Conservatives Vote Against Supporting Small Business Growth and Homelessness Citing £1m Cost

December 16, 2020 in News

Myself and Rochford District Resident Cllr Adrian Eves submitted a motion proposing to EXPLORE the reuse of the Mill Hall and Civic Suite due to the closure as flexible business space or temporary housing accommodation.

It appeared that the Conservatives would stop at nothing to try and dissuade any open-mindedness about the proposal with spurious claims from the leader of the Council that this could incur costs of £1m (despite no evidence that this calculation was from officers), I think the leader has somehow made a mistake with his ‘back of the fag packet’ calculation, and there was even an attempt by Cllr Simon Smith that we were suggesting the car park be used for travellers. I was quick to remind him that the problem that residents endure each year with travellers across the District is a direct failure of the Conservatives, a fact he seemed eager to overlook.

From Cllrs J E Newport and A H Eves and supported by Cllrs Mrs T L
Carter, M Hoy, Mrs C M Mason and S A Wilson:-

‘The Council is currently in the process of mothballing the Mill Arts Centre and the Civic Suite, both in Rayleigh.
This Council is requesting that officers explore the possibility of using these
buildings to provide either of the following with an interim formal report at the next Full Council:

Accommodation for new, small and emerging business on affordable short term rents, including shared office workspace with flexible rental
arrangements. This will allow businesses to see if the business is viable
and also allow for start-up businesses easy affordable access to the High

Temporary accommodation for homeless people.’

Newly appointed, portfolio holder for something or another, Cllr Danielle Belton, seemed quite focused on reciting her CV with director of this, that and the other, and then went on to tell us how office space is not needed (no mention of retail) and no mention of retail experience, despite saying she ‘has friends’ with retail (not quite the same as running retail) but it was clear the Conservative were ‘all in’ to stifle any economic growth in our district without hesitation.

Conservatives voted against our motion – 24 against

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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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