Lucy Dean, Hampshire Independents candidate Brighton Hill ward, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.

The Hampshire Independents are a party of people who agree on core principles but stand as independents.  We spoke with Lucy Dean who is standing for them in the Brighton Hill ward of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.

Lucy thank-you for your time.

“I love this corner of Hampshire due to its green spaces and easy accessibility to other parts of the country”

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi, I’m Lucy Dean and I’ve lived in Basingstoke for the past two years. Previous to this I lived in Farnborough, Hampshire for thirty years. I love this corner of Hampshire due to its green spaces and easy accessibility to other parts of the country. I’ve been interested in politics for some time, although the EU referendum was probably the turning point for me. It still seems odd to me that we were given a binary choice for such a big topic – particularly, as the ramifications are still being felt today. My reason for getting involved in politics was because I wanted to have a greater say in terms of what goes on, and also to understand why decisions are made in the way that they are. I see many opportunities for things that can be improved, and I am keen to make a difference. In my spare time, I am a keen sportswoman and enjoy running, paddle boarding, cycling and the outdoor lifestyle. I also enjoy caring for my plants – trees, plants, flowers and fungi have many therapeutic benefits, and I am keen to learn as much about them as possible.

“I’d like to see the council block all new developments until provisions are made for the proper treatment and disposal of human waste. Currently, the water companies knowingly dispose of raw sewage into our rivers. This must stop!”

You’re standing in the Brighton Hill ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?

Brighton Hill is a beautiful ward of Basingstoke. It is comprised of stunning parks, fields and play areas, and is bordered to the South by the M3. To the north is the A30.

My plan is to continue to challenge the council’s approach to new housing developments – in particular, the current theme of overdevelopment. I also want to protect our green spaces and rivers as these are precious resources and should be treated with respect.

Proper waste disposal is a huge problem in Basingstoke, due to poor infrastructure and planning. In future, I’d like to see the council block all new developments until provisions are made for the proper treatment and disposal of human waste. Currently, the water companies knowingly dispose of raw sewage into our rivers. This must stop! The council has declared an ecological emergency, but this is at odds with their approach to housing developments.

“I’d like the council to recognise the harm they are doing to the environment and people of Basingstoke by allowing the malpractice of the water companies to continue”

What would I like to see change at the council?

I’d like the council to recognise the harm they are doing to the environment and people of Basingstoke by allowing the malpractice of the water companies to continue. I’d like them to force the water companies to build new water treatment facilities across Hampshire to support all these new developments. I’d like our rivers to stop being used as dumping grounds for untreated effluent waste. Already our existing sewerage systems are overwhelmed, so something needs to be done about this before new developments are considered.

How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved? 

The party is on Facebook and Twitter. We have our website which outlines more about us, our founders and some of the basic principles we follow (we also have a series of opinion pieces from our candidates and supporters) https://hantsind.com. You can always get in touch via email too via info@hantsind.com.

TudorTulok, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Malc Carpenter, Hampshire Independents candidate Battins ward, Havant Borough Council.

The Hampshire Independents are a party of people who agree on core principles but stand as independents.  We spoke with Malc Carpenter who is standing for them in the Battins ward of Havant Borough Council

Malc thank-you for your time.

“This year standing again for Hampshire Independents as I did last year, my three main areas will be focused on helping the disabled, elderly and trying to alleviate the parking issues I have faced since my initial journey into politics.

With your help and support I believe I can and will make a difference to people’s lives”

Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?

I first stood for election in 2016 with Havant Borough Council.  During the next 5 years I worked tirelessly for my residents, some I successfully helped, others not able to achieve the results I wished.

This year standing again for Hampshire Independents as I did last year, my three main areas will be focused on helping the disabled, elderly and trying to alleviate the parking issues I have faced since my initial journey into politics.

With your help and support I believe I can and will make a difference to people’s lives.

Hampshire Independents formed in 2020 as a group of people who previously stood as either independent candidates or for minor parties. As independent candidates we quickly discovered how biased the political system is in favour of the larger parties or for people with deep pockets. We learnt that the Press could ignore and exclude us thereby preventing us from taking part in hustings and having a voice. We founded the party to provide some of the bigger party advantages to other independently minded people across the county. As such, we do not have a central manifesto; each contender must devise their own ideas. As a varied group, we represent a cross-section of society: from business owners and IT experts to marketing specialists and fraud investigators. We avoid telling our candidates what to stand for, as that is their choice, but we do enable them to make a difference. Hosting regular social events is important to us so that we can get to know one another and form relationships. We truly believe that by sharing our knowledge and experience we are greater than the sum of our parts.

You’re standing in the Battins Ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?

