Parish Councillors in neighbouring Colden Common have agreed to donate £3,000 to campaigners who are trying to stop Eastleigh’s controversial Local Plan in a move that was described by Eastleigh Council Leader Keith House as of ‘dubious legality’ that would raise ‘unrealistic expectations’.
The Parish Council at Colden Common – which lies within the Winchester local government area – has previously written to Eastleigh Borough council to formerly object to the plan which would see the development of over 5,000 homes and a new major relief road to the immediate South of Colden Common that will result, they say, in loss of green space and increased traffic congestion.
The Chair of Colden Common Parish Council, Councillor Richard Izard told the meeting that he had publicly raised these concerns at two key Eastleigh Council meetings.
Cllr Izard also described how at the recent Parish Council Annual General Meeting in the village, parishioners had been given a presentation by local pressure group ‘Action Against Destructive Development’ who had outlined the potential adverse impact of Eastleigh’s local plan on Colden Common. According to Cllr Izard, a show of hands on the night indicated the majority of those present were in favour of the Parish Council making a donation to ADD’s campaign funds. The question was, would council members support this and how large should the donation be? Colden Common Parish Council had a turnover last year of £185,000 and currently has £156,000 in assets. Suggestions for a suitable donation varied from £500 to £5,000 and councillors were told that ADD had given an undertaking that any unused monies would be returned to the original donors.
After some discussion on the costs of planning litigation and the possibility of risks to the council (it was stated there are none) the councillors agreed, with one abstention, to approve a donation of £3,000 and indicated they could be prepared to consider further donations in future.
In addition, the meeting was told that a letter from the Chairman had been distributed to householders in the Parish urging them to consider making their own private donations to ADD – with a suggestion of a minimum £30.
This puts the Chair of Colden Common PC actively at loggerheads with a fellow Liberal Democrat Council Leader, Keith House. It may also set precedent for other local parish Councils likely to be affected by the proposed new link road.
In a response to a request for comment, Keith House told Eastleigh News:
“Using taxpayers’ money to fund what is essentially a political party is of dubious legality.
Eastleigh Borough Council’s Local Plan will improve traffic issues in Colden Common so this is a short-sighted decision by the Parish Council that will achieve little beyond raising unrealistic expectations in Colden Common.”
This is not the first time a local Parish Council has funded a a protest group opposed to EBC development plans. In 2014 Botley Parish Council donated a total of £30,000 to Botley Parish Action Group and joined with them to bring EBC to the High Court for a judicial review in a last ditch attempt to stop development at Boorley Green. See Campaigners fail in High Court bid to stop development