Vote 2021 – Time for new faces at the top

Fareham Liberal Democrats will be contesting every seat in the upcoming elections on 6th May – County Council, Borough elections postponed from last year, and Police Commissioner. At last you have a chance to vote to change the way Fareham and Hampshire are run.

More detailed information on the candidates will be published shortly.

Hampshire County Council

Fareham Crofton
Jimmy Roberts
Fareham Titchfield
David Leonard
Fareham Portchester
Roger Price
Fareham Town*
Ciaran Urry-Tuttiett
Paul Whittle
Fareham Sarisbury
John Hughes
Fareham Warsash
Jim Palmer
*Fareham Town has two County Council seats, so residents will have two votes

Police Commisioner

Hampshire Police Commissioner
Richard Murphy

Hope for Hampshire – the Lib Dem county manifesto

Fareham Borough Council

Fareham East
Katrina Trott
Stubbington
Jimmy Roberts
Hill Head
David Hamilton
Fareham South
James Fowler
Portchester East
Jean Kelly
Titchfield
Justin Grimley
Portchester West
Ashley Brown
Warsash
Jim Palmer
Fareham North
Ciaran Urry-Tuttiett
Sarisbury
Peter Davison
Fareham North West
Dominic Wong
Fareham West
Rowena Palmer
Park Gate
Graham Everdell
Locks Heath
Darren Alderson-Hall
Titchfield Common
Sandra Abrams

Vision for Fareham

Elephant in the counting room

The major question – ‘the elephant in the room’ – at Fareham Council’s budget meeting last week was:  How can we remedy the Central Government’s damage?  And the most cohesive answer was provided by Cllr. Roger Price – Leader of Fareham’s Liberal Democrat Group.

He told councillors: “This Conservative government has made it impossible for this council to provide the services Fareham residents want.”

For Fareham, three issues rise above all other complaints of centralised incompetence:

  • Major Environmental Improvements – an all-party concern, with scope for wider public involvement in policy development – particularly by engaging with young people and climate-change activists.
  • Housing – working to overcome glaring contradictions in Whitehall’s policies so that we can retain vital green spaces between communities.  The health of residents, the economy and our environment, is also an all-party concern.
  • Reviewing the value of the Council’s office space – yet another all-Party concern that could save money and improve our effectiveness.

These three areas of concern provide scope for action with broad appeal beyond party politics.  The real test will come when firm proposals emerge, but the agenda for progressive policy development will depend on the results of the elections next May.

See Roger’s full speech.

Post it, don’t pencil it

Everyone who wants to see an end to Tory domination in Fareham is urged to register for postal votes to help Lib Dems make major gains in Hampshire’s biggest – ever Local Elections on May 6.

And the need to vote is heightened by the Government’s announcement that electors voting in person will have to bring their own pen or pencil to the polling station – and the risk of voters being turned away if they forget to do so.

Of course preventing the sharing of objects we handle is vital in curbing the spread of Covid-19. But a much easier and cheaper way to make voting safe would be to hold all-postal elections – something the Government has stubbornly refused to do.

There have been big changes since the last local elections in May 2019, and with increasingly centralised control from Whitehall, the local Conservatives are in disarray.

Several former Conservative councillors from Fareham have already turned independent – no longer willing to toe their party line. Senior leadership has come under scrutiny, with a Fareham – based Tory County Council cabinet member resigning after being found to have broken council rules.

Fareham’s Liberal Democrats chairman Peter Davison said: “ Last year’s Local Elections were postponed and so there’s now a re al opportunity to make a difference.

“We will be contesting 15 Fareham Council seats and a further 7 for the County Council. The political shape of councils across Hampshire may soon look very different – especially if the turnout rises above the usual 40%.

Peter Davison says, “ We are finding that voters are very keen to have their say, but we sense that the ruling Conservatives are rather hoping that voter numbers will remain low , and would rather postpone the election yet again. ”

“By contrast, Fareham’s Lib Dem councillors and all our candidates are still working hard for their communities. Their everyday work of sorting local concerns is very important and voters now really appreciate the local Lib Dems’ attention to detail. ’

“Postal votes are far safer and easier, and anyone can apply for one. The Conservatives are just 12 weeks from their day of reckoning – make sure your vote brings them to account.’

Growth won’t save the planet

We continue to destroy our only planet, driven on by the moneymen – and women. Politicians, in awe of the economists, see growth as the answer to every question.

Anyone who stops to think for a moment can see that more and more growth is not any sort of a solution to today’s problems on a planet with limited resources. 

This view of economics is hard wired into our society through the legal system. Most company directors have as a prime responsibility, that they must maximise the money made by their shareholders. Failure to do this means that they can be sued.

