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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.

Rochford District Matters Is Coming Out This Week….

Rochford District Matters (the council newspaper) is being delivered this week.

The council’s senior communications officer would like to know of any residents who don’t receive a copy. So if you don’t receive one by the end of tomorrow (Friday 28th) , please feel free to leave a comment below, with your postcode

Thanks.

Sorting Out Sweyne Park

Ditch in Sweyne Park., after nearby residents had unlocked most of the grille

Ditch in Sweyne Park., after nearby residents had unlocked most of the grille

Credit where it’s due – Its good to see that the District Council de-silting the ditches in Sweyne Park, and carrying out other work to reduce the risk of flooding.
See more on the council website here.
 

Hopefully this will prevent incidents like the one pictured above.

Plenty more work around the district still to do though.

Sorry…

… suffered a cyberattack a couple of days ago, but we’re back now (hopefully)

Rawreth Flood Issues

 

240px-Rawreth_sign

The main theme at tonight’s Rawreth Parish Council Meeting was probably flooding.

There had been flooding in Church Road since the last meeting – Hayley the parish clerk had been out in her specially purchased parish waders to deliver sandbags . The sandbags had been provided by Rochford District Council, though it was disappointing that nobody from RDC had come to see the flooding, despite a urgent request to do so.

“Idiot” motorists who had tried to drive through the floodwater came in for some criticism , especially those who caused  additional flooding by the wake of their vehicles.

Rawreth Flood Action Group have asked if the parish council can give them a grant, and this will be discussed at the next meeting  in December.

 

 

What James Did Next

Southend Labour Councillor Julian Ware Lane writes here about former Tory Councillor James Cottis, who after losing in last May’s elections is bouncing back. He is apparently is planning to stand for election in Southend, and has an intriguing photo with Nigel Farage on his Facebook page…

Poor Air Quality In Parts Of Rayleigh Town Centre

Rayleigh  High Street From the Tower

Not good news.

Levels of  Nitrogen Dioxide are still above national agreed levels  in parts of Rayleigh Town Centre. (Nitrogen Dioxide is a pollutant that comes from, amongst other things,   vehicle exhausts. ) The District Council is now planning to set up an “Area Quality Management Area” and is consulting  the public on how big an area it should cover.

Find out more on the District Council Website here.

Gum Campaign

gum

The  District Council launches a campaign today  to reduce gum in our streets….

 

Find out more here.

Focussing On A Focus

Apologies, there’s no real update tonight on onlineFOCUS … concentrating on a paper Focus leaflet which will be ready for delivery by the weekend, to go out in Downhall and Rawreth Ward. A big one too, double the normal size…

The Best Places To Live..?

Click on the image to enlarge it...

Click on the image to enlarge it…

The Telegraph has an interactive map today showing the “best” places to live in England and Wales:

The Telegraph has constructed an index of the best places to live in England and Wales using official data on average weekly incomes, crime rates, health, home ownership, and economic activity.

Each variable was given an equal weight to produce a ranking of all 7,137 areas, each with a minimum of 2,000 households and a maximum of 6,000, in England and Wales.

You can look at the complete map here. Each district is broken down into several areas. West Rayleigh and Rawreth comes out of it pretty well, 439th out of 7137, the strongest points being “economic activity” and “health”

Whereas the Canewdon and Stambridge area came quite far down the list in 4967th place.

An Important Meeting On Tuesday

Next Tuesday’s Full Council meeting is going to be busy – and with a lot to discuss. We’ll be previewing it tomorrow…

Have You Heard Of TTIP?

Eggs

TIPP is the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” which is a new treaty being negotiated between the European Union and the US.

As onlinefocus reader Jason Richer has mentioned in comments, its not getting much coverage in the media.

For example, if you search the Daily Mail website , it has been mentioned exactly once (compared with over 1500 stories that mention Rihanna) And here’s their complete coverage:

 

BRUSSELS (AP) — President Barack Obama says some countries have legitimate questions about whether budding free trade deals will benefit them in the long-term.
But Obama is cautioning skeptics to wait to see what’s negotiated before jumping to conclusions.
Obama is speaking at a news conference with European Union leaders in Brussels. The United States and the EU are working on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which seeks to remove trade barriers between the 28-nation bloc..
Obama says some suspicions about the so-called TTIP have been unjustified. He says he’s fought his entire political career for consumer and environmental protections. He says he doesn’t intend to sign legislation that would weaken those protections.

 

And the good old Daily Express, which normally gets into a lather about any threat to UK sovereignty, has never mentioned it at all:

sunday express

If you hunt around on the web , you can find some stuff on this. John Hilary , Executive Director of War on Want writes: writes:

…..The aim is to rush through the talks as swiftly as possible with no details entering the public domain, in the hope that they can be concluded before the peoples of Europe and the USA find out the true scale of the TTIP threat.
——-
The main goal of TTIP is, by their own admission, to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions on GMOs), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The stakes, in other words, could not be higher.
———
In addition to this deregulation agenda, TTIP also seeks to create new markets by opening up public services and government procurement contracts to competition from transnational corporations… Most worrying of all, TTIP seeks to grant foreign investors a new right to sue sovereign governments in front of ad hoc arbitration tribunals for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions…

So some people on the left see this treaty as a way of driving a coach-and-horses through public safety regulations in Europe. And there is no doubt for example, that there are big differences in regulations on each side of the Atlantic. For example American eggs are currently illegal in a European supermarket, and vice versa. This article from Forbes magazine explains why:

 

Believe it or not, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) graded eggs would be illegal if sold in the UK, or indeed anywhere in the European Union (EU). It’s all to do with the fact that commercial American eggs are federally required to be washed and sanitized before they reach the consumer. EU egg marketing laws, on the other hand, state that Class A eggs – those found on supermarkets shelves, must not be washed, or cleaned in any way.
—–
“In Europe, the understanding is that this mandate actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmers’ best interests then to produce to cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty, ” explained Mark Williams, Chief Executive, British Egg Industry Council in a phone interview.
—–
According to the USDA, despite how conscientious and thorough modern day farm-management practices might be, there will still be a small percentage of “dirty eggs” produced. Dirt almost always equates to chicken manure and, if the eggs are produced in a free-range system, other raw agricultural commodities that hens might pick up from roaming freely.

 

These differences may seem fairly harmless. But people may be much more concerned about meat – the US uses growth hormones and antibiotics in its livestock much more than the EU. And how would it affect laws about cigarettes?

What would the be impact be on our local area? Hard to say. Maybe American companies tendering for council contracts? Small businesses in our area finding it easy to export to the US ? Though maybe the deal won’t happen, as the Telegraph has reported here:

“In so far as a public TTIP debate exists, EU member states are losing it,” the report said. “There is…a risk that transatlantic trade is perceived as ‘sending stuff across the ocean’, and therefore not relevant to an ordinary household or small business.”

Sources close to the negotiations say the odds are still in favour of a TTIP deal getting done, but that there is only a one-in-three chance of that deal being as effective as once hoped.

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500 HOUSES BETWEEN LONDON ROAD AND RAWRETH LANE

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.

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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.

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