The Friends of Sweyne Park Open Space have a new Facebook page. Facebook users can find them by searching ‘Friends of Sweyne Park Open Space’.
They are looking to build up numbers so they can run some more fun activities for our community next year in the park, which is a great idea.
Find them on Facebook!
There’s going to be a meeting at 6:30 pm on Wednesday 17th July.
It follows a smaller scale meeting last month when some residents in the Priory Chase area met with representatives of the police , district council, Virgin Active and Essex Fire and Rescue. So we hope more residents will come this time.
It seems a very good opportunity to try to thrash out some of the problems, not only around Priory Chase and the open space near there, but the problems near Downhall Park Way and the playspace as well.
We have the OK from the police to publicise it – the only thing is, we don’t know the location yet. Probably at the café inside the leisure centre, but that’s not confirmed yet. It will be at St Nicholas School./
Some of the play equipment in Sweyne Park was set on fire last night.
This is really really depressing and we will write in more detail when we have some feedback from the District Council.
There’s been some understandable anger from residents about the state of the grass in the little park near Hartford Close, Rayleigh. This is the latest from FixMyStreet today:
FixMyStreet is still a good way to report things or to complain, and residents should be applauded for reporting stuff like this.
There have been two reports by the public on the FixMyStreet website today.
First of all, Sweyne Park:
Bridle path in Sweyne Park very muddy
Reported in the Parks/landscapes category by Stuart Tennison at 12:27 today
Sent to Rochford District Council 3 minutes later
It has come to my attention that the bridle path in Sweyne Park has started to fall into disrepair, which in the winter weather leads to deep puddles and large sections of mud. The bridle path is used by large numbers of school children walking to school, as well as commuters and leisure users.
Is it possible for some additional gravel to be laid to repair the worst affected areas? The section from Downhall Park Way to Sweyne school rear entrance is particularly bad.
Secondly, on London Hill:
Partial Street Lighting on London Hill, Rayleigh
Reported in the Street lighting category anonymously at 13:22 today
Sent to Essex County Council 3 minutes later
Noted that, in accordance with the partial street lighting project, that street lamp standard No. 8, on the ‘up’ side of London Hill, is switched off on different nights. It seems strange that this has been selected right on a bend whereas one would think that if any lamp had to be switched off it would be better on a straighjt portion of the road, further up, or lower down, the Hill?
First of all, we know that quite a few people are unhappy at the state of Sweyne Park recently. We’ve been told that there have been some cases of dogs being taken to their vet with rashes on their legs because of the long vegetation.
It’s been a difficult year for the District Council, with their contractor going bankrupt and the extremely wet early summer. But even so we are very unhappy ourselves that Sweyne Park hasn’t been maintained better. The latest response from the council is that if the weather shows no signs of improving the grass / vegetation will be flailed rather than cut for hay.
On a more positive note, the council is trying to sort out a new contact for ground maintenance next year, and Chris Black is one of the small team of councillors looking at this. One of the things he has been keen to see is to have a few more people employed directly by the council rather than by contractors. This would help the council retain some grassroots knowledge of each area, and also provide a bit of flexibility. As a separate point, bringing back some old-fashioned park wardens would be useful. It’s difficult to blog about this when meetings are still taking place but we can at least quote from the council document on bye-laws that we mentioned in our previous article:
These byelaws will be enforced by park wardens who are to be added to the establishment as part of the new grounds maintenance arrangements which should be in place from April next year.
The District Council seems set to start consulting a few local organisations on new bye-laws for our parks and open spaces. according to this report on the council website (130kb)
The Council’s byelaws for the District’s open spaces date back to 1976 for pleasure grounds and 1946 for Hockley Woods. A number of issues have arisen over the years which mean that the byelaws are no longer fit for purpose and require updating….
Firstly, the Council currently has no power to enforce against activities, such as metal detecting, paramotoring, model aircrafts and the use of fire lanterns, which have become more popular over the years.
Secondly, since the original byelaws were published the Council has acquired land to create new Public Open Space and these areas are not covered by the byelaws. These acquisitions include Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park and Sweyne Park….
