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Archive for Essex & East

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

Threat To Some School Crossing Patrols

lollipop

Have you heard about the Consultation on the County Council website about removing school crossing patrols where there is a pedestrian crossing, unless the school is willing to pay for it?!

You can find it here.


School Crossing Patrols Consultation

Essex County Council (ECC) is facing a £235m shortfall over the next three years as government funding continues to reduce and demand for services increases. All areas across the Council are therefore being reviewed to see where changes can be made and services could be delivered differently. ECC wants to give schools the opportunity to protect the School Crossing Patrols from the impact of budget reductions through the following proposal.
Essex County Council is looking for ways to work with schools to support parents’ responsibilities to ensure their children travel to and from school safely.

Proposal
We are proposing to rationalise School Crossing Patrol sites where there is a zebra or pelican crossing also in place in addition to a School Crossing Patrol Officer.
There are a number of schools in Essex which are served by a zebra or pelican crossing which operate safely without a School Crossing Patrol Officer.
Although we do not believe a School Crossing Patrol Officer is required at this location, we think that some schools may wish to retain this provision and are therefore offering schools the opportunity to fund the School Crossing Patrol. This would cost approximately £5,860 per year and we would put in place an annual Service Level Agreement. ECC would still employ them on schools’ behalf and retain employment liabilities.
If schools are interested in funding the service at their school they will be asked to sign up for a minimum of one year, starting from Summer 2014. ECC would continue to provide the current service of employing, training and managing the School Crossing Patrol officers and retain the employment liabilities. In addition ECC would also continue to employ the Mobile School Crossing Patrol officers to cover absences where possible.
It is proposed that if schools do not want to fund a School Crossing Patrol at these locations, the provision will be removed.
We are interested in hearing your views on the proposal and would welcome your feedback by 24 April 2014. No decision on the removal of School Crossing Patrols has yet been taken and decisions will only be taken after this consultation has concluded.
To take part please click here
——–
If you are unable to complete the online survey please telephone 033301 39836 where someone will complete the survey for you.
The information contained in this document can be translated and/or made available in alternative formats, on request.

The LED Alternative

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Southend and Glasgow are two of the councils investing in modern LED lighting – instead of turning lights off.

The Echo reports about Southend:

New street lights will improve safety and save money

NEW multi-million pound low energy street lights in Southend will improve safety as well save taxpayers cash, council bosses say.

Southend Council plans to spend £2.65million replacing all street lights in the borough with LED bulbs, which should save almost two-thirds on energy bills.

But the brighter white light the bulbs produce will also improve the quality of images produced by CCTV and make it easier for drivers to spot potential hazards on roads at night.

Tory council leader Nigel Holdcroft, who announced the planned spending as part of the coming year’s budget earlier this week, also rejected turning off street lights to save cash, as the county council is doing elsewhere in Essex….

 

Meanwhile the Guardian reports today about Glasgow:

Glasgow gets green loan to install low-energy street lights

Glasgow will be markedly less orange in the near future, and its council will be millions of pounds better off, under plans from the government’s green fund. Street lights will be replaced with low-energy LEDs so that the familiar sodium glow gives way to bright white light.

As well as saving money, it will be a boon to skywatchers in the surrounding countryside, as LED lights provide more illumination on the ground and less to the clouds. Close to 100% of the light goes downward, unlike conventional street lights which send a third of their glow into the night sky, causing light pollution.

The project is the result of a new finance deal from the government-backed green investment bank. Under the deal, councils will receive the cash needed for the replacements upfront, to be paid back over time as the savings materialise.

 

 

Recycling Consultation From The County Council

 

The latest consultation from Essex County Council is on recycling centres- you can find it here.

Review of Essex County Council’s Recycling Centre Service

Essex County Council currently spends about £7m per year providing 21 Recycling Centres across the county for residents to dispose of their waste. Although some of these sites are modern, purpose built facilities many of the sites are old and small, starting life at a time when landfill was the only way we managed waste. However, the way in which waste is handled and these sites operate has changed in recent years, with an increasing need to separate many different materials. With this in mind a number of sites that we currently run may no longer be able to efficiently meet the needs of a modern Recycling Centre.

