Monday, May 30, 2011

Save our Gloucester Park

We have a local campaign with the aim, from its Facebook site, as follows:
We aim to try and stop the building of 500 house's[sic] in Gloucester park at the location of the old swimming pool site and surrounding parts...
The key point is the 'old swimming pool site', to which should be added the 'old car park' and the 'old tennis courts'. Put simply this is a brownfield site, which has been identified for development since at least 2007 in the Basildon Town Centre Masterplan, if not before. The point of the development is to both build much-needed housing and to kick-start the redevelopment of Basildon Town Centre proper, which really, really needs it. Good quality housing close to the Town Centre will also serve to increase the footfall in the Town Centre, which is critical for local businesses.

Now these 'local campaigners' do have a plan, which is that all of the land should be turned into parkland. So, they want the Council to spend a small fortune on clearing the site, it's anything but grass at the moment, and also to forgo the income from the site, which is already factored into the public finances. The estimated cost for this little venture is a bit of a guess, but I'm going with a figure of around £8m. Our good friends in the Labour Party didn't factor this into their alternative budget, which they tabled at the Council's annual budget meeting earlier this year. Why is this important? Well, most of the support for the Facebook group 'Save our Gloucester Park' seems to come from card-carrying members of the Labour Party, judging from the postings on the group. The leading light, for example, stood as a Labour candidate in the recent elections and Labour Councillors are enthusiastic posters.

So, we don't seem to have a broad-based popular movement against developing the brownfield site on one edge of Gloucester Park. We seem to have a campaign got up by the Labour Party because, err, they don't like Conservatives? Who knows?

All in all I find it depressing that local Labour acts like a pressure group instead of a political party, though it actually works for the local Conservative Party in political terms.

They may want to think about that.


Anonymous said...

You are one of the biggest jumped up over payed people in this council horgan and as ive said to you before go back when you belong because it sure aint in basildon,as for labour saying nothing they had a good point you dont listen to jack shit that said to you by anyone,when the parks are gone people will wake up to your cowardness and i hope i will be standing in the gallery the night you lose your seat, thats of cause if you havent knocked the towngate down by then and are lording it up in your posh new civic centre.We dont deserve smug & arrogant councillors like you i pay towards your wages and what a waste of my money it is, roll on the day you have to sign on at the job centre horgan i so want to be there.Now go and comfort uncle bally and call all your fellow councillors to have a whip round and pay the £2 million debt off you all made for the sv,do us one favour at least before you leave

Steve Horgan said...

Why do people post stuff like this? At least it wasn't in a green font I suppose.

Phil Rackley said...

On Councillor Horgan's original post.
The point you seem to miss is that the various groups opposed to your administration's policy of selling off open space to fund the Sporting Village is that people value their open space and want to keep it. As far as Gloucester Park is concerned you have already taken a big chunk of it for the Sporting Village and rather than compensating the people, and not only those living in the vicinity, by returning the area around the swimming pool to parkland you are intent in flogging that off.
As far as the political allegiances of those supporting the campaign is concerned, I'm not privy to information about their political allegiances but one thing is clear they certainly don't support the plundering of community assets being undertaken by your administration.
As far as the term "brownfield" site is concerned I suspect that you are suffering from a bout of semantica Stephen, if that is what it is. Land in built-up areas that has not been developed previously (e.g. parks, recreation grounds, and allotments are also not classed as brownfield. The fact that the Swimming Pool is closed and that you have blocked off the carpark etc. before the planning permission has been granted does not mean that it cannot be included park land etc. It is a matter of political will and the interests of people who want to keep and improve their open space is not a priority as far as Councillors who don't live in those areas are concerned.

green green grass of home said...

nice to see you evaved answering any questions like why dont you pay off the two million debt you helped run up? its not that difficult horgan and to think we are paying you during working hours to write this blog, is there nothing better you could be doing at all like the job you are paid for? as the council wages arent on line at present how much do you cost the tax-payer each year?

Steve Horgan said...

Well, Mr. Anonymous with the amusing handle, you should be aware that being an elected Councillor is a part-time role. All Councillor remuneration is on-line.

As for the Council's debts, that is a lot more complex then the remaining sum owed on the Sporting Village. For example, the amount owed on Council housing is well over £100m. Do you think that we shouldn't have those either?

wickford womble said...

you need council housing stock oh but as tory you wouldnt know what that is as maggy sold it all dint she, and the word jerrymandering comes to mind stephen but ill trust youll ignore that comment? we didnt need a £38 million pound sv you could have spent half of that but then you couldnt glout about it being the biggest and the only 50m pool etc, oh so the fact your only part time doesnt make you part of the debt is that how it is, you put your hand up then your part of it simple fact.And while we are about it i hear a group is trying to get a dem for basildon,im sure youd enjoy going head to head with tony ball to be the tory candidate chosen to stand

Steve Horgan said...

Er, the Council has somewhat over 12000 houses, so 'maggy' didn't sell them all.

