Essex: Tendring District Council leader Neil Stock under fire over use of community funds

THE leader of Tendring District Council Neil Stock was forced to defend his position last night after it emerged he used money allocated for community projects on a flood survey which included recommendations for his own home.

In a report handed to the EADT, a �5,800 hydrological study was carried out in Ardleigh and Little Bromley with cash from the council’s Small Schemes Allocation.

Up until 2011, councillors received �2,000 each year under the scheme to fund local projects within their ward, ranging from travel for youth group trips to village floral displays.

Mr Stock used three years of his allocation on the survey for his ward which included ground water level tests at his home in Shop Road, Little Bromley and suggestions on how to reduce the risk of flooding. Mr Stock said flooding is a major problem in the area and he had not wanted his home looked at specifically.

But opppostion councillors have criticised the leader claiming it is a misuse of public funds. The report, entitled “Drainage Investigation Shop Road” states: “It is reasonable to assume, in periods of heavy and prolonged rainfall, the ground water level will rise considerably and above the kitchen slab level of Wisteria Cottage.”

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It goes on to make suggestions such as installing a perforated drain to the perimeter of the property and a pump.

The council commissioned Colchester Borough Council to carry out the survey, which also examined a kilometre of road and ditches, a sewage treatment plant and detailed observations and recommendations for another property on the road.

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Leader of the Labour group at the council, Ivan Henderson, said: “I am very concerned that the survey which was asked for by Neil Stock under the Small Schemes Allowance includes recommendations and observations to deal with his own flooding problems for his personal property.

“Other councillors were using their allowances for very good causes within their wards, such as pensioners’ luncheon clubs and the upkeep of football pitches. We believe the money shouldn’t be used in this way.

“It’s now time for him to explain to the public as to why he saved three years of his allowance to do this.”

The cash was also used on a similar report carried out in Crockleford Heath in Ardleigh.

Mr Stock said: “The budget was to be spent in your ward to promote and support groups or schemes, one of the main issues in Little Bromley is flooding.

“Residents have come to me complaining of flooding for years and nothing has been done about it and I will campaign on issues that affect my ward.

“When I asked for the report to be done I made it very clear that I lived here and that there is a wider problem in this area with flooding from drains blocking up. Some houses have had water pumped out by fire engines and others have seen their septic tanks overflow.

“I absolutely did not ask for a report on my house and I was surprised they had included it in the study.

“It’s rubbish, it’s simply not what I asked for. I wanted a high-level strategic document that looked at drainage infrastructure, how they are connected and which way the water flows and where it ends up.”

When asked if he regretted his decision, Mr Stock said: “Would I do it again, yes, I would, I should have done it earlier, if I knew the report would have been carried out how I had hoped. Maybe I was optimistic thinking it could be done for �5,000.”

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