Tag Archives: Castle Point Borough Council

“One Team” Criticism all too Familiar with Canvey Residents? Castle Point Planning under the Spotlight, again as CPBC Expose their own Shortcomings!

Are there two different report copies of the same Investigation Review report into Castle Point Council Development Planning? That is the question we find us asking ourselves after copies were sent to the Echo newspaper, and anonymously to ourselves over the weekend.

Unlike the Echo’s version, ours appears as though a more Critical Report, would be hard to imagine than that produced following the Peer Challenge review into Castle Point Borough Council Planning! With Headline Criticisms seemingly jumping from every single page it appears that CPBC officers and councillor heads should be hung in shame.

Whereas, the Echo report on the same Peer Challenge review, gave the impression of a low level of criticism of our local authority, even played down further by the CPBC ceo!

That our Local Authority (CPBC) finds itself in an “incredibly challenging position”, can only be described as a massive and polite understatement, whilst  the CPBC leadership attempts to distance itself from its Planning department and Development Committee in an attempt to maintain a self implied level of competency.

The report uncoveredKey concerns include chairing, respect for the Chair, clarity of stages of decision, weighting of appropriate planning considerations, consistency, probity and consistent referencing of non-planning matters in planning decision making, and over dominant members. We also found a very weak understanding amongst some members and substitutes on DCC (Development Control Committee) of their role and the Codes of Conduct and other Council policies that govern behaviour and practice

we found a widespread perception concerning weaknesses in probity in relation to planning decision making. Such is the level of concern amongst the Executive Management Team (EMT) that two statutory letters have been sent to Members concerning inappropriate behaviour.”

For clarity, Probity noun “the quality of being honest and behaving correctly

This is an appalling accusation to have been made! Fortunately no individuals were named in the Report, however this leaves a smear against all members until those accused are identified, a gross unfairness for our representatives.

 Other criticisms appear to have led to a change in the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman, as can be seen in the latest Development Committee Agenda papers on CPBC website.

Significant weaknesses exist in the operaton (sic) of the Development Control Committee (DCC). Key concerns include chairing, respect for the Chair, clarity of stages of decision, weighting of appropriate planning considerations, consistency, probity and consistent referencing of non-planning matters in planning decision making, and over dominant members. We also found a very weak understanding amongst some members and substitutes on DCC of their role and the Codes of Conduct and other Council policies that govern behaviour and practice.

However, the new development committee Chairman cllr. Dick and new Vice Chairman cllr. Sharp have both strongly held views on severely limiting development numbers, especially on Green Belt. Whilst we, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, support this as a policy, whether CPBC will be left open to criticism and exploited by developers etc, at appeal or Local Plan examination stage may be another matter, that only time will reveal!

The criticism of cllr. Hart, ex chairman may appear harsh, having been promoted to the position comparatively recently. It is apparent, whilst holding fairly strong views, he has put in appropriate effort  and appeared to clearly take his role seriously, however direct criticism is aimed through the report at him.

Given cllr Hart’s apparent efforts, much of this criticism perhaps should be directed at council officers in the level and quality of training being offered to him and the other committee members.

However there has been, over recent years, use made of the “adopted” policy of approving development on, so called non-“Virgin” Green Belt land. Two proposals of which were granted on Canvey Island, one for a bricks and mortar built equestrian centre and one for a residential care home, both sites on Canvey Island west ward.

Whether  these transgressions from the 1998 Adopted Local Plan, with its protection of all Green Belt land, as directed within Planning Guidance unless exceptional circumstances suggest otherwise, would form part of the criticisms raised, is not made apparent.

The Report continues; “We found incidences of a significant breakdown in relationships between some Members and senior officers relating to the culture of policy plan making and planning decision making at Castle Point.” “The perception of probity issues” “in itself is a serious leadership issue which needs to be tackled at a senior level. It was our impression from the peer review that these dysfunctional relationships are badly affecting morale, draining capacity and leading to negative and defensive behaviours that are getting in the way of productive joint working and acting as ‘one team’.”

That there is / has been “significant breakdown in relationships” comes as no surprise, as incidents have emerged anecdotally and in the press, over the course of some years. What is apparent is that senior officers and party leaders have had ample time to address these issues in the interests of the Borough, developers and residents. The ambition of working as “one team” is all too rare in politics of All Levels these days!

