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Elections 2021: Candidates clash over £600m plans to redevelop Basildon Elections 2021: Candidates clash over £600m plans to redevelop Basildon
(4 days later)
Plans for Basildon town centre would see several high-rise apartment blocksPlans for Basildon town centre would see several high-rise apartment blocks
A £600m scheme to redevelop a town centre has become the focus of a political row in Essex.A £600m scheme to redevelop a town centre has become the focus of a political row in Essex.
A new "masterplan" has been approved by Basildon Council, which is run by an alliance between Labour and seven independent councillors.A new "masterplan" has been approved by Basildon Council, which is run by an alliance between Labour and seven independent councillors.
But high-rise blocks, which are part of the plan, have been criticised by Conservatives and a residents' party.But high-rise blocks, which are part of the plan, have been criticised by Conservatives and a residents' party.
Labour has said that the plans would see Basildon become the "beating heart of Essex".Labour has said that the plans would see Basildon become the "beating heart of Essex".
According to the council's Basildon's Bouncing Back plan, the regeneration would create 5,000 jobs and provide more cultural spaces in the town.According to the council's Basildon's Bouncing Back plan, the regeneration would create 5,000 jobs and provide more cultural spaces in the town.
The plans would see the redevelopment of the Eastgate shopping centre and the town retail unitsThe plans would see the redevelopment of the Eastgate shopping centre and the town retail units
The Labour leader of Basildon Council Gavin Callaghan wrote in the regeneration brochure: "Over the last 18 months, we have been consulting on ideas for what Basildon should look like for the next half-century.The Labour leader of Basildon Council Gavin Callaghan wrote in the regeneration brochure: "Over the last 18 months, we have been consulting on ideas for what Basildon should look like for the next half-century.
"It is clear that the public wants to see a commitment to providing services for young people, council housing, improved office space, better shops, a vibrant retail offer, a night-time economy and safer town centre.""It is clear that the public wants to see a commitment to providing services for young people, council housing, improved office space, better shops, a vibrant retail offer, a night-time economy and safer town centre."
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Conservative councillor David Dadds, whose Billericay East seat is not up for election this year, said his party had issues with the height and density of the development plans.Conservative councillor David Dadds, whose Billericay East seat is not up for election this year, said his party had issues with the height and density of the development plans.
"It's high-rise and we can't have our residents living in rabbit hutches," he said. He added developments in the town centre should be "no more than five or six stories"."It's high-rise and we can't have our residents living in rabbit hutches," he said. He added developments in the town centre should be "no more than five or six stories".
An artist's impression of the regeneration of the Basildon town centre show several high-rise buildingsAn artist's impression of the regeneration of the Basildon town centre show several high-rise buildings
Edward Sainsbury, a Liberal Democrat standing for election in Billericay West ward, said he was concerned about the effect the masterplan would have on infrastructure in the area.Edward Sainsbury, a Liberal Democrat standing for election in Billericay West ward, said he was concerned about the effect the masterplan would have on infrastructure in the area.
"We can already see the pressures in our area as the state of our roads and pavements decline," he said."We can already see the pressures in our area as the state of our roads and pavements decline," he said.
Norma Saggers, Eastern area manager at Reform UK, said the party in Basildon would "oppose the masterplan flats".Norma Saggers, Eastern area manager at Reform UK, said the party in Basildon would "oppose the masterplan flats".
"We need to see more social housing to cope with the people currently on the waiting list," she said."We need to see more social housing to cope with the people currently on the waiting list," she said.
While acknowledging the town centre needed "modernisation with retail, leisure and dining-out facilities, Ms Saggers said there were "many existing buildings to be explored".While acknowledging the town centre needed "modernisation with retail, leisure and dining-out facilities, Ms Saggers said there were "many existing buildings to be explored".
Jake Hogg, leader of the Basildon Community Residents Party standing in Pitsea North West ward, said it had been set up just for the May election to fight the regeneration plans.Jake Hogg, leader of the Basildon Community Residents Party standing in Pitsea North West ward, said it had been set up just for the May election to fight the regeneration plans.
"We're opposed to all inappropriate building within our borough," he said. Mr Hogg said the majority of the flats "will not be affordable" and the town needed "serious investment in low-rise, affordable and council housing"."We're opposed to all inappropriate building within our borough," he said. Mr Hogg said the majority of the flats "will not be affordable" and the town needed "serious investment in low-rise, affordable and council housing".
The Labour Party at Basildon was approached for this story, but declined to comment.The Labour Party at Basildon was approached for this story, but declined to comment.
Reform UK has also been contacted for comment.
Full details of candidates for the 14 Basildon Borough Council wards where elections are taking place can be found on its website.Full details of candidates for the 14 Basildon Borough Council wards where elections are taking place can be found on its website.
ENGLAND'S ELECTIONS: THE BASICSENGLAND'S ELECTIONS: THE BASICS
What's happening? On 6 May, people across England will vote for new councillors, mayors and police and crime commissioners. Register to vote here.What's happening? On 6 May, people across England will vote for new councillors, mayors and police and crime commissioners. Register to vote here.
Why does it matter? When parties win control of a council, they decide policies for your area which could affect services ranging from social care to rubbish collection. Find out more about what councils do.Why does it matter? When parties win control of a council, they decide policies for your area which could affect services ranging from social care to rubbish collection. Find out more about what councils do.
Who can vote? Anyone who lives in England, is registered to vote and aged 18 or over on 6 May is eligible. Find your local election here.Who can vote? Anyone who lives in England, is registered to vote and aged 18 or over on 6 May is eligible. Find your local election here.
Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.ukFind BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk