Finally Fixed…

About 17 months ago we spotted a cracked cover in the pavement in Downhall Park Way (opposite Canterbury Close). It was quite a serious trip hazard – we reported it to County Highways and they acknowledged receipt on May 4th 2015. (and we chased it later).

County Highways have finally carried out the repair! This is an example of how long it takes to get non-urgent (but necessary) work done….

civic suite

Big Budget Meeting Next Week.

The District Council has a big budget next Tuesday 9th February, at 7:30. We received the agenda today, so there’s a lot of reading to do, and we will write in more detail later. But two things immediately stand out in the proposals from the Conservative administration:

  • District Council Tax is proposed to rise by 1.93%
  • It is proposed that some car park charges will rise. For example the 1/2 hour charge in the main shopping car parks will rise from 50p to 60p, and the 1 hour charge from £1.00 to £1.20. Saturday afternoons will stay free. However charges will continue in weekday evenings until 9 pm (instead of 7 pm at present). This could have an impact on restaurants and take-aways…
  • As we said above, we will write more late. George Osbourne is giving councils a very hard time at the moment…


    A Thought-Provoking Point Of View On Pedestrian Crossings

    The video below explains why pedestrian crossings may not always make you safer. The question is, though, is US data valid for our country? And how would you help blind or partially sighted people without crossings?


    Hat-tip: Mark Pack


    Watch The Gritters Online

    Look at this interactive County Council map here.

    Salting routes

    The salting routes are shown as a red line on the map and you can see our fleet of vehicles in their current location, as they travel around the county. We have a total of 59 routes this year. 62 machines with ploughs plus two mini gritters service these routes. All routes on the salting network are treatable in a maximum of 3 hours.

    The salting routes consists of:

    ’A’ roads that Essex Highways are responsible for. This excludes the A12, the A120 and the A130 which are administered by other organisations
    ‘B’ roads
    The access route to the main settlement of a Parish of 50 or more households not already on the precautionary salting route
    Roads served by at least 4 public bus services per day for 5 days per week or more
    Roads that link sites of national importance (e.g. airports, ports, fuel refineries etc.) to the main salting network
    We also include roads which allow ambulance and fire stations access to the main salting network

    Market Car Park 2 78009. crop

    Cllr Steptoe’s Decisions On Council Car Parks

    Mike Steptoe is the affable Tory councillor for Barling and Sutton, and is the cabinet member for “Enterprise”. Which means he’s the person who makes decisions about whether to have free car parking in council car parks at Xmas, and whether to charge the NHS for using car parking spaces for breast screening or other health checks.

    He’s just made the following decisions – you can download the document here.

    First of all, there’s going to be the usual free parking in council car parks on Saturdays mornings in December before Christmas – the 5th, 12th and 19th. However Cllr Steptoe turned down the idea of boosting trade for the sales period by having an extra free Saturday morning after Christmas.

    Secondly, there is the controversial question of whether to charge the NHS for having a breast cancer screening service in one of our car parks. The council currently charges the NHS at a reduced rate – £1066 for a four month period. The new policy is to give a fixed 75% reduction for any organisation serving the public. On this basis the NHS would pay £909 for four months.

    The amounts of money are not huge, and some people will say this is a reasonable compromise. Others will say that the breast screening service is coming to benefit our residents and shouldnt be charged at all. As a comparison, if you were an employer and a cancer screening service were offering to come to your premises free of charge and screen your employees, would you charge them for taking up space in your company car park?


    Yellow Dot, Orange Dot

    We were asked by a resident recently to get a badly blocked drain sorted out in Hullbridge Road , Rayleigh. We were then asked why there was a yellow dot and an orange dot painted next to it – and a yellow dot on the other side of the road.

    It was a good question, and we now have an answer , thanks to County Councillor Michael Hoy:

    … a yellow dot next to a gully or catch pit means that the asset has been cleaned this financial year, between April 2015 and March 2016, and is observed to be working as it should. An orange dot means attempted to clean but remains not working. This could be due to a blocked connection or a blocked ditch etc, which will require further investigation.”

