onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for Essex & East

“Lib Dem councillor censured for revealing plans to increase council pay”

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It’s just happened in Cambridgeshire. As Mark Pack writes here

Maurice Leeke, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council, has been found guilty of breaking the council’s rules after he issued a press release about plans to increase pay for senior council staff.

From what Mark has written, Cllr Leeke issued a press release, based on the title of a document – ‘corporate leadership team pay review’, for which the title was in the public domain. Perhaps having a surname like “Leeke” is a bit of a disadvantage when trying to defend yourself from an accusation of well, leaking, but there’s a serious point that Maurice Leeke makes here:

I’m very disappointed with the decision, which shows an authority that’s keen to hide behind secrecy for matters which are inconvenient.

It’s quite inexcusable to think any authority should increase the salary of any of its staff behind closed doors without the public being aware of what is being discussed, and all along my concern has been about what I considered to be an unjustifiable pay decrease which would have been devastating for staff morale.

Essex’s Cabinet

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Councillor Michael Hoy writes here about changes in the County Council cabinet.

There are now ten cabinet members and eleven deputy cabinet members but the changes really throw up some important issues.

Council Leader David Finch has a deputy cabinet member to his position which is very strange as surely that role belongs to the Deputy Leader Kevin Bentley, who himself has two deputies of his own.

With 21 members of the Conservative party now either a Cabinet Member or a Deputy exactly half of their elected members are involved in Cabinet and receiving enhanced allowances paid on top of the standard allowance for Councillors (Full Member £34,378; Deputy Member £13,374).

Note that two of our local County Councillors – Malcolm Maddocks and Terry Cutmore – are now deputy Cabinet Members

Blame It On The Tunnel…

Apologies for no item tonight, blame it on the Dartford Tunnel…!

Liberal Democrats ‘Call-In’ Lord Hanningfield Decision

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Breaking news from the County Council – Liberal Democrats at County Hall have ‘called in’ the decision by Essex County Council Tories not to pursue Lord Hanningfield in the Civil Courts. Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr. Mike Mackrory said:

“I called in this decision because I believe we owe it to the council taxpayers of Essex to scrutinise this decision. There is an overwhelming public interest here for justice to be seen to be done; the £51,000 originally claimed back is a token amount out of the total £288,000 claimed by him whilst Leader of the Council. Why should he get away with this when people who are in arrears with their council tax or people who have committed fraud against the council are relentlessly pursued through the courts? Why is there one rule for Lord Hanningfield and another for ordinary people?”

Big Spending On Big Roads In South Essex (Though Not Much In Rochford)

From the Echo:


WORK is set to begin on three major transport schemes in South Essex after the Government agreed to plough in £155.8m of funding.
A four-and-a-half mile stretch of the A13 between Pitsea and the Orsett Cock, in Thurrock, is to be widened to six lanes while the A127 will get an overhaul at four-pinch points.
Southend’s Victoria Avenue will also get a facelift, while transport in the town will get a £7million boost.

The A13 needs to be widened to 6 lanes largely because of the the new London Gateway container port.

The only improvement in our district is actually on the very edge – a planned £15 million pound improvement to the Fairglen interchange, which will be welcomed by many commuters. Though what impact will this have on the proposed employment land and traveller site that RDC are planning there?

The Tour De France Essex !

A big day for Essex tomorrow, with the Tour De France passing through our county:

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The official Tour De France website is here. There is also information on the Essex County Council website.

The Guardian describes the stage as follows:

Relatively short and definitely flat, with not one rated climb en route through Essex, but scenic villages aplenty like Finchingfield and Radwinter before the lengthy run-in past the Olympic park and across the capital to the Mall, replicating the finish of the 2012 Games road race.

No Extra Police , But More Local Policing

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From the Essex police website, the Chief Constable writes about a big decision – to switch from centralised policing to more local policing:

Having discussed this with Nick Alston, the Police and Crime Commissioner, I now want to share my plans with you.
To invest 500 officers in local policing I will align about 400 centrally controlled response officers to the local policing teams and make carefully considered reductions to our firearms, roads policing and public order capabilities.

 

Full article here.

No Changes In Knife Crime In Rochford – Still 30 Cases A Year

The Essex Police Commissioner website has the latest  figures knife crime in Essex :

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So it’s down slightly in a few districts, level in Rochford and with a 31% increase in Southend.

The police commissioner Nick Alston, writes:

Knife crime is down in some of our districts, and the bulk of the increase is concentrated in the areas of Basildon, Southend and Tendring.  It is likely that part of this specific increase is due to the changing demographics of some of our communities, increased reporting of domestic abuse incidents, and police activity around organised criminal groups.  I am working closely with the Chief Constable to ensure we fully understand the nature of these crime patterns…..

