Basildon Council wants to build on Basildon’s strong enterprise standing and build it into the commercial hotbed for the South East. The Echo asked two leading politicians if they think this is achievable?

YES: By Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council

The Tory council leader says Basildon must be at the forefront of business investment

“WE have got good foundations to build on. We’ve got the largest economy east of Canary Wharf and it’s a littlekept secret of the amount of business and wealth that Basildon creates.

“The UK is going to start building again with the economy turning and we need to make sure Basildon is leading the business charge. In our local plan, we have identified 8,500 jobs could be created in the borough, and Basildon forms a large part of the local enterprise corridor.

“Basildon’s location makes it a key player and we are in close proximity to the M25, but also places like Southend Airport.

“I think it is achievable. It is our job to highlight Basildon as a place to do business, but we cannot get complacent.

“It is up to us to support and facilitate, but it is up to companies to create opportunities and jobs. Recently, New Holland has recruited.

“The more enterprise we get into Basildon, the wealthier a place it becomes to live – and a better place.”

NO: By Nigel Smith, Basildon Labour group leader

The Labour group opposition leader says the council must listen to what the residents want

“WE want the borough to thrive and we need to continue creating jobs, but we also need to think about the needs of our residents.

“Where is the money going to come from to create this business hub? And what exactly will the £50million be spent on?

“I don’t think it would be possible to make Basildon the employment hotspot of the South East while the current administration is in charge and with the current Government.

“I wouldn’t have much confidence in them, given what they have done so far. Just look at the town centre, Pitsea and the Laindon Centre.

“We need to look at the town from the residents’ point of view and focus on what they want, but I do recognise we need jobs.

“A lot of people like to commute to London and there are certain jobs which require that.

“It’s not realistic to say all Basildon residents will work in Basildon.

“The priorities at the moment must be to regenerate Laindon and the town centre. The Tories need to concentrate on their day job.

“This is all just pie-in-thesky.”