onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


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Atlantic Crossing….

jack monroe

Southend blogger, campaigner and food writer Jack Monroe gets a favourable profile in the New Yorker

It’s worth reading in full, so we won’t quote any of it here…


No time to write anything tonight, but there’s going to be one or two interesting things to write about tomorrow evening!

“Rayleigh Through Time”

rayleigh through time

No Update Tonight

No update tonight, due to a touch of manflu…

Best Wishes To All Our Readers

Seasons Greetings

Best wishes from all of us at onlineFOCUS to all of our readers and posters… we’ll be back in a couple of days!

Using Our IPads

There were a few raised eyebrows when the district council loaned an IPad to each councillor.
This is partly for security and data protection reasons required by government – if councillors have confidential emails sent to them by to special councillor email addresses, then the IPads could be checked to see if the emails have been spent on to anywhere else. The IPads are strictly for council use only.

We are starting to get council agendas and accompanying reports sent to our IPads now. This could save a lot of paper and printing costs. The pile of paper above is just the reports for three meetings this week. Admittedly, this is particularly “heavy” week for paperwork. But you can see that over a year it could make some savings….

Early Morning Noise

A new complaint on Fixmystreet :

“Council contractor sweeping Castle Road at 6:10 on Remembrance Sunday morning”

Did onlineFOCUS Just Get A Contract Cancelled?

Councillor Colin Seagers has kindly left the following comment on another thread – it’s worth making a new thread for this:

Further to reports and discussions on this thread and website regarding the poor delivery of the Rochford District Matters latest Autumn issue, I took the matter up with officers and gained the support of RDC Leader Terry Cutmore in taking the investigation further. You will doubtless be pleased to learn he has informed me that the contract of the new delivery firm involved has been cancelled due to its poor performance, and Royal Mail will again be handling the delivery of the Winter edition shortly.
Many thanks to those who responded either here or direct to RDC notifying non-receipt of their Autumn RDM edition. Please be sure to notify RDC in the hopefully unlikely event that you do not receive your Winter copy of RDM, as I understand some especially important information will be included in it.

Managing The Transition


We had the following item at Full Council on Tuesday regarding the transition from Mr Paul Warren to Mr Amar Dave as Chief Executive… you can find the original council report here.


COUNCIL – 22 October 2013 Item 14
1.1 When Paul Warren announced, in June 2013, that he would be retiring as
Chief Executive at the end of the calendar year (31 December 2013), the
intention was always to have his successor in place prior to that date and for
there to be a period of overlap, so that the transition and handover could be
as smooth as possible.
1.2 With Amar Dave taking up the post as Chief Executive and Head of Paid
Service with effect from 14 October 2013, that transition and handover period
has already commenced.
1.3 There is an agreed induction programme in place so that Amar can familiarise
himself with the organisation, its functions, practices and procedures as
quickly as possible and also acquaint himself with the external environment,
key partner organisations and partnership structures and linkages.
1.4 As Amar becomes more familiar in the role, he will take on more and more of
the responsibilities and decision making and Paul Warren will start to move
into the background and become more of an adviser and consultant, rather
than the key point of contact and decision maker for the organisation. His
presence and profile will diminish until he retires on 31 December 2013.
2.1 Given the above situation, it is considered that it would now be in the
Council’s best interests for Members to agree to Paul Warren being offered
‘gardening leave’, from a time agreed with Amar Dave and subject to being
available for advice, guidance and work on specific themes until the time of
his retirement at the end of December.
2.2 Otherwise, there could be a situation within the organisation where there is
uncertainty and confusion as to who to contact and consult with on specific
issues. There can only really be one Chief Executive and Head of Paid
Service and it is suggested that this approach would ensure the handover is
as clean as possible.
3.1 The additional costs arising from the appointment of Amar Dave in October
will be approximately £28,000 and will be met from earmarked reserves.
4.1 It is proposed that Council RESOLVES to agree to Paul Warren being offered
‘gardening leave’ as and when appropriate as part of the handover process, to
ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
Paul Warren
Chief Executive


This recommendation, allowing Mr Warren to take ‘gardening leave’ was passed, although none of the Lib Dems voted for it.
Chris Black spoke against, feeling that Mr Warren could still carry out a useful role until the end of the year, and insisted on a show of hands.

On Being A Councillor

polling station signChris Black writes:

A little while ago ago Christine Paine suggested that I write something about what is involved when you become a councillor. Here’s a few thoughts off the cuff:

First of all , in our area there are three kinds of councillors .  At the top level you have the five County councillors for our area. The County Council deals with big subjects like highways, social services, education and libraries. Meetings are daytime, generally in Chelmsford. As each County Councillor represents a lot of residents, if he or she is  doing their job properly they have quite a heavy workload which makes it tricky, but not impossible , to combine with an ordinary job. County Councillors get a basic allowance of about £10,000 per year.

At the next level down you have the 39 District Councillors. The District Council deals with things like most planning applications, most parks, waste collection and recycling, leisure and car parks. Meeting are mostly evening , though some are in daytime, and are normally held in Rayleigh. Planning issues tend to be very important. District Councillors represent a smaller electorate , so their workload is less, but they will also be asked by residents about stuff that the County Council deals with such as  highways. Basic allowance for district councillors is about £4000 per yaer.

