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Councillors declare business expertise
6:00am Monday 16th December 2013 in News
COUNCILLORS have hit back at a property developer who accused them of knowing nothing about business.
Complaining about an obligation to include affordable homes in housing developments in Westcliff and Leigh, Brian Strickland, managing director of Sandhurst New Homes, said Southend councillors “had no idea about business”.
But members of the council’s development control committee, the cross-party group of councillors who imposed the conditions, have defended their business knowledge. All 17 members of the committee confirmed they had business experience and then took it in turns to list it on Wednesday.
Chairman David Norman took the unusual step of addressing Mr Strickland’s accusation and called for those who’d had experience to raise their hands. The declaration was held at the start of the committee’s meeting, which was held in public at the town’s Civic Centre.
He said: “I hope members of the public find that interesting.
“At the end of the day they will have to judge if this committee has knowledge of business or not.”
Mr Strickland made the accusation in the Echo last Friday.
Sandhurst New Homes has permission to build more than 100 flats at 53 Pavilion Drive, Leigh, the former Shell garage on London Road, Westcliff, 845-849 London Road, Chalkwell, 86-104 Salisbury Avenue, Westcliff, and 211-213 North Road, Westcliff.
It is using new Government legislation to apply to remove all the affordable housing conditions, known as section 106 agreements, attached to the plans.
The company says a changing economic climate means the schemes will not be viable with the conditions attached due to the economy.
The councillors experience included Paul Van Looy, who owned a string of fish and chip shops, Chris Walker, who was a company director, Ted Lewin, who is a marketing manager and hotelier Alex Kaye.
Some of the councillors, who are meant to represent the common man and not meant to be experts in any particular field, rallied against the call to justify their role.
Mike Assenheim, who was managing director of an import and export business, said: “I don’t know why we should justify ourselves to this man’s disingenuous comments.”
Mike Grimwade, who has held a number of positions, said: “If you sit on a jury you’re accepted just for yourself.”
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