Well the young people of Basildon who were led to believe that the sale of the existing campus of South Essex College at the top of Nethermayne to a housing developer in return for a state of the art town centre campus have certainly been had! According to the latest in a series of investigative reports from the Yellow Advertiser, part of what was supposed to be the new college is actually going to be a minor injuries unit: EXCLUSIVE: Campaigners’ anger as Basildon Council says part of town centre college will now be ‘minor injuries unit’ instead.
The complex chain of developments from the executive housing development at Dry Street, the sale of the existing college site to the housing developers, the ‘re-location’ of the college to where the market is and the relocation of the market to St. Martin’s Square has long been a source of controversy. Controversy over an executive housing development at Dry Street which does nothing to reduce the waiting list for social housing in Basildon. An executive housing development which has destroyed an important local site for wildlife. Controversy over £3million of our money being used by both Basildon and Essex County Councils to plug a ‘funding gap’ in the relocation of the market to St. Martin’s Square. Controversy over the destruction of what used to be an oasis of greenery and calm in St. Martin’s Square to make way for the market. Last but by no means least, controversy over the downsizing of what will be on offer to potential students in Basildon at the new mini-campus in the town centre.
With South Essex College operating as a business instead of an educational institution plus a local authority that dismisses the concerns of its residents over the future of the town, we have a classic example of what’s wrong with not just with a top down planning system but the political, economic and social order that system serves. At every step of the way in this sorry development saga, the residents of Basildon have been denied a meaningful say. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of residents don’t bother to vote at local elections when regardless of where they put their cross, it makes no difference as their hopes and fears over the future direction of Basildon are routinely ignored?