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Paper 2 - 26 September 1997 Meeting


Minutes of the Association meeting held at Winchester City Council on 18 July 1997 at 10.00 am.


Basingstoke and Deane

Councillor Mrs P Baker
Councillor J Evans Ms K Sporle (Chief Executive)

East Hampshire

Cllr D Clark
Cllr A Ludlow 
Miss J Hunter (Chief Executive)


Councillor K House
Councillor Mrs M Kyrle OBE
Mr C Tapp (Chief Executive)
Miss D Thompson (Committee Officer)


Councillor R Price
Councillor Mrs Burton Jenkins
Mr C Courtenay (Deputy Chief Executive and Treasurer)


Councillor D Miles
Councillor A Haywood
Mr M Crocker (Chief Executive)


Mr P Robertson (Chief Executive)


Councillor D W Cleaton
Mr C James


Cllr R Bellinger
Cllr K Moss
Mr R Smith (Chief Executive)

New Forest

Councillor J E Coles
Mr I Mackintosh (Managing Director)


Councillor J Patey
Mr N Gurney (Chief Executive)


Councillor J Whittingham
Councillor C J Woolger
Mr P Gardner

Test Valley

Councillor Mrs M K Haselden
Mr A Jones (Chief Executive)


Councillor P Davies
Councillor D Atwell
Mr D Cowan (Chief Executive)

Isle of Wight Council

Cllr S Cowley
Mr F Heatherington (Clerk to the Council)

Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils

Cllr Mrs J Pittfield

Isle of Wight Association of Parish and Town Councils

Ms B Lawson

Also in attendance Mr N Goulder, Policy Officer


An apology for absence was received from Councillor A Mitchell (Winchester).

Mr P Robertson (Hampshire County Council) informed the Association that the County Council would be appointing its representatives at the Policy and Review Committee meeting on 31 July 1997.


The minutes of the meeting were accepted as a correct record, with the exception that Councillor Mrs P Baker from Basingstoke and Deane had incorrectly been listed as Mrs P Barker.


Alan Whitehead MP for Southampton Test gave members of the Association his objective assessment of what faces local government over the next 4-5 years. The presentation focused on three main areas, namely: the financial prognosis, legislative changes and regionalism.

With respect to the financial prognosis the outlook was not good for the near future. This was as a result of the Government’s promise to abide by its manifesto commitment to maintaining public spending targets and the fact that the National Audit Office had found the underlying inflation assumptions too low. Consequently the first two to three years would be ‘tight’. The longer term, however, looked substantially better due to the positive impact of a predicted downward trend in public sector borrowing and growth in the economy. Local Government would have to survive the current financial straightjacket until the medium term when there would be more room for manoeuvre in terms of support. The short term benefits were expected to include additional resources for education and the progressive release of housing capital receipts.

Regarding legislative change, Local Government was one of the ‘bidders’ at the table. Housing capital receipts would be addressed this year but Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) was unlikely to be tackled until next year. In the meantime, however, the Government would still be looking at setting a more level playing field for CCT and was keen to change some of the "anti-competitive behaviour" guidance for tenders. In terms of ‘Best Value’ the Government would be implementing pilot projects. Authorities interested in bidding for them should prepare a case early and discuss it with their local MPs who would then raise it with Hilary Armstrong.

Capping would be maintained but the rigid straightjacket approach would no longer be retained. Reserve powers would be restricted for those with no financial probity.

The return of the Business Rate to local government control was back on the agenda. It was anticipated that this would be legislated for in either year 2 or year 3.

Green taxes - the June Budget had signalled a move towards these. Over time Green Taxes could provide a wider tax base for local government. Alan Whitehead discussed imaginative ideas for developing this theme.

With regard to Regionalism, Alan Whitehead outlined the Government’s intentions to have devolved government in Scotland and Wales and subsequently in London and in the longer term directly elected regional assemblies in England. Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) were a priority with the ability to make strategic decisions and to develop partnerships. In the first stage RDAs might come under the framework of an initially indirectly elected regional assembly. Subsequently this would become a directly Elected Regional Assembly. Alan Whitehead recognised that this was a real problem for the South East/West which did not have a basic framework. London would get a regional assembly but this would create a hole in the South East. It was possible to move to a sub regional RDA approach, perhaps based on the ROSE ‘petals’.

