Posted by: iangilbert | October 17, 2011

Scrutiny week

Last week was so busy I couldn’t find time to blog, so I hope to catch up and let people know what I’ve been up to.

It was scrutiny committee week, which is the one chance that opposition members have a chance to look in detail at the Tory administration’s plans for Southend and challenge where we feel appropriate. It was interesting to see the extent to which the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Councillors are uncomfortable with what their government is planning on a whole range of issues, including the localism bill, the open services white paper and school funding arrangements. Hopefully I’ll get chance to write in more detail about these issues soon.

I raised a number of issues of great importance to Victoria Ward, including the future of Heath and Carby House on Victoria Avenue and Shelford House and the old ‘Alms Houses’ on West Street. They are all sources of anti-social behaviour and they are all eye-sores that really do blight the appearance of the town. I supported the original plan to use the Shelford / Alms Houses site for a new health centre. Unfortunately some councillors (mainly Lib Dems) objected and the Primary Care Trust looked elsewhere for a site. Since then residents have been stuck with the rubbish, the squatters and the crime. Funnily enough none of the councillors who objected live anywhere near the site!

Fortunately there is another option been found, with the possibility of demolishing Shelford House and perhaps building a residential home on the site. I’m sure that local residents think that cannot come soon enough.

The future of Heath and Carby House will doubtless take longer to resolve as the council doesn’t own the land and the sums of money involved are much larger. Nevertheless, the council is for the first time airing the possibility that we may use compulsory purchase powers if all else fails.

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