At grassroots level you have town Councillors in Rayleigh, and parish councillors in Rawreth , Hullbridge and all the other parishes in the district. Parish and Town councils vary considerably in size and activities, some have allotments or manage open spaces, some run events like the Rayleigh Christmas Lights. Parishes are consulted on planning applications. Meetings are normally inside their own parishes, though parish councillors may well travel to attend or speak at other council meetings. Parish councillors are frequently asked by residents for help on County or District issues. Allowances tend to be small, expenses-only, or zero. Parish or Town councillors may need to be more ‘hands-on’ than their District or County counterparts – if there’s an event to be run, they may need to join in, they don’t have a big team of officers to run it for them…

Whatever type of councillor you are, there are meetings to attend, and generally a lot of reading to do, and residents to help. But really each councillor has their own way of doing things. Some like using email and websites a lot, some don’t. Some like to speak a lot in meetings, others only speak when they have to.  Some like to hold regular surgeries, other don’t do surgeries and just visit people in their homes.  We all have opportunities for training – you’re not just thrown in at the deep end!

At District or County level almost all councillors are in a group. Even independent councillors tend to form an ‘independent group’. One reason for this is that where councils have committees, places on those committees are shared out according to the size of each group. And most people stand for election to District or County at the urging of a political party.  People imagine that councillors belonging to a political party are controlled by some kind of party mafia, but that’s not been my experience – I’ve never been compelled to vote against my conscience, and as a small council group leader I certainly am not instructed by party HQ on how to perform or how to vote.

Whether you are an independent on a parish council or in  a group on a district council,  teamwork is important ;  for example one member might be good at going through the council budget but hesitant at speaking in public. He or she may have a colleague who isn’t so good at accounts but is a persuasive speaker…. or one councillor might build up expertise in  the planning rules, while another  might be more interested in health or social services issues..

But most important – being a councillor is about helping people, either individuals or a whole community, and you have to have a little bit of passion for that. And you have to be able to work with people, whether they are agreeing with you or not. And you have to be willing to listen to criticism…..

And finally – it’s easier than you think….


Give Us Your Suggestions On Street Lighting

As we have mentioned before, the County Council are planning to introduce ‘part night’ street lighting in Rochford District from January 2014. ‘Part Night’ lighting means that the lights are switched off between midnight and 5am,

The County’s viewpoint is that ‘part night’ lighting brings benefits in the form of energy consumption and carbon emissions and a reduction in light pollution.

However the County propose that lights in areas meeting one of the following criteria will continue to be lit throughout the night. This amounts to around 30% of streetlights.

The criteria are
– Sites where there are a large number of conflicting traffic movements eg roundabouts which are on significant routes (generally where light columns are 6m or more);
- Sites where lights have been installed as a result of accident remedial measures;
- Town Centres where there is one or more of the following features
– i) publically maintained CCTV;
- ii)a high proportion of high security premises (eg banks,jewellers);
- iii) areas of high crime risk;
- iv)Areas where there is a high concentration of people at night e.g. Transport interchanges, nightclubs;
-Main approaches to town centres where there is a mix of development between residential and commercial/industrial;
- Sites where the police can demonstrate that there is likely to be an increase in crime;
- remote footpaths and alleys linking residential streets; where there is a statutory requirement to provide lighting.

The County’s consultation seeks views and particularly suggestions as to those areas which meet the exception criteria, advising of the location of the lights including street and settlement names and the reason for meeting these criteria. As part of the consultation exercise the Parishes and emergency services have been contacted and asked for their views direct.

To sum it up – the County Council is planning to do this, but will listen to suggestions as to which lights should be left on. If you can think of any locations that meet one of the criteria above, please let us know by the end of the month.

A Notable Comment

Possibly our longest ever comment – from ‘Greenbelt’ – on drainage.

In case you miss it, it’s here.

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April 2014
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Daily Reporting by Chris Black

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Latest Comments

  • Jim Cripps: So , £2.1 million spent over 7 years and they have only just realised that the Core Plan ( for each...
  • A.mattbhews: Without breaking any code of conduct,I would like to say I am somewhat surprised at the Councillors...
  • Christine Paine: I was staggered and am still spluttering with disbelief/rage to read in the Echo tonight that...
  • Jim Cripps: A good point Brian , in fact it is now obvious that most Towns & Villages in all the SE Essex...
  • Corey Vost: It is becoming increasingly obvious that ECC Highways have precious little intention of adopting this...
  • Christine Paine: Thanks Chris. I think noise depends to a great extent on wind direction. At least, with quite a few...
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  • Chris Black: Christine – I spoke to the licensing people yesterday. They visited the site the day before with...
  • Chris Black: Hi Tom – its a good question, things have gone quiet on that. I will try to find out.
  • Tom Smith: Hi, Is the Waste recycling centre still being moved from Castle Road to this area? There seem to be no...
  • Brian Guyett: A welcome, overdue initiative but I agree with John Mason – we need to consider the whole...
  • Jim Cripps: PS: And can you explain how a party political leaflet “in touch” has the authority to cancel...
  • A.mattbhews: Please note this is not a flood prevention solution but is the replacement of a foul sewer . Despite...
  • Jim Cripps: Well done Chris/ John and sorely needed as they have already cancelled two promises ( RTSSC & new...
  • Jim Cripps: Two quotes for you :- Cllr K Hudson via Evening Echo ( Fri 11th April ) – “The process we...
  • Jim Cripps: That is exactly why it is later ( negative election impact ) , however all the voters need to do is ask...
  • Jim Cripps: Greenbelt – it is’nt the same show ( the Battlesbridge one is in June ), the one last weekend...
  • John Mason: As far as I can see “by 9 April” quoted in your Article allowed “the 5 day rule”...
  • Greenbelt: The ‘RaveR 17; type event last year which caused many complaints on this site was clearly audible...
  • Christine Paine: We could hear it over the television. I’ve got nothing against the showground as such,...
  • admin: I would think you can hear it over half of Rayleigh, with the windows closed….
  • admin: Not sure…
  • John Mason: So what happens next please?
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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.

The Roads That Need Repairing

The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

Essex Political Blogs


Lib Dem Websites

Local Council Websites

Local Info

Non-Political Stuff

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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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