It feels a little redundant to describe the Shoebury sea wall debate as the defining issue of the last local elections in Southend — at least in the ward where I was the Labour candidate, West Shoebury.
At the time I was, I feel, more moderate than my opponents on the matter. Whilst UKIP’s James Moyies (who went on to win) damned the council’s preferred scheme as wrong and unworkable, and Conservative then-Cllr Tony Cox backed it to his last electoral gasp, I took the middle way.
I said, whenever asked, that the decision should be reviewed. That the process should be scrutinised. That the choices should be looked at afresh. But given that sea defences are vital — and I still believe that — I could not, I felt, dismiss the then-administration’s preferred plan, given that it was the most cost effective.
That, however, has now been brought into question. In the review initiated by the new joint administration, the preferred scheme has been found not to be the cheapest, but indeed the second most expensive.