On Monday 13th May, after a showing of New Town Utopia at the Towngate as part of the ‘celebrations’ of Basildon’s 70th anniversary, the ‘head of engagement’ at Basildon Council, Joseph Reay, chaired a question and answer session. This is how the Yellow Advertiser reported the event: Council officer faces tough questions as residents say bureaucrats are ‘destroying Basildon’ and ignoring its long-time inhabitants.

This is the view of one of our supporters who was at this sparsely attended event: Joe Reay head of engagement, presented a showing of New Town Utopia yesterday. He said he had been sent a DVD but waited to see it at the Towngate. Maybe he should have looked before he moved to Bas! A lack lustre audience and 4 people sitting on stools afterwards did not amount to much. 15 mins for questions and 3 people spoke. Not a magnificent beginning to our 70 years “celebrations”.

Suffice to say that in the space of just three questions, Reay may have had a rude awakening when it comes to the disconnect there is between a bullshit spouting Basildon Council and the residents of the new town. A disconnect that us plebs on the ground have been aware of for years. By way of some background information, these are the circles that Reay and his ilk move in: Basildon ‘completes’ leadership team.

What would be interesting is to find out exactly what Reay thought of the New Town Utopia film. This is because the film tells it like it is and does a pretty good job of showing the gulf between the vision of what the new towns were intended to be and the grittier, messier reality of what Basildon actually is today. Spin that one away Reay!

To conclude, people know that local authorities spend too much time spouting bullshit with councillors only paying lip service to their residents when there’s an election in the offing. As for the full time officers, the further up the pecking order you go, the more of a law unto themselves they become! Which is why we welcome any instance when pissed off residents get a chance to tell their council they’ve sussed out their game and refuse to have to wool pulled over their faces any longer.