onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for Essex & East

Action Groups Ally Together….

We’ve just been sent the following press release …. worth printing in full:

South East Essex Action Group Alliance Press Release Issue 1

Introduction

In towns and villages across the country residents are fighting to prevent unjustified housing developments, particularly those where Green Belt land will be lost for ever. Councils are wilfully

ignoring local concerns in spite of the Prime Minister’s drive for Localism. In the South East of Essex the situation is exacerbated by the limited supply of land suitable for development, the already-overstretched infrastructure and the existing high population density. A number of independent Action Groups have already been set up by concerned residents. Now these groups are collaborating, sharing information and experiences and preparing to fight together on their shared concerns.

The SE Essex Action Group Alliance, (AGA), has been initiated by action groups from Billericay, Rayleigh, Hullbridge, Daws Heath and Jotmans Farm (these fall within the Basildon, Rochford and Castle Point Local Authority areas). AGA will campaign on three main issues:-

 Unnecessarily high housing targets;

 failure to implement Localism;

 impact on the Green Belt and infrastructure.

Unnecessarily high housing targets

Councils across south Essex are making policy decisions that produce housing targets that are unnecessarily high. For example:-

 Basildon proposed a new homes target of 16,000 when natural growth would suggest just 8,900 homes are required;

 Rochford’s target of around 3000 new homes is twice the natural growth needed;

 Castle Point is proposing 4-5000 new homes when recent estimates show negative growth.

Other areas show similar disparities. There can be sound reasons for increasing housing targets beyond that required for ‘Natural Growth’, but the contrasts noted here are staggering.

Failure to Implement the Localism Act

In 2011 Central Government introduced the Localism Act with the stated aim of devolving detailed planning powers, including the setting of housing targets, to Local Authorities. Numerous Government Ministers have reiterated the intention of the Act to put Local Authorities and the communities that elect them in charge of planning in their areas. Unfortunately Local Authorities in South East Essex have universally failed to understand and implement the concept of Localism. They have allowed themselves, not necessarily unwillingly, to be held to ransom by developers and Central Government dictat, to the detriment of their residents and at the expense of their Green Belt.

Some residents groups have even resorted to taking expensive legal action against the Authorities who purport to represent them. The fact that residents of most towns and villages have to form an Action Group to give the public a voice speaks volumes about the way our Councils wilfully ignore the concept and implementation of real Localism.

Impact on Green Belt & Infrastructure

Local historic demographic data indicates a steady and relatively low rise in the number of new homes required for the existing local people which, in many areas, could be met by Brownfield sites
and infill building. This would leave the untouched Green Belt able to fulfil its purposes and give the inadequate infrastructure a chance to catch up. Government-prompted over-estimates of future housing quotas (driven by the myopic expansion of London), will destroy the existing Green Belt and overwhelm the under-funded existing infrastructure (roads /railways/ schools /hospitals etc ).

Our Conclusion

Untold and irreversible damage will be done to the towns and villages in Essex if National and Local Government continue to disregard the views of residents (the electors), by allowing unjustified
building and the destruction of the Green Belt. To stop this happening it is essential that local people make their views known through their local Action Groups who are working together to present a strong and united case to the decision makers.

The SE Essex Action Group Alliance invites other groups in the SE of Essex to unite with us to ensure the views of existing residents are no longer ignored by those who purport to represent them.

Contact info@billericayactiongroup.org.uk for more information.

Could Be A Dark and Stormy Night…

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From the County Council website:

Gale warnings issued for Essex

14 January 2015
The Met Office has issued severe gale warnings for Essex for today and tomorrow (Thursday 14 January).
Inland gusts may locally exceed 60mph close to the squally cold front, while gusts of 60 to 70mph seem likely at coastal sites in the south and west, as well as across hills. Gusts may exceed 75mph in the more exposed coastal locations.
For more information, visit the Met Office website.
For information about schools closures and travel advice, visit our winter service page.

Essex Police Federation Speak Out

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The Essex Police Federation (the trade union for Essex Police) is launching a campaign against cuts.

To quote them:

We have chosen to run this information and awareness campaign because we believe you the tax paying public have a right to know what the £72.5 million cuts to the policing budget mean to you.
How cuts will affect you. That crime is not falling; it is changing.
That Cuts have consequences.
Essex Police Federation represents the rank and file police officers in your county. We are police officers ourselves and like all officers in Essex we joined the police to serve and protect the public.
For the first three months of 2015 we will be giving you information that you are entitled to know. What you do with that information and knowledge is for you to decide.
Only those with knowledge and those making the decisions can stop the erosion of your police service…..

That line “…crime is not falling; it is changing” is interesting, hopefully they will enlarge on that.

County Council Rejects Lib Dem Proposal To Roll Out LED Lighting

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.

Read About Complaints Against Essex Police

Police Commissioner Nick Alston’s office has just published the latest quarterly report detailing Essex Police complaints and conduct matters.

You can download it here.

Here’s an extract (click on it to enlarge):

police2

Be Warned – Dartford Crossing Closed Overnight This Weekend, One Direction At A Time

From the Echo today:

THE DARTFORD Crossing will be closed overnight this weekend.

On Saturday night the northbound tunnels will be closed and on Sunday night the QEII bridge will be fully closed, with signed diversions in place via the Blackwall Tunnel.

