Shoebury Flood Defences – doing the affordable
October 17, 2013 3 Comments
We had to reconvene the Place Scrutiny Committee last night to the Council Chamber – the many in the public gallery were struggling to hear without amplified assistance. The many were there to witness a debate on the Shoebury Flood Defences proposals.
In the final analysis it boiled down to money. Five schemes were up for debate, although two of the council proposals were effectively binned already. Thus it came down to a choice of the Council’s preferred scheme, the BERA scheme, and one proposed by the Friends of Shoebury Common.
The Council preferred scheme is costed at £4.5 million; this compares to £9.3 million for the BERA scheme and £8 million for the FoSC option.
All schemes allow for the possibility of new housing. All schemes will prevent flooding. All schemes have differing aesthetic appeal. For me though, working in an environment of cuts, I cannot look beyond what is affordable.
I was baffled by the Independent Group and their wish to more than double the cost of the scheme. They did their credibility no good, and when we debate yet more cuts to come one can only speculate as to how much else would have been sacrificed had they got their way last night. It troubles me that they are morphing into the provisional wing of the Burges Estate Residents’ Association. Whilst we must protect Thorpe Bay, the rest of the borough should not be sacrificed to achieve this. Cllr Woodley, who wanted council tenants to subsidise Thorpe residents’ parking, also needs to understand that he is elected to represent all in his ward, not just the 895 who pay their tenner a year to belong to BERA.
Cllrs Woodley and Terry wanted a task and finish group set up to look into the merits of the various schemes – a long boot into the tall grass if ever there was one. This was rejected. They wanted their scheme chosen. Rejected also. The debate is not finished yet, though. This issue has to come before Cabinet and the Council, and Development Control once plans are finally drawn up.
The council’s preferred scheme undoubtedly is designed to use the soil from the remedial work undertaken to fix the cliffs slippage in Westcliff. My views on the Cliffs Museum are well known, but we have this soil and something has to be done with it. Using it to help stop Shoebury being flooded is sensible – else the council (and therefore all of us) will be faced with a large bill for its disposal. I think the administration needs to learn lessons regarding how to sell their plans; these schemes should not have aroused anywhere near the amount of opprobrium that they did.
I note that Cllr Terry is a member of BERA; is this two residents’ associations he is now a member of? Is this another sign that he is about to embark on the chicken run? On the subject of BERA – do those that comment on their website realise that their email addresses are available to all and sundry? Surely spam followeth.