Ex Lib Dem savages ‘undemocratic’ Eastleigh Councillors

Sam Snook

Sam Snook

An ex Lib Dem activist has accused his former councillor colleagues of being undemocratic and failing to carry out their duties.

Veteran local campaigner Sam Snook, who stood as a Lib Dem candidate in last May’s local elections, addressed Tuesday night’s meeting of Eastleigh Local Area Committee because he said he was concerned that land off Chesnut Avenue including ‘The Shrine’ war memorial were in danger of development – a prospect he claimed that had him ‘nearly in tears’.

He told the Committee  he had spoken to residents on the Aviary estate and shared their opinion that Councillors would not have a free vote and would be forced to take a party line on the proposals in the local plan to vote in favour of the controversial mass development

“I don’t think this council is democratic “he told stunned councillors,

“People fought in the war to have a democracy and I’m afraid we do not have one on Eastleigh Borough Council. People aren’t allowed to vote on their conscience. They are told ‘no’. You do that and ‘that’s it’.

ELAC Chair Chris Thomas was quick to stress that the Shrine was in not in danger of development adding:

“Nobody has told us how to vote on the issues around the local plan the local plan was brought to the council and is open at this time for consultation. No decisions have been made at all as yet”

Mr Snook then went on to accuse councillors of not carrying out all of their duties as described on the direct.gov website

“Why don’t councillors hold surgeries like they are supposed to? They get an allowance for that kind of thing and they’re not doing it”

The direct.gov website links to a page which suggests  councillors should hold up to three drop-in surgeries a month.

Cllr Thomas bluntly told Mr Snook:

“We don’t have to have surgeries there are alternative ways of meeting the public.”

After the meeting Cllr Thomas told me that he did not think drop-in surgeries were very effective.

On the last occasion he held one he said the only person who ‘dropped in’ did so to ask him the time. He said he thought surgeries worked well in rural areas but in a town like Eastleigh he found the best method of making contacting with residents in his ward was by knocking on doors – something he does ‘At least several times a week’

“Personally, I meet more of my residents and get more case work in Tesco’s than when door knocking”

The Independent Councillors on ELAC – Glynn Davies-Dear and Dave Broughton – have recently been holding formal ‘street surgeries’ in their wards.

Sam Snook has previously spoken of his disillusionment and break with the Lib Dems which has come to a head over the Local Plan and proposals for the construction of 1300 houses off Chesnut Avenue and Stoneham Lane despite the clear opposition of local residents.

He has said he is now considering whether to stand in Eastleigh South as an Independent in the forthcoming May elections.

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  8 comments for “Ex Lib Dem savages ‘undemocratic’ Eastleigh Councillors

  1. November 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    You know, I might just buy Cllr Thomas’ argument about surgeries. Given the general lack of interest in local politics, witness low turnout, I can imagine surgeries being sparsely attended. I can well believe that he meets more residents and gets more case work when in Tesco’s. Fair comment I reckon.

    The problem of course, is that it is down to chance whether you happen to be shopping in Tesco’s at the same time as Cllr Thomas.

    And anybody who shops in Sainsbury’s will clearly never bump into their Councillor…

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      November 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      I shop in Lidl and I have never bumped into Chris Huhne – despite it being just yards away from his gaff.

      • November 12, 2011 at 12:24 am

        I guess you don’t buy Hob Nobs…

        • mm
          Eastleigh Xpress
          November 12, 2011 at 12:42 am

          No I don’t – can’t stand them -but I was still expected to pay for his.

  2. margaret
    November 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    The point which I think is being made is that Councillors should make themselves open and accountable to their electorate. This does not seem to happen, certainly not in Hedge End. Formal council meetings are designed to discourage and belittle residents who dare to bring an issue to the fore. At a recent full Council, the Chair, Jane Welsh, as extremely rude to a member of the public and called the questioner’s integrity into question in a very demeaning way. This is clearly unprofessional and unacceptable. Chris Thomas must be a very vigilent councillor if he can identify all his constituents when he’s out supermarket shopping. Personally, I would question that shoppers fitting in food buying in their busy lives would actually have time to discuss concerns in between working and all the other exigencies of life. I think saying surgeries don’t work is just a cop out. If surgeries were held at a regular, advertised time twice a month, then they would get known about. Now, its far more likely that the Councillors, despite their generous allowance, do NOT want to do them. And that’s a different matter.

    Well done Eastleigh Independents for showing the way and good luck.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      November 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      Well to be fair to Cllr Thomas he does also say he goes ‘on the knock’ several times a week and he pointed out to me that his contact details are on the ‘Focus’ Lib Dem newsletter which is distributed regularly.

      I must say I have lived in Eastleigh Central Ward for almost 20 years and the only time a councillor has knocked on my door was to ask for my vote – although The independents did hold a street surgery a few weeks ago.

      For surgeries to work then people need to know they are taking place.

  3. Peter Stewart
    November 13, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Well done Sam. He seems to be the only one in the area not afraid to campaign against the official line.

    • Anne Romaine
      November 13, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      Sam always campaigns against the official line, that’s why he’s been in so many different parties. You must remember Peter, he was in UKIP once

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