Tag Archives: Castle Point Borough Council

Can the Principle of “Localism” survive the Duty to Cooperate between Castle Point and Neighbouring Authorities attempts at Cooperation?

Local Development Scheme July 2017
This Local Development Scheme (LDS) sets out the programme for preparing planning policy documents in Castle Point. This version replaces all earlier versions of the LDS, including that issued in March 2016.
By giving this a new title will not hide the fact that there has been failing via the Core Strategy and two other versions of a Local Plan!

Castle Point Borough Council seeks to prepare a local planning framework based on a series of statutory and non-statutory planning documents as development plan documents and supplementary planning documents, covering strategic and local matters.

The LDS sets out the Council’s programme for achieving this.

Perhaps an indication as to why other plans have failed, let’s investigate;

In order to ensure that the planning policy documents that are prepared by Castle Point Borough Council are robust, and do not come under criticism at examination or appeal, the Council will be seeking to ensure that its evidence base is complete and that all work has been carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation and guidance.

Is this a suggestion that all other works have not been ROBUST and therefore unable to withstand criticism?
Or, worse still;
That the previous works were not carried out in accordance with relevant legislation and guidance!

This includes ensuring that consultation is effective, and also ensuring that opportunities to work with our neighbouring Councils, Essex County Council and other service providers have been fully considered and integrated into the documents where appropriate, consistent within the “Duty to Co-operate”

A Robust Evidence Base
Any development plan document must be based on adequate, up to date and relevant evidence about the economic, social and environmental characteristics and prospects of the area and takes account of relevant market and economic signals to inform judgements about demand.

Having an up to date local planning framework reduces the risk that the presumption contained in the NPPF will apply, to grant permission where the existing Local Plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or out of date.

This statement unfortunately speaks in-itself.

Some of the documents listed as being complete, are quite simply, out of date!

Not everyone within the local community engages with planning consultations regardless of the amount of effort taken by the Council. As a result, it is also necessary to use empirical evidence to ensure that the needs of everyone represented by the Council are fully considered.

Clearly there has been a huge failure on the Councils part to engage with our community

Community Engagement
Every planning policy document will need to be the subject of consultation in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.

In practice, before each consultation, a consultation plan will be prepared by the Council detailing how the Council will:
• Promote the consultation; • Make information available; • Engage with residents; and • Manage consultation data.

It is the aim of the Council in all cases to engage as widely as possible with “duty to co-operate” bodies, statutory and non-statutory consultees, local residents and businesses on plans and proposals that may affect them.

Clearly there has been a huge failure on the Councils part to engage with our community despite seemingly its best efforts. CPBC blames the community for its failure of a successful community involvement outcome.

What CPBC appear to have missed is that the community feel, done too, by not being asked.

A petition of over 10000 signature demanding infrastructure prior to any further large-scale housing development, not being recognised by CPBC as community engagement is rather typical!

IMG_1557

Largest ever Canvey Island Petition: Ignored by Castle Point Borough Council!

Empirical evidence (based or acting on observations or experience NOT ON THEORY) has been the fundamental failure of the content of several of the evidence based documents used to support the previous debacle of CPBC Local Planning. To continue with this style of documentation will once again make the CPBC Local Development Scheme not only challengeable but unsound.

The NPPF explains that, to be sound, policies must be justified. The evidence will play an important role in ensuring that this is the case and that the local planning framework is sound.
The evidence base requirements for each of the documents in the Local Development Scheme are set out in the detailed programmes. Once a piece of evidence is completed, it is published on the Council’s website for inspection.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING IN SOUTH ESSEX.
CPBC will, in its response letter to the SOS, as to why intervention is not required in the formulation of its Local Plan, suggest that considerable weight be given to the fact that CPBC partakes within the protocol of the MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING IN SOUTH ESSEX ( MoU)
This despite declaring that its Local Development Scheme 2017 will not come to fruition until late 2019. This in the hope that other neighbouring Authorities may take some of its housing needs.
The National Planning Policy Framework encourages authorities to prepare joint, non-statutory documents, particularly where this provides evidence of having effectively cooperated to plan for issues with cross boundary impacts.

