Sitting at the top of Crown Hill, lies an empty shell of a building formerly a public toilets. It’s a stark reminder to me in which the way a Council handles ‘investment’ projects.

It should be remembered that the public toilet project which essentially a strategy constructed to shift the cost to local town and parish councils. Cited as a building that was too costly to maintain, too costly to refurbish – it was simply TOO COSTLY

It’s still standing and never have I see any costs relating to the refurbishment of this building. There is no evidence that has ever been presented to the public or behind closed doors that this building was TOO COSTLY.

The fact that the building remains empty to this very day, is testament to the FACT that the Councils plans were unsound. Put simply the income derived from this asset, hasn’t come to fruition and it would appear they can’t even GIVE IT AWAY! The Town Council rejected the building as they believed it could serve them no purpose (I don’t agree) and it remains….empty.

Yet in other towns across the country, we are seeing a shift in our High Streets and there are calls, by industry experts, to ‘reclaim’ the town centre assets into public ownership. But what is our own District Council doing? They are doing the complete opposite – they are looking for ways into how they can DISPOSE of public assets – they only see one way for our District and that is to make it ‘top heavy’ with housing.

I really would have to question what exactly the ‘Investment Board’ have been doing on our Council as they sit pondering one project – to build themselves new offices and a Council chamber, which won’t benefit our community in the slightest. Investment should be withdrawn from this project and it should be taking bold steps to make a long term investment into our Towns and High Streets. Creating a new mix of commercial and retail space, taking on a smaller project that it will be able to cope with ‘in house’ and doing away with its appetite for expensive consultants in everything it does.

Right now, they should seek out a community group and hand over the keys to the retired public toilets and give the community a chance to grow a space that can contribute to our High Street’s robustness and recovery.

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About the author 

James Newport

Essex County Councillor for Rayleigh North, Rochford District Councillor for Downhall & Rawreth and Rayleigh Town Councillor for Sweyne.

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