Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Making (low key) history

For the first time in the history of the modern Stockton Borough Council tonight's meeting started with a debate triggered by a petition.  It should have been a momentous occasion but instead it was low key and to be honest, not very interesting. 
Billingham House is a 1960s concrete block, liberally laced with asbestos, now standing empty and derelict.  To cut a long story short, it was acquired by its present owners over 10 years ago.  Since then promise after promise of demolition has been broken.  Stockton council has been involved in trying to force a resolution but to no avail.  A regeneration company is involved now but still no resolution in sight.  The High Court will decide in August on what should happen.  Meanwhile the developer has organised a petition against demolition, claiming that by creating lots of office space more jobs will come to Billingham.  The petition was duly presented to the council and so tonight's "debate" was triggered.  The developer stated his case.  He showed a video of a regeneration project they've just completed and tried to use that as an argument for not demolishing Billingham House.  He seemed to have missed one significant detail - the building they regenerated was a beautiful old building with lots of character.  Billingham House is a concrete monstrosity which local residents want rid of.  The "debate" consisted of councillor after councillor standing up to say that they agreed with the cabinet member who spoke first.
At the end the mayor read his pre-prepared summation and we moved into the main business of the council 45 minutes later than we would have done.

In September we'll have a debate triggered by a petition asking that the regeneration of Stockton Town Centre doesn't move the market.  Now that will be a debate!

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