Awkward start for the Hedge End Society

Hedge End Village

Hedge End Village pic: Roy Gray

Hedge End residents contributed to a well-attended and lively inaugural meeting of the Hedge End Society on Monday evening.

Four of Hedge Ends Town Councillors,  Cllr Keith Day, Cllr Jane Welsh, Cllr Sheila Baynes and Cllr Cynthia Garton attended.  Conservative and independent campaigners were also present.

Trying to identify who was who and establish what political interests they had proved an awkward way of starting the meeting, which had been promoted as non-political.

Once that tricky business was out of the way, the meeting moved on to discuss specific issues of concern to the residents. That section of the meeting was more successful in allowing a number of issues to be raised and discussed, without party politics getting seriously in the way.

Speeding and other traffic issues were the matters that were of greatest concern. The proposed new housing developments were also raised, but discussion of new housing tended to drift back to traffic issues, with concerns raised about the additional traffic problems caused by all the extra vehicles these new homes would bring.

Conservative campaigner Paul Redding mentioned the Hampshire Community Speedwatch group that he is working to establish in Hedge End.  One of the residents at the meeting agreed to join that group, happy to be able to work with Paul to do something to solve a local problem that they were both concerned about.

Most residents were already aware of the consultation on the draft local plan and the exhibition being held on Hedge End Village Hall on 15th November. Ray Turner advised that the consultation ran until the 3rd of January and that there were other ways of contacting the Council with comments on the draft plan, either online or via a letter perhaps.

The Lib Dem Councillors were listening carefully to all the concerns raised, Cllr Welsh reported to the meeting that she has contacted the Police many times about speeding and parked cars, but the Police’s response is often that “parked cars help to reduce speed”…

Speaking after the meeting, one of the organisers – Eastleigh News contributor Ray Turner – said:

We thought it best to be open about who the politicians were in this meeting. We wanted to be transparent. Some residents and Councillors thought this process made the meeting political, perhaps it did for a while, but if we hadn’t done this we would have been open to the charge that politicians were attending the meeting incognito.

Ray added;

When the meeting eventually got going, we saw Lib Dem, Conservative and independent politicians all in the same room listening to Hedge End residents.  None of the politicians kicked each other. I’m not sure how many people realised that something unusual was happening. I was pleased to see it.

The group clearly needs to sharpen-up and focus on the issues more effectively next time, but I feel that this first meeting was a success.

see also: Hedge End gets new discussion group

  3 comments for “Awkward start for the Hedge End Society

  1. Keith House
    November 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Nothing unusual at all about people agreeing with each on local issues regardless of party politics. My maxim is that 90% of people agree with each other on 90% of the issues 90% of the time. That’s true at Eastleigh Council and even, generally, in Parliament. Papers, blogs and the TV pick up on the areas of disagreement because that makes interesting copy!

  2. margaret
    November 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Interesting – pray tell me Mr House, why don’t you practise what you preach? You spend a month a year working on elections funded by tax payers, in order to elect your own toadies. If you, Mr House, allowed Parish and Town Councils to be non-political instead of part of the KH Lib Dem empire, we would have democracy. As it is, if a co-option occurs only a Lib Dem (no matter how rubbish) will be selected in order to keep out better candidates of other persuasions.

    On the final comment I say thank goodness for papers, blogs and TV giving us the other side of the story instead of spin. Megalomania is not an attractive trait, Mr House.

    • November 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm

      Your comments on co-option are interesting Margaret. It will be interesting to see what happens the next time a vacancy occurs.

      One could [reluctantly] argue that if the seat has been won fair & square by the Lib Dems, in a contested election, it is not entirely unreasonable for a replacement Lib Dem to be co-opted.

      But if the seat was uncontested, that’s a different situation. Candidates of other persuasion [as you put it] could reasonably be considered.

      Mind you, if a vacancy arises, it would only require a few signatures to force a by-election.

      And forcing a by-election is probably the fairest way of recruiting a replacement Councillor.

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