The Leader of Whitehill Town Council New Year’s Message
Published: 20 December 2019
"2019 has not only been a busy year for Whitehill & Bordon but also for me personally as I got married in February in the run up to the May local elections! I thank my wife Katrina for supporting me in this voluntary role, especially as we have a young family.
On May 2, the Whitehill & Bordon Community Party won all 15 seats on Whitehill Town Council and I went from being de facto Leader of the Opposition to Leader of the Council. I truly believe that the Town Council can make a difference by punching above its weight. Within the first few weeks we had totally reformed governance structure and were making plans to hold those in power to account by hosting public interest meetings. The first of these was in July with The Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company, followed up by a second meeting with them last month. The unlawful encampments happened in June, but under the leadership of our Deputy Town Clerk (Deputy Manager) David, we were able to evict from Jubilee Park in less than a week and my colleague, Cllr Adam Dawson, organised a community-led clear up.
I am very pleased that East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) announced this month that it wants to take a proactive role in Whitehill & Bordon, including the proposed town centre. However, this means showing respect to residents and fully engaging with us as the locally-elected Town Council. My personal view is that we want to engage proactively with EHDC, Hampshire County Council (HCC) and other third parties to work on the same side to deliver results but keep a close and independent eye on promises made, as we will never shy away from standing up for residents if and when required.
I want to thank all my fellow councillors and especially those who sit on our committees, most of whom had never been councillors before the election. This includes Cllr Bisi Kennard who has been a supportive Deputy Leader and someone who I can always rely on and sound out for valid opinion and Cllr Catherine Clark who has done a sterling job representing the council as Town Mayor. Being a Town Councillor is a voluntary role and we all do it because we want to try to make a positive difference for our fellow residents.
I also want to thank our hard working and valuable Town Council staff, David, Liz, Steve, Wendy, Sarah, Andrew and Joan. It has been a year of change for them, with interim management and a newly elected council. They are the backbone of the Town Council and we wouldn’t be able to implement any of our ideas without them.
In November we finally saw the opening of Oakmoor School. My son is in year 8 and I think the facilities are fantastic. It is great to finally see some positives coming out of the development and I look forward to seeing the new swimming pool opened that I fought for back in 2014, which is now scheduled to be opened in late 2020.
Moving into 2020, the Town Council will now have a full time Town Clerk & General Manager and will be able to move forward with the budget, strategic plan and policies, all to the benefit of residents!
Crime and anti-social behaviour continues to be a worry and we are planning to host a public Q&A session with the Police early next year under the theme, making our community safer. We hope there will be a strong turnout by residents!
Cllr Tina Strickland took over the reins of chairing our New Greenspace Sub-Committee where we manage Bordon Inclosure for residents as a designated SANG (suitable alternative natural green space) and engage with third party experts who are on hand to give advice.
Transport continues to be a worry and buses continue to be cut / live under the threat of cuts. It is so obvious that we need a reliable committed public transport system - not only for the young, the elderly and the working-age people who would use it - but also if we are to encourage businesses to locate here. I first entered local politics as I was a user of the rail link bus that was abolished. In the New Year I hope to engage EHDC, HCC and South Western Railway on this issue.
I understand EHDC are working up a business case to potentially fund a health hub which links to what The Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company said at a Town Council-hosted public meeting about submitting a planning application in the first part of 2020. This is a contentious issue for residents as Chase Hospital is a much loved facility and there is understandably a lot of concern over reducing services and why a health hub is proposed instead. I will be taking a keen interest in reviewing any proposals and any planning application would come to Town Council as a statutory consultee, where our Planning Sub-Committee chaired by Cllr Katie Anscomb would scrutinise it! Having excellent health provision in Whitehill & Bordon is of paramount importance!
Best wishes to everyone across both Bordon and Whitehill for 2020!"
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