No Cliffs Development

SKIPP press release (11-02-18):

The philistines in charge at Southend Borough Council appear to be dead set on destroying our historic and beautiful Cliff Gardens with inappropriate and irresponsible development of the ugliest kind.

Whether it is the planned carbuncle of a giant entertainments complex masquerading as a museum or the huge commercial redevelopment of the adjacent Esplanade pub into wholly inappropriate residential properties, these are just the thin end of the wedge. If we as a town allow them to get away with this then the inevitable result will be the slow but unremitting development of the whole cliff face and the permanent loss of this amazing and beautiful resource.

We must stand up to the philistines and say “No to Cliffs Development”.

The SKIPP Committee
Patsy Link
Sheena Walker
Mark Sharp


A little reminder from Chay and Dean about the 24th and 25th March

We don’t normally use The Stirrer to promote events like this (we set up The Estuary Alternative to do that). However, as a) this blog gets considerably more traffic and b) these two events on the weekend of 24th/25th March could see a major step forward in promoting positive alternatives in southern Essex, we’re using all the means at our disposal to promote these events. Please feel free to share widely:)

The 24th and 25th of March will see two events on two consecutive days that will offer people / communities some real alternatives to how we live now. Both of these events are exactly the kind of action we want to promote at The Estuary Alternative. There are still slots for stallholders but you need to act sooner rather than later because they’re going fast. If you’re involved in any kind of progressive, alternative, community focused grassroots project in and around Southend, this is where you need to be on the weekend of 24th / 25th March.

DEAN WARD: 07964984667 |
CHAY GODFREE: 07960650341 |

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Report on the Sustainability & Transformation Partnership consultation – 8th February

From the Save Southend NHS Facebook page:

The Mid & South Essex Sustainability & Transformation Partnership (STP) refused to change to a larger venue or rearrange seating to accommodate more people at the original venue, Maritime Rooms at the Cliffs Pavilions, in spite of tickets to last night’s consultation event ‘selling out’ two weeks ago. Instead they decided to employ a firm of security guards to prevent entry of many non-ticket holders to the event, originally billed as ‘just turn up’.

#SaveSouthendNHS had a presence of thirty or so supporters outside the venue to distribute leaflets illustrating the real effects the STP is likely to have on local NHS services, and talk to attendees as they arrived.

Around 200 people were admitted to the 300 capacity venue to hear the standard spiel touted by the STP and its advocates. Their basic line is that with an ageing population and more demand on the NHS, they can’t adequately staff the three hospitals of Southend, Basildon and Broomfield.

According to the STP, changes to the way primary care (GPs etc.) is delivered will make our population much healthier, resulting in an amazing reduction in the need for service, including up to a 45% decrease in the number of hospital outpatients.

They will create ‘specialist centres’ at different hospitals to deal with the likes of complex orthopaedic (broken bones), lung, vascular, heart, urology, abdominal surgery, etc. At the moment all of these can be done at each of the three hospitals, ‘specialist centres’ will be created by removing these capabilities from two of the hospitals, making the remaining one the only one able to carry out the procedures and therefore, by default, a ‘specialist centre’.

The STP then propose to transport seriously ill patients in need of these treatments, significant distances across Essex’s highly congested roads to reach the care they need. How are they going to transport these patients? Well, that’s not entirely clear. The STP have a vague idea about a new fleet of dedicated ambulances in which the patients will be accompanied by specialist nurses, doctors or consultants, depending on the level of care they need. Figures on how many patients this will affect seem unclear with estimates ranging from between 15 – 25 every day – that’s a lot of journeys, especially when you consider the medical staff also need to return to their bases.

With an ambulance service already failing to fill its many vacancies and respond to even life threatening calls within an acceptable timeframe, it begs the question; where are these paramedics coming from, to say nothing of the extra medical staff needed to attend these patients in transit? As with most of the STP’s answer, they’re a combination of hazy outlines mixed with optimistic assumptions. When the STP panel were asked where the East of England Ambulance Service representative was, there were some awkward and embarrassed mumbles before saying: “we’ll look into it.” There are mass Doctor and nurse vacancies already so we are unsure where they will get these specialist transfer clinicians from in an already overstretched workforce.

Additionally the STP are saying that transport will be provided for outpatients and visitors having to travel further afield, possibly in the form of an interlinking bus service. Plans are again currently at the ‘back of a cigarette packet’ stage.

