CAUSE – ‘cos why not?

Righto – having had a lunchtime read of the manifestos from the four main political parties ahead of the local elections next week, a new document has now landed in our lap:

The ‘manifesto‘ [pdf] from CAUSE – the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex.

CAUSE is far from a NIMBY organisation. It is in favour of development, but only if it appears in the right places.

It’s all about the infrastructure, innit.

Representatives regularly address CBC Cabinet and the Local Plan Committee, Having Their Say, being belled, and then politely being told that the hands of the local politicos are tied.

We are never entirely sure who is being tied up by whom.

And so CAUSE has come up with its own manifesto. It’s not a pledge as to what the group will achieve, but more a calling card for new Cllr’s with a little friendly advice for the incoming administration.

Welcome to the new boss, same as the old boss?

CAUSE has been very delicate in not being political. But plans for growth around our area are defiantly political.

The LibLabIndie lot will bend over backwards to build a bloody ‘Garden Village’ at the back of the Greenstead.

The Colchester Conservatives have been a little more… conservative about how they will address the agreed demand for new homes, balanced with the delicate decision as to where to build them.

No worries – this is where CAUSE comes in:

“We want to see a visionary Local Plan which prioritises infrastructure and jobs. Currently it’s being done the other way round: housing first, infrastructure an afterthought. This leads to proposals like the new town at Marks Tey, which we oppose – no jobs, appalling roads & overcrowded commuter trains.”

Marks Tey Mark II is the main concern for CAUSE. The manifesto outlines how the ‘preferred options’ document – due straight after the election – will dictate the terms of this development.

Which makes us wonder who is really driving this process?

The democratically accountable local politicians, or the apolitical officers, already making the plans behind closed doors?

Four broad headings have helpfully been provided by CAUSE for the new administration:

Get a grip of the Local Plan process

Show leadership and build consensus

Improve the local plan – infrastructure first and

Drop plans for a new town at West Tey.

There is a call to postpone the Local Plan by nine months. It is argued that this extra time should be used instead to work with other neighbouring local authorities to come up with a ‘visionary’ plan, rather than a ‘technical’ one.

This sounds indeed like a plan, but best check first which political party your border buddies are flying the flag for.

It would be a shame if something as significant as local development gets caught up in the poxy political posturing that some within at the Town Hall are capable of pulling off.

CAUSE is keen for any new administration to work with local MP’s. The group wants them to use their Westminster influence to lobby for infrastructure funding from central government.

If we were to read the first chapter in Will Quince’s SMASH novel: My First Year as an MP, we reckon that the plot would involve asking Ministers for more, but then being shunted back to Sunny Colch on the delayed last train out of Liverpool Street.

CAUSE also calls for CBC to work with transport consultants to develop a transport plan for Sunny Colch.

Two words:

CABLE CAR.

No shit.

Transport forecasts are regularly used as part of the planning process. But it’s not an exact science.

What is clear however is that #ColchesterGridlock has become a hashtag of late. You don’t solve the transport woes by building more roads.

A decent suggestion in the document is for bus companies to sync their timetables with the train operators.

Having a proper bus station in the town centre would be a start.

There is slightly confusing call to build a train station at the University – which seems like something of a precursor for the proposed nearby Garden Village.

CAUSE then gets ever so slightly NIMBY, but there is no harm in fighting for your own patch.

The new Cabinet is asked to build for the local economy, and not London. It is claimed that Marks Tey Mark II will become a dormitory town for London, with commuters out-pricing local people.

Build it and they will most certainly come, etc.

There is a good call on increasing the Community Infrastructure Levy – the legal brown envelopes that a developer has to fork out for in order to get their way.

Residents of Mile End would no doubt be in agreement as the Northern Gateway starts to gather pace.

The CAUSE manifesto makes for an interesting read. It is detached of party political colour, yet still argues for political developments.

Politics is life; life is politics.

#LibDemBEES