Has Canvey’s Armed Forces’ Day Been Abandoned?

JUST LAST MONTH Bob Spink was announcing to residents that, through his efforts, Canvey Island would again be celebrating Armed Forces’ Day on Saturday, 26th June. Indeed, the recently filed accounts for Bob’s Independent Save Our Green Belt Party, financed by himself for some £2,500, uses an A4 reproduction of the event’s promotion poster – inviting anyone who has not received a Veteran’s Badge to contact him directly. But the only event promoted on the Town Council’s Website, for the 26th June, is its previously reported Night of Nostalgia (being sold for a limited audience at £7.50 per ticket).

It seems that the Canvey Island independent Party (CIIP) has withdrawn into silent retreat regarding its ‘Fantastic Projects’ announced on its Blog in March. Despite promising further details, none have ever been forthcoming – just as promises regarding further information, made by Neville Watson, to contributors on the party’s message board have never been fulfilled.

‘They only come out at election time,’ was the criticism laid at the local Labour Party by the CIIP during the election campaign; but the latter’s Blog has only lasted the duration of the long campaign, beginning in March and ending on May 7th. There have been no further posts, nor any fulfilment of the party’s promise to keep residents ‘updated with our latest news right here on our blog.’

Following Spink’s defeat in the polls, the CIIP appears to be in some disarray. Unconfirmed sources suggest that the public claims of support declared by Watson and Anne Wood for Dave Blackwell are not shared by all the party’s councillors. And it also appears that some were dismayed over Wood’s handling of the Adizone matter last week. If the reports are true, Bob Spink may no longer be posing for photographs alongside CIIP councillors as the party tries to distance itself from the once MP.

It is understood that an announcement regarding Canvey’s Armed Forces Day will be made once the organisers decide if Spink will be a welcome participant or not.

Cllr Neville Watson (CIIP) Blocked From Commenting


AT THE REQUEST OF READERS, Canvey Island Independent Party borough councillor for the Winter Gardens ward, Neville Watson, has been blocked from commenting on all Canvey Beat posts.

In a final gesture, Watson had this to say:-

Hi Ted.

Oh dear blocking the person most people want to read strange but by what authority does Cynical Observer write this article? now we know he as rank don’t we, what a blunder this was your first big mistake, so who is this blogger Ted?.

If you want to ban me so be it just Because you have someone that disagrees with you its called an opposition! that’s long been the problem you cannot handle an opposition.

But if you want a blog that sits talking to one and other then carry on but one thing i know i feel my case here is won so i will say goodbye apart from all this i have enjoyed writing on here,its been both interesting but i guess you will have to deal with falling readership.

Regards Neville

His comment was reported as spam and removed – as will any further contribution, by him, to the readers’ forum.

‘Like children refusing to play a game because their arch enemy is more popular than they are’

THE QUOTE IS STOLEN from a comment made by a regular contributor to this blog, Cynical Observer, whom was referring to the Canvey Island Independence Party (CIIP).   

This week Bob Spink, our local MP, has maintained an uncharacteristically low profile whilst the CIIP and Neville Watson have been keen to muster the local press and disrupt local online forums. While Dave Blackwell, the CIIP’s leader, was misrepresenting himself here in an attempt to manipulate resident opinion, it now transpires that Anne Wood, the deputy CIIP leader, was abusing the Methane, Mud and Memories blog in a similar fashion.   

Meanwhile, in the Echo, Janice Payne was reported scorning the idea of any part of Canvey being used for 48 hours as an Olympic Park and Ride station; Dave Blackwell and John Anderson were photographed side-by-side in a piece about an ‘ex-cons’ hostel’ in Second Avenue (that both were apparently unaware of despite being town and borough councillors with their ears devoted to residents’ concerns); Nick Harvey had his photo taken with the backdrop of a sign he was complaining about, which the borough council had erected; Dave Blackwell made another print appearance attacking ‘the council and Natural England’ (Blackwell is keen to shorten his phrase to ‘council’ when the county council is concerned – just so there can be some confusion) over its plans for an invertebrate reserve; and Colin Letchford (Concord Pool report man – and totally unconnected with island politics) decided to start a petition for an elected Castle Point Mayor.   

