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Thursday, 27 April 2017

UPDATED: Corbyn, Whitehead and Labour Are A Threat To Our Defence

Councillor Andrew Pope on BBC South Today
Southampton Independents Candidate for Southampton Test

Andrew Pope is standing for Southampton Independents in the General Election, for the Southampton Test constituency in the west of Southampton.

Andrew has already pointed out the failure of the Southampton Test MP for 20 years, Alan Whitehead, to uphold the views of the majority of Southampton residents and our country in the EU Referendum. Whitehead voted against triggering Article 50 and then mounted a pathetic attempt to defend his actions.

But there are even larger threats to our democracy and the defence of the realm if you vote Labour in this General Election...

UPDATED (13th May 2017): Following Jeremy Corbyn's Chatham House speech, Andrew says:

"Jeremy Corbyn's Chatham House speech provided further proof that he and Labour are a danger to our country.

Why did he feel the need to deny that he is a pacifist?

"I am not a pacifist.
I accept that military action, under international law and as a genuine last resort, is in some circumstances necessary."
And why do Corbyn's allies feel the need to defend him from accusations that he is a pacifist?

Because even in making this defence, Corbyn didn't seem clear about what those circumstances were.

"Mr Gardiner rejected “throwaway” remarks made by Mr Corbyn, where he could not think of examples when he would intervene with military action."

The evidence is clear, Corbyn doesn't support military action at all.

Corbyn's speech contained worrying fogginess on his attitude to using Britain's nuclear deterrent, thereby again undermining this highly expensive but highly necessary military capability.

Corbyn prioritises his own views over those of the British people, who support having the nuclear deterrent.

Corbyn prioritises his own views over those in his own Labour Party, and the official policy of the Labour Party.

Corbyn said "let me make this absolutely clear."

He did everything but make his views clear on whether he would use our nuclear weapons to defend our country's people! And this isn't the first time!

Such confusion is unwelcome during a military or international crisis, and particularly during the "fog of war".

Corbyn shows alarming naivety, bordering on stupidity, saying things like:

"as a permanent member of the Security Council we will provide a lead by respecting the authority of International Law."

The United Nations is weak and always has been. International Law is also weak.

Britain needs to be self-reliant on defence, because of the security dilemma that has always existed - who do we really trust? 

We can co-operate, but ultimately we have to rely on ourselves to defend ourselves.

Corbyn's reliance on diplomacy and all but removing military action from our nation's defence shows his weakness. He is not a realist. He is a fantasist.

Corbyn has rejected Blair's "liberal interventionism", a contradiction itself in international relations, but at least Blair had attempted to set out a coherent view to support his approach.

In contrast, Corbyn is a dangerous fantasist with no coherent view and a huge gap between himself and his MPs. If he cannot inspire confidence in his own MPs, or form a talented Shadow Cabinet, how could he inspire confidence in our military?

How can our Armed Forces and British citizens have any faith in him or the Labour Party?

And let's not forget that the Southampton Test MP for 20 years, Alan Whitehead, as shown in Hansard, missed five votes in a row on renewing Britain's nuclear deterrent, being absent EVERY time! Like Corbyn, he has also undermined our deterrent through his lack of support.

When I spoke with him recently, the Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Julian Lewis, was surprised to learn of Mr Whitehead's abstentions in these votes. From his reaction, I would say that he was also disappointed.

A vote for Alan Whitehead is a vote for the weakness of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour and to endanger the people of our country.

Voting Labour isn't worth the risk to our nation's defence.

If elected to Parliament, my education in global politics and international relations at Southampton University plus my experience working with defence technology and military command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) will mean that I will ensure that you, your family and our City of Southampton are properly defended."


(27th April 2017) Andrew says:

"Current Labour MP Alan Whitehead, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Council have failed to protect us.

Because Labour is a mess.

Alan Whitehead voted against triggering Article 50 to start Brexit.

So did Labour councillors. Not a single Southampton Labour councillor supported Brexit.

The MP missed votes to continue Britain's nuclear deterrent.

Like Corbyn, he puts his views ahead of YOUR views.

Corbyn is even against defending us from terrorists with a shoot-to-kill policy."

Vote for Andrew Pope at the General Election on 8th June 2017 to put our national defence and security first.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Labour Lib or Tory: Same Old Story - Arts NOT Roads?

