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The death of Basildon The decaying bellwether town has been ignored by both the Tories and Labour


May 18, 2021   6 mins

Basildon was originally forbidden from having a railway station. When it was built, in the 1950s, it was meant to be Somewhere. As a shortcut to developing that sense of place, and with the breathtaking arrogance of the age, the planners simply decreed that Basildon would be an inward-focused town. It was designed to be a patchwork of low-rise suburbs, heavily zoned — its new community life located around the big new factories that formed its economic motor.

Back then, the idea was that if you managed to get a job in one of those factories — Yardley, say, or Ford, or Rothmans — then a council house was yours. It was a covenant that saw thousands flock from the Blitzed-out East End. In short order, a New Town arose from a lonely countryside crossroads in Essex — one of the eight created within commuting distance of London by the 1946 New Towns Act, which also blessed Essex with Harlow.

Now, in 2021, a war is raging for the soul of Basildon. A project has been proposed that would subject the town to a new, similarly epic, wave of migration. One that is the precise opposite of the planners’ original vision. And one that will rely almost entirely upon that (since built) railway station. It’s a project, in short, that would turn the town fully and finally into a suburb of Anywhere. And it’s a war that places this long-time political bellwether at the heart of a bigger national narrative: about what we want from our sense of place, and what it means to have “community”, at a point in the timeline when even our utopias seem shrunken. 

A billion pounds. A 26storey central tower. Nine other new high-rises within a few hundred metres. A 5,000-seater arena. A vow to create “the new hub of Essex”. Near-total demolition of the brutalist central precinct. The outgoing Labour-run town council’s attempt to re-fashion downtown comes with a level of ambition that feels cut from another age. It was repudiated in the local elections.

But no one could deny that something post-war in scale may be needed to save a precinct that has gone gangrenous. Almost 20% of Basildon’s central shops were shuttered even before Covid. Raquels, the once iconic nightclub where a young Depeche Mode honed their own glass-and-chrome vision of modernism, has been boarded up for 23 years, a monument to a vanished culture. Just beyond that tableau, in a block once filled by HMRC, London’s Haringey Council now barracks overspill tenants in office-conversion flats. Licks of paint are notable only by their absence.

Soon, though, Basildon could become the first New Town palimpsest. The old vision razed, and in its stead, a fresh kind of Metroland, built in a new vernacular: of biscuit brick and plate glass, endless plazas to nowhere, indistinguishable from what has gone up in Canary Wharf in recent years, or Salford Quays, or what’s coming up the tracks at Barking Riverside.

What no one seems to know is whether they should celebrate: whether being New gives Basildon the power to start all over again. Or whether any settled community has the right to simply stay settled, for good or ill. “The problem,” as 83-year-old local historian Vin Harrop puts it, “is that the sorts of people who could afford those flats are not the sorts of people who presently live here.” The new vision promises to shatter the white working-class tone of the place. Even though, in their own way, the incomers are as desperate to be housed as the original Blitzed-out cockneys. They would represent a new Precariat: those who can no longer afford the capital — first-homers, young families — but who still need to maintain a limbo existence just metres from the station, effectively on an umbilicus to London. Whether they interact with Basildon, what values they bring to the place, is almost moot: the design orients them entirely towards Fenchurch Street Station, and from there, the City.

On the side of a settled community’s right to be settled sits Jacob Hogg, local council candidate for the Basildon Community Residents Party — which has been set up to oppose the scheme. Hogg once worked with his dad in the building trade, and for St Mungo’s, caring for the town’s homeless. When I ask if he’s at least excited about the financial lifeline of a 15-year construction project, he shakes his head. “Modern building firms have their own people who they bring in. We won’t see any of it.” Surely there are secondary effects? Money trickles down, after all: every time a new resident needs a sandwich, or their boiler fixed. Yes and no, he admits. The Basildon Community Residents Party is only the tip of a deeper distrust. At heart, those he represents feel as though, time and again, a “solution” has been imposed on them from above.

Hogg points a finger round at the shops in the square, noting where the McDonalds used to be (it’s easy to lose all hope when even McDonald’s are abandoning you). “See, these ones have had their water and electric ripped out, so they don’t have to pay business rates,” he says. They’re just empty units. “The big development companies have been land banking for years.” They’ve been storing up these derelict hulks, just so that they can one day knock them down. This town didn’t die naturally, Hogg hints; it was murdered.

 

“It’s our heritage,” he says. “It’s not deep history, but it’s still history: they’ll never make places like this again.” He offers up a common complaint — that the reason Basildon is stuffed is that no one has ever invested in the central precinct. Yet it’s hard to pinpoint quite who the mysterious ‘they’ is who never invested. Basildon Council has changed hands repeatedly down the years: switching parties is almost its entire motif. So is it the voters, or the politicians who’ve brought the town to its knees?

