Responses to Cllr Horgan’s Echo Comments

Dear Sir

We are absolutely appalled by the comments made by Stephen Horgan as reported by Jon Austin in the Echo newspaper tonight – 20th July about the situation at Dry Street.

He is being very arrogant saying that a ”homes u turn is a grown up thing to do” the material facts have NOT changed – it is more important now than ever that we keep some green land when other areas are being sold off for development in the Basildon area. Soon there won’t be any green spaces left the way the Council are going!

We can and if possible will STOP the proposed Dry Street development. We have fought long and hard with the fantastic help of the Echo over the last few years and we will do it again!

At the moment as far as we can ascertain there isn’t a designated site for the proposed new College in the Town Centre, and there are no plans available to be seen for the proposed development. The Council own only a very small piece of the proposed site and the Homes and Communities Agency will we feel want to utilize as much of the land as possible; therefore building as many houses as they can.

The Tory Council were negligent in 2006 when they didn’t go through the correct procedures to get this land included in the Green Belt.

This proposed development will not only spoil the local area it will cause chaos too. The traffic flow even now at the Hospital roundabout builds up just before 4pm every day – it sometimes can take between half and one hour to get out from the Hospital so what would it be like if this business park and smaller development of houses goes ahead?

This area acts as a buffer between the Town and the country – it is ancient meadow land full of wild life and invertebrates.

We have been members of the Green Action Group for many years and urge residents to object and protest when the time comes so that we can preserve this piece if land for posterity for all to enjoy.

Yours sincerely

Edna and William McCready

Dear Sir

Dry Street Development

Cllr Horgan has re-iterated in successive meetings and interviews that re-locating Basildon Collegeto a town centre location will help solve the problem of NEETs and at the same time re-invigorate the economy of the town centre. These are in fact his main reasons for supporting the proposal. However, his failure to understand the essence of the NEET issue, and his flawed judgement that young people of 16-19 have so much disposable income that the town centre economy will be boosted by there presence is worrying in someone who has responsibility for the regeneration of the town.

The task-and-finish group established by Basildon Council to examine the NEETs issue in the borough produced a number of conclusions. Amongst these were the recognition that:

  • a wide variety of opportunity already exists for young people in this category
  • that clearer pathways for vocational and academic further education need to be signposted for young people
  • and that, at a practical level, provision should be made as a matter of urgency for young people to re-sit examinations such as GCSE.

The task-and-finish group also recognised that “many young people with poor qualifications are still having difficulties accessing the majority of the training and employment opportunities available in the district.” Contrary to what Cllr Horgan seems to believe, ‘access’  in this context does not refer to the 15 minute walk from Basildon Train or Bus Station.

One of the main conclusions of the group was the recognition of the need for “creating more integrated working amongst those organisations involved in the NEET agenda.”   This is the nub of the issue. It is practising a cruel deception on young people, the Basildon community and local retail interests to claim that simply building a new 2,500 capacity college within yards of the Town Centre will lead Basildon into a new era of training for all and economic regeneration.

In their letter to local residents the partnership behind the development proposals at Dry Street assert that “experience elsewhere has shown” that the best location for a new college would be Basildon Town Centre. Cllr Horgan has admitted that the “experience elsewhere” is Southend. Again the perception that one size fits all is worrying.Basildonis not Southend.

Not so long ago Basildon College was content to sell off its playing fields for housing development and applied for and obtained planning permission. It had a range of expansion plans on the current site, a site which is currently under capacity in terms of course provision.

Despite Cllr Horgan’s protestations and the insulting argument that those who oppose the development plans – whatever they may be – have no concern for Basildon’s young people, the driving force behind them is the Homes and Communities Agency, anxious for a return on their capital asset at Dry Street. This, as for their predecessor English Partnerships, is their main motivation.

The Basildon community must not be blackmailed or bamboozled into thinking that these proposals will do anything other than change the nature and character of this part ofBasildonfor ever and open the way for even more development in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Geoff Williams

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