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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CIIP In Full Retreat From Island Yobs

Anne Wood

RESIDENTS WERE DISMAYED TO READ, in today’s Echo, that the Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP), just 18 days after having won all contested island seats in this month’s local elections, immediately reneged on three of the seven policies they had been elected upon.

Into the waste-bin went the party’s Community Safety and Policing policy in which it promised to ‘promote any strategy or initiative that will ensure that residents enjoy living in the borough in good health and free from crime or the fear of crime.’

Its Leisure, Sport and Public Amenities policy, promising to ‘maintain and improve the Island’s existing leisure and sports buildings, facilities and equipment, also its public amenities,’ saw a similar fate – while its Our Children policy, stating that the party would ‘promote and actively support any strategy or initiative to establish and/or enhance the facilities for the Island’s children and youth,’ was cast unceremoniously into the party’s shredder.

Anne Wood, deputy leader of the CIIP, was promoting a petition from a small number of 41 householders living near Kismet Park to have the £150,000 Adizone centre, designed to help teenagers and adults keep fit, to be removed.

Paid for by Adidas and the Veolia ES Pitsea Cleanaway Marshes Trust, the Adizone was only erected two months ago as a bonus from Castle Point’s involvement in the 2012 Olympics. But it seems that Wood is objecting on the grounds that local ‘yobs,’ whom have always accumulated around the Kismet Park site, have not moved-on since the centre was provided.

The Echo quotes her as saying: ‘I hope the council leaders take this petition seriously, but I fear they won’t.

“I’ve had constant calls from residents, complaining about teenagers smashing bottles, throwing stones, and throwing eggs at people’s windows.’

Then why haven’t you done something about it, Anne? Aren’t we paying you enough?

Anne Wood is not only the CIIP’s deputy leader, she is also the island’s local Town Councillor for East Ward and borough Councillor for Canvey Island East. She is also a member of the borough Standards Committee and, surprisingly, on the borough’s Policy and Performance group. Surprising, in this instance, because she has failed to comply with no fewer than three of her own party’s policies in the Adizone matter.

Wood has averaged some £4,050 in each of the past four years for her Borough Council position. The Town Council has not seen fit to publish its Councillor allowances for the time it has been established – and the CIIP still has not filed last year’s accounts. Therefore, it is not possible to say by just how much the taxpayer subsidises her annual income.

What can be said though, is that, as both a town and borough councillor, she is free to use any one of their phones. It can also be revealed that the Local Neighbourhood Police team actually publishes a telephone number for residents to get in touch.

If you have a pen and paper handy Anne, the number you need is: 0300 333 4444 ext 460100.

Now, can you stop your political posturing and, instead, use your elected position to sort things out?..