Friday, May 02, 2008

Basildon Votes Tory

The Conservatives took control of Basildon in 2003 and we have increased our representation in the years since. Last night was no exception as we held all of our seats and took yet another from Labour, giving us 29 Conservative Councillors against 10 Labour and 3 Liberal Democrats. Our continued electoral success is all the more heartening because the Conservative administration is committed to a programme of change for the District, some of which has proved quite controversial. It is also heartening because our victor in Vange ward, which has historically been a Labour seat, is only 21. Well done Luke Mackenzie, who has stuck to his task despite losing narrowly last year and being attacked by a national newspaper. In politics the people who matter are the voters, not journalists spinning on behalf of the Labour party.

The only bad thing about yesterday was that I have got Chickenpox, which has meant I wasn't there for election night. Perils of having a new immune system and having to rebuild childhood resistance to disease. Still, it did mean that I could savour the media coverage of what was a fantastic night for the Party. As I write Hazel Blears is spinning away that these elections will mean greater scrutiny on Conservative policies, which she thinks will be found wanting. Absolutely moronic. She can't really believe that more media coverage for the Conservatives would be bad for them, and if she thinks that the Shadow team are incapable of coping with more exposure then she is deluded. If this is all Labour could think of to say after what may be their worst night since the War then the sheer political incapacity of this government is clear.

14 comments:

allan davies said...

Sorry to hear you're unwell and I hope you make a swift recovery. However, it was a bit of a fib to say you took the seat from Labour, wasn't it? The sitting councillor was an independent.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember an Echo article stating that the tories were gonna win seats. Notice the plural? And you only won one! So not as good a result as you hoped hey.

Steve Horgan said...

Thanks for your good wishes Allan, but I must disagree with you on the subject of the Vange result. Jane Dyer was elected as a Labour Councillor and only elected to stand as an independent a few weeks ago in a seat that has two other Labour Councillors. A Conservative win is not a loss for some never-elected Independent Party, but a loss for Basildon Labour and while I appreciate your desire to spin at this point I don't think that anyone is buying it. I would also draw your attention to all of the media reporting on the election results in Basildon that has Conservatives up one and Labour down one. So, I am not alone.

Steve Horgan said...

Mr. Anon. While we always would like to win as many seats as possible, the result was as we hoped and expected.

Alan Ball said...

I wish you a speedy recovery.

What is your analysis of the Wickford North seat, although you won it was a close call and your percentage vote dropped on last year.

You won this seat with a minority support (Under 50% of the vote).

Steve Horgan said...

I would say that this was a wider field than last year in that the Liberal Democrats stood and that the Conservatives again had a comfortable majority in Wickford, and by far the largest share of the vote across the District.

Alan Ball said...

Steve, I know you have been unwell but stop hallucinating! you know as well as I do a majority of 276 and only 43% of the vote in Wickford is not a good result.

Malcolm Buckley had said last year that Lib Dems standing would affect the Independents vote but this was not the case was it? He also supposedly said in the press that this result ‘had endorsed the Masterplan’ How can this be so when your vote dropped 9%?

I should think any reasonable thinking person, or group, would reappraise the situation, would’nt you?

One last point Independents in Wickford Continue to run second, this run of results is almost unprecedented in the district, look how Jane Dyer’s vote collapsed in Vange when she ran as an Independent (72 votes), but then you know you keep on about that.

The Wickford Masterplan is not planning policy and has never been adopted policy, only approved, it is still an aspiration of the Council. So surely now is the time to look again at the plan and cut down on the tower blocks and the amount of residential developments.

Steve Horgan said...

'look how Jane Dyer’s vote collapsed in Vange when she ran as an Independent (72 votes), but then you know you keep on about that'

Never mentioned it.

'cut down on the tower blocks'

There are no 'tower blocks'.

The single-issue independents have come up with nothing for Wickford despite being invited to do so. By asking that the plan be looked at again are you now finally acknowledging that Wickford needs a master plan?

Alan Ball said...

Steve,

With all due respect you are twisting things like a true politician.

You mentioned the Vange seat in your opening report and also Jane Dyer in reply to Allan Davies above, I was just making a comparisons with another Independent vote to ours.

You only answered some of the points raised:

Do you agree with this statement?

‘The Wickford Masterplan is not planning policy and has never been adopted policy, only approved, it is still an aspiration and not a policy of the Council’.


You have no up to date local Plan in place or a ‘fit for purpose’ S106 policy and yet you come up with a plan for Wickford, no wonder it’s a developers Goldmine.

