Tag Archives: essex county council

Canvey Island Dutch Village Estate “doers”, Get the Job Done! In the process they Embarrass the local authorities! Time to streamline local Council officialdom?

The treatment of Canvey Island residents, fronting and affected by the many Un-made Roads on the Island is nothing short of Shabby!

Whether it be the original developer, the old Canvey Island Urban District Council, Castle Point Borough Council, or that fine hierarchy that is Essex County Council, all have shunned responsibility where the situation of road maintenance and improvements are concerned!

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Even protracted legal discussions between ECC and CPBC have failed to reach a final decision on who should be responsible for changing the street light bulbs.

It is common knowledge that frontagers of these roads are ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the road surfaces, however why have so many of these roads been granted permission to be constructed in such a temporary fashion?

Permission for the substandard access roads would have been granted in the first instance, across many developments by the local authority, we assume that a financial “contribution” for the roads eventual making-up would have been levied upon the developer.

It would appear that these funds may have been put into reserves by the old Canvey Island UD Council. These funds would then have been absorbed into the coffers of the Castle Point borough council when it was then formed.

Essex County Council is the Highway Authority.

Government have given legislative guidance that:

“Section 230 of the 1980 Act empowers the ‘street works authority’ (i.e. the county council or unitary authority) to order the frontagers to carry out repairs to a private or unadopted road which are “needed to obviate danger to traffic”. The legislation also allows the authority to carry out the work itself if the order is ignored and to recover the expenses incurred from the frontagers.

Section 230 of the 1980 Act may only be invoked where repairs are needed to obviate danger to traffic. In other cases a highway authority may decide that a private or unadopted road should be made up under the Private Street Works Code (PSWC), set out in sections 205 to 218 of the 1980 Act.”

There has long been friction and complaint in the instance of the Dutch Village Estate roads. Many approaches have been made through official and direct channels for action to be implemented. Residents on the estate both of the unadopted and adopted roads wished to just have a reasonable and safe surface to access the estate whether on foot, by vehicle or by mobility vehicle means.

Given that, as further above, it is likely that monies were held and passed on between the two local authorities and that the ECC as Highways Authority have the authority to have the works carried out and collect the funds to pay for the improvements.

It could also be suggested that between the 3 local authorities some responsibility to contribute to the works is fairly obvious, having received developer contributions and having collected a proportion of council taxes towards Highways!

Instead all approaches, as you may expect from our local authority, were Rejected! Not just recently, but going back some many decades, so austerity cannot be upheld as a viable reason.

Many years ago MP Sir Bernard Braine intervened on a few residents behalf. When he did, Castle Point borough council jumped, to get Highways work implemented. Those days are long past.

It is only fair to note that Cllr.Howard has over many years shown support on unadopted Highways improvements, and endeavoured to assist in achieving some progress. However the local authorities controlling Canvey Island have collectively frustrated and failed the residents.

Contrast this with Cheshire, where many years ago the local council realised the predicament that homeowners had found themselves in and decided to take some action on the issue!

“It is proposed that Cheshire East Council should have a policy for dealing with urgent repairs to private streets where expenditure is limited to £500 in any one street in any one year and that the budget for repairs to private streets be limited to £5,000 per annum where overall budgets allow this. The budget shall be managed by the Highway Manager.”

Contrast this with Castle Point borough council’s almost prehistoric position indicated within the Adopted Local Plan thus:

POLICY T7 – UNMADE ROADS THAT IN ALL APPLICATIONS FOR THE INTENSIFICATION OF DEVELOPMENT SERVED BY UNMADE ROADS, THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK APPROPRIATE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE HIGHWAY. 

Never has a Policy been more appropriately considered;  too Little, Too Late!

Cheshire recognised the difficulty of a group of individuals to organise themselves as a collective, given the usual fractured communities we find these days, and have taken an initiative to offer some recourse to residents with a dangerous or deteriorating road surface is concerned.

What it has taken, in the case of the Dutch Village,is a very determined, very small group of residents to organise estimates, financial contributions and works to resolve the implementation of a flat road surface that all will benefit from, whether emergency vehicles with seriously ill patients, residents and their visitors and, not least and ironically, Council Refuse Vehicles which have been responsible in no small part for a level of damage to the old road surface!

Some of the funding has come from nearby residents not financially responsible for the Road requiring repair, some residents, with responsibility may have not been in a position to contribute, others owning but letting out property, may not have proved contactable.

