A SCATHING petition has been launched to demand a large-scale Government inquiry into Castle Point Council.

The petition, put together by furious Rob Lillis, has already generated more than 1,200 signatures in a week.

Mr Lillis, from Benfleet, launched the petition after Norman Smith, the former leader of the council, pressured councillors to back housing plans for his son.

A damning report published in March also revealed how Mr Smith stayed at a developer’s Barbados villa three times.

Mr Lillis urged Castle Point Council and the Tory group to issue a full apology.


The 52-year-old said: “We’ve heard nothing since.

“No apology or acknowledgement what happened.

“We need an independent enquiry. There is a lack of transparency. It’s time for change, enough is enough.”

The report into Tory Norman Smith, which came weeks after his resignation, found he had attempted to convince several councillors to support a planning application submitted by his son Lewis last year.

He also jetted off to a developer’s villa in Barbados three times, insisting he paid £8,500 for his family to use it.

Bernard Litman, who owns the villa, then submitted a planning application for 15 flats on Canvey High Street.

Mr Lillis added: “People need to face the consequences for what happened.The report was damning.

“We need an urgent inquiry to be implemented by the Government, to help smoke any snakes out of the long grass.

“The petition has gone crazy, people are still furious about the whole thing. These people are making decisions on our behalf, they need to be held accountable.”

Mr Lillis plans to present the finished petition to Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris.

Beverley Egan, Tory councillor of the St Peter’s Ward, added: “It’s frustrating, just because there’s one bad apple, it doesn’t mean we’re all bad apples.

“The process was followed, and it’s right we’re held to account.The majority of us had nothing to hide.

“It’s great that people feel so moved by it, and it’s their right to launch a petition.We all sign to a code of conduct.”

Castle Point Council was contacted for further comment.