Garden Villages: the SAVIOUR of Housing

Some CLASSIC scaremongering from CBC Leader Cllr Paul Smith in The Gazette today.

The LibDem Cllr for St Anne’s & St John’s ward is getting all worked up about the prospect of 700 new homes being built right on his doorstep.

Persimmon Homes is circling four fields in the ward for development. Cllr Smith has resorted to spreading a culture of fear with a straw man argument centred around the Bloody Garden Villages.

Smith claims in The Gazette:

“If we didn’t have the garden villages plans, we wouldn’t just be able to stop this. If you look at it in numbers, if the garden villages were not planned that takes out 2,500, so quickly this would become a viable development, maybe you might have someone pressing the land at Longridge or submitting plans for more homes on the Middlewick Ranges where 1,000 homes are planned. That is why the garden villages are so important.”

…aka NIMBYism.

The land in question was considered for protection by the LibDem controlled Local Plan Committee. It was deemed unnecessary to put any restrictions on future development.

It’s a familiar argument that we are hearing from the LibLabIndie Coalition all around the borough:

Development is good, as long as it is OUR kind of development.

Bloody Garden Villages, Northern Gateway and the AWOL Vineyard Gate: GOOD.

Tollgate Village: BAD.

VERY bad.

Hey Paul – why not take 700 homes out of your Bloody Garden Village and share the load around the borough by allowing them to be built in your ward?

Cllr Paul Smith is up for election in his St Anne’s & St John’s ward in May 2018, having finished as the third placed candidate in 2015.

Safe as houses, Paul.

Castle Park Bowling Green Giveaway – sorta…

Here’s a half decent opportunity: Colchester Borough Council is keen to handover the two bowling greens in Castle Park for another organisation to make use of.

Expressions of interest are being invited to run a “high quality and innovative leisure facility.”

The Chronic can but DREAM of a lido being opened in the loveliness of Castle Park…

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to explore the space will know that it is a fantastic enclosed facility.

There is a unique ambience around the bowling green areas. It would be a shame to lose this with something like a 24/7 Salsa workout class.

Nothing against 24/7 Salsa workout classes, natch.

The clubhouse needs a little love. This is one of the reasons behind the CBC offer of a 25 year lease.

The Council can’t afford to manage the bowling green space. It would be happy for another organisation to make a profit from it, rather than remain redundant.

The tender document references:

“Established operators and also new and innovative providers.”

Sport isn’t exactly on the radar of the ACE Waiting Room team. A repeat of the transformation of the old bus station space would be most welcome.

The CBC document loses it slightly when it bangs on about how Castle Park attracts one million visitors a year.

You sure?

15 November is the deadline for any group that is interested.

Oh – and this idea first came via Will Quince MP, btw.

It would have been decent for CBC to acknowledge this.

Comrade Candidates for Sunny Colch

And so the news that the Labour party will probably pick a female candidate for Colchester to fight the next General Election is a little… *awks*

Oh dear, etc.

The party’s NEC has declared that 46 out of the 76 target seats will be made up with women only candidates.

Sunny Colch has made its way on to the list of the top 76 target seats for whenever Mrs May has her next wobble.

Which all leaves Cllr Tim Young – the PPC last time round, the Leader of the Labour Group at CBC and the Deputy Leader of CBC [phew] – a little stranded.

Whatever your views on Comrade Young, you can’t deny that he has earned the right to contest the Colchester seat.

Odds of 100/1 were offered for Tim at the start of the election campaign. The bookies had a campaign almost as crap as the Conservatives. The odds shortened to 10/1 on election night.

Tim came within 5,677 votes of beating Tory Will Quince. He received 35.3% of the votes with an impressive SWING of 19.1%

He worked the patch well throughout June, and then did it all over again in Shrub End in August.

The Chronic has mixed views of women only lists.

You pick the best candidate to win, right?

Which right now means Cllr Tim Young. His conversion to Corbynism may have been a little stuttering, but he plays the party game well.

Critics of Tim have commented that Colchester will be a better place with yer man out of town and over in Westminster.

He would be voting fodder for the ABSOLUTE BOY JC, unable to carry on his current cultural crusade throughout Sunny Colch.

Out of sight, out of mind.

As for the female alternatives to appear on the ballot paper?

Um, Cllr Julie Young, anyone?

