THE chairman of a parish council said he was offered a deal to be privately included in a proposal to build hundreds of homes in a village.
Councillor Andrew Renshaw, chairman of Winchfield Parish Council, who has opposed attempts to build a “Winchfield New Town”, told a meeting on Monday, August 11, that he was disappointed to have received the call from a man approaching landowners who might want to sell their land to developers.
Cllr Renshaw, who owns a 45-acre farm on land near Winchfield railway station, spoke of the telephone conversation at the parish council meeting.
He said the conversation took place on the morning of Saturday, August 9, although the man had called the day before when Cllr Renshaw was out.
He said: “I called back this person who I’m not going to name but who is putting this settlement together.
“He said, ‘I know what your position is opposing a new settlement because you have stated it publicly and as parish council chairman, but how about a deal whereby you can continue to oppose the new settlement publicly but your land will actually be included in it?’
“My answer was, ‘You have a 45-acre hole in the land that you want for the new settlement, which is mine.’
“I could not speak for my neighbours but I made it very clear my land is not in it.”
Cllr Renshaw said he told three people that day about the conversation, one of whom suggested he should contacted the police “because it’s a bribe”.
Another option would be to make a sworn affidavit with a note of the conversation which could be used as evidence if a new settlement at Winchfield is put forward, he said.
Cllr Renshaw also said he was “incredibly suspicious of the timescale”, as the call came after he attended a meeting at Hart District Council last Wednesday, where he criticised the authority’s latest housing plans.
Hart started a public consultation today about possible housing strategy options, one of which includes building a new settlement.
Cllr Renshaw said the draft strategy had included a map with a “Monopoly-style” house on Winchfield, and he said he told officials that not every landowner wants to sell for a new settlement.
Cllr Sara Kinnell, ward member for Winchfield, dismissed any connection between the meeting and the phone call.
She told the parish council meeting: “I do not think Hart would have anything to do with that. They just would not do that. That is corrupt. Maybe I am naive but I do not think that is the case.”
Hart District Council declined to comment on the story.