On 3 June Will Quince MP sent a series of tweets, one claiming “Colchester Borough Council is drawing up plans to take legal action against Essex County Council”. This is untrue and he must know it is untrue. At a Council Cabinet meeting in public on the record on 3 June the facts were explained after a Conservative Councillor made a similar claim. All this relates to land transfer at Queen Street, commonly known as the Alumno Development.
The 3 June meeting agreed what actual steps were to be taken – none of which includes any legal action against any organisation. This is in accordance with an agreement signed in February 2019 based on the terms agreed at a Council Cabinet Meeting in November 2018 – all the details were then and are now available to all Councillors. No challenge was made by any Conservative Councillors then and the Council’s position has not changed.
It is understandable if Will Quince has made a genuine mistake, but in that case the right thing to do is apologise. Afterall, the Conservative Government has been warned recently that making misleading statements during a major crisis damages public confidence in responding to COVID instructions and guidance.
For the record, if later on Essex County Council refuse to lift the covenant on the land that Alumno has won on appeal to develop, Labour Councillors will not vote for legal action against Essex County Council. We may have our differences with Conservative led ECC, but we recognise that now more than ever local authorities are rising to the challenge of working together to provide housing, transportation, social care, education, digital solutions and infrastructure for future generations.
The MP for Colchester would do well to remember that cooperation.
Tina Bourne, Labour Group Leader on behalf of the Colchester Labour Group