….. Around a quarter of the offences, 395 offences or 26 per cent, were for possession of a knife or bladed item.  I will continue to support proactive policing to take weapons off our streets, and bring those carrying weapons to justice.  As PCC, I will also continue to support the ethical and proportionate use of Stop and Search tactics to target those carrying weapons or dealing in drugs.  I believe the vast majority of the people of Essex are in agreement with such an approach.

I believe in firm but fair policing.  I also believe that our judiciary should continue to have the ability to judge individual cases on their merits.

 

Bob Russell Writes To David Cameron On Crossing Patrols

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Bob Russell, the Lib Dem MP  for Colchester has just written to the Prime Ministers Office as follows:
Dear Prime Minister,
I regret that I was not called during Questions to you today, probably because I am told that Mr Speaker is aware that I have put more Questions to you over the past year than all but three other MPs.
Therefore I am sending you the Question which I would have put to you had I been called. It reads as follows:
“Yesterday, Tory-controlled Essex County Council decided not to save the jobs of 55 school crossing wardens.
“However, in an echo of the Hanningfield years, they agreed to pay £13,000 each to two deputies to Cabinet members.
“What does the Prime Minister think is more important – children’s safety, or giving higher allowances to Tory Councillors?”
I would be interested to hear what you think of Conservative priorities at Essex County Council.
Best wishes.
Yours sincerely,
Sir Bob Russell,
MP for Colchester

 

44 Air Pollution Deaths In Our District Each Year – That’s The Estimate.

The Echo has reported today:

AIR pollution kills 375 people a year in south Essex with many more having years shaved of their lives, health experts estimate Councils are considering lowering speed limits and urging people to reduce car use as new figures from Public Health England laid bare the impact of car emissions and industry on people’s lives…..

Their complete article is here, but although it quotes estimated figures of 115 deathes per year in Southend from air pollution, it doesn’t quote a figure for our district. So we’ve hunted around on the web and found the information from Public Health England here They estimate that 5.7 % of deaths in our district of people over the age of 25 were attributed to air pollution – 44 per year.
 

air pollution

Primary School Places: How To Challenge A Decision

From the Guardian today:

The parents of thousands of children will learn on Wednesday that they have not been allocated their first choice of primary school. If you are one of them, it is possible to challenge the decision. Here is what you can do:

• Make sure you respond to any request to include your son or daughter on the waiting list in case any places become available.

• Decide if you have grounds for an appeal. Primary schools are limited to a maximum of 30 students per class for five- to seven-year-olds, and any application for such schools will be turned down if a school has already reached that limit.

Also consider that the independent appeal panel will not take into consideration any fresh information that you may submit if it was not available to the admission authority when it reached its original decision. Parents need to demonstrate why their child needs to go to the school to which they are appealing.

Full article with more information and links here.

Meanwhile the Essex County Council page on appeals is here.

It shows the following timetable:

Appeals timetable for children starting infant/junior/primary school from September 2014 onwards
16 April 2014 Essex Offer Day – parents informed of outcome of application
16 May 2014 Deadline by when appeals should have been lodged
2 June 2014 to 22 July 2014 Appeals heard for those lodged by deadline and where possible for late appeals
September 2014 onwards Appeals heard for any appeals not heard before 22 July

The above appeals timetable information applies in relation to community and voluntary controlled schools. Foundation, voluntary aided schools and academies may have different timescales for appeals – please check with the individual school.

Essex Consults On How Good Is Your Local Chemist

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Essex County Council is holding a public consultation on local pharmaceutical services. The consultation will run until 30th April.
Members of the public are asked to complete a short questionnaire on the services provided by pharmacies, dispensing doctors and internet pharmacies in the Essex area. The results of the survey will help the County Council and the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board to understand how local people use the services, how they rate their experiences and what services they would like to see in the future.
The questionnaire is completely confidential and does not require any personal identifying information.

The results of the survey will be used to help produce a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment for Essex determining what, if any, services will be required to meet local needs. The report will be available to the public from early 2015.

Councillor Ann Naylor, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health & Wellbeing, said: “We would really encourage members of the public to tell us about their experiences of services from chemist’s shop. It will only take a few minutes to complete, so please take advantage of this opportunity to help shape the services of the future.”

The survey is live at http://www.essexinsight.org.uk/ViewPage1.aspx?C=Resource&ResourceID=919

For more information or to request a paper copy/alternative format call 01245 430 430 or email contact@essex.gov.uk

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  • Christine Paine: I completely agree with funding education, basically for the reasons stated. However, I cannot agree...
  • admin: Oz at 4 . Let’s go back a step – Why should you fund education for other peoples children? Because...
  • admin: Oz at 3 – the thing about a paper based system is that it is quite hard to rig the results. Not...
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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.

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If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
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