Cllr Seán Woodward, Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, has confirmed that after 38 years he plans to retire from politics and will not stand as a candidate in the forthcoming 2024 local elections.
‘Three years ago, in discussion with my family, I decided that the Hampshire County Council election in 2021 and the Fareham Borough Council election in 2022 would be my last.
‘So, after 38 years as a local Councillor, and 25 years as Leader of Fareham Borough Council – that is half of the time that the Borough of Fareham has been in existence - I will be retiring.
‘With an all-out election due next year as a result of the boundary changes, this feels like the right time for me to bow out and take back control of my life. This while I am still of an age where I can do some things for myself and my family without being tied to the diary that I have for the last four decades.
‘I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved under my watch, especially those projects that will benefit people for many, many years into the future. Just a few examples:
- Daedalus has been transformed since we took ownership in 2015 and of course Solent Airport is literally flying with many hundreds of new jobs on the business parks.
- The fantastic refurbishment of Fareham Leisure Centre and the addition of a new leisure centre at Holly Hill.
- Many new parks including Abbey Meadows and the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Park with its new Daedalus landmark!
- New community centres at Whiteley, Portchester and Burridge.
- Making Welborne happen – it would never have got off the ground if it wasn’t for the huge amount of work we put in to get the land ownership and infrastructure funding sorted.
- And of course, more recently, Fareham Live has literally transformed the skyline of Osborn Road which will be further changed forever once the Osborn Road Car Park is demolished.
- And finally, the Council has purchased Fareham Shopping Centre and that gives everyone such a huge opportunity for a really meaningful regeneration of our town centre.
‘Away from the really big projects, I actually got into politics because I felt I could make a difference. I love Fareham and believe it is a great place to live. I love Sarisbury, Burridge, Swanwick, Lower Swanwick, Park Gate and Whiteley having represented their residents for many years. I love the River Hamble, Holly Hill and Coldeast Parks, Swanwick Lakes and Sarisbury Green.
‘I love all the groups and organisations which I have been able to help. All of the people who give so generously of their time to support clubs and societies helping the young and the not so young, the poor and the dispossessed. Those that have hit hard times through no fault of their own. They all make our area so special, and I thank them for the inspiration they have given me to go on.
‘And throughout everything, I have never lost sight of the most important thing – serving the people who have chosen to elect me in 15 separate elections, sometimes with 80% of the vote. I know that doesn’t mean 80% are Conservatives. Far from it. Many people have said to me over many years that they vote for me despite the blue rosette, not because of it. It is, they say, for what I do in the local area to help people with the issues that are important to them. And that really is the most important thing for any Councillor. Never forget the grassroots!
‘Also – really important - support your officers. Fareham is blessed to have some of the hardest working, talented and dedicated staff without whose support no Council, Council Leader or Councillors could ever deliver great services at the lowest cost, plus ambitious projects to lift the area.
‘Finally, I’d like to add that of course all of the foregoing does not mean that anything will change right now. I will continue to have my foot flat to the floor as always, pedal to the metal, right to May when I end my time as Councillor for Sarisbury and Leader of this Council. There remains much to do, and I am now in even more of a hurry than usual to get it done!’