onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


December 17th, 2014

Hullbridge / Rawreth Planning Application Now In….

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Another big planning application, part of the District Council’s Core Strategy has now been submitted.You can find more on the council website here. A lot of resident’s comments have already been submitted over the weekend.

The outline proposal includes:

“Residential development for 500 dwellings including a proportion of affordable housing, associated open space, landscaping and drainage and infrastructure works”


Incidentally, the Council website shows the parish for this application as Hullbridge, but we believe it also includes part of Rawreth, so that Rawreth Parish Council should be consulted as well.

December 16th, 2014

Tonight’s Council Meeting

It was reasonably lively but without any bad temper. Here’s a few points:

Council Chairman June Lumley was admirably frugal tonight. Most Council Chairman request a buffet with wine for councillors on the night of the December meeting. June didn’t do this, but did arrange refreshments to the public who attended the Civic Carol Service on Sunday, which raised about £245 for charity.

Green Party Leader Michael Hoy made the best point of the evening. The decision to offer free parking on 3 Saturday afternoons before Christmas was taken as “an urgent item” which couldn’t be challenged. Michael asked why the decision was taken so late in the year that it had to be an urgent item. “Didn’t the Council know Christmas was coming?” The answer given was that the council didn’t know it could afford this until quite late in the year. John Mason and Chris Black followed this up later with some forensic questioning , which revealed that the council knew in June it had about £60,000 available – the cost of 3 free Saturday afternoons was about £9,000. Chris Black asked for an earlier decision next year, which might allow an extra free afternoon, either earlier in December or just after Xmas.

UKIP leader John Hayter had a go at the adoption of the “Development Management Plan”: This is basically a new version of the council’s “Bible” of planning policies. Not the zoning of land for development, but all the other policies. Things like the design of new developments, housing density, infilling of gardens, phone masts, what is allowed in the Green Belt, green tourism, playing pitches and other leisure and recreational uses…. John criticised the document because of all the new development proposed in the district, but John Mason, Chris Black, and Michael Hoy pointed out that he was criticising the wrong document for that.

The Tories best part of the night was a report showing that the council’s financial situation was improving.

Ron Oatham made it clear his opinion of central government when John Mason asked whether a certain financial amount “was being lost back to central government, or worse?” Ron immediately called out “Could anything BE worse?”

Chris Black asked how many planning enforcement cases were currently ongoing – the answer was 362, just four less than last year. He asked what could be done to reduce this figure quicker, and was told they would soon have three members of staff again, instead of the current two.

December 15th, 2014

Airport Solar Farm Application Recommended For Refusal

The application for a solar ‘farm’ at Southend Airport is being recommended by officers for refusal. Reasons:

  • in the flood risk zone
  • reduces the amount of land available for things like aircraft hangerage
  • more information us needed on the effect on wildlife.
  • December 14th, 2014

    Ho Ho Ho!



    From the District Council website:

    Chairman announces local schools’ Christmas card competition winners
    Thursday, 11 December 2014

    Prizes were presented to Rochford Primary School pupils by Rochford District Council’s Chairman, Cllr June Lumley, for their impressive Christmas card designs.

    Children from schools around the District were invited to take part in a competition to design the official Civic Christmas Card. Many schools took part, but Rochford Primary School stole the show with so many superb entries it was difficult to choose one clear winner!

    Eventually, year 4 student Safina’s design was picked as the overall winning entry, and she had the honour of seeing it professionally printed as the Chairman’s official 2014 Christmas Card. Safina also received a £10 Amazon gift voucher and certificate.

    Runners up from each key stage won £10 Amazon gift vouchers, and they plus nine Highly Commended designers each received a certificate marking their achievements.

    The school was also presented with a cheque for £150, to be shared between each year group on a prize of their own choice.

    Rochford District Council’s Chairman, Cllr June Lumley, said: “I was pleasantly surprised to receive so many outstanding entries this year. This is an excellent reflection on the local schools, and the talented children who live in the district. Competitions like this give children the chance to use their imagination and be creative, and possibly even win a prize, boosting their confidence. Well done to every child who submitted an entry, and congratulations to the winners”.