A Building six Stories high comprising 172 Flats and another five stories high with 84 flats are Tower Blocks compared to what is in Wickford now, its perception. They may not be considered so in the East End of London but in Wickford they are!

The Wickford Action Group has never been against development, just over development, good examples are the two developments above.

The perception in Wickford, not just WAG, is that we are not getting improvements just too much residential development without the infrastructure benefits promised.

Even the Health Centre, Swimming Pool and Library are NOT new just replacements for facilities already in place and residents are not happy as you well know about not having a swimming pool for about 18 months, this was never mentioned until recently.

The people of Wickford have been deceived which is why the Wickford Action Group receives so much support.

Steve Horgan said...

Why do you chaps always make it personal? I have never attempted either to characterise your motives or your behaviour, but I will say that the Wickford action group is consistently misleading. Now we have things that are tower blocks by some special Wickford definition. Would you have explained that distinction if I hadn't pressed you on it, and do you make that distinction during your campaigns?

The Wickford Master Plan is a material planning consideration, and its status as Council Policy is a matter of public record. We are in the middle of the protracted LDF process to update the Local Plan, and we have been through the intermediate process to maintain the policies from that that we need to. Those decisions were made in public meetings that were not attended by the Wickford Action Group. We approved a s106 framework earlier this year at a public meeting that was not attended by the Wickford Action Group and the planned new public buildings are just that, new. They are certainly replacements for the existing facilities, but you surely cannot be advancing the view that the current tired buildings don't need replacement? As for the pool closing while it is rebuilt, that was never a secret, how can you rebuild a swimming pool on the same site without closing it for a period?

So you are against over-development. What does that mean exactly? And more importantly what is the Wickford Action Group's vision for Wickford? Is it gentle decline amid a failing High Street and ageing public buildings that are pretty poor examples of 1950s municipal architecture? Is it of a Wickford that is essentially a suburb of Basildon? Or is it of a vibrant community with its own identity and with modern local facilities and a diverse range of quality housing? Most importantly is it one where the Green Belt is not gobbled up because brownfield development cannot sustain housing targets? This is what has never been articulated by the Wickford Action Group, whose public pronouncements include claims that Wickford's Green Belt is already lost to developers, that was you by the way, and that the High Street doesn't need anything doing to it despite the fact that many retailers there are wondering if it is worth carrying on.

It is easy to whip up public disquiet about development, especially if you are prepared to play fast and loose with the truth. What is hard is deciding what actually needs to be done. Why not give that a try.

David Harrison said...

Steve - I would be happy to meet you at any time to discuss where I believe we should be heading in the re-generation of Wickford. If you had sight of the material that was issued in my name as a candidate you would have seen that I am NOT against new development in Wickford - but firmly beieve that changes to the infrastructure should precede or happen in line with development. My main complaint against your candidate was that in her election address in 2004 she stated " I believe that many of Wickford's problems result from a failure to develop infrastructure for the existing population before building extra homes"
I stood for election because of her failure to support her promise over four years as a Councillor.
Perhaps you should have the courage to embrace the Wickford Action Group and let us take part in your plans - similar to what you proposed to the people of Billericay.
The election is now history - and we can argue about percentages till the cows come home - but I believe that you should be prepared to honestly recognise that a significant number of people in Wickford ARE concerned about the plans for Wickford.
I am available any time should you want to talk to me.

Alan Ball said...

Steve

First of all we try not to make this personal and I can say what we say is truly in the best interests of Wickford.

I will also say we have had a Town planning expert look at the Wickford Masterplan and he was not impressed either.

As I said before the Local Plan is out of date (10 years old) so the Wickford Masterplan cannot be part of this as it was only presented to Cabinet in Feb 06, that is why it is only apparitional and not policy and you know that.

As for the Swimming Pool and Community Centre for following statement was used by the Council right up to the Wickford Reborn exhibition in September 2007.

Please note that the Community Centre and swimming pool will be retained in the town centre and a continuation of service will be provided during redevelopment.

This was highlighted on the Exhibition boards with a light blue background.
It was only intervention by WAG members who insisted to Rab Fallon on the day of the exhibition to change this because it was simply untrue!

So who is misleading who? If it was never a secret why did the Council Exhibition boards disagree with your statement? Who is "playing fast & loose with the truth" now?


Tower Blocks are just that buildings that tower over other buildings as the buildings will be the tallest in Wickford Town centre then the statement stands, I can tell you that a significant number of residents were not aware of the height of these buildings until we (WAG) told them.