Whilst the Duty to Co-operate is not a duty to agree, local planning authorities should make every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters before they submit their Local Plans for examination. Compliance with the Duty to Cooperate will need to be demonstrated at examination, prior to assessment of compliance with the tests of soundness.

The legal requirement of the Duty to Co-operate is noted as being separate from, but related to the Local Plan, Tests of Soundness.

In keeping with the principles of localism, this MoU respects the principle of the individual local development plan-making functions of the South Essex local authorities. Therefore, it will not seek to determine the locations for development within local authority administrative areas.

Furthermore, it will not seek to include prescriptive or directive policies which would limit the ability of the individual local authorities to meet their development needs in a locally appropriate manner.

Advertisements

Neighbourhood Plans, cheap Political Shots and Canvey Island!

It is not for Us, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group to defend the Actions or Inactions of Canvey Island Town Council but, on the subject of Neighbourhood Plans, some perspective should be applied!

As you can see from the Map reproduced below, Castle Point as a whole, is Actionless where Neighbourhood Plan’s are concerned!

This despite the mainland area being split into several distinct neighbourhood areas such as Daws Heath and the like.

There is a very good reason for these area’s residents not seeking to do as they encourage Canvey Island Town Council to do, in undertaking a Neighbourhood Plan, that is Residents there are represented by the controlling group at cpbc, and a Borough-wide Local Plan has been attempted to be processed, over 10 very long years, with protection from mainland development in mind.

Screenshot (2)

Neighbourhood Plans position as at November 2017

Neighbourhood Plans are not there to Prevent Development.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign were fully behind a local Neighbourhood Plan for the Canvey Island Area, because we believed that what could be prevented was Inappropriate Development!

So whilst others seek to take cheap shots at us on Canvey, it is appropriate to reproduce what the Castle Point Borough Council representative’s considered opinion on the subject was:

 In short, yes it would be possible to create a “Canvey Neighbourhood Plan”.

However, Government guidance makes clear that such plans cannot “de-designate” anything that is presently in an Adopted Local Plan.

So the development sites on Canvey at The Point, Thorney Bay, Roscommon Way and Northwick Road would all have to be carried forward into the Neighbourhood Plan.

The Government’s advice on Neighbourhood Plans is to be found at the Planning Practice Guidance web-pages

http://planningguidance.communities.gov.uk/blog/guidance/neighbourhood-planning/

It contains some very interesting and helpful advice.

However, my colleagues in other parts of the County tell me that it is a very time consuming and expensive process, although there is grant available.

The particular points I have picked up in discussion are

·         The Plan is supposed to promote additional sustainable development in addition to that already in any adopted plan

·         The Plan must have regard to any evidence of objectively assessed needs, particularly up-to date evidence of housing needs

I’ve also picked some interesting points from the Guidance, which I have copied below…

Decision makers may find themselves considering applications in an area with a neighbourhood plan that has passed referendum and been “made”, and thus forms part of the development plan, but where the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

In such instances paragraph 49 of the Framework is clear that “relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.” Paragraph 49 applies to policies in the statutory development plan documents which have been adopted or approved in relation to a local planning authority area. It also applies to policies in made neighbourhood plans.

 A neighbourhood plan can allocate additional sites to those in a Local Plan where this is supported by evidence to demonstrate need above that identified in the Local Plan. A neighbourhood plan can propose allocating alternative sites to those in a Local Plan, but a qualifying body should discuss with the local planning authority why it considers the Local Plan allocations no longer appropriate.

 The resulting draft neighbourhood plan must meet the basic conditions if it is to proceed. National planning policy states that it should support the strategic development needs set out in the Local Plan, plan positively to support local development and should not promote less development than set out in the Local Plan or undermine its strategic policies (see paragraph 16 and paragraph 184 of the National Planning Policy Framework). Nor should it be used to constrain the delivery of a strategic site allocated for development in the Local Plan.

The Question for those who criticise is, if a Neighbourhood plan is such a useful device, why then are more not being undertaken?