Little wonder that a Policy on these and similar Roads should be forthcoming from Castle Point borough council! It is long overdue!

Few would argue that an Unadopted Road tax precept could not be charged on Council Tax payers, either generally or specifically on frontagers of Unadopted Roads, so as to build up a Ring Fenced Fund for the purpose of repairs. After all Canvey Islanders are charged an extra precept for our Town Council, police etc.

Look at the photograph above, and ask whether it is fair for residents to be left to organise such work themselves, especially given the Flooding issues on Canvey Island.

This has been quite some undertaking as nowadays many residents lease their properties thereby not being the owners responsible. The Canvey Green Belt Campaign were happy to allow the use of their bank account. And without a Residents Association the “bringing together” of all of the loose ends deserves great credit to the residents organising this undertaking!

Especially as the short length of road concerned is costing some 10’s of thousands of £’s !

It occurs to us that what is actually needed is some type of collective responsibility in the form of an elected group with powers to implement improvements, general maintenance, contracting resources and planning for future issues.

But then we came to the conclusion that what we really need is a Council fit for purpose!

What these Dutch Village Residents will have achieved, has been done despite councillors and officers!

So perhaps with these heady days of strategic planning, with the likes of the grandly titled “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) or “The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”, both of which Castle Point council are an eager part of, it is now time to reduce the burden on the local tax payer and abandon the layers of executive “professional”officers at local authority level and reorganise a single authority for decision making across the region with lesser devolved powers implemented at a local level.

After all, in this instance the local authorities have failed, and continue to fail the people they are supposed to represent and carry out duties on behalf of, the Local Residents!

Despite the many unmade roads in the Borough, I cannot see many achieving what these Canvey Dutch Village Residents have achieved.

Hats off to them!

Daily Mail Photo

Responsibility for street lights on unadopted roads denied

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Local Plan – is it “Coming Home”, or Not? Roll up, Roll Up! Two Plans for the Price of just One – Castle Point’s Never had it so Good!

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents are being asked to add their opinions and thoughts to the latest Local Plan 2018 consultation process.

Town Centre
This is despite the fact that the Secretary of State, through the opinion of the Government’s Chief Planner, has yet to decide whether Castle Point council are deemed willing and capable of completing the Local Plan publication process themselves to the point of adoption!

The whole Castle Point Local Plan process is being carried out in a Rush under the threat of Intervention!

This despite the Secretary of State’s own office taking from 18 December 2015, when the Inspector issued his report into the Jotmans Farm housing Appeal inquiry, until the 21st April 2017, 16 whole months, to come to a decision. Apparently no hurry then to come to a planning decision, until an Election was imminent.

Residents entering the LP2018 process will note that there isn’t a Local Plan to actually consider, instead there are 2 !

Two Local Plans, from a single Evidence Base!

This shows, as Canvey Islanders should by now be aware, how “Local Factors” and politics can distort and manipulate the contents of Local Plans!

According to the cpbc Chief Executive officer up to 100,000 consultees are invited to respond, despite the 2011 population of Castle Point being just 88,011 and many of these being young children. this may lead to the Consultation response rate being skewed low! Previous response rates have been around just 12%

These Low response rates can lead to distortions of the “Feed Back” by the cpbc officers and our elected representatives. Previously, through these influences, we have seen Housing Growth directed onto Canvey Island despite Flood Risk being an issue, and the reduction of Housing Numbers, due to the concerns over Green Belt loss.

These influences on the Housing Growth have chiefly been in response to mainland residents concerns, indicated through the previous draft Local Plans consultations.

In recent times we have witnessed the pressure of residents and mainland councillors protest be successful in the prevention of the proposed Essex County Council closure of the Deanes school. This was strengthened by the cpbc chief executive’s supporting statement that there was to be a large Housing development site in the surrounding area, residents of which would be attending the Deanes to bring the attendance numbers nearer ECC expectations.

In contrast Canvey’s Castle View school, serving the most densely urbanised part of Castle Point and South Benfleet, was simply Closed!

A public facility closed, and sold off to a sectarian private enterprise.

The Paddocks, allowed to deteriorate despite money being available some years ago for improvements with a top up from CPBC funds, is now seen as a potential Housing development site.

If Canvey Island residents are tired of being dictated to, they must take the trouble to involve themselves in the Consultation.

This is crucial as, not only will a low response rate allow certain councillors to suggest that he, or she represents the “silent majority”, but will allow a potential disastrous Local Plan to emerge just so that it may appear CPBC are compliant with the 2 new strategic “Quango’s”, the “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) and the “Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”!