    December 13th, 2014

    A Flock Of Godwits

    a flock of godwits

    The webpages for the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project have fairly quiet this year , but there’s some new stuff on there now:

    Many visitors to the reserve have come to catch some great views of the hen harriers, marsh harriers and short-eared owls that are hunting across the reserve daily. Some have taken some great images of these birds hunting across the rough grassland and wild bird cover. I wish I was as good a photographer!

    We have also seen our annual increase in wader and waterfowl numbers on the lagoons and mud flats. A large flock of over 300 black-tailed godwits along with a few hundred lapwing can be seen on the lagoons, along with smaller numbers of golden plover and ringed plover.

    Crossrail are continuing their work as best they can now the ground conditions have become so wet. They have imported over 90% of the material they are bringing in and once you have crossed the footbridge, you can now see the work up close to the sea wall. Channels have been created to spread the incoming sea water across the area, and you can see lagoons which will stay wet even on a low tide and islands which the birds will be able to use for roosting and nesting.

    Believe it or not at this time of year it is well worth a visit!

    December 12th, 2014

    Full Council Next Tuesday Night

    The are two District Council meetings open to the public next week. Both start at 7:30 pm at the Civic Suite (opposite Rayleigh Church). Tuesday night has Full Council, Thursday night has Development Committee.

    Some of the items at Full Council are:

    2 formal questions from Chris Black to Cllr Ian Ward:


    Revised Budget Estimates for the current financial year:



    Adoption of the “Development Management Plan”:
    This is basically a new version of the council’s “Bible” of planning policies. Not the zoning of land for development, but all the other policies. Things like the design of new developments, housing density, infilling of gardens, phone masts, what is allowed in the Green Belt, green tourism, playing pitches and other leisure and recreational uses…. You can download the 50 page document from this page.


    Adoption of the “London Southend Airport and Environs Joint Area Action Plan” :
    This is another weighty document, which you also can download from this page.


    And finally, an important item about restructuring the staff organisation at the District Council:


    December 10th, 2014

    “I Wonder If Such A Place Exists”

    A guest post from our regular commenter the Mighty Oz .. this is a specially positive piece for the Christmas season, so if there any comments , please let them be positive also …


    sweyne park sunset smaller



    Sometimes, in those quiet moments, we all wonder what it would be like if we moved away to somewhere new. For those among us that like to make lists then a set of requirements is a must. So, what would I like in my new town?

    First and foremost a town that is safe for my family and friends, somewhere that is reasonably affluent populated by enterprising, hard working people. A place that has some history, maybe an old market town that has managed to retain that feel. A weekly market would be great, perhaps some places to meet for a coffee afterwards.A vibrant high street, not a run down place full of For Sale boards, a good selection of places to eat and drink.

    Who knows, maybe a place that has a beautiful church in the High Street, a windmill, a tree lined high street with flower beds and hanging baskets in the summer, that’s a tall order !

    Now, Location, Location, Location, not too far from London, say, 1hr max but also far enough away so that I can explore the local countryside, how about marshes and salt flats that stretch for miles? Maybe even near to a seaside resort for some fun in the summer.

    Must have thriving library, an Arts Centre and maybe a town museum…not to mention sufficient car parking when I visit.

    Well, that’s quite a list of requirements, I wonder if such a place exists ?



    December 9th, 2014

    Government Commission Proposes New Ward Boundaries !

    The 13 proposed district wards

    The 13 proposed district wards (click on image to enlarge)

    The Local Government Boundary Commission has proposed new council ward boundaries for our district. This follows proposals put forward by the District Council earlier this year.

    You can find the details here

    This is what they are proposing for the west of our district (West Rayleigh and Rawreth)

    1) There would be 39 district councillors for the entire council, representing 13 wards, with three councillors per ward. In the west of our District there would be two wards, Downhall & Rawreth, and Grange.

    2) Downhall & Rawreth Ward would be based on the existing ward that Chris Black and Ron Oatham represent. However it would GAIN all of the Victoria Avenue area but would LOSE the Deepdene Avenue area. It would have a slightly lower population than other wards but this is to allow for population growth here in accordance with the council’s development strategy! Grange Ward would be based on the existing Grange ward, but would gain most of the existing Sweyne Park Ward (excluding the Victoria Avenue area) and also gain the Deepdene Avenue area from Downhall & Rawreth.

    props map 2

    props map 3

    Deepdene Avenue area


    Victoria Avenue area (click to enlarge)

    Victoria Avenue area (click to enlarge)

    3). The boundaries of each parish would stay the same. Rawreth parish would stay the same size; so would Rayleigh . But Rayleigh Town Council would get a new mix of Town Council wards. For example Grange ward would have four Town councillors , what is currently Downhall would be renamed Sweyne Park and have two, a little ward based around Deepdene would have one and a new ward around Victoria Avenue would have one.

    props box 1

    4) If you want to object to any of this, or suggest improvements or alterations , you can do so. The commission actually has quite a good record of listening to sensible suggestions. You can do this online and draw your own maps here. For example, residents in the Deepdene Avenue might prefer to stay in Downhall and Rawreth ward.

