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Paper 3 - 26 September 2003 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE & ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Minutes of the meeting of the Association held on 26 September 2003 at County Hall, Newport, Isle of Wight

Present:

Basingstoke and Deane

T Curtis (Director of Planning and Transport)

East Hampshire

Councillor E Cartwright (Vice-Chairman)
L Peacock (Acting Chief Executive)

Eastleigh

Councillor K House

Fareham

Councillor J Murray
Councillor S Woodward
B Wright (Head of Democratic Services)

Gosport

Councillor P Edgar

Hampshire

Councillor D Kirk
Councillor M Woodhall
D Tarrant (Deputy Director of Environment)

Havant

Councillor D Gillett
G Andrews (Managing Director)

Isle of Wight

Councillor B Lawson
Councillor H Rees
Councillor S Smart
M Fisher (Chief Executive Officer)

New Forest

Councillor M Holding
Councillor M Kendal
D Yates (Chief Executive)

Portsmouth

Councillor L Mason

Rushmoor

Councillor J Marsh
Councillor P Moyle
P Gardner (Director of Resources)

Southampton

B Roynon (Chief Executive)

Test Valley

Councillor A Jackson (Chairman)
Councillor I Carr
B Sully (Corporate Director)

Winchester

Councillor S Campbell
Councillor T Evans
S Eden (Chief Executive)
R Cooper (Director of Development Services)

Isle of Wight Association of Parish and Town Councils

B Lawson

Hampshire Fire and Rescue

Councillor M Cartwright

Association of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authorities

N Goulder (Director)
D Allen (PA to Director)

Also in attendance:

Government Office for the South East

C Byrne (Director, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Government Office for the South East)

Local Government Association

Councillor M Robinson

Electoral Commission

T Hawthorn (Assistant Policy Review Manager)

38.03 WELCOME

Councillor Shirley Smart, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, welcomed all those present to the meeting.

39.03 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors B Gurden and R Donnelly (Basingstoke and Deane); Councillor T Ludlow (East Hampshire); Councillor P Wall (Eastleigh); Councillor K Thornber (Hampshire); Councillor K Moss (Havant); Councillor A Vinson (Southampton); Councillor J Pittfield (HAPTC); R Tulloch (Community Action Hampshire) and K Dufton (Eastleigh Community Services).

40.03 MINUTES

The minutes of the Annual Meeting held on 6 June 2003 were agreed.

41.03 THE CYCLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

Mike Fisher, Chief Executive, Isle of Wight Council, introduced Tom Hawthorn of the Electoral Commission. Mr Hawthorn gave a presentation on the Government’s proposals with regards to local government election cycles following a wide-ranging consultation on this subject.

During the debate, there was agreement on:

ˇ the desirability of a four-year term for councillors

ˇ the need to allow local choice on electoral cycles.

Considerable concern was expressed about combining elections for different bodies on the same day.

Members re-iterated their support for the role played by parish and town councils in local democracy.

There was discussion about the importance of single member wards in larger rural areas, the significance of political parties in generating electoral turn-out, and the need to boost the accountability of members to their electorates.

Councillor Kirk, a member of the LGA’s Panel, reported that the LGA had made it very clear to the Electoral Commission that no change, and local choice, should be seriously considered despite Government guidelines.

Mr Hawthorn made the point that if the Electoral Commission were to press for local choice, it would need to spell out how that local choice might be achieved e.g. by referendum. He had made extensive notes on Members’ views and would now take them back to the Commission to inform their report. He thanked Members for the opportunity to attend.

The Chairman thanked Mr Hawthorn and the Electoral Commission for consulting the Association.

42.03 STRATEGIC PLANNING

Simon Eden, Chief Executive of Winchester City Council, reported on this item. He welcomed the opportunity for engagement on this issue and the chance for Members to respond to officers’ preliminary thoughts. He felt that HIOW had a legitimate role in the overall Regional Spatial Strategy. Mike Gwilliam, Regional Assembly Director of Planning, had offered to make a presentation to the Association meeting in November (now fixed for 17 November, 6.00 pm, Winchester Guildhall). Meanwhile officers would continue to work on proposals for the HIOW role.