Dalliance with either or both will lead to major growth changes, both in population from the 90,000 dwellings across the area and traffic especially locally, with no infrastructure improvements. Canvey Island, purely due to its situation will always remain an outpost. However many people are managed to be housed here, little infrastructure will be forthcoming simply because we are in Austere times.

Infrastructure requires maintenance, ECC are not looking to spend more on maintenance!

For all of the Canvey Island Petitions and Referendum the past has proved that election words and promises are cheap, we need to accept that due to our location, the area is seen as Developable, whether Housing, Business or Industrial, yet little benefit or financial return is gained by Infrastructure improvements.

As it stands your Local plan consultation response, in the first instance, will be weighed against mainland responses.

If you  as a Canvey resident consider;

that Canvey Island has become over developed to the point that New Large Housing development sites are unviable,

that the Traffic Issues mean the potential congestion is unreasonable,

that Tidal Flood Risk is not taken seriously enough when distributing Housing Growth,

that the whole of the increasing Urbanised area of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area and the ever increasing development is putting too greater strain on the drainage system,

that the Road Access is inadequate for the current population, many of whom commute, and unsuitable and especially inadequate in the event of an Emergency Evacuation,

that in a severe Emergency, whether Flood Risk or Industrial, the sheer number of Residents on Canvey Island and the island’s location, mean that any response by the Emergency Services will be inadequate and a Danger to Life, despite responders best efforts,

that our Green Spaces and Green Belt are important to our well-being and should NOT be developed,

that our Town Centre is badly in need of Regeneration and Re-development and under serious threat from out of town shopping areas,

then you really should make the effort to Log onto the Castle Point council website and respond to the Consultation.

Otherwise it will be left to the Government, Council officers and the majority mainland representatives to impose on us “their” Local Plan.

To add your thoughts and concerns to the cpbc Local plan Consultation, log on HERE.

To view the documentation, log on HERE.

Canvey New Access Road, and the Promised Yachting Marina just a Dream! Any wonder Islanders take a Pinch of Salt with the Promises?

It is usual prior to Elections that Canvey Island residents are subject to certain infrastructure Promises from Castle Point Lead Group representatives.

This year has been slightly different in that Little, if Anything, has been raised about the proposed new access road to Canvey Island, via the Manor way to the promised land that is Thurrock!

Waterside Farm

Waterside Roundabout – Unusually clear!

Even though the Leader cllr Riley did touch upon no Housing prior to improved Infrastructure in an Echo interview, this was under the duress of imminent Government Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan process.

More Telling with respect of Road Infrastructure and new Access to Canvey Island is contained in a personal response from Essex County Council (ECC) regarding unadopted Roads.
The ECC made perfectly clear the dire straits they feel they are in where finance for Highways is concerned.

It appears that even if Government finances were made available to construct a new Canvey Island Access Road, ECC may well be extremely reluctant to go ahead with the road’s construction, due to it being their responsibility to maintain!

Essex County council wrote;
“we have limited funds available to maintain those areas for which we actually are responsible.”

Canvey Island Residents should really be far more sceptical where promises from both Essex County Council AND Castle Point Council are concerned.

We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign were subjected to fanciful promises from no less than a team headed by the Castle Point Chief Executive and two Senior “professional” Officers, when it was arranged for us to meet following our successful Referendum on protecting Canvey Island’s Green Belt in the summer of 2009.

Having made clear to the cpbc representatives that, by a 99%+ majority, Canvey Residents were concerned over the cpbc plans to develop Housing on the Island’s few remaining patches of Green Belt, we were treated to a presentation of the proposed RSPB site on Canvey West Marsh and then an attempted engagement over the planned redevelopment of the Town Centre!

This we had to rudely interrupt the meeting over as they were distracting asides, only to then hear of cpbc’s intentions to convert the OIKOS hazardous Industrial site – into a Yachting Marina !!!

“The Council has a long‐term ambition to see operations at the Hazardous Installations at South Canvey cease, improving the safety of existing and future residents living on Canvey Island.”

“With regard to the deliverability of this ambition, the council’s Policy CP9 is a long term policy which looks beyond 2020 to a time when dependence on gas imports and fossil fuels in general is significantly reducing.”

The levels of intelligence that Castle Point Council credit Canvey Islanders with is woefully inadequate and insulting.

