Brooke House residents sidelined by Basildon Council

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Brooke House is a Grade 2 listed building – it now seems to be in the way of Basildon Council’s plans for the town centre.

Inside there are the broken and mismatched floor tiles, patches on the walls where notices have been removed and ceilings with missing tiles. Basildon Council has no record of it ever having been redecorated since it was built

There are notices stuck in several places in the foyer and on the outside in view of all passers by about what behaviour is unacceptable, with a list which probably reinforces in the public mind the idea that Brooke House is not the home of decent people but a drug den of misbehaving riff raff.

Any street in any town would probably include some people who do not care well for their environment and some who take illegal drugs. However it is Brooke House that has notices about this affixed to it’s outside front window and two security men sitting around in the publicly visible foyer at a cost of more than £114,000 a year in 2015/16, money which could have gone a long way to redecorate the block.

Basildon Council is in the press with new plans for the town centre and “wonderful” posters have decorated many empty shops in the town with pictures of how it will be but despite promises to the contrary no one is in contact with the residents about what may happen to their homes.

The lack of care for the block and the lack of respect for the residents leads us to feel that the council wants to be rid of us and this insecurity is bad for the morale of the residents and does not create a good atmosphere.

Dale Farm – handy for Basildon Council to have as a development option

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It seems that Basildon Council are keeping their options open as to whether the Dale Farm site gets included in its draft local plan as a site for housing development: Council insists plans for 500 homes on Dale Farm site are still undecidedhttp://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/15031284.Council_insists_plans_for_500_homes_on_Dale_Farm_site_are_still_undecided/ Still, it’s nice to have the option though isn’t it? Let’s face it, the site is just about far enough away from leafy Billericay and its irate Tory voters who want it to stay that way, to be thrown into the mix for consideration in the local plan.

So, after a bitter eviction battle costing Basildon Council £4.3m (with the separate policing bill coming in at £2.3m) to evict people who had taken the initiative to provide their own housing solutions, the site looks like it could be sold for development. This is a report on the site five years on from the evictions: Dale Farm evictions: Five years onhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-37628558 Somehow, if the Dale Farm site is developed, we don’t expect to be seeing much in the way of ‘affordable’ housing going in there.

Let’s be honest about what happened at Dale Farm – it was social cleansing, pure and simple, backed up by the force of the state. Before anyone mentions the unauthorised area that was the focus of the evictions and the breach of planning laws, we have issues with a lot of planning legislation. Particularly when it’s used to restrict the supply of housing, keeping house prices nice and high for those lucky enough to own their own place while stuffing an increasing number of people who’ll never be able to afford a home of their own.

Allotments going begging – get one while you can!

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It used to be the case that there would be a long waiting list for an allotment – well, in Thurrock it appears they’re there for the taking if you want one: Gardening fans encouraged to get an allotmenthttp://www.thurrockgazette.co.uk/news/15031251.Gardening_fans_encouraged_to_get_an_allotment/ Before we proceed, we’d like to apologise for linking to an article with a picture of a Tory councillor on it – it has to be done because there’s a serious issue at stake here…

Regular readers of the Heckler will note that we’ve published a fair few posts talking about neighbourhood resilience – this is one of the most recent: Resilient neighbourhoodshttps://southessexheckler.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/resilient-neighbourhoods/ One of the aspects of resilient neighbourhoods that we’ve written and talked about is the importance of community gardens as a source of fresh food and a way of bringing the community together. Okay, an allotment isn’t quite the same as a neighbourhood community garden but it’s still a source of fresh food. Why is a source of fresh food in the form of a community garden or allotment important? Obviously, there are the health benefits in that you know what’s been put on the vegetables and other produce that you’ve been growing, the physical exercise and the psychological benefits of being out in the fresh air. As well as this, it’s a source of fresh food that you and your neighbours are in control of…

Any observer of the political, economic and social landscape will understand that we are entering a turbulent and unpredictable period. A combination of sterling being clobbered by Brexit and possible labour shortages in the agricultural sector will lead to food prices going up. Post what will most likely be a hard Brexit with tariffs going on food imports, prices will soar: The Cost Of Food After ‘Brexit’http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/fjona-krasniqi/the-cost-of-food-after-br_b_12661478.html Now we don’t want to fall into the trap of promoting a patriotic ‘dig for victory’ drive because as anarchists, that’s not our style. What we do want to promote is neighbourhoods and communities doing what they can to protect themselves from the shite that’s coming. Growing your own food is a part of that as it helps reduce dependence on a supply system that will have no choice but to pass on increasing costs, screwing us all in a period of stagnant and declining pay.