In conclusion, Alan Whitehead commented that a substantial agenda lay ahead for Local Government. He was in favour of establishing a ‘centre watch’ to analyse what powers the Government was keeping to itself. As the UK was then the most centralised state in Europe he advocated the need for a fairly radical decentralisation of power.

A question and answer session followed which provided members with the opportunity to engage in a wide-ranging discussion on aspects of the Government’s Agenda for local authorities during its term ahead.

At the end of the question and answer session the Chair thanked Alan Whitehead for his comprehensive presentation and the lively question and answer session that had followed. He commented that it was a particularly helpful beginning to dialogue and he hoped to invite him back to a future meeting of the Association. Members commented that they had found the presentation extremely informative and were delighted to talk to an MP who was so knowledgeable about local government. Ms K Sporle raised the issue of establishing a medium for regular contact with local MPs. It was noted that the County Council had recently held a meeting with Hampshire MPs.


That Alan Whitehead MP be thanked for his presentation and congratulated on his appointment to the Environment Select Committee.


Consideration was given to a report of the Policy Officer and attached DoE discussion papers on Regional Development Agencies.

Ms K Sporle (Basingstoke and Deane) took the lead on this item. There were two main areas that the Association needed to address:-

(a) The Issues

"What do we want RDAs to do for the South East"? It was anticipated that this would be clarified at the SERF discussions on 24 July 1997. The initial view was RDAs should have a clear focus and should not stray into areas where local democratic processes were already in place. An RDA should be co-ordinating economic development strategies not developing or deciding them, this should be the responsibility of the regional chamber. The key role for an RDA should be co-ordination and delivery, within that clear role an RDA should look at particular issues such as economic and business support but not interfere in the wider issues of transportation and land use.

(b) Consultation Process

GOSE was seeking to co-ordinate a response and it was noted that it favoured wider powers for RDAs. SERF, however, as a separate local government voice, was keen to co-ordinate a single local government response to the consultation process.

The Chair referred to his SERF letter of 16 July 1997 which sought to encourage a single response. It was important that the voice of local government was heard and that it was not submerged or diluted in a GOSE response. He reported that a first draft response had been sent to all local authorities with the intention of focusing debate at the Local Government Association Conference next week. Following this, an additional paper would be distributed to local authorities for endorsement. A co-ordinated local authority response would then be forwarded to GOSE. The Government deadline was 5 September 1997.

Mr N Gurney (Portsmouth) was concerned at a single voice approach. Portsmouth favoured a strong RDA to prevent us being left behind. He feared that the SERF approach was in danger of becoming too watered down. He also favoured wide ranging powers for RDAs.

The Chair responded that in the interim SERF would act as a Regional Chamber and hold the RDA accountable.

I Mackintosh (New Forest) asked how quickly the revised document could be produced. The Chair advised that it should be available one week after the LGA Conference. The SERF Executive Committee would meet before the consultation deadline to put the responses together.

Mr R Smith (Havant) commented that whilst the Association was addressing the local government context it must not overlook the higher education and business dimension. Consideration needed to be given to how they could be brought in.


(1) That a small panel comprising the Chair, Vice Chair, Councillor B Palmer (Test Valley) and Mr N Gurney (Portsmouth) be asked to finalise the Association’s response to the Government consultation on Regional Development Agencies;

(2)That the lead taken by the South East Regional Forum in developing a co-ordinated local authority response in the South East be welcomed.


Consideration was given to a report of the Policy Officer which reviewed the procedure on appointments to outside bodies and recommended new guidelines for the appointment of representatives and reporting back.

Councillor D Clark (East Hampshire) suggested that it was appropriate that the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Associations of Parish and Town Councils become full members of the Association. Members were in support of this. The Honorary Secretary, Mr C Tapp, advised that revisions to the constitution of the Association would be brought to the next meeting.

With regard to appointments to the Hampshire Economic Partnership (HEP) Board, Ms K Sporle (Basingstoke and Deane) advised the Association that two members were sought in order to create a more slimline Board.

