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.