The criticism above will add to the apparent uneasiness with the perceived unfair representation of Canvey Island residents. The implication is that some development committee members have their own Agendas and that, of the number of decisions made during planning meetings, too many go against the advice of officers for unsubstantiated reasoning!

“There are significant opportunities for the Council to address these issues and recast the DCC to a Strategic Planning Committee with potentially a smaller more focussed group of well-trained Members with key competencies and behaviours to judge development against the development plan and material planning considerations.”

“Recommendation 2 . Address the issues identified and reconstitute a new modernised strategic Development Management Committee with a strategic focus – including a review of size, composition, behaviours, skills and complete modernisation of processes. Political leaders from all parties should ensure that Members with the appropriate skills and behaviours are appointed to the Committee.”

The Report is dated April 1st, 3 months have now passed by with no official, acknowledgement nor announcement to Castle Point Residents. It says much of the Arrogance and Control of the heads of CPBC that they desired to keep this Report, despite being funded by Canvey and mainland Residents, should be kept secret from us all.

In response to the report sees Castle Point Council development committee continuing with a similar membership set up to previous, ignoring the suggested opportunity to respond to the Peer Review team’s specific recommendation to stream line the committee size and uplift the competency levels by maintaining the committee membership numbers and by including 4 new members with no previous planning experience, three of these as substitutes.

“At present the area is producing less than half of the homes required. Without the adoption and development of large scale master planning sites in the Local Plan, the planning system is not able to deliver on meeting identified corporate priorities such as affordable homes, new schools, better integrated health facilities, enhanced access to green space, safe walking and cycling routes and improved highway infrastructure. Currently while approximately 100-150 homes are built each year the Borough is missing out on intergrated co-ordination and delivery that can lead to wider community gain and is essential for building sustainable communities.”

The so called “wider community gain” is a Never – Neverland dream, with very few Affordable homes being accrued as a percentage of market priced Housing developed, due to Developers Viability arguments. Even then facilities, agreed via S106 agreements, will generally only amount to on-site improvements. Whereas, there is a requirement that funding for improvement of the Canvey Island Sea Defence will need to come from localised sources. It was deemed desirable that development within the Borough should be reasonably expected to contribute to such Sea Defence funding. Castle Point Council have sought not 1 Penny from any developer. Given the scale of development in Canvey west ward this is a travesty and is storing up major financial issues for the future!

“Developers and house builders, we spoke to told us that presently they are avoiding investing in Castle Point despite what they saw as the area’s obvious locational advantages. They saw making large scale investment decisions in Castle Point just too risky based on this situation.  This is of significant concern and of reputational damage to CPBC and needs to be address urgently.”

Developers have the means of presenting their case of point in a way that Peer group planners and councillors would more likely agree with, rather than object to. There are clear Development Constraints, whether Green Belt or Flood Risk, to be taken into account, something that the likes of Persimmon, with their Land Bank portfolio in mind, would care little about.

Officers have worked to engage with Members throughout all stages of Local Plan development yet there remains a deep rooted predilection to revert to a well-used Member statement that the Local Plan is the officer’s Plan. This is incorrect and it is crucial that all Members own the Local Plan and are responsible for what happens as a consequence of it.”

This, as Canvey Island residents should all be aware by now, is Un-True, The Local Plan Task and Finish Group work, now conveniently eradicated from the CPBC Local Plan Archives, would indicate their work on the specific Canvey Island Constraints on development, Hazardous Industries and Flood Risk both Tidal and Surface Water, was ended abruptly by a senior officer. Members were led to believe they had agreed a further complete meeting on the Topics, instead none was organised and officers and the Leaders went ahead and published “their” Local Plan!

I wonder whether that point was put to the Peer Challenge review Team!

Regarding the number of Planning Proposals that have been overturned by the CPBC DCC the Peer review group stated; “It is important to note that in the last two years the vast majority of DCC overturns have been in situations where officers’ recommendations have been to refuse housing development in the green belt whereas the Committee has agreed to allow development.  If non-material matters are being considered in relation to the decision making it potentially throws(sic) doubt on the validity of the debate and decision-making process.”