The jewel in the STP’s crown is the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU) planed for Basildon. The idea here is for each of the three hospitals to have 24/7 MRI facilities along with specialist trained doctors and nurses. Once patients have been assessed at their local hospital, those in need will be transferred the HASU. This plan has been developed in conjunction with local consultants and, if fully funded and implemented properly, will be a major step forward for improved patient care and outcomes. By ‘implemented properly’ we heard from Dr.Guyler that the gold standard for early stroke intervention at each site is a 24/7 MRI scanning service plus a 24/7 specialist stroke Dr and nurse to diagnose and commence treatment prior to onward transfer to the HASU. A regional Thrombectomy service is also required according to Dr.Guyler. We heard last night that it will be down to specialist commissioners to fund this after the proposals have been accepted, which seemed to cast some doubt over whether this was a guaranteed move. The STP WOULD NOT commit to this gold standard despite heavy public pressure being applied – see our video!

They STP team claimed the lives will give current staff great opportunities and will attract new recruits yet there has been no formal staff survey conducted – yet again utter spin.

The atmosphere at last night’s event was certainly tense. The public aren’t buying the spin put out by the STP. At the root of their plans is a need to cut in excess of £500 million from the projected spending on the NHS in our area by 2021. Tempers flared as audience members failed to get straight answers from the STP panel that included Dr Celia Skinner – Chief Medical Officer for the three hospitals, Dr Ronan Fenton – Joint Medical Director of the STP and Tom Abell – Deputy CEO & Chief Transformation Officer of the three hospital trusts. There is no way that in the two hours allotted to last night’s event could the STP come anywhere close to answering all the questions people wanted to put. This is one of 18 events planned during the public consultation across mid and south Essex with an extra event now scheduled in Southend at the same venue on the 7th March – two days before the consultation ends.

If the STP really are listening to the people of Essex, they will go away, completely rethink their vague, delusory plans and come back with something that is actually based on clinical evidence and is fit to deliver top quality health care, locally, that patients deserve. Their proposals aren’t currently even fit for consultation! How can the public respond to consultation plans which have no substance and the linchpin of service centralisation is on a transfer service that they have provided absolutely no data about.

They couldn’t stop the protest at The Shard

As we wrote in our previous post, the owners of The Shard were doing everything they could to stop the protest called by Class War highlighting the obscenity of the existence of tower after tower of empty luxury apartments – all too often acting as investment vehicles for the super rich – while London is experiencing a severe housing and homelessness crisis. This included dragging Ian Bone to the High Court and having the nerve to ask him to pay their court costs!

Well as you can see from the photographs above, the protest did go ahead. It was undertaken in the usual irreverent Class War style with the to the point Lucy Parsons banner and a number of heartfelt speeches from seasoned housing and class struggle activists. Numbers were bolstered by other activists outraged at the lengths the owners were going to in an attempt to scupper the action. For the record, Ian Bone didn’t have to pay the court costs of the owners.

Despite the desperate attempts of the owners of The Shard, they were held to account in no uncertain terms for their part in exacerbating the housing crisis in London. A crisis that now sees low paid workers on zero hours contracts having to sleep rough because they cannot afford a roof over their head in a city that fetishises housing as an investment as opposed to the basic right it should be for everyone. The action at The Shard cannot be a one off. There has to be an ongoing series of protests across the capital pointing out the obscenity of luxury apartments built and left empty as investment vehicles while people are forced to sleep on the streets.

As for the owners of The Shard, on their own terms, they screwed up monumentally. They not only failed to stop the protest, with their attempts to throw the weight of the law at Ian Bone and the subsequent media coverage that was largely sympathetic to him and the reasons for having the protest, they created their own public relations disaster!

On Thursday 8th February, one section of the global super rich who thought they were invincible and could solve any perceived threat to their privilege by waving lawsuits at their opponents were found to have gaps in their armour. Note what the headline on the latest print edition of The Stirrer says: 2018 – EVERYTHING TO GAIN (and everything to lose) – we don’t normally like to blow our own trumpet but given what has happened, we think it’s an apt comment.

