The Echo newspaper, not so long ago an investigative weekday daily journal of some note, now appears more selective in the way it approaches and responds to local, Castle Point issues.
On the 16th April it reproduced a letter from local Green Belt campaigner and Castle Point Borough councillor S.Hart.
This appears to be cllr Hart’s response to this Blog’s post “Castle Point Local Plan Consultation? Some Tweaks possible but – All we have left is a Fall!” dated April 11th and can be viewed HERE.
Being a regular subscriber, and noting that cllr Hart had accused the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group of spreading “untruths,” I expected that our local newspaper, the Echo having reproduced the allegation would afford the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group the right to reply.
I can only assume that Castle Point cllr Simon Hart is referring to the Canvey Green Belt Campaign Blog post in his letter “Local Plan is a draft, not adopted.” Having been accused publically by cllr Hart of spreading untruths, I hope I have the right to reply. We are fully aware that the document was voted for consultation, we have never said otherwise. What our post was attempting to explain was the gravity of having done so. Work on a Local Plan has been ongoing for in excess of 8 years with much effort and expense spent on producing and interpreting the evidence base.
The Canvey Green Belt group have closely followed and taken part in the process.
It was cllr Smith on introducing the Local Plan motion to full council who said ““no stone had been left unturned” and that “ a lot of time had been spent by councillors looking at every conceivable (housing) site in the Borough, both brownfield and greenfield.” He went on, however, this was the best Local Plan possible and “following consultation some “tweaking,” will need to be done, and was prepared to work with that.” Cllr Hart himself should recognise the evidenced truth before accusing others.
For cllr Hart to dismiss this amount of work as leading to “Only a Draft” is in itself misleading us residents. The draft identified “deliverable” Green Belt housing sites. The fact that local councillors and “professional” officers have issued a Plan for consultation will be explored at Appeal by developers, especially when CPBC are now exploring further, what appears, “developable” but less “deliverable” sites in preference to those already identified. CPBC must take care that the next version of the Local Plan that is published does not appear to be more “daft” than “draft.”
Canvey Green Belt Campaign group (name and address supplied).
The Echo chose, as is their right if of little or no relevance, not to print.
On re-sending the letter and pointing out that having been accused of spreading untruths a response should be allowed, the echo again chose to ignore the Canvey letter.
Further Editorial comment also call into question the Echo’s policies.
Recently the echo made much of the situation at Thorney Bay, photos and reporting “exposing” claims that the site was not fit for year long habitation and yet Local Authorities were accomodating people from across the Country in the static caravans.
The Editorial comment referred to;
“More to the point, the dispute is clouding consideration of the much bigger issue. Is human dumping, for want of a less stark word, taking place on Canvey?”
“Evidence is mounting that tenants are being placed in Thorney Bay by Councils outside Castle Point. If so, it means these local authorities are divesting themselves of responsibility for their own people, and passing it on to Castle point councillors – and tax payers.”
Fine words from the seemingly righteous Echo newspaper.
However in stark contrast to the comment is an advertisement that is reproduced on a regular basis in the Echo advert columns on behalf of Thorney Bay Park offering:
“Accommodation to Let, long or short term Homes available now!!! homes situated on a beautiful secure park with a beach front location.
Fully furnished and all services. Call our friendly staff. “
A case of double standards, entering the pages of a once exceptional newspaper, perhaps?