Being prepared for what’s coming will help us get through it and leave enough energy to concentrate on what really matters – fighting for a more just, sane and sustainable society. We’re pretty upfront about the need to look and plan ahead rather than panic when the shite does start to hit the fan as it inevitably will. So, it may only seem like a small thing but if a potential source of fresh food under your control in the form of an allotment is going begging, do yourself a favour and get one!

Basildon Council, stray horses and a total lack of compassion

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Basildon Council are showing their lack of humanity and compassion when it comes to dealing with the issue of stray horses on public land: Basildon Council upholds new rule allowing its staff to kill stray horses, despite opposition’s bid to reverse ithttp://preview.tinyurl.com/zv3omto Labour councillors attempted to overturn the new rule that would allow council officers to kill stray horses found on public land but it seems, to no avail.

Granted, there’s a problem with some irresponsible owners not looking after their horses properly and allowing them to stray onto public land. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed through education and if necessary enforcement, to ensure the welfare of horses is a priority and they do not stray. Also, we’re well aware there’s a shortage of capacity at horse sanctuaries and rescue centres which tend to be funded by voluntary donations. A re-ordering of spending priorities at local authority level could release enough money to provide more places at rescue centres – all that’s needed is the political will.

It would seem that some organisations such as the British Horse Society have accepted the situation as it is and have backed Basildon Council’s decision to kill, what in many cases will be healthy horses who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions regarding the British Horse Society… On the other hand, the Essex Horse & Pony Protection Society are doing their level best to engage with councillors in a bid to overturn the decision to kill.

We’re talking about, warm blooded sentient creatures here. A decision by Basildon Council to allow its officers to cold bloodedly kill any horse that’s deemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time speaks volumes about their lack of compassion and priorities…

Intersectionality and unifying struggles – some tentative thoughts

For what it’s worth, these are our thoughts on the contentious and controversial issue of intersectionality on our sister blog… Constructive criticism and comment are warmly welcomed and we look forward to what will hopefully be a useful dialogue:)

Estuary Undercurrents

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When I wrote Multiculturalism & Identity Politics for the IWCA way back in 2009, I had not heard of the term intersectionality. If it had been explained to me at that time in plain, understandable, jargon free language, it’s more than likely I would have taken some of its concepts on board when writing Multiculturalism & Identity Politics and would have written a more nuanced and rounded piece. This is because some of the aspects of intersectionality dealing with the experience of overlapping discriminations echoed what I found when I was out doorstepping for the IWCA in Thurrock.

Simply talking to working class people on the doorstep brings home the fact that while people obviously experience issues because of their class, other aspects such as gender and ethnicity also have an impact as well. It should be a matter of common sense to recognise that these issues overlap with each…

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Heckler No.18 back from the printer

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Heckler No.18 has just come back from the printer – as always, we’d like to thank our friends at Oxford GreenPrint for a superb job. Distribution will be starting this coming Saturday in Southend. As part of that, we will be leaving the customary pile on the shelf at The Railway in Clifftown Road for our friends and supporters to read.

While we plan to do some door-to-door distribution in Southend and Grays, we would appreciate any offers of help from our supporters with other means of getting the Heckler out. If any of you can take a small bundle to hand out to friends, neighbours, family and colleagues, it really would be appreciated. Let us know if you can and we’ll sort out a way of getting them to you. Also, if any of you know of venues reasonably sympathetic to our politics who would be willing to take a bundle, let us know and we’ll take it from there.

A downloadable PDF of Heckler No.18 is available from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/wy52sm0etlfzidl/HECKLER18_January_2017.pdf?dl=0

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The only downside is that our e-mail was taken out by person/s unknown while the Hecklers were on their way back from the printer. We’ve just spent three hours of our lives with a black marker pen and ruler crossing out what is now an unusable, redundant e-mail. Suffice to say if the person/s unknown happen to be reading this post, it’s just got…personal…