Having watched the latest Castle Point Council meeting as Bill Dick’s Motion regarding the situation with the £24,500,000 bid for Government funding to improve the drainage system across Castle Point, some comment is required.
Yes the same £24,500,000 bid that was estimated to be required to correct the Canvey Island drainage system, which now appears to be being sought to share out across the Borough AND an estimated cost that lacks enough detail for presentation.
Councillors during debate neither queried nor challenged the council and supporting agencies position, indeed healthy congratulations for the tireless work being put in by the CPBC chief executive and assisting councillors.
Why then would the Echo have reported, unchallenged by our MP, council leader and chief executive, on the 30th November 2015;
“COUNCIL bosses will return to Parliament this week in a bid to secure multi-million pound funding for Canvey’s drainage.
In March, MP Rebecca Harris joined Castle Point Council and Anglian Water representatives to present minister Liz Truss with a £24.5million bid for Government funding to upgrade drainage.
The group will now return to provide a more detailed submission of its plans to upgrade the island’s system.”
Clearly at the time “A Good News Story” worthy of echo coverage and headlines ahead of elections that would appease concerns for Canvey residents.
The chief executive joining in stating;
“When you get severe events like those which affected the island in the last two years, that is a catastrophe in anybody’s book and 1,000 lives were wrecked.
“This ensures residents that their homes will not be affected to the same extent, but also we can be satisfied all the agencies have pulled together to secure a result for the residents that they deserve.”
The truth was that at the time CPBC and agency representatives were sent away with the message that there was no funding available for them.
So rather than residents feeling confident of how progress has been made in the 2 years since the second major drainage flooding event on Canvey, they now learn that
- the webcast of the Essex Highways representative promising that a more regular regime of road gulley clearance would be put in place, has now been archived away from public view by CPBC.
- That the appeal for Government funding will itself require further funding!
- That the money, should any be forthcoming, will be used across Castle Point!
This poses the question, was the original figure £24,500,000 (note not £24 or £25 million) plucked out of the air to appease residents?
No doubt once a figure is eventually evidenced and presented by a council, with fast approaching financial issues, supported by Anglian Water, a public limited company with shareholders to accomodate, it will, or at least should be, examined minutely before being allocated public funds.
Castle Point Council themselves have questions to answer as development, both the amount and some of the questionable building practises, makes them also accountable.
Essex County have received our council taxes and failed to deliver gulley maintenance.
The environment agency cut back on staffing levels, clearing dykes and pump filters believing the system was adequate, were found out!
All of these issues should have been published within the Castle Point Scrutiny Committee review into the Canvey Island flooding of 2014, instead the report remains incompleted.
Cllr Dick is right to be concerned, and he is entitled to question what is proposed for the mainland areas prone to flooding.
But what wasn’t to be expected was a motion that invited all and sundry to suggest what tireless and fruitful work was being performed by one and all.
Just as CPBC were caught out with their trousers around their ankles when it was admitted that no proposal for funding for the completion of Roscommon Way had been registered with Essex county, now Canvey residents learn that a bid for drainage improvement funding has stalled.
Soon it may be suggested that Canvey residents AND their representatives are being taken for Mugs!