About 10 days ago we reported on the last District Council meeting:
“The government inspector has asked for a number of changes to the council’s allocations document. The most notable change concerns what happens if development sites are not developed as quickly as expected…
The council has to allocate land so that there is always a 5 year supply of building land available. In case there is a shortfall somewhere , the council’s document allows extra housing at the other sites. However this only happens if
A) there is a shortfall elsewhere
B) if there is still space available for any proposed amenities or infrastructure
C) any extra housing would be capped at 5% of the original proposal. So for example, at the “North of London Road” site, where the proposed figure would be 550, there could only be an extra 5% of 550, which would be 28 extra homes.
However the inspector wants to do away with the 5% cap, which means that some sites could end up with a lot more housing.
The Conservatives pushed this through last night, despite an amendment to keep the 5 percent cap, proposed by Chris Black, seconded by John Mason, and supported by Ron Oatham, Christine Mason plus Michael and Diane Hoy.
At least one Conservative councillor abstained.
This now goes to another round of public consultation…”
Well, that public consultation has now started, and you might like to respond, especially if you are concerned about the removal of this 5% cap. The inspector probably won’t take any notice, but it’s worth a try. One argument against removing the cap is that it makes unsound the previous public consultations and the evidence base for sustainability : if people were consulted on, say, 550 houses and it suddenly turns into a lot more. Or you can argue that increasing the number of homes about the 5% level is poor in terms of sustainability and quality of life for residents (both existing residents and new ones).
The best way to respond to the consultation is online – with some effort you can find it on the council website here. You need to register and then log in to make comments.
If you want to object in terms of “North of London Road”, that is dealt with section MM20 of the document (click to enlarge)
and you would need to say that you oppose the deletion of the words in red: “plus a flexibility allowance of 5% if required”.
In the same way, Hullbridge is dealt with in section MM44.
From Jack Monroe’s Blog, on the theme of “Have Yourself A Cheaper Little Christmas”:
These simple mince pies use marmalade in place of orange juice and sugar, to bring the cost down, and meld the fruits together with a spicy sweetness. I’m curious about making traditional ‘mincemeat’ – so expect to see a blog post on that later on! But for now, here’s a mince pie recipe so simple that you won’t even notice you’re making your own pastry…
Get Jack’s recipe here.
From the Daily Telegraph:
A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers.
Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb.
The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental breakdown.
The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have made a full recovery.
The case has developed into an international legal row, with lawyers for the woman describing it as “unprecedented”.
They claim that even if the council had been acting in the woman’s best interests, officials should have consulted her family beforehand and also involved Italian social services, who would be better-placed to look after the child.
Brendan Fleming, the woman’s British lawyer, told The Sunday Telegraph: “I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job.
“I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.
“If there were concerns about the care of this child by an Italian mother, then the better plan would have been for the authorities here to have notified social services in Italy and for the child to have been taken back there.”
The case, reported by Christopher Booker in his column in The Sunday Telegraph, raises fresh questions about the extent of social workers’ powers.
It will be raised in Parliament this week by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP. He chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign, which wants reform and greater openness in court proceedings involving family matters.
He said: “I have seen a number of cases of abuses of people’s rights in the family courts, but this has to be one of the more extreme.
“It involves the Court of Protection authorising a caesarean section without the person concerned being made aware of what was proposed. I worry about the way these decisions about a person’s mental capacity are being taken without any apparent concern as to the effect on the individual being affected.”
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is an Italian national who come to Britain in July last year to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted Airport in Essex.
She suffered a panic attack, which her relations believe was due to her failure to take regular medication for an existing bipolar condition.
She called the police, who became concerned for her well-being and took her to a hospital, which she then realised was a psychiatric facility.
She has told her lawyers that when she said she wanted to return to her hotel, she was restrained and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Meanwhile, Essex social services obtained a High Court order in August 2012 for the birth “to be enforced by way of caesarean section”, according to legal documents seen by this newspaper.
The woman, who says she was kept in the dark about the proceedings, says that after five weeks in the ward she was forcibly sedated. When she woke up she was told that the child had been delivered by C-section and taken into care.
In February, the mother, who had gone back to Italy, returned to Britain to request the return of her daughter at a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Her lawyers say that she had since resumed taking her medication, and that the judge formed a favourable opinion of her. But he ruled that the child should be placed for adoption because of the risk that she might suffer a relapse.
The cause has also been raised before a judge in the High Court in Rome, which has questioned why British care proceedings had been applied to the child of an Italian citizen “habitually resident” in Italy. The Italian judge accepted, though, that the British courts had jurisdiction over the woman, who was deemed to have had no “capacity” to instruct lawyers.
