Are There Alternatives To Canvey’s Town Council?

Hi Ted,

I can see where you are coming from on this matter.

I have never been a supporter of the Town Council as it is another tier of government, which, as you have pointed-out, takes three-quarters of its income just to be administered! (I.e: for every one person it takes to put up a planter, three people tell him/her where it is to be planted.)

I have a suggestion, and would be interested in peoples’ comments…

  • Do away with the Town Council.
  • Let the Borough Council allocate a separate sum of money, to a selected Councillor representing Canvey on the Cabinet, which equates to half of the precept raised from the Town Council.
  • That way more money is allocated to the island than is able to be used as of now – and the continuing waste of a further tier of administration is taken away.

Any thoughts?..

Bill Sharp

9 Responses

  1. I think Bill puts forward a very sensible proposal, especially in the light of the TC’s 2010/11 budget that reveals its imminent insolvency. And, as Canvey is part of Castle Point, it is only right that its deprivation is addressed by all Council Tax payers.

    The CIIP will fight tooth and nail against any such proposal though – demanding that one of their councillors be given the suggested cabinet position.

    God help us, given their and the TC’s record, if that were ever to be the case. it seems that they are all numerically challenged to the point of hopelessness…………………………………

  2. Cynical

    Whilst I can understand your thoughts as to the CIIP, it would be my opinion that a CIIP member should have that Cabinet position, thus allowing them to officially accept responsibility for the island as they continually claim. they would then have to accept the responsibility they normally refuse!!


    • Now that is an interesting proposal, Bill.

      I take it that you would have all Canvey Castle Point Councillors choose a representative from amongst their own ranks, to serve as an annual Canvey cabinet member.

      And that would presumably lead to two new cabinet positions being created and the current CPBC constitution being amended to provide the legal maximum of 10 cabinet posts (in order that the chair would still have a deciding vote in the event of a deadlock).

      The argument against your proposal, of course, is that it is not democratic. Canvey Island councillors (no matter who they might be) can never form a majority on their own in Castle Point, and should therefore not be permitted a ‘guaranteed’ cabinet post – regardless of whatever party finds itself in power. However, you are the only person I know who is trying to produce an alternative to address the problem of providing some form of Canvey Island autonomy.

      Personally, I feel that that autonomy is best served by a Parish Council. If all political parties agreed not to contest the next TC elections, islanders could focus on choosing candidates from amongst their business and community leaders to properly address the island’s needs. It is not that the island lacks suitable candidates – the problem is that the currently elected CIIP councillors (with the single exception of John Anderson) have shown themselves to be totally incompetent – and incapable of interpreting a simple profit and loss statement or a balance sheet.

      I also feel that any degree of autonomy should have an associated cost – I just get personally aggrieved when residents, and I, every year, are mugged by our elected Town Councillors.

      Of course there will be some overhead incurred by a separate tier of local autonomy – but it need not be as excessive as that charged by Canvey Island. If you look at Leigh-on-Sea, for example, their last year’s precept was only £167,893.00 – some £100,000 less than Canvey – and its overheads work out at 60.27% (78% for Canvey). But, for that amount of administration, Leigh-on-Sea also manages additional income sources amounting to around £74,000 – enjoyed from providing subsidised community services to its residents.

      There is no reason why Canvey, with its close community, cannot elect a truly representative set of Town councillors, with appropriate skills, to turn the TC around and follow Leigh’s example. But that will not happen without Castle Point support: in particular, taking back responsibility for those island assets, which the CIIP has so incompetently lumbered islanders with.

      This is such a sad story, because Canvey Island does have a very strong community; but the fact is that well-meaning islanders have been seriously misled by CIIP lies.

      We need to sweep aside all politics from the Town Council; trash the pretentious regalia; elect suitable, qualified, candidates; and have them consult with Castle Point’s cabinet to devise the best way of restructuring the TC’s finances.

      Then the PARISH COUNCIL can get down to addressing Canvey’s deprivation; locating additional grants which the Borough Council cannot access; and working with local charities to improve resident’s lives.

      What a perfect opportunity to mobilise the island’s youth to get properly involved in the community. An opportunity, like all others, trashed by the CIIP, who only see the island’s youth as a source of free labour for its tree planting projects.