More and more Sotonians are realising that Southampton City Council, whether under Labour, Liberal Democrat or Tory control, has wasted tens of millions of pounds of public money.

Southampton Independents have been exposing this waste.

Councillor Andrew Pope has been the ONLY councillor of all forty-eight to criticise the Arts Complex spending.

Andrew is standing in the General Election for Southampton Independents in the Southmapton Test (West) Constituency.

And people have been writing to the Daily Echo with letter after letter asking WHY it is that Labour, Lib or Tory, it's the same old story.

They have the wrong priorities.

They prefer to spend money on their "Arts" cronies, rather than on fixing Southampton's roads, or looking after the vulnerable children and adults in our City.

What good is an "Arts Complex" to an elderly person who can't walk because of a fall and is stuck in Southampton General Hospital when Brownhill House care centre for rehabilitation has been closed by the Labour-run Council?

What good is an "Arts Complex" when a car driver ruins their car by crashing it over a massive pothole?

What good is an "Arts Complex" when there is a crisis of safeguarding of children in our City, and OFSTED are called in again to show how the Council has failed?

Below is a statement showing how the "Arts Complex" raided funds that could have been spent on other things.

Things that councils are supposed to do.

The basics, like sprinklers for tower blocks.

The basics, like cutting the grass.

The basics, like weekly bin collections.

The Tories failed you. The Liberals failed you. Labour has failed you.

Vote Southampton Independents to expose all of them, and to bring them to account for their failurs and deciding on the WRONG priorties, and to show them that you won't accept the wrong priorities and MORE waste.


Minutes of Southampton City Council Full Council

21st March 2007


The report of the Leader of the Council was submitted, seeking approval
to proceed with the agreement with the Arts Council of England for new
arts facilities, to appoint a developer to redevelop the former C&A
Department Store and for the use of compulsory purchase and powers
regarding the rights of light of adjacent properties and to refurbish
Guildhall Square (copy of report circulated with agenda and appended to
signed minutes).
(i) That, in accordance with Financial Procedure Rules, the value
of the Northern Above Bar Southampton’s New Arts Complex
(SNAC) project, contained within the Leisure & Culture
Capital Programme, be increased from £11.095m to £13.01m.
The total value of the scheme will be funded from an Arts
Council England (ACE) Lottery grant of £5.724m, ACE
Technical Assistance grant of £120,000, Art Asia ACE
Technical Assistance grant to fund direct purchase of £30,000
worth of loose equipment by Art Asia, SEEDA (South East
England Development Agency) Area Investment Framework
Funding of £200,000, capital receipt from Mayflower Plaza of
£350,000, capital receipt from T&G of £2.8m, direct purchase
of £250,000 worth of loose equipment by University of
Southampton, £1.436m of transferred City Council funding
(subject to approval by SEEDA to award grant funding to
Northern Above Bar regeneration, as explained below),
fundraising proceeds of £1.6m (to be underwritten by the City
Council) and £500,000 prudential borrowing against the rental
income from commercial space within the development. At
the end of 2006/7 it is anticipated that £600,000 will have
been spent, the remaining funding to be phased £1.26m in
2007/8, £475,000 in 2008/9, £3.5m in 2009/10, £6.9m in
2010/11 and £275,000 in 2011/12;
(ii) That, in accordance with Financial Procedure Rules, the sum of
£6.35m be allocated in the Capital Programme for Northern Above
Bar C&A Site Acquisition and Guildhall Square, to be phased
£0.36m in 2006/07, £1.89m 2007/8, £0.5m in 2008/9 and £3.6m
in 2009/10 to cover the cost of :-
a) £1.75m for the strategic purchase of 131&129 Above Bar St
and 1 – 3 Gibbs Road and
b) £4.6m for the cost of remodelling and refurbishing Guildhall
The above is subject to the outcome of negotiations with SEEDA for
a funding allocation of up to £6.35m to the City Council towards the
regeneration of Northern and Above Bar, as referred to in the
separate report to Cabinet dated 19th March. The £6.35m represents
a grant allocation of £4.6m, and potential repayable loan funding of
(iii) that £200,000 be added to the Leader’s Portfolio capital
programme to be funded from corporate resources, to be phased
£50,000 in 2007/8, £125,000 in 2008/9 and £25,000 in 2009/10 and
be allocated in the Capital Programme for Northern Above Bar
(C&A Site Professional Fees) to cover the cost of legal, valuation
and marketing expenses in connection with the disposal and
redevelopment of the C&A site;
(iv) that approval be given to the City Council underwriting the £1.6m 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

UPDATED: Councillor Andrew Pope Announces General Election Candidacy

Councillor Andrew Pope speaking up for Southampton residents
on local BBC South Today

Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope has announced his candidacy for the forthcoming General Election on 8th June 2017.

