When this blog was set up, we had a bit of an entertaining natter with our mates over at Basildon & Southend Housing Action as to which of these two was the worst local authority to live under / deal with – Thurrock or Basildon? We didn’t come to any conclusion but decided it would be a good end of year ruse to make an award to one of these of these. We’d like to make this interactive so readers, it’s over to you! Here’s the preliminary evidence for you:
Where the f**k do we start? A clear demonstration of the sheer arrogance of the council has to be their pig headedness in forcing through plans to extend the civic offices in New Road, Grays. This is just one of many posts written about this extension: The supreme arrogance of Thurrock Council. This scheme, which resulted in a number of businesses run by people of migrant origin having their premises demolished because they were in the footprint of the extension, has been pushed through in the face of considerable opposition from residents of all political persuasions and none who think it’s an unnecessary vanity project.
Then there’s the council’s utterly dismal record in overseeing infrastructure projects. There’s the currently stalled re-development of the railway station at Stanford-le-Hope where the main building was demolished at the start of 2019 and pretty much nothing has happened since: Thurrock Council – you cannot rewrite history or bullshit your residents! We’ve had it on good authority that the station buildings were demolished before detailed work on plans and the necessary land acquisition had even got underway! Also in the east of the borough, there’s the over-budget and overdue widening of the A13 between the Orsett Cock roundabout and the junction with the Manorway which leads down to the London Gateway port: Thurrock Council and delayed infrastructure projects – there’s a pattern emerging and it ain’t good!
Then, last but by no means least, there’s the emerging story about Thurrock Council borrowing over one billion pounds to speculatively invest in ‘green’ bonds secured on a number of solar farms. The hope is that the revenue from this will help the council to balance the books. One of the issues with this is the lack of due diligence undertaken by the council on a) the ‘entrepreneur’ who set up the deal to buy the bonds and b) the actual investment, the solar farms, which are experiencing ongoing issues that could affect the worth of the ‘green’ bonds. This is how we covered it on the Thurrock and Basildon Heckler: Murkier and murkier…
As we’ve been working with Basildon & Southend Housing Action over the last few years, we’ve got to know a lot about the issues there are with the way Basildon Council treat their tenants. For the purpose of this piece, we’ll focus on the town centre ‘masterplan’ which has been enthusiastically promoted by the council leader, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab). The masterplan involves levelling a fair chunk of the town centre to facilitate the construction of a large number of medium to high rise apartment blocks with retail outlets, cafes, bars and restaurants on the ground floor: ‘Regeneration’ – the only way is up.
The ‘masterplan’ just gives developers the green light to pretty much do what the f**k they want. The plan makes no reference to how the rebuilt town centre will relate to the rest of Basildon. It certainly doesn’t address the housing needs of Basildon as they currently stand. That alone confirms the suspicions of many residents that these apartments are aimed at more affluent commuters working in London. Although with the shifts in working patterns as a consequence of the lockdown, that will be travelling into London for a couple of days a week to ‘touch base’ and spending the rest of the time working from their high rise apartment. Hence the cafe society that Callaghan wants to see as part of the new look town centre – cafes to provide digitally savvy workers with somewhere different to set up the laptop or tablet while sipping a latte or two.
Basically, a town centre that owes a lot to Sim City but leaves the majority of Basildon residents feeling distinctly unimpressed. Callaghan being the type of leader he is has dismissed the concerns of residents, claiming that the majority of them support the proposed re-development: Buls**t!
Callaghan has links with the property development industry which may well influence his judgement when the developers come calling with their schemes to obliterate the skyline of Basildon with their apartment blocks. This was written over two years ago but still holds water: What a tangled web they weave. When this was first published it went a bit viral with p***ed off Basildon residents playing a major role in spreading it around:)
It’s over to you!
This is just the preliminary evidence folks…Between now and the end of the year, we can expect a tsunami of shite and bullshit from both authorities so there will be more evidence…loads more! Let us know who you think should get the award and why. We may even make this award physically with a few props:)