Disagreement over villages being ‘urban’

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A ROW has broken out over whether villages should be included in an urban partnership aimed at boosting the economy of south Hampshire.

Rowlands Castle Parish Council has submitted a formal motion calling for an end to East Hampshire District Council’s involvement in the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire.

PUSH was formed in 2003 and is made up of 12 local authorities, including Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham, and Gosport.

In East Hampshire, only the area south of Butser Hill, including Clanfield, Horndean and Rowlands Castle, is included.

The partnership works with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, which is led by businesses to promote jobs.

The letter sent to East Hampshire District Council states: ‘Having reviewed evidence on the work of PUSH, believes that it is unnecessary for EHDC, and the south of Butser parishes in particular, to participate.

‘It calls on EHDC to end its participation in PUSH with effect from April 1 2014.’

The council called for a ‘full investigation of the logic’ of Rowlands Castle remaining part of SLEP.

Chairman John Pickering told The News: ‘We are not an urban area. We do not seem to derive any direct benefit from it. We are concerned about the apparent influence which PUSH seems to have on housing numbers.’

Fareham’s council leader Sean Woodward, who chairs PUSH, the area south of Butser Hill was included in the local enterprise partnership, which was drawn up by government.

He said: ‘There’s no debate to be had whether you are in or out.

‘You can’t change geography. It’s a natural economic area.

‘It’s like saying we want to take Westminster out of London. You can’t, Westminster is in London.’

He added: ‘Government places a duty to co-operate between all councils. It means if one council does not provide its housing, the neighbouring authority could be asked to. That’s why we work together to make sure we agree things with a co-operative approach.’

The partnership employs an officer and the cost of being in it to East Hampshire is £1,800 a year. East Hampshire District Council is considering its response.