ADD UPDATE, 5 May 2017: Lou Parker-Jones, the candidate who stood as an Independent in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke ward in the Hampshire county council elections, said the result “shows the strength of opposition to Eastleigh Borough Council’s local plan.”
She called on the winner, Liberal Democrat Mike Thornton, to make good a pledge made during the campaign to protect ancient woodland in the area known as Stoke Park Woods.
Parker-Jones came second with 1,124 votes standing on a platform that included opposition to proposals to build more than 6,000 new houses in the two villages – plans that have been condemned by many organisations, including local resident, conservation, angling, health and church groups and the Woodland Trust. TV naturalist Chris Packham has described the plans as “eco-vandalism”.
The seat was won by Thornton, the former MP with 1,980 votes. However, since all the other candidates made opposition to EBC’s plans a major part of their campaigns, it means that opponents took the lion’s share of the vote – 61%.
“This is an amazing result considering that we’re just a group of residents with little previous political experience taking on a former MP backed by a powerful party machine,” said Parker-Jones.
“I am delighted to note that during the campaign Mike Thornton made protecting Stoke Park Woods a top election pledge. I hope he will now say how he intends to make good that promise, and whether he will work with us to prevent plans by Eastleigh Borough Council that all experts agree would damage the woods beyond repair.
“Like everyone else we want new houses built in the borough, but there are much better, less damaging and more sustainable places to do so. The council’s motives are purely political and have nothing to do with creating a borough where people want to live.
“This is just the beginning for us. We’re giving a voice to local people who care passionately about their area and feel ignored. The fight goes on until Eastleigh council stops playing politics with people’s lives.”
BISHOPSTOKE AND FAIR OAK: FULL RESULT
Mike Thornton, Liberal Democrat: 1,980
Lou Parker-Jones, Independent: 1,124
Steven Broomfield, Conservative: 1,000
John Edwards, UKIP: 451
Ray Bellinger, Labour: 364
Dave Hubble, Green: 124