The latter piece is interesting, because, as the Echo states in its article:-   

Elected mayors may choose their cabinet and then decide how much power they want to share with other members, but the buck ultimately stops with them.   

Here we go with the CIIP’s second front. If they cannot seize power via the election box they will again conspire with Spink (in the same way as they did for establishing a Canvey Town Council) to subvert the majority’s wishes. No doubt, if Spink is not re-elected, we will see him installed as mayor. The conspirators’ plan is obvious – wrench power at any cost.   

What Colin is apparently unaware of is that his proposals do nothing to change the current position where some decisions are taken by Cabinet. In other words: an elected mayor would appoint the Cabinet (in the same way as the Prime Minister appoints his) – rather than having full-council elect a leader whom then appoints their Cabinet, as is currently the case.   

The current system, because the leader is chosen by full council, is, in most people’s mind, more democratic.   

Now, I am not a political journalist. But what frustrates me, in this island’s politics, is the constant whining of the CIIP about the Cabinet – as though they have been denied some ‘right’ to participate in it.   

It is complete, utter, nonsense. And, were the CIIP ever to form a majority in the borough, you can be sure that their Cabinet would consist only of CIIP members.   

Margaret Thatcher had no Labour or Liberal members in her Cabinet. Gordon Brown has no Conservative or Lib Dem members in his. That is how British Democracy works. The majority are given the power to implement their manifesto, which the public has democratically chosen. And local government is no different in that respect.   

Letchford’s petition is a distraction; but, if he does obtain enough ‘signatures’ to force a referendum and residents vote ‘yes’ to an elected Mayor, we know who the ‘Independents’’ candidate for mayor will be: a defeated Bob Spink or his puppet Dave Blackwell.   

As the CIIP’s support begins to drain away, their thoughts now turn to seizing power by other means. They know they cannot win with empty pledges and a blank manifesto, so they attempt to introduce the alternative: a personality contest to elect an all-powerful mayor (and save themselves the trouble of establishing a new front with an Independent Save Our Green Belt Party force).   

Bob Spink may have been uncharacteristically silent in the local press; but he has been busy begging for funds to support his re-election campaign. The interesting point, in his email, is that he will apparently be standing as an Independent. He makes no mention of his new Independent Save Our Green Belt Party; but readers should note that his message was sent on April 1st (April Fools’ Day) – so anything could happen, I guess.   

Spink's Yellow Advertiser Advert

Apparently, Spink’s proposed press conference, for the 20th March (don’t set too much store by readers’ voting in the link – it has been heavily modified by the CIIP) did not go ahead. So he and his new ISOGBP candidates were spared the indignity of being questioned by journalists. Moreover, the anticipated follow-up for Bob’s new party in the Yellow Advertiser, planned for the 25th according to his email, did not materialise. Instead he seems to have changed his mind and launched himself on a purely independent platform. In his advert he resorts to using the same ‘What part of [X] don’t you understand?’ sound-bites that proved so successful for him in his last campaign – when standing for the Conservatives – on immigration.   

So what has happened to the ISOGBP? It appears that Spink and his cohorts have discarded the idea of another party altogether in preference to Colin Letchford’s campaign. The strategy would allow them to rule the borough with a single mayor appointing just eight other like minds to the Cabinet. (And you can be sure that ALL decisions would then be taken there – particularly concerning members’ allowances; salaries; and the council’s own Constitution).   

This is such an obvious ‘flanker’ that I am surprised at Colin Letchford’s involvement.   

Colin: you are an intelligent man. Please do not let yourself be used by these people. How can anyone vote for, and put their trust in, any party that refuses to answer all questions put to them by the people’s representative, the Press?..   

