THIS WAS not the first time that council officer, Richard Hatter had faced an angry residents meeting to address concerns regarding planning applications and it will probably not be the last.
Over 200 residents packed into the main hall of the Aveley primary school to discuss the large number of applications that could change the way their village looks forever.
Chair of the Aveley Community Forum, Rev Alan Field began the meeting by delivering an overview of the plans around Aveley that prides itself on being called a village.
Mr Hatter stressed the importance of residents taking part in a consultation that ends on March 1st.
He also made it clear as to what developments/applications the council supported and which ones they did not.
Mr Hatter said: “The only development that the council supports is that of the football club (Aveley) to a possible sports hub at Belhus.
“We do not support the proposals for the housing at the former firemens’ club (Purfleet Road) or the wash-house.”
It was at this point that the meeting was thrown out to the audience.
Among the concerns raised were:
1. Resident after resident pointed to the traffic problems that “blight” their daily lives from lorries on Aveley High Street to parking at the weekend.
2. Sewage. Despite a number of concerns expressed, Mr Hatter said he had received assurances from Anglian Water that they could cope.
3. Schools. One resident pointed out that the meeting was taking place at Aveley primary that had received a poor Ofsted report whilst Ormiston Park Academy always appeared close to the bottom of the exam table in Thurrock.
4. Hospitals. Residents pointed to the ongoing problems with Basildon and Thurrock hospital and asked: “We have one dysfunctional hospital and a dearth of surgeries in the west of Thurrock.
5. For many people, there concerns were that they moved to Aveley because it was a village. One irate resident shouted out: “You want to turn it from a village to a town. It was a done deal five years ago.”
It was at this point that Mick Woodward, owner of Essex Sports Village, (who have a planning application for homes in Purfleet Road) spoke.
Mr Woodward said: “This borough needs investment and it needs it now. This is a great opportunity that can breathe life into Thurrock.
“And it isn’t just Thurrock. We are offering to build sports facilities at Treetops School in Grays.”
Mr Woodward’s olive branch received a hostile response from Aveley councillor, Robert Ray (UKIP) who made a stinging attack on government plans.
Cllr Ray said: “There is no money for infrastructure so you can forget it. The government want to kick start the economy by house building and so councils will get money for every unit. It is as simple as that.
Cllr Maureen Pearce (Cons) suggested at the end of the meeting that the next one had more council officers who would be able to answer questions on infrastructure, environment, health and housing.