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Archive for Highways & Parking

A U-Turn In the Car Park?

Market Car Park 2 78009. crop

There’s a growing feeling that the district council is going to do a U-turn and keep free car parking on Saturday afternoons. Either the leadership will gracefully back down on this, or there will be another vote.

As the Echo reports here

….the Tory-run council now says the charges have been put on hold until they can be debated further at a full council meeting in June – after May’s local elections.

the Echo adds:

a council statement said: “The charges are under review to consider the objections received and are set to be discussed at full council in June.”
Part of those objections will be a 500-strong petition collected by Chris Stanley, Liberal democrat candidate for the Grange ward.
Collected in Rayleigh High Street, Mr Stanley submitted the petition on the grounds of a possible increase in on-street parking and congestion.

stanley petition 2

Pushing For A Public Meeting On Infrastructure

no meetings

At tonight’s Full District Council meeting Chris Black pushed for the council to hold a public meeting about infrastructure in the West Rayleigh / Rawreth / Hullbridge area – to discuss drainage, sewerage, highways, education, health etc. He pointed out that the council has a page on its website to list public meetings but the page was blank. He stressed that many members of the public would welcome a meeting. Cllr John Mason backed the idea, saying it should actually deal with infrastructure for the whole district.

The initial response from Cllr Cutmore and Cllr Hudson was rather negative- Cllr Cutmore saying that the council held business breakfasts where these things could be discussed. But as discussions went we on began to make some progress, with Cllr Hudson saying he would welcome the reinstatement of the old area committees.

No vote was taken, but we made a bit of progress, and will keep pressing the issue.

BREAKING NEWS: Chris Stanley Organises Petition And Formal Objection To Ending Free Saturday Afternoon Parking

The District Council has had a public notice up about the car parking increases and the ending of free Saturday afternoon car parking in council car parks.. It said

 If you wish to object to this proposed Order you should state your reasons by email (Legal@Rochford.gov.uk) or in writing to Legal Services by 9th April 2014.

The only legal grounds people on which people could object was on the effect on the public highway – that is, a possible increase in on-street parking and congestion.

stanley petition 2

Chris Stanley has done just that. With the help of a friend he organised a non-party-political petition in Rayleigh High Street, obtained 500 names pretty easily, and submitted the petition to the council. It says:

We hereby object to item 5 of the above proposal: ‘to introduce parking charges in all car parks on Saturday afternoons, increasing the operational hours from 7 am to 1 pm
to 7am to 7pm’. We note that the purpose of local authority providing parking spaces both off street and on roads is to prevent congestion of traffic. However we consider that this change in the regulation is entirely motivated by financial gain and is a form of taxation of local residents . Furthermore we consider that the primary aim of the provision of car parks to prevent congestion will be frustrated by the change as additional on-street parking will occur in roads close to the town centre, many of which do not have a Saturday afternoon parking ban. For the above reasons we object and call upon the Council not to impose item 5 of their Notice of Proposals dated 19th March 2014.

Chris Stanley says:

“I was delighted at the response of shoppers in Rayleigh High Street. We got over 500 hundred signatures in a few hours. People were actually queuing to put their names to the petition! We are keeping the petition non-political because this price hike seems to offend everyone, we all want to see our town centre continue to prosper but realise that it cannot be taken for granted. I think people will reluctantly accept a parking increase but for the normal charge times, we are are strongly against the extra hours being charged. At present Saturday afternoon is a relaxed time when people can shop, dine or socialise without rushing back for parking tickets. Is the Council so mean spirited that they cannot understand why people value this small exemption? We took the petition to the Council and are now awaiting their response.”

chris stanley petition 3

Lost Trees

Just to say that we are aware that some  trees have been removed in the Hatfield Road / Purleigh Road area of Rayleigh. District Ward Councillors were not consulted or advised about this (it’s a County Council matter) and we are getting more information….

Council Has ” little understanding of retail dynamics ” – And That’s Official.

m&co

Once upon a time, the Conservatives were supposedly pro-business and pro-car.
And the Greens were supposedly charming but not very good with money and anti-car.

Well, in Rochford we have to do things differently.
So the leader of the Green party, Michael Hoy, is an accountant who suggested how the district council could save money,but was ignored. And he voted in favour of keeping free car parking on Saturday afternoons.
And of course it was the Conservative leadership that ended free parking on Saturday afternoons, making themselves look anti-business, anti-car and not very good with money.

The latest twist is that councillors have just had letters from Mr Iain McGeoch, OBE, chairman of M&Co , also known as Mackays Stores Ltd

Here’s part of the letter:

“Dear Councillor,

INTRODUCTION OF SATURDAY AFTERNOON PARKING CHARGES IN RAYLEIGH

I own and run M&Co and our store has been one of the larger retail stores in Rayleigh for many years.