In addition to this, there have been many improvements to and an increase in the way that recyclable material is collected at the kerbside from households, which in turn, has resulted in fewer residents needing to take their recyclable material to the Recycling Centres. Due to the pressure from central government to make savings and to streamline services, Essex County Council is required to review and reshape the way services are delivered. With unprecedented savings of £235m required over the next 3 years all our services need to be looked at in order to deliver these more effectively and efficiently. The authority is keen to ensure that it continues to provide the best recycling services for its residents within available resource; however maintaining existing levels of service may not be achievable. The purpose of this survey is to collect information from residents that use our Recycling Centres.

We will then use the feedback to help us develop a Recycling Centre service strategy, ensuring we target our resources on those services that users deem most important.

Secrets Of The Central Line

Lots of quirky facts about the Central Line, including a secure Bank of England building, pretty Gants Hill, Alfred Hitchcock, and an underground munitions factory…

Hat-tip: Liberal England

The Luckiest Driver In Essex?

Let’s return after our Christmas break with something positive from the BBC website:

M11 Christmas Eve crash driver has ‘incredible escape’

A driver had an “incredible escape” from serious injury after a car was “sliced” in two when it hit a sign on the M11, Essex Fire Service has said.

The vehicle left the road and collided with a large motorway sign at junction 9a near Great Chesterford at about 14:00 GMT on Tuesday.

No-one was trapped in the vehicle when fire crews from Cambridge, Newport and Saffron Walden arrived.

Firefighters gave first aid to two people at the scene.

Nigel Webb, Saffron Walden incident commander, said the impact had “effectively sliced the vehicle in half sending the front of the vehicle into the nearside bushes and the rear half onto the hard shoulder”.

He added that it was “simply an incredible escape for the driver”

 

You can see some pictures here.

The Tour de France Is Coming To Essex

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In case you aren’t already aware, the Tour De France is coming to Essex next year, on Monday 7th July. You can find out more on the County Council website here.

However the closest it will come to us is the north side of Chelmsford.

Still pretty close though…

What’s Going On 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.

Track The Gritting Lorries

We understand the Essex gritting lorries will be working countywide from 3 am tomorrow morning. You can track them here.

The National Coalition Doesn’t Extend To Council Chambers

Occasionally we find people who think that because Conservative and Lib Dem MPs are in a coalition in parliament, that must extend to council chambers as well.

That isn’t true.

The Conservatives have a huge majority in Rochford, and have certainly not offered the Lib Dem councillors here any kind of coalition – nor would we expect them to do so.

Relations between the two parties are generally very professional – we often disagree on issues but there are normally no bad feelings.

Meanwhile in Brentwood feelings between the two parties seem to be very bad and downright unpleasant- as Lib Dem Councillor Karen Chilvers explains here .

My “crime” was doing my job of scrutinising the council and my punishment was to be hounded out of the Scrutiny Chair position by a pack of baying Tory wolves all trumping up charges as to how I am incompetent because they didn’t like being brought to account as a failing administration by the vote I allowed…

…..There is no other organisation that would allow this to happen – can you imagine in the workplace 20 employees being allowed, in fact encouraged, to subject another employee to a barrage of abuse like this in the office….let alone on the internet for the whole world to watch?  ….. If you can stomach it, please do watch along

 

“Integrity Group” To Be Set Up For Essex Police

essex police logo

From the BBC website:

A group is to be created to monitor the ethics and integrity of police officers in Essex.
The Ethics and Integrity Committee is being set up by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Nick Alston.
Mr Alston said recent “high profile” cases elsewhere had called police conduct “into question”.
The Essex branch of the Police Federation said it was unaware of the new committee and questioned what it would do that existing systems did not.

The Commissioner himself blogs about it here:

We have all seen the prominent national press coverage of several high profile cases where, rightly or wrongly, police conduct has been called into question and put under the microscope.
I have been Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex for almost a year, and throughout this period have seen examples of outstanding conduct by police officers and staff across the county. But I also recognise that it only takes very few cases where police conduct is poor to seriously damage public confidence in policing. That’s why I place great importance on this matter….

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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.

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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.

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