polling station sign

Hello Woodham – And, Er , Purleigh.

The District Council Website has a page here on the current review of parliamentary constituencies. There is a public consultation running until December 5th.

You can find the detailed proposals for our local constituencies here.

The main proposed changes for South East Essex are:

  • The three Wickford wards move from “Rayleigh and Wickford” constituency to “Basildon and Billericay”.
  • Two council wards in Pitsea will move into Castle Point.
  • Two Castle Point wards  (St James and Victoria) will move into Southend West
  • One ward -Ashingdon and Canewdon – will move from the old Rayleigh and Wickford Ward into Rochford and Southend West.
  • “Rayleigh and Wickford” constituency is losing Wickford but will have Bicknacre, Rettendon Runwell, two of the Hanningfields plus South Woodham. So it will be renamed “Rayleigh and  Woodham Ferrers “.
  • According to the proposals, “Rayleigh and Woodham Ferrers” will also gain one ward from Maldon – namely Purleigh.  We have to say this is a bit of a surprise, Woodham Ferrers has been part of a Rayleigh constituency before but a bit of Maldon hasn’t been part of the same constituency as Rayleigh since 1832.
  • These boundary changes are happening because the government is deliberating reducing the numbers of MPs in the UK, which doesn’t sound particularly democratic.  It seems a bad omen that the last time that a MP represented both Rayleigh and a part of Maldon, in 1832, he was the ludicrously named William Pole-Tylney-Long Wellesley ( yes he had a quadruple- barrelled name) and is  described by Wikipedia as “an Anglo-Irish Nobleman with a notoriously dissipated lifestyle”. This fellow has a good claim to be the worst Tory MP of all time. (Just read the Wikipedia article)
  • We also wonder whether Purleigh has much in common with Rayleigh, apart from similar names.

If you aren’t happy with these proposals, have a look at the Boundary Commision Report, at the end they give enough information on the number of voters in each council ward for you to make your own proposals. but constituencies have to have between 71031 and 78507 electors – without Purleigh, Rayleigh and Woodham Ferrers will fall short.


lib dem rosette

Nice One, Nick

Lib Dem Colchester councillor Nick Barlow writes here about he wants to make Colchester Borough Council meetings better for the public. Colchester is currently run by a joint Lib Dem / Labour / Residents administration.

Colchester is already doing better than Rochford – for example, as Nick explains on his blog, at most meetings the public can already turn up and speak.

Perhaps we should ask Nick to come to Rochford and give us a training session….

fire service logo

Will The Fire Service Questionnaire Excite You?

The Essex Fire And Rescue Service are carrying out another consultation – you can find it here.

Don’t get too excited. All the options they’re proposing involve removing the second appliance at Rayleigh Weir. You are basically given a choice of :

fewer cuts
even more cuts
saying something else

You then get asked a load of questions about yourself.

fire service

“A Choice Of Limbs”

Southend Labour Councillor Julian Ware Lane has written on his blog about the latest Essex Fire And Rescue Service meeting. He’s not happy with the process, nor the apparent glee of the Tory Councillors in charge:

The consultation exercise is akin to offering a perfectly healthy patient a choice of limbs to be amputated. Whilst I am not blind to the state of the economy (and one wonders just how much mismanagement Osborne can get away with) I do not see my role as being compliant to job cuts, degraded services, and residents being made to endure greater risk.

The full article here.

fire service logo

Rayleigh Looks Set To Lose A Fire Engine.

At Rawreth Parish Council tonight, councillors expressed concern about news they had seen in the Echo about restructuring of the fire service – including the possible loss of one of the fire engines at Rayleigh Weir fire station.

You can see more on the Essex Fire and Rescue Service website here. In fact all three of the options include removing the second fire engine from Rayleigh Weir.