Meanwhile, Spink, on his site, berated Cameron and Brown for, apparently, not agreeing to debate with him. Bob has this to say:-   

Like David Cameron, Gordon Brown has now refused to debate issues that affect Castle Point people with Independent MP Bob Spink   

Bob says:
“Last month David Cameron said he was going to visit Castle Point during the election but he bottled out when I challenged him to a public meeting to face the questions that local people feel are important. Questions such as:
-Improving the state pension and a bit more respect for pensioners
-Our local NHS hospitals, dentists and doctors.
-Cutting Immigration
-Protecting our greenbelt and flood plains
-Canvey Island’s new road which the Conservatives are blocking
-Removing politics from Local Government and passing power back to each Castle Point community to make their own decisions [separation]
Neither David Cameron nor Gordon Brown have the guts to debate these with me. They have no answers to the important questions, they’re both running scared.”
Bob has often debated with Brown and Cameron at Westminster but they must feel unable to debate with him on his own turf. They do not want to take the risk of being embarrassed by a straight talking, honest, Independent MP, who believes that serving the people is more important than serving a political party.   

It is interesting to see how Bob is admitting to supporting Canvey Island’s separation from the mainland – without admitting to it. (If you see what I mean).   

But Bob does like the new Nature Reserve on Canvey Marshes. He gives no credit to the Tory-led Borough Council for instigating and championing the development, of course – Bob would rather let readers assume that he was the driving force for that particular project.   

Independent MP Bob Spink today congratulates all the partners who work together to make the West Canvey Marshes Reserve such a fantastic asset for all to enjoy.
Bob says:
“I particularly congratulate the RSPB and area manager David Hedges who worked tirelessly to create this new environmental asset that will raise the profile of Castle Point for years to come.
“Two windmills, (not wind farm), will sustainably pump fresh water to maintain the lakes and wet grassland for breeding waders.
“On the site I saw British Kingfishers, a fantastic sight, they are one of the most beautiful of our birds. Of course the key attractions will be the breeding lapwings, redshanks, oystercatchers, knots, dunlins, godwits, sandpipers and little egrets. There will be many breeds of birds and ducks and also many small mammals, including the renowned great crested newt.
Work has been delayed somewhat by the wet weather but I am hoping the site can open informally in April and I am very much looking forward to the official grand opening just before summer”.   

I feel it is appropriate to leave Bob Spink hereaway with the birds, as usual…

Any Further Abuse And You’re Off!

Neville Watson: 'same old insults'

THE CANVEY ISLAND INDEPENDENCE PARTY, it seems, is determined to rewrite English dictionaries, along with denying the right to free-speech for residents to air their opinions in their blog’s comment sections. Indeed, it appears that all comments are unwelcome in that area, and that only ‘questions’ are allowed.    

At the Full Council Meeting on 30 March, two motions, raised by CIIP councillors, were the subject of the post: ‘Full Council Meeting.’ on the latter’s blog. To his credit, the author, Neville Watson, did provide a link to the Council’s Webcast; but his article was heavily spun. Once again the theme was ‘big bad Tories are to blame for an ineffectual CIIP.’    

Viewers of the Webcast are likely to find themselves wondering why the two motions were ever brought.    

Lee Barrett’s motion was a simple attempt to pre-empt the Special Development Group’s considerations regarding Canvey Town Centre regeneration and the Council’s decision to upgrade the Paddocks. His motion regarded establishing a permanent Youth Centre in the facility; but his ‘idea’ was devoid of any detailed suggestions as to how this might be accomplished – or any assessment of costs.    

Councillor Beverley Egan introduced an amendment that would ensure the Paddocks would provide inter-generational facilities for all residents; but Barrett, for some reason, would not accept it. His motion had been for ‘part of the Paddocks’ to be developed for a Youth Centre – so where was the problem with Egan’s re-wording to ensure that other members of the community were not disadvantaged?    

Here is how Watson ‘explained’ matters in his post:-    

Councillor Lee Barrett’s passion for our young people was shown in his motion. He wanted the old bar at the Paddocks Centre to be converted into a youth centre. The speech he gave was a shining example of why our party wanted more young councillors. The young speaking for the young. All Canvey Island Independent Party councillors voted in favour of the motion. The Conservative councillors put in an ammendment[sic] and then voted it down. I do feel this was another lost opportunity for our young people but we won’t give up, I promise you.    