The Battins ward is one of the four Leigh Park wards, each with 2 councillors. We have the main shopping areas of Park Parade and Greywell. If elected this time I would wish to build on my achievements over past 5 years (previously being a Havant Borough Councillor). The area suffers from high degree of poverty, there are a lot of single parent households and significant unemployment. This is a challenging ward but with more resources can enable people to take ownership of their lives and prosper.

“enable young people to aspire to be proud of their area and take a positive position to improve the facilities we currently have available.

More infrastructure is urgently required to change these lives so they are not trapped into living on benefits and not achieving fully their full potential”

More widely what would you like to see change at Havant Borough Council and across the borough?

The changes I would like to see at Havant Borough Council is to enable young people to aspire to be proud of their area and take a positive position to improve the facilities we currently have available.

More infrastructure is urgently required to change these lives so they are not trapped into living on benefits and not achieving fully their full potential.

Only by investment can change come about so they are not consigned to a life of deprivation and not maximising their talents. 

How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved? 

The party is on Facebook and Twitter. We have our website which outlines more about us, our founders and some of the basic principles we follow (we also have a series of opinion pieces from our candidates and supporters) https://hantsind.com. You can always get in touch via email too via info@hantsind.com.

Scott Neville, Hampshire Independents candidate Oakley and The Candovers ward, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.

The Hampshire Independents are a party of people who agree on core principles but stand as independents.  We spoke with Scott Neville who is standing for them in the Oakley and The Candovers ward of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.

We have previously interviewed Scott about the party and he has been on our Podcast

Scott thank-you for your time.

“I have lived in northeast Hampshire all my life, 28 years living in a little village just outside Basingstoke, and 8 years living in the town. In the past, I have supported the Conservative party and stood for election twice under the Libertarian Party. I believe that everyone has the right to live their life as they see fit, providing they do not hurt others”

Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?

I have been involved with politics for some years, the EU referendum was when I started campaigning properly. Strangely, I was never in favour of the EU referendum; I would like to see many more referendums on a whole host of issues, but I was concerned that the country was not ready for a binary choice on such a complex issue. I have lived in northeast Hampshire all my life, 28 years living in a little village just outside Basingstoke, and 8 years living in the town. In the past, I have supported the Conservative party and stood for election twice under the Libertarian Party. I believe that everyone has the right to live their life as they see fit, providing they do not hurt others.

I don’t believe the world can stand still, the world is constantly changing and will continue to do so regardless of what we might wish. I believe in evolution over revolution, we need to make changes slowly to allow people to adapt, and to avoid leaving people behind, but also to make sure we don’t destroy the good. I am perplexed by the green movement which is obsessed with concreting over wildlife for red brick houses, covering the fields in black solar panels and erecting white wind turbines. None of which involves the colour green.

We formed the party as a group of people who formerly stood either as independent candidates or for minor parties. We discovered how much the system is skewed against those candidates. We exist to try and bring some of the bigger party advantages to independent candidates across the county. Candidates can stand on whatever issues with wish – each candidate must come up with their own ideas. We have a team of people who know technology, marketing, investigations, print media, public speaking and campaigning. We don’t tell anyone what to stand for, but we make it so much easier when you can call someone up to ask how to complete the paperwork, how to deal with a press interview, how to design an eye-catching leaflet, how to canvass, etc. We host regular socials to help everyone get to know each other, between us we have people who run businesses, former police officers, people who work for large companies, young people, older people and everything else in between. We truly believe that by staying as individuals but sharing our skills and knowledge we are greater than the sum of our parts.

“I think the main concern in the area is over development. We already have 500 occasions a year where sewage is pumped into the local rivers and the river that runs through the town has poor ecological status. Oakley is very close to the new Manydown development which will bring potentially 10,000 new houses to Basingstoke right next to Oakley”

You’re standing in the Oakley and The Candovers Ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?

The ward is a sizable rural ward to the west and south of Basingstoke. Oakley is by far the largest part of the ward and it includes many smaller villages and is part of the Hampshire Downs (one of the bread baskets of England). The ward really highlights the differences between urban and rural living. Critical national infrastructure (London – Southampton railway, London – Sailsbury railway, M3 & A303) all run through the middle.  Popham airfield to the north of the A303 and Ultrafast 1000 Mbps broadband are available in parts of Oakley. The ward also has very rural communities with houses that are not connected to mains gas or sewerage.

