On 12th March, there was an article in the Echo about the re-development of East Square in Basildon town centre: £25m contract for awarded for 10 screen cinema complex at East Square, Basildon. This is right opposite the iconic Brooke House tower block. Residents of Brooke House have long been aware of the proposals for the re-development of their part of the town centre. They’ve certainly been aware of some of the preliminary works in East Square: A message for the contractors working on East Square.
With the preliminary works and the all singing, all dancing announcement in the Echo on 12th March, in both cases, residents of Brooke House have not been kept properly informed of what’s going on by Basildon Council, the contractors undertaking the preliminary works and the developers behind the scheme. Residents are only becoming aware of what’s happening when looking out of their windows at a ridiculously early hour after hearing the contractors working in the square, or from reading the Echo.
This level of contempt for local residents is unbelievable but given the past record of Basildon Council, entirely predictable. As for the contractors and the developers, they don’t seem to be able to grasp the basic concept of public relations. Could it be because the majority of the residents of Brooke House are working class and in this day and age, our class is routinely dismissed and denied any meaningful say in their future? That’s the conclusion we have to draw.
Here’s a little visual reminder to Basildon Council, the contractors and the developers – this is Brooke House and it’s right on East Square. It’s pretty big, has an iconic 1960s vintage design and there’s no way you can not see the building from a large part of Basildon. So, how about actually engaging in meaningful dialogue with the residents so they feel they’re part of the process of re-developing the town centre as opposed to its victims?
It’s not just Basildon Council who are in an overly cosy relationship with the developers while treating residents with contempt. It’s pretty much every local authority these days. Here’s a reminder from a few days ago of the dismissive attitude Thurrock Council are taking to residents in Grays whose lives are being blighted by a new housing development: Thurrock Council indifference to residents getting grief from developers. So, yet again, we have to say that the system of local and national governance we endure is dysfunctional, not fit for purpose and needs to be swept away, with power coming right back down to the grassroots.