Andrew Pope YOUR Southampton Independents Candidate for the 2017 General Election works for YOU. 

Andrew has helped thousands of people all over Southampton as a campaigner. He has been a Southampton City Councillor for 6 years. Andrew has worked in industry, government, defence technology, retail and insurance in the UK and in Australia, so knows how to get things done. He co-owns a small business. Andrew has two degrees in Computer Science and International Politics and a college diploma in IT so has learnt practical skills and how to solve many different problems in a wide range of scenarios.

How can Andrew help you, your family and your area?

On the day before Parliament voted to have the General Election on 8th June 2017, Andrew said:

"If there is a general election agreed by Parliament tomorrow, I am announcing today that I will be standing for Parliament in Southampton Test, for Southampton Independents, a new local party registered this year that is about Southampton for the people of Southampton.

Local residents deserve better than their current Labour MP Alan Whitehead, who doesn't want Brexit and did NOT vote to trigger Article 50, despite Southampton voting by majority to leave the EU.

We in Southampton Independents hear so much criticism of him on the doorsteps in conversations with local residents. Residents say that Mr Whitehead should retire.

People have had enough of party politicians like Mr Whitehead, and past opponents like Tory councillor Jeremy Moulton who put their party and their own personal views ahead of the views of local people.

But the other Westminster parties are no better. Theresa May knows that she faces opposition to her version of Brexit from Labour, the Liberal Democrats who let's not forget betrayed the country in the Coalition with the Tories, and UKIP, who are competing with Labour for the most incompetent national party.

And Mrs May knows that she faces opposition from MPs and councillors in her own party who want to block Brexit.

Southampton Independents listen to local people and fight for them on the issues that matter to them - not jumping to party political instruction from Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, Tim Farron or Paul Nuttall."

Councillor Pope (without a beard!)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

UPDATED: Redbridge Fire - Did the Council Fail AND Lie to the Public?

The fire damage to Redbridge Towers
As we have previously posted, Southampton Independents campaigners Denise Wyatt and Councillor Andrew Pope were with residents on Sunday night, after the fire at Redbridge Towers.

We were there when the Council failed to look after residents, with only one person there to look after hundreds of people, most of whom were Council tenants.

Since then, Denise and Andrew have spoken with more residents, to listen to their concerns about how the Council handled the fire.

We have been standing up for residents, and speaking to local media on TV and in print.

The Southern Daily Echo Front Page Tuesday 13th April 2017
We would provide a link to the ITV Meridian News piece, but there is no way of linking to it that we are aware of.

Here is a transcript of part of what was a very thorough report.

ITV interviewed residents, the Fire Service and Cllr Andrew Pope. ITV also referred to people who were affected by the tragedy at Shirley Towers, almost seven years ago to the day.

ITV journalist Richard Slee said:
"There are complaints that Southampton City Council didn't do enough to help residents."
Independent Councillor Andrew Pope said:
"There was only one, maybe two, Council officers there the entire evening.
There were a lot of Council tenants affected.
And those involved didn't know what was happening and they weren't being looked after.
Eventually the school was opened up, but that was several hours after the incident.
And it was too late because most of the people were already back in the block."
In a statement to ITV Meridian, Southampton City Council said:
"A Duty Officer from Housing Services was on the scene, ensuring that residents were kept warm and secure in Redbridge School... and that ward councillors were also on site speaking with tenants."
We have challenged the Council statement because residents told us that it is factually incorrect. And we believe that it is factually incorrect too - because we were there!

We have asked the Council's Communications officers to send us the statements made to ITV, the BBC and the Echo. We have asked also for who authorised those statements.

And we've given them until the end of today to do so...