She would be popular and a bloody brilliant MP. But unlike her hubby, Julie seems to prefer sticking to her Essex patch and making changes on the ground.

A slight shudder might run through certain sections of the town if Cllr Rosalind Scott continues with her ever-ambitious political manoeuvring.

She fought a decent campaign against the Bernie Boy in Harwich and North Essex in June. We’re unsure if Sunny Colch would welcome her personal brand of politics with such ease.

And then there is Elisa Vasquez-Walters, the ex-Chair of Colchester Labour. She’s another popular figure from within all wings of the local party.

It’s a shame that the local Labour group went from being a bit of a laughing stock, to being within grasp of real power – and then find itself up against the possibility of a woman only selection.

No joke, right?

PSPO, A Boards and the Homeless

It seems that common sense has broken out over CBC’s plans to move on homeless people from the town centre.

The agenda [pdf] for the Scrutiny Panel on 27 September has been published. It explains how a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is now no longer considered the best way to solve the ‘problem’:

“Homelessness and rough sleeping has been highlighted as an area of concern throughout the consultation process with very strong views expressed.

A PSPO is not the right approach to solving this problem. The Council would agree and the PSPO is not being introduced to tackle this very complex issue.”

You may remember how the debate started with a review of the use of advertising boards around the town.

This somehow widened the scope to cover how to move along homeless people, and not just the advertising boards.

It was all very strange, tbh…

The Scrutiny Panel has been invited to offer feedback to Cabinet – the originators of the idea to use such draconian powers to tackle homelessness.

This has now been dropped. The Scrutiny report doesn’t give the precise reasons as to why.

Advertising boards are still very much on the radar of CBC.

The Scrutiny report explains how CBC estimates that 228 of these exist in Castle ward alone.

The proposal is to use the PSPO powers to clear the pavements around the centre of the town.

Currently CBC would have to rely upon Planning policy:

“The net result of this is prosecution through the Magistrates Court, a drawn out and costly process for both offending businesses and public services.”

A PSPO would make it a lot easier – and cheaper – to remove the boards.

Some of the other details in the report are worth considering.

PSPO’s last for a period of three years, then they expire. Four locations around the borough are currently the subject of a PSPO:

Mill Road Sports Ground – Dogs on leads for the site and no dogs allowed on pitches

Town Centre Car Parks – ASB

Borough wide – No Dog Fouling Allowed

East Bay & The Moors – ASB & Unauthorised Encampments

Plus four have expired:

Firstsite – ASB

St Botolphs Circus – No Alcohol Consumption

St Botolphs Priory – No Alcohol Consumption

Turner Rise – Sale of Goods and parking

It would be interesting to see some evidence based data about how successful the expired PSPO’s have been.

The fact that they have been left to expire suggests mixed outcomes.

Tollgate: The Return

And so here we go again: Tollgate Village looks like it is heading for the High Court with a Judicial Review brought about by Fenwick.

Joining the ‘town centre saviours’ in this increasingly ugly battle is Lion Walk.

The two BIG BEASTS of Sunny Colch don’t like what appeared to be the final judgement on the out of town development, as delivered by the Secretary for State.

And we wonder why the future direction of the borough is left in limbo…

Hello Northern Gateway?

Anyone seen the AWOL Vineyard Gate?

It’s all about SAVING the town centre, silly.

Colchester Borough Council twice turned down the Tollgate application at the ‘apolitical’ Planning Committee.

It then spunked £159,618.77 in trying to convince the Secretary of State that these decisions were right all along.

It now seems that Fenwick and Lion Walk have very deep pockets; plus they are not accountable in terms of examining how much cash they are throwing at stopping Tollgate.

The argument goes:

“Tollgate Village would have on the commercial and cultural sectors of Colchester town centre”

…aka the financial altar of two of the BIG HITTERS of retail in the town centre, and not your struggling local independent retailers.

Tollgate may – or may not – be built.

Ditto for Northern Gateway [NO R-E-T-A-I-L] and Vineyard Gate.

What will be happening in the homes around Sunny Colch will be the increased take up of online shopping.

To try and stop consumer choice shows how failed the Fenwick and Lion Walk model of capitalism is.

It also masks the more pressing question: what do residents actually want from their town centre?

Currently Colchester is stagnating.

Chelmsford and Ipswich are pissing themselves.

This doesn’t feel good 🙁