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group remain in favour of the process.

Canvey & Castle Point Council, No Plan-Better than a Bad Plan and Forever Watching this Space!

So, Castle Point Council are being threatened by the Government in the form of Secretary of State for Communities and local Government, Sajid Javid.

As you will by now know cpbc are named among the 15 local authorities, along with our cooperative neighbours, Basildon, accused of failing “the duty to cooperate or failed to meet the deadlines set out in their Local Development Schemes.”

The SoS went on to give the 15 local authorities an “opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances, by 31 January 2018, which, in their view, justify their failure to produce a Local Plan.”

The next step, should the Government department be unsatisfied with the reasoned response, would be Government intervention.

Greenbelt-challenge_S_01

Will this concern those in control of cpbc though? And besides what implications would enforcing an autocratic local planning system have on the democratically elected borough council?

simonicity blogged;

The February 2016 technical consultation proposed that authorities identified for potential intervention would be given an opportunity to set out exceptional circumstances why that should not happen:

“What constitutes an ‘exceptional circumstance’ cannot, by its very nature, be defined fully in advance, but we think it would be helpful to set out the general tests that will be applied in considering such cases. We propose these should be: 

• whether the issue significantly affects the reasonableness of the conclusions that can be drawn from the data and criteria used to inform decisions on intervention; 

• whether the issue had a significant impact on the authority’s ability to produce a local plan, for reasons that were entirely beyond its control.”

We can assume that those 15 authorities will now be looking very carefully at this passage. 

A political decision to intervene is one thing but what would then be the legal process to be followed?

Let me take you back to the early days of the cpbc Core Strategy (CS), ( I know I have been told that that process is long since dead and buried, but this is the Canvey Green Belt Campaign blog and we shall reflect on whatever we wish)!

That particular document (the CS) also stalled, until the cpbc officer in charge, along with his ceo, met privately with Lead Group members, and others with an interest, and came up with the bright idea of offering to Sacrifice Canvey Island Green Belt to development, whilst mainland Green Belt was removed from the CS.  That was, if the Lead Group would prefer and in return would vote in favour of moving the CS forward for publication!

So progress was made, more easier, when the Daws Heath and Hadleigh Hands Off Our Greenbelt Campaign representatives, spoke up to add their full-backing behind the Core Strategy document at the Council meeting to decide Canvey’s fate and approve the document for the next stage!

No wonder the Talk of Independence for Canvey Island is stamped upon, especially whilst the Island is so valuable to the mainland, if it was a burden it would be a different matter!

Fortunately for some, unfortunately for others, that document came crashing down around cpbc’s ankles. A disregard of Flood Risk (sound familiar?) and a poor choice of (Canvey) Green Belt, and the influence of “Local Factors” was the Inspector’s finding, and away cpbc went to start again.

So Ms Challis OBE and her henchmen organised a Councillor Conference during 2011 that split members into groups so that they could select mainland green belt sites to add to Canvey Island Green Belt sites, and following that a further Local Plan document emerged.

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

Her battle cry then was “watch this space!” Well I can confess, we have been watching this space, and a b****y hard job it has been, staying awake!

The draft New Local Plan went down like a stone on the mainland, despite it “only” being a consultation document, with councillors losing seats, voted out by disgruntled and concerned mainland residents.

We have to remember the influence the 2016 EU Referendum had on our local politics.

So when cpbc issue a response to Sajid Javid’s letter, by the end of January, we expect him to be informed of the progress being made by cpbc and our neighbour’s as to the good progress being made in the Duty to Cooperate and that the cpbc Local Plan vers.IV is in place, un-examined.

And we would also expect a extra little note pushed under Sajid Javid’s office door, explaining to him not to take the electoral balance in Castle Point for granted!

Autocracy has a place but, not it appears anywhere near Runnymede Towers Castle Point.

No Plan better than a Bad Plan, now where have we heard that before?

 

 

Opportunity Knocks for Canvey Island, whilst Castle Point mainland left Neglected again?

Lucky Canvey Island appears to be at the Opportunity End of Industrial Employment Opportunities!

