Independents lose control of area committee

Despite winning in Bishopstoke during May election, control of Local Area Committee passes to Lib Dems

PGin Tidridge AGM

Cllr Tidridge: “Is it congruent that decisions about who should chair local committees are made by full council?’

Bishopstoke’s group of Independent councillors say they are unhappy that Eastleigh Borough Council have appointed a new Lib Dem Chair to Bishopstoke Fair Oak and Horton Heath Local Area Committee (BFOHH) over their heads.

In last years (2018) ‘all out’ local election the independents – who are opposed to destructive housing development – took all three seats in Bishopstoke and their Leader, Councillor Lou Parker-Jones was installed as Chair of BFOHH. The committee – which can determine local planning applications – then consisted of 3 Independents 2 Liberal Democrats and 1 Conservative.

Although Independent Coucncillor Ray Dean comfortably defended his seat in this year’s May local election, the Conservative member for Fair Oak Steve Broomfield lost his – which meant meant that he also relinquished his seat on BFOHH. As his seat was won by a Liberal Democrat the political balance is now split betwwen 3 independent and 3 Liberal Democrat councillors and the Council has determined that the Chair – with its all-important casting vote –  should go to Lib Dem Cllr Nicholas Couldrey.

At last night’s Council AGM (May 13) –  Independent Councillor Gin Tidridge said that while she welcomed the appointment of Cllr Couldrey as BFFOHH Chair she questioned why it was the council that had decided his appointment.

Councillor Tidridge said the council was striving to devolve decisions down to local level but had denied the BFOHH the right to select its own Chair.

Responding, the leader of Eastleigh Borough Council Keith House said that if the council left the appointment of the committee Chairs to the individual committees there could be a delay of up to six weeks before they met to take a decision, furthermore, in  2006 when there was no overall control at Chandler’s Ford Local Area Committee, it was agreed by all parties that the chair should be drawn from members of the Council’s ruling party.

Councillor Lou Parker-jones has told Eastleigh News that she is trying to determine if there is any constitutional basis for this arrangement.

Cllr Parker-Jones added:

‘Whilst I was chair I had sought greater parity between genders and areas, hence appointing a Fair Oak member [Conservative Steve Broomfield] as vice chair.

However, a year is a long time in politics and the proportion could change again next year.’