Surely there are mechanisms in place to address this issue, however on the one hand the Peer Challenge Team identify a lack of development approvals, and then they suggest that the Development Committee members should not be granting approvals against officer advice. Housing Delivery numbers would be even lower in that case!

“we see an important opportunity for the wider political leadership and opposition party to develop a coherent long-term growth vision for Castle Point. This needs to contain a stronger narrative around the benefits of growth for residents,”

“Current delivery against target is only at 48 per cent and Castle Point is the joint 10th worst council out of the 343 other councils in England on this measure. Previous housing targets were in the region of 250-280 dwellings per year with delivery in the area of only 100-150 dwellings a year. The Local Housing Needs requirement raises the target to 370 dwellings per year while the non-approved Local Plan aimed for 350 dwellings per year.”

It truly does appear that Castle Point council and Residents, will one way or another, have Development, Housing Numbers and its Delivery foisted upon Us!

Government have claimed it is for local authorities to decide their own Housing Need and Delivery, well this Local Government Association inquisition of Development Committee and Council members, albeit self imposed by CPBC heads, have done a grand job of suggesting that Westminster, the civil service and Developers retain the whip hand!

Once again we wonder whether this “challenging,” Planning Improvement Peer Challenge, will be disclosed ahead of the next Council meeting to consider the Local Plan 2019?

Of course we must bear in mind that this “challenging” report is the opinion of invited outsiders, indeed included in the text appears a series of questions raised by CPBC themselves. An invite to condemn, to which, no doubt, CPBC members will most likely disagree and rightfully have their own opinions.

The Peer Review team consisted of: • Paul Barnard – Service Director, Strategic Planning & Infrastructure Plymouth City Council; • Cllr Dale Birch – Conservative Member, Deputy Leader & Planning Committee Member, Bracknell Forest Council; • Julie Baird – Assistant Director for Growth, West Suffolk Council; • Stephen Barker – Principal Consultant, Planning Advisory Service; and • Robert Hathaway – Peer Challenge Manager, LGA associate. And it was made clear that further support is available from the Planning Advisory Service and Local Government Association, suggesting that perhaps CPBC are not currently best equipped on an officer level.

Thanks go to those within the Castle Point Borough who are willing to whistle blow or to leak documentation of such local importance.

This blog post has been constructed in good faith under the assumption that the report received is in fact a correct and unaltered version of the original. Should this assumption turn out to be incorrect we will happily alter or retract the relevant parts in the copy above.

Runnymede Towers
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The Growth Changing Face of Canvey Island, Castle Point and the Thames Estuary! CPRE Essex Post

What Thames Estuary Growth Plans could mean for Climate Change and Accountability.

