Smaller parties eye up seats in Havant

Reporters Jeff Travis and Elise Brewerton have taken a look at the issues and the candidates in Havant ahead of the local election
Reporters Jeff Travis and Elise Brewerton have taken a look at the issues and the candidates in Havant ahead of the local election
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Reporters Jeff Travis and Elise Brewerton look at the issues voters are most concerned about in the lead up to next week’s local election.

Havant Borough Council is a Conservative stronghold with the make-up currently 30 Tory, four Labour, two Ukip and one Liberal Democrat councillor.

There is a single independent candidate, Marjorie Smallcorn, who is currently mayor of Havant.

Mrs Smallcorn was a long-standing Conservative councillor until she was deselected by the party last month.

A lot of those Tories standing down have been around for a long time and it may be an opportunity for Ukip and the Greens – who are both fielding candidates in every ward – to snatch some seats.

But it means that, even if all 10 seats were lost, the Conservatives still have enough to retain overall control of the council.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems are hoping to increase their share of the vote.

Fly-tipping

FLY-tipping remains a scourge of the area.

Whether it’s tucked away in a town centre alley or mess dumped on the side of a country road, the problem is not going away.

With its open spaces, Havant borough has traditionally been a target for fly-tippers.

A total of 1,173 incidents were reported in 2012/2013 - up a quarter from 930 incidents the previous year.

The council has always been tough on perpetrators, with people now able to report fly-tipping online, but the crackdown has been ramped up even further in recent months.

Some residents have been taken to court for leaving rubbish bags outside designated bin areas.

Those brought to court 
have accused the authority of being too heavy-handed 
with its zero-tolerance approach.

On one occasion, taking the case to court cost the council around £250 in legal fees because the court only awarded £50 in costs.

The council has vowed to continue the crackdown.

Residents will have to decide what kind of policy they would like against fly-tipping in their ward.

The majority will want a council that will fight for a cleaner environment for everyone to live in.

But some may argue that court action is going too far just to punish a failure to put binbags in the right place.

Development

PLANNING and development are massive issues for many voters.

People want a council that listens to residents about proposed developments and approves plans that enhance the street scene and benefit the community.

The three most needed developments are perhaps the revamp of Market Parade, a new railway footbridge in Havant and leisure facilities in Waterlooville.

The council already has a robust masterplan of how the borough will develop until 2026. The masterplan outlines the location for 6,300 homes - many of which have already been built.

But there is always the chance of developers coming along and proposing to build in green spaces outside the masterplan.

Green gaps remain important to voters and many will be keen for a council that will protect the strip of countryside between Havant and Emsworth.

And protecting the views from Chichester Harbour and Langstone Harbour will also be important, as well as regenerating Hayling seafront and East Street in Havant.

Voters will also be keen for the council to strive for the best quality housing.

Some recent developments in Leigh Park have been criticised for being of a poor standard and residents will want a council that approves housing with good architecture and accommodation that will stand the test of time.

Litter

HAVANT Borough Council’s zero-tolerance policy on litter droppers began more than a year ago when environmental rangers sprayed dog poo pink to highlight the issue of owners not clearing up after their pets.

And it is almost a year since private contractors Kingdom were brought in to dish out £75 fines to those seen dropping litter.

Five wardens can be seen walking around the town centres – and they have proved controversial.

Some people who have been fined say they feel the action is heavy-handed.

And there have been cases where culprits’ pleas that they accidently dropped rubbish without realising have been unheeded and they have had to pay.

But there is no doubt that it has made a difference – at a time when it is costing the local authority £1m a year to clear up after people.

Since last May more than 3,700 fines have been given out for dropping cigarette ends and 122 for general litter.

Workers and shoppers in the town centres say they are much cleaner and the fear of being fined has put them off littering the streets.

But voters will have to decide if they want an outside firm to continue patrolling the streets or whether it is now time for the local authority to step back into the role.

One thing is for sure, people like living in a cleaner environment – which is one of the borough council’s priorities.

Empty shops

THE number of empty shops in the town centres is an issue that comes up again and again with voters.

In West Street, Havant, hoardings have covered the now-demolished former HSBC bank for almost a decade.

