onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

September 16th, 2014

An Easy Way To Find The Information On “North Of London Road”

There is lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application  “North of London Road “. 

To find it all , just click here.

 

September 30th, 2014

Rayleigh Railway Anniversary

From Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass:

 

3rd October 2014 - Rayleigh Railway Station 125th Anniversary

At 1.30pm on Friday 3rd October we will be involved in a short ceremony  to mark the 125th anniversary of the railway coming to Rayleigh. There will also be a small photographic exhibition on the history of the railway.

September 29th, 2014

Rawreth Meets…

240px-Rawreth_sign

 

Just a reminder that Rawreth Parish Council meets on Wednesday at 7:30 in the village hall. As usual there will be a public question time, and the public and press are welcome.

One of the biggest items will be the planning application for “North of London Road” which is entirely in Rawreth.

September 29th, 2014

Adder Warning !

1280px-Benny_Trapp_Vipera_berus

 

A helpful warning from Rawreth Parish Councillor Christine Paine:

I wonder if you could put something on OnLine Focus to warn walkers, dog walkers and riders about  late season adder explosion, especially on the footpath/bridleway that goes round Dollymans and over the bridge then back to the A129. One of my neighbours dogs has been bitten, fortunately they got it to the vet in time and it’s OK, but he saw several and when I saw some riders yesterday they said six had slithered across the path in front of them. We think the work at the back of the sub-station has disturbed and displaced them as there are far more than usual, and it’s late in the season for there to be this number around, possibly the summer like weather is encouraging them out as well.

Find out more about adders here.

September 29th, 2014

The Capons’ Greatest Moments

 

Phil and Tracy Capon are husband and wife, and both are currently  Conservative Councillors on Rochford District Council. In fact Phil is the Chair of the Development Committee. Word reached us at the weekend that they had both been deselected by the Conservative Association – so they cannot stand as Conservatives when they both come up for election next May.

This is pretty dramatic by Rochford standards – councillors are very  seldom deselected against their wishes, except on the grounds of old age, which doesn’t apply here. Might it possibly be that they can’t manage to slavishly follow the party line? Here’s a  few things we have written -on onlineFOCUS over the years:

 

September 12th, 2014 |

An Admirable Attitude

Rochford Life has a short interview with Hawkwell Tory District Councillor Phil Capon. Phil is Chair of the Development Committee – the one that deals with planning applications. He makes some good points, for example:


I’ve always believed that if you are going to be on the Council you should be open to all views and be open to change. It’s what I don’t like about party politics where it tends to be go with the prevailing view rather than think through alternative possibilities that may be good from other parties.

July 27th, 2014 |

The Ones Who Signed – And The Ones Who Didn’t

These are the 20 Conservative Councillors who signed the motion to abolish ordinary councillors’ rights to call in a decision to full council:

Cllrs T G Cutmore; Mrs C E Roe;
K H Hudson; D Merrick; I H Ward; M R Carter; M J Steptoe; Mrs L A Butcher;
Mrs M H Spencer; Mrs G A Lucas-Gill; Mrs J E McPherson; M Maddocks;
C G Seagers; K J Gordon; S P Smith; Mrs A V Hale; Mrs C A Weston;
R R Dray; Mrs J A Mockford and B T Hazlewood:-

and these 7 are the ones who haven’t signed:

Phil Capon
Tracy Capon
Heather Glynn
John Griffin
Jack Lawmon
Dave Sperring
Barbara Wilkins

June 20th, 2009 |

A Very Important Principle

At the last meeting of the Standards Committee, there was an item on updating the Councillors Code of Conduct On Planning Matters.

You can find the full officers report here. Chris Black noticed that something quite startling was being suggested by officers:

Members should copy and pass on any lobbying material, such as correspondence or leaflets they receive, to the Head of Planning and Transportation.


This would have meant that if anyone wrote to a councillor about any planning issue, the councillor would have been required to pass a copy on to the Head of Planning – Shaun Scrutton – or otherwise face disciplinary action!

Chris strongly opposed this. One reason is that it would destroy any privacy between councillors and members of the public. (What would be next? Tapping councillors’ phones? ) The other is that it wasn’t practical. On a really contentious planning application, 20 people might write to each councillor. That means that Mr Scrutton would have to receive nearly 800 copies of letters!