Planning to Neglect the mainland part of Castle Point in favour of Canvey Island, despite consultants challenging evidence, cpbc look intent on giving the green light to employment planning proposals for large scale development.

20052015309

An investment opportunity

This should be seen as a Good News Story not only for the employment opportunity but also the status quo protection of land on the mainland.

The cpbc Annual Monitoring current report indicates Extant permissions for Industrial growth proposals distributed across the Borough thus;

Canvey Island: 45,724 square Metres

Mainland: 3,380 square Metres

Admittedly this may mean a loss of open green space.

Signs so far also indicate that with cpbc promising a high end retail element of take up, minimum wage employment and high traffic usage by deliveries and visitors causing some air pollution and road congestion, may result.

However cpbc must be commended for their bravery in insisting that Canvey Island is the place to develop!

This in the face of their consultants guidance and recommendations;

The main supply of industrial sites is in Canvey Island, away from strategic roads and the areas of stronger demand. Castle Point also has very limited provision for small, start-up businesses compared with adjoining boroughs.

….around 72% of the employment land area is located within the Canvey Island area, with some 27% in Thundersley, and less than 1% within the South Benfleet and Hadleigh urban areas.

Over 90% of the borough’s allocated employment land is in Canvey Island with limited supply elsewhere to meet future demand. The Borough’s two allocated sites South of Northwick Road and Roscommon Way appear reasonably suited to meet future needs although their proximity to the Thames estuary, relative remoteness and potential drainage issues may deter development.

….there may be a qualitative need for some more sites that are readily available and better located to strategic roads and population centres in the north of the Borough.   Such sites might also have better prospects of attracting developers.

It would appear difficult to achieve any sizeable reduction in out-commuting in Castle Point. However, various approaches could help avoid the situation worsening These would include providing some more immediately available industrial sites in the north of the borough, near strategic roads.

….it is not obvious that a new road access to Canvey Island could enable the area to benefit to a much greater extent from the major port and distribution development at London Gateway in Thurrock.  The cost of such infrastructure would also need to be weighed against the scale of economic benefits likely to accrue to Canvey Island, and the extent of these do not appear likely to be major.

The main supply of industrial sites is in Canvey Island, which is away from strategic roads and the areas of stronger demand.

It would appear difficult to achieve any sizeable reduction in out-commuting in Castle Point. However, various approaches could help avoid the situation worsening…. These would include providing some more immediately available industrial sites in the north of the borough, near strategic roads

 

Canvey Island’s “flood” of Good News stories!

Never let it be said that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group dwell on “poor us” missives as we acknowledge, the flood of Canvey Island  “Good News Stories,” being brought to our attention across social media of late. We are more than happy to contribute and post the following Hoorahs!

Those residents troubled should we see a Rain Storm in future similar to those of 2013 and 2014 can rest assured.

They will know that their Homes now have access to the FLOOD Re insurance scheme. This scheme insures they will be able to get competitive House Insurance from practically the whole insurance market.

Provided their homes were built prior to 2009!

In 2015 Castle Point Council assembled a high profile delegation and attended Parliament seeking £24,500,000 so as to upgrade the Canvey Island drainage system and to prevent any further flooding of Canvey Homes.

We have no further update on the request by Parliament to provide breakdown figures of exactly what the money is required for.

We also must pay tribute to the tireless and determined efforts that MAP, the Multi Agency Partnership, of the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex County Council, Castle Point Council and Essex Highways are making to keep our Island Homes dry and Residents safe in the event of a future storm capable of bringing Surface Water Flooding.

It can ONLY, therefore be a short matter of time before scheduled routine maintenance of the Hole Haven Sluice is carried out.

Sluice 4Sluice 3Sluice 2

Sluice 1

 

Why Must Canvey Island be the Answer to ALL of Castle Point Council’s Problems? Because they consider us Old, Fat and Deprived!

As we have said before, Canvey Islanders know our place and appear to be willing to absorb as much punishment and discomfort that our overseers wish to dump on us!

The latest re-emergence is in the name of delivering better Health Care to the Island population, or in other words, yes you have got it, Saving Money!

