These photos in the Guardian today are worth a look….
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.
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.
Southend Labour Councillor Julian Ware Lane criticises the head of the East of England Ambulance trust here, who apparently receives £232,000 plus expenses.
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.
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.
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
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?”
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?
A big day for Essex tomorrow, with the Tour De France passing through our county:
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.
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.
The Essex Police Commissioner website has the latest figures knife crime in Essex :
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.
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