“Basildon’s residents just don’t take pride in the place,” Vin Harrop complains, “I’ve tried for years to get an art gallery here. A museum, even. Something to give the people pride. Harlow has a lovely art gallery. But people here just aren’t interested
”

Perhaps that’s because, to be proud of something, first you need to define what it stands for — and Basildon’s character has always been elusive. Despite or perhaps because of its status as a political bellwether, it’s always been a place that has blown in the wind. This is the town that made Essex Man, the Eighties pollster’s perfect confection of a typical swing voter: dad was Labour, but he loved Thatcher for the chance to buy his council house. It’s the place whose re-election of Tory MP David Amess in 1992 first signalled that John Major would be returning to No 10.

But what Basildon seems to be a bellwether of lately is not so much party politics as simply alienation itself. These are the working classes for whom returning from Thatcherite Toryism to New Labour was the last throw of the dice on a dying dream, who’d sensed their town’s decline, and had sensed that Blair’s kinder gentler socialism might reverse that. Instead, it accelerated it. Yardley and Gordon’s Gin both finally shut up shop in 1998. As the whopping 68.6% vote for Brexit shows, Basildon’s citizens are reacting against a certain top-down modern consensus — but perhaps not in a way that comes with its own positive vision of a future they want. 

Just as Henry Ford was supposed to have once said, “If I’d asked the public what they’d wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”, what Basildon Man desires at an individual level is essentially a pony on steroids. They’re not much moved by eco-villages, or integrated cycleways. The dream is still a kind of Barratt Home, twoup twodown with double parking and some greenery out back. It is perhaps the most English of things to want; castle-ownership is baked deep into the national psyche. Long ago, the lawyers and doctors who were meant to populate Basildon’s iconic downtown tower block, Brooke House, moved out to leafier detached homes in South Benfleet or Billericay. But from a planner’s point of view, the suburban home is neither interesting nor sexy — nor does it minimise unit costs, as a bouji flat on the 19th floor of a downtown tower certainly does.

The battle playing out in Basildon is the central one of the post-Thatcher era, between what’s good for us individually, versus collectively. But while the post-War central planners taught us important lessons about hubris, we’ve long since become pathologically gun-shy: one by one, all of our grand schemes have failed, and we have never replaced them. What is left is just a strange kind of out-of-control capitalist machine, running almost on auto-pilot, to the benefit of practically no one.

At present, that machine is propped up by a Labour council who don’t seem to have any thoughts about place or community or utopia. Indeed, in the 21st century, each party’s bold utopia is exactly the same: posh cinemas and a Franco Manca at ground level, beneath a score of poky two-bed flats, each with an identical windowless bathroom. But Basildon’s bellwether status has returned once more. After standing in stout opposition to the regeneration plan, the Tories took back control of the council in the May 2021 local elections. Their own schemes have yet to be revealed. Or whether they, in turn, will end up sandbagged by their opponents. Or whether the way through is simply to dream dreams too mediocre to be objectionable.

At some point, though, the deadlock must break, the town must choose. Either Basildon can embrace the globalised world, becoming a well-off satellite of Canary Wharf. Or it can get serious about investing in what cultural capital it does have. Right now, it’s Thatcherism without the success, Labour without the solidarity. If it refuses the Anywheres coming up from the City to colonise it, as well as the chance to invest in its own sense of Somewhere, then where exactly is Basildon? It isn’t even Nowhere.


Gavin Haynes is a journalist and former editor-at-large at Vice.

@gavhaynes

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Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
3 years ago

Bassildon, like most large towns is run by a coterie of council workers who are waging war on car drivers. They seek to force people into public transport with parking restrictions and agressive enforcement (cash cow) fines.

They will not listen to people saying, “I got a parking ticket so won’t go back there again”. They think that people who have a car can pay, but ignore the fact that people who have a car can in fact drive to Lakeside. They also ignore the fact that car drivers are by definition wealthy enough to have disposable income.