A little difficulty at The Shard

Class War have called a protest at The Shard to highlight the obscenity of the existence of tower after tower of empty luxury apartments – all too often acting as investment vehicles for the super rich – while London is experiencing a severe housing and homelessness crisis. In particular, Class War want to draw attention to the many survivors of last year’s Grenfell Tower disaster who are still stuck in inadequate temporary accommodation while the capital is awash with empty apartments. The Shard was picked because it’s an iconic* building and a high profile example of the problem with its empty luxury apartments.

Then, the owners of The Shard got wind of the planned protest and sent in the solicitors. This situation is ongoing so it’s best we don’t make any comment which may inadvertently prejudice the situation for Class War in general and Ian Bone in particular. However, there has been plenty of media coverage since the solicitors got involved so we’ll present what we’ve seen so far here and we’re sure you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions.

Shard owners seek to ban protest by Class War activist (The Guardian)
Qatari royals in High Court threat to South Norwood pensioners (Inside Croydon)
Shard’s Qatari owners try to halt pensioner class war activist from holding ‘ghost towers’ protest (RT)

It’s fairly certain that there will be more media coverage of this. We’ll allow ourselves one little comment… If the owners of The Shard thought that a court summons for an injunction hearing would nip this protest in the bud then it has to be said that their efforts are an epic fail! The media are picking up not just on the story about the injunction but also on the issue of the empty investment apartments that led to the protest getting called. Whatever the owners of The Shard do from now on, the story is out there and they’ll be fighting an increasingly desperate rearguard battle to stifle it.

As far as we can make out, unless the owners of The Shard and their solicitors can conjure some pretty draconian restrictions to apply to a large area surrounding the building, a protest will be taking place this Thursday evening from 6pm onwards. One that is likely to be a lot bigger than initially anticipated owing to the shit storm generated by the actions of the owners and their solicitors. We will be in attendance at this one – given what we’ve had to say on the impact of the social cleansing of London on the housing situation out along the Thames estuary, it would be rude of us to not attend.

Given how desperate the owners are to nip this one in the bud, we would advise those attending the protest to be wary of any attempts to sabotage, undermine and discredit the action. Bear in mind the very, very close proximity of the offices of The Times and The S*n to the proposed location of the protest.

* Personally, we think it’s a feckin’ eyesore and a massive monument to hubris!

Which bit of ‘don’t build on flood plains’ do planners and developers not understand?

As we’ve written before, when it comes to building new homes we’re not NIMBYs and have no problem with them being built if they are truly affordable, planned and built in a sustainable way and come with the infrastructure to support the extra population. However, living out on the Essex shore of the Thames estuary with its numerous marshes, we realise that there are some areas the builders should leave well alone: Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

It would appear that Canvey Island is not alone in having to deal with pressure to develop land that is obviously unsuitable for housing development: Petition to prevent development on marshland in Little Thurrock reaches 700 signatures On a personal note, when I used to work on door-to-door leaflet delivery jobs, I had occasion to visit Little Thurrock a few times. Two things struck me about the place – one of them being the watercourses edging the estate and the other being the large number of houses built up on platforms with steps up to the front door to avoid any potential flood damage. Even though the developer may have been grateful for the land to build houses on, they weren’t taking any chances with flood risks!

As it stands, one application has already been rejected by Thurrock Council but the developer has submitted another one which is due to determined on Wednesday March 7th. Local residents have already collected 700 signatures on a petition opposing the development on grounds of the flood risk and the loss of Green Belt land. Let’s hope Thurrock Council take note of this, people power prevails and this application is rejected once and for all.

If it wasn’t for the obscene housing situation in London which is littered with blocks of luxury apartments brought as investment vehicles but rarely lived in, we wouldn’t be in a situation along the estuary where developments are being mooted for sites that are totally unsuitable. If housing provision in London was aimed at those on medium and low incomes, people wouldn’t be forced out of the capital to try and get a roof over their head in cramped new housing developments on unsuitable sites with sod all infrastructure to support them.

This is one of those situations where people need to look at the bigger picture to understand the pressures that are being brought on local authorities along the estuary to provide housing for people forced out of the capital by obscenely high home prices and rents. This is what happens in a political, economic and social system that treats housing as an investment rather than something we need as a basic right in order to live our lives.