The government’s backing of proposals to target the Thames estuary for massive development flies in the face of wider calls to tackle climate change, according to one of CPRE’s leading lights in the area.
In June last year the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission published a report calling for the building of more than a million homes and the creation of 1.3 million new jobs in east London, Essex and Kent.
The commission, an advisory body to the government that was announced in the 2016 Budget and tasked to “develop an ambitious vision and delivery plan for north Kent, south Essex and east London up to 2050”, had also urged that ‘joint spatial plans’ be created in both Essex and Kent, which it said should take more of London’s housing need.
It also called for greater strategic planning and the creation of development corporations “with planning, and compulsory purchase powers to drive the delivery of homes and jobs aligned to major infrastructure investment”.
Responding in March this year, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, stressed his support for the commission’s recommendations.
“The Thames estuary has long been a gateway to the UK economy and has enormous untapped potential, which has the power to benefit those that live and work in the area,” he announced.
“Having considered the recommendations of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, I have announced a number of steps we are taking to unlock an even brighter future for the estuary’s economy, marking the beginning of a new and bolder approach by this government to support the area.”
He said government “expects all local authorities to plan for the number of homes required to meet need in their area” and “would encourage cooperation between the London boroughs and neighbouring authorities in Kent and Essex and welcome further engagement with those places, including with groups of London boroughs, in exploring how we might support them to plan for and deliver significant increases in the provision of homes”.
The government is also “committed to exploring the potential for at least two new locally-led development corporations in the Thames estuary”, “subject to suitable housing ambition from local authorities, and we encourage local areas in the estuary to come forward with such proposals”.
The response included a commitment of £1 million to establish a Thames Estuary Growth Board to “oversee and drive economic growth plans for the area” and £4.85 million “to support local partners to develop low-cost proposals for enhancing transport services” between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet.
The wish to impose high levels of growth on an already desperately overcrowded part of the country is alarming and of course would entail substantially expanded infrastructure, most contentiously a Lower Thames Crossing, a road many believe would exacerbate traffic congestion rather than alleviate it.
Hilary Newport, director of CPRE Kent, said: “A new crossing, should it be built, is projected to reduce traffic flows at Dartford by a pitifully low 22 per cent. That is a minuscule benefit, but the environmental and community harm caused by the biggest UK road project since the building of the M25 would be substantial.
“A new crossing would be all about intensifying overcrowding in the South East and opening up countryside development. It is now beyond dispute that increasing road capacity results in more vehicle journeys – we cannot build our way out of congestion.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that we need to take immediate action to curb catastrophic climate change, yet here we are stuck with the government’s obsession with a new Thames crossing to help pave the way for colossal levels of business-as-usual development.
“To say the government’s focus on new road capacity is out of date is to hugely understate the problem. Rather than investing solely in new roads, it should be promoting better public transport links, rationalising the over-reliance on road-based freight movement and supporting planning policies that support walking and cycling.”
The revised focus on the estuary comes after the previously mooted Thames Gateway project stalled, partly through a downturn in the economy and partly through the ditching by the coalition government, which came to power in 2010, of regional planning.
Now, perhaps ironically, there are concerns among some in the planning world that local authorities in north Kent have not engaged in joint strategic planning in the same manner as their counterparts in south Essex and the capital.
Six local authorities in south Essex have come together with their county council to form the Association of South Essex Local Authorities and pledged to prepare a joint plan.
Catriona Riddell, of the Planning Officers Society, which represents local-authority planners, said: “I think the south Essex part of the Thames estuary is way ahead of the game in terms of what it’s doing on strategic planning.
“The London Plan will cover the London bit of the estuary and you’ve got the south Essex joint plan being prepared. You’re going to have to have something in north Kent. You can’t have two out of three areas doing formal joint strategic planning without north Kent doing the same. That is a big hole at the moment.”
She says north Kent authorities have not worked together partly because of lack of agreement about whether a strategic plan should cover the whole of the county or just the northern part focused on the estuary.
“I suspect they will have to think quite quickly now because of the government’s response,” she said. “I don’t think they will have much leeway in terms of not doing something.”
Stuart Irvine, of planning consultancy Turley, added that the growth board would have influence with government, which could sway spending decisions. “It does potentially have the ear of government, which could be useful from a financial and infrastructure perspective,” he said.
“That could have a big influence on how Kent’s planning authorities choose to behave. If funding is channelled through the growth board, I think north Kent will have no choice but to change direction towards the Thames estuary.”
Some see the introduction of a growth board and emphasis on strategic plans as a renewed willingness by government to embrace regional planning again.
“We’ve got a similar approach being taken on the Cambridge-Oxford corridor,” said Thames Estuary Commission chairman John Armitt. “You need to look at it on that regional level.”
And at last year’s Conservative Party conference, planning minister Kit Malthouse said government wanted local authorities to come together in “regional groupings” and prepare strategic plans in return for Whitehall infrastructure cash.
Ms Riddell is not convinced, however, stressing that fewer than half of the councils in the Thames estuary would be represented on the new growth board.
“I find it really ironic that they abolished regional strategies and assembles because they were apparently unaccountable,” she says. “They’re reinventing regional planning but with less accountability and political representation than we had in 2010.”
Similarly, CPRE Kent’s Hilary Newport believes the future of the Thames estuary needs broader consideration.
“Sustainable transport should be prioritised over new road-building,” she said.
“If growth in the estuary is to continue, we need significant investment in the area’s public transport, walking and cycling options.
“As CPRE’s policy on transport makes clear, we need to manage our existing road network better, rather than expand it. As such, we would prefer investment in the estuary’s railway network, such as an extension to Crossrail, to be prioritised over the building of a Lower Thames road crossing.”
As for the push to focus development on the estuary, Dr Newport said: “There needs to be wide-scale public engagement and consultation on the overall growth proposals, allowing alternative options to be considered before policy decisions are made.
“We believe that there should urgently be a full Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the proposals, to look at the potential impact on both the local environment and on the economies of more deprived regions in England.”

