Conservative Leader of the Council, Cllr Tony Cox, has announced that his administration will not progress the approved plans for the Better Queensway scheme, putting at risk hundreds of new homes and a £600m project that will bring jobs and much needed regeneration to Southend.
The Better Queensway scheme had previously received wide-spread support across the council, from residents and the local business community. It has already achieved outline planning permission, granted by the cross-party Development Control Committee. However, immediately after taking control of the council, Cllr Cox announced to the local press that his administration would not go ahead with the existing Queensway plans.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, Shadow Cabinet member for Business, Regeneration and Finance, said “Better Queensway is a vital project that will bring much needed housing and jobs to our city centre. Much work has been done to get the project to this point. The council should be speaking with one voice and telling our partners Sanctuary that we expect this project to continue. Trying to back out of fundamental aspects of the scheme, as Cllr Cox is doing, damages the council’s position and reputation. We do not want to see residents in Queensway and the surrounding area stuck in limbo because of the Tories’ narrow fixations.”
Cllr Daniel Cowan, Leader of the Labour Group said “It has barely been a month and already this Tory minority administration is inflicting heavy damage on our city. They have absolutely no mandate to put this project at risk. They are giving the council a bad name, and no-one will want to do business with us if the Tories get away with scrapping everything. This started because the Tories didn’t read their papers properly. They aren’t fit to govern and if this project fails then they should resign in shame. The Labour Group will fight tooth and nail to protect this scheme and ensure it is delivered.”
Cllr Anne Jones, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group and Shadow Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Local Plan, said “We must remember that this project was supported cross-party until the moment the Tories lost control of the council in 2019 and since then it has been one cynical attack after another. Good quality housing is vitally important to the future of our city and to put it at risk for thousands of people over party politics is a dereliction of duty.”