I am not a person to criticise Billericay but they have no buildings this high or this amount of flats in the High Street so why should Wickford?

One of the reasons now given for so many is now to meet Government Targets this was never said at the first consultation, then it was to pay for community benefits has the Criteria changed?

The Public Meetings you are talking about where were they because I believe you are talking about Cabinet Meetings, if you are these are meetings held in public NOT public meetings as you well know, If I am wrong then we missed them where were they held?

You approved an S106 framework earlier this year, that’s a lot of good for Wickford! Many developments have already been agreed, this is a framework not policy so as I said before you have no up to date local Plan and no ‘fit for purpose’ S106 agreement in place, you must now agree?

The WAG did meet up with you and Tony Ball to discuss the lack of S106 and other things in the Community Centre

Over-development means exactly that, if you want an example 3-31 Runwell Road could do with some development everyone agrees but 3 stories high so that it is in keeping with the opposite side of the road would have been good and the Tennis Club, Cricket Club, Garage on the Corner of the Roundabout and many residents around that part of town agree with us and in fact it was originally turned down with only two of the planning committee voting for it.

It is not just Wickford where retailers are wondering if it is worth carrying on, soon there will only be restaurants, takeaways, estate agents & banks. What benefits have we, the wickford residents got from the masterplan, schools? Affordable homes (where & where is the money)?


Where are you referring to when you say Green Belt? Not Barn Hall I hope because this is not Green Belt is it? It maybe Green fields but not green Belt, so where else are you referring to.

Shot Farm perhaps, because that is Green Belt but we are getting some development on there!

Finally the Council has never given either WAG or Wickford residents any options only the DTZ masterplan or nothing, the WAG have never said do nothing but have never been invited to meaningful discussions, if invited we will always attend any meaningful meetings

Steve Horgan said...

'I will also say we have had a Town planning expert look at the Wickford Masterplan and he was not impressed either'

Who is this 'Town Planning Expert' Please may I see a copy of his report? Why has it been kept secret?

'You approved an S106 framework earlier this year, that’s a lot of good for Wickford! Many developments have already been agreed, this is a framework not policy so as I said before you have no up to date local Plan and no ‘fit for purpose’ S106 agreement in place, you must now agree?'

The framework is policy, as is anything decided at Cabinet. It is certainly 'fit for purpose'. The majority of the development for Wickford Town Centre has not happened yet. The Local Plan has been through an interim review process, which has been through Council and is now policy. It is also in the middle of the LDF process, which will be a further iteration. However, Wickford Town Centre benefits from a separate masterplan in any case.

You are wrong to say that the Wickford masterplan is 'is only apparitional [sic] and not policy'. We currently have four commercial consortia bidding to be the one to take the plan forward. Believe me that they would not be spending time and money to tender if it was just a pipedream. It has been agreed at Council. It is policy.

'What benefits have we, the wickford [sic] residents got from the masterplan, schools? Affordable homes (where & where is the money)?'

Did you not attend the Planning Committee meeting where permission was given for dozens of affordable homes in Wickford Town Centre under the aegis of the masterplan? That meeting was held in Wickford and I am surprised that the Wickford Action Group was not there.

'Where are you referring to when you say Green Belt? Not Barn Hall I hope because this is not Green Belt is it? It maybe Green fields but not green Belt, so where else are you referring to.'

It was your letter to the Echo where you said Wickford's Green Belt was lost. What were you referring to?

'WAG have never said do nothing but have never been invited to meaningful discussions'

but apparently:

'The WAG did meet up with you and Tony Ball to discuss the lack of S106 and other things in the Community Centre'

You and the other leading members of the Wickford Action Group sat across the table in a private meeting with me and the Deputy Leader of the Council for an hour and a half just about a year ago now. At that meeting I asked for your views on Wickford to help us with our developer selection process. I received nothing at all. So, when asked you contribute you actually came up with nothing. This is really the point. You can go on about the minutiae of the planning process, but what do you actually want for Wickford? The Conservatives, especially the Wickford Conservatives, see a Town Centre in decline and we are not going to sit about while it gets worse. It is very easy to campaign against change but if you acknowledge that there is a problem:

'It is not just Wickford where retailers are wondering if it is worth carrying on, soon there will only be restaurants, takeaways, estate agents & banks.'

Then what should be done about it? We have a vision. What's yours?

David Harrison said...

Steve - I have offered on here and by email to meet up with you to discuss MY ideas for Wickford, but to date you have not responded either on here or to my email.
Please do!!