THURROCK: POPULATION 250,000?

COUNCILLORS, community leaders and businessmen met at Thurrock Council last night to discuss the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) Plan 2031.

Sounds boring doesn’t it. You’d rather be watching EastEnders. To be honest, you were watching East Enders. But while you were doing that, you missed your chance to have your say on a vital vital plan.

What is the bottom line?

There is a worst case scenario that by 2031, 100,000 more people will be living in Thurrock.
There is a worst case scenario that by 2031 all that housing will not be matched by schools, colleges, hospitals and all the vital components that make up a community.

The best case scenario is that Thurrock could be a gleaming Shanghai-by-the-Thames attracting a flourishing middle class who will bring skills, investment and drive to truly put the borough on the social, industrial and economic map.

Chair of EERA, John Reynolds and Head of Planning, Adrian Cannard faced a barrage of questions from the floor.

Deputy Leader of Thurrock Council, Amanda Arnold called for a complete moratorium on the plans.

She said: ” It is clear that you are ploughing ahead with housing while the government have pulled the plug on further education (Thurrock Learning Campus) and indeed our schools will also face drastic cuts. There are similar concerns over the health service and similar provision.

“In the light of that, you have to call a halt until you can substantiate that you can meet housing provision with infrastructure.”

Many were exasperated with the “maze of democracy” and felt that the left hand of the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (DC) did not know what the right hand of the EERA was doing. Indeed EERA announced that DC were invited but apparently have not attended. Two reps were in the chamber but, strangely, did not take this opportunity to make themselves known.

Chair of Aveley Community Forum. Alan Field slammed the use of municipal green belt making reference to the building of 2,000 new homes in Aveley.

Aveley leaders such as Alan Field and Wendy Herd pointed to how exasperated they felt with the recent decision to build near the Aveley By-pass.

Cllr Herd said: “It seems that the opinions of EERA, Thurrock Council, Anglian Water, EDF will all be ignored if Westminster simply want something built.

“What support can you give Thurrock because nobody is listening to us.”

Over a dozen Tory councillors were present at the meeting while the Labour group had a solo representative with Corringham Councillor Phil Smith.

It was down to former Deputy Leader and Chair of West Thurrock Forum, Gareth Davies to analyse the figures and pinpoint the bottom line that infact 30,000 more houses could be built by 2031.

The meeting ended with The Chair John Reynolds making a pledge.
He said: “You cannot just put up houses and hope communities happen.”

The consultation period continues until November 24th, 2009.
Further details on www.eera.gov.uk

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