Thankfully, other members of the committee supported Chris on this – in particular, Cllr Phil Capon. And the sentence was changed to something reasonable:


‘Members should consider whether it is appropriate to copy and pass on any lobbying material, such as correspondence or leaflets they receive, to the Head of Planning and Transportation’.

 

October 10th, 2006 |

“Vote for Parent and Child places? – We’ll throw you out of the Tory Group”

At tonight’s District Council Committee meeting we had the debate on whether to allow some Parent and Child bays in our Council Car Parks.

As we wrote a few days ago, the officers were recommending… doing nothing. Apparently there are some spaces that could be widened into Parent and Child spaces, but it would cost an estimated £500 per space (!) to adjust them, and then it might be a problem that they might be left empty when they could be occupied by non-parents.

However the item was up for debate by councillors. The committee has 9 Tories (2 of them didn’t turn up), 1 independent (who didn’t turn up) and 1 Lib Dem (Chris Black.) When the chairman of the committee, Tory Phil Capon , began speaking, it looked like we would get some spaces agreed:

“Since becoming a father my eyes have been opened to the many issues and problems that the parents and carers of children face. I can appreciate what my residents have been telling me for some time.

To return to your car and find you are unable to get your child back in his or her car seat due to the thoughtlessness of others is potentially dangerous and annoying.

I don’t advocate the loss of parking bays but merely that end bays should be designated ‘parent and child”

We continually hear that we must prevent the High Streets from dying and that ‘out of town’ shopping centres are luring people away. This is true – they appreciate the problems and offer suitable parking bays.

We can not only show our commttment to child safety but also that we support local businesses.”

Chris Black felt quite good at this point as he was on balance in favour of the idea and it looked like it was going to happen. BUT THEN – a sombre Cllr Capon continued to speak:

 

Sadly members, my dream is not to be. Due to the blinkered views of other members, who I can only assume care nothing for the wellbeing of children and who don’t want local shopping centres to survive, a wonderful chance is being lost.

The “whip” is on, I cannot vote against it otherwise I lose my right to represent ny residents. Morally , I cannot vote for the recommendation so I will abstain”

The situation became clear. Cllrs Phil and Tracy Capon had raised the item in the private Tory group meeting. They’d lost out in a vote to the Tory ‘dinosaurs’ . Then the Tory leadership had enforced a whip, so that if Phil Capon voted for Parent and Child parking bays, he’d be thrown out of the Tory group.

After Phil Capon spoke, there was an embarassed silence. Chris jumped in and proposed allowing some Parent and Child parking spaces but didn’t get a seconder. So Tory leader Terry Cutmore proposed having no Parent and Child Bays and Cllr Tony Humphries seconded that.

Chris then scornfully said that in his 20+ years on the council he’d never seen any political party impose a whip on such a small item. He was very disappointed with the Tory group’s behaviour.

The voting was:

No Parent and Child Bays : 5 Cllrs Terry Cutmore, Tony Humphries, John Pullen, Mavis Webster and David Merrick (all Tories)

Abtaining : 2 Cllrs Phil Capon and Colin Hungate (both Tories)

For Parent and Child Bays: 1 Cllr Chris Black (Lib Dem)

A big mistake by the Tory leadership tonight. If they’d let Phil Capon vote with his conscience, the issue would have been over in 5 minutes. But now it won’t be forgotten so quickly, and it shows them in a bad light.

September 28th, 2014

“Why we need a constitutional convention – and why we have to build it from the bottom”

britain from space

 

Colchester Lib Dem Nick Barlow writes today about why we need a constitutional convention – and it mustn’t be one run by the current political system.

The question, then, is how do we do that? Do a few of us just get a room, a website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and whatever else and commence arguing, hoping others will join in and make the whole thing snowball? Or do we need to build widespread support first, then kick it all off with a storm of involvement and publicity? I don’t know, and I’m not a mood for laying down how everyone else should do something, so what are your thoughts? Which way round does it need to be done, or should we just sit back and trust in Westminster and the system to get it right this time?

 

September 28th, 2014

Highways And Potholes

There was a lot of discussion at the Local Highways Panel last week about the frequency and quality potholes – even though the panel is not supposed to touch maintenance issues.