Why the STP will not work

This is from the Save Southend NHS Facebook page:

Long and detailed post. You need to read it and understand just WHY #SaveSouthendNHS so strongly object to The Mid and South Essex STP. Their principles ‘claim’ to be bringing much of your care ‘closer to home’ however, the whole disgraceful and dangerous plan is financially motivated to ensure they have saved in excess of £400 million by 2021 from the now (conveniently) merged Southend, Broomfield and Basildon Hospitals.

The principles contained in their public consultation are flawed at almost every level and will enforce a postcode lottery for care on the 1.5 million people the combined hospitals serve. Critically ill patients will face longer journeys to obtain so called ‘specialist’ care – care that mostly is currently available at your LOCAL hospital but will be centralised and re-branded as ‘specialist’ – just now further away – if you survive the journey by their unplanned, un-staffed, un-costed ‘internal transport service’ allegedly to be manned with highly skilled Doctors and Nurses.

Okay, so let’s point out 2 things – the numbers of Doctors and Nurses are at a critical level. Where are they going to magic these staff from to man a 24/7 transport service to keep you alive down the A130 or A127 in order to access your ‘specialist care’. We hear you cry BUT WHAT ABOUT THE AMBULANCE SERVICE?? Indeed, our army in green are amazing yet they too are in crisis, often unable to meet response times for the most life-threatening of emergencies, let alone with the increased burden of transporting a ‘guesstimated’ upwards of 775 very unwell patients PER MONTH between Southend, Basildon and Broomfield.

YES 775 critically ill patients being shunted around Essex for emergency surgery, stroke care, orthopaedic issues, breathing problems. Disgusting – yet marketed as being in your best interests:

If you have the time, read the links below that give a full and detailed picture of the NHS staffing crisis and a view from the floor on how the NHS could be fixed: |

Whilst you’re at it – remind yourself please by watching this speech at our rally from an actual Consultant, a brave one who really actually cares about people and isn’t just in it for the cash, or a step up the career ladder, or a job in the Department of Health (unlike the Clinicians on the STP team) once the STP has ‘delivered’ and CEO Ms. Panniker has been awarded a chest full of medals by Jeremy Hunt:

Let’s not forget the ‘integrated community hubs’ also called ‘GP Hubs’ or ‘Locality Hubs’ depending on who you speak to and all meant to confuse you even further so you don’t comment or voice your angst at their public consultation. Are THEY bringing your care closer to home? Are they hell. The small, personal, familiar surgeries are for the kosh – partly due to the huge local and national GP shortage and partly because the Government’s STPs both here in Essex and nationally would much prefer to have the likes of Virgin, G4S or Care UK ‘managing’ the contracts for these shiny new health centres….that won’t be as close to where you live as your current practice and will likely be part of an ACO or ACS (for those that aren’t aware what these are – we shall explain further down the line so as not to confuse you – just know that they are NOT good news for our NHS). GP Hubs will serve a much larger population group and you will have a variety of hoops to get through including receptionist ‘triage’ and numerous other practitioners (if they can find any – remember that health professional crisis?) before you ever get the chance to see a GP.

The Mid and South Essex STP is bad news for the majority (of yet un-consulted) staff who will be forced to work across sites and don’t want to, and bad for us, as patients – as those staff will leave and then we will be in a bigger mess than we are in already but we think that’s what they want – especially for Southend. Run it down, run it into the ground, make it un-safe, make it fail, increase the vacancy rate – then they have every excuse to transfer out even more specialities than those currently on the table. We aren’t scaremongering. We are angry and we are well informed by those in the know and we trust the real Doctors far more than the Spin doctors.

So what can you do?

Attend the STP discussion events listed via this link and ask them questions:

Sign our petition:

Follow our page and invite your friends, share our posts, get the message out there.

Write to your MP and elected Councillors:

Respond to the Mid and South Essex public consultation by emailing your views to: cc’ing in your MP. You can also write to them via this address – STP Programme Management Office

Mid and South Essex STP
Swift House
Colchester Road
Essex CM2

Above all, remember how their team lied to everyone about the A&E downgrades being clinically led (we smashed that claim to pieces!) look further than the glossy images, pretty presentations and questionable evidence base – any scheme which cuts an already underfunded NHS even further to the bone in order to save an extra £400 million really is NOT going to be better for your health.

