CHANGES have been made to a pair of council committees after a party ‘split’ forced “unsatisfactory arrangements”.

At the first meeting of Test Valley Borough Council in May, two Andover Alliance councillors — David Coole and Christopher Ecclestone — registered as a notified group within the authority, with Cllr Rebecca Meyer later joining.

The four other councillors elected under the Andover Alliance banner, including leader Richard Rowles, opted to remain as a ‘non-notified’ group, but it meant a re-jig on the authority’s northern and southern planning committees.

This meant two northern members had to sit on the southern committee, and vice versa.

At full council on June 26, Liberal Democrat Councillor Celia Dowden proposed a motion to rectify the problem to better reflect a representation of local ward members.

Cllr Dowden said that the council was formed in 1974, adding: “I imagine that these councillors from Andover and Romsey councillors felt best placed to decide on planning in their area. Their local knowledge of the area and its residents can be an important factor in these decisions.

She added: “Two, now three, members of the Andover Alliance formed a notified group, consequently proportionality in a committee was achieved by unsatisfactory arrangements.”

She received the backing of other members of the council, while some took the time to insult Alliance representatives.

Councillor Gordon Bailey said: “As Councillor Dowden has mentioned we were all aware of the change to the planning committees were made prior to the elections in May. These were a reduction in members on the committee to try and make the meetings more efficient. However, at the time the changes were approved we only had two political groups.”

He added that following the Alliance’s election the situation became “particularly difficult”.

And Councillor Alan Dowden said that southern members should not be making decisions on northern matters, while others saying that the changes made “common sense”.

Councillor Karen Hamilton said that there would not have been an issue if there was not a spilt in the Alliance, which is an “ongoing problem”.

“I believe they have to apologise on being disloyal to the electorate and secondly to you Mr Mayor for wasting council time going through this process.”

But Andover Alliance leader Councillor Richard Rowles said: “I would urge councillors not to tar all members of the Andover Alliance with the same brush.”

The motion was approved unanimously.