Councillor Andrew Baggott, the Leader of Basildon Council, hosted his first live Q&A event at the Laindon Centre, in Aston Road.

Meet the Leader gives residents the chance to ask questions about how their money is being spent and what is being done to improve their area.

A summary of matters discussed during the meeting on Thursday 12 July is available below.

Topic: Councillors/council staff

Response: Regarding how many people at Basildon Council live in Basildon and how many in Billericay. The council employs the best people for the job. Around 68% of staff live in the borough. Councillors all have to live or work in the borough. We have 42 councillors: about 12-13 live in Billericay, about 9-10 live in Wickford and the rest live in the New Town area including Pitsea.

Topic: Increase in committees

Response: The committee system was new to the council last year and there were four committees. When the new administration reviewed this they decided that what was needed were more focused committees as well as the statutory committees like Planning.

Topic: Local Plan discussion

Response: The Local Plan will be a legal framework so that we as a council, have the evidence as to where houses could be and should be and more importantly what infrastructure is required, so that if the development does not provide the necessary infrastructure we can object to the development.

Regarding traveller sites, officers are currently looking at practicality and feasibility the hub model (looking at incrementally increasing current sites over the course of the 20 year plan).

There are upcoming Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee meetings where the Local Plan is on the agenda. Details of council meetings are available on our website and they are all webcast via Basildon Council's webcasting service.

Topic: Social Housing

Response: Social Housing is important to make sure that our children and grandchildren can grow up and live in the communities they were raised in should they wish. It is also important to make sure the infrastructure is in place to support that development.

Topic: Dunton Hills Garden Village

Response: Basildon Council removed from its draft Local Plan the possibility of expanding the Laindon area into land around Dunton earlier this year.

However, Brentwood Council are continuing to look at a creating a new Garden Village on land within their boundary, just outside the Basildon Borough. Obviously this will impact on Basildon and infrastructure is needed should it go ahead, as it is likely they will be using Basildon services. As part of the planning process, we have already made our comments on their plan. The Chief Executive of the Council has been asked to arrange public meetings in the future on this issue.

Topic: Unauthorised incursions

Response: We have made representations to the government around the Irish model, which is having a look at how the Irish government dealt with unauthorised incursions (essentially making unauthorised incursions a criminal rather than civil offence) and looking at how that could work here.

Topic: Laindon Centre

Response: Swan have advanced their programme and aim to finish a year earlier than their original plans. Swan have given assurances that there will be a pharmacy facility available in the centre during the works.  The Basildon Council website information will be regularly updated.

There is also a development website available: Visit Laindon Place

Topic: Laindon Community Centre

Response: Car park - A traffic regulation order is currently being applied for, which means we will be able to enforce a maximum four hour stay.  There are no plans to close the Laindon Community Centre which has always been a well-used facility.

Topic: Laindon development

Response: The council don't own the land next to KFC. If the landowner wanted to do anything in the future, they would need to go through the usual planning process.