he was worried that with so many of Eastleigh Councillors on the Town Council it might “become a subsidiary” of EBC.
He complained that Hedge Enders had not been consulted at all about Woodhouse Lane and pointed out that according to the survey only 26 residents in Hedge End were in favour of the Boorley Green option.
This casued my mind to wander.
Twenty six people in Hedge End had voted in favour of the Boorley Green option and there are 21 Lib Dem Borough and Town Councillors in Hedge End. Assuming that all the councillors would have taken part in the survey and supported the party line – then it would mean only five other people in Hedge End voted for the package – while of course 180 Hedge Enders opposed it.
The only people in Hedge End voting for the Boorley Green plan appear to have been councillors.
Cllr Day’s assertion – that the Norman Rodaway Sports field was at risk of development- caused Cllr House to interrupt crossly.
“What a load of twaddle…good grief!”
Keith Day paused, but the expected intervention from Chairman Jane Welsh was not forthcoming.
Cllr Day resumed but soon had to stop again, for after declaring ‘this is not nimby opposition’ Cllr Louise Bloom interrupted with an exaggerated coughing fit which resembled the dying bark of a harpooned manatee .
It was only after Cllr Day had finished that Chairman Welsh decided to intercede – in order to admonish him for attributing ownership of the housing proposals to Keith House by referring to it as ‘His plan’.
‘It’s not his plan’ she said disapprovingly.
It would appear that the Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council is not to be held accountable for it’s planning policy.
Chairman Welsh then asked for any seconders only to be met with a stony silence.
For a few seconds it seemed as though Cllr Day would find himself friendless with the humiliation of seeing his motion dismissed through lack of a second.
“Can I ask a question?” enquired Cllr Sheila Bayne.
“No” replied Chairman Welsh “the motion must be seconded first”.
When Brian Norgate was the only opposition councillor sitting on Eastleigh Local Area Committee, Chairman Chris Thomas would routinely second him to facilitate debate.
This was clearly not going to happen here.
“Well, I’ll second it” Cllr Bayne said finally “because we won’t have a discussion otherwise”
“I’m very happy to have discussion on this” began Cllr House.
Which sounded about as convincing as:
“”The police are going to get to the bottom of this. I’m delighted they are involved”
“I have a ‘bit of an amendment’” Cllr House continued and then, with a straight face, he proceeded to distribute copies.
“This not an amendment, it’s a completely new motion!” spluttered Keith Day when he discovered that the only bit of his motion that Cllr House had retained in his ‘bit of an amendment’ were the words ’Hedge End Town Council’.
Far from objecting to the Borough councils proposals, Cllr Day’s motion had now been amended to register approval!
Mr House then proceeded at length to take Cllr Day to task.
Cllr Day had been indulging in ‘Wind up stories’ according to Cllr House and he had been wrong to suggest that further sites were being lined up.
Council officers had considered a number of locations but ownership issues and other practicalities meant that few could be progressed. This was particularly true of Norman Rodaway Sports Field – Eastleigh Borough Council were not at liberty to develop this site as it was owned by Hedge End Town Council and therefore no development would go ahead on it.
Cllr Louise Bloom prefaced her comments by observing that Keith House had been perhaps too polite and restrained in answering Keith Days motion – something she proceeded to put to rights by describing it as:
“The biggest load of twaddle I have ever heard in my life”
(Cllr Bloom used to work in marketing)
She then went on to describe the motion as ‘scaremongering’ ‘nimbyism’ ‘misleading’ ‘ ‘total nonsense’ ’incredible’ and ‘irresponsible’ .
In between the attacks she insisted that this was only the start of a long consultative process and gave an assurance that:
“Hedge End Town Council is not going to sell Norman Rodaway”
“There is going to be building in this area because people want building in this area and because people want houses to live in.”
Following this diatribe Cllr Bayne told the Chairman:
“Can I just say that this is getting personal. I’d rather things were kept on a neutral level.”
Both Cllr Derek Pretty and Cllr Dan Clarke also regretted that things had ‘got personal’ but Dan Clarke suggested perhaps Keith Day had brought it on himself by giving way to ‘Nimby Hysteria’ .
“We have a moral and legal obligation to provide housing for people who need it.”
“To try and throw a spanner in the works is to harm the interests of those you came into politics to represent.”
Councillor Bayne tried to make a contribution to the discussion but was prevented by the chair who told her “You have already spoken’.
It seems Cllr Bayne’s complaint to the chairman regarding personal attacks by members, had counted as her turn.
Finally, responding to the personal criticism levelled at him during the debate, Cllr Day was left wondering:
“Where do you draw the line between being a nimby and representing the interests of your electors?”
The amendment was duly put to the vote and passed with just Councillors Day and Bayne voting against.
Among those voting to accept the amendment was Botley ‘rebel‘ – Rupert Kyrle.
And so it came to pass, that Keith Day was forced to vote against his own motion. Sheila Bayne found herself in the ranks of Lib Dem dissenters and Hedge End Town Council publically pledged never to build on Norman Rodaway– not an outcome many might have predicted at the start of the meeting but not a bad trade off and a wonderful evening’s entertainment.