Residents and business owners across Havant talk about the most important issues to them ahead of May 6 local elections

PEOPLE across the Havant area have spoken about the issues most important to them ahead of the upcoming local elections.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 4:22 pm

Candidates hoping to represent their community in Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council will be up for election on May 6.

Residents of Havant, Leigh Park, and Hayling Island have said that they would like to see their local representatives talking about subjects such as safety, environmentalism, and investment in Havant town centre.

Michaela-Jayne Stray, who lives in Leigh Park, said: ‘I’m worried about young kids with their violence, it’s really frightening to hear about knife crime. Safety and security is important to me.

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Shoppers on West Street, Havant. Picture: Emily Turner

‘We need more shops - people outside the area won’t come here.

‘I also care about litter, I pick up litter when I’m out and I don’t understand why people drop their rubbish.’

Hayling Island couple Trish and Bill Farnham have ideas for improving the area, but say that they haven’t heard anything from their local candidates in the run-up to the election.

Trish and Bill Farnham, Hayling Island residents. Picture: Emily Turner

Trish said: ‘I’d like to see a councillor who prioritises the Hayling Billy cycle track because it’s really rough, but lots of people would use it if it was improved.’

Bill added: ‘It’s been very low key, we’ve had nothing delivered through the door about this election.

‘We are environmentalists and would like to see that focus from the council.

‘The council claims to be frightfully hard up but it spends money on cutting the verges, which should be left to create biodiversity.

Shops near Market Parade, Havant. Picture: Emily Turner

‘Less grass cutting is an environmental initiative, allowing for more ephemeral species to live.’

Business owners also shared their thoughts on the most pressing issues facing Havant.

Many said that they wanted to see more investment in the town centre to drum up trade and encourage people from outside the area to pay Havant shops a visit.

Sadie Hopkins of Furtea furniture on South Street said: ‘I’d like to see more shops, it’s a lovely area but it’s quite run down and needs more investment.

‘East Street could be stunning, and the area could easily be like Commercial Road in Portsmouth.

‘I think Havant’s got more potential than anywhere in Portsmouth - it could be like Chichester.’

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Adam Altunatmaz, owner of Station Cafe on Market Parade, said: ‘I’d like to see more improvement inside Havant.

‘We’re concerned about lost trade and I want the council to bring more into Havant town centre.’

Martin and Crystal Young, owners of Button Up Baby in North Street also said that they would like to see more investment in Havant shops.

Martin said: ‘I’d like to focus on improving events in the town centre. Make use of the pedestrian area, utilising the common areas - the whole lot could become a big festival bringing the community together.

Crystal added: ‘We want to see better Christmas lights, you want people to think that it’s an aesthetically pleasing place. We want to see a Christmas market, continental food markets, craft fairs.

‘Fireworks too - the community have had to fight for it, but the council washes its hands of it.

‘I’d also like to see more support for family things - Havant misses the play cafe in St Faith’s.

‘The town centre could do with some regeneration - it feels empty and cold and uncared for, but it’s got so much potential.’

Many people said that they do not plan to vote, believing that candidates are ‘all the same’ and nothing will change regardless of who is elected.

People told The News that they had been left disinterested in politics due to disappointment in current elected representatives.

Mrs Reid, who did not wish to give her first name, said: ‘I normally vote but there’s no one to vote for. They haven’t told us much, we don’t know anything about them.

‘We want to know what they’ve got in mind for the area and if they’ll do it.’

Her friend and fellow long time Havant resident Mrs Jeans, who also did not wish to give her first name, said: ‘Before, when you had MPs, you knew more or less where they stood. Now you’ve got no idea. I’m really disappointed in Boris.’

John Cauvin, a Leigh Park resident, said: ‘It’s not about the council, I’m more concerned about MP Alan Mak, I never see him. Nothing’s changed.’

Members of South East Climate Alliance and Havant Climate Alliance say they are ‘unhappy’ with Havant Borough Council as it is not ambitious enough, hasn’t linked with a wide range of groups, and hasn’t communicated the urgency of climate action and what residents can do and needs to divest from fossil fuels.

They are running an initiative asking candidates to make a number of environmentally conscious pledges, including setting an emissions target for the whole council area of at least a 68 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2030. They also want candidates to building partnerships for action by working with communities, publish action plans and emissions targets, and support a motion that the council should divest its pension funds from fossil fuels, and move them to safer, more sustainable investments.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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