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing, Thurrock residents wish to see planned relocation to Canvey Island

Copyright: cpressex.org.uk

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Canvey Paddocks a Tale of Deceit, False Consultation, Guestimations and Land Grabbing?

The future redevelopment, or should we say “regeneration” of the Paddocks site on Canvey Island is causing some consternation and confusion amongst, it appears, not only Canvey residents but also those at Runnymede Towers CPBC, this following the CPBC Scrutiny committee meeting on the matter!

For those councillors, including the Leader, who may feel that residents are convinced by their conjecture, regarding there NOT being development in the form of Housing or Flatted development on the site to pay for a new Community Centre, let’s attempt to clear this up.

Extract from Castle Point Cabinet meeting 17th January 2018:

4.16 In order to test the financial viability of the feasibility study it is now necessary to prepare a detailed business case setting out the likely costs of developing the site in the way envisaged, the likely contribution from the potential future “enabling development” and the potential future arrangements with the NHS regarding car parking for the Canvey Primary Care Centre.

Reference not only in consideration of development, but also Car Parking Charges.

Extract from the Scrutiny Committee meeting into the Paddocks Consultation, agenda paper appendix, also CPBC Cabinet minutes 17th January 2018:

6.3 The construction of a new Community Centre will be dependent on “enabling development” on other parts of the site.signed off  by S.Rogers.

As we should all be aware, it is not what is said within committee meetings, but what the Minuted document from the meeting says! Let there be, NO CONFUSION!

Local Authorities are encouraged to seek to make “best use” of “their” properties and assets, including disposing of any sites considered superfluous, or a drain on public purses. The CPBC lead group, have shown a preference throughout the protracted Local Plan process and historically beyond, as population growth indicates, to develop on Canvey Island, particularly where it comes to protecting politically sensitive mainland Green Belt sites.

The Paddocks site would assist fulfilling this desire!

It can be agreed that the paddocks Consultation was flawed, undertaken by the Lead group rather than Castle Point Council with officer, or Agent involvement.

Consultation as a two part process, originally should have been undertaken as an informative during CPBC Cabinet exploration of the best means of regeneration.

Hard Facts and Figures estimates, should have been collected and made available as information for Cabinet, Councillors and Residents, Not the Guestimates of £4,000,000 plus figures, as has been the case.

As we have pointed out before Marshland St James, multi facility Community Hall opened in 2018 costing £1.1 million (see HERE). Even if a two storey facility was provided at the Paddocks, due to Canvey being in a Flood Risk zone and the build estimate was 3 times that of the Marshland St James facility, CPBC should still explain why their (guess)stimate is a further £1,000,000 more expensive!

A 50 year old facility, the Paddocks, considered past its useful life, can only be down to chronic mismanagement of a maintenance Budget!

Now the CPBC leader is quoted in the Echo as suggesting that this “deceit” and dispute will not be allowed to halt CPBC cabinet’s plans for the Paddocks site.

I can only refer readers to this LINK !

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island. Soon to be destined to the History Books, alongside many Canvey Island Landmarks.
What a £1.1M Community Hall looks like!

Equal Representation for Canvey Island, Time for Fair Representation at least! Time for Change Overdue.

Why are Canvey Islanders always moaning? Visit a social Media page, and up pops somebody complaining. Whether it’s the Paddocks, weather, dog poo, traffic or youngsters misbehaving, it would appear a grey cloud continually hangs over the Island.

Equal Representation for Canvey Island, is a case in point. For many years now it has appeared apparent that decision making in Castle Point Borough Council, particularly where development is concerned, has favoured the mainland, or so we are led to believe!

The Canvey Ladies with their Petition “Equal Representation for Canvey Island”, prompted  National media, newspaper and television, interest. Unfortunately and as expected the initiative petered out and came to nothing. This despite the 8,000+ signed Petition!

The proportion of councillors representing the wards, towns and areas of Castle Point is Fair, well it is according to CPBC CEO marchant and lead group members.

