Originally formed to be a voice for the residents in Thorpe ward covered by the Burges Estate, last year, BERA decided to expand into West Shoebury as their latest set of accounts published on their website showed that membership subscriptions had fallen by over a third. Since their expansion, we have received complaints from West Shoebury residents that BERA is being used to fund campaigns for the Independent Party with their councillors and candidates for this years local elections holding the top positions.
In December, BERA placed an advert in the Thorpe Bay Oracle claiming that residents in West Shoebury can get access to information and advice to avoid paying thousands of pounds for an alteration license causing residents, including the elderly and vulnerable, to fear that they were going to receive a demand for thousands of pounds from representatives of The Regis Group and only paying a £5 subscription to BERA would stop this. Due to the unprecedented number of complaints received, I decided to refer the matter to the Advertising Standards Agency.
The leaflet implies that this course of action was only taken because The Regis Group have donated thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party but I am happy to place on record that The Regis Group do not donate to the local Conservative Association and all West Shoebury campaigns and literature are funded from our own pocket or through local fundraising.
Following the numerous complaints about BERA’s activities from local residents, I and my fellow ward councillors subsequently do not recognise BERA as an organisation that puts West Shoebury first but will continue to work with the Shoeburyness Residents Association, an established truly non political group which has enshrined in their constitution that those who seek or hold public office can not be members of the Association.
Although both myself and my fellow colleagues work with many groups and organisations I would like to remind residents that you do not have to pay for a subscription to any organisation for any help or assistance on a local issue.