As for building the Sporting Village for half as much, do you really think that just making stuff up really helps when talking about this sort of thing? The fact is that it cost the Council more or less the same to build a world-class Sporting Village as it would have to build a bog-standard 25m swimming pool. This is because by building an excellent facility we attracted the sort of external funding that we never would have got by just building something average. In either case we would have had to make land sales. The difference is what we got in the end. Unless you really think that Basildon deserves second-best, and some people actually do, then it is a bit of a no-brainer.

kfc united said...

Weve got 4th best you lot!so answer me how many council houses were 'built' and how many were were 'sold' during maggies reign? as a true blue id expect you to have the figures too hand.
Back to your world class sv attracting the sort of funding it did, clearly didnt attract that well or their would be no debt on it stephen? where can i find the figures for the building costs vs borrowing wihout going through a freedom of information request? and i note you didnt answer about the dem, its clear again your avoiding questions,oh please do answer stephen your havent even got to listen just read on a blog site.

Steve Horgan said...

If you want to know about rates of Council house construction vs. right to buy sales then I suggest that you do your own research.

The Sporting Village was a fixed price build at £38.8m, and came in on budget. We are still getting funds in to meet the proportion of the cost not already covered, and so there is not a final position yet. Income is due, for example, from building on the old Gloucester Park Pool site, which you oppose of course. In fact, you want the Council to spend a fortune there. Do you think that we should borrow the money?

man who didnt run up debt on sv said...

Why are you asking me about funding you dont let us the public have a say so sort the debt out yourself i.e from your pocket, if i run up a debt i have to pay it personally as a councillor you shouldnt have the right to make someone else pay your debt your agreed to run up?
And why should i do my research you were quick enough to spout the figure of 12,000, and still no answer ref the dem if you cant take critism or answer questions shut this blog site down before you have so many more comments.
And when are the tennis & squash couts going to be built so it is a proper sporting village?

Steve Horgan said...

'why should i do my research'

Because you are a grown-up?

To be clear, at this point we don't know if there is going to be a residual debt associated with the Sporting Village. So, it is quite wrong to state that there will be one as fact.

If people have a suggestion for something the Council should do, and you want us to develop additional parkland, then it is quite reasonable to ask if they have considered how much it will cost. For the proposal to turn the former pool site into parkland no-one has come up with a number.

As for Tennis and Squash Courts and the Sporting Village, not enough people use either in the Borough to have made it worthwhile to have included them in the Sporting Village. That is true of a number of other sports of course.

shanghi sally what you want mr.horagn said...

I must say stephen i go past the netball courts most weekends and theirs no one using them, problem is stephen one minute your leader is saying gloucester park has to be sold to pay off the sv debt, and then next you seem to say there maybe no debt? it cant be both.
It sure damn well wouldnt cost £8million you reckon to turn back to parkland, have you not heard of the big society your leader wants i.e children learning how to plant trees and preserve wildlife?And people working for free i hear its your very popular in tory circles.
See the point your missing stephen is id be happy to have seen the netball courts cut back, and some tennis courts put up and even a bit more space taken up to turn it into a sporting park, i just dont want a bloody car park and houses.
This footfall you keep on about how many houses does lakeside have within 400mtrs? none its quality of shops that counts and basildon never will be lakeside or las vegas so stop trying to make it so!Or build this mega new up market resort in billericay where you live?

Steve Horgan said...

The hundreds of girls and women who play netball really don't want the courts removed. Why don't you talk to the local netball clubs and ask their opinion on the matter?

As for meeting the cost of the sporting village, we don't have the final figures yet and probably won't for quite a while. However, they do assume income from the former pool site. If we don't develop that then there will certainly be a debt.

My understanding is that you want to turn that land back to parkland, but everyone supporting this seems to assume that the cash for it turns up as if by magic. My estimate is £8m, and I'll stand by that.

Basildon Town Centre certainly isn't Lakeside. It's the centre of a community, not an out-of-town shopping centre, and it is depended on by thousands of people who don't have cars and who can drive to places like Lakeside. If a Town Centre shopping Centre goes badly wrong then the effect on the wider community is very bad indeed, just look at the Laindon Centre for example. The Council is simply not prepared to sit about and wait for problems in Basildon Town Centre to become acute.

Of course, you could take the view that you have a car and so you'll be all right even if Basildon Town Centre falls apart I suppose.

lets be having an answer stephen said...

I have a car and i bike to work at the moment through mostly park but that will soon change, and now finally you admit youve built something and didnt know where all the money was coming from? whos the fool now horgan,youve made money appear by magic it seems to pay for the sv so you could have found it for returning it to park land, could have sold a field in your ward couldnt you?
And personally i dont care about the netball players do they care about the people who want to play squash & tennis? a sporting village for everyone it is not by a long way, and when are you going to answer what you were doing in shanghi you will get pestered and chased until you do its not going away, so cough up now before we find out the real truth and out you

Steve Horgan said...

1. Money does not appear by 'magic'.

2. We did sell a field in my ward as part of the funding package for the Sporting Village.

3. The fact you don't care about netball players, which means many hundred of girls and women in Basildon Borough is duly noted.

4. The visit to China a few years ago was to promote Basildon Business. There was a full Cabinet report, which is on the internet, so what are you wittering on about? It was a business trip not a holiday, unless you think a holiday consists of touring factories and having meetings.

5. Why don't you post under your own name? What have you got to hide?