Eastleigh’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor have both quit the council’s ruling Liberal Democrat Group over Local Plan concerns.
The Mayor, Councillor Maureen Sollitt and her deputy Cllr Chris Thomas have joined three other rebel councillors who form the Independent Liberal Democratic group led by Cllr Steve Sollitt – the Mayor’s son.
The move means that the Independent group now have a majority on Eastleigh Town Centre’s powerful Local area Committee and the ruling Lib Dem group no longer have any borough councillors in Eastleigh North.
The Independent Group, state they remain as members of the Liberal Democrats and will continue to support the aims and principles of the party nationally but do not share the local Liberal Democrat views on options B and C in the Local Plan.
As well as currently sitting as Mayor, Cllr Maureen Sollitt is also Chair of Allbrook and North Boyatt Parish Council, which recently objected to options B and C in the Local Plan.
In a press release Cllr Maureen Solitt is quoted as saying:
“As Chair of this parish council and a resident of Eastleigh for many years, I share the concerns of local residents over the impact of the plans and the link road which would cut the village of Allbrook in half.”
On Monday evening (7pm, December 11) the full council will meet at the Ageas Bowl Hilton Hotel to vote on a recommendation to adopt Options B and C.
In the press statement Cllr Thomas said:
“The height of the railway bridge at Allbrook is a serious obstacle in this plan. It is shocking that the traffic survey for the proposed link road will not be complete in time for Monday’s Full Council vote.”
Both Cllrs Maureen Sollitt and Chris Thomas will continue as Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
Cllr Steve Sollitt, Leader of the Independents said:
“Their principled move on this is a sign of the growing unrest amongst Eastleigh residents about the Local Plan.”
Keith House leader of the Liberal Democrat Borough Council group told Eastleigh News the resignations had not been a surprise:
“We had expected these resignations for some time and are only surprised at how long they have taken. Maureen Sollitt was always going to defend her son’s position and was already standing down in May.
“Chris Thomas had not been reselected to stand in next year’s elections. This draws to an end the enlargement of the Independent Group, which often seems to happen in the run-up to elections when the Lib Dem team choose strong and enthusiastic candidates to stand up for local people.”