‘I’d chain myself to the railings’

Lib Dem hopeful Mike Thornton has told Eastleigh News he would “chain myself to the railings” to prevent development on Stokepark Woods in Bishopstoke.

The location of future housing in the emerging local plan has become an election issue with the Conservative candidate Mims Davies backing protestors who are opposed to options B and C – North of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak – but Thornton told Eastleigh News.

“Stokepark Woods is not under threat. Half of it is owned by the Woodland Trust, half of it by the Forestry Commission. There’s no way they are going to allow building on there. I’d chain myself to the railings before a bulldozer got anywhere near Stokepark Woods. There’s no building on Stokepark Woods at all, that is guaranteed.”

The County councillor – who was the Town’s MP from 2013 – 2015 – did concede that there was a risk that house and road building close to the site could impact on the protected woodland.

“Development near the road could cause damage that’s why it’s absolutely vital that if that proposal is to be accepted, we have to have a guarantee on how the road goes and how the development goes to prevent any damage to the woods – and that is absolutely vital. We all agree on that. If it’s not possible to do it then the development can’t go ahead.”

Thornton went onto say that he believed Mims Davies was in favour of building on options D and E  (land South of Bishopstoke at Allington Lane, West End) which he said, would cause environmental damage to water meadows and the River Itchen but the Conservative candidate has previously told Eastleigh News :

“I don’t want to build anywhere. The plan is down to the council, getting the work done in terms of the numbers and realistic places to build following government policy which is ‘brownfield first.”

Mike Thornton said:

“There aren’t any brownfield sites. Maybe we could have built 200 or so on the old Magistrates Court site and Civic Offices instead of providing it for employment but 200 out of the extra 6,000 ordered by the government won’t make any difference.”

“One of the reasons we can’t build on D and E is because we need a Chickenhall Lane Link road to take the traffic.”

A link road had been promised by Chancellor George Osbourne during the 2015 campaign and  Thornton has criticised his conservative opponent for failing to deliver it.

Thornton has also cast doubt on the proposed Botley By-Pass saying there is no guarantee it will be funded.

The Lib Dem says he is hoping that he can repeat his recent success at the County Elections to become the Town’s MP for a second term.