I think the main concern in the area is over development. We already have 500 occasions a year where sewage is pumped into the local rivers[i] and the river that runs through the town has poor ecological status[ii]. Oakley is very close to the new Manydown development which will bring potentially 10,000 new houses to Basingstoke right next to Oakley (though not in the Oakley ward). Then there is the Hounsome Fields development which is almost complete adds another 750 houses there, then there is the Golf Course development which is underway right over the road from Hounsome Fields. Various other smaller planning applications exist to fill up the countryside with more houses. Still that is not enough for Basingstoke Council, with various other options for up to another 19,000 houses under consideration, many of which are very near Oakley (potentially 2,500 in the village of Cliddesden). My concern is without some radical improvements to the infrastructure what will we be doing to the rivers?

Basingstoke and Deane Borough council have declared an “Ecological Emergency”[iii]. I would really like to know what they think is endangered? Is there some concrete worm, house spider or sewage slug that we really need to be taking care of? Despite topping the leader boards of local councils for house building, the relentless push of concrete must continue according to Basingstoke Council.

My key aim is to try and put the breaks on this obsessive overdevelopment. I was brought up in a small village and I know exactly what it is like to be priced out of that village (regardless of how much you might want to stay). That cannot be fixed by destroying all the villages with more houses. Cliddesden for example has just over 100 houses currently, do they really think it won’t be destroyed by an addition of a mere 2,500 houses?

“I would also like to see better access to the re-cycling centres, we have seen fly tipping go up thanks to decisions made by the council. One of our researchers discovered that less than 1% of fly-tipping incidents lead to a successful prosecution”

More widely what would you like to see change at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council and across the borough?

Simple really, we need to stop seeing concrete and new housing development as the answer to everything. I think the top of the town really needs a bit of a rethink, once the centre for shopping in Basingstoke, now forgotten side street to Festival Place. The big problem is that the top of town lacks speculative shops, you go there for a reason (like to go to the Bank, the estate agent or takeaway) then you leave. It is not a place you go looking round which gives it a deserted and abandoned vibe. The council could do some good here, taking ownership of some of the abandoned units (such as the post office or Lloyds Bank) and turning them into smaller retail units with lower rents for shops. The upstairs could still be converted into flats (as is being done now), but something to help spread out the shopping rather than it all being rammed into Festival Place (which is impossible to get into at Christmas due to the traffic queues clogging up the town).

I would also like to see better access to the re-cycling centres, we have seen fly tipping go up thanks to decisions made by the council. One of our researchers[iv] discovered that less than 1% of fly-tipping incidents lead to a successful prosecution. We need to find a better way to address that, but in the short term I would like to see more availability at the recycling centres. 

During Covid Hampshire County Council introduced a booking system for them, I don’t think we need to get rid of that as it has a positive effect on the number of people queuing, Wade Road used to be a nightmare with cars queuing.  Needing to book two days in advance is a pain, my fence does not collapse with two days’ notice! Sometimes people need to use these services at short notice, so being able to book same day (subject to capacity limits) would be very useful. Perhaps coupled with a fine for those that book slots who don’t turn up.

How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved? 

The party is on Facebook and Twitter. We have our website which outlines more about us, our founders and some of the basic principles we follow (we also have a series of opinion pieces from our candidates and supporters) https://hantsind.com. You can always email me to scott.neville@hantsind.com.

TudorTulok, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Andy Liming, Hampshire Independents candidate South Ham ward, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.

The Hampshire Independents are a party of people who agree on core principles but stand as independents.  We spoke with Andy Liming who is standing for them in the South Ham ward, of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.

Andy thank-you for your time.

“Basic life skills and respect for themselves is not being taught and an unhealthy attitude towards the Police is harvested. I want to break this blueprint for social decline”

Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?

I am a serving Fire Fighter in Basingstoke. As well as serving my community in this capacity for nearly 25 years I also spent two years as a Special Constable. During my service I have spent 13 years involved in youth intervention helping run two schemes one for cadets and another giving direction to young people. I live on the Berg Estate with my family.

I want to see action on speeding in South Ham, basic decent things like dog fouling, and litter which is mainly thrown from cars, dealt with. I also would like to see more facilities for young people to go to. We had a cadet group at the Fire Station, but we lost funding leaving many young people upset they could not join. Young people are pushed around, and we are not supporting their educating or showing them how to really enjoy leisure time. They are easy targets for gang culture and very easily finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Basic life skills and respect for themselves is not being taught and an unhealthy attitude towards the Police is harvested. I want to break this blueprint for social decline. I have helped many young people who have fallen on the wrong side of the law, helping them through their different cases to finding work and a place in society.

I had a bad start in life and want to show everyone you can choose the right path and be a part of making things better for everyone.