Dart Charge project director Nigel Gray said: “This weekend will see the start of massive changes at the Dartford Crossing and by Monday morning we will have southbound traffic able to use the Crossing barrier-free.

“We will be closing the Crossing overnight, in one direction at a time, to minimise the disruption while we change the road layout. I advise drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys.”

Erwan Huerre of Connect Plus which is carrying out the work, said: “Road users will see the benefit on southbound journeys early on, however work on the northbound carriageway, approaching the Dartford Tunnels, will take longer to complete.

“In the short term, road users will still need to drive through the old payment plaza, which will remain temporarily to manage traffic flows and maintain safety in the tunnels.

“The main works are due to be completed by spring 2015, which is when the full benefits of Dart Charge will be felt.”

The Crossing will be closed, between junction 2 (for the A2) and junction 31 (for the A1306), to northbound traffic between 11.30pm on Saturday 29 and 6am in the morning of Sunday 30 November.

It will then be closed to southbound traffic between 11.30pm on Sunday 30 November and 5.30am in the morning of Monday 1 December.

A diversion route will be in place via the A2, A102 Blackwall Tunnel and A13.

The Blackwall tunnel has a height restriction of 4m northbound, 4.7m southbound and is classed as ‘ADR Category E’ for hazardous goods.

Any vehicles above these height restrictions or carrying dangerous goods will be diverted via the western section of the M25

The Owlets Of Essex

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These photos in the Guardian today are worth a look….

Michael Hoy Starts Campaign Against School Bus Ruling

essex consult

Councillor Michael Hoy writes here about a new County Council policy:

“With effect from September 2015 Essex County Council have changed the policy on Home to School Transport for new pupils meaning parents or carers will have to pay themselves if their children go to Sweyne-Park School even though they may live over 3 miles away and would currently be entitled to free transport.  Sweyne-Park is the Catchment School for Hullbridge and currently has 248 Hullbridge children over the years 7-11…

…..I have opposed and remain opposed to this policy and will be campaigning against it.  I will post on here proposals for how the campaign will be formulated later….

…..The Echo will be taking a photograph at 3.30pm on Monday by the bus stop in Ferry Lane by the Car Park. As many people as possible are needed to be in it.

Rayleigh Town Council Wins “Council Of the Year” For Essex !

trophy

Congratulations to Rayleigh Town Council for winning ‘Council of the Year’ by the Essex Association of Local Councils. This award was presented at the EALC’s Annual General Meeting last week when the Chairman Councillor Eddie Dray and Town Clerk Kerry Cumberland were presented with a certificate and silver platter. We understand that the Chairman of the EALC, Sheila Jackman MBE, remarked in her speech that the EALC includes all 274 Parish and Town Councils in Essex and Rayleigh Town Council won this award by a long way.

The Christmas Lights, and annual visits by schools councils (who are invited into the Council Chamber to ask the Chairman questions), were apparently two of the big points in Rayleigh’s favour.

xmas 1

Excessively Rewarded ?

Southend Labour Councillor Julian Ware Lane criticises the head of the East of England Ambulance trust here, who apparently receives £232,000 plus expenses.

Julian writes:

The story of the last few years has been of a growing pay divide with some Chief Executives like Dr. Marsh receiving salary bumps well in excess of those who work for them. Their pay rises are well in excess of inflation, whilst those that work for them are lucky to see a 1% rise.

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

lib-dem-libby small

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

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Latest Comments

  • Jim Cripps: I understand the caution but Councillors can listen to the electorate ( presumably they don’t just...
  • Jim Cripps: Okey Dokey – lets get back to MilliCamCleggy bashing 🙈🙉🙊…̷ 0;JIM.
  • The Mighty Oz: Jim, let’s call it a draw mate….
  • Jim Cripps: Oz @ 10 – that is’nt the issue , the issue is quart into a pint pot , if the pot contained a...
  • The Mighty Oz: Jim@ 6, not apathy, just realistic and for the record I don’t moan about traffic when I am...
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  • Jim Cripps: I think the voting is very predictable, sadly John Mason & his wife will be missing so the Lib Dems /...
  • bruce smart: when we requested a slip road to Hullbridge at Hambro Parade some years ago it was rejected on the...
  • Jim Cripps: Yep, that is the apathetic view that the ‘Establis hment’ rely on to push through what a...
  • The Mighty Oz: I repeat my previous post: As you know the Mighty Oz knows all, so here is my prediction….the new...
  • Linda Kendall: The list of items being offered by the developer on this 500 house development amounts to the sale...
  • Jim Cripps: Given the scale and fundamental nature of the “conditio ns” placed upon the approval it seems...
  • Deanne: I will be interested to see how condition 14, relating to health services, works out in practice, have to say...
  • Jim Cripps: I’m told this will be featured in the ECHO tonight , have a look ……. .
  • Jim Cripps: I have read it once through, so need more time to absorb the detail – but first impressions are...
  • A.Matthews: You are right Jim .No vision .Look at the newest developments along Rawreth Lane and London Road.They are...
  • Jim Cripps: No vision – the Westwards development of the land between London Rd and Rawreth Lane has been going...
  • admin: Linda, I’m afraid the council protocol is that only one member of the public can speak against, and one...
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  • The Mighty Oz: Thanks Chris
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  • The Mighty Oz: Just a thought, how would anybody know if a councillor HAD made up their mind before a meeting ???

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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.

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

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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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