      Islanders deserve so much more…

  3. I find myself agreeing with Ted. It seems to me that the problem with trying to create a political solution is that, inevitably, the CIIP will be involved – and they have shown themselves incapable of providing a solution.

    Also Ted’s point against providing a guararanteed cabinet post for the island is well made. But Bill’s proposal could be a suitable alternative if it was rejigged as an equally divided Special Development Group for Canvey with a Canvey councillor in the chair.

    It could be provided with the budget Bill suggests – and non island councillors could vote experienced councillors from their own ranks onto the group to compensate for the lack of skills shared by the CIIP.

    Funding is bound to be controversial though – especially in the hard times that we currently face. Why should Canvey be given special treatment when it has proved itself of being incapable of managing its affairs and already squandered over £1,000,000 that should have been spent addressing the relevant issues?

    But addressing poverty and deprivation is a borough Council reponsibility – and using a SDG to target resources, in an advisory capacity, would impose democratic responsibility because its recommendations would have to be approved by cabinet.

    And now i am totally undecided!

  4. Cynical

    That was why I put forward a simple solution which allows accountability from whoever is accepting the money on behalf of Canvey residents .?

    You make fair points but it will bring politics into the matter and that was what I was trying to deliberately omit

    I appreciate your comments ,perhaps it would be helpful if a town Council member might wish to contribute to this post ?

    • Wouldn’t that bring politics into it anyway though Bill? Wouldn’t it lead to a situation where the CIIP member might make some ludicrous argument for spending the budget on more street planters and hanging baskets, then cabinet voting him/her down and the CIIP member then claiming a majority conspiracy to block islander wishes “as normal”?

  5. Ted,

    Residents and Business Leaders had the chance to form a Parish Town Council at it’s formation and showed little interest.

    I don’t think that we should have an additional cabinet member for Canvey Island because I do not think we are a ‘special case’, we form part of Castle Point and should benefit EQUALLY with our neighbouring Towns.

    I wonder if it would be possible to start a petition, ala Mr Letchford (without the silly hat) for a referendum to disband the Town Council and return to a more professional level of Borough Council governance for the Island?

    I do not blame the Independents for the state of the Town Council, it just appears that a cocktail of inexperience, party infighting and unfair dismissal lawsuits have ruined what was a good idea and wasted an awful lot of public money.

    • I do not see that there is anyone else to blame, Colin. The Independents outnumber the only Conservative member by 10:1.

      The fact is the CIIP has purposely usurped the primary function of a Parish Council – to support and invest in its community – in a vain attempt at raising the shroud of Canvey’s old Town Council to further its pretentious island independence ambitions.

      They live in a fairy land, of their own creation, in which they are ‘kings of the hill,’ deserving of £1,000 worth of civil regalia to adorn their chosen leader – and £9,000 in associated member allowances in return for making the TC insolvent.

      You don’t really believe this is just a case of incompetence, do you Colin? Every decision that they have made has been debated in their clubhouse and passed convincingly. Everything they have done has been engineered with intent.

      Financial incompetence I grant you; but that has purpose too. It is an election year and the TC is engaged in a frantic PR push to make an impression. And spending the TC’s reserves is just a means of ensuring that any successors are left high and dry.

      If the CIIP are re-elected they will take it as a mandate to continue their separatist agenda and raise the TC levy to finance further take-overs of island based assets from CPBC. If they lose, their successors will be forced into making huge cuts – or raise revenue to compensate – and the CIIP will go back into protest mode to ensure its re-election in four year’s time. It is the same strategy we have seen used towards the Borough Council – and is a standard far-left tactic.

      Interesting that you mention dismissal lawsuits. According to the Town Council, the only legal expenses and settlements they have ever made is the Solicitors’ fees they incurred in connection with the lease on the Council offices at 11 High Street, Canvey Island. (£1,175.00 incl.VAT).

      Don’t be conned by these people, Colin. They know precisely what they are doing…

  6. I would suggest that we find the 1500 people who voted for the TC and ask them if they still think it’s a good idea. If they do, get them to pay the whole cost.

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