The new Castle Point Borough Council, following the 2019 local election that saw 2 Conservative held seats on Canvey fall to the Canvey Island Independent Party, consists of 41 members. Development committee membership, which deals with housing proposals that actually reach committee for consideration, is made up of 8 mainland lead group representatives and 5 Island representatives.

Of these 41 councillors the mainland have 24 ward members, whilst Canvey Island is allocated the remaining 17 seats.

The last time that an examination was carried out into the future Electoral Arrangements for Castle Point was during November 2000. It was then that the Local Government Commission recommended the current ward / area representation balance, that being an increase to 41 ward members across the 14 wards.

The Commission found at the time that based on the mean Average total number of Electors per ward, the Mainland electorate had a population of -49% overall compared with the Canvey Island  population of +98%.

Extract in explanation from the Commission report:

“The ‘variance from average’ column shows by how far, in percentage terms, the number of electors per councillor varies from the average for the borough. The minus symbol (-) denotes a lower than average number of electors. For example, in 1999, electors in Canvey Island Central ward were relatively over-represented by 18 per cent, while electors in Canvey Island Winter Gardens ward were relatively under-represented by 62 per cent. Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number.”

“Our proposals would have resulted in significant improvements in electoral equality, with the number of electors per councillor in all of the proposed 14 wards varying by no more than 10 per cent from the borough average. This level of electoral equality was forecast to continue with no wards varying by more than 10 per cent from the average in 2004.”

This over representation of councillors in favour of mainland residents, basically led to a redrawing of ward boundaries with the mainland retaining 24 councillors and Canvey island receiving an extra 2 councillors. Interestingly, despite the overpowering numerical evidence, 7 conservative committee members voted against the move towards more fairer representation for the Electorate! See below at 22  

Extract from the Commission report:

“21   During the consultation on our draft recommendations report, six representations were received. A list of all respondents is available on request from the Commission. All representations may be inspected at the offices of Castle Point Borough Council and the Commission.”

“Castle Point Borough Council

22   The Borough Council welcomed and agreed with our draft recommendations in their entirety. Its submission stated, however, that the seven Conservative members on the committee requested that their votes against this resolution be recorded.

Castle Point Conservative Association

23   Castle Point Conservative Association reiterated their support for their Stage One proposals, stating that, “our comments remain as before”.

Other Representations

24   A further four representations were received in response to our draft recommendations from councillors and a local resident.”

Returning to the original demand for “Equal Representation for Canvey Island”, we should consider whether Canvey islanders, having received an extra 2 councillors from the November 2000 report recommendations, are simply being Greedy.

It occurred to me that the 2000 Commission Report, entirely focussed on Electorate Numbers, when surely the representation should be Based upon Population numbers! After all to exclude residents in a Borough from being included on the Electoral Roll should be discouraged. Equally those that are under-aged, transient etc add to the burden and needs on the Borough. It can surely not be fair that those excluded from voting should not be represented!

So to investigate, the last confirmed population numbers for Castle Point, the 2011 Census, must be considered a Starting Point.

ONS revealed the population of Castle Point to be 88,011. This was split as mainland 49,552 whilst Canvey Island was 38,459. The percentage increase from the previous 2001 Census revealed that the Canvey population growth rate was 3 times that of the mainland.

Therefore, If 41 councillors is a desirable figure, then with a Castle Point population split of 56.3% mainland and 43.7% Canvey Island, that arguably equates to 23 mainland councillors to 18 Canvey Island.

That is a change to; 1 Less councillor than the current mainland allocation and 1 More councillor for Canvey Island.

Equally, in the case of the CPBC Development Committee made up of 13 councillors, using the population mainland / Island percentage split and the CPBC ceo’s rounding up to the nearest full number, their should be 7 mainland representatives, and 6 Island representatives. That is rather than the current 8 / 5 division.

However, currently the only Large Scale development being undertaken within Castle Point is, of course, on Canvey Island, at Sandy Bay.

According to our Police and Fire Commissioner no less, as CPBC are fully aware, a 3 year estimated development period will see “the old tenancy housing” replaced by new private homes. This has the potential to lead to a 1,000+ homes development. Leading to a clear increase on the current population.

Given the Rights and Wrongs of the Electorate being used as the basis to calculate the Councillor representation level, we can only find that as being, Discriminatory.

Using the Population levels, Clearly a Need for a minimum of a 2 councillor re-balance of control, towards Canvey Island.

