Last week, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab), the leader of Basildon Council, spoke out in condemnation of the Clarion Housing Group for ‘failing its residents’ on the ¾ estate in Vange: ‘Estate is totally unacceptable for residents’ – Basildon Council leader calls for action. Callaghan has demanded that the chief executive of Clarion Housing, Clare Miller, join him on a walkabout on the estate to see what the problems are.

We welcome Callaghan’s interest in dealing with the consequences of years of neglect on the ¾ estate and hope his intervention does kickstart some genuine, far reaching changes. However, there are a few things we’d like to point out to Callaghan so he gets the full picture of what has been happening on the ¾ estate…

Firstly, we’d like to remind Callaghan of the existence of the Vange Hill Community Group. Since their revival in 2017, they’ve been ceaselessly working to improve conditions on the ¾ estate through lobbying councillors, council officers and practical actions such as clean up days and gardening in selected locations. This work has on occasions been facilitated by Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA).

Secondly, while there’s a major issue with Clarion Housing Group, the problems don’t stop there. There have been ongoing issues with the rubbish collection ‘service’ provided by Basildon Council for years. One issue being uncollected rubbish bags which end up getting torn open by foxes and the contents strewn everywhere. When the Vange Hill Community Group and BASHA have raised rubbish collection issues with Basildon Council, too often the response has been dismissive and on occasions, downright rude. We would like to suggest to Callaghan that as leader of Basildon Council, if he wants to make a positive impact on the ¾ estate, he addresses the issues with rubbish collection as a matter of urgency.

Thirdly, there are issues with the ‘maintenance’ of paths and roads across the estate which leaves a lot to be desired. A number of paths are so badly broken, they constitute a hazard to residents walking around the estate, particularly those who are physically frail. The situation is exacerbated by the state of confusion about the split of responsibilities between Basildon Council and Essex County Council over the pathways and roads.

We hope that we’ve started the process of giving Callaghan a fuller picture of the issues on the ¾ estate and that a holistic approach to dealing with them can be developed. Going forward, if Callaghan is serious about dealing with the issues on the ¾ estate, he has to work closely with the Vange Hill Community Group in devising and implementing solutions.

Putting it bluntly, if the process of improving conditions on the ¾ estate is not led by the residents and the Vange Hill Community Group, with Callaghan and Basildon Council listening and facilitating improvements, then it’s a meaningless exercise. Suffice to say, we’ll be watching developments with great interest…