UPDATE (Saturday 15th April 2017): The Council's Communications officers finally responded around 4pm on Thursday. We will be publishing our full response in the near future, but we can confirm that what they told the media contains information that is factually incorrect, as we stated above - and more importantly, what residents believe are bare-faced lies.

It would add insult to injury to residents if the Council sought to cover up its failures, or for the Council to lie about what happened, wouldn't you think?

Tell us what you think using the contact details here.

Please keep coming back to this website. Like our Southampton Independents Facebook page to know when there are updates and follow our @SotonIndies Twitter feed.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

UPDATED: Sprinklers in ALL High-Rise Blocks not a Community Garden

(15th June 2017): The latest article on Redbridge Towers, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, is here.

As reported in Tuesday's Daily Echo, we agree with residents that Redbridge Towers should have sprinklers.

Here is the view of fire safety campaigner Lin Bannon Trott:

UPDATED (25th April 2017): Following further conversations with residents of Redbridge Towers, we have confirmed once again that they DO want sprinklers installed. On top of the below, Cllr Pope has told the Labour-run Council once again that they need to find the money for them to be installed.

Residents are very angry that the Council has found the money for the "Arts", a community garden and fancy fencing that residents don't want - but not for sprinklers. And residents told Council officers this at the meeting on the proposed changes to Cuckmere Lane and Studland Close, confirmed by the Council as costing £1.675m.

Councillor Pope campaigning for sprinklers
The Fire Service agreed with our campaign!
We have asked the person responsible for making the decision to NOT install them, Labour Councillor Warwick Payne, Cabinet Member for Housing, to answer questions on sprinklers.

Below are Councillor Payne's rather unhelpful answers to our questions on sprinklers:

  1. What do you think of Councillor Payne's answers?
  2. Do you agree that he should put the money into sprinklers, instead of spending money on an unwanted community garden and fancy metal fencing on Cuckmere Lane? That is what most residents told us they wanted today.
  3. And do you think his views are offensive to all those residents who have told us they want sprinklers?
  4. Have you even heard of the "Tenant Resource Group" that Councillor Payne seems to want to blame?

Tell us what you think! 

Contact us on 07580 715 687 or on sotonindies [at] or on our Facebook page Southampton Independents.

Questions from Councillor Andrew Pope, Southampton Independents councillor for Redbridge:

Q1: Why did you, the Cabinet and the Leader decide not to fit sprinklers in all high-rise blocks in the City, following the Coroner's recommendation following the Shirley Towers incident?

A: The coroner said landlords should be “encouraged to consider” fitting sprinklers, so it wasn’t a firm direction on his part, just a suggestion. On the back of this, SCC housing chiefs and fire chiefs met to discuss the best way forward, and it was decided jointly that sprinklers would provide the greatest benefit in Shirley Towers and its sister blocks (Sturminster House and Albion Towers) due to their complex layout which makes firefighting more complicated, which is less of an issue at our other towers which have a simpler layout (for example, Redbridge Towers).

Q2: Was this issue raised by OSMC (the Council's chief scrutiny committee which tries to hold the Labour-run Council to account) when it was considered by the Committee in early 2016? If it was, what was your response?

A: Yes, and the response was identical to the above, which was accepted.

Q3: What role did cost have in your decision?

A: Extending the project where it would have much less impact has been discussed with the Tenant Resource Group (which oversees HRA spending) and OSMC. Neither has objected to the current position, which is especially crucial regarding the Tenant Resource Group as it’s their rental income which would have to fund it (there is no government money available for this as far as can be established). Extending sprinkler coverage would cost millions, which perhaps we could justify if residents were clamouring for us to do it, but that hasn’t been the case and, for the record, I haven’t received a single phone call or email today (Monday) from any council tenant in the city asking about sprinklers, at Redbridge Towers or otherwise. In short, I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a firm mandate from tenants to spend their cash in this way.

Q4: In making this decision, did you consult with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and who was your contact?

A: As mentioned above, HFRS chiefs shaped the proposals jointly with us, so they weren’t just consultees, they worked out the details with us and were in the room all along.

UPDATE on Fire at Redbridge Towers

The outside fire damage to Redbridge Towers
Southampton Independents campaigners Denise Wyatt and Councillor Andrew Pope attended the scene of the fire at Redbridge Towers on Sunday night.

We now provide an update to the initial statement we released after we had been at the scene.

