Anderson’s Sound Arguments Trashed By Conceited Colleagues

ON TUESDAY EVENING, in Castle Point’s Council Chamber, the Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) degenerated into a rabble, with each choosing to ignore the sound arguments, expertly made, by their first contributor, John Anderson. Instead the ruling Conservative Group was confronted with a series of ill-considered arguments from CIIP members, which failed to address the issues before them.

The meeting had been called to vote on the Council’s Core Strategy Plan for the Borough; but it was evident that reading and examining 26 detailed proposals made by the Special Policy Development Group (SPDG), with the sole exception of Anderson, had been beyond the ability of remaining CIIP contributors.

The public gallery was full; the press refused to ‘nudge up;’ many residents were forced to view the proceedings from outside the chamber — and most of the speakers spoke nervously under the eyes of a mainly hostile audience.

As the five-minute speeches progressed, it was evident that most had prepared their contributions well in advance — perhaps rehearsing them in the bathroom mirror that morning. It must therefore have come as a shock to discover that a third recommendation had been included in the proposals for which they could not have prepared.

One CIIP councillor abandoned his prepared contribution entirely.

George Bernard Shaw once said: ‘Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.’

The debate

Pam Challis

Pam Challis

The leader, Pam Challis, had said: ‘Thank you Mr Mayor.

‘Members, you have before you the document which is the result of an exceptional piece of work by the Special Policy Development Group led by Cllr Godfrey Isaacs and ably supported by Cllrs David Cross and Eion Eagen. It has been a very important exercise, which has enabled all members to understand the complexities surrounding the core strategy and the importance of having a five year housing land supply in order for that strategy to be sound.

‘Mr Mayor, I propose the three recommendations on the revised paper (the third recommendation was added as the council’s current ED9 policy, put in place by the previous Labour administration, allows for expansion of hazardous installations — and this is certainly not the intention of this Conservative administration).

‘Members, the recommendations before you:-

  • ‘That the council agrees to publish the consultation document  “The Castle Point Local Development Framework Core Strategy” publication document attached to this report and to submit the document for independent inspection by the Planning Inspectorate by the end of Dec 2009.
  • ‘That the council agrees to the establishment of a monitoring process involving both members and officers to be engaged in the publication, submission and monitoring of the core strategy; and in the phasing and delivery of  housing development rights.
  • ‘The council will pursue vigorously every opportunity to ensure the removal of  hazardous  installations as set out in policy CP9 “South Canvey A Long Term Strategic Location” and to release part of that land on the South of Canvey Island to increase the Greenbelt.’

In the main, what then followed was a merry-go-round in which opponents of the ruling Conservative group played to the gallery — rather than exert their grey-matter over the important issues at hand…

Neville Watson: 'Political persuasion from Whitehall'

Neville Watson: 'Political persuasion from Whitehall'

Even before the motion had been seconded, Neville Watson (CIIP Winter Gardens) was objecting to the proceedings on the grounds it was all due to ‘political persuasion from Whitehall.’

John Anderson: 'Infrastructure first. Housing second'

John Anderson: 'Infrastructure first. Housing after'

John Anderson (CIIP Canvey Island Central) delivered a well-considered and powerful argument for developing the local infrastructure before any new housing could be considered.

His speech was greeted by a round of applause from the public gallery.

Brian Wilson: 'Relocate Manor Trading Estate'

Brian Wilson: 'Relocate Manor Trading Estate'

Brian Wilson (Lab St Mary’s) spent his five minutes staggering over his prepared speech on why moving Manor Trading Estate to a new site in the North West of the Borough to make way for housing was a good idea. It was a confused delivery, interspersed with nervous stuttering and having little to do with the issues at hand. The option had been dismissed by councillors preparing the report, and explaining its ghost served no purpose whatsoever.

Joan Liddiard: 'Residents need planning permission to pave over their gardens'

Joan Liddiard: 'Residents need planning permission to pave over their gardens'

Joan Liddiard (CIIP, Canvey Island South) voiced her objections by reminding those present that residents were required to obtain planning permission for paving over their gardens; and yet the Council was proposing to cover the Greenbelt in concrete.

There was an awkward pause while the full impact of her statement made itself known to those present; but the gallery decided to give her a round of applause anyway.

Anne Wood: 'Canvey Island will flood again'

Anne Wood: 'Canvey Island will flood again'

Mrs Anne Wood (CIIP Canvey Island East) cited her time on the Housing Task Force and reiterated her comments then that the scoring method used in the plan ‘was a joke.’ She queried the logic of being able to modify a score of -2 (given to areas in danger of flooding) to a positive number by adding a +2 for ‘potential on site job creation,’ and further increments for ‘cycle routes’ and ‘no impact on wildlife.’