Chris Black took the opportunity to mention the big pothole at the junction of Mortimer Road and Eastview Drive, that Bruce Smart had reported it in January, and that the Smart household would be baking a cake to celebrate its first birthday. This caused people there to pay attention, and hopefully we will have a cake to celebrate the repair, rather than the birthday.

mortimer pothole

In the meantime, the following roads in  Downhall and Rawreth Ward are on the list for thorough repairing:

 

Bedloes Avenue

Deepdene Avenue

Hambro Parade

Kings Farm

Manns Way

 

 

 

September 27th, 2014

Michael Hoy Starts Campaign Against School Bus Ruling

essex consult

Councillor Michael Hoy writes here about a new County Council policy:

“With effect from September 2015 Essex County Council have changed the policy on Home to School Transport for new pupils meaning parents or carers will have to pay themselves if their children go to Sweyne-Park School even though they may live over 3 miles away and would currently be entitled to free transport.  Sweyne-Park is the Catchment School for Hullbridge and currently has 248 Hullbridge children over the years 7-11…

…..I have opposed and remain opposed to this policy and will be campaigning against it.  I will post on here proposals for how the campaign will be formulated later….

…..The Echo will be taking a photograph at 3.30pm on Monday by the bus stop in Ferry Lane by the Car Park. As many people as possible are needed to be in it.

September 27th, 2014

The Cabinet System Should Be Scrapped

brocksford

 

If anyone is looking at the District Council website to try to find out who initiated the idea to build houses on Brocksford Green – well it’s not easy!

But the decision seems to have been made by the Council Executive  (the Cabinet) back in December 2012 under “Asset Review”. The officers report was private and confidential , and isn’t shown on the council website. However these are the minutes(click on them to enlarge). We can’t be 100% that this was the decision, without seeking out a copy of the confidential paperwork.

 

asset minutes

As you can see, it deals with quite a few sites. Also note that this was a meeting of the cabinet, which at that time consisted on 8 councillors, all selected by Cllr Cutmore, none of them from Rayleigh!  Ordinary ward Councillors are NOT permitted to speak at cabinet meetings ! Which meant that no Rayleigh member could have spoken on this.

If the ward Councillors had wanted to challenge this decision – well, at that time any 3 councillors could have got together to refer it to Full Council. But none of them did. And by the way, that right of referral has since been taken away by the Conservatives.

It’s time the Cabinet system was scrapped. It’s undemocratic and expensive. And it’s not even that effective – if there had been an open debate involving all Councillors in 2012, the idea would have been squelched back then, saving council officers much-needed time and money.

September 26th, 2014

No Reduction in Speed Limit – Traffic Is Going Too Fast

old london road

 

This is a hard one to understand…

Old London Road in Rawreth is a road where the national speed limit of 60 mph applies.  It goes between London Road and Church Road, which are both 40 mph zones, so that you can only drive at 60 mph for about half a minute!  But going at this speed isn’t a good idea, as this is a country lane with lots of cars on Sunday mornings , plus heavy lorries and horseriders. Local residents have asked for the speed limit to be reduced to 40 mph , which seems sensible, especially as we now have umpteen football pitches along here.

Rawreth Parish Council has asked repeatedly asked for this, but been turned down by County Highways. However on Thursday Chris Black tried again at the Local Highways Panel again, without success. County Highways basically advise that they won’t reduce the speed limit here because 1) there aren’t enough houses along the road (sports pitches don’t count) and 2) according to the last survey , vehicles are going too fast….

September 25th, 2014

Amenity Space Saved, Wakering Development Squeaks Through……

At tonight’s meeting of the Development Committee:

The outline  application for 6 dwellings on the amenity space at Brocksford Avenue was refused by an overwhelming vote of councillors. Refusal was moved by  Ian  Ward and seconded by Heather Glynn. This pleased the public gallery, which was packed with concerned residents.