It is undoubtedly this arrogance that has taken cpbc to the threshold of Government Intervention following 3 attempted publications of a Local Plan, each ignominiously either forced into Withdrawal or Rejection, further endangering the Borough’s Green Belt and increasing the levels of population at Risk of Flooding or Industrial Accident.

Update.

Since this Post was published, an election leaflet has been delivered from the controlling group. 

It states that “Plans for the final stage of Roscommon Way are in progress.” and our MP and her colleagues “are demanding Government funds the third access road”.

Photograph Courtesy: Echo Newspaper and Google 

Castle Point Local Plan Mk 5, written by Basildon and Essex Councils, will Leave us Far Worse off than being “Hung Out to Dry”!

The Nasty Intervention men from the Ministry are due to visit Castle Point Council this week!

Just to avoid any accusations that we are misleading you, we reproduce faithfully the wording in the Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s letter to cllr C.Riley

“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”

From this single sentence it is clear to assume that “Houston, we have a Problem!”

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Of course it would have been helpful and in the interests of Openness and Transparency, something that cpbc should be looking to emulate, to have seen exactly what Cllr Riley and the cpbc chief executive wrote in response to Sajid Javid’s threat of Intervention in our Local Plan process.

But it appears you will remain none the wiser!

Rushing-through a Local Plan is something that Basildon Council consider themselves adept at.

The “driver” in their move to adopt their own Local Plan at the recent council meeting, coincidently just a couple of days ahead of the Government’s Intervention letters being distributed to the 15 local authorities concerned, was, as expressed by a Basildon Senior Planning Official;

it is clearly expressed that the unmet need of neighbouring authorities should also be taken into account when setting the housing target.

This is relevant given that Southend-on-Sea and Castle Point (within out housing market area) experience quite significant physical constraints and are unlikely to be able to meet their housing target without breaching rules around flood risk and/or nature conservation – ie. 20,480 would be the least Basildon would be expected to deliver.”

Quick, Pull up the Drawbridge!

Although we can expect Basildon to be found out by their Examining Inspector if they haven’t specific proof that they have considered thoroughly Southend and Castle Point’s request for them to consider taking some of Castle Point’s constrained housing shortfall, assuming a request was made!

The thought that Essex County Council will also get involved in our Local Plan, when they view the Road Infrastructure on Canvey Island and the mainland as being acceptable is frightening to say the least.

ECC would likely support the Jotmans Farm proposal in the knowledge that the transport survey reveals;

“4.4 Site H14 – Land West of Benfleet:
By way of summary, the following key findings can be reported with regard to the appraisal of a potential link road between Benfleet and the A130 Canvey Way, as reported in this chapter:

The operation of the Sadlers Farm junction (Junction 1) is predicted to be comparable, in either scenario without or with the link road, with the results reported within the ‘amber’ range in all cases. When considered in further detail however, slight improvements to the operation of the junction are expected with the introduction of the link road, in both the AM and PM peak hours (although the results would remain in the ‘amber’ range);

The operation of the Tarpots junction (Junction 8) is predicted to be very similar, in either scenario without or with the link road, with the results reported within the ‘red’ range in all cases. Whilst in overall terms, a change in performance is not expected, improvements are predicted to occur at the junction for vehicles turning left from the B1006 onto the A13 and for vehicles turning right from the A13 onto the B1006;

The proposed roundabout junction on the A130 Canvey Way (Junction 21) is predicted to operate within its capacity threshold, within the ‘green’ range of results, allowing for its implementation with the link road. Further work to cost and design the link road and junction will be required, should this scheme be promoted further; and,

The junctions of Wavertree Road (Junction 22) and Jotmans Lane (Junction 23) are predicted to operare (sic) within their capacity thresholds, within the ‘green’ range of results, allowing for the implementation of the link road. Further design work will be required to consider how these existing junctions, and the roads they serve, should be treated with regard to their integration with any link road in this area should it be promoted further “ *

No mention of the backing up of Traffic onto Waterside Roundabout and across Canvey Island this new junction on Canvey Way will cause!

The assessment of highway access to the Blinking Owl site drew negative scoring;

“To support the full development therefore, one or more other access points would need to be put in place, which would be expected to require significant highway works and amendments to the existing network.”

Significant Highways works are not something Essex County Council appear eager to spend money on in our part of the County, despite the site appearing to be able to yield 2,000 plus dwellings!

Our County Authority deem the partial upgrade of the Fairglen InterchangeA127 / A130 as a major investment programme, albeit a partial scheme.

This junction typifies the short-termism and cost saving highway infrastructure schemes developed in this Country!