Hampshire Independents formed as a group of people who stood either as independent candidates or for minor parties. We discovered how much the system is skewed against those candidates, with the press being allowed to ignore them, being excluded from hustings as well each person lacking the “do everything skills”. We exist to try and bring some of the bigger party advantages to independent candidates across the county. We do not have a central manifesto; each candidate must come up with their own ideas. We have a team of people who know technology, marketing, investigations, print media, public speaking and campaigning. We don’t tell anyone what to stand for, but we make it so much easier when you can call someone up to ask how to complete the paperwork, how to deal with a press interview, how to design an eye-catching leaflet, how to canvass, etc. We hold social meetings too to help everyone get to know each other, between us we have people who run businesses, former police officers, people who work for large companies, young people, older people and everything else. We truly believe that by staying as individuals but sharing our skills and knowledge we are greater than the sum of our parts.

“I want to tackle speeding on our estate roads before someone is killed or seriously injured. I want to deal with litter and dog fouling which makes our environment poor. I want to support young person’s clubs and activities”

You’re standing in the South Ham ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?

I want to tackle speeding on our estate roads before someone is killed or seriously injured. I want to deal with litter and dog fouling which makes our environment poor. I want to support young person’s clubs and activities which teach life skills and how to enjoy leisure time. I do worry about some of the kids I see being pushed around because they have nowhere to go, these young people normally end up on the wrong side of the law with a negative attitude to the Police and I would like to help break this cycle.

More widely what would you like to see change at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and across the borough?

I would like to stop over development and strain on our town infrastructure along with more reduced speed limits in town roads. I would like more money to be made available for youth engagement schemes.

How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved? 

The party is on Facebook and Twitter. Our website outlines more about us, our founders and some of the basic principles we follow. We also have a series of opinion pieces from our candidates and supporters at https://hantsind.com. You can always get in touch via email too via info@hantsind.com.

TudorTulok, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Net Zero – We came together to fight a referendum do we need a new one? – Part 1

Reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 is enshrined in UK Law.  With COP26 in Glasgow the news is full of stories about Climate Change and Global Warming.  With all the main parties in agreement on the policy we have recently seen calls for the people of Britain to have a choice via a referendum on Net Zero.  Nigel Farage has hinted he could campaign, articles have appeared in the Spectator, and Gaia Fawkes sums the position up brilliantly when they say:

“Politicians seem very keen to avoid a Net Zero Referendum. It’s a project without democratic legitimacy. Let the politicians who want us to eat bugs, have cold showers, lukewarm heat pumped houses, higher energy bills and far more expensive foreign holidays, make their case!”

As a group that came together to fight a referendum on membership of the EU, we thought we would ask you, what your views are on Net Zero, a possible Referendum, and more generally the environment.

Thanks to Peter Sonnex, Jeremy Wraith, Dr Tom Rogers, and Scott Neville for their responses.

“we must allow the developing world their industrial revolution. The world, where energy poverty is no longer a significant factor, will be in a better position to adapt to ever changing climactic conditions”

Peter Sonnex, former Brexit Party candidate and political campaigner.

Is global warming a threat?

Global warming may be a threat to the planet, if only we knew! That the climate has always been in flux is true – so what is the ideal status quo or permanent reversal we are trying to engineer? And, at what cost, if our UK 1% contribution may amount to £1 Trillion to mitigate?

Climate and Covid catastrophists are one and the same – doing stuff just in case, if it saves just one ounce of carbon or one life. And, we know the government can’t do cost benefit analysis.

Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?

Referenda are only offered when the establishment believes it can win. The Brexit result confirmed both arrogance and a lack of connection to the electorate. Neither the government, nor the opposition, will risk a climate referendum.

What action should we be taking on the environment?

Firstly, we must allow the developing world their industrial revolution. The world, where energy poverty is no longer a significant factor, will be in a better position to adapt to ever changing climactic conditions – perhaps even influence the most extreme effects.

Secondly, I think we should be pursuing nuclear power – capital plants, small modular nuclear reactors and fusion – with more vigour and investment. We should be emulating the example of our sun, not trying to fight against it.

With nuclear power comes the energy to desalinate and move water, ending the reality of water poverty and potential conflict. Hydrogen through electrolysis becomes entirely viable. Hydrogen can be stored, and with fossil fuels provide stored, potential energy and, therefore, energy security.

Peter is a regular contributor to the site, and can hear him on a recent Podcast.

“The REAL threat are the people who think that man made CO2 is causing it and making us all suffer huge costs and inconvenience  because of it”

Brexiter Jeremy Wraith who has contributed a number of articles to our site.

Is global warming a threat?

NO! The REAL threat are the people who think that man made CO2 is causing it and making us all suffer huge costs and inconvenience  because of it.

Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?

DEFINITELY and ASAP!

What action should we be taking on the environment?

Developing more nuclear power stations and using coal (mined in the UK of course) powered power stations until all our generated power is nuclear.