Your decision to introduce parking charges on Saturday afternoon in Rayleigh will be detrimental to the long term prosperity of the town’s shopping , and shows little understanding of retail dynamics in 2014……..

…..Your plan to charge for parking after 1pm will definitely deter customers from returning to shop in Rayleigh later on Saturdays, resulting in a very significant reduction in spending in the town on Saturday afternoons. If customers have already paid for parking in another shopping location they will not want to spend more on new parking charges in Rayleigh. Customers react to changes like this and shopping patterns will change and would not easily revert if the charges were stopped sometime after they were introduced. If stores take less money, then as a consequence less staff will be employed. Over time you will see a decline in the peripheral shopping and more empty shops…..
I urge you very strongly not to damage Rayleigh’s Saturday afternoon shopping potential by this damaging action and properly support the rate paying stores in Rayleigh.

Yours Faithfully

Iain McGeoch OBE

Chairman M&Co”

 

There is still time for the Tory leadership to see sense and keep free Saturday afternoon parking. There may be problems with the council’s constitution in officially reversing this foolish decision, but there are ways around this. Just announce that as a special spring and summer promotion, free parking on Saturday afternoons will be granted for the next 26 weeks . (in the same way that we have free parking on Saturdays before Christmas). That would give us time to constitutionally reverse this.

By the way, you probably haven’t heard of Mr Iain McGeoch before. Which isn’t surprising – according to this article in Retail Week he keeps a very low profile. But he is a very successful businessman with a good understanding of High Streets. This emphasises just how bloomin’ awful the District Council has been to prompt a letter like this. Retail Week wrote:

The Scottish fashion tycoon typically keeps his profile lower than the Dead Sea. Although a regular at some industry functions, he is able to walk into a room, down the high street or into one of his shops without drawing the curious stares that would greet some of his more showy peers.

But McGeoch is one of the richest men in retail. Value fashion retailer M&Co, which is family owned and run by him, has made him a Sunday Times Rich List fixture. He and his brother Lennie – now no longer involved in M&Co – are valued at £107m.

McGeoch’s avoidance of publicity – there are no photographs of him available and he did not want to be interviewed – reflects a modest and understated style. While engaging and good company in private, he has not allowed himself to be built up as a personality in the industry.

He put plenty of elbow grease into building up M&Co, which was originally a pawnbroker founded in 1834. He jokes that at one time he knew every AA man between Birmingham and Glasgow, such was the time that he spent on the road scouting new locations. His travels took him in the main to market towns and secondary locations overlooked by, or not of interest to, bigger retailers such as the supermarkets that have since carved out positions in value fashion.

So thank you, Mr McGeoch, for taking the trouble to write a letter that confirms what Lib Dems, Greens, Rochford Residents and rebel Conservatives have thought – you can say it with more authority than we can.

What We Were Saying 4 Years Ago – Car Parking and Overdevelopment

We’ve just found a copy of an old leaflet put out by Lib Dem campaigner Chris Stanley 4 years ago. (In Trinity Ward)
Main issues : car parking and overdevelopment!
Ah well, at least it shows we’ve been consistent on these issues for a long time…! (click on the images to enlarge them)

csf1

csf2

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.

Free Saturday Afternoon Car Parking Is Lost

Market Car Park 2 78009. crop

The vote to keep free car parking on Saturday afternoons was lost tonight 19-14. :( The Echo has a good blow-by-blow account of tonight’s meeting here.

In favour of keeping free car parking on Saturday afternoons:

Pat Aves (Tory) Chris Black (Lib Dem) Robin Dray (Tory) John Griffin (Tory) Angela Hale (Tory) Diane Hoy (Green) Michael Hoy (Green) Chris Lumley (Lib Dem) Christine Mason (Rochford Resident Party) John Mason (Rochford Resident Party) Toby Mountain (Independent Conservative) Cheryl Roe (Tory) Dave Sperring (Tory) Ian Ward (Tory)

Against keeping free car parking on Saturday afternoons:

Lesley Butcher, Phil Capon, Mike Carter, James Cottis, Terry Cutmore, Heather Glynn, Trevor Goodwin, Keith Gordon, Jim Grey, Brian Hazlewood, Keith Hudson, Gillian Lucas-Gill, David Merrick, Joan Mockford, Colin Seagers, Simon Smith, Mike Steptoe, Carole Weston, Barbara Wilkins. (All Tories)

There were no abstentions, though some councillors were absent.

Here’s a few quotes from councillors during the debate:

Toby Mountain, moving the motion to keep free Saturday afternoon parking:
80% of the council are Conservatives – we should be make decisions in an open and transparent way, based on proper information…. we should review this rush decision”

Dave Sperring seconded the motion. He pointed out that the reason why Websters Way Car park was busy on a Saturday morning wasn’t because of shoppers, but because of football being played on King Georges Field.