We were there for several hours and we tried to keep residents informed and we also asked for the school to be opened.

Since that night, we have been back to the block and spoken to more residents.

We have provided statements to ITV Meridian News and to the Daily Echo.

Front Page of the Daily Echo, Tuesday 11th April 2017

In those statements, we have spoken up for local residents of Redbridge Towers and Cuckmere Lane.

Today, we spent the afternoon speaking to more residents.

Residents are not happy with the response from the Labour-run Council:

- with the events leading up to the fire
- with how the Council handled the fire and the evacuation
- with how the Council failed to keep them informed, and failed to look after their welfare
- with how the Council has responded since the fire

To give an example of the Labour-run Council's failures, Councillor Pope asked, and then asked again, for an update regarding the release of the occupant of the flat where the fire started.

This was because residents contacted us to ask whether that person would be returning to Redbridge Towers. Obviously they would be concerned if that person would be returning.

It was confirmed by the Police that there is a continuing investigation, and as reported by the Daily Echo today, the only suspect was released.

Officers did not respond to Councillor Pope's emails. Eventually, the senior housing officer called Councillor Pope today.

Councillor Pope agreed with that officer to inform residents of the following:

"The occupant of the flat where the fire started will NOT be returning to Redbridge Towers for the foreseeable future."

Southampton Independents would like to be able to say more, but we are sorry that we cannot at this stage.

However, we hope this statement will reassure residents for the time being.

Residents remain angry and that was very clear when we spoke with them again today.

Hampshire Police have asked residents to call 101 if they have any information relating to the ongoing investigation.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service continue their investigation into the cause of the fire.

Southampton Independents work on the issues that matter to Southampton people.

We do not jump to party-political instruction, unlike Labour or Tory, who always give you the same old story.

Please continue to give us information, and we will try to get you answers.

Best wishes,
Denise Wyatt and Councillor Andrew Pope

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Fire at Redbridge Towers

Following the fire at Redbridge Towers this evening, Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope, ward Councillor for Redbridge, has issued the following statement:

"I have personally thanked the Police and the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for their excellent response in ensuring that no serious injuries were sustained.

However, I was concerned that tenants of Southampton City Council and local residents were not being kept informed by Council officers.

No facilities were made available, despite requests by residents, on what was a cold night. Some residents and children were clearly traumatised and understandably so.

I understand that the Police and Fire Service are already investigating the cause.

I have already begun investigating what the Council did and did not do prior to this unfortunate incident, and have asked for an urgent update."

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Our April Fool's Joke: New Brexit Threat to Southampton Plants, Animals and Humans

Redbridge Wharf Park - under threat?

Southampton Independents are warning of a new threat to Southampton plants and animals, especially those on the Western edge of the City in Redbridge and Millbrook.

The new threat can even be dangerous to humans, especially after Brexit.

The growing trend to plant eucalyptus trees in the New Forest, and the South’s mild climate, is encouraging a dangerous animal to breed and settle – and cause danger to Southampton.

This trend has partly come from the links between Lyndhurst in the New Forest and Sir Arthur Phillip, the first Governor of Australia. Arthur Phillip lived in Lyndhurst, near the former Lyndhurst Park Hotel that was recently saved from demolition.

New Forest District Council planted a eucalyptus tree in its Appletree Court offices, in honour of the area’s connection with Arthur Phillip. Since then, more and more eucalyptus trees have been planted across the New Forest and in Southampton. They are hardy and beautiful trees.

Independent Councillor for Redbridge ward, Andrew Pope, warned:

It is feared that a new breed of marsupial has been breeding in the New Forest’s eucalyptus trees. It is like the cuddly koala bear, but Australians call it the ‘drop bear’, because it drops out of trees when it becomes agitated. They have been known to smuggle in the car boot of New Forest commuters coming into Southampton and polluting our air.”

Denise Wyatt, Independent campaigner for Redbridge, says:

We’ve heard about ‘drop bears’ before because we have friends in Australia. Friends told us that like koalas, they eat only eucalyptus leaves, and have to develop the ability to do this from their mothers. If they don’t do this, as the leaves are toxic, they become agitated and highly dangerous. They are even known to attack humans sleeping in their tents, especially tourists from the EU after Brexit.*”

* Happy 1st April. See you on the campaign trail and thanks for all your support.