Another correspondent on those Shoebury flood defences

Recently I was contacted by Dave Lee; I think he wrote to all of Southend-on-Sea councillors. We were actually copied into his correspondence with the borough’s Chief Executive. What follow’s are Mr Lee’s own words:

I am sorry to have to draw the following to your attention, but as I cannot make any progress with the Southend Borough Council Cabinet Leader on this subject, I need your assistance.

It is clear to me and many other residents that Option 1 was adopted by the Council in an unauthorised manner. i.e. It did not follow the Council’s protocol for such matters (the time given to discuss relevant facts and figures was cut short) and resulted in unsafe evidence being presented to voting council members. In my opinion this is a blatant case of maladministration and needs to be rectified.

I accept that Option 1 may be the best option, but until all the facts and figures of all options are scrutinised and verified as being correct, one cannot be sure.

I can understand the Council being under Government pressure to meet targets for the development of new homes in our area and the pressures being made by potential developers. However, this should not be an excuse to push through the Option 1 in a bid to improve the chances of making land which is classified by the Environment Agency (EA) as potentially high flood risk, into land for the development of new homes. You will see from the attached letter that the EA will not be changing their classification of ‘Flood Risk’ for this area, even if Option 1 is adopted. There maybe an improvement to the flood defences of the land, but the serious risk of flooding from the sea will still remain.

Under the current climate I do not believe the Government would thank any Council for putting residents lives or their properties at unnecessary risk of flooding on the pretence of meeting housing targets.

Will you please remind Councillors that just because the Council is exempt from prosecution from any charges of Corporate Manslaughter they do have a moral responsibility not to make decisions that could put human life in unnecessary danger. i.e. Promoting the building of homes which would be located in the front line of any future sea defence breaches. Also please remind Councillors of the importance of them declaring any personal interests they may have with such a proposed housing development.

What Mr Lee refers to are the proposals for the improvements to the Shoebury flood defences.

I responded thus:

I know I am only copied in for information, but I thought you might appreciate my opinion.

I have written on this subject a few times on my blog – these can be read here https://warelane.wordpress.com/?s=flood+defences

In short, everyone (almost) seems to agree that the sea defences at the east of the borough should be improved. It then comes down to a choice of which scheme, and I cannot get away from affordability.

However, the council has not sold this scheme at all well, and there are still some unanswered questions.

This elicited the following reply:

I agree with you that vital sea defences in this area are necessary and a key factor in deciding which scheme is to be chosen will depend on affordability issues.

Your past blog comments on this subject were most useful to me as I have only recently been triggered into action after reading an article in the Thorpe Bay January 2014 Issue of the Oracle magazine titled ‘Is this called Democracy’. One of its claims was that the Council cost estimates in 2012 were £2M and now total costs are being estimated in excess of £15! for their preferred sea defence option. If these claims are accurate then they warrant further debate by all interested parties.

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