“We have to be very careful about being panicked or coerced into measures that in themselves would be catastrophic to our industries, economy and human freedoms in response to alarmist claims of a ‘climate emergency’”

Dr Tom Rogers is the Deputy Leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance Party.

The CPA affirms that we have a duty to be the best possible custodians of God’s creation — our planet and its natural resources. We therefore have a developed programme of policies for greening the economy and transport, which you can find in our 2019 Manifesto (www.cpaparty.net). 

Our approach to ‘climate change’ is a sensible and cautionary one. We have to be very careful about being panicked or coerced into measures that in themselves would be catastrophic to our industries, economy and human freedoms in response to alarmist claims of a ‘climate emergency’ and ‘climate extinction’. Contrary to the establishment narrative that ‘the science is settled’ (in itself an unscientific statement) the extent to which recent changes in temperatures are unnatural, dangerous to our survival and/or caused by human activity are questions still contested by many scientists, and which require much more open scientific freedom, investigation and debate than is currently being allowed. The earth’s climate after all has never been something static but has always been constantly changing and evolving in the absence of human presence or attempted control.

We would therefore implement effective but proportionate policies best in themselves for the environment and long-term provision for humanity, and not just because they reduce carbon omissions. It is right that we seek to eliminate pollution, continuously improve energy efficiency, increase recycling, and strive to further the use of renewable sources of energy, and we have detailed policies in all these areas which we would support also at a local level.

“you will be going back to the supermarket at some point, the lorry that delivers to the supermarket will go back to the factory, just take the damn bottles back and refill them”

Scott Neville is a party founder and the Nominating Officer of the Hampshire Independents.

Is global warming a threat?

Potentially, it depends on how far it goes and I don’t believe we have sufficiently accurate data to know for sure. The important thing to consider is the word “threat”, is any of this a threat to the planet, no, the planet will be fine regardless.  If the planet was going to boil away with a self-reinforcing loop of heating it would have done so millions of years ago. However any change is always a threat to some people (and potentially a benefit to others), so yes global warming or global cooling does pose a threat to some of humanity regardless how big or small.  There could however be a big threat to humanity, I personally don’t believe all the doomsday predictions, but I accept I might be wrong, and I accept totalitarian government is a very big threat too.

Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?

I am unsure. I don’t believe in enforcing many things is just, because the use of force against another is wrong, holding a referendum does not suddenly make me believe this is ok (as many found the presence of an EU referendum does not make their belief in themselves less European).  I simply don’t agree with a tyranny of majority.  Any referendum would be fought on religious grounds (the fastest growing religion of “the science”) and that will just lead to far more anger and fighting with everyone becoming more ideologically entrenched rather than trying to examine empirical fact and critically assess information presented.

What action should we be taking on the environment?

Waste is by far the biggest problem, filling up our landscapes with all this scrap, use once and throw away plastics. The debate is so skewed it’s all about paper vs plastic straws rather than “why do most people even need a straw?” or make sure that you put your plastic bottles in the correct bin rather than “you will be going back to the supermarket at some point, the lorry that delivers to the supermarket will go back to the factory, just take the damn bottles back and refill them”.  Energy production needs to focus on nuclear, particularly research in nuclear fusion where the UK is already a world leader, bizarrely we don’t say much about our achievements despite our achievement in making Didcot the hottest place in the solar system (briefly) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/didcot-was-hottest-place-in-solar-system-gj9wg258f.

You can read more about Scott and the Hampshire Independents in his interview with us, or listen to him one of our recent Podcasts.

This is the first set of your responses, further responses can be found in Part 2

Podcast Episode 58 – An Effective Opposition! Where will it come from?

We are joined by Steve Kelleher, the recent London Mayoral candidate for the SDP, and Scott Neville, the Co-Founder of the Hampshire Independents, as we discuss the lack of an effective opposition to the current Government and where a future opposition might come from.

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Scott Neville – Hampshire Independents

The Hampshire Independents are a political party that seeks to tailor efforts towards the specific needs of individual Hampshire communities.  The party does not have a top down manifesto, instead it has a number of principles and members focus on what they believe is right for their area.

We speak with Scott Neville a party founder and the Nominating Officer.  Scott campaigned for both the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the EU referendum in 2016 believing that it’s never wrong to ask the electorate. He is very keen to promote a low tax environment which makes it easy to do business while supporting and encouraging business to do social good.

Scott thanks for your time.

Can you tell us about your political background and what led to the setting up of the Hampshire Independents?

