Basildon Conservatives have ongoing concerns around openness and transparency over the Town Centre Masterplan
Having sought for several months to raise residents' concerns around the Administration's progression of the Basildon Town Centre Masterplan in the midst of the global pandemic. Cllr Andrew Baggott, Leader of Basildon Borough Council's Conservative Group, formally submitted a requisition for an Emergency General Meeting of the Council in November 2020. This went through several iterations before a wording was found that was acceptable to the Labour Mayor, who has the final say on granting an EGM.
Having finally agreed to such a meeting, to be held over Zoom on Thursday (14th January), Councillor Baggott will move the following motion:
"The Council -
- notes the concerns of many of the public regarding the Town Centre masterplan;
- recognises the importance of ensuring openness and transparency and public confidence in such a matter;
- recognises provisions for establishing scrutiny committees in a committee system form of governance, and
4. resolves to establish a scrutiny committee to provide oversight and scrutiny of matters associated with the Town Centre Masterplan"
Conservative councillors remain concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic have hampered the normal process of scrutiny and review of the Labour-led Administration's decisions, particularly in relation to the Basildon Town Centre Masterplan. This has raised considerable concerns among members of the public and Conservatives are asking for a cross-party Scrutiny Committee to be established in order to review the Council's decision-making in respect of a) the openness and transparency around the process of land settlement, b) the relationship between developers and third-party organisations (lobbyists and/or other public relations companies) and councillors, c) the conduct of public consultations, and d) pre-planning consultation with third-party organisations.
It remains our view that holders of public office should act, and take deicsions, in an open and transparent manner. The Administration must be accountable to the taxpaying public for their decisions. This is particularly important, considering the unusually weak public mandate enjoyed by this Administration, which took power in the form of a coalition of Labour and Independents that nobody in the Borough voted for and at a time when a third of councillors who were due to face re-election in May 2020 have necessarily carried on beyond the expiration of their term of office - including the Leader of the Council himself and the Mayor.
We hope that fellow councillors will agree to the establishment of a cross-party committee to restore public confidence in the process.