The ability, or lack of, of Castle Point Council to communicate with residents was apparent during the Reports, Reviews and Scrutiny following the floods during 2013 and 2014.
Whilst more and more development, both residential and housing, is being planned and proposed for Canvey Island the continued failure of communication leads to emergency planning issues being compounded. Promises of new roads cloud the waters, evacuation is not an option according to Castle Point Council.
Having limited information hidden away on the Council’s website is of little value, but allows the local authority to exonerate themselves.
The denser the urbanisation becomes, the more complex the response to emergencies become, whether through surface water flooding, flooding from the estuary or an incident at the hazardous industry sites.
The flooding during 2014 illustrated the weakness of the initial response to an emergency on Canvey Island. There were difficulties, understandably, for the Environment Agency teams to respond to failures with the pumps. The Essex County report into the event was critical of the failures and messages coming from our local authority. Residents requested sand bags to protect property, unaware that CPBC have no sand bag issuing facilities!
Should a breach of the sea defences occur the problems and dangers would multiply.
Equally there is little attempt to inform residents of safe procedures for self protection in the event of an incident at the Hazardous Industrial sites.
And yet Local plan Constraints on housing development have been discussed and used by the local authority to the effect that the housing numbers should be limited for the Borough, but that still large housing and industrial / business development is proposed for Canvey that will effectively compound the potential problems.
While we are kept unaware, it can be assumed Canvey residents will not object.
It appears that these proposals are being proposed knowingly, that little effort is being made to make Canvey residents more informed.
The lack of effort by CPBC has been noted even by Essex County Council, yet little changes!
Over 2 years ago Essex County Council, in September 2013 recorded;
“With specific reference to Canvey Island, the Committee acknowledged that the close proximity of COMAH sites to residential areas probably does contribute to an increased perception of danger among residents. While there are historical reasons for the location of the COMAH Sites and residential areas that have developed in close proximity to those sites, it was agreed that in an ideal world such sites would be planned distant from houses. However, the Committee focussed its attention on existing circumstances and believed that the best way of countering those fears is by effective public information systems and robust emergency planning.
The Committee was disappointed with the limited information available via the Council’s (CPBC) own website, which was exacerbated by the fact that some of the valuable materials produced by the ECPEM team (Essex Civil Protection and Emergency Management Team) could not apparently be published on the site even though other local authorities had published the same materials. Furthermore attention had been drawn to advances in technology such as real time information and social media systems that could be harnessed to develop even greater community resilience.”