    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!


    A Bold Step- Tilbury Teachers And Parents Could Act As Traffic Wardens Outside Schools

    From the BBC website:

    Teachers and parents are being asked to act as traffic wardens with powers to issue parking tickets outside Essex schools.

    A Thurrock Council pilot scheme, first reported by Your Thurrock, will begin on Monday at a Tilbury primary school.

    The council said it does not have enough traffic wardens to police illegal parking outside schools.

    A teaching union spokesman feared it could create conflict between staff and some parents.

    The pilot scheme will take place at Tilbury Pioneer Academy following a week of training for a parent volunteer.
    ‘Frighteningly dangerous’

    Jerry Glazier, national executive member of the National Union of Teachers in Essex, said: “It’s unusual and innovative as parking is a perennial problem which needs tackling, but educating parents would be the best way forward.

    “Teachers are there to teach and maintain positive relations with parents and I’m pretty certain most teachers would not want to put themselves into situations of potential conflict.

    “Maybe some parents would volunteer, but it’s masking the bigger problem of cuts to local authorities.”

    Thurrock said it had 50 schools, but only six full-time traffic wardens.

    John Kent, Labour leader of the council, said: “We have teachers, parents and residents telling us time and again about frighteningly dangerous parking outside schools, but we don’t have the money to have an army of traffic wardens.

    Illegal parking outside schools can be a big problem in our district as well. However having teachers issuing parking tickets could indeed cause a lot of conflict….

    Hullbridge Road / Rawreth Lane junction

    Mortimer Road To Be Closed Off???

    The big application for housing on the Hullbridge / Rawreth borders now has another aspect to consider. The applicants are quite rightly being expected to help fund improvements to the Hullbridge Road / Rawreth Lane junction – and have submitted the below road design. This isn’t definite yet – a planning application cannot determine what happens outside the boundaries of the land concerned. However this what the applicants are proposing.

    We are sure that a good roundabout is needed however there are two notable issues with this design:

    The first is that it permanently blocks off the junction of Mortimer Road with Hullbridge Road. This means that vehicles could only leave Mortimer Road via Kings Farm or Eastview Drive. The onlineFOCUS team will be talking to residents in Mortimer Road next week to see what they think about this. It would also force a few residents in Hullbridge Road to exit the long way around Mortimer Road

    The second point is that there is an extra exit included on the roundabout – straight into the fields of Lubards Farm. Presumably this is intended to provide access for future developments…!

    Your views on this would be welcome, especially if you live in Mortimer Road, Ferndale Road, King Farm, Saxon Close, Norman Crescent, Eastview Drive, Fairland Close or Hullbridge Road.

    roundabout plan


    A Golden Goodbye….

    From the Echo:

    The man who oversaw the controversial street light switch off in Essex was given a £116,000 golden goodbye, the Echo can reveal.

    That works out to be almost as much as was saved in turning off the lights in Castle Point and Rochford for a year.

    Robert Overall, who was the executive director for highways at Essex County Council between 2008 and 2014, left the Tory administration last June just months after the lights went out in Basildon, Castle Point, and Rochford….

    UPDATE 31st July: The Guardian reports today:

    Public-sector redundancy payouts to be capped at £95,000 …. Treasury says end to NHS, civil service and local council ‘golden goodbyes’ will save taxpayer millions of pounds

    Teignmouth Troubles

    teignmouth 2We’ve have a a problem with the internet tonight at onlineFOCUS. But Ron would like to mention that, following a request from a resident, he’s trying to get the vegetation cut back near the junction of Down Hall Road and Teignmouth Drive.

    Also, following several requests from residents, for some time he’s been trying to get the yellow line in Teignmouth Drive extended a bit further from the junction. However neither The County Council nor the South Essex Parking Partnership seem willing to help.