Apologies for no item tonight, blame it on the Dartford Tunnel…!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Echo reports about Southend:
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 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.
We are Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in Rochford District.
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If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.
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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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