You may have heard that the Conservatives have been removed as the Administration on Basildon Council by UKIP and Labour, who have formed a coalition and are being supported by the Wickford Independents and Independence from the EU.
This “Unholy Coalition” have taken control of the Council and, while the Labour Leader Gavin Callaghan has taken all the leadership roles and is in effect in charge of the Council, he doesn’t have the guts or the backbone to call himself Leader. He thinks he can hide away like a political coward, shirking from bearing any of the blame when things go wrong. And they will go wrong.
The Coalition’s first act has been to change the form of governance at Basildon from a Leader and Cabinet model – similar to the way our government in Westminster works – and replace it with a return to the outdated Committee System, which Labour themselves phased out a decade ago.
What does this mean for residents and the borough? It will almost certainly mean higher taxes, slower or no decision-making, poorer services, and handing back the day-to-day running of the Council to unelected civil servants, with no accountability. This is something the Conservatives will put right the second we are back in charge.
The Conservative Group were asked to accept positions in this “Unholy Coalition” but we have refused to be a party to what is, in effect, an undemocratic power-grab. Nobody in Basildon who voted UKIP voted to put Labour in charge, or vice versa, so we have declined to lend legitimacy to their little coup. Instead, we have taken the principled decision to go into opposition against the other four parties, so that there is at least one party on Basildon Council offering actual challenge and able to act as the voice of the residents, and of reason, and combat the return of the same far-left ideology and values that once upon a time led to Basildon being derided around the country as ‘Little Moscow-by-the-Thames’.
There are many reasons for our stance and here are a few for example: Conservatives do not share the “High Tax, High Spend” philosophy that the other parties have adopted. Conservatives have set in motion an ambitious regeneration programme across the borough, all of which are strongly opposed by the other four parties. Conservatives believe that services should be value for money and not just given money because Labour’s mates run them. The four other parties have colluded to obtain power and share a similar Left-wing ideology but only the Conservatives know how to spend taxpayers’ money wisely. This new Coalition, with Labour in the driving seat, will only repeat the economic failure of past Labour administrations in Basildon and of the last Labour Government.
Here are just some of the big regeneration projects they have opposed and potted together to stop:
• College-move to Basildon Town Centre
• New and improved market in St Martin’s Square
• Laindon Centre highways and high street treatment
• Phase 2 of the Pitsea development for a leisure centre and new state of the art medical facilities
• Wickford regeneration of the car park
• Wickford Memorial Park investment
• New street furniture planned for Billericay High Street
• Basildon Town Centre re-development
These are just some of the initiatives that the “Unholy Coalition” are lining up to throw a spanner in the works. We will fight to preserve the projects because we believe they represent the investment and innovation this borough needs to ensure our prosperity and to make sure our communities thrive. The Conservative haven’t abandoned our residents in Basildon, Pitsea, Laindon, Wickford or Billericay. We stand strong and will fight for your interests and values – the same values that have given the Conservatives representation in every part of the borough and made us the only party in Basildon that has elected representatives in all three towns. We will continue to protect and improve your way of life, your opportunities and your prosperity. Don’t lose faith in us, we will be right here for you as always.
Cllr Phil Turner
Councillor for Billericay West
Leader of the Conservative Group