Without changing company law to revise director responsibilities, we will remain locked into money being the measure of everything. And consequent ongoing environmental destruction.

If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend spending four minutes watching Greta Thunberg’s “How dare you” speech to the United Nations. Follow this link.

If the politicians and moneypersons don’t stand up now to save the planet, I will also not forgive them. And I am in my 70s rather than a 16 year old.

Goodbye garden village?

A funding fiasco means that the 6,000-home Welborne estate will be less effective than promised in providing homes for people who really need them.

The developers, Buckland, will have to pay a bigger share of the cost of improving Junction 10 on the M27. Buckland has agreed to double its contribution from £20million to £40million. But they say this means they will have to reduce the proportion of affordable homes provided as part of the development.

A revised planning application for Welborne can be seen on the planning pages on Fareham Council’s website. The application number is P/17/0266/OA and residents have until January 25 to comment on it.

Bukland will also now be unable to provide Passivhaus buildings – homes and other buildings which need less energy for heating and cooling – or Life Time Homes, which are designed to be accessible and adaptable for everyone from young families to older and/or disabled people.

The shortfall comes because the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has withdrawn £25million it had pledged for the £75million junction. Delays to the Welborne project meant the LEP’s contribution could not be spent before a government-imposed deadline. But Welborne cannot go ahead without guaranteed funding for the junction.

A Government contribution to the junction will have to be increased from £10million to £30million via Homes England.

Jim Forrest, Lib Dem spokesman on Planning and Development on the Council, said: “Reductions in affordable housing make a nonsense of the argument for developing on greenfield sites. And the loss of adaptable homes undermines efforts at all levels of government to fight the climate emergency.

“If Ministers are serious in their estimates of housing need, they should have enabled the LEP to stand by their commitment. Instead they are undermining the concept of a Garden Village, and running the risk of making Welborne yet another over-priced, soulless estate.”

This revised Viability Statement attached to the new application sets out Buckland’s arguments for the changes.

Your future is in the post

If you watched BBC News South Today last week you may have noticed that the show ran a segment about the local elections scheduled for next May – and whether they might be cancelled.

South Today was not alone. Media outlets, Press, TV and Radio, across the UK all had this topic injected into their editorial priorities. A quick Google News search shows a remarkable uniformity of timing and content.

Most of these reports sought to reassure people that a further delay would not happen. But this sudden media attention (and a question in Parliament) served to test the strength of the democratic barricades.

The editorial line taken by the BBC was that the May elections might possibly be further delayed, and the government has already decided against an all-Postal vote – apparently out of an NHS-like concern for the Royal Mail.

Some outlets dutifully included concerns about voter fraud despite all-postal trials showing the scope for a reduction of the already miniscule problem. So now we’ve all been forewarned – put on notice of potential cancellation.

There is a crazy logic behind all this that would certainly appeal to this government. They’ll have the cover of a ready-made health excuse and a certain enthusiasm to avoid voter judgement on Brexit outcomes or their management of pandemic responses.

Next November’s COP26 conference in Glasgow is being primed to present the UK’s global climate credentials – despite the fact that they failed last week to block the creation of a new coal mine in Cumbria.

Make no mistake – these local elections are hugely important. Registration for Postal Voting is picking up and your Council’s Democratic Services department is already thinking through how the process can be made safe.

It may be just a Local election. It may be that no more than the usual 40% might bother to vote. It may be that central government can see no harm in delay. It may be that they think that the ‘branch offices’ are a giant waste of money and get in the way of cosy deals with developers.

But this is also the first opportunity that our communities will have to demand better local governance as an antidote to overcentralisation. If not already registered for a Postal Vote, get your application in now – before it’s too late.

We need councillors, not cyphers

Fareham’s Local Plan could be derailed because of yet another change of mind by Whitehall, yet the Council committee which oversees planning strategy is not due to meet until after the May elections.

The Full Council meeting on December 17 was told that the Government had vetoed a reduction in the assessment of Fareham’s housing need. Numbers would be revised back upwards – just as consultation closed on the Publication Local Plan which had been based on the reduced figure.

The news came days after the Chairman of the Planning and Development Scrutiny Panel told members that its January meeting would be cancelled. No other meetings were scheduled in the current municipal year.

But even before the housing announcement, Panel members were unhappy at the cancellation.

Councillors Jim Forrest and Shaun Cunningham, the Lib Dem and Independent spokesmen on the Panel, had written to the chairman asking him to reconsider.