Councillor D Clarke (East Hampshire) argued for three representatives, one from the County, one from a Unitary and one from a district to enable there to be a balance reflecting authority types in a way which might also facilitate a geographical and political balance. Members agreed to the principle of three representatives.

Councillor R Price (Fareham) queried whether only full Association members should be appointed to outside bodies. Mr C Tapp (Honorary Secretary) said it was important that the Association had the flexibility to appoint the right people, and suggested that it would not always be possible that representatives would be members of HIOWA as well.

Mr C Tapp (Honorary Secretary) reported on the future proposed arrangements being recommended for the Hampshire Health Joint Consultative Committee. It was intended that it would devolve into three JCCs each based on the individual Health Authority boundaries, with effect from April 1998.


(1) That appointments be made to outside bodies as shown in the appendix, with the following additions and amendments:

Committee for Rural Hampshire

Cllr Mrs M K Hasleden (Test Valley) and
Cllr Mrs M Scriven (Winchester) be confirmed.

Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils

Cllr P E Spearey (Eastleigh) be confirmed.

Hampshire Economic Partnership

Hampshire County Council to nominate 1 representative
Cllr Dr A Burnett CBE (Portsmouth)
Cllr R Sabine (Winchester)
Deputy for the Districts Cllr J Whittingham (Rushmoor)

Hants Federation of Victim Support Schemes

Cllr Mrs E Patton (Winchester)

Hampshire Playing Fields Association

Cllr J F Evans (Basingstoke and Deane)
Cllr J E C White (Rushmoor)
Cllr D Metcalf (Test Valley)
Cllr M R E Pocock (Winchester)
Cllr K Moss (Havant)

Hants Under 8s Advisory Group

Cllr Ms R Vershoren (Winchester)
An additional representative is sought.

Hants Voluntary Housing Society

Cllr D Atwell (Winchester)

(2) That the guidelines set out in paragraph 5 for representation and reporting back be approved for consultation;

(3) That the Association’s representatives be consulted about the guidelines and asked to report back annually; and

(4) That the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Associations of Parish and Town Councils be invited to become full members of the Association and that related constitutional matters be the subject of report to the next meeting.


Consideration was given to a report of the Policy Officer on this subject following the consultation meeting on 9 July 1997 with other local authorities in the South of London Coastal Sub-Region. The Policy Officer advised that the recommendations would be going to all Associations for formal adoption.


That the Association approves the proposals put forward at the consultation meeting with other local authorities in the South of London Coastal Sub-Region:

(1) That co-operative arrangements be set up between all local authorities in the sub-region comprising Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Surrey, East and West Sussex and Kent; and

(2) That the objective of those co-operative arrangements will be to assert the voice of local government and the interests of the area, as appropriate, in the South East Regional Forum (SERF), in other regional fora and in the Local Government Association.


The Policy Officer reported that the Constitution was approved at the meeting on 14 July 1997 and three Hampshire and Isle of Wight members had been appointed to the Executive Committee; Cllr K House (Eastleigh), Cllr L Madden (Portsmouth) and Cllr S Cowley (Isle of Wight).

Members of the Association offered their congratulations to the Chair on his appointment to the Chair of SERF. The Chair remarked that he hoped that SERF could now act as a strong voice for the South East.


That the report be noted.


Consideration was given to a paper of the Policy Officer on community safety and the role the Association could play in it. The paper particularly looked at ‘Crimestoppers’ and Young People and Crime. The Policy Officer would report back to the Association on these issues at a future meeting.


That the report be noted.


Consideration was given to a paper of the Honorary Secretary on the Association’s Secretariat. He thanked Havant Borough Council for offering to take on the Honorary Secretaryship from June 1999. It was noted that the lead authority also took responsibility for future accommodation and officer support.


That the report be noted.


In light of positive feedback from the Alan Whitehead presentation, the Chair advised that he would undertake to encourage the use of external speakers for future meetings.


It was noted that the next meeting would be held on Friday 26 September 1997 at 10.00 am at the New Forest District Council.

The meeting concluded at 12.25 pm.

Last update: 04/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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