Sunday, March 14, 2010

Basildon District to become Basildon Borough

At a recent Council meeting a motion was passed to petition the Privy Council in order to change Basildon from a District to a Borough. Now, this is purely a ceremonial change, so the Council's name changes, we get a Mayor instead of a Chairman, and that's about it. The estimated cost of the change is about £1500, and things like stationary and vehicle logos will only be updated as they fall due for replacement anyway. So, what's the point?

Well, there is a point and it is this: Basildon District has historically suffered from a lack of cohesion. We have the old communities of Billericay and Wickford that contrast with the much more recently developed Basildon New Town. The differences were exacerbated by previous Labour Council administrations, who treated Billericay and Wickford as cash cows, while ignoring and even ridiculing their concerns. Matters reached a head in the 1990s when many people in both Billericay and Wickford just wanted their areas transferred to another local authority, rather than put up with the hostility of the Labour Council. Today, things are better because of a Conservative administration that treats the whole District fairly, and which has Councillors in the New Town area as well as north of the A127. However, cohesion across the wider community remains an issue. There is also the fact that Basildon New Town is 60 years old. It has grown up, and the more traditional Borough status is a mark of that.

The aim is to try and bring our various communities together and to show that Basildon District as Basildon Borough is firmly grounded local authority that looks after all of its people. Given that, it is not at all surprising that our narrow-minded, tribal local Labour party hated the idea. Even more shamefully, they boycotted the Council meeting where the decision was taken. This is nothing short of childish, and a betrayal of the people who voted Labour, presumably so that their views could be represented. They receive a Councillor's allowance to do a job, and instead they chose to stay at home and watch the telly. Democratic politics is too important to just take your ball home if you don't like the way the match is going. You can at least win the argument, even if you lose the vote.