Basildon Council Continues to Fail the People of Basildon

At a meeting (open to the public) of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission yesterday evening it was apparent that democratic decisions are impossible and that officers of the council have a great deal of power. The meeting was called because a councillor had ‘called in’ the decision to withdraw the Westside north area from the regeneration plan so that the market can be moved to St Martin’s Square and the college relocated on to the current market site. Many of you will remember the plan to have a green boulevard from the station to the Acacia Park to compensate for the loss of Gloucester Park. It was argued by the councillor who ‘called it in’ for scrutiny that the decision had not adhered to the council’s decision making constitution which includes considering all relevant factors, taking into account results of consultations, a presumption in favour of openness and clarity of aims.
It was clear to those present that that the commission, made up of councillors from all parties, wanted the decision debated at a full council meeting but after many hours of questioning the chair of the meeting gave the commission two options, to adjourn with the possibility of no further meeting due to other scheduled meetings or to vote to refer it back to the officer who made the decision. The officer concerned was present and the chair deemed that he had answered the required questions and had been consulted. The chair declared that voting to refer the decision to a full council meeting was NOT on the agenda. The commission queried what their role actually was if they couldn’t take decisions on how the matter should be dealt with and reluctantly they voted to adjourn.
It was extremely disturbing to see how the council planning officers can ‘make it up as they go along’ by citing deeds of variation. Their decisions it seems are unquestionable. Something is rotten in the ‘state’ of Basildon.

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