Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 11:54 UK

East Hampshire hopefuls on 'eco-town' referendum

Proposed new homes
Construction on the first of the new towns could start in 2016

East Hampshire's election candidates have outlined their views over a possible referendum on an "eco-town".

The zero-carbon development for Whitehill Bordon was one of six announced by the government last year.

Conservative Damian Hinds said a referendum "would actually involve people in a direct way".

Liberal Democrat Adam Carew said he has already called for a vote while Labour's Jane Edbrooke, who backs the "eco-town", would not oppose a vote.

The other "eco-towns", announced last year, are planned for Rackheath, Norfolk; north-west Bicester, Oxfordshire; the China Clay Community near St Austell, Cornwall; Cranbrook, east of Exeter, and north Fareham.

'Jumping on bandwagon'

The project was intended to meet housing needs and tackle climate change, but has been dogged by opposition from local communities.

East Hampshire District Council's plan includes up to 5,500 new homes and 7,000 new jobs for Whitehill Bordon.

The land is currently used for Army training but the Ministry of Defence is expected to move out next year.

From left to right - Adam Carew, Damian Hinds and Jane Edbrooke
None of the main contenders say they are opposed to a referendum

Tory candidate Mr Hinds added: "Let's make sure we really understand what people [in the area] think and allow [them] to collectively express their will in a quantified way.

"Let local democracy be at the centre of it.

"I don't see why it has to be an expensive exercise."

Mr Carew, for the Lib Dems, said he has already been asking for a referendum in his role as a county and district councillor.

"Mr Hinds has had no involvement in the eco-town apart from turning up to a few public meetings, he is jumping on the bandwagon," Mr Carew added.

"People are worried about the impact on water supplies, transport links, whether we will get the facilities we need or end up being the dumping ground for the district council.

"Nationally the Liberal Democrats are not in favour of 'stand alone' eco-towns, this is different as it is a bolt-on... but we have said there must be guarantees on infrastructure first."

'Clear argument'

Labour's Ms Edbrooke said: "My personal view is that I think the eco-town would be a fantastic thing to bring to the area.

"It will bring new jobs, transport hubs, new facilities and really regenerate Bordon and Whitehill.

"But this is such a big decision for the area and I think there is a clear argument for a referendum... if that is what local councillors and the community want they should have it."

The candidates announced for the East Hampshire constituency are: Liberal Democrat, Adam Carew; Labour: Jane Edbrooke; Conservative, Damian Hinds; Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, Don Jerrard; UK Independence Party: Hugh McGuiness; English Democrats: Matt Williams.

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