Ian Ward had been doing some research with Rayleigh shopkeepers to see how much they depended on Saturday afternoons:
“We have failed to think long enough and hard enough about this”

Cheryl Roe:
“This is suicidal for all of our towns”

Chris Black:
“However hard our local businesses try, however innovative “Shop At Mt Local Is”, however good the Italian Food Market will be, it won’t counteract the loss of business from getting free of free SAturday afternoon parking”

John Mason pointed once again that the £65,000 extra income that is supposed to come from this is the amount of money that the County Council DOESN’T pay us for cutting grass verges – we should be looking to the County for money.

Michael Hoy pointed out once again that the £65,000 could be covered by getting rid of the £75,000 “Innovations Fund” which seemed to be a slush fund for emergencies. He said this was:
“Madness”

Chris Lumley spoke without notes but very effectively. He is the chair of the Review Committee, which met 5 times this year to examine car parking charges, looking back at data since 2008. Officers had advised that that the £65,000 for Saturday afternoons was only a guesstimate, as we had had free parking then for 10 years. But looking at car park income in recent years, allowing for inflation, increasing the charges didn’t really produce much more income, people just stayed a shorter time. He added that :
“This will have a devastating effect”

The only person to speak against free Saturday afternoon car parking was the Tory Leader Terry Cutmore. He said:
“We have a thriving night-life”

None of the other 18 councillors who voted for this were willing to speak. Not even Hockley Tory councillor Brian Hazlewood, who had originally signed the motion to bring this back to council, but later changed his mind and voted instead with Cllr Cutmore.

A Big Night Next Tuesday

Market Car Park 2 78009. crop
There are four big items on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Full Council meeting:

- a motion to keep free parking on Saturday afternoons. This looks like being a very tight vote.
whether or not to finally approve the Allocations Document, which has just been okayed by the government inspector
whether or not to approve the Hockley Area Action plan
setting up of a ‘flood forum’

It would nice to have some people in the public gallery! It’s harder to argue that free car parking or protecting the green belt is important, if absolutely nobody from the public bothers to turn up!

The meeting starts at 7:30 in the Civic Suite, opposite Holy Trinity Church. The public can come along to listen, but can’t speak. (Unless someone has submitted a public question).

Bollards !

bollards0

bollards1

>At long last, County Highways have this week approved having 3 bollards at the London Road / Vernon Road junction. The item was raised again at the last local highways panel by Cllr Toby Mountain, who explained to new members the importance of this,and he was backed up by Chris Black, who asked why bollards couldn’t be installed within a month.

However the installation of bollards needs to be designed by an engineer, they need to get quotes from three companies (rather than have standard prices for basic stuff like bollards) and then maybe wait until the chosen contractor is doing other work in the area.

So it’s very frustrating, but slow progress is being made.

Now There Really Is a Chance To Keep Free Saturday Afternoon Parking

Straight after last week’s council meeting we wrote:

Still A Chance ?

The vote tonight to increase car parking charges AND end free parking on Saturday afternoons was quite close.
It might just be possible to persuade some councillors to switch sides and replace what was passed tonight by a compromise motion, that still increased the charges but kept free Saturday afternoons.

 

So we said a compromise motion might work, and now 9 Tory councillors have followed our lead and signed a motion to bring this back to Full Council!, So there will be another vote on free Saturday afternoon car parking at next Full Council. If their motion is supported by the 7 opposition councillors who voted against last time, that makes a total of 16 out of 39. It could be a very close vote, and a very interesting night…

This is their motion (click on it to enlarge)

motion to rescind

When the same councillors abstained last week, the public reaction was pretty contemptuous. Bringing a motion to council is a very different matter, and should attract more respect. We’ve received a couple of comments tonight regarding the abstentions that we haven’t published yet, and we’ll hold them back in light of this different situation.

Things remain uncertain:
- will the bigwigs in the Tory party concede that they have got this wrong, and agree to this compromise? They’d be wise to do so.
- or will any of the 9 Tories be persuaded by their party whip to back off? They’d look really foolish, though.
- how will the voting go on the night? If the Tory leadership don’t concede, they might still have the numbers to win the vote.

Potholes + Darkness = Trouble

street-lights-1

 

Some commonsense from our Basildon colleagues, as reported in the Echo:

COUNCILLORS have hit out at “irresponsible” highway bosses for failing to repair a road and paths ahead of the big light switch off.

Geoff and Linda Williams, Lib Dem councillors for Nethermayne ward, want to see all highways defects sorted out before Basildon is plunged into darkness between midnight and 5am.

After months of talks, Essex County Council will turn off 70 per cent of the streetlights across the borough today.

The Echo revealed last week lights will remain on for the time being at Five Links, Felmores, Langdon Hills, Chalvedon, Pitsea’s 1,2,3 estate, and Craylands, following pleas from Basildon Council over crime.

Councillors had called for assurances roads and paths would be fixed to cut the risk of accidents for motorists and pedestrians.

 

Full report here.

 

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