Basildon tells county council: ‘We’re doing Basexit!’

Essex County Council has been accused of failing to address congestion problems on the A127.

ECC’s congestion charge suggestion to tackle poor air pollution on the road has been repeatedly opposed by Basildon Council.

Basildon Council has already agreed to create a business case to form an initial bid to become a unitary authority independent of the county council.

At Tuesday’s full council meeting, in which the 2020/21 budget was signed off, the county council was asked why no investment was being signalled to straighten the Fortune of War junction that many say would remove the need for a congestion charge at all.

Basildon Council has argued it gets a raw deal from ECC, especially given the large financial contribution it makes to the county.

Cllr Kerry Smith (Ind Basildon Westley Heights on ECC), told the full council: “We have not heard today about the threat to the most important party of this county – Basildon.

“You want money to spend on services, you need Basildon.

“Basildon doesn’t need Essex County Council – we’re doing Basexit.

“Where in your budget are you going to tackle the problems with the Fortune of War and the Nevendon Interchange so we don’t have to have a congestion charge?

“If this congestion were to happen, what is it going to do to the economy of south Essex?

“When those vehicles dodge that congestion charge and come through West Mayne, Broadmayne, Pitsea, my constituents and my colleagues’ constituents, they will be breathing in toxic emissions.

“You need to start thinking about Basildon, because we’re on the way out and we are going to follow Thurrock and Southend with lower council bills and better services.”

Basildon Council leader, Cllr Gavin Callaghan, has previously asked where the four per cent increase in council tax ECC is levying will be spent, expressing concern that the town is “not being prioritised”.

“On present performance, it is simply not justifiable for council tax to increase when residents are getting far worse services when it comes to road and pavement repairs, passenger transport, connectivity and infrastructure,” he told ECC leader Cllr David Finch.

If Basildon was to apply for unitary status, it would first be subject to public consultation and would require the agreement of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government as well as the approval of Parliament.

Deputy leader Kevin Bentley told full council: “This is a budget that invests in our county, invests in our growing county and puts Essex at the forefront of the United Kingdom.”


Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter