On Tuesday 17th September, members of the Fossetts For The People (FFTP) campaign visited the Southend constituency office of James On Duddridge MP in Thamesgate House, Victoria Avenue.
The purpose of that visit was to formally deliver a large pile of letters that had been signed by his constituents. These letters were mainly collected during 2 street stall events organised by the group at Southend High Street in August.
Mr Duddridge has since answered many of his constituents’ letters with this reply: “Thank you for your letter concerning the Fossetts for the People campaign.
“I have reached out to the leader of this campaign outlining my willingness to meet him or one of his representatives. Since the receipt of your letter I have also met with Cllr Ian Gilbert, Leader of Southend Borough Council, to discuss this matter as planning and housing allocation decisions fall within his remit. I will also discuss this with Cllr Tony Cox, the leader of the Conservative Group.
“More social housing seems sensible and it is envisaged that 30 per cent of the proposed development will be affordable homes in line with local policy.”
Despite Mr Duddridge’s positive response, our campaign organisers feel that it is insufficient to deal with the scale of the current need in the town. As Kate Sheehan, our Co-Chair, has stated: “There are 33% of families living in poverty in Southend, and a massive social housing crisis with around 1500 local people on the waiting list.”
We want to see new homes on the Fossetts Farm site, similar to those that Norwich City Council has built for its Goldsmith Street project, which very recently won the Stirling Prize for architecture. If Norwich can provide great council housing then so can Southend.
We held a public meeting for 2 November but Mr Duddridge declined to attend. However, he has agreed to a private meeting with our Campaign Secretary Martin Berry on 15th February and we will publicise the outcome of that
We will be holding more street stall events (the next is on 15th February, 12.30-2.30pm, under the railway bridge in Southend High Street), as those have so far been very successful in gathering support for the campaign.