She accused the council of ‘having learned nothing’ from the events of ’53 and quoted a BBC program of Sept 24th that, she said, reported experts saying that Canvey Island will flood again.

Mrs Wood was present at the Council Meeting on 14 July, at which the Environment Agency provided a presentation that went into the subject of flooding in some depth.  It was based on the latest science and did not reach a similar conclusion.

She insisted, however, that she was not scare mongering and was rewarded by public applause.

Bill Dick: 'Infrastructure, unfortunately, comes second'

Bill Dick: 'Infrastructure, unfortunately, comes second'

Bill Dick (Con St. Peter’s) chose to address the issues. He reminded those present that, in the real world, ‘Infrastructure, unfortunately, comes second.’

He said that he would love to be able to go back to the Government and have them change their minds on the housing issue; but that was not an option. And he also explained why councillors needed to pass the plan as a means of combatting developers. He explained that, without a firm plan in place, developers will be the first to challenge the council on not having met its housing targets, and, without an approved plan in place, the Council’s Planning Department would be unable to defend itself against spurious development and Greenbelt intrusion.

Brian Wood: 'Upset by carrot and stick'

Brian Wood: 'Upset by carrot and stick'

Brian Wood (Ind Canvey Island South) said he was upset by the carrot and stick (a reference to there being no possibility of  Town Centre regeneration or a third road for Canvey without providing new homes).

He likened the statements, reported in the local press, to one of last year in which it was said that ‘If you don’t vote for Swan: the houses will fall apart.’

Barry Dixie: 'Debate is a waste of time'

Barry Dixie: 'Debate is a waste of time'

Barry Dixie (CIIP Canvey Island Winter Gardens) carefully mustered his thoughts. ‘I was going to speak,’ he said; ‘But this debate is a waste of time.’

That was his sole contribution to what, as one councillor put it, was the most important decision to be made by Council since 1998.

Enid Isaacs: 'Use this instrument to defend our Borough'

Enid Isaacs: 'Use this instrument to defend our Borough'

Mrs Enid Isaacs (Con Victoria) said she had: ‘Spent many hours worrying about the core strategy.’

She continued to bring the chamber back on topic by saying that, in her opinion, the plan before members was the ‘best we can come up with to safeguard this Borough from those who would put too much in too many places.’

She appealed for members and the public to put their faith in the Planning Department.

‘Use this instrument to defend our Borough,’ she said.

Her candid remarks received generous applause from the public gallery.

Peter Greig: 'No building on Greenbelt! No building on Canvey!'

Peter Greig: 'No building on Greenbelt! No building on Canvey!'

Peter Greig (CIIP Canvey Island Winter Gardens) played to the dissenters in the public gallery. ‘I totally revoke and appall,’ he began — and continued in a similar vein. He called council’s attention to the frequent gridlock on Canvey Island, saying: ‘Canvey cannot afford another 800 cars.’

‘No building on Greenbelt! No building on Canvey!’ he bellowed, whipping his Luddite gallery supporters into a frenzy of rapturous applause befitting Roderick Spode.

Godfrey Isaacs: 'How many CIIP took time to attend SPG meetings?'

Godfrey Isaacs: 'How many CIIP took time to attend SPDG meetings?'

Godfrey Isaacs (Con St James’), leader of the Special Policy Development Group (SPDG) authoring the report, returned the ball deep into the Canvey Island Independent Party’s court.

‘How many CIIP members,’ he goaded, ‘took the time to attend’ SPDG meetings?

It is not a case of ‘being threatened,’ he insisted (referring to Brain Wood’s remarks). Since widely consulting the public and interest groups on Core Strategy proposals, an overwhelming number had made demands for their Town Centres to be upgraded; but no one was considering where the funding was coming from.

Each of the report’s 26 recommendations, he said, ‘looks at funding.’ And the fact is that the Council does not have the resources to progress any of these demands itself.

‘We cannot ask developers to build on our island and the mainland, and to make a contribution to what we want in this Borough to make it a better place to live, if we do not allow some development.’

The last resort, he explained, was ‘to build on Greenbelt.’ The Group had been forced into the position of utilising Greenbelt land because the total amount of housing needed could simply not be accommodated by Brownfield sites.

If we throw away this opportunity now, he warned, we may as well ‘turn the lights out and we can all go home.’

Neville Watson tried to interrupt; but was cut short by the Mayor, chairing the meeting.