#StopTheSTP | #SavesouthendNHS

The impact of ‘rationalisation’

This is from the Save Southend NHS Facebook page:

The Mid and South Essex STP continue their agenda to transfer as much as possible away from #SouthendHospital in their stealth attempt to downgrade our GENERAL HOSPITAL. Now the Microbiology department is going to Basildon!! The contract changed from being NHS run and was awarded to the company ‘Pathology First’ in 2014, demonstrating another example of privatisation and now the centralisation of yet another service to cut costs at the expense of patients. The latest cock up is cancer tests for residents in our area!! (see link to Telegraph article at bottom)

There are a number of issues with moving the service to Basildon our trusted sources state:

1) Risks to patients as increased turn-around time for specimens due to transport from Southend to Basildon
2) Staff shortages because they find it hard to recruit, so current depleted staffing coping with increasing workload.
3) Increase in long term sickness.
4) Doing on call for both Southend and Basildon sites
5) Moving blood cultures to lab at Basildon rather than at both hospital sites – against the wishes of some consultants, could result in deaths
6) Lack of thorough training provision
7) High turnover of staff since outsourcing.


Better for their PURSES and NOT better for PATIENTS!

Give the STP your views NOW!

Email them:
Cc in #SaveSouthendNHS so they can’t ‘lose’ your comments!

Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

As we’ve stated before, we’re not NIMBYs and we have no problem with truly affordable homes being built – in a sustainable way – where they’re needed along with the infrastructure to support the expanded population. However, sometimes there are circumstances where there are sound, rational reasons why new housing shouldn’t be built in certain locations. Canvey Island, which is below sea level at high tide, is one of those locations, particularly when the inadequate transport infrastructure and the presence of petro-chemical facilities on the island is taken into account. None of this seems to be understood by Castle Point Council who in a bid to keep the mainland part of the borough as green and leafy as possible, are willing to overload a flood prone island with even more housing! Maybe, just maybe, the findings of a ground investigation might start to make the council reconsider their position…

The condition of the Canvey Sea Wall, or Sea Defence system, is causing serious concern, despite the lack of news or information.

The cause, which should not be too surprising, is currently under investigation.

Further inland on Canvey a large Green Belt site, identified as being deliverable and developable by Castle Point borough council, was the subject of a pre-development Ground Investigation Report, probably the first, and most thorough investigations of its type on Canvey Island, to be made public via the cpbc planning portal.

The Ground Investigation Report indicated what should be serious concerns to the cpbc development committee and planning officers, should they refer to it and give it the respect it warrants.

We suspect, however, committee members are unaware of its existence!

Despite this site being a full Kilometre from the Estuary, the effects of tidal water which surrounds Canvey Island have been found!

The Ground Investigation…

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Highways England tell us what we already knew!

At Thurrock Council’s Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting on Monday 22nd January, Highways England made it clear that while they will ‘listen’ to the concerns of residents, the horizontal and vertical alignments of the road are ‘project led decisions’: Thurrock councillors and residents told they have “no influence” over Lower Thames Crossing route by Highways England As you can read in the article, the ‘areas of influence’ are in the main cosmetic.

The Chair of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force, Councillor Peter Smith, said: “I appreciate Highways England explaining to us quite candidly that we cannot influence these areas.” Let’s be blunt, any Thurrock councillors participating in this task force are merely going through the motions for the sake of appearances. In effect they’re doing the bidding of Highways England in conferring an illusion of legitimacy on the forthcoming ‘consultation’ process when the stark reality is that it is nothing more than an exercise in bullshit.

The Chair of the Thames Crossing Action Group, Matt Jackson, has a considerably more realistic take on the consultation: “The consultation Highways England plan to run during 2018 will be little short of a waste of money. What is the point consulting the general public when they; a) have no effect on the final design. b) their opinions are discredited due to local business wants and needs?”

Why are we not in the least bit surprised by all of this? Regardless of whether it’s the Lower Thames Crossing or the re-vamp of Basildon town centre, we’ve always made the point that these are exercises by the planners in attempting to fool the public while ramming through what they deem to be right. We have a top down planning system that is inherently skewed towards delivering what big business demands regardless of the detrimental impact on ordinary people.

Until people wake up to whose agenda is being served here, the power dynamics that enforce that agenda and join in making an effective challenge to a political, economic and social system in thrall to neo-liberalism, we’re going to have more of this bullshit. It really is time to wake up, smell the coffee and start to do something to mount a serious challenge to this…