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.’

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.

Changing the lightbulbs

Are Fareham’s communities thriving? And, if not, what can be done?

There are umpteen ways of gauging local communities. Do people want to live here? Is there work? Good schools? Full fibre? Are the natives friendly? Affordability? Clean air?

Positive answers to most of these questions are very much in the hands of the local council. How concerned are Councillors with Fareham’s 3000 households suffering fuel poverty or the families reliant on food banks to feed their children? What priority will they give to climate change actions?

It is far too easy to shift the blame for all our local woes onto central government – just as it was for them to shift the blame for their poor economic management onto ‘foreigners’. If you feel that your community is not thriving, it’s well worth asking why.

Within the patch managed by Fareham Borough Council we have many different communities and many different priorities – but how many of those standing for election next May really understand what’s going on?

Communities vary – some are tight-knit, cohesive and strictly law-abiding. Others might be looser, more individualistic and yearning for freedom. The balance between tight and loose will always be shifting. What matters more is how much support there is for stuff that really matters – our social foundations and the environment – and serious efforts to tackle our shortfalls.

But how much do we really know about our communities here in Fareham? Your Council has started to try and measure the air damage from its own operations but there is much more to discover – and no requirement (yet) for local businesses to do similar audits.

Similarly, we know a little about fuel poverty (affecting very nearly 3,000 local households) but we must surely focus on the details for all aspects of healthy living. It may be complex, but tools are available , and there is little excuse for ignoring deprivations.

Next May we will have no ordinary local election. Our Council seats come up for re-election every four years. But with the deferred elections from last May, half of all Council seats will need to be filled. Time to focus a spotlight on our communities’ priorities. How many Councillors do we need to change Fareham’s light bulb?

Reprieve for Downend Road

Ashley Brown of the Portchester Focus Team writes: We are pleased that the Planning committee again refused the Planning Application from Miller Homes to develop 350 dwellings east of Downend Road.

As in the previous refusal the issue was all about traffic generation and traffic/pedestrians crossing the Downend Railway road bridge.

The developer, in light of the previous refusal, proposed that there should be a pedestrian footpath on the western side of the bridge with single file traffic controlled by traffic lights over the bridge.

The issues that came out in the Planning committee discussion were that the proposed development would increase the traffic on Downend Road by a third.

The pavement over the bridge did not link to the development because anybody walking out of the proposed development would have to cross Downend Road to get on to the footpath.

The proposed traffic lights did not have a pedestrian crossing phase: if it had, this would lengthen the time delay for traffic movement.

Traffic exiting The Causeway was also an issue in light of the recent experience when repairs were made to the bridge with temporary traffic light control. That caused congestion in the area and traffic could not exit out of The Causeway.

This was at a time when traffic volumes were at about 80% of traffic before Covid 19 lockdown.

We can imagine the effects of fulltime traffic lights at the bridge in normal times, with the extra traffic from the development.

The highway department had done all their traffic modelling on traffic volumes presented by the developer and did not carry out their own independent count; the modelling showed that only six vehicles would queue at the traffic lights at peak periods.

We thank all the members of the public who gave a deputation to the committee as to why the planning application should be refused.

The Planning committee rejected the application with five members voting against the application and four voting in favour of the application.