Peter Oliver
Peter Oliver

Peter Oliver for County Councillor

I am seeking your vote on the Emsworth/St. Faith’s seat on the County Council.  Your concerns are my concerns:

  1. Overbuilding of houses in our area.
  2. Dumping raw sewage in Langstone and Chichester Harbour by Southern Water.
  3. Lack of Infrastructure to match the scale of the Local Plan.
  4. Addressing and implementing coastal defences in a sensible, effective way.

I want to make a difference and help give back the community their voice. The Council repeatedly organises public consultations but takes little notice of your views!

Don’t waste your vote by voting for the status quo! Voting for me is a vote for something better!

We need an effective opposition because having a single party in government at national, county and borough level is bad for everyone.  There is a need for greater transparency, scrutiny and oversight which only opposition councillors are motivated to give you.

My Background — I worked for IBM for 31 years where amongst other projects I led the team that built the first online, real-time ATM system.  I worked as a technology and business consultant, solution designer and implementer.  This required analytical, creative, and planning skills. My background prepares me to make some useful contribution in County matters. 

There is a wealth of talent and experience in the community which could be used in local governance. This untapped resource could compensate for the enforced loss of skill and oversight resulting from various cost cutting and outsourcing exercises.  Rather than ignoring the electorate between elections there should be ways to use these talents.

The Environment

Each generation has temporary stewardship of our landscape and environment.  We have a duty to ourselves and those who come after us to preserve the beauty of this area.  The rate and scale of development severely threatens these irreplaceable assets.  The National and Local Plan dictate that these public assets be irretrievably destroyed. 

Conservative policies fail to conserve our environment.

Overbuilding — Housing and Infrastructure

The Local Plan is hardly a Local Plan since it implements a Central Government formula insensitive to local conditions or needs.  It is a plan to spread suburban sprawl which no one needs.  

The formula gave Havant more than 30% of the national average with no explanation.  And now the quota has been nearly doubled! 

The Local Plan is unsustainable because it irretrievably deprives communities of open space and burdens the infrastructure beyond its design limits.  The Local Plan does not address the true housing need because those who need housing find the houses are unaffordable — being 8 times the average income and many more times out of reach for the poorest.

The scale of the national building program requires building New Towns not localising the responsibility. It should remain a National Government responsibility because Local Government lacks the power to plan on the appropriate scale or the enormous funds to retrofit the necessary infrastructure in current communities.  Instead, the Local Plan is a plan to suffocate existing communities. 

What Local Government needs are the funds and authority to restore the stock of local authority housing plundered by the “Right to Buy” and “Buy to Rent” policies.  Failure to do this has been a prime cause of homelessness and poverty.  Even more people are now facing housing insecurity by renting from private landlords during the pandemic — when their income may be reduced or lost.

Infrastucture

The Local Authority commissioned a Transport Study whose only purpose was to support the Local Plan.  When one builds more houses one needs the corresponding infrastructure.  Any genuine traffic study would focus on the dispersal of traffic not on its source.  HBC’s Traffic Study looked through the wrong end of the telescope.

Employing consultants is often done to provide political cover which is a waste of public funds — the Traffic Study was one example, the employment of a sustainability consultant was another.  

I produced a report with recommendations which would genuinely alleviate many of the traffic problems.  These were designed to improve the dynamic flow of traffic through the entire system which is the proper scope for any genuine traffic study.  The Council invited our participation in the consultation but never responded to any useful recommendations.  

The A3023 is a County responsibility, the A27 a National Highways responsibility, and the B2149 a Local issue.  Solving Havant’s traffic problems requires a coordinated approach by all three authorities.  As a County Councillor I would try to make these authorities work together constructively.

Southleigh 

Emsworth and Havant have had to absorb traffic from 2100 new houses at Southleigh.  A promised relief road connecting this community to the A27 is still uncertain.  Infrastructure should precede housing development, not be an afterthought which can be cancelled.  

Hampshire County Council Oak Park and Wellbeing Campus    

This £25 million, 80 bed nursing home and 100 extra care flats should have been delivered more than 2 years ago to compensate for the facilities lost at Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital and Havant Memorial Hospital.  It is still on hold.  Replacement facilities need to be in place before the previous facilities are closed.  Their replacement now faces an uncertain future. People need care facilities close to their homes and their families and their needs are simply not being met.

 The Rail Footbridge at Havant Station

After ten years the scaffolding remains in place for a scheme which should have been in place many years ago.  

Hampshire and Havant have a very poor record in delivering any of their infrastructure plans but a strong record of permitting developers to extend suburban sprawl unchecked.

Sewage

Southern Water routinely discharges raw sewage into the harbours.  Independent measurements show unacceptable levels of E. Coli in the water used for recreation.  In these Covid times the threat of spreading this disease from faecal matter is an added concern.  A single remote warning system on Hayling’s Blue Flag beach is insufficient to protect people using the harbours for recreation. 

