East Hampshire District Council and Winchester City Council: what should councillors be prioritising?
OVER-DEVELOPMENT, traffic and crime were just some of the issues that residents within the East Hampshire District Council and Winchester County Council boundaries urged politicians to address.
With local elections for both authorities due to take place this Thursday (May 2), The News spoke to potential voters to find out they were most concerned with.
In the Winchester council area, Shedfield resident Andrew Mears said it was more important than ever that people use their vote. The 44-year-old said: ‘I think it is important to vote, especially because of the fact that our government aren’t respecting the wishes of the people in terms of Brexit.
‘I believe that a lot of people also think once Brexit is sorted out we can get the country back on track. It is affecting trade and businesses because a lot of people are uncertain and don’t want to put their money into things until they know what is happening.’
The controversial Welborne development, which will see 6,000 new homes built in Fareham was a hot topic.
Michael Hollis, 75, from Wickham said: 'It's all about infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. The key issue is housing developments, there are too many houses without enough infrastructure.
‘Too many houses can contribute to a loss of community impact and the village here has a strong sense of community and development dilutes that. There are around 120 houses being built in the north of Wickham and around 80 in the south. The 6,000 houses being built in Welborne is a huge concern for the village and it ultimately always comes back to infrastructure.'
Fellow Wickham resident, Wendy Greenish, 67, agreed. The head of the Wickham Society said 'The biggest concern for me is the 6,000 proposed houses in Welborne. But also the 120 houses at the north of Wickham and the 80 houses down the road and the 60 houses in Knowle. We have a congested village and Wickham acts as the M27 bypass.
‘I'm looking for a strategic plan for how this can be managed. But due to the location of Wickham, we are at the border of the councils, leaving us at the mercy of decision making of Fareham Borough Council and Winchester City Council.’
Across in the East Hampshire council area, for Jane Pickering, 78, from Rowlands Castle, increased housing was starting to have an impact on congestion. ‘I’m definitely voting in the election, I wouldn’t want to waste a vote,’ she said.
‘Obviously there’s a lot of new housing and development going on which obviously creates more traffic. So, it can get very busy in the village. That’s just part of life I suppose and as long as it’s monitored and controlled then it’s fine. But as residents that’s a bit out of our hands. I’ve lived in the village for 30 years and in that time I’ve seen a lot of change.
‘Over that time the place has got a lot busier, and inevitably with the workman here in the village, that causes problems. Inevitably with the shops, which are lovely to have, there are now huge delivery lorries coming by as well. It’s a shame the amount of people here and traffic can’t be restricted but that’s just the way it is.’
Lez Britton, 74, also from Rowlands Castle, shared her fears. ‘I’ve lived here 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of change over that time,’ she said.
‘I guess it’s just progress and that’s how it goes sometimes but why it has to happen here, I really don’t know. It’s horrendous in my opinion with all the houses going up. I don’t drive, I walk, but there are parked cars everywhere now and it hasn’t always been this way.’
And some believed more police were needed in their area.
In the Winchester area, Droxford local Kelly Mansfield, 45, said: ‘We have had lots of instances of criminal activity recently, it seems to be getting worse. Uplands Park Hotel was on fire again and now I think there might be squatters in there.
‘It’s not just that though, there’s a lot of anti-social behaviour. There are just not enough police.
She added: ‘I will be voting. It’s important because if we don’t vote then we don’t have any say in how things are run. My daughter is 18 and already she’s taking an interest in it all and is going to be voting, which is great.’
Polling stations will open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday, May 2 with results expected late that night.