Monday, 4 April 2016

Garrison Planning Application

The first weekend of every month sees the delivery of the Thorpe Bay Oracle magazine.

Although titled Thorpe Bay Oracle, it is delivered in some parts of West Shoebury and Shoeburyness wards if it is deemed to be a 'highly affluent' area. I particularly like the local issues section and it regularly features some good contributions from local people or community groups.

This months guest columnist is my former UKIP (now Southend Independence Group) West Shoebury colleague James Moyies.

The article starts with James work as the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and the cuts that he has had made within the Public Health budget but there was, rather unsurprisingly, no robust defence of the decision, in the face of all the cuts, to spend over £3,000 sponsoring a recent Southend United fixture unlike he made at the last People Scrutiny Committee meeting.

The final part of the article relates to the recent decision by the Planning Committee to grant outline planning permission for 172 homes on the former Gunners Park site.

Without wanting to bore readers with a history lesson of the site, in 1998, the Labour/Lib Dem Administration gave planning permisssion for the now Garrison development. As part of this planning consent, was to turn this space from parkland into light industrial use.

Some 18 years later, I'm sure that I would get near, or if not, unanimous agreement that light industry is not appropriate in what is a largely residential area.

At the recent Planning Committee meeting on the 2nd March, planning permission, after months of twoing and throwing, was granted to build new homes on this site. In the Oracle article, James gives an, I'm sure, well meaning apology for not preventing planning permission being granted for this site. Well, to be quite frank, so he should, as this is what happens when candidates promise the electorate jam tomorrow when there is a chance that they will not be able to deliver on the promises that they make once elected.

James blames the decision to award planning permission on the Conservative and UKIP groups on the Planning Committee. What is so blatent about this article is the covering of James and his Administrations backside on this issue and try to divert blame elsewhere.

You see, the Conservatives do not currently run Southend Council. The current Administration is made up of the Independent Party, Labour, Lib Dem and Southend Independence Group councillors. This means that the Administration will have the majority on every committee - including the planning committee.

For avoidance of doubt, I have put together a chart of the Planning Committee members and the way they voted on this planning application:

As you can see, five members of the Administration voted for the approval of this planning application. For the record, I would voted against this application. My reasons are the density of the numbers of houses proposed and the traffic impact on the alread busy and congested Ness Road and Campfield Road.

I would have liked to have personally attended the Planning Committee but I wasn't allowed to. This Administration changed the rules preventing a councillor not on the Planning Committee attending and speaking for or against a planning application if it is not in the ward that they represent. This planning application was in Shoeburyness ward and not West Shoebury ward that I represent. Therefore, I was prevented from speaking, or gagged if you like, by the current Administration who claims to be 'democratic'.

As they say, empty vessels make the most noise...

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