The Castle Point and Rochford Health Care Trust are consulting (very privately I would add), on a Plan to close the Long Road ex Council Offices facility And – Get This – handing the building back to Castle Point Borough Council.

Image6136

Jacksons Photo Service

The very same CPBC, who are desperate to identify as much land on Canvey Island to provide as many Housing development Sites as possible for their Unsound New Local Plan MkIII !

We can all guess how this will end up, with yet another Canvey Island Flatted development!

In a document that seriously denigrates the current surgeries on Canvey Island so as to imply that most should be closed and incorporated into the Paddocks health centre, chiefly it appears to cast an alarming financial cloud over the Castle Point and Rochford situation, and implying that the Canvey situation is the cause of the financial mess the Trust is in, or that only Canvey, can provide the means of relieving the area’s budget shortfall!

The proposal is that 25,000 Canvey Island patients will be accommodated at the Paddocks surgery!

The document goes on to summarise;

“Why Canvey Island?
As detailed above it can be concluded that there are issues within the Canvey area which can be summarised as follows;
*Increasing elderly population living in their own homes  *High levels of deprivation  *Increasing obesity leading to an increase in type 2 diabetes  *Regeneration of Canvey Island with increased housing and population growth  *Deteriorating GP premises (excluding Central Canvey Primary Care Centre)”

And so we go around in circles with cpbc creating and increasing the problems for Canvey Island in the name of Planning:

Because of the perceived issues, Canvey must be continued to be developed;

Because of over-development, we have perceived issues!

It doesn’t help when a Health Care Trust resort to tired, out dated CPBC clichés to identify perceived issues with Canvey Island and its residents to support its intended course of Action! As if none of the other towns in the district, nor Rochford have any of the same issues.

If anybody can remember the original Rejected cpbc Local Plan, that included an Aspiration for a second large health centre.

Fortunately with the first attempt at a cpbc Local Plan, the Examining Inspector identified what cpbc were attempting, and was rejected basically because of an imbalance of Housing Growth distribution across the Borough. That is cpbc wished to direct the large housing sites onto Canvey Island!

It is noticeable that ONLY the Canvey surgeries are under Scrutiny, none of the Rochford, Daws Heath, Benfleet, Hadleigh nor Thundersley are considered!

Castle Point &Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group applied to NHS England for a pot of money, which has been granted, for the following:

To hand back the former Long Road Council Offices to castle point borough council and to move facilities, xray etc, into the ccpcc (Paddocks) to form a new Canvey health hub.

To facilitate these changes, structural changes and layout changes are necessary in the ccpcc, of which they’re already at a point where they intend to push ahead with this next year.

Currently awaiting approval from castle point borough council. 

Castle Point Borough Council are desperate to identify development land as so much is protected on the mainland. In carrying out this search they would prefer, so as to avoid challenge, for this to be as much Brownfield land as possible.

Being as they appear to have few scruples in their choice of land, in a Flood Zone, in a Critical Drainage Area, near Hazardous Industrial sites etc, a Listed Building, such as the NHS facility in the old Canvey Council Long Road building, should prove little obstacle for an allocation of Flats!

The fact that the building in question was originally Canvey Island district council’s, will make even more sense for our mainland controlled borough council to make use of this “Gift”!

The Long Road, ex Canvey Island Urban District Council office and chamber is, as mentioned, a Listed Building. CPBC indicate that they consider it “Both historically and architecturally significant.”

And yet cpbc have left it barely maintained and Neglected!

If this issue has caused a little stir amongst any Canvey Islanders, they may wish to look a little further into the document.

Ignore the initial 10 pages of college boy “blue sky outside of the box” bull **** and you will read some pretty damning findings , most probably out of date, on our Canvey Island Surgeries.

Is it too late to do anything about it?

Most probably, but lets see if this draws a response from our representatives.

The document can be read via this Link: https://castlepointandrochfordccg.nhs.uk/about-us/our-governing-body/governing-body-meetings/2017/27-july-2017/2753-item-09-canvey-outline-business-case-270717/file

Then consider, Why Must Canvey Island appear to be the Answer to All of Castle Point’s Problems?

