THE newly elected leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has outlined his ambitious vision to turn the town into the ‘capital of the south’. 

Councillor Ken Rhatigan was elected as the leader of the borough council on May 16 and told the Gazette that he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to ideas on how to make improvements for residents. 

“Basingstoke is already a good place to live,” said Cllr Rhatigan. 

“But I want to make sure we are making the right steps towards making it a great place, where people want to come and spend their day, not just pop in and out.”   

He added: “There is a buzz and vibrancy around London and that is why people visit it. I want that for Basingstoke, I can see us being the capital of the south.

“A place where people want to come and visit, where they want to work and where they want to live.” 

To do so Cllr Rhatigan said the borough council, working along side its partners in housing, emergency services and leisure, need to produce the best possible offer to people. 

Whether this be through developing good quality housing, creating better transport links or providing world class arts facilities, it is all part of the wider ambition of the borough. 

In taking this view of wanting to make Basingstoke a destination that people visit, the leader said that he wants to listen to all sides and also potentially rustle a few feathers. 

He added: “As far as I see it when it comes to what is best for this borough there are no Conservative ideas, there are no Labour ideas, there are no Liberal Democrat ideas, there are just good ideas. 

“We want to listen to what everyone wants to see for our residents and who best to deliver that.” 

Cllr Rhatigan added: “I have a good team around me and I am giving my cabinet members more freedom to deliver what is best for the borough. 

“I have come to things from a fresh perspective and there are times where I want to see people throw a grenade in a room rather than approach things how we have in the past.” 

Cllr Rhatigan, along with his deputy leader, Councillor Simon Bound, said that there are already things going on in the background to changing the vision of Basingstoke and Deane, with Horizon 2050, being an outline to follow. 

The new leader added: “We have this document that shows what people want for our future. 

“We all know that Basingstoke is great, but it could be even better.” 

Cllr Rhatigan added: “There are tourism brochures in Shanghai with places of note in the UK, one of the places in that leaflet is Bicester. 

“So why not Basingstoke? We want to make sure that Basingstoke is in these leaflets and bring more and more people to our borough.”