Alternatively the Revival of the movement for the Independence for Canvey Island appears a logical Avenue to Explore. Given the woeful performances of Castle Point Borough Council of Late, a breakaway from the local authority for Canvey Island District Council appears clearly advantageous!

CPBC’s position is to Ignore, rather than Address the Representation shortfall. Question is are Canvey Islanders content being controlled by a Damaged and Undemocratic Local Authority? If not, then it is Time for Change!

Canvey Island Town Council coat of arms

Mr. Canvey falls foul of Stay-Away Brexiters! Who, will now be better placed – to fight for All Things Canvey?

The loss of Cllr Ray Howard MBE as Canvey Island’s solitary Castle Point Borough Council Cabinet member, for Streets, Waste, Floods and Water Management, appeared to be of little consequence to the borough’s Lead group. For someone as senior as Ray within the local tory party, he appeared not to have received the level of support he deserved during the Election campaign, so as to remain competitive in the prevailing political climate.

In direct comparison, the Emergency Evacuation of Cllr Mumford from his Canvey seat to a very safe mainland ward seat, highlighted how Ray Howard, appeared to have been hung out to dry, along with the Canvey Island residents! Condolences from the Tory Party hierarchy clearly lacked sincerity in the aftermath. 

We are not suggesting an act of duplicity in anyway,  however we ask, who now retains the influence when seeking to restrict the further urbanisation of Canvey Island, having recognised that the over-development of the zone 3 flood plain, with its critical drainage and surface water storage issues, that contributed towards flooding incidents? 

Who will now be better placed to fight for the completion of the deemed essential final phase of the Roscommon Way?

Who will now be better placed to fight for the funding of the essential repairs and upgrade of our sea defences? 

Who will now be better placed to seek, as a matter of urgency, the improvement of the access and egress of Canvey Island so as to provide support for a viable emergency evacuation plan?

Who will now be better placed to fight to stop the systematic development of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, green open spaces and green belt?

And

Who will now be in an influential position to hold CPBC to task for inappropriate developments in and around COMAH sites?

We congratulate Cllr Thomas CIIP on his election success, he will need to hit the ground running to get to grips with all the issues that Ray Howard has had responsibility for in someway or another.

As far as Castle Point Council Cabinet meetings go we should remember, that if we find ourselves being without a seat at the Table not having received an invitation to Dinner, Canvey, is very likely to find itself being on the Menu!

Ray Howard MBE

Photograph: Martin Dalton

Castle Point Elections, more Under Representation for Canvey? Under the Cloud of Intervention – Time for Change?

Canvey Islanders will likely be asking themselves, as the Castle Point Council election fast approaches, what is the point of bothering to Vote? With the Lady Petitioners revealing that Canvey Residents feel under represented at Council, even though there wasn’t the political will to seek a split away from Castle Point Council, is it now time to look at the local Voting System?

Canvey Island population was recorded in the 2011 Census as being 38,459,
approximately 43.7% of a total Castle Point population of 88,011.

Castle Point Council members total 41 councillors, of which Canvey Island representatives number just 17 members. This indicates a reasonable argument that Canvey should now have an extra councillor representative, with the mainland being allocated one councillor less. A small start at redressing the balance!

However looking back at the 2018 CPBC local elections the total number of Votes recorded might indicate that the Lead Group are allocated too many members and with it far too much Control to boot!

This is of course the result of the First Past the Post UK election system. As with the EU Referendum with just a 2% majority in favour of Brexit, whatever your views, it is understandable that the 16,141,000 Remain voters are left feeling disenfranchised.

In the case of the 2018 CPBC local Election the number of Votes cast by Borough Residents was 20,399, however ONLY 10,420 votes were for what is the Lead Group!

With the Lead group being allocated 9 councillors, and one opposition group just 5 councillors at the 2018 local poll, some 9,979
Island and mainland voting residents, given the balance of control at cpbc, were left clearly under represented.

Electoral reform may have seen Labour and UKIP being allocated councillor positions to represent their supporters within the Borough. But others may, rightly or wrongly claim that this would lead to CPBC’s difficult decisions being unaddressed, and a lack of clear policies being passed. Also an argument used in support for the retention of the CPBC Cabinet system!

