I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s been a little wet lately.
This hasn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs anywhere across the country, and certainly Southend has gotten off better than most — so far. But we still have a fair amount of water lingering on our doorstep in the form of the Thames Estuary. And it’s not likely to be going away any time soon.
So flooding and the flood defences are an important issue. Around Shoebury, they’re also a bit of a sore point. Anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about is well advised to have a look at the blog of Tony Cox, Tory councillor for West Shoebury and my opponent in the May election. It has been a long running issue on which he has provided a detailed, though unavoidably one-sided, commentary.
Simply put: not everyone is particularly keen on the proposed 6ft flood defence wall. That’s not terribly surprising, but it does seem to have gotten a fair number quite fired up. The “Friends of Shoebury Common” group seem to feel that they have been poorly treated by the council in general, and Cllr Cox in particular. Cllr Cox seems to feel that he hasn’t exactly been treated fairly either, as a series of posts about the matter entitled “Bare faced liars” seems to indicate.
I don’t really know what to think with the “he said, she said” nature of all those this. Truthfully, I suspect most residents don’t care. They elect councillors to make decisions, not bicker with protest groups. And equally councillors have to represent the whole of their ward, not simply a vocal minority.
The picture is complicated by the preponderance of resident protest groups in the area. Aside from the aforementioned Friends of Shoebury Common, the Saxon King in Priory Park (SKIPP) group aren’t too keen on the council’s solution either — though what Priory Park has to do with Shoebury Common, I’ve no idea. There also seems to be some sort of involvement from the Burges Estate Residents Association (BERA).
I wish that were all, but politically we also have the Independent
party not-a-party acting as a political wing of the above groups. And I must say I’m looking forward to seeing which side UKIP candidate James Moyies comes down on.
I do actually have some experience of flooding issues. When I sat on Wargrave Parish Council, one of my objectives (and, actually, an objective of my fellow councillors) was to limit the damage done each year by the Thames flooding, through limiting building on the flood plain. Our objections were almost all overruled by Wokingham Borough Council, but I offer this little walk down nostalgia lane as evidence that I am indeed concerned about the impact of flooding, and generally of the opinion that what action that can be taken to mitigate it, should be.
But I don’t plan to make the flood defences the lynchpin of my campaign. I wish I could declare that this is the last I will say on the matter, but I’m aware enough to know that is unlikely. I am fairly sure, however, what with council cuts biting some of the most vulnerable areas in the borough, there are a large number of West Shoebury residents for whom flood defences are not top of their concerns.