At Last, Some Co-Operative Local Politics

YESTERDAY EVENING’S Cabinet meeting had two surprises in store: an admission by a Canvey Island Independent Party member that the borough has a housing problem, and the reported support of Canvey Island Town Council (CITC) for a cabinet proposal to introduce a borough-wide dog fouling scheme. (The Town Council has, of course, been endlessly debating its own costly proposals regarding dog fouling on the island, which have been heavily criticised).

Unlike the Town Council’s proposals, however, Castle Point will enforce its scheme using current personnel and introducing maximum fines.

Cllr Peter Burch

The plan was put to cabinet by Cllr Peter Burch, the cabinet member for Leisure and Environment, who recommended that:-

  1. The Cabinet endorses the proposal to make a borough- wide Dog Control Order which would make failure to remove dog faeces on all open land to which the public have access, an offence;
  2. The Cabinet endorses the proposal to set the fixed penalty fine at the maximum allowable, i.e. £80 and to prosecute persistent offenders (maximum fine £1000); and
  3. Officers undertake the necessary consultation and report back their findings prior to Cabinet determining whether to recommend to Council to proceed with the making of the Dog Control Order.

Castle Point Borough Council (CPBC) is obliged to consult with CITC on its plans.

Cabinet member and Town Councillor, Ray Howard, spoke of the Town Council’s strong support for the measures proposed, which were carried unanimously.

Cllr Jeffrey Stanley

Cllr Jeffrey Stanley, cabinet member for Corporate Policy Resources and Performance, provided a detailed assessment of the important Housing Revenue Account reforms, enacted by the previous Labour government and now under consultation.

Unlike the present situation, where the difference between rent income and maintenance costs disappears from the Borough to assist other local authorities with poor housing stock – and 75 percent of any revenue from tenant home-purchase is paid to central government – CPBC would be able to retain all those funds to build affordable housing of its own.

However, in order to ensure poor local authorities are not disadvantaged, the Borough would need to take-on a central government debt of £33.9 million – to be repaid over 30 years.

The proposals would not provide CPBC with the ability to meet its own housing needs; but would go a short way towards it – perhaps providing enough funds to build some six units per year. The vast majority of the borough’s affordable housing would still need to be met by local housing associations and private developers.

Cllr Lee Barrett

Surprisingly, Lee Barrett, of the CIIP, took time-out to attend the cabinet meeting and speak in favour of the proposal. He read a prepared statement in which he accepted the need for more affordable housing and, in his personal capacity as serving on the Audit Committee, provided his support.

It is the first time, to this author’s knowledge, that a CIIP member has ever formally accepted the need for additional housing in the borough – or address the financial issues involved.

It was agreed to note the report’s contents and approve the draft responses to the consultation.

Steve Rogers

Steve Rogers, Head of Regeneration and Homes, addressed the Coalition Government’s changes to PPS3 (its Planning Policy Statement regarding housing).

‘The government reissued its policy statement on 9 June,’ he said, ‘to give local authorities the opportunity to prevent overdevelopment and garden grabbing.’

Under the new PPS3, private residential gardens have been excluded from the definition of ‘previously developed land,’ and the national indicative minimum density of building 30 dwellings per hectare has been deleted.

However, he continued, local authorities are still expected to demonstrate the extent to which their existing plans identify and maintain a rolling five-year supply of deliverable land for housing. So it continues to be the case that CPBC needs to ensure that plans demonstrating a five year supply remain in place.

His explanation made clear the reasons why Cabinet was still obliged to present its Core Strategy for approval by the government inspector.

Cllr Pam Challis, OBE

In proposing: ‘That the Cabinet notes the commencement of the Examination of the Castle Point Core Strategy Development Plan Document on Tuesday 22nd June 2010, and agrees that the Chief Executive or the Head of Regeneration and Homes in consultation with the Leader of the Council may agree to minor amendments to the Core Strategy which the Inspector may suggest or recommend to the Council,’ the Leader of the Council, Pam Challis, highlighted:-

  • On 27 May 2010, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government wrote to Council leaders highlighting the new Government’s commitment to rapidly abolish Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and return decision-making powers on housing and planning (including housing supply and the provision of travellers sites) to local councils without the framework of regional numbers and plans.
  • Formal revocation of the RSS has not yet occurred and, in legal terms, the current RSS (East of England Plan) is still part of the development plan. National policy (including PPS12 & PPS3) also remains in force. Nevertheless, because the Government intends to abolish RSSs this becomes a material consideration in examining development plans. For this reason, it is necessary to defer, at the very least, the hearing session on housing (Matter 7) into the Castle Point Core Strategy until clarity is provided in a formal Ministerial statement.
  • It may also be necessary to revisit matters where the consequences of abolishing the RSS could have some effect although there is no intention to do so at the moment.
  • Should national or regional policy change, or the scope and nature of the examination alter as a result of new government statements, the agenda, nature and content of the matters and issues for examination may need to be further amended.
  • In light of these changes hearing statements on housing matters should not be submitted until indicated by the Inspector.

In addition, she noted that: ‘An additional question has been added to the opening session of the Examination (Matter 1) in order to provide all parties with the opportunity to comment on the changes now being proposed to the planning system.’

It remains to be seen how quickly the Coalition Government can act to prevent the previous government’s Regional Spatial Strategies from being adopted.

Spink’s Gambit For An Elected Mayor In Question

BOB SPINK and Dave Blackwell will be wondering what on earth they have done, this bank holiday week-end, to upset their tame poodle Colin Letchford.

On Friday, the Echo reported that Letchford would prefer a return to the old committee system of local government – rather than having an elected mayor.

