The ‘Opportunity Havant‘ Regeneration Strategy Document first surfaced in public at the Cabinet Meeting on October 24th. Just two weeks later, it was presented to the full Council this evening and after being proposed by Cllr Pike, questioned by three deputations from the public, seconded by Cllr Wilson and ‘debated’ by the full council, was approved unanimously.
Havant’s much vaunted Regeneration Programme has hit the road running! Or so you might be led to think…
This is the town where bundles of tumbleweed and old McDonald’s boxes have rolled slowly past the faded hoardings at 44-54 West Street for more than a decade. The town where nothing happens. Don’t build your hopes up, despite all the trumpeting about ‘a new interventionist approach’ and ‘using compulsory purchase powers to bring forward schemes, making the required budget available’, it looks like the tumbleweed will be here to stay for at least another five years.
What we saw this evening was certainly not a debate in any accepted sense of the word.
Not once were any of the points raised from the lectern by HCS and the other representatives of the public speaking, questioned or debated.
1) The Regeneration Programme documentation must be freely available to the press and the public. We see no justification for the exemption of entire documents; redaction of detail where necessary should suffice.
2) The Governance approach is lacking. We expect to see local communities of residents represented at the External Stakeholder level along with the professional communities who provide for our health, education and safety.
3) Phase 1 – i.e the next five years – must deliver tangible benefit in each of the regeneration areas in order to achieve buy in from the community. As published and approved, the only change delivered in that time frame will be on the Civic Plaza site.
Cllr Buckley could have triggered some real debate when he remarked that the most important word in the document was ‘interventionist‘ (it hadn’t been lost on us either). In his opinion, the new approach would provide a means of empowering the council to do great things, providing the issues of Governance could be understood and grasped.
A deafening silence ensued.
One of our own ward councillors broke her meeting silence only once, raising the important question of whether or not the Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office could be worn if his driver wasn’t present. Our other ward councillor agreed to investigate and respond.
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