Basildon Council Cabinet this evening, and we started the process to find a development partner for the project to redevelop Wickford Town Centre. The Cabinet supported the proposal, except for the Labour members, whose stance was articulated by their Deputy Leader. It was along the lines that because there were some local concerns at the Wickford Master Plan, upon which basis the redevelopment will occur, that we should not proceed. Of course, it is always vital to consult with local people and to take their wishes into account when regenerating the place where they live, but anyone who has ever been part of a large scale development project will know that there are always concerns. It is pretty difficult to keep everyone happy when building an extension to a house, never mind when hundreds of homes, shops and public facilitates are involved. If any opposition was the benchmark then nothing would ever get done, and it should be pointed out that the Council's surveys, and election results where independents have stood on an anti-development ticket, have showed a healthy majority in favour of a new medical centre, a new swimming pool and community centre as well as a better High Street and new homes in Wickford.
Anyway, Labour voted against and so the battle lines are pretty much drawn in Wickford. With Labour, developers would carry on cherry-picking the prime development sites on a piecemeal basis. With the Conservatives we get coherency in development, and public infrastructure gets constructed too. It is a bit odd though, Tories wanting central planning and the socialists of Basildon Labour in favour of a market free-for-all. I wonder what the people of Wickford will think of that.