Sure. I have been interested in politics for a long time. When I was younger I considered myself to be a Conservative,  but that was about 20 years ago. I would have thought myself a bit of a traditionalist, and I have long thought that people should be as self-reliant as possible.  If most people can look after themselves without help, it makes it easier to help those who are unable to.  As I got older my views shifted somewhat and today I would sit somewhere between a classical liberal and a libertarian. I have become very socially liberal, and would have no problems with things like three person marriages, and no problem with transgenderism (I honestly don’t see the point of even recording gender on most official documents, if you are not hurting anyone who cares?).  I have remained fiscally conservative believing we should strive for a low tax economy with very carefully selected public spending and I see no problem with big innovation receiving big reward. Part of this has made me a staunch localist I believe decisions should be made as close to the people they effect as possible.

I have stood for election under the Libertarian Party banner twice, once in a general and once locally.  I found I was less happy about this locally, while I still believed in libertarian values, I found there were some issues where feeling was strong and because of the background there was no way forward without involving the council.  I would not consider myself an ideologue more of a pragmatist so I was happy to accept in certain specific situations the will of the area needed to override my own beliefs (this might be just getting over a hump, rather than becoming fundamentally statist).

I have known Alan Stone for some years, and we attended a number of events together where we would learn about local candidates and parties. I remember leaving one event thinking “what the heck was that, I am just going to draw something on the ballot paper as I can’t support any of them”. I was already thinking that national politics should be kept out of local politics, and this cemented it. Alan had much the same view, and that night outside Basingstoke railway station the two of us, plus two others decided to form Basingstoke Independent Group (with a slogan of vote BIG). Over the next few days we spoke about it with friends who were also involved with politics, there were people from all over the county that were interested in having a local party which puts local politics first and national politics were left at the door. While vote BIG was a good slogan, Basingstoke Independent Group was really not going to work for a candidate in Southampton. From that Hampshire Independents was born; a new party with no central manifesto, just a few key intentions with the expectation that each candidate comes up with their own ideas.

“the police should be judged on the level of criminality, not on arrests or investigations or whatever. We both knew that supressing low-level crime (such as anti-social behaviour, shop-lifting, casual drug dealing) can be done by having a visible police presence on the streets”

The Hampshire Independents principles include ‘More visible policing’ and ‘an infrastructure-first policy on development’.  Can you tell us more about what these mean and some of the other principles?

Our principals are there as a starting point for local politics, they are to provide a baseline without getting into specifics.  I will talk about the two you have brought up.  We have a couple of members who have worked in some capacity for the police. Steve James-Bailey was an officer for over 20 years in Hampshire Constabulary, and I have worked in IT building and supporting some of the UKs policing systems. Between us we have a fair idea of how to keep common crime under control. Both the party leadership, and Steve supported the original Peelian principals of policing; the police should be judged on the level of criminality, not on arrests or investigations or whatever. We both knew that supressing low-level crime (such as anti-social behaviour, shop-lifting, casual drug dealing) can be done by having a visible police presence on the streets. This does not mean loads of arrests, but a degree of confidence that someone from law enforcement will be seen walking up and down trouble hotspots. The objective is clear: to make people feel safer. How this is implemented could vary from town to town; there are plenty of ways to do it from council enforcement officers, to staff paid for by Business Improvement Districts, or PCSO’s even local businesses just group funding for security guards. We have no prescription of how this is done, it needs to be tailored to each town.

The other point you mentioned is infrastructure first policy. This is a common complaint that we hear. New developments (be they industrial or residential), go up for planning without wider consideration for the needed infrastructure. Hampshire has capacity problems with processing waste water in some areas, and it is far from unusual to see upgrade works as part of a planning application, but then delays happen and the upgrades take longer than expected.  We also see this with traffic. Often, new smaller developments are tacked on, and they can have a significant impact on the existing residents. We don’t think this is right, yes we may need new developments but it should not come at the expense of existing residents, any infrastructure improvements needed should come first. As with our principles, what matters locally is up to each candidate to decide depending on local needs, there will be different infrastructure problems across the county and we will not have a one size fits all policy.

Our other principles are:

  • Doing what is right for your area first
  • Support for local apprenticeships
  • Work to improve recycling, both in where its processed and how much is collected
  • Borough councillors to return their basic allowance to the community via charity (expenses for travel, food where relevant can be claimed, any additional committee work would be paid)
  • Support local businesses, buy locally
  • Encourage start-up business where possible
  • Council-controlled social housing

For those not familiar with Hampshire politics, what are the big issues in the county?