In order to progress this matter, proposed byelaws were considered by the Member Advisory Group for Cherry Orchard Country Park. The most significant issue for the Country Park relates to control over fishing. It is relevant that there are no convenient car parking or toilet facilities near Cherry Orchard lake and that both nuisance and damage has resulted from fishing activities. It is, therefore, intended to consult on the basis of banning fishing in Cherry Orchard and all other open spaces apart from Rochford Reservoir and Ferndale Public Open Space.
The proposed byelaws are shown in the appendix.
It is proposed to undertake a 2 month period of consultation with the Parish and Town Councils, the Police, the Friends Groups and Fields in Trust, together with any local model aircraft and metal detector groups. Once the public consultation is completed we will make a formal application to the DCLG. A report will then be submitted to the Executive with recommendations that the matter should be determined by Full Council.
The report says ‘The proposed byelaws are shown in the appendix’, but the appendix doesn’t seen to be on the website , and we haven’t seen it yet either.
There were two big items at the Development Committee last Thursday.
The first was an application by David Wilson Homes for 176 homes at the “Christmas Tree Farm” site in Hawkwell.
Last year the District Council refused a similar scheme on the grounds of poor design. So David Wilson Homes had a two-pronged response : they would appeal to a government inspector, but also a prepare a new scheme in case they lost their appeal.
In the end the inspector gave them permission for their original scheme. But David Wilson Homes had spent time and money drawing up improved plans with better architecture, and also spent time with local opposition groups. They pledged that they if the District Council gave permission for the new scheme, they would build it instead of the original one.
So really the committee was very likely to approve the improved scheme , and it did. But there was one issue still needing discussion – the open space that would lie in the middle of the site between sections of houses. How would it be maintained?
The ward councillors Christine and John Mason wanted it in public ownership – for example, owned and managed by the District Council. So they asked that the planning approval to be amended slightly to allow the council the option to have the land.
This was totally in line with what the Tory Leader of the Council Terry Cutmore had said at last Full Council when asked a formal question by Chris Black. Cllr Cutmore said:
“he saw no reason for any new public open spaces created to remain with developers,”
However, on Thursday , Cllr Cutmore wasn’t in favour of the District Council even considering having this open space, and the Mason’s attempt was voted down! It makes you wonder if it is worth asking questions at full council, under the present administration. It also makes you wonder about other open spaces in the future….
PS if you want to read the full question and answers on this at Full Council, here they are:
Questions by Members
Pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 12.2, questions had been received from Cllr C I Black as follows:-
(a) Of the Leader of the Council:-
“Policy CLT5 of our Core Strategy begins:-
‘New public open space will be required to accompany additional residential development, having regard to local current and projected future need. Standard Charges may be applied to developments as necessary. In particular the Council will seek the incorporation of a significant amount of public open space to accompany new, and be integrated with existing, residential development in the west of Rayleigh…..’
The creation of Sweyne Park was one of the major successes of the District Council in the last 30 years, and the future of the park has been safeguarded by placing it in the ownership of the National Playing Field Association. (Now known as ‘Fields In Trust’)
Does the Council plan to protect new open spaces created under CLT5 in the same way as with Sweyne Park, and transfer the ownership of them as quickly as possible to Fields In Trust, whilst continuing to manage them ourselves?”
The Leader, Cllr T G Cutmore, responded as follows:-
“I agree with the general presumption outlined in the question and at this point in time cannot see any reason to change a policy which, as Cllr Black states, has been successfully applied over a number of years. However, there may be other opportunities available at the time to look at other organisational trust arrangements and /or work with the Parishes/Town Council/local residents on such arrangements which guarantee that public open spaces remain as such in perpetuity.”
By way of supplementary question Cllr C I Black asked if any discussion had taken place with Fields In Trust in relation to new spaces created under CLT5 to move them away from ownership by developers.
The Leader confirmed that he saw no reason for any new public open spaces created to remain with developers, as indicated in the response to the original question.
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