They cited a number of important and urgent issues which the Panel should be considering, including:

  • The future of the Welborne plan, which is overshadowed by doubts over funding for the motorway junction it depends on;
  • A progress report on schemes to solve the Nitrates issue, in particular clarification on how a proposal for rewilding the Strategic Gap between South Fareham and Stubbington could be funded;
  • The future of our shopping centres – district and local centres as well as the town centre. Threats to traditional shopping were apparent even before the impact of the pandemic.
  • Prospects for improving fibre-optic cabling in the borough to meet the growing demand for online access for work, shopping and leisure – again a trend accelerated by the pandemic.
  • Examination of the Partnership for South Hampshire’s Statement of Common Ground and its suggestion of Strategic Development Opportunity Areas.

Jim Forrest says: “The modern council structure, giving power to a six-member Executive has led to quicker decision-making. But it needs close scrutiny by specialist panels of councillors, to ensure decisions are well thought-out and reflect what residents want. Planning and Development isn’t the only panel being starved of business.

“Councillors are being reduced to cyphers, rubber-stamping the actions of an increasingly unaccountable elite. Fareham needs the support of all its councillors in fighting off Whitehall’s vision of an urban sprawl across the whole of South Hampshire.”

Swans in danger

A local resident has recently reported a number of dead swans in the Fareham Creek area, and they have been found to have had Avian Flu.

Fareham Borough Council’s Environment Department have confirmed to
Councillor Katrina Trott that they are liaising with both the lead agencies, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the
Environment Agency.

Katrina has now received this report from FBC’s Head of
Environmental Health:
“As you know now the swans that died a couple of weeks ago were
tested by DEFRA and the result was positive for Avian Flu, also
contacted and advised at the time were APHA (Animal and Plant
Health Agency) and Public Health England.

“It appears that there was a process in place where DEFRA advertise
the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77, and this is where dead
birds should be reported. They will either come and remove the birds
for testing and/or contact the Council’s depot to arrange removal of
the birds.

“It seems the APHA are only interested in more than 5 birds
and that’s really only for surveillance in the environment and to allow
them to take measures to protect farmed birds.

“Public Health England have informed us that the strains of Avian flu
found in the UK recently pose little risk to human health and we were
advised yesterday that we could put signs up if we wanted to.

“Coincidentally yesterday some more dead swans were reported on
the Cams Golf Course side and we are arranging for signage to be put up as soon as possible now, which will basically advise the public
not to go near dead birds and advise them to report to the DEFRA
helpline.

” We urge you NOT to walk along the coastline of Fareham Creek
where swans congregate and certainly not to feed the birds at
this time.”

Paula Headley, a caring and very concerned local resident contacted Katrina, and DEFRA, RSPB and RSPCA. Fareham Borough Council
is at last producing and placing notices.

Praise must go to Paula who had already placed notices in the area to warn the public, as shown here.

Minors are future majors

They should not be discouraged

When the Daily Echo ran a story recently featuring the likely sea-rise impact on Southampton, it unleashed a torrent of outraged climate change denial. Climate Central’s data was viewed as preposterous, extremely unlikely and unwarranted fearmongering. Barely 20% of respondents agreed with the report.

That reaction – the refusal to countenance the full impact of the way we live now – is perfectly understandable. There are not many things these days as trusted as bricks and mortar . . . as safe as houses. Unfortunately, that trust flies in the face of science. While countries are firmly in the grip of an addiction to never-ending growth, it is difficult to face up to the consequences of damage to our planet.

This deep resistance to radical change is a central concern in Jason Hickel’s studies summarised in his book, Less Is More. You may recoil from his remedies and, like Echo readers, dismiss such analysis as preposterous propaganda. It does, however, form part of a fresh and enlightened approach to curricula development.

Readers who cannot tolerate Greta Thunberg’s criticisms of leadership or close their minds to any alternatives to capitalism, are unlikely to be planning to move to higher ground. 2050 may seem a very long was away. Surely the children will find a solution. Or maybe the scientists are just plain wrong? Maybe we should cross our fingers or pray harder for deliverance? Or maybe we should, at the very least, be working harder right now to resolve the funding prioritisation of sea defences.

But more than that, the sad thing is that we should by now know that we must change. Science has been clear about this for decades. Brilliant minds have espoused parts of solution. Communities and entire nations can adapt to more circular economies, understand doughnut economics, drastically reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and reset societal priorities to reduce inequality and increase wellbeing – and, in some countries, that is happening. But none of that is likely to happen with the current crew in charge of the UK.

Fortunately, young people really do know better. They may not yet be allowed to vote, they may not yet be skilled at leadership, but they will be challenged to live in the mess we are bequeathing. They will, one hopes, not be fooled as their parents have been fooled. Our greatest contribution will be to not discourage them.