There are 3 main issues really:

  • Policing
  • Development
  • Town Centres

To explain a little more.  Hampshire is a really tough county to police; Hampshire Constabulary is responsible for 2 counties, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.  Most multi county police forces (Thames Valley for example) don’t have to deal with the sea separating the two counties. During a major incident allocating resources from say Reading to Slough in Thames Valley is very easy, it is just a drive up the motorway. Allocating resources from Portsmouth to Cowes is not easy as a ferry needs to be involved. Added to this Hampshire is a big mix of urban and rural areas. Southampton for example, is a major city with one of the UK’s busiest ports. We also have Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy and another major city. This is combined with parts of the South Downs National Park and the Hampshire Downs one of the breadbaskets of England. We therefore get a big mix of both urban and rural crime. Hampshire Constabulary is also considered one of the lowest funded police forces in the country; other forces are able to increase their income through the host force model with other specialist agencies, (such as hosting counter-terrorism units, or serious fraud units).  Other forces like the Metropolitan Police are able to increase their revenue by licencing their brand through things like children’s detective sets. Hampshire lacks both of these, so there is a real struggle with funding. As a result, most minor crime is simply not investigated and this has a real serious impact on the public’s perception of the police. You often hear things like: “the police just don’t care about burglary”, can you imagine how awful that would feel? Knowing that someone broke into your house, went through your most private possessions, and the police just don’t appear to care?

Development is another one that comes up time and time again. Hampshire has good rail links with London, a decent port in Southampton and generally a well educated workforce. The north of Hampshire also brushes the M4 corridor which is the silicone valley of the UK. As a result, we see some very high house prices here (not London high, but still high), but with loads of countryside developers are very interested in getting massive plots of land for big new developments. In my area of Basingstoke, it often feels like an overdeveloped version of “what have the Romans ever done for us”?  “Well apart from the extension of Beggarwood, the development the other-side of the A30, the building on the football club, the new houses in Brighton Hill, the new houses by the Hospital, Merton Rise, the development of Basingstoke Golf Club and the 10,000 houses in Manydown, what developments are there?…. The 10,000 houses proposed on the Portsmouth Settled Estates, and don’t forget the Motorway Services”. I do understand people need places to live, but we also really need to think about the road infrastructure to allow these people to do simple things like get to the shops. We also hear about the climate emergency, but this does not appear to matter when there is concrete and tarmac for houses to cover all those plants.  The same is true with some of the solar farms, there are numerous proposals to put solar farms all over the county, so we can burn more fossil fuels importing food rather than growing more food here.

“have had articles published in the local papers and have written for us about the problems with parking.  Its simple things like parking machines that don’t work, overactive parking enforcement and extra charges for using a really slow app or telephone service.  People just think well its not worth the agro going into town”

Town centres are another big issue, most of the town centres have seen slow long term decline shops moving out and part of them becoming deserted.  Basingstoke, Andover, Alton, Fleet, Farnborough they all have parts of the town centre where shops just close up.  Now there is a number of factors that cause this and the council cant just “fix it” by charging less rent, in many cases the council only owns a handful of buildings.  Parking is a big problem that we have put a lot of effort into.  Both the party treasurer (Spencer) and leader (Alan) have had articles published in the local papers and have written for us about the problems with parking.  Its simple things like parking machines that don’t work, overactive parking enforcement and extra charges for using a really slow app or telephone service.  People just think well its not worth the agro going into town, I will just order it online.  This is not good longer term as the town centres will die and all the jobs that go with it, we have seen some big names go this year and there is a more subtle changes to, for example Argos is disappearing slowly and the town where I live has seen both their Argos stores close.

“we do the traditional things like canvassing and delivering leaflets, we also have a strong social media presence.  We tend to identify specific issues that matter locally then pursue them and try to bring attention to them in the press”

What are the key issues that gain the party support, and how do you go about campaigning?

This is a hard question to answer, as the name suggests we are independent candidates!  There are some very local issues across the county which are important.  Being connected to the local area and not having to answer to a big party machine is one key thing that gets us support.  One of our strongest messages is that all our candidates do what is right for an area, rather than having a one size fits all policy.  This gives our candidates great freedoms too, as they campaign on the things that matter, though some people do find this confusing that we can have two candidates who are campaigning for different things.

We do a lot of different campaigning, we do the traditional things like canvassing and delivering leaflets, we also have a strong social media presence.  We tend to identify specific issues that matter locally then pursue them and try to bring attention to them in the press.  For example we have been in the local press three times now over the car parking changes going on in Basingstoke.  These are great as we can make real positive change without being elected, you don’t need to win an election to be able to hold the council to account when they are hurting motorists…. You just do it. 

“The modelling that was done which lead to the lockdown was truly awful and the people involved should be ashamed, any real scientist will tell you that your results should be repeatable and it would appear the results from some of the scary models were not reproducible”

We are slowly coming out of lockdown, what are your thoughts about the lockdown, possible ongoing controls, and how we recover?