The application for 116 dwellings at the old Star Lane Brickworks in Great Wakering was passed – but only just. This is another one of the big sites that has come forward as part of the local plan. Chris Black and Ron Oatham moved refusal, saying that the application was contrary to our core strategy, because extra funding for the local primary school wasn’t being provided. We lost the refusal  11-9. Interestingly , none of the ward councillors supported our refusal. Cllr Mrs Wilkins voted against our refusal , Cllr Hookway was absent and Cllr Seagers declared an interest and quite properly left the chamber.  A motion of approval was then moved and the scheme was passed 14-5

The District Council applied to itself for planning permission to install a banner in Bradley Way to advertise public events – and the committee refused this , on the grounds of it being a conservation area.

September 24th, 2014

A New Comedy Club For Rayleigh

The Echo reports today:

COMEDIAN and TV presenter Jason Manford is opening a comedy club in Rayleigh

The star, who presented BBC 1’s the One Show and regularly appears on shows 8 like Out of 10 Cats, will open a Manford’s Comedy Club, at the Rayleigh Mill Arts Centre, on Friday, October 3.

The full report – plus Jason’s own description of Rayleigh as a “Sleepy Essex Town” – is here.  Let’s hope it is a success.

September 23rd, 2014

Rayleigh Town Council Wins “Council Of the Year” For Essex !

trophy

Congratulations to Rayleigh Town Council for winning ‘Council of the Year’ by the Essex Association of Local Councils. This award was presented at the EALC’s Annual General Meeting last week when the Chairman Councillor Eddie Dray and Town Clerk Kerry Cumberland were presented with a certificate and silver platter. We understand that the Chairman of the EALC, Sheila Jackman MBE, remarked in her speech that the EALC includes all 274 Parish and Town Councils in Essex and Rayleigh Town Council won this award by a long way.

The Christmas Lights, and annual visits by schools councils (who are invited into the Council Chamber to ask the Chairman questions), were apparently two of the big points in Rayleigh’s favour.

xmas 1

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Daily Reporting by Chris Black

With support from:
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Latest Comments

  • The Mighty Oz: Bruce, will the cake be made from Shoe Pastry…&# 8230;.
  • Jim Cripps: Election time sound bites , that is all those phrases were – be prepared for a myriad of...
  • Jim Cripps: I suggest that both the Capon Councillors leave and join Toby Mountain as an Independent Tory Group ,...
  • James Worf: Another example of the power and control the conservatives have over Rayleigh and beyond. If a councillor...
  • bruce smart: What happened to localism? Where is the Big Society? What were they in the first place?
  • bruce smart: Hindsight is a wonderful thing but even when it was built many people believed the old Park School...
  • Chris Black: I took the photo at the opening of Rayleigh Leisure Centre…
  • Angelina: Such a shame that this couple of good people who are obviously well thought of outside the Conservative...
  • Jim Cripps: I don’t know how to go about this but leaving it too Westminster is not a viable option – The...
  • The Mighty Oz: How many of the parents / carers have a car in the drive yet are more than happy to let other people...
  • A.Matthews: The cabinet system appears to have been corrupted by all it’s secrecy.For a cabinet to work it...
  • A.Matthews: Thought when they closed the Park School that was part of the agreement. When it comes to an agreement...
  • Jim Cripps: To any fair minded person , the concept of an ‘inner circle’ making all the key decisions (...
  • Gary Congram: This appears to be a common policy by Cllr Cutmore that when something relates to a specific area and a...
  • Christine Paine: Of course let’s not forget that the A129 40mph speed limit is never enforced. I haven̵...
  • Christine Paine: Jim, you’re more than likely going to be right. We already know ECC have no up-grade plans for...
  • Christine Paine: I agree I walk Susie along there every so often and try to pick a time I know it will be quiet but...
  • Collins: I walk along London Road 3 Times a day, and it is terrifying to walk on the small amount of very narrow...
  • The Mighty Oz: I’m not sure reducing the limit would make any difference whatsoever to the people that speed....
  • Ruthie: That road has too many conflicting signs! One moment is states 40 mph….a minutes drive later one sees a...
  • Ruthie: When you exclude local residents and council representation from these kind of planning meetings then you are...
  • Linda Kendall: Chris. As you well know, and I have witnessed this, even if a few of the ‘less relevantR...
  • Linda Kendall: Chris. Can you identify any meeting where the disposal of the Rayleigh Town Sports and Social Club was...
  • Jim Cripps: Christine – I too wish that the world was that idealistic , but it is’nt , development after...

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This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

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If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

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“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

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