Statement of community involvement consultation
STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT CONSULTATION
Yet again Basildon Council has launched an important consultation and made it complex for residents to respond to. And to add to the challenge they have launched it at the peak of the holiday season with a deadline of 12 September for responses.
Some of you will have received an email advising of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) consultation.
The SCI is an important and formally adopted statement on how the Council will engage with residents and interested parties when it comes to major planning matters, including but not limited to, the Local Plan.
The current SCI was adopted in 2016 but process dictates that it needs to be refreshed every three years, hence the current consultation. Furthermore, there have been a number of significant planning regulation changes over the recent years that need to be considered in the new SCI.
To be clear, this consultation and the resulting SCI is not another opportunity to challenge the Local Plan as submitted to the Planning Inspector by Basildon Council earlier this year. The imminent Examination in Public remains the next formal stage in the Local Plan where residents and others can give their views to the Inspector. The SCI consultation does not change that and we should all remain committed to challenging the soundness of the Local Plan at the Examination.
However, the SCI is important as it defines how we are to be part of the planning process in the future. Whist the current 2016 SCI sets out a very formulaic approach largely along the defined national process when it comes to the Local Plan and other planning matters, it falls short of defining true community engagement early in the process.
We strongly believe that residents should have the opportunity to shape matters that will have an effect on their quality of life before any plans get into the formal regulatory process, such as the Regulation 18 and 19 consultations we have responded to in the past. As we have seen, by then it is virtually impossible to change the bad things and our responses have been ignored. In fact matters have got worse despite such consultations and the calls for further public consultation have been conveniently brushed under the mat.
The BDRA/BAG will be making a formal response to the SCI consultation and we will be emphasising the need for earlier community engagement. We will also be asking that we are part of that process as an independent representative body for Billericay, with the support of nearly 50% of residents.
We aim to share our response in due course.
It’s time to make the Council and it’s SCI process more open, honest, engaging, fit for purpose and accountable. If they ignore us again through this public consultation we will be asking why, and very publicly! The new Alliance administration makes a lot of noise about transparency so let’s make them embrace that in the new SCI.
We encourage as many of you as possible to take time to read the proposed new SCI document and respond to the consultation. All the Council’s details can be found here;