Lockdown is a complex one, in short I don’t really think the lockdown was a good idea. There are a number of reasons for this, firstly it created mass participation in a delusion, the three weeks to flatten the curve was clearly nonsense, it was nonsense the moment it was said and it was known to be nonsense.  However for some reason the public generally participated in the mass delusion and got on board with it, and the government saw this as fantastic we can just lie and as long as there is enough panic people will accept it.  The big problem is, once this has been done once, it can be done again and again.  The modelling that was done which lead to the lockdown was truly awful and the people involved should be ashamed, any real scientist will tell you that your results should be repeatable and it would appear the results from some of the scary models were not reproducible.  The lockdown itself I can see why it was done, but I think it was done without thought, it has shifted our understanding of responsibility.  The state has accepted the role that it is responsible for our health and safety, this is not a good thing as the individual is no longer responsible for themselves and we should all know that collective responsibility means no responsibility.

People are much smarter than most give them credit for, there is a reason humans are the most successful species on the planet and part of that is that individually we can evaluate information and risk.  We should be polishing those skills so that people are not dependent on the state, we need people to be able to handle situations that come up so they can put a situation right when big daddy government is not there to tell them what to think.

In terms of coming out of lockdown, I understand there will still be a need to self-isolate should someone be infected.  Quarantine I have no problem with and that should be encouraged.  Who knows about the vaccine, I urge everyone to consider widely the risks they are exposed to, for some that will mean get the vaccine as fast as you damn well can, others it may not.  On the positive side I think this has forced some positive changes, more people will have the chance to work from home than they did before, this wont go away now and this will hopefully give some more time at home or with the families.  It will change the economy forever and the high street is likely to see some very hard times ahead.  I have thought a massive change to the high street was always coming, I think a lot of the big shops we have know will go and the high street will end up with lots of smaller but more specialist shops.  This may have just forced its hand.

Personally I would like to see tax breaks for start-ups and smaller businesses particularly those in the service sector which has been hard hit.  I am not convinced by things like eat out to help out, I was of course pleased to be getting a cheap breakfast at my local café, but I was going to go and support my local independents regardless, it did nothing for the people who are terrified to leave their front door and a half price McDonnalds is hardly a responsible answer when obesity is a massive risk factor with corona virus.  I would like to see gyms be VAT free 6 months along with hotels, theatres and cinemas. Business rate relief and relief from BID levies for those non-essential businesses which have been closed for so long too.  What I would like most of all is the government to give some degree of confidence that lockdown will never happen again, to ensure that there is no risk to those that want to start their own store, sadly I am aware that will never happen.

If you had 3 things that you could change in Hampshire or at a national level, what would they be?

I think I would like to see a big shakeup of the way the public sector buys from the private sector.  No one is talking about the NHS building their own computers, or the police building their own cars so regardless of how pro nationalisation you might be there will always be a need to go to the private sector for some things. I have seen so much waste and so much nonsense in public sector procurement it truly is incredible how much money goes down the pan.  That needs a massive shakeup, almost at the level of binning it and starting again.  This is more of a national issue than a Hampshire one.

I would like to see an end to excessive overdevelopment of Hampshire’s green and pleasant lands, I am very proud to be from Hampshire (I even went to university in Portsmouth, so I have never lived outside the county).  I understand people need homes and we do need to do more with renewable energy, but I also think we should try and keep food miles down.  Hampshire has some fantastic agricultural land and just building houses or covering it all up with solar farms is just the wrong answer, we can grow plenty of food here which only needs to travel tens of miles, we should make the most of that.

I would like to see better consideration given to cyclists, essentially make the busy town centre roads wider so that cyclists and drivers can get along with each other.  I am a cyclist myself, I think I have racked up over 10,000 miles in my bike now, I don’t think cyclists should be on the pavement, I can get to 30mph on some roads, that’s lethal to a pedestrian and the same speed as the cars.  I should be on the road, but make them wide enough for the cars to get past without causing a fuss and I think we will all get along better!

Any parting thoughts you would like to share?

Just one, I think people get over excited about politics.  I hear of people that are no longer friends over the EU referendum or voting red or blue or whatever.  If you are at that level you are an ideologue there is no point in anyone having a sensible debate with you because you are beyond that.  The whole point of politics is that we can discuss and debate our differences and yes we wont always get what we want, but its better than going to war with someone.  I was a campaigner for Vote Leave and my partner of 3 years was a strong remainer, we are still together and still very happy.  I do get people ask me how this can be, and I always say the same thing: because we are adults, we can have a sensible conversation with different points of view and we don’t always agree, but its fine.  So my parting thought, if you are not an adult don’t get involved with politics as it wont make you happy.

Scott can be emailed at scott.neville@hantsind.com and is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottNevilleIndLib.  The Hampshire Independents are online at https://hantsind.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hampshireindependents.