He is reported as saying: ‘A system which involves the whole council making decisions has got to be more democratic.’

That Letchford should publicly come to this conclusion, now that he is so close to achieving the 3,364 signatures he requires to force a referendum on the issue, may well derail our two conspirators’ ambitions to create a lucrative position from which to engineer their separatist plans.

The discredited committee structure

In the same article, Blackwell is quoted as saying: ‘In Castle Point, we are desperate to put democracy back into the council. The leader and the cabinet should sit up and take note and bring back the very democratic committee system as soon as possible.’

‘The leader and cabinet should… bring back the… committee system’?

Blackwell cannot resist the temptation to allude that the cabinet holds all the power; but, as has been shown previously on this Blog, the most powerful body in the cabinet system is the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) – of which Blackwell just happens to be chairman.

That the OSC can be abused by an opposition to undermine the elected majority is, however, not a good reason to return to the simpler, older system, in which all decisions are made by full council and in which all opposition members vote.

Whilst it is true that, under the old system, Blackwell would not be able to sit back and watch as cabinet are forced to make unpalatable choices – like closing the Concord pool – and could not then ‘call-in’ the decision to make political capital from a situation he had allowed to take place, the fact is that Blackwell’s particular form of politics was born of the old committee system (so it should not come as a surprise to find that the Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) would still benefit from a return to the old, discredited, routine).

So, how do the two systems differ?

CPBC's Cabinet System

Well, the cabinet system was imposed by the last Labour Government in an effort to streamline decision making. Rather than requiring all members to vote on every single matter that came before council, day to day matters were removed to a separate cabinet body consisting of a selection of between eight and ten majority members.

Cabinet meetings were still held in public – and non cabinet members could ask questions regarding matters in hand; but they could not vote. However, their questions could always ask the cabinet to refer a certain matter to full council if they thought there were reasons for doing so – and any member could bring any matter debated in cabinet to the attention of another body, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was given extensive powers to ‘call-in’ any cabinet decision; investigate the matter in detail and, if necessary, refer it to full council.

Day-to-day decision making was made much quicker – because it removed the ability of an obstructive opposition to tie members up debating matters of little local concern – thereby frustrating the ability of the majority to move-on to policy matters. It was argued, by the then Labour Government, that too little was being done by local councils because necessary decisions were being purposely held-up in committees whose make-up did not represent the majority’s views.

Under the old system, many majority election pledges found their way into political committee dungeons to never again see the light of day. The cabinet system broke the back of such obstruction by ensuring that a majority’s pledges could at least be rubber stamped by cabinet before being exhaustively scrutinised. Moreover, it laid the basis for any subsequent full council vote that would either approve or reject an intact proposal. (Committees were no longer able to tinker with original majority proposals in order to ensure their subsequent rejection).

In short, the cabinet system breathed new life into councils where the majority was unable, through opposition obstruction, to implement the policies they had been elected to implement.

It could be argued that the cabinet system is actually more democratic than the old committee system; because the majority is not clandestinely denied the means of implementing its manifesto. However, there is no doubt that many long serving members feel slighted by not being able to vote on every single matter – just as government back-benchers feel slighted that they have not been picked for a lucrative cabinet post.

Of course, Blackwell and his cronies promote the idea that the cabinet holds all the power. But the fact is that the cabinet is just a means for the majority to filter matters into those that can be quickly dealt with and those that might need fuller debate. It is rather like a production line, overlooked by the opposition leader who has the power to remove any product from reaching the stores. But, of course, Blackwell will never admit to that.

You see, Blackwell is not a willing production-line employee. He is not looking to remove faulty products from the conveyor belt before they reach the packing department. He is much more concerned with allowing faulty goods to pass unnoticed so he can complain about the firm’s management when they hit the stores.

That is why you will rarely see opposition councillors attending cabinet meetings. If they did, the attending public might well ask why no CIIP member asked questions when a controversial decision was made. Just as Blackwell ensured he was not around to chair the scrutiny of the Concord pool decision, he and his CIIP councillors like to make themselves scarce when any decisions have to be made. After all, it is easier to join a protest than it is to launch one of your own (and take the risk of wrongly judging the public mood). And the CIIP’s absence has also helped to affirm the lie that cabinet takes all its decisions in ‘secret.’

Tuesday evening’s cabinet meeting was interesting, because it seems, at last, that the ruling group is finally aware of CIIP strategy. At that meeting, Pam Challis introduced an item for the council’s constitution to be modified to allow members of the general public to ask questions directly of cabinet. (At the moment they can only do so through an elected representative).

The motion, calling upon officers to investigate the legal position and asking them to draw-up a revised constitution, was passed unanimously.

The move will be warmly welcomed by residents – although CIIP members made no supportive noises when the decision was taken. Perhaps they took cabinets’ vote as a direct reflection of their own abilities to represent their constituents at cabinet – since the proposal would effectively make them redundant…

New Political Year – New Mayor for CPBC

Mayor David Cross

TO MARK THE START of the new political year, Castle Point Borough Council elected a new mayor. He is David Cross, the Conservative councillor for St Mary’s Ward, who replaces last year’s mayor, Cliff Brunt.

His deputy will be Jackie Govier, the Conservative member for St George’s Ward.

Pam Challis, Conservative, St Peter’s, was officially re-elected as Council Leader, along with her deputy, the Conservative member for Boyce Ward, Jeffrey Stanley.

Godfrey Isaacs, Conservative, St James, was appointed as the Member for Safer Communities – replacing Tony Belford, who retired ahead of this month’s local elections.

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