Further History of the Long Road building can be found via CanveyIsland.org the Canvey Community Archive

Canvey Island Residents left Bamboozled by Flood Protection Funding Maze!

The flooding of Canvey Island during the summers of 2013 and 2014 and the ongoing concerns of a repeat event have been the subject of recent local news reports and social media posts.

A recent visit was carried out by the Government under Secretary of State for the Environment, Thérèse Coffey MP to meet a delegation of CPBC councillors and officers and representatives of the multi agency partnership to view the work carried out so far in response to the 2014 flooding.

Press reports suggested that time was spent observing the achievements rather than viewing areas of the Island’s drainage scheme that remained to be upgraded.

For instance, Essex Highways have accounted for a promised routine improvement of Canvey’s road gully maintenance, whereas in fact certain roads gullies on the Island have not received any cleansing for a number of years! And yet apparently huge sums of central funding has been claimed by ECC, whilst routine work is neglected.

Essex Highways claim, “that (they) have shown its commitment by investing more than £1 million of additional funding to help tackle localised problems such as blocked gullies”, appears to have gone unchallenged by cpbc representatives, whilst they should be fully aware that regular routine maintenance is not carried out, except perhaps in those areas that were previously reported flooded.

The implication in this case being, prevention is not better than cure!

It cannot be denied that keeping the profile high on the amount of work needed to upgrade Canvey’s drainage system is a very good thing, but the release of central funding must be used on tangible works.

Canvey residents, whose properties suffered from the flooding during 2014 have been urged to make a claim for a grant towards installing Flood Prevention measures.

This encouragement to claim by council officials, appears to indicate a concession that future flood events may well occur, despite the work carried out so far, or that the maintenance programme and upgrading of the drainage system, reliant on the £24,000,000 grant from Government, may well not be forthcoming.

However, the ease of residents seeking access to funding for the installation of flood prevention measures appears not so easy to locate, despite the encouragement from local representatives.

A visit to our local authority’s website seeking residents funding reveals only;

Castle Point Council

“Council Tax Discount for properties affected by flooding on 20th July 2014. Deadline Extended to 30.11.2014”

Using a little initiative a search for and read of the famous 6 Point Plan reveals a lead;

“Following detailed investigations, the group envisages this scheme benefiting around 15,000 high risk properties – or around 40,000 residents – on the Island. It is estimated that these measures will require an additional £500,000 of allocated funding to support the PLP package, which was introduced in September of this year. This scheme will continue to be run and managed by Essex County Council in their role as Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).”

The impliction being all properties on Canvey are subject to some level of surface water flood risk.

This led us to then log onto the ECC website where upon, using a couple of search words the following was discovered, an application area for qualifying residents of the whole  of Essex, not just Canvey Island, to claim for flood prevention measures. Disappointingly the situation is not as rosy as some, having suffered flooding, may have wished;

Essex County Council

“Please note: Due to the high number of applications, we’re currently unable to confirm if your application will be successful.

We will notify you as soon as the status of your application changes.”

It is a concern that an element of transparency regarding whether some of this may be old or new money being granted and whether grants are being used in central budgets, as we know of the multi agency partnership Essex Highways for one, are over stating their commitment!

The Castle Point Conservatives post on social media from the MPs and delegates meeting reads;

Thérèse Coffey MP, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the Environment, visited Castle Point at the request of local MP Rebecca Harris. The Minister was invited to see the joint work that Essex County Council, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and Castle Point Borough Council have undertaken to reduce the risk of future flooding and hear what progress has been made on the Six Point Plan Proposal.

Canvey Island was especially badly flooded in the summers of 2013 and 2014 and in the aftermath of the flooding a Multi-Agency Partnership (MAP) was formed between Essex County Council, Anglian Water, The Environment Agency and Castle Point Borough Council to prevent future flooding. The MAP created a 6 Point Plan setting out actions that the agencies could undertake to increase resilience to surface water flooding. The Plan includes: property level flood protection; dredging Canvey Lake; Increasing capacity of the drainage infrastructure by building an Integrated Urban Drainage Model for Canvey; create the Canvey Resilient Communities Programme; development of innovative flood management technologies and investment in green surface water storage.