PParish Councillor Paul Beckers asked for this to be included as an agenda item for future meetings at Rawreth Parish. Actually this is clearly something that all councillors – parish, district and county – need to be thinking about. We will write more here on onlineFOCUS when we have studied the information.

seega map

A New Map For Development Watchers

The South East Essex Action Group Alliance have produced a new map – you can see the full-size version at http://seeaga.uk/map.html It shows proposed developments in this part of the county.

We are told that tthe new orange tabs are the potential developments from the new Basildon district plan released recently – on top of a map of “definite and potential developments based on local knowledge..”

The new city boundaries at Battlesbridge?

A New Blog About Essex – Essexology

It’s good to see a new blog about Essex – not a political blog, but one that seeks to challenge Essex stereotypes and remind people of our county’s natural beauty, industrial heritage and historic locations. It is called Essexology , is written by Julia Hammond and you can find it here.

Here’s a sample about Battlesbridge:

It takes its name from the Battaille family, with a mention in a 1351 document as the settlement of Bataillesbregge. This also indicates that there was a bridge as far back as the 14th century, though the present day iron structure is much later, dating from 1872. It was the second iron bridge to be constructed; the first was struck and irreparably damaged by a passing steam traction engine.

essex pict

A Few Words On Flooding….

Lib Dem County Councillor Stephen Robinson sent us a few snippets about a recent County Council meeting that are worth passing on:

The main item was discussing flooding – including plans to mitigate and explain to landowners their responsibilities to keep drains and ditches clear that are on, or next to, their land.

We also heard about a pilot in the Maldon District to (for the first time, would you believe) take action on breaches of Highway rules. If this team is deemed to be successful (April review) then it may be rolled out across Essex.

Departments surprisingly (?) operate in such isolation from one another that a formal Memo of Understanding was required between the Highways Enforcement Team and the Flood Management Team so that they could use each other’s legal powers to get things done!

essex pict

The Highways Secret

Last month we noticed the following story from Hertfordshire:


Herts County Council’s main Highways contractor, Ringway has been fined 671,546 over the last two full financial years for failing to do the work it was paid for.

In figures exposed by Liberal Democrat Leader and Highways Spokesperson, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, shows that Ringway was fined 421,321 in 2013/14 and another 250,225 in 2014/15.
These fines under the terms of the County Council contract relate to failure to deliver work on a regular basis, such as not responding to emergency road repairs, not gritting a route with the target timeframe or working without a road permit…

We wondered if Ringway Jacobs had suffered similar fines in Essex. So we asked a friendly county councillor to ask the question. He’s now been given an answer – but the information is confidential – so he can’t tell us!

essex police crop

Rayleigh Police Station To Lose Its Front Counter As Drastic Cuts Are Proposed

From the Echo today

Essex Police proposes to retain front counters, open to the public from 9am to 5pm, in:
Saffron Walden
Operational policing bases, without front counters, will be kept in:
Canvey Island

These cuts are supposed to be implemented from April 2016.

Also from the Echo:

ESSEX Police has revealed Pitsea and Billericay police stations will close with Canvey and Rayleigh stations shutting their front counters.

At a press conference held at 1pm, the force has outlined plans for swingeing cuts to stations, PCSOs and police staff.

In a statement, Essex Police said: “The financial challenges are clear and stark. Essex Police is anticipating cuts of around 63 million by 2019-20, on an annual budget of around 262 million. Around 83 per cent of the budget is spent on the salaries of police officers, PCSOs and police staff.

“With 1 million paying for 20 police constables for a year, these financial challenges inevitably mean that Essex Polices workforce will become significantly smaller over the next few years.”

There are currently 25 police stations with front counters in Essex. The plan is to reduce this number to 10 front counters by April 2016.

Essex Police proposes to keep front counters open to the public from 9am to 5pm in south Essex:

Grays, Basildon and Southend

First thoughts are:

– does it really save much money to close the front desk at Rayleigh Police Station?

– are the reducing numbers of police in Essex (now below 3000) even more of a concern than losing some police counters?

– would most residents support an increase in the council tax we pay for the police service? A band D property currently pays 147.15 per year.