In short, councils have driven out the goose that lays in favour of the idea of a unicorn.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

You have said something which I have believed for many years. I live just outside a town (town A) which has had a Labour council for ever. There are almost no car parks and, not surprisingly, almost all of the businesses have moved out to a ‘new’ shopping mall. 15 years ago this mall was new and bursting with high-end shops. Now it is a dump with only Poundland-type shops.
Exactly 10 miles away from me is a town (town B) which has always had a Tory council. The local businesses have been supported by the council, small ‘hidden’, almost free car parks have been created in convenient spots and the town is booming. There are jobs to be had – admittedly not always high paid jobs. It is the kind of place to attract tourists or just retirees who want to sit in a coffee bar and watch the world go by.
For some reason the Labour councils can’t see that they have created the problems. In town A above, the council is always talking about poverty, giving money to the poor, taxing the rich, doing good deeds, etc. In town B the council is talking about attracting more businesses, refusing permission for out-of-town shopping malls, ideas to attract more visitors.
So we have a chicken-and-egg situation. Which came first, the poverty or the Labour council. I think I know the answer.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Labour councillors and supporters will always do everything they can to destroy businesses, particularly small businesses/kulaks. They see it as part of their mission during their time on this planet. Whether or not they can’t see that they have created the problems of open to debate.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

wonderful analogy.

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Or take staunchly Labour Oxford City Council, car haters till the end. They build a huge shopping centre in the middle of the city but do the best they can to put off car owners with ridiculous traffic schemes and astronomical parking charges.

I’m fortunate to live in one of the market towns outside of Oxford. A thriving town centre with a huge variety of national brands and local shops – and free parking. Pre covid the town was thriving. Although some shops have since closed I’m confident that the town will soon be thronging with people again.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Lord
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

They do love their shopping centres which tear the heart out of a town. What about turning Basilton into a student town-they don’t care about architecture?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Richmond (Yorks) is a good case in point. Only a little town/village but operates on a parking disc scheme.
You buy a disc (once for a pound or two) from a shop and display it in your car at time you arrive. You have an hour or so free parking.
As a result it has a thriving shop community as people drop in to conduct errands, buy a few things and leave.
Interestingly it has been conservative since 1929

steve horsley
steve horsley
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

yes,simple isn t it if you want it but the labour/green/liberal councils put petty environmental issues ahead of the people that pay their wages.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  steve horsley

Don’t forget their fabulous Pensions!

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago
Reply to  steve horsley

Which public service employees do not put their interests over those who pay their wages, including the tax bill?

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Richmond is a lovely little town. Very picturesque. I used to know it well, when, as a boy, I had summer holidays in North Yorkshire year after year.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

QED.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

The same kind of parking arrangements apply in Hexham in Northumberland. The town is thriving and busy.

pattenchris
pattenchris
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Search for Havering. Tory Boy leader appears to relish destroying established businesses which are decades old. Remember what Johnson said about business? ÂŁ1.50 minimum charge for parking drives people to Lakeside.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Labour believes itself entitled to the votes of poor people, and therefore ensures there are as many poor people as possible. If we run out, they import more from the Third World.
Many of these latter bring with them their enriching culture and customs, such as raping underage white girls and committing postal voting fraud.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The challenges faced by town councils tend to be the same whether Tory or Labour controlled. The reaction to those challenges is however very different. In my experience Labour councillors tend to be more politically committed and with that more quickly frustrated by the limitations they face in bringing about change. In Basildon and other places where the Labour writ runs, this frustration often manifests itself in gesture politics. Thus, unable to ensure that the bins are emptied efficiently, the flower beds kept tidy and the streets clean – issues which frequently top the lists of residents’ concerns, we come across the depressing spectacle of we-must-be-seen-to-be-doing-something decisions such as replacing the names of familiar streets with those of African politicians, declaring areas under their control to be nuclear free or as has been the case in a number of Labour boroughs, passing motions that have no impact on their remit such as deploring fieldsports or the nation’s involvement in the slave trade. Tory councils have their failings – an over reliance on private enterprises ability to solve their problems being one – but their saving grace tends to be that they keep sight of the fact that they are operating on a local and not a national stage.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Notwithstanding your report, I doubt this is a matter of Labour vs Conservative local government. I think the problems are much deeper than that. What makes a town work is more about whether the people in that town have access to well paid work. It isn’t just a matter of parking spaces. If people have money from work, businesses arrive to take advantage of their spending. Long ago, this country abandoned its well paid manufacturing industry and replaced it with nothing. Germany didn’t do that. Neither did France.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

Same where I live. The town centre is a ghost town, and we drive to the out of town shopping centre for our needs.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Same in East Midlands,Council does nOT Conserve anything obsessed with building Housing in rural villages turning into Dormitory villages and less ”Green” countryside..Labour in city Council also guilty driving people into Fosse park M69 out of town centre…&pedestrianisation has killed the City centre

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

The parking problem has been transferred to the private sector. Park in a shopping centre car park for more than three hours and you will now get fined by the management company.

