ALTON Eastbrooke councillor Dean Phillips has resigned from East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) Cabinet in protest over “lack of public consultation on matters that seriously impact local communities”.
The crunch came after a decision by Cabinet to increase car parking charges in Alton and Petersfield by up to 66 per cent from June 5 – a decision that has come out of the blue for residents and councillors, giving rise to concern over the district council’s decision-making process.
Mr Phillips said: “My decision to resign was taken in reflection of actions which I believe to be contrary to the strategic direction of EHDC and foremost to the detriment of my own electorate.”
These concerns were triggered in no small way by the lack of consultation over Alton’s new sports centre and, in particular, the internal spec which was signed off by EHDC and Everyone Active, without public consultation, and has been presented as “non-negotiable”.
Mr Phillips added: “It is my belief that Alton is getting a state-of-the-art leisure centre that will more than adequately serve our community for many years to come and we will be proud of. However we, as an authority, have failed to communicate this and engage with the public. We’ve arrived at the destination without taking them on the journey.
“With the possible exception of the swimming and squash clubs, who are rightfully championing their cause against the science of the offering, it is hoped that my community will in fact be most satisfied with what has been procured, but it doesn’t know what it’s getting, and that is still far from resolved.”
On car parking charges, Mr Phillips said: “I think the decision seems to fly in the face of the council’s strategic message that we are financially sound and decreasing taxation.
“I find the rate and how this decision went through the system to be highly questionable and seriously struggle to defend any rationale as to why we approved this in this manner and haste, which is why I’ve called the decision in.”
He added: “To sum up, I have grave concerns for the pattern the community is seeing in a lack of district consultation.
“I hope that my resignation prompts a swift reflection of these practices and I have high hopes for the future leadership of the council.”