TC Mismanagement Gives Way To More Adizone Stories This Week

Cllr Peter Burch exercising at Canvey's Adizone

AS IF IN AN EFFORT to quickly change the subject, the Echo, this week, decided not to follow-up this Blog’s revelations regarding Canvey Island Town Council’s financial mismanagement. 

Max Orbach, presumably stung into action by a Canvey Island Independent Party source, was, I am told, querying my interpretation of the Town Council’s latest budget; but dispensed with trying to contact me after looking at the actual figures

Interestingly though, the Echo did not run a similar article. Instead it reverted to rehashing an old piece on Kismet Park’s Adizone – with a twist. 

Instead of padding its allegations of yobbish behaviour with comments drawn from CIIP councillors, it introduced the island’s latest local celebrity, Colin Letchford, as the unhappy residents’ spokesman. And Colin, true to form, gave his own inconsistent take on why the public gym should be removed. 

Whenever I go past there are children as young as eight playing on it, even though a sign clearly states it is only meant for 12 years and over. 

It is dangerous for them, but they use it because the neighbouring playground for younger children is so run down. 

Shouldn’t the council have some form of security to ensure younger children are not injured using it? 

This is the same Colin Letchford who, when speaking to Rebecca Harris, in my presence, completely sided with her view (regarding Canvey’s Concord pool) that the Labour Government’s onerous Health and Safety Legislation needed to be rolled-back and a more sensible approach adopted to public facilities. And the same Colin Letchford (whose own report on the Concord pool highlighted its dangers to youngsters) who took the view that those dangers were acceptable and the council need only erect a sign saying that the facility is used at the public’s own risk to avoid any possible prosecution. 

So, having a youngster injure a limb through jamming it in dangerous rock crevices, or falling 1.8 metres from a slippery foothold is acceptable to Colin; but having the same child use the Adizone’s equipment as a climbing frame is not. 

The Echo does not make clear which council Colin is referring to in his statement. Logically, it is the Town Council (TC) to whom residents should first make their complaints; but it seems that the TC, rather than taking responsibility for the island’s yobbery alluded to in the article, would rather remain silent and pass the buck onto the local Borough Council, via Colin, in an effort to gain political points. (The Echo willingly conspired with this strategy later in the week by again raising the Concord pool topic – and quoting more Letchford comments). 

Refreshingly though, Matthew Stanton at the Yellow Advertiser, decided to adopt an objective approach to the Kismet park story. Moreover, he actually chased down Lee Barrett for a comment and succeeded in getting behind the real reason for CIIP-led residents’ protests. Despite the numerous press articles on the Adizone facility’s proposed location; coverage of its installation; announcements of its opening and, some time beforehand, having been informed by CPBC letter of the decision to erect it in Kismet Park, it seems that some 40 residents do not check their letter-box or read the local papers. 

Lee Barrett was reported as saying:- 

… The residents who want the equipment moved feel they were not consulted properly and only knew about the work when it was happening. 

I had a few calls from confused residents asking what was going on but it was too late to do anything about it. 

Meanwhile, on the subject of the Town Council and my Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act requests, the TC has not even acknowledged my last FOI’s receipt. Nor has it deemed to provide any further information regarding my first. It seems that, like denying residents their right to an Annual Town Meeting this year, the Town Council is determined not to release details of the companies and individuals whom have benefitted from their enormous expenditure over the past three years.

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2 Responses

  1. When I read the papers and see the phrase ‘community leader” I have often wondered who they are. I’ve always assumed they meant people like Councillors, MPs etc. People who have the courage to put themselves up for election for very little reward.

    Now I see they mean, or presumably the Echo does, unelected, self-appointed “community-leaders” such as Letchford and then give them as much unwarranted publicity as they can.

    The people at the Echo really are chumps.

    • Yes, Turingdot. What the Echo lacks in its reporting is: perspective.

      Too often it headlines minority views and misrepresents them as the majority’s.

      It is as though its reporters are not permitted to thoroughly research their articles – or perhaps they are not given sufficient time in which to do so. Either way, the result is often just a bare-facts précis that raises more questions, which are left unanswered. As you infer: who is this Colin Letchford who demands so many column inches?

      Interestingly, Colin purports to have no political views; but he has a close relationship with Nick Harvey, last year’s CITC chairman and Town Councillor for the island’s North Ward. (Colin is a resident of the island’s South Ward – containing the Concord pool – represented by Joan Liddiard, Vice Chair, and Rod Bishop).

      When Letchford produced his Concord Pool report, it was not taken up, as we might have expected, by the Town Council. Letchford contacted the press himself and the Canvey Island Independent Party was happy to sit back and let him make his argument. Then the Echo decided to throw its weight behind the Save Our Pool campaign and provide a firm plank from which Spink and the CIIP could fight the forthcoming elections.

      To be fair to Colin though, his report was never about the Conservative’s decision to close the pool. It was simply a comparison of the two pools, each on either side of the Concord beach café, and pointing-out that, if one needed closing, it should not be the older pool that had significant safety advantages. But his argument was lost in Spink and CIIP spin and, soon afterwards, Colin was also pouring scorn on the Cabinet system that met in secret and allowed unrepresentative Tories to take decisions without any scrutiny taking place. From that moment on, Colin became caught-up in the political momentum and was soon assisting Spink and Blackwell to achieve an elected Castle Point Mayor who could then pack the cabinet with CIIP members and further their separatist aims.

      I actually think Colin is a very nice guy; but he seems incapable of realising that he is being manipulated – just as the Echo’s reporters seem oblivious to the fact that their own strings are being regularly pulled for political ends…

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