In response, Godfrey Isaacs said he had been about to praise Cllr Watson for his input; but, given his intervention, he would not.

Grace Watson: 'Not until the infrastructure is right'

Grace Watson: 'Not until the infrastructure is right'

Mrs Grace Watson (CIIP Canvey Island North) made a short statement to the effect that she and her husband had worked hard to put the Youth Policy in place; but, until the infrastructure ‘is right,’ she could not accept the document.

Martin Tucker: 'Plant trees on Waterside'

Martin Tucker: 'Plant trees on Waterside'

Martin Tucker (CIIP Canvey Island North) said that the document was an: ‘Ill thought-out piece of legislation.’

He berated the Council for not attempting to challenge the government on its housing proposals for the area, and then went on to apparently agree the need for more housing on the island.

He began by making the opposite case, citing out-of-date 2001 statistics to support his interpretation that Canvey has half as much Greenbelt and proportionally more housing than the mainland. (He was unimpressed by calls that the island was part of Castle Point and continued with his isolationist tirade).

He then destroyed his own argument by suggesting that new homes could be built on the island ‘behind Charfleets industrial estate.’

He concluded by stating his own wish to ‘plant trees on Waterside.’

Neville Watson: 'I speak for the whole of Castle Point!'

Neville Watson: 'I speak for the whole of Castle Point, OK!'

Having interrupted the proceedings twice, Neville Watson was duly given his five minutes (but took more than he was entitled to).

His only contribution was to quote the full content of a letter from Caroline Spelman to Conservative councils; but, thankfully, he cut it short.

You are, he told the Council, ‘Being told by your leader to do nothing [in respect of government housing plans].’

Asking the Council to defend its position, Watson then arrogantly proclaimed: ‘I speak for the whole of Castle Point, OK!’

Peter May: 'I have worked on the river for the last 16 years'

Peter May: 'I have worked on the river for the last 16 years'

Peter May (CIIP Canvey Island Central) chose to use his five minutes to rake over the past, criticising the building of flats on Canvey seafront and the under-investment in Waterside Farm and the Paddocks for the past 20 years.

He asked: ‘How are we going to get around the island with all these extra houses?’ and went on to describe how street furniture prevented those in mobility scooters from using the pavements and how cycle tracks could not be provided because of the narrow width of the island’s roads.

We can put roads off the island, he said; but how are we going to get round?

He then turned his attention to affordable homes, questioning what ‘affordable’ meant. They are only affordable once, he said.

‘Can we dictate who the builder sells to?’ he asked. ‘You tell me.’

May then went on to say that ‘on the news’ scientists predicted a four degree rise in temperature by the middle of this century. Reminding those present that he had ‘worked on the river for the last 16 years,’ he asked: ‘Do we build in flood risk areas where we haven’t got a clue what is going to happen?’

Peter May can be forgiven for not being au fait with the previously alluded to Environment Agency’s presentation regarding the Thames Estuary and flooding, made to Council on 14th July.

He failed to attend.

May concluded by reminding councillors that they had a ‘duty of care’ to their constituents — and rejected the document on the grounds that that duty had not been met.

Beverley Egan: 'We cannot possibly wait for a year without an LDF in place'

Beverley Egan: 'We cannot possibly wait for a year without an LDF in place'

Mrs Beverley Egan (Con St Peter’s) chose to reply to Watson’s raising of Caroline Spelman’s letter. She agreed that, if a Conservative government was returned next year, it may well be possible to undo LDF strategies; but that possibility would not arise, at the earliest, for some months after the election.

‘We cannot possibly wait for a year without an LDF in place,’ she said. ‘Our Greenbelt is at risk now.’

Pointing out that the proposals included the establishment of a monitoring process to tighten-up planning control, she looked forward to when a Conservative government would be in place and ‘we can start to undo some of those LDF imposed strategies.’

It was at this point that Watson again tried to intervene by invoking his ‘right to reply;’ since Beverley Egan had named him in her last address.

The Mayor was eventually forced to threaten Watson with removal from the chamber unless he kept quiet.

Anne Wood: 'Why take out Daws Heath and leave Canvey Island in?'

Anne Wood: 'Why take out Daws Heath and leave Canvey Island in?'

Mrs Anne Wood was permitted to make a further contribution; but chose only to ask a question. ‘Why did the SPDG take out Daws Heath Greenbelt and leave Canvey Island in?’

Norman Smith: 'Developers were queuing up at the door'

Norman Smith: 'Developers were queuing up at the door'

Norman Smith (Con Boyce) referred members to what happened in Rayleigh/Rochford when they failed to pass their LDF. ‘Developers were queuing up at the door,’ he said, ‘and the council was forced to pass its core strategy [as a means of defence].’