Part of the CPBC Constitution indicates its Purpose is to;

enable the Council to provide clear leadership to the community in partnership with citizens, businesses and other organisations;

support the active involvement of citizens in the process of local democracy;

help councillors represent their constituents more effectively;

enable decisions to be taken efficiently and effectively;

create a powerful and effective means of holding decision-makers to public account;

How then are we left in such a mess with our Local Plan process? After abysmal progress, or lack of, has been made with the Core Strategy (withdrawn 2011), the Local Plan 2014, the Local Plan 2016 and the Local Plan 2018 all failing, we now look forward with trepidation to Government Intervention which we can expect as soon as the local and European Elections are behind us!

It would be fair to ask whether a more representative Council could have arrived at a more agreeable Local Plan Housing allocation and distribution policy to have avoided the shambles that Castle Point residents will be forced to live with.

CPBC Leader N.Smith

Fears Mount as Castle Point Council Election Candidates Concede loss of Green Spaces? Local Plan Intervention decision being Supressed?

Listen, don’t mention the Local Plan! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it alright. (PA Photo/BBC)

With the threat of continued inappropriate Housing and Business development on Canvey Island and across Castle Point generally, we have to ask “Are our Local Politicians now less committed to Saving our Green Belt and green spaces?”

As the CPBC Lead group of prospective Councillors release their Election Addresses on social media, it appears they may well be!

Of the 10 Lead group Candidates, shockingly only 3 candidates have even mentioned Development on Green Belt!

This includes one candidate who has declared an interest and is excluded from participating in the Local Plan process! Even then, none mention fighting for Green Belt as a Constraint on Housing and Business Development!

The Commitment from just 3 of the 10 lead group candidates amounts to:

“I will continue to oppose any development in our Green Belt that doesn’t provide homes for our residents and Government Funded Infrastructure Support.”

“Overbuilding must never threaten our area or our beautiful undeveloped Green Belt land.”

And coincidentally, as if written by the same hand;

“Overbuilding must never threaten our area or our beautiful undeveloped Green Belt land.”

Our concern must be that while a Local Election fast Approaches, Bad News of the Government’s intention to Intervene in the Castle Point Local Plan, is being Suppressed from Residents!

In November 2017, 15 Councils including Castle Point BC were served notice that the Government had begun the formal process of intervention in their Local Plan. The letter to cpbc commencing, “Following your Council’s persistent failure over many years to get a Local Plan in place, on 16 November 2017, I expressed concerns about the lack of progress your authority has made on plan-making.”

Following on from receiving a letter from the CPBC leader,  SoS Sajid Javid responded by rejecting CPBC’s lengthy attempts to placate, by informing within a letter dated 23rd March 2018 “My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting Essex County Council to prepare a Local Plan for Castle Point and with the neighbouring authorities on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.”

Twelve of the least tardy miscreant local authorities appeared to have done enough to fall off of the Government’s radar except, CPBC, the Wirral and Thanet local authorities.

Accordingly during January 2019, The Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, informed the Wirral and Thanet LA’s, that “Having considered Thanet and the Wirral’s performance against the Local Plan intervention criteria, I am satisfied that intervention action is justified.”

However Castle Point Borough Council, 4 whole months after Refusing to Approve the 2018 version of the CPBC Local Plan and 18 months after originally being served Notice, “appear” not to have heard whether Intervention will be imposed upon the Borough!

 It is highly concerning for Castle Point Council to “act” as though no word has been received from the Government as to whether Intervention has been imposed upon us. It may be perhaps convenient that no implementation of Intervention should be imposed ahead of the Local Elections, this would not make for a leader’s “Good News” story!

It may be a total coincidence that neither the Wirral nor Thanet are conservative controlled Boroughs. Come what may, the fact that the CPBC Lead Group, once so vociferous in their defence of Virgin Green Belt and Green Spaces against Development, now appear on paper to be less committed. The concern must be that those prospective Candidates, not wanting to be associated with Bad News so likely to be announced soon after the Election, are content with the level, or lack of, Development in their own neighbourhoods, and are resigned to being forced to adopt the 2018 Local Plan!

A Reminder, in the Graphic below, for prospective local Councillors of the importance that the Electorate places on Green Belt and its protection through the Election process.