Incidentally, Barrett’s motion did not mention ‘the old bar.’    

KRAKEN (you have been reading too much Homer) obviously felt duty bound to respond to Neville’s spin. Commenting on the post, he (?) says:-    

Just what did you want to achieve?. I’ll tell you absolutely nothing, which is all the Canvey Islands Idiots party ever does achieve.    

The amendment was to include Paddocks for all members of the public and that includes the youth in the town centre, but as usual all you did was to try and make cheap meaningless points, making yourselves look very silly.    

KRAKEN makes a valid last point. In his objection to Egan’s amendment, David Blackwell confessed to knowing nothing of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, whom he dismissed as ‘some type of quango.’    

KRAKEN’s comments were met with allegations of ‘abuse’ by Neville Watson. Here is what he had to say:-    

your same old insults we use a green yellow and red card system on this site you are now given a yellow, any further abuse and your off my friend if you cannot find one sensible question.    

How ever i now challenge you to a public debate at my expense do you have the bottle to take me on? the only thing guaranteed is you will lose i can see you are not technical or political aware want the challenge? any place any time what about the Conservative club where you will feel more comfortable just let me know please don’t leave it to long.    

Regards Neville    

So much for an ‘open and honest’ Website dedicated to open and honest political debate.    

Anne Wood also felt she should put forward a motion at the Full Council Meeting. Hers regarded Kismet Park and the fact that the Council had revised its budget through only having to provide under-nine playground facilities, in the wake of the Adizone project, to just £20,000 from the original figure of £80,000 required to accommodate all ages.    

Wood wanted the budget re-instating; but, like Barrett, provided no details why. The majority could not understand her motion, or why she wanted an extra £60,000. As a consequence it was rejected.    

Here is how Neville spun the situation to lay the blame on the big, bad, Tories:-    

Councillor Anne Wood put forward a good, sound motion asking the council to reinstate the funding that was cut from £80,000 to just £20,000 for new equipment at Kismet Park. Her argument was that the residents wanted a children’s playing park, not an Adizone gym. She explained that there was no communication with the residents over the introduction of the gym who felt it would attract anti-social behaviour. Anne’s blog post better explains the situation. Again, the Canvey Island Independent Party all voted with Councillor Anne Wood but the Conservatives voted it down.    

Wood’s motion made no mention of the Adizone Gym.    

Watson is keen to spin against the Council’s majority, whenever he has the chance. And, when he does not have that ability, he resorts to conspiracy theories. Commenting on the same post, onetrueblue asks:-    

Two questions for you Neville.    

Will we get to see a copy of this letter being sent to Wootton Bassett?    

What were Councillor Barrett’s exact plans for the paddocks?
There must be a good reason why this was ‘voted down’.    

(A motion to send a letter of support to the Council of Wootton Basset, moved by Neville’s wife, had been accepted).    

And this is how Watson decided to provide ‘answers’ to his guest’s questions:-    

Hi Onetrueblue.
well at least you have the bottle to make clear who you are thanks for that question 1    

I don’t know if we will see a letter good question i have contacts at wootton Basset i lived close by when i was in the Army and visit there on a regular basis so i promise you i will know.    

Reference Lee Barrets question the council as other plans that is clear its called sitting tenants if you get my drift no tenants no problem, maybe they would like a nice supermarket called Tescos perhaps, what we do know is there is something wrong dont we?.    

May be a letter to the Council but i would not hold your breath my friend some good questions please visit again    

Regards Neville.    

Neville Watson, as we all know, has a serious problem when it comes to answering questions. It could be argued to be a case of serious, serial, abuse.    

So what is blog abuse, Neville? Is it disagreeing with a poster’s view? Is it choosing to ‘agree’ with your own comments? Or is it an organised attempt to manipulate a blog’s comment gradings by continually retrieving certain posts and voting, again, and again – until the overall opinion reflects your views?    

Maybe I should be giving you, and your party, a ‘yellow card…’    

… (Ted Pugh, 02/04/2010) – OK, I Hold My Hands Up

Castle Point Or Passport To Pimlico?

