My dad used to say: “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.”
Nevertheless, he was a dedicated voter and always cast his ballot in every election.
The very last time he voted it was the first time the candidate he voted for actually won in Tiverton and Honiton.
Our democracy is precious, and the possibility of change is vital to keeping it alive.
On May 4 this year the voters of East Hampshire made their verdict known based on a mix of local and national issues. The result delivered a council with no overall control, a position not seen in East Hampshire since the Conservatives lost control in 1991.
Several experienced councillors lost their seats, and the new council has many new faces with new ideas in the most politically-mixed make-up the district has ever seen.
A new coalition was formed between the Conservatives and the Whitehill & Bordon Community Party forming a new administration. And a much stronger and diverse opposition.
It is the opposition’s job to hold the administration to account, while recognising sensible policies to benefit all our residents.
Let’s not forget climate change does not exist in a bubble and affects all of us.
There is one committee that has the role of being the council’s ‘critical friend’. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee provides checks and balance to the council’s leader and cabinet operating model.
I am proud to have been elected chair of Overview and Scrutiny by the annual meeting of East Hampshire District Council and have started as I mean to go on. I will facilitate positive engagement from back-benchers, provide EHDC cabinet with feedback as well as invite external organisations to provide evidence to the committee.
The committee can also suggest policy ideas to cabinet. It is in ‘political balance’ with the number of seats allocated to each party, but on this committee especially councillors must think beyond their party affiliations.
This is not a forum for point scoring but a serious committee to engage with the administration for the betterment of East Hampshire’s residents.
Over the coming weeks we will establish working groups to look at the administration’s forward plan.
It is essential East Hampshire as a whole thrives, to provide good services to our residents. There will be some major contracts to review, and there will be funding challenges ahead for new projects.
We must not allow our towns and villages to descend into a dog fight over resources while we recognise areas that have the greatest needs.
Overview and Scrutiny can help cabinet to balance competing claims on resources for the good of all our residents. I look forward to working across political boundaries and playing a part in the future prosperity of East Hampshire.
By Steve Hunt
Lib Dem opposition leader at East Hampshire District Council and councillor for Alton Amery