There were ambitious plans to build a mixture of shops and flats at the site but they never came to fruition.

There is space for at least five shops in the row but there are no new plans in the pipeline.

Over in Waterloovville the number of empty units remains high with To Let signs in the windows of commercial properties around the town centre.

Although other areas in the towns, such as Havant and Solent Retail Parks, in Havant, and Wellington Retail Park, in Waterlooville, are flourishing, residents want to see that same level of energy in the once-vibrant high streets.

Headway is being made in Leigh Park’s Greywell and Park Parade precincts with the help of a landlord who is buying up the shops and offering new businesses more flexible leases.

High-end dress shop Mousetrap has recently relocated to North Street in Havant from Chichester, taking over the old Post Office building.

It is hoped the shop will help regenerate the area – which is plagued by large empty shops – and encourage other businesses in.

Voters will want to see councillors work with landlords to do that.

Crime

ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour and crime are always top priorities voters.

And in Havant there is one issue which is dominating the agenda – legal highs.

Earlier this year The Gypsy Kings head shop opened in Market Parade, between the bus station and railway station in Havant.

It provoked outrage from concerned parents who feared their children would be able to get hold of psychoactive drugs – despite the packets being clearly marked ‘not fit for human consumption’.

Because of this the local authority’s and the police’s hands are tied, because the owner is acting within the law.

But earlier this month The News revealed that a 19-year-old man ended up in hospital after smoking Low Rider powder bought from the shop.

He began choking when he lost control of his ability to swallow while eating some peanuts. His father spoke about his anger that the sale of the legal highs was allowed to go on and police were powerless to stop it.

But, in Portsmouth, police and Portsmouth City Council worked together to shut down the other shop in the chain for three months under new anti-social behaviour powers.

Voters will want to see councillors work with officers and the health authority, with the support of the police and the police and crime commissioner to see if they same action can be taken in Havant to stop the threat of legal highs.

The candidates

BEDHAMPTON

Ann Brown (Lib Dem)

Munazza Faiz (Lab)

Philip Melhuish (Ukip)

Terry Mitchell (Green)

Edward Rees (Con)

* George Smith standing down (Con)

COWPLAIN

Narinder Bains (Con)

Andrew Boxall (Ukip)

Bruce Holman (Green)

John Jacobs (Lib Dem)

Ken Monks (Lab)

Marjorie Smallcorn * (Ind)

EMSWORTH

Rivka Cresswall (Con)

Vicky Gould (Green)

Chris Maple (Lib Dem)

Alex Spurge (Ukip)

George Wheaton (Lab)

* Richard Galloway standing down (Con)

HART PLAIN

Michael Bolt (Lib Dem)

Sue Dawes (Green)

Paul Dreczko (Lab)

Gerald Shimbart * (Con)

Tabitha Smith (Ukip)

HAYLING EAST

Richard Coates (Ukip)

Annie Martin (Lib Dem)

Clare Satchwell (Con)

Susan Underwood (Lab)

Paul Valentine (Green)

* David Collins standing down (Con)

HAYLING WEST

Wendy Coates (Ukip)

Paul Gray (Lib Dem)

Sue Holt (Green)

Andy Lenaghan * (Con)

Alfred Underwood (Lab)

PURBROOK

Tony Berry (Lab)

Rosie Blackburn (Green)

Hilary Bolt (Lib Dem)

Anthony Gundry (Ukip)

Gary Hughes (Con)

* Hilary Farrow standing down (Con)

ST FAITH’S

Jane Briggs (Lib Dem)

John Davis (Ukip)

Tim Dawes (Green)

Philip Munday (Lab)

Tim Pike (Con)

* Ray Bolton standing down (Con)

STAKES

Ann Bazley (Lib Dem)

Lewis Martin (Green)

Carole Newnham (Ukip)

Diana Patrick (Con)

Philip Pearson (Lab)

* Cyril Hilton standing down (Con)

WATERLOO

Paul Buckley * (Con)

Tom Davies (Ukip)

Fred Dunford (Lib Dem)

Paul Fencott (Lab)

* denotes sitting councillor

To find out which issues are most important to people in the lead-up to the election - both regionally and nationally - visit www.whatmatterstome.co.uk/home