‘Power to the people’ plan is launched in Emsworth

The Public Service Plaza, Havant Borough Council offices
Picture: Allan Hutchings (150078-158)

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PEOPLE in Emsworth are launching a bid to have more of a say over what happens in their town.

Residents are rallying round to start a Neighbourhood Forum for Emsworth and believe, if successful, the scheme could be rolled out across Havant borough.

BIG IDEA Jo Dyer, left, and Stephanie Elsy who are involved with residents making their own neighbourhood plan for Emsworth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132783-3)

BIG IDEA Jo Dyer, left, and Stephanie Elsy who are involved with residents making their own neighbourhood plan for Emsworth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132783-3)

Unlike the East Hampshire and Chichester areas, there are no parish councils in Havant borough.

But the government’s Localism Act has brought about the opportunity to start a neighbourhood forum for towns and villages.

They are recognised statutorily and can produce a detailed neighbourhood plan, which outlines how residents want their area to develop over future years.

Developers would have to consult the neighbourhood plan when considering future development.

The plan has to be endorsed by a local referendum.

Stephanie Elsy and Jo Dyer are among a group of 30 residents already signed up to the bid – and hope more will join.

Mrs Elsy, of Queen Street, who is a businesswoman and former council leader in London, said: ‘The idea is to deliver to local communities more decision-making powers.

‘It’s a bit like a parish council, but it’s not.

‘It’s for local people and representatives of organisations to come together and there’s a membership.

‘I love Emsworth – it’s a fabulous place. I want to be involved in determining its future, which means preserving and promoting the things I like about Emsworth.’

Mrs Dyer, of Record Road, said: ‘The message is it’s community-led. It’s not just for residents. It’s businesses, schools. The residents’ association do a wonderful job, but we want something that has a much broader remit.’

Mrs Elsy said: ‘This is not a nimby’s charter. We are not saying we can’t have any development. It’s saying this is what we want, this is what it needs to be like.’

Residents are meeting with leaders at Havant Borough Council to discuss the plan.

Mrs Elsy added: ‘I think it’s in the council’s interests to want to do this. If you had neighbourhood forums across the borough, they would be much more able to consult with local communities than they can at the moment.’

Anyone interested can call (01243) 379973 or email stephanie.elsy@btinternet.com.