The Council’s attempts to manage Southern Water have been ineffectual.  Councils need to re-empower themselves to collect water rates which would then enable them to exercise some financial muscle when negotiating with Southern Water. This would restore the Council’s power to represent us collectively and ensure that the water companies are publicly accountable.  Sewage disposal is a public service.  We are not individual sewage customers. Making us pay the water company directly undermines the community’s power to deal with its service providers.  

Coastal Defences and Public Oversight

Similarly, the creation of the Coastal Partnership (CP) transferred the staff of 4 boroughs to an agglomeration in the name of efficiency, leaving the boroughs without the expertise to question their recommendations. If elected I would aim to restore accountability to an entity at the County level, supported by a skilled staff capable of professionally assessing their recommendations.

The CP’s “Preferred Solution” for dealing with rising sea-levels and coastal flooding remains unchanged despite local input and opposition.  The proposed defences may deal with rising sea-levels or coastal flooding but not both concurrently.  In the real world it will need to do both simultaneously.  

While the CP’s plans remain just plans the quays between the Royal Oak and The Ship are in an advanced state of disrepair.  These require urgent action. The CP has consistently claimed that no one owned the quays and neither the HBC nor HCC would maintain them. However, the responsibility for maintaining the quays is independent of their ownership as property.  If we relied on what the Coastal Partnership told us we would never have achieved this result.

What this also proves is that there is a need for the County to assume responsibility for overseeing the management of multi-borough initiatives like the Coastal Partnership (CP) so that there is an equivalent elected body to ensure public oversight and accountability.  Without effective oversight the Coastal Partnership plans proceed despite our opposition because of the inertia of their own timetable. This needs to change.  It has weakened the principle that Local Government control these initiatives in the public interest.

Merging Havant and East Hampshire Services  

The practice of creating more multi-borough entities from their staff sounds as if it will achieve greater efficiency.  Public accountability is lost as a result.  We can see the danger of creating organisations without there being a corresponding elected body and staff.

National Politics and its Impact on Local Authorities

Local Government has been burdened with new responsibilities and starved of the funding to meet them. Most notable is the burden of Social Care which was an integral facet of the National Health Service. Localism sounds good but without adequate funding for Care in the Community, Local Government cannot fulfil the tasks they are given.

The NHS has responded wonderfully to the Pandemic by delivering care and the vaccination program.  The Government has responded less well.  It has recommended a stingy 1% pay rise which is less than inflation.  At the same time, its provision of PPE to NHS and Care Home staff is a litany of waste, incompetence, and cronyism.  Its “Moonshot” world beating test and trace system is a colossal failure.  The Government has been extravagant and incompetent whenever it has tried to do anything out of the day-to-day routine of the NHS.  Recent Select Committee testimony also exposed the squabbles within the Conservative Party over control of lucrative contracts for their competing set of cronies.

The Government continues to repeat the mistake of framing their Pandemic policy as a balancing act between the impact on the population’s health vs. the economy.  The truth is that the economic impact of the virus is in direct proportion to its failure to containing the virus.  Each new strain demonstrates the Government’s continued unpreparedness. This Government’s record on handling the virus is amongst the worst in the world and is in steep contrast to Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.  By focusing on the health risk these countries suffered the least economic impact as a result.

The Government at all levels has been extremely reluctant to provide school meals during the holidays to needy children and continuing the £20 addition Universal Credit during the pandemic although it has spent nearly £1 trillion in economic relief.  This disproportionate willingness to spend on everything except the most vulnerable shows that the Government’s continued commitment is to its selective austerity policies.

Elections are your opportunity to deliver your judgement on the success of your Government at all levels.  The Government stance is that this is not the time to make an assessment of its performance. They would say that.  But that is what elections are for.

The Future

We need to be able to look forward to a brighter future.  We owe this to our children and grandchildren.  Those growing up today face a bleak future with poor job prospects and shrinking opportunities.  The years of austerity deprived them of hope and Covid has further underlined the scale of neglect of peoples’ interest while emphasising the priority of the economy. But the economy has not delivered because the economy works best when we are all thoroughly engaged in it and when there is the least disparity between us. 

The Pandemic has reminded us how valuable and essential public service workers are in our community.  It has proved how much we need both a thriving public and private sector to make our mixed economy work. 

I ask for your vote for the Labour party to ensure a critical light is thrown on Government and I will do my very best to represent you for a better future.  

I am married to Barbara Furdyna who helped set up and implement the Langstone Good Neighbours Network.  The Council call on her to provide services in the community.  It demonstrates how the Council could get other help in governance by using community resources. We are both community minded people.

If you’d like to contact me, please call 0239 3073514 and/or email oli66690@aol.com to discuss these ideas and any other issues you think are important.

Vote Labour on May 6th.  Vote for Peter Oliver for the County

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