Ukip bid to scrap Hampshire borough councils is sent packing

Councillor Christopher Wood
Councillor Christopher Wood
The fragment from the Union Jack believed to have flown on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Credit: Sotheby's

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A UKIP motion to abolish borough councils and give more power to the county council has been laughed out of the council chamber.

Newly-elected Ukip councillor Chris Wood, who represents the Fareham Crofton ward, put forward a motion at Hampshire County Council’s full council meeting yesterday.

He wanted officers to investigate whether savings could be made if the county council became a unitary authority, which would bring an end to borough and district councils.

Cllr Wood said: ‘It may be the case that becoming a unitary authority is what is required to make even greater savings as all of our budgets continue to shrink. We can make Hampshire leaner, meaner and more efficient.’

He gave the example of Wiltshire Council, which saved £68m in four years, when it became a unitary authority.

Currently Hampshire has a two-tier council system, with the county looking after elements such as schools and roads, and borough or districts making decisions on local issues such as planning and bin collections.

Cllr Wood argued that many residents are confused by the structure and removing one of the tiers would make dealing with the council easier, boosting customer satisfaction.

His motion did not go down well with councillors, with many making quips and sniping at Cllr Wood and Ukip.

Council leader Roy Perry said: ‘All the major democracies in the world have at least a two-tier system of local government.

‘I can appreciate that Ukip were elected to this chamber to abolish the European Union but it appears that it is not just the EU they want to abolish, it’s also Winchester City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and Havant Borough Council – the list goes on.’

Many councillors were concerned that if Hampshire became a unitary authority, decisions would be made by councillors with no understanding of the impact.

Councillor Frank Pearce, Tory member for Hayling Island, said: ‘I would not want decisions being made about Hayling Island by someone who lives in Aldershot.’

Councillor Peter Chegwyn, Lib Dem member for Leesland, Gosport, said: ‘One good thing about this motion is that it has done something that has never been done before — it has united the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour groups.’

The motion was voted out by 57 members, seven Ukip members voted for it.