Curious Reports in the Echo

According to the Echo today:

A PROMINENT estate agent and property developer has quit his post as a director of the company spearheading Southend’s regeneration.

Mike Gray, managing director of Dedman Planning and Regeneration, resigned his directorship of Renaissance Southend after three years.

His move comes just weeks after readers on the Echo’s website raised concerns about a director of Renaissance Southend being linked with development companies.
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Mr Gray’s company is representing John Remblance, the man who wants to build the huge Marina Plaza leisure complex in Marine Parade, Southend.

Mr Gray insisted his decision to step down had been made purely on the grounds of the increasing amount of time taken up by his work on Renaissance Southend.

And today there’s also a curious column written by veteran journalist Jim Worsdale . It’s not on the Echo website, but here’s a snippet:

Warning: Don’t Let This Quango Out of Your Site

“Many questions, as well as hackles, have been raised following the Echo’s extensive coverage of the mysterious body called Renaissance Southend.

But the avalanche of response from readers does not surprise me.

Many share my fears about this domination of the possible future of our town by an unelected – some would say unwanted – body of individuals mostly unknown to most council taxpayers…”

Chris has received a few emails himself on this issue…

Meanwhile, Renaissance Southend’s own website is here.

  • Here’s the original report which I believe prompted this resignation: http://www.echo-news.co.uk/search/display.var.1375656.0.director_denies_conflict_of_interests.php

    The text reads as follows:

    Director denies conflict of interests

    A DIRECTOR of regeneration company Renaissance Southend has defended himself against suggestions of a conflict of interest because he is a private developer.

    Martin Terry, leader of the Alliance Southend group on Southend Council, said he had concerns about possible “clouded judgment” by the board, especially where planning was concerned.

    Mike Gray, managing director of Dedman Planning and Regeneration, is a board member of Renaissance Southend and his company was also concerned with the sale of the Rossi icecream factory site in Lucy Road, Southend.

    The ice cream company is expected to move to a new site within the next two years, and will rent the building from Southend Council and the East of England Development Agency until it can find a new site.

    It is expected the building will form part of an eventual redevelopment of the Seaway car park site as part of the regeneration of the seafront.

    Mr Gray said: “I am pleased we have been able to assist with the regeneration of this site of the Rossi ice cream factory, which will assist in the future regeneration of the town centre and provide a link between the High Street and the seafront leisure area.”

    Mr Gray insisted the sale was not connected with the work of Renaissance Southend.

    However, at the time of the sale in March this year, the council said it teamed up with Renaissance Southend and the development agency for the Seaway project.

    The Echo quoted the regeneration firm’s chief executive, Mike Lambert, as saying: “The intention is the factory will remain there until such time we start to look at development of the Seaway car park.

    “It is an opportunity to start a process that may lead to something in the future.”

    In October 2005, the Government-backed Renaissance Southend revealed a £200million vision for the seafront, with the Seaway car park an integral part of the redevelopment.

    The urban regeneration company is one of a number set up by the Government, all of which have directors from both public and private sectors.

    – The company is advertising for the posts of head of planning and head of regeneration.

    Head of planning carries a salary scale of between £40,000 and £45,000 and head of implementation is between £35,000 and £40,000.