Earlier in the week the Southend Echo ran a story about a storage container outside a house on Harridge Road. It peaked my interest in particular because I spent last Sunday leafleting Harridge Road and the surrounding area. Yes, it is part of Blenheim Park ward, where I am standing for election in May.
According to the Echo:
“A huge container which has blighted a Leigh street for two years cannot be removed by Southend Council because it on housing association land.
“The 20ft-wide, green, metal container, in the front garden of the house in Harridge Road, is half the length of the semi-detached property and the top is the same height as the first floor.
The article goes on to say:
“Graham Longley, ward councillor, said the council had been aware of the problem for some time but, as the property belonged to South Essex Homes, responsibility rested with the housing association.“
Which is…odd. You see, planning law applies to all land, regardless of who owns it. Planning law is one of the few areas which local government still retains broad control. So the idea that the council can’t do anything because the land belongs to South Essex Homes doesn’t quite ring true to me.
If the container is in breach of planning regulations — which it very much sounds like it is — then it is for the council’s Development Control Committee to consider the matter and decide whether to issue a planning enforcement order.
So, keen to help where I can, and since that the current trio of councillors don’t seem to be doing much at all (In the case of UKIP’s Floyd Waterworth, perhaps not surprising -Ed), I’ve emailed the planning department to ask for the solution to be looked into and pursued if possible. Perhaps it won’t come to anything, or perhaps it will. It could be that my understanding of the planning issues is at fault. But I’m determined that Blenheim Park deserves a little more activity from its representatives, and if I can do something to improve the ward then I don’t see that I should have to wait until after the election.