steve horsley
steve horsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

you could be describing our city council here in york,a gree/liberal mess.their main aim is to bar all cars from in and around the city centre,paving some streets,closing some car parks and enforcing high parking charges.the results are plain to see-dozens of closed down shops,plenty of tourists coming to our own little version of disneyland but precious few locals.they ve deserted the people who pay their wages and on whom they foist yearly council tax rises.i guess there are dozens like us but knowing that doesn t make the pill any easier to swallow.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

And now they are starting on your right to have a gas boiler to heat your home – a boiler that ACTUALLY heats your home, rather than an air sourced heat pump which costs a fortune and doesn’t heat your home – leastways, doesn’t heat it above about 15 degrees.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Carbon rubbish.Boris Green bilge Will fail Not enough nuclear Power or oil power stations,so electric cars,aren’t Green, only last half Petrol/Diesel engines..

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Basildon has a clone! Slough.

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!*

(*Sir John Betjeman.)

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Slough! I used to fish in the ‘Slough Cut’ right next to the ICI factory with the chemical smells, but crystal clear water because it was so weeded up from neglect. What a dump Slough was/is, but I have fond memories from fishing there. When I return to my old parts of London what a dreary mess it is now. Harrows, Hays, Heathrow, all another world. The whole West London is about 1/2 non-British, why? Who wanted this? The British Census numbers are 100% LIES.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Do you recall the huge lamppost in the centre, on the Bath Rd, with two large lights on it. If green nobody had been killed in a traffic accident that week, if red they had.

That was ‘Slough Safety Town’ of the 1950’s, before the
Invasion!

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
3 years ago

A billion pounds. A 26–storey central tower. Nine other new high-rises within a few hundred metres. A 5,000-seater arena.”
When we travel – to lovely places in France or Italy – it isn’t to see apartment towers or small arenas. What we do see is streets radiating out from the centre of the town , which have 5-8 story apartment blocks — not high-rise looming over the centre.
Looking at that ghastly pic at the top of the article you can easily imagine some planter boxes with seats around the edges, perhaps some nice striped canvas covered spots with tables underneath selling fruit & veg etc. A food truck or two? The only structure to build would be a modest orchestra shell so that on weekends you could have live music – if not an army or navy band, maybe a local school band could do the job of enlivening the space ?? Don’t waste money and create yet more greenhouse gases by demolishing and rebuilding, what’s there can be improved and adapted.

Peter Turner
Peter Turner
3 years ago

The picture of Basildon in the article looks like 1960s vintage. However, I was in Basildon once about five years ago, and that shopping precinct looked exactly the same then. Having quickly done what I needed to do, I was glad to escape. It truly is a dump.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago

Up until 150 years ago, almost everywhere was unplanned, and developed organically to suit the people who lived there. Who thinks the modernist progressives have done a better job than ‘random’?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Now our Tory Council brags it uses ”Algorithms &Models” to plan ,that Went well for SARS2 ,not & our climate controlled by politicians it seems?..

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Until 150 years ago (and ever since), “everywhere” was developed by people who saw development as a way of making money. Nothing wrong with that as such. But let’s be clear. The developers in the main cared little or nothing for organic development, unless the development suited their pockets.
The buyers had to make their choices from what was made available by the developers.
The utopia of organic development never existed.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago

Maybe the answer is “somewhere in the middle”.
Yes, attract professionals – especially young professionals – but design the housing to suit hybrid working-from-home.
Post-covid there were be at least a substantial minority of professionals who only go in to an office 2 or 3 days a week. So make it possible for them to work from home – e.g. flat designs that provide office space, easily rentable ad-hoc meeting rooms (conveniently located near the hospitality trade).
By encouraging a large proportion of the white-collar population to stay in the town during working hours, there are more opportunities for local businesses.
And by specifically chasing young professionals by offering quality accommodation in the town centre, that places the extra spending power where it is most beneficial.

Last edited 3 years ago by Mark H
Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

Yes, and the council of whatever stripe should engage with people in deliberative ways not just ask them what they want, in ignorance of the economic facts, logistics and other practical considerations. Then Basildon, or anywhere, will have a fighting chance of becoming a place people are happy to be associated with.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

Reminds me of Stevenage somehow.

David J
David J
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

And all the new towns, created by a bestial triumvirate of we-know-best planners, architects, and financiers.
All of whom thought they could ignore the lessons of history to build their idea of a new – and mostly hideous – future.
And they couldn’t care less, as they retreated to their handsome Georgian residences after another day’s work spent ruining another part of our fine country.

Last edited 3 years ago by David J
pattenchris
pattenchris
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

Not true in the case of Harlow and Frederick Gibberd. Where his designs were followed it’s still pleasant and successful. And he lived there until his death.