    December 9th, 2014

    County Council Rejects Lib Dem Proposal To Roll Out LED Lighting


    Essex County Council today rejected a bid to allocate funding for low-energy streetlights. At a meeting of the full council, the Liberal Democrat Group moved a motion calling on the council to allocate funds for LED roll-out in next year’s budget.

    Moving the motion, Cllr Stephen Robinson (Chelmsford North) pointed out that the Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government have created the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to help the UK economy become greener and stronger.

    Cllr Robinson said, “The GIB has £3.8 billion to support the roll-out of projects like low-energy LED streetlights. I am disappointed that the Conservative majority on the council would not agree to a plan for a roll-out of LED lights.

    “Moving to LED lights would save Essex taxpayers MORE money than switching off most streetlights during the night.

    “I am especially puzzled that they are willing to spend £1 million on a pilot of LED lights but will not set aside any money to take the pilot forwards if it is successful.”

    Seconding the motion, Cllr David Kendall (Brentwood South) pointed to figures from the Police in Brentwood, showing that crime has risen during the “lights off” period. Cllr Kendall also pointed out that the AA are now saying that lights should be left on in roads where the speed limit is 40mph or higher, because of the dangers to pedestrians.

    Councillors were also concerned that the £1 million for the pilot is being taken away from the budgets of the Local Highways Panel.

    December 8th, 2014

    Pet Sounds

    In an effort to maintain a positive tone, here’s a brand new cheerful music video from Rochford District Council on, um, dog mess…

    December 7th, 2014

    Don’t Put Turkey Fat Down The Pipes!

    We aren’t quite in festive mode yet, but here’s a song to remind you not to put turkey fat into the sewer:

    And this is what can happen if people ignore this advice:

    December 6th, 2014

    Beryl Handford


    We were shocked to hear of the death of Beryl Handford, the wife of Mike Handford, a former chairman of Rochford District and Rayleigh Town Councils. Beryl was born in London in 1938, and moved with Mike to Rayleigh in 1964.

    Beryl was a person who always thought about others, and so worked so hard for others , not for a little while, but for many years! Her outstanding efforts for local voluntary organisations were recognised by Rochford Council in the 2003 “Citizen of the Year – Community Spirit” award. This recognised her decades of work for:

  • WRVS Day Centre, 40 years of service. (volunteer)
  • Rayleigh Blind Club 25 years of service (driver and treasurer)
  • Rayleigh Ladies Club 25 years of service (organiser)
  • Rayleigh Age Concern 40 years of service (organiser/cook for midday meals service)
  • Friends of Holy Trinity 10 years of fundraising.
  • In 1977 she joined the Rayleigh Liberal Association, becoming an Executive Committee member, a post she held until 2005.

    To quote former counciloor Richard Boyd:

    “Beryl was an example of selfless voluntary service, putting more into society than she ever sought to take out.

    The Town is the richer for her work, and thousands of residents received help, meals, and support from her in

    the decades she lived in Rayleigh”

    Beryl is survived by her husband, Mike, and 3 grandchildren (Anthony, Nathan, and Stephanie) and of course our thoughts are with them .

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    December 2014
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    There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

    The Core Strategy

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

    Planning Applications…

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

    If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

    Reporting A Problem

    If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
    There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

    Food Hygiene Ratings

    To find the food hygiene rating for eating places and other businesses in our district , click here.

    Essex Political Blogs

    Geography, History , Science

    Lib Dem Websites

    Local Council Websites

    Local History

    Local Info

    Non-Political Stuff

    Other Lib Dem Blogs

    Planning Issues

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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”

    When the Olympic Torch came to Rayleigh, Chris Black wrote about the town in the Guardian - read it here

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