Report from our latest public meeting

Co-Chairs Kate Shewehan & tricia Cowdrey pictured with some of the speakers & public at the meeting. Image (c) Gaz De Vere, all rights reserved

Co-Chairs Kate Sheehan (front centre) & Tricia Cowdrey (centre right) with some of the people at the meeting.

At our public meeting on Saturday 2nd November our Co-Chair Tricia Cowdrey gave audience members an update on the campaign so far and our plans to arrange for a wave of objections to be sent in against the expected planning application by Homes England to build luxury homes on the ex-NHS public land at Fossett’s Farm.

Speaker after speaker raised the need to build more social and keyworker homes on that site to house those already in the town who are desperate to find a decent and truly affordable home. We don’t need another development of luxury homes that can only be bought by outsiders and profiteering investors. There are almost 1500 people on the housing waiting list in Southend, about 600 of them are living in temporary accommodation and many of those are families with young children. It seems to us unjustifiable not to use this spare, publicly-owned land for decent housing that those people can afford to move into.

John Barber, Chair of Southend Homeless Action Network (SHAN), said: “There are quite a lot of people who are homeless in Southend. I think we should do everything we can as a community to try to get towards building houses that people can afford, where the real need is.“

Councillor Martin Terry (Ind, Thorpe), said: “I’m here on behalf of the Leader of the Council … the Council position is that we support this campaign, we are talking to Homes England because the land is still owned by the taxpayers’ purse. We want to get social housing on there.”

Ashley Dalton, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rochford and Southend East, said: “Housing impacts on absolutely every single part of a person’s life. Social housing is important, not just because it’s more affordable than so-called ‘affordable’ or private sector housing, but because social housing is not just an investment in now, it’s an investment in our communities for ever.”

The Liberal Democrats were unable to send their candidate, Nina Stimson, because of another commitment but she provided a written statement saying she and the rest of the local LibDems are “firmly supportive and hope Fossett’s for the People comes to fruition as you outline” and making reference to their voting record in the Southend Council chamber and local manifesto commitments. The full statement is available from here.

Homes England were invited to send a representative to speak at the meeting and declined, but issued a statement referring to the public ‘consultation’ day in the summer and saying “…we are now preparing our Outline Planning Application and therefore, don’t believe a public meeting would provide a forum for us to provide any further information beyond what we have already shared to date.” They say they will meet with campaign committee members but not yet: so they’ll deign to discuss their proposals with us but not until after they’ve formally submitted them.

James Duddridge, the MP for this area, has said he will meet with members of the FFTP committee but at a date he has yet to arrange; he declined to attend this meeting. A chocolate teapot was placed on the chair that he would have occupied.

Rather than transcribe them in their entirety here, we have made the speeches from the meeting – which include audience questions and comments – available at the links below so people can choose to watch those they are most interested in (or all nine if they wish).

Many more petition signatures were collected at the meeting – if you haven’t signed yet and support what we are trying to achieve, please click here for the petition page. We also want to get a wide range of local residents to give their thoughts on local housing priorities, so please fill in the Southend residents’ survey, or if you represent an organisation that wishes to publicly show its support please see our ‘Pledge’ page.

If you have any questions please email us: fossettsforthepeople@gmail.com


Videos of the speeches at the meeting All © Gaz De Vere

Approximate length (mins:secs) of each section is shown in brackets

Part 1 (6:00) Introduction from Campaign Co-Chair Tricia Cowdrey

Part 2 (3:20) John Barber, Chair of SHAN

Part 3 (6.50) Becki Winson, New Economics Foundation: ‘Planning a way forward’

Part 4 (5:00) Claire Wormald, Southend Unison Local Govt Branch, and audience questions

Part 5 (6.10)  Tricia Cowdrey, statements from organisations invited but unable to attend

Part 6 (8.10) Cllr Martin Terry, on behalf of the Southend Council Administration

Part 7 (5.00) Glyn Robbins, housing campaigner. writer & academic

Part 8 (7.20) Ashley Dalton, Parliamentary Candidate for the local Labour Party 

Part 9 (11.40) Summary and next steps, Campaign Co-Chair Kate Sheehan