Mr Eden updated members on the work being undertaken with regard to sub-regional planning and the fact that the work needed to be given a wider understanding throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. He said that Chief Executive and Planning Officer advice was that sub-regional work should be left to the authorities involved in those sub-regions and there was no clear HIOW role here.

Mr Eden stressed the need to make use of the expertise in the County Council and in the Unitary authorities in order to work together on Sub-regional Strategies and in making input to the Regional Strategy.

Members expressed concern about a number of issues including:

ˇ much of mid-Hampshire was not currently covered by any proposed Sub-Regional Strategy and there was a fear that local development frameworks would be produced in a vacuum

ˇ the National Parks - proposed for South Downs and New Forest - would have a significant impact on development frameworks. Perhaps we needed a new type of strategic gap to act as a major buffer between areas of growth, whilst recognising the needs of market towns and villages within the gap

ˇ by early 2004 we needed to involve others in developing a vision to take strategic policies beyond 2011. There was a danger that we would miss the opportunity of influencing the Regional Spatial Strategy.

East Hampshire argued that Bordon should be included in the Blackwater Valley and referred to the fact that the Ministry of Defence would be running down its commitment there.

Eastleigh argued that Members should look at the opportunities offered by sub-regional working . Others agreed with the importance of sub-regional working but did not have faith in the new regional planning arrangements. The Regional Planning Committee had recently met and Councillor Rees (Isle of Wight) asked for the relevant paper to be circulated to Members. He also drew attention to the important areas of overlap between parts of the South East and parts of other regions (e.g. the New Forest/Bournemouth) and drew attention to the need for joint planning.

The Government Office for the South East drew attention to the local authority Member leadership on the Regional Planning Committee and the fact that the Regional Assembly had not yet agreed on particular sub-regional areas.

In conclusion, whilst it was agreed that Hampshire and the Isle of Wight could not be regarded as a single planning unit, the new arrangements needed to address the "democratic deficit".

RESOLVED

(1) That officers continue to press the South East England Regional Assembly on the future role envisaged for county, district and unitary authorities in strategic planning, and the proposed mechanism for involving these authorities in preparation of the Regional Spatial Strategy;

(2) That officers in each of the sub-regional study areas proposed by the Regional Assembly advise Members locally how best to take forward work on sub-regional strategies; and

(3) That the Chief Executives Group reports further in consultation with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Planning Officers’ Group.

43.03 APPOINTMENTS TO OUTSIDE BODIES

Nick Goulder introduced a report by the Outside Bodies Appointments Panel which gave details of those District Council members appointed to serve on various outside bodies.

Mr Goulder pointed out that Councillor Gillett of Havant Borough Council - as immediate past Chairman - was also a representative on the Local Government Regional Forum (paragraph 10 of the report). This Association had been asked to appoint Liberal Democrat and Labour members to represent the South East on the Forum, the next meeting of which would be held on 20/21 November 2003 in Peterborough.

RESOLVED

(1) That District Council representatives be appointed as set out in the report;

(2) That the County Council and outside bodies be asked to allow additional District representation to reflect the diversity of Hampshire Districts; and

(3) That political groups in the Association be invited to put forward members to represent the South East at the Local Government Regional Forum.

44.03 FUTURE AGENDA

Councillor Peter Edgar gave details of the successful experiment with the Red Jet ferry service between Southampton and Gosport. He also updated members with regard to Haslar Hospital.

Nick Goulder drew attention to future agenda items. He asked that any further items be forwarded to him.

Councillor Mike Woodhall drew attention to the Affordable Housing Conference to be held on 28 October and encouraged those present to attend.

45.03 NEXT MEETING

The next meeting of the Association would be held at 10.00 am on Friday 28 November in the Upper Guildhall, Andover.

Last update: 18/11/2003
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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