I am, as we draw closer to the local elections, alive to the danger of this blog becoming solely dedicated to the exposing the nonsense, ignorance and untruths of the Tories’ comedy candidate for Westborough, Daryl Peagram. Indeed, I’ve contemplated setting up a separate blog to basically fact-check everything he says.
So I do try not to make him the focus of my scrutiny too often, as much as anything to avoid inflating his ego.
However, with Daryl now having added not only a Facebook page, but a blog to his repertoire, I think this is going to be unavoidable. Especially given one of his more recent contributions, on the subject of Heath and Carby House on Victoria Avenue — a contribution I can only brand a disgraceful show of ignorance.
Daryl is rather less wordy than your blogger, so the piece in question is mercifully short. Therefore I’m going to reproduce it in its entirety here, but I need to make clear that these are his words, not mine:
Last month I took the unprecedented step of writing in the Echo calling on the whole town to support a Victoria ward Labour councillor. This was to block a developer’s attempt to renege on an affordable housing pledge for the flats being built in Victoria Avenue at Heath House.
I need not have bothered as the Indie-Labour led council has just taken a £417,000 legal bribe called a section 106 agreement to reduce the requirement from 84 to 52 affordable homes. That would only pay for three council flats leaving us 29 homes short.
If you want social justice you won’t find it with the current administration. When residents are being environmentally raped by speculators, a bung as lubrication is scant consolation.
Okay, now first of all, the word “bribe” is libellous. Section 106 agreements (Referring to s106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 -Ed) are a legal mechanism “which make a development proposal acceptable in planning terms, that would not otherwise be acceptable.” It’s a legal part of the planning process, and a common one at that.
The second point is that the decision he is complaining about was made by the Development Control Committee, not the administration. This Committee has 17 councillors on it, amongst them Cllrs Butler, Byford, Evans, Folkard, Garston sr, Hadley and Walker. What do these seven have in common?
Now, I actually agree with Daryl that it’s a shame that we won’t get as much affordable housing as we should. It is worth pointing out, though, that it is the Conservative government of David Cameron who has weakened the power of local councils over the planning process, through the permitted development rules that allow office blocks to be converted into homes. For a Conservative candidate to be blaming the ill-effects of his own party policy on is utterly disingenuous.
I used to live just off Victoria Avenue, and from my flat you could see the derelict, abandoned office blocks of Victoria Avenue. They have been a blight on the gateway to Southend town centre for too long, and under the joint administration there is finally progress being made in turning them into much needed places for people to live. I am sorry they aren’t sufficiently affordable for Daryl. I would like them to be replaced with social housing, but with the planning reforms and budget cuts doled out by Conservatives in Westminster it just isn’t a possibility.
But the crowning glory of Daryl’s misleading, potentially defamatory, rant is a particularly vile and disgusting rape analogy. This would be shockingly bad taste normally, but on the day that the Dame Janet Smith Review has reported on the Jimmy Savile scandal, it is utterly beyond the pale.