To all Labour Supporters in Havant and especially to those supporting the Leigh Park Wards.

When I was first elected in (I think!) 1995, Havant Council was very different from the way it is today. Labour, with some Liberal support, was to control the Council and appoint the Leader. In my ward, Warren Park, we had regular meetings with the police, meetings of residents (Portsmouth owned 100% of the housing), events like the Leigh Park Carnival and the Easter Egg festivity, a splendid infants and junior school and lots of things to work for.

In those years we worked together in the ward and established the wonderful new Sure Start nursery and preschool and even got the 23 bus to reach the most remote part of the Warren! Our Labour Councillor, Virginia Steel, became Mayor. Later Richard Brown followed in her footsteps. I became the Chair of the Leigh Park Community Association and we were able to support lots of activities and services for Leigh Park people.

When I was 70, I decided that I was too old and that it was time for me to make way for someone younger, so I stood down and did not go for re-election. The next ten years were dire for Labour in Leigh Park. Eventually, we lost all of our seats except for Terry Hart’s in Bondfields. He stood down, respected by all, after 40 years of continual service as Councillor to his ward. He has been made, alongside another Labour stalwart, Ralph Cousins, an Alderman.

When I was 80, I was very worried about the way the Council was performing, so I decided to stand again for my ward. I was elected, winning my seat back from the Conservatives. By now Margaret Thatcher’s policy of THE RIGHT TO BUY has created a situation where only 40% of the Leigh Park housing is still owned by Portsmouth and there are severe problems with homelessness, as well as a lack of decent employment and the wealthier wards getting the most of the money from the Community Infrastructure Fund.

I have been the only Labour Councillor since Terry left. I have not been without influence and have managed some successful  criticism and change of policies (especially regarding sudden homelessness) by working on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
We cannot take the Council in one swoop this time (we are elected by thirds) but we need Labour Councillors to review and question and, hopefully, change, policies. This is our chance . I tried to stay on to help any new Labour members but have got, at 88, too old..

We are defeated, not by the Tories but by APATHY.


Thank you.

Councillor Beryl Francis

Councillor Beryl Francis
Councillor Beryl Francis
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