Further to the debacle, that is the Local Plan making system in Castle Point, let me refer you back to the current and past plight of our Borough Council.
From the original emerging Plan, the Core Strategy 2009, withdrawn 2011, onto the Local Plan 2014 which made it into print but only as a Daft document before being abandoned, onto the 2016 Local plan officially withdrawn in April 2017, without examination via its Failure of the Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring local authorities.
Sajid Javid Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced within threats of Intervention;
“On 16 November 2017 I made a statement to the House with an update on local plan progress. Up to date plans, including local plans, are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications.
I made clear that a lack of progress will no longer be tolerated.
The Government have abolished top-down regional planning.
But a locally-led planning system requires elected local representatives to take the lead, listen to local residents and business, and set out a clear framework to build new homes, support the local economy and protect the environment.
Local plans also provide the framework within which groups can prepare neighbourhood plans to shape development at local level.
Most councils have seized the opportunity that localism provides; a small minority have not.”
Castle Point Council as most will realise, under the threat of Government Intervention, agreed to the Secretary of State’s demand for a new Local Plan 2018 to be delivered adhering to a strict timetable.
The consequences of not doing so were made clear repeatedly by both the council leader and its chief executive.
By keeping to the schedule the “benefit” would be that Intervention may be avoided and the content would be under the control and input of local councillors.
In truth, the councillors were treated to a small number of briefings, whilst the ceo, leader and deputy and S.Rogers, consultant, Strategic Planning Regeneration, drew up the local Plan 2018.
The result was yet another Local Plan in which Housing Growth was inappropriately distributed.
Originally within the Core Strategy the growth was in Green Belt on Canvey Island, ignoring the Sequential Testing requirement of Flood Risk zones.
Then the daft 2014 Local Plan was proposed with Housing Growth on Canvey Green Belt and included a contribution on the mainland also. This came under tremendous criticism from local pressure groups and was also subsequently abandoned.
Then the 2016 Local Plan emerged with a more seemingly agreeable distribution of Housing Growth using previously developed Green Belt and regenerated Brownfield sites only. Subsequently withdrawn, although not examined.
Finally, or not as the case may be, the 2018 Local Plan at the hands of the previously mentioned cllr smith and ceo marchant.
This time Failing yet again, but due to an apparent overload of Housing Growth in the now beleaguered southern part of the Borough, that is Canvey Island (again) and this time west of Benfleet, or Jotmans Farm as it IS known!
Somewhat surprisingly the local ward representatives of Jotmans, joined alongside the “majority” of Canvey Island representatives, to reject the Local Plan 2018.
Amongst much confusion and flustered, mumbled, conversation between the CPBC ceo and leader, the vote was counted twice, almost as though it could not be believed, but both times the vote remained 16 -15 against adoption!
The Mayor was then instructed to close the Meeting!
If you don’t believe me, you can see it HERE.
However, following a Defeated Motion the CPBC Constitution directs a different, correct, approach should have been taken!
Unless this Constitution provides otherwise, any matter will be decided by a simple majority of those Members voting and present in the room at the time the question was put.
For any decision to be made there needs to be a majority of Members voting in favour of the motion or recommendation.
If the majority of Members vote against the motion or recommendation, no decision has been made, and a further motion or recommendation will be invited by the Mayor.
The ceo, leader, Mayor and legal officer obviously did not want to allow the process to get away from their control by accepting an alternative Motion that may have restricted their options. Perhaps they are hoping to manipulate a repeat debate in the near future, resulting with a different result, if those dissenting councillors can be “persuaded” to relent!