David J
David J
3 years ago
Reply to  pattenchris

Harlow New and Old Towns are chalk and cheese, and I’ll take the latter.
A parallel to Stevenage (ugh) and Stevenage Old Town (fine).

David Purchase
David Purchase
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

Reminds me of my second favourite cartoon of all time: a couple of Romans looking up at the Coliseum and saying, “I bet the architect of this lot lives in a quiet villa in the country”.
Since you didn’t ask, my favourite (as I often used to lead walks) was of Moses, having parted the Red Sea, finding that the Israelites were reluctant to follow. Turning back to face them, he says, “What do you mean, it’s a bit muddy?”.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Cumbernauld in Jockland must ‘take the biscuit’.

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Paula Jones
Paula Jones
3 years ago

Or ‘take the cookie’ as Mel ‘Braveheart’ Gibson might put it.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

A monument to Nicola braun Sturgeon/..?

Dawne Swift
Dawne Swift
3 years ago

God preserve us from planners and architects. Between them they’ve made the most appalling mess of so many of our urban and suburban landscapes over the last 60 decades. And now they’re turning their attention to the greenfield sites throughout England (not Basildon obviously).

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Dawne Swift

Of course, they know what’s good for us better than we do.

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
3 years ago

Enjoyed the article, not really because of the fact that it bemoans the desolation of a town I once knew as awful… I’m from Southend and even we looked down on them! It’s just that there aren’t that many articles about Essex. There should be. Its a great place. Haven’t been to Basildon for years and this article sadly does nothing to encourage me to do otherwise. But thanks for reminding us all that Basildon exists.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

The underlining darkness of Depeche Mode is now explained. Looks like a town which could have produced one of Depeche’s influencers, Marilyn Manson. There seems a bleakness to these planned towns, sort of reminiscent of Russian ‘Brutalism’ new town architecture.

Peter Turner
Peter Turner
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

Being reminded that Basildon exists is like discovering that there is still a thing called leprosy.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

Essex is indeed a great place – I used to visit it on business many years ago, and loved it – or at least the parts not built over like Basildon.

Last edited 3 years ago by Colin Elliott
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Coastal Essex St.Osyth is still charming Brighlingsea ,Clacton but not most towns..

Ian Standingford
Ian Standingford
3 years ago

I would have thought those town centre precincts deserve a grade 2 listing!

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago

I have often thought that had the planners and architects of the post WW2 ‘New Towns’ been actually forced to live in them for, say, the first twenty years, then something totally different would have arisen.

Last edited 3 years ago by Mud Hopper
Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

The article includes a depressing view of Basildon Town Centre now.
What it does not include – small beer, I know – is the recent construction of a covered market behind what used to be Marks and Spencer.
It does not include a vision (admittedly not yet realised) of the proposed redevelopment of the whole of the centre to include residencies, alongside the new arena with cafes and restaurants.
It does not include the estates of “low-rise” residencies which have been constructed within the last decade or so and those which are being constructed.
Did I say the article was one-sided? It is so one-sided that it should have a preservation order placed on it before it collapses.

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

Mcdonalds has not deserted Basildon. It has moved to the Eastgate centre (200 yards away) where, I suggest, it can better compete with several other fast food services in the centre.
There is another McDonalds around a mile away, plus several others within easy driving distance. I have been there twice recently and it was bustling.

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
3 years ago

It’s a pity space is so vast and its distances impossible to negotiate. When I read articles like this I wish it was possible to move to a far distant world. This time with no socialist wankers and a small very small state. Do things right this time. Helas, we are trapped.

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

Has this journalist been trained by the BBC?

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

Let me introduce the author of this piece to the concept of the truth. Truth is the whole truth. Some of this is so far from the truth that it is almost an outright lie.
But as the saying goes, the best way to hide a large lie is among a lot of small truths.

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

I came to Basildon around forty years ago. I have lived here ever since.
One of the reasons I came here (such decisions are complex) is because house prices were lower here.
Plus ca change ….

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

Within a mile or so of Basildon Town Centre, there is a leisure park with several restaurants, a cinema and other entertainment venues.
For good or ill, the 5,000-seater arena is an attempt to bring some of that custom into Basildon Town Centre. It will also include cafes and restaurants, a fact missing in the article.

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

As the whopping 68.6% vote for Brexit shows,

This shows only that 68.6% voted for Brexit. Every deduction (as here) from that fact (alone) is speculation.
But then we have the commentariat, who generally have minimal contact with the voters, who are ready to give us their interpretation of what facts such as these mean.
I was one of those who voted Brexit. How does Gavin Hayes know why I voted for Brexit. Can he read my mind?