“ Essex County Council has carried out extensive survey work at the Interchange. In summary this shows”;
“• High levels of congestion • Three major roads joining at one location leading to traffic conflict”
“Current traffic flow data shows that the A130 arm from the north of the Interchange has reached its maximum capacity. All other arms of the roundabouts of the Interchange are close to capacity. Highest traffic flows are recorded on the A127 westbound in the morning peak and eastbound in the evening peak. This also results in congestion in the links between the roundabouts at the Interchange.”

And they (Essex County Council) propose? “Short term improvements”!

As far as Essex CC are concerned Somnes Avenue, Canvey Island was recognised as possibly benefitting from a proposed widening scheme, although it appears the cycle lane was of more importance, and the Woodmans Arms, Rayleigh Road, Thundersley is in need of an improved flow scheme!

It is of No Surprise then to have heard cllr Bill Dick when referring to the Hadleigh Regeneration Scheme and the redevelopment of the Library building, say that he considered Essex County Council had “Hung Castle Point Out to Dry”, where funding was concerned!

Castle Point Local Plan, in the hands of Basildon Council and Essex County Council would be a disaster in the Making, for our Borough!

For the Record, from the contact we have had, and the observations of them in carrying out their workload, we have found Planning Inspectors to be very fair minded. However they have made clear that their job is not to allocate development sites, only that local authorities have been reasonably fair and correct in their site selection process.

This has NOT always been the case in the previous versions of Local Plan’s by Castle Point council!

* AECOM Transport Evidence for the New Local Plan Phase 2 November 2015

Castle Point Leader drops Gov. Minister Green Belt Bombshell! Whilst Canvey is Carved Up and expected to put trust in behind closed doors meetings!

It would appear insensitive, lacking openness and transparency and disrespectful for Canvey Island Town Council, as representative of the largest Town in Castle Point, to have not been invited nor allowed representation, in even an observational capacity, at the “collaborative” local area Planning meetings being undertaken by cpbc,  Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend–on-Sea, Thurrock and Essex County Councils.

These meetings fall under the umbrella of work “to create a vision and sense of place for South Essex through the Association of South Essex Local Authorities”.

More fundamentally it is the South Essex Local Authorities attempt to fulfill their failed efforts to Cooperate within their Local Plan processes.

During last weeks cpbc Special Council meeting, we heard from the ceo that both the Local Plan work and the work of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, or ASELA for short,  are Intrinsically linked.

Carving

Canvey Island on the Menu

BEWARE! 

If you find yourself at the Dinner Table, without having received an Invitation,

It is very likely that you will be forming part of the Menu!

With Canvey Island currently supplying the largest sites of both Housing and Business Development in Castle Point, it is requiring almost foolhardy trust, given the previous track records, for Canvey residents to simply accept their interests are being represented to the best of cpbc Leader and officers ability!

The Leader said during the Special Council meeting that up until ASELA commenced working, cpbc was considered as “small fish” amongst south Essex councils. Off the bottom of the list, and having to fight tooth and nail to keep, schemes such as, Fairglen Interchange in the frame.

In effect Islanders are having to put our trust in Cllr Riley’s word, in reporting back to his confidents at cpbc.

Remember that no updates of work achieved or fulfilled have been made public, nor updates on how any agreements will impact upon the intrinsically linked Local Plan, with its Housing Need and Distribution of Housing Growth causing concern to many.

With Cllr Riley’s calling for trust in council members and residents alike, it was most surprising then to hear him state during the council meeting, that he himself held no trust in the Government’s Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, of whom he claimed, he didn’t “believe the minister cares whether we build on our green belt or not”!

In fairness to Cllr Riley his concerns may have some “legs”, as despite the SoS dismissing the Jotmans Farm, Benfleet development Appeal, he did so only on the day of the commencement of the Period of Purdah ahead of the General Election 2017! *

Residents may remember that the Jotmans Appeal was conducted during September 2015, so the decision was with the SoS for likely over 18 months awaiting his decision. No doubt he would have had in mind the progress being made with the cpbc Local Plan before making his decision, however since then he has reacted by placing cpbc on his list of 15 most local authorities likely to face Government Intervention! More recently, Sajid Javid’s ministry has been renamed to that of “Housing, Communities and Local Government”!

In the meantime, we wonder what Wheeling and Dealing goes on at these ASELA gatherings, Canvey Island residents with no representatives present, if we were informed, would learn 3rd hand at best!

* LINK to Jotmans Appeal decision

 

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

 

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!