Colin Riley: 'This isn't the final deal'

Colin Riley: 'This isn't the final deal'

Colin Riley (Con Victoria) commented that the document they were discussing was different from the version members had seen six months ago. This one, he said, was the result of ‘proper consultation.’

‘We can work with the Conservative government next year,’ he said. ‘This isn’t the final deal.’

Without this LDF, said Riley, ‘developers will take our Borough to pieces.’

Tom Skipp: 'We are where we are'

Tom Skipp: 'We are where we are'

Tom Skipp (Con Appleton) kept it short. ‘We are where we are.’ he said. ‘Reluctantly I support the document.’

Pam Challis; 'Tonight's arguments have been extraordinary'

Pam Challis; 'Tonight's arguments have been extraordinary'

Pam Challis summed-up. She pointed-out that the purpose of the proposed LDF was to protect the Greenbelt — and that the arguments she had heard had been ‘extraordinary.’

She explained that the next step would be to appoint a Program Officer whose duty would be to collect all arguments for the Planning Inspectorate and highlighted the lack of facilities in the Borough.

She urged the public to take a look at the Regeneration Shop on Canvey, and in the face of murmured negatives to her appeal she angrily retorted: ‘It will happen!

‘I have not worked my socks off for nothing for this Borough!’

Those present paid attention as Pam went on to explain that £200 million was currently being spent on 800 acres of  West Canvey Marshes to turn it into an open space for public enjoyment.

‘This area has not been open to the public.’ she said. ‘Now it will be.’

She explained that islanders would be able to use the area for walks, cycling and horse riding. In addition there would be a £600,000 childrens’ play area and picnic areas as well.

She concluded by revealing that this ‘magnificent open space, with a fair wind, will be open next Easter.’ And she brought attention to the fact that the Reserve ‘would be part of a much larger Thames Gateway Parklands project, which will link to other spaces up-river.’

The vote

Apologies for absence had been received from: David Cross (Con St Mary’s); Maryse Isles (Con Cedar Hall); and Bill Sharp (Con St James’). This left 38 councillors from a total of 41 who were eligible to vote.

Four prejudicial interests were recorded: Ray Howard Con (one of the LDF sites is owned by his family); Pam Freeman Con (employed by the PCT facility); Lee Barrett CIIP (home abuts LDF site) and Dave Blackwell (due to the location of his business).

The four prejudical interests reduced the number eligible to speak, and vote, to 34.

Those voting against the proposal were: John Anderson; Philip Davies; Barry Dixie;  Peter Greig; Nick Harvey; Joan Liddiard; Peter May; Janice Payne; Martin Tucker; Grace Watson; Neville Watson; Brian Wilson; Anne Wood; and Brian Wood. A total of 14 members.

The 20 Conservatives won the motion by 6 votes.

Dave Blackwell had been at pains to point out, when declaring his interest, that, despite rumours, the only land or property, which he owned on Canvey, was his personal residence.

The business was closed amidst allegations of not listening from the public gallery.

Woodrow T. Wilson once said: ‘If you want to make enemies, try to change something.

For the masochists amongst you, the Council’s Archived Webcast can now be viewed here.

… (02/10/2009) – Canvey Island’s Idiot Party

3 Responses

  1. Thank you Mr Pugh. You have written that which I lack the skill to do.

  2. What a biased peice of work you have written.
    When the day comes and believe me it will, You are going to be in for a shock, all the promises and lies the tory led council have fed the people will come out.
    I was at that meeting, and I think you must have been somewhere completely different because the way you have reported it is fiction, you must have been both blind and deaf.
    I feel sorry for you because you have been sucked in by the lies and deceit of the tory led council

    • Indeed!

      It can now be revealed that live webcasts transmitted by the tory council do not emanate from the council chamber but from a secret holographic film studio located deep beneath the Kiln Road council offices.

      The archives cannot be trusted and neither can anyones memory who actually attend public meetings.

      They are not air conditioning ducts in the council chamber, they are a sophisticated means of dispensing a secret haluconogenic gas that in conjuction with the hypnotic suggestions given over the PA system places everyone present in a deep hypnotic trance during which time their memories are manipulated by a famous stage hypnotist.

      It is deeply significant that no one attending the meeting can remember seeing Rob Burns because he was the only one present to have taken the trouble to be dressed in a bulky white bio-hazard suit fully equipped with breathing apparatus.

      Only his memory can be trusted!

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