Economy and growth are the priorities says new leader of Havant Borough Council

Cllr ''Mike Cheshire
Cllr ''Mike Cheshire
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A FORMER commanding officer of HMS Victory is set to become the new political leader of Havant borough – and has signalled business growth and economy as his main priorities.

Mike Cheshire, who was awarded an MBE for his services to the Royal Navy and HMS Victory, has been voted in as the new leader of Havant’s Conservative group, which holds a huge majority at the borough council.

All 34 conservative councillors voted at The Plaza following the resignation of Tony Briggs, who is stepping down next month as leader after five years in the job.

Other candidates in the running were Jackie Branson, David Guest and Mike Fairhurst and it was a close-fought battle.

Cllr Cheshire, who represents Hart Plain ward and has been a councillor for eight years, said: ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity and delighted the conservative group had the confidence in me to take over from an extremely good predecessor Tony Briggs, who has done a fabulous job.’

Cllr Cheshire is up for re-election next month, but is confident he can win and begin his task of leading the council.

He will not officially become leader until next month when a full council meeting will take place but he is already formulating his plan.

He told The News: ‘Economic development is a high priority as far as I am concerned.

‘The other priority is to ensure that residents have easy access to the facilities that we provide.

‘That’s through whatever means, IT, face-to-face orFacebook. We want to be able to communicate better with residents and listen to what they have got to say.’

He said he wanted to establish strong links with the Chamber of Commerce to try and get more businesses and entrepreneurs investing in Havant borough.

It comes as the Dunsbury Hill business park is in on the cards, as well as a major regeneration of Market Parade.

Cllr Cheshire said he wanted to focus on boosting tourism in Emsworth and Hayling, as well as providing more accommodation for the elderly as Havant’s older population grows.

He will also be encouraging the Mayor of Havant to promote business opportunities in the borough.

He said: ‘It’s regeneration – regeneration of our towns by whatever means we can find.

‘That’s bringing in businesses – the Plaza is a good place to start – and inviting them to regenerate and invest in Havant.’

Cllr Cheshire was commanding officer of HMS Victory from 1992 to 1998.

The 68-year-old married grandfather joined the Royal Navy in the 1960s and left in 1998. He went on to work as a business management consultant after getting a masters in business.

He added: ‘I am able to use my service career and my masters degree in order to try to lead the council through difficult times by becoming more commercially orientated and more business-like.

‘My first job in the next municipal year will be to make contact with officers and rejuvenate and regenerate our partnership arrangements to try and move that forward. With reduced money coming from central government, we have got to be able to be seen to be more commercial, more effective and efficient.

‘That will be looking for all opportunities that we can.’