Back in the good old days of 2010 when Brexit wasn't a word, global pandemics were seemingly science fiction and the country was simply recovering from, what was then, one of the worst recessions in history, 19 eager people were elected to become the first ever Andover Town Councillors. 

There was nine Conservatives and ten independents. Over the years, that make-up changed with resignations, deaths and the election in 2015, but the majority of members, from all Parties and none, had one goal in mind: to do our best for Andover. 
Yes, many of us were members of political parties but we stood as independents on the Town Council as we wished not to bring party politics into the Council.

For 35 years Andover, was the only area of the Borough of Test Valley that was unparished and had not a town or parish council to stand up for it. So a special levy was charged to the residents to cover the services that a parish or town council would usually provide. Over the years this levy, in my opinion, simply became a cash cow for the Test Valley Borough Council to be use as it liked. 

At the change of borough leadership in 2016 the town councillors engaged with the borough council and productive and positive conversations were had. The transfer of services and assets were being agreed and the town council got the ball rolling one of its key aims; scrap the Andover Special Expenses Levy. As the town council and it's councillors matured and grew in strength and knowledge, the borough, county and town worked together to better Andover. 

To encourage tourism and businesses in the Town, the provide the best Christmas lights and to be the most effective provider of allotments in the country - Andover Town Council is the largest provider of allotments after all. The town council oversaw a number of very successful events in the Town such as the Shilling Fair and the youth festival, A-Fest. 

Then one dark and cold evening in May 2019 that all changed. After years of writing policies, agreeing agendas, hiring staff, sorting offices (setting up a local authority from scratch is really very hard work), 15 populists were elected and me.

Unfortunately, even though two had served on the Town Council previously and 1 was a parish councillor on another council, the 15 quickly became 5 and 10. And then 5, 8 and 2 and then 7, 2 and 2, then 3, 4 and 4, and today, well who knows who sits where between the Andover People's Front and the People's Front of Andover. All we know, is that they are all as useless as each other. 

Bickering, squabbling and now trying to pay themselves, or should I say charge us, £150 a month each for the privilege of watching them be useless. 

Bear in mind that the leaders of both the Andover Alliance and the Andover Independents Party (hopefully not Independence) don't live in Andover so do not contribute to the Andover Town Council budget. 

'Scrap the Town Council' - I hear the cry and my heart sinks.

The issue is not the council itself, trust me. I spent nearly 10 years helping to set it up. The issue is the councillors who sit on it. Councillors who neither understand local government nor wish to understand it.

Councillors who do not wish to do their best for Andover but are blindly consumed with their hatred for each other. It's all rather pathetic really. It would be funny if it weren't so sad and didn't undermine the very role of the council itself. 

So here is my plea to Andover residents: don't grow weary of the town council itself which can do, and has done, much good for the town. Instead, at the next opportunity, kick the councillors out. 

Don't vote for populist parties who promise the undeliverable again. If you want change, vote for the people who you think will do their best for Andover, even if they aren't in the party you would support nationally. 

Thank you to those who supported me in 2019 to continue as a town councillor, and sorry to them and to the staff, who I could no longer defend, for deciding to walk away from town council in October 2019. 

I could see this nonsense would continue and there was no way I could have continued to do my best for Andover simply watching the arguments between the others in meetings. The sad fact is that even with no longer being a councillor, I seem to have as much of a voice now as I did as the only remaining independent councillor, then. 

Many who were on the town council when it functioned well will stand again in the future, and hopefully restore the dignity back to the office of an Andover Town Councillor that has been sadly decimated over the last year. 

Andy Fitchet, former town councillor 2010-2019.