Lawyers for the woman are demanding to know why Essex social services appear not have contacted next of kin in Italy to consult them on the case.
They are also upset that social workers insisted on placing the child in care in Britain, when there had been an offer from a family friend in America to look after her.
An expert on social care proceedings, who asked not to be named because she was not fully acquainted with the details of the case, described it as “highly unusual”.
She said the council would first have to find “that she was basically unfit to make any decision herself” and then shown there was an acute risk to the mother if a natural birth was attempted.
An Essex county council spokesman said the local authority would not comment on ongoing cases involving vulnerable people and children.
We know that there’s a lot of unhappiness about the proposed over-development of Rawreth and Hullbridge at the moment, and in the council chamber that feeling is even spreading from the Lib Dem/ Green Party / Rochford Residents corner into some of the Conservative benches. But not all is gloom and doom, there are at least a couple of bright spots on the horizon.
Firstly, the council’s new long-term grounds maintenance contract kicks in from Monday morning. We have a new contractor for maintaining our open spaces and grass verges. This is a good time of year for a new contractor to take over – it gives them time to settle before plants start growing in the spring. Let’s hope – no, let’s expect an overall improvement!
Secondly, things are improving with planning enforcement. Three years ago we raised the issue in the council chamber about the number of planning enforcement cases waiting to be dealt with – the number was a staggering 466
It got even worse – rising to 542 last year.
Even our Conservative administration were starting to feel embarrassed, and so employed an extra planning enforcement officer. We heard today that the number of outstanding cases is now down to 366. Still too high, but it’s still a rapid improvement.
The next Meeting of the Rawreth Parish Council will take place on Wednesday 4th December 2013, at Rawreth Village Hall, Rawreth, at 7.30 pm.
The Christmas meeting is always a very friendly one, but one of the items on the agenda is:
217. VILLAGE REPORT- To receive details of concerns or items worthy of note around the Parish, including a recent increase in Burglaries in and around the Parish
Plus grant requests, the setting of the parish precept for 2014-2015 , and a chance to bend the ears of Parish , District and County Councillors…
There were an estimated 10,000 people in the High Street this afternoon and evening for the Christmas Lights Switch-On. With a fair consumption of candy floss and mulled wine (hopefully not at the same time).
The Christmas Lights going on in Rayleigh tomorrow evening, with events starting at 4:15! The Town Council have advised as follows (click to enlarge)
We understand that if the inspector approves the allocation document, that sometime next year the house builder Countryside Developments will carry out a public consultation on the housing “North of London Road”.
It will involve leaflets to every home in Downhall and Rawreth, Sweyne Park and Grange Wards, exhibitions in 2 or 3 local venues, and a website…
The Essex Police website has information on how to make your home more secure from burglars.
It includes this video with a former burglar that’s worth watching:
It also includes a “Home Security Self Assessment” form which has been issued by Essex Police and Essex Crime Stoppers, by reading this information you may just find there is one extra thing you can do to secure your property. Essex Police would be interested to know if by reading the Assessment you have managed to alter something within your home security and would welcome comments and feed back by contacting them on one of the following.
Rayleigh, Rawreth Neighbourhood Police Team
Non Emergency Telephone 101 – extension 490126 (voicemail available.)
Website page at: www.essex.police.uk
Mobile (for general enquiries only) 07710 046161
Please remember, If you do see any suspicious activity in your street please call 101 for non emergency or 999 in the case of an emergency and take down as many details as possible including vehicle index numbers, descriptions of people, direction of travel etc as these are all very important details.
Note : this post is inspired by an email from Hayley Bloomfield, the Rawreth Parish Clerk
Before the Council meeting on Thursday night, there was a meeting of the Development Committee.
Three planning applications were considered.
The very small traveller site at The Pear Tree, 750 New Park Road, Hockley was given temporary permission.
The very small traveller site at Land West of The Pumping Station, Watery Lane, Rawreth was refused. Councillors were concerned about highways issues, flood risk and green belt policy.
A proposed car boot sale at Rayleigh Station Car park on Sundays was refused. (although they can still hold one for up to 14 days a year without permission)
We are Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in Rochford District.
We want to improve local decision-making and we see onlineFOCUS as a good way of keep residents informed and involved.
Please click here to email us .
We welcome your comments, they are very important to us. However please note:
* We may not necessarily agree with the comments made by our readers
* We ask everyone to treat people with respect when making a comment. No personal abuse please.
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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.
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.
If you read onlineFOCUS for a while you can see the kind of things we are trying to achieve locally. Maybe you would like to help us?
If you fancy helping us deliver leaflets, or actively campaigning for us at election time, or simply just helping behind the scenes with paperwork, please contact the onlineFOCUS team here.