During the visit the Environment Agency’s Eastern Region Deputy Director, Charles Beardall, and Anglian Water’s Head of Flood Risk Management, Jonathan Glerum, explained to the Minister the work done so far on the Integrated Urban Drainage model and the significant investment made into the various pumping stations around the Island and on the Benfleet Creek Barrier.

The Minister also visited Canvey Lake where Castle Point Borough Council’s CEO, David Marchant, and Essex County Council’s Head of Environment and Flood Management, John Meehan, updated the Minister on the progress made on the 6 Point Plan to date. They also touched on future challenges facing the MAP.

Following the visit, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey MP said “Protecting people from flooding is an absolute priority, which is why we are spending more than £1 million to refurbish floodgates and on work investigating new local defences on Canvey Island.

“I was delighted to see first-hand what’s being done on the ground to better protect the community and will continue to follow the work with interest.”

Commenting, Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris said “I would like to thank the Minister for taking the time out of her busy schedule to visit Castle Point. We have made real progress to ensure that residents don’t suffer the terrible flooding of 2014 again and I am pleased that the Minister had the chance to see the progress first hand. There is still however more to do and I will be making sure that the County Council, Borough Council, Anglian Water and Environment Agency continue to work well together.

Cllr Ian Grundy, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said “Essex County Council is proud to be part of the Multi-Agency Task Group which works to reduce the flood risk in Canvey. Friday’s visit from MP Thérèse Coffey offered a welcome opportunity to increase awareness of the key challenges we all face and how we are working collaboratively to find solutions.

“Since the task group was formed in 2014/15, Essex Highways has shown its commitment by investing more than £1 million of additional funding to help tackle localised problems such as blocked gullies and defective pipework in Canvey. We are also investing a further £500,000 over the next two years to address broader drainage issues. Our colleagues in Flood Management have invested £600,000 and will have protected 100 properties as part of their Property Protection scheme and have done numerous floods studies to target our future investments

“Essex Highways and the Flood Management team pride themselves on being innovative in their approach to deliver more, for less, for the taxpayer. We will continue to be a keen contributor to the work of the Multi-Agency Task Group, with a focus on delivering greener, more sustainable solutions to help solve these issues.” “

Jonathan Glerum, Anglian Water’s Head of Flood Risk Management, said “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Canvey and show her the great partnership work that has been delivered. The approach to multi-agency working that has been developed on Canvey is a game changer and has delivered significant investment in flood mitigation on the island.”

“Anglian Water has invested over £2million on improvements to our drainage network on the Island and is committed to continued working with partners, and Government, as we look to develop and deliver innovation solutions to flood risk management for Canvey.”

Environment Agency’s Eastern Region Deputy Director, Charles Beardall, said “The day was a great opportunity to highlight the scale of the Environment Agency’s investment on Canvey, from our ongoing maintenance work to significant improvements to the protection of properties from main river flooding. It also gave us a chance to showcase our work with partner organisations as they look at future options to reduce surface water flood risk.”

Castle Point Borough CEO, David Marchant, said “All of the agencies involved were able to demonstrate to the Minister how much progress they have made since the disastrous flooding of 2013/14. Working together we have invested or plan to invest nearly £6m in accordance with the Six Point Plan to ensure the existing network operates as effectively as possible. However there is still more to do but the unique nature of the drainage system means that innovation in design is necessary particularly when the essential balance between the environment and critical drainage infrastructure on Canvey Lake has to be maintained.”

Canvey Councillor Ray Howard MBE, Castle Point Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Waste and Flooding, said ‘It was very encouraging to have a Minister of the Crown visit Canvey Island. The Minister showed a great interest in our previous flooding problems and assured us that her department would do all they could to assist in future flooding matters’.

One thing appears absolutely clear is that despite some claims to the contrary, the possibility of a repeat of the devastating events is now accepted by many agency representatives!