IN THE FIRST cross-party discussion to be held in the comments section of this blog, Neville Watson, Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) councillor for the island’s Winter Gardens ward, appeared to suggest that his main objective, and that of the CIIP, is to obtain the island’s complete political separation from the mainland.

Asked: ‘Is this the pact you have with Spink? Is this the purpose of the ISOGBP? to infiltrate the borough council and align itself with the CIIP to pass a separation resolution?’ Neville did not reply; but, if true, residents would at last be able to understand the motive behind the CIIP’s radical opposition to the majority on the Borough Council and the reason why Spink is not fielding any ISOGBP candidates, in the local May 6th elections, on the island.

Neville’s statement also raises the question why the CIIP purposely chose the less controversial term ‘Independent’ in its title, rather than adopting the ‘Canvey Island Independence Party’ as its political brand. Had they done so, islanders would have been able to easily recognise their political strategy as no more than a cynical power ploy to establish safe seats from which they could not be deposed by their then recently rejected Labour Party.

Under the present system, voters for the main political parties have some control over their representatives by being able to complain to their local association. But the CIIP offers no such facility for the electorate to have an errant candidate replaced.

Dave Blackwell, local garden centre manager and leader of the CIIP, has this as his welcome message to that party’s Website:-

Welcome to the Canvey Island Independent Party’s website. The Canvey Island Independent Party was formed in 2004 because I felt Canvey Island was being neglected by the main political parties. I have lived on Canvey Island all of my life and my family have lived on the Island since 1936. My auntie and uncle were both past members of the old Canvey Urban District Council.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s Canvey Island was a lovely place to live; clean and safe.

Where has all of that gone?

Well it seemed to have started when we joined the main land. I still find Canvey Island a nice place to live and I love it and that is exactly why I am so passionate about giving Canvey what it rightfully deserves. A cleaner, safer and greener place to live with a group of dedicated councillors to help shape Canvey Island into the way you, the residents, want it to be.

I am certain we can achieve this goal if we all work together. Canvey for Canvey my friends!

All the best

Dave Blackwell
Party Leader

Carefully phrased, like Spink’s recent Yellow Advertiser advert, few islanders would perceive any threat from such a party. But Watson’s remarks, on this blog, now put that sentence referencing the mainland into an entirely different light.

Now reading between the lines, it is evident that Blackwell and his party is actually pursuing political separation. But they do not have the honesty to say so. They continue to promote the lie that they are ‘Independent.’ The fact now emerging is that CIIP councillors are pursuing a common strategy – and that strategy has both public and clandestine components.

One does not expect anti-democratic extremism to be present on a small, peaceful, English island in the Thames estuary. But that is exactly what we have here. Not some political terrorist group infiltrating the political establishment to wage a war from within; but, nonetheless, an attack on British Democracy using the very same tactics employed by the far-left, which once riddled the Labour Party, and which seeks not to represent residents; but to spin public opinion and use its power-base to influence voters towards goals that are not made public.

So what would separation mean?..

Let us take the constitutional issue first.

In the thread, Julian explains that separating Canvey from the mainland would not give rise to a further parliamentary seat. The Electoral Commission sets a baseline of around 72,000 voters to form a constituency (and the total population of Canvey Island is just some 40,000 – well below that required).

But what it would do is carve-up the Borough on historical political lines. A Tory mainland and a Labour island. Mainland Labour voters would likely be unable to elect a true representative of their views to act for them locally; and Tory voters, on Canvey, would be in a similar predicament.

The strategy is one of social engineering, designed to create two geographic areas where the political landscape is purposely weighted to ensure candidates are routinely returned to office. And it is one in which, by influencing a free press, opposition will never be reported – because it will be the ruling politicians whom control what is said.

It is already evident, in this Borough, that the local press is unduly influenced by our MP – and that all investigative journalism is absent.

So what is in it for Spink?

Bob has been planning this strategy for some time. Since being thrown-out of the Conservative party, Spink has tried to undermine the local Tory majority on every occasion. He has purposely spread dissent against the ruling group, both on the mainland and the island.

Together with the Echo’s complicity and his adverts in the Yellow Advertiser; Spink has done everything he can to manipulate public opinion. And he has seen the strategy to be a success. His Canvey Island Independent Party romped home in the last Borough Council elections by simply attacking the Cabinet. Residents did not ask the question ‘What are we voting for?’ – they were purposely conditioned by the local press and the opposition, whom they trusted,  to simply ‘vote against.’

Since then they have continued to be conditioned. Democracy has effectively been replaced by engineered public protest. Engineered, because all the island protests could have been avoided had the CIIP been doing its job of representing its electorate. And no mainland protest would have been needed had Spink done his job of mediating with councillors on his constituents’ behalf. Instead he used taxpayer funds to fuel the protests further, whilst, on the island, CIIP councillors purposely led the Tory’s to trip-over their political feet by presenting nothing but meaningless opposition to any proposals, and forcing the majority to impose a political whip in order to get anything done.

As soon as that happened, Spink and the opposition won. It was a political gift that the Tories must deeply regret.

Spink’s next move could have been predicted by any military person: ‘divide and conquer.’ It was the obvious move to make after that of ‘instil confusion in the enemy’.

After attacking the Tory council, Spink could not afford to allow the public to come together under one independent banner (except his own). Had he allowed the CIIP to expand to the mainland, and their campaign be successful, he would no longer have any political control over it. Blackwell would have had the power to remove his party’s localwide support for Spink and achieve his goal of  Canvey independence on his own. Hence Spink’s need to separate disaffected Conservative and Labour voters by presenting a new, ‘independent’ party with which mainlanders could protest against the Cabinet: the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party (ISOGBP).

Once again, the word ‘independent’ is at the fore.

Spink’s aim is to create another local landslide in his new party’s favour on the mainland – presenting his new troops as independent thinking individuals whose election would put a stop to Tory ‘mismanagement’ and public dissent.

It is the same strategy used by the CIIP to win Borough Council seats in the last elections. And the same strategy that the party will adopt this year to retain them.

By not fielding new party candidates against CIIP members, Spink is able to keep CIIP support – promising to repay them when the time comes.

If sufficient ISOGBP candidates are elected, they and the CIIP councillors will combine to force a separation resolution through council – with Spink, this time, wielding an ISOGBP whip.

In this election, Spink will be all over the local press. And he has effectively ‘bribed’ some residents into doing his promotion work for him. Along with their blank manifestos and no pledges, both the CIIP and the ISOGBP will be asking residents to express their anger at the local Tory cabinet by voting for themselves and Spink.

They will offer no policies; but, like the CIIP in the last local elections, will promise strong opposition.

It is Spink who has organised, trained and indoctrinated these candidates. And it is Spink who is providing them with the opportunity of becoming local councillors; masterminding their campaign; and providing them with finance.

Honest people, unfortunately, often see that same honesty reflected in others. And honest people are often extremely loyal. They are the last people to believe that they are being manipulated.

Spink’s smoke grenade, in this election, will be the local press to keep residents’ eyes off of the local elections while he carefully constructs an atmosphere conducive to his ‘indpendent’ party campaigns. We are unlikely to see any local coverage of CIIP or ISOGBP campaigning – simply because they have no policies or pledges to report.

If he loses this year, Spink will not be down-hearted. Provided he obtains local ‘independent’ representation from which he can continue to attack any possible Labour or Tory majority: he can continue to use precisely the same disruptive tactics to engineer his return in four year’s time.

Locally, he will continue to pull press and political opposition strings – and his shade will continue to darken this Borough for many years to come.

If you value Democracy, you will reject Spink, the Canvey Island Independent Party, and the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party when you visit the polls.

This has not been a good time for politics, and many residents will be wishing to abstain this year. But that is precisely what Spink and his cohorts are specifically hoping for.

A low turnout will favour Spink and his two parties.

A vote for either of those two parties will be a vote for separation.

Separation will deny you the opportunity of electing local candidates whom reflect the spectrum of main party politics. It will produce political ghettos on the mainland, and on the island, from which there will be no democratic return.

Please do not let that happen.

Please use your vote wisely this year…

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