onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for Council Budget

Setting The Council Tax

The District Council meets on Tuesday night, mainly to set the council tax for 2015-2016.

As you will see below, the District Council , the County Council and the Fire Service are all keeping things as they are, so the only changes will be with the police, and the various parish councils:

COUNCIL TAX 1COUNCIL TAX 1

COUNCIL TAX PARISH 2

Note that Rayleigh are making a small reduction…

Budget Meeting On Tuesday Night…

The District Council have their budget meeting at 7:30 on Tuesday night, it is open to the public (although there is no public speaking).
You can find the agenda here.

Items on the agenda :

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2015/16 – 2018/19 This includes setting the level of District Council tax for next year, and most council fees and charges.

New Council Ward Boundaries - report on the second stage consultation response to the Boundary Commission on new Council ward boundaries.

Allocation of Seats on Committees- report on the allocation of seats to Committees following Toby Mountain, Phil Capon and Tracy Capon joining the Rochford Residents Group.

Help From The Council- And Some More Money Is Still Available For Voluntary Organisations…..

From the Echo:

GRATEFUL volunteers say their free advice service has been saved from closure after it was handed vital funding by their council.Rochford and Rayleigh Citizens Advice Bureau was given £67,000 by Rochford District Council. The council is giving more than £100,000 to voluntary groups across south Essex.
—-
The CAB helps more than 3,000 people a year. Sue Murray, chief executive of Rochford and Rayleigh CAB, said: “This money will enable us to provide a service. Without that funding and the support of the council, and they really do support us, we wouldn’t be able to provide any advice.”
——
Rayleigh, Rochford and District Association for Voluntary Service has been awarded £15,000. June Lumley, its chairman, said: “This grant will allow us to continue to support the hundreds of local volunteers and organisations which make such a difference on a daily basis.”—–
——–
The funding will help support nine projects in the Rochford district, including buying equipment for disability sports sessions run from Stambridge Memorial Hall.
Rayleigh Age Concern will get some help towards buying a new boiler, while Fairview pre-school, in Rayleigh, will be given cash for a storage shed.
Local Scout and Cub groups will be able to improve their Scout Huts, refurbish toilets, buy a new trailer and waterproof their tents, and Rankins Cricket Club will be buying a new sightscreen.
——-
More than £7,000 was left unallocated and the council is inviting applications for the remaining funding.
Jo McPherson, Rochford District Council’s councillor responsible for the community, said: “These organisations truly make a difference to the lives of residents.”
If you are a voluntary organisation and would like to apply for funding, contact Andrew Lowing, on 01702 318061 …

Full Council Next Tuesday Night

The are two District Council meetings open to the public next week. Both start at 7:30 pm at the Civic Suite (opposite Rayleigh Church). Tuesday night has Full Council, Thursday night has Development Committee.

Some of the items at Full Council are:

2 formal questions from Chris Black to Cllr Ian Ward:

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Revised Budget Estimates for the current financial year:

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Adoption of the “Development Management Plan”:
This is basically a new version of the council’s “Bible” of planning policies. Not the zoning of land for development, but all the other policies. Things like the design of new developments, housing density, infilling of gardens, phone masts, what is allowed in the Green Belt, green tourism, playing pitches and other leisure and recreational uses…. You can download the 50 page document from this page.

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Adoption of the “London Southend Airport and Environs Joint Area Action Plan” :
This is another weighty document, which you also can download from this page.

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And finally, an important item about restructuring the staff organisation at the District Council:

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In Case Of Fire Or Flood…

The District Council Executive – the “Cabinet” meets next Wednesday. One of the items they are discussing is removing the council tax discounts that homeowners get for having unoccupied or uninhabitable properties.

At the moment you pay no council tax for the first month you have a property unoccupied and unfurnished. This free month is going to be abolished.

You also get a 50 percent discount for the first year you have a property that isnt occupied because it needs , or is undergoing, major repairs or structural works. This discount is also going to be abolished.

The reasons? Partly to get extra income – about £46000 per year for the district and more for the County. But also to discourage homes from being empty and help them be available for people to live in.

What we want to highlight here is that if your home is uninhabitable due to a crisis that wasn’t your fault – flooding being the most likely cause- you can apply to the council to be considered for a special exemption. This was agreed by the council earlier this year.

District Council’s Budget Survey

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The District Council are carrying out a online survey on what local people think should be priorities in the council budget.

You can complete it here

It will be interesting to see if anyone mentions the various themes that we have mentioned on onlineFOCUS recently – flooding, the council cabinet, air quality, planning enforcmnt, street lighting…..

Money , Money , Money

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You can download the District Council’s latest Financial Management Report here.

Here’s an extract:


3 OVERALL FINANCIAL POSITION
3.1 The results to the end of June 2014 indicate that for the General Fund, the year-end position is forecast to meet the original estimate of £10.39m.

3.2 The main factors that are reducing the overall net expenditure are:-
Land Charge income is forecast to be £20,000 above original budget.
Income from pre application planning advice is expected to exceed original budget by about £6,000

3.3 The main factors that are increasing the overall net expenditure are:-
Income from car park pay and display machines is forecast to be about £80,000 below original budget. The original budget included charging for Saturday afternoons, and for the tariff increase to be from April 2014.
Income generated from the newly installed Columbarium is forecast to be around £17,000 below original budget, due to lack of demand.

4 ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION
4.1 The Council’s Allocation Plan is subject to a judicial review. Proceedings are drawing to a conclusion. Costs will be incurred on legal fees and a decision that is unfavourable to the Council could incur additional costs depending on any requirements included in the Court’s decision. The estimated cost will be in the region of £40,000 – £75,000. This will be met from earmarked reserves.
4.2 Following the flooding that happened at the Council’s depot last year, costs for providing temporary accommodation for officers is estimated to be £54,000. This will be covered in the majority by insurance compensation of £49,000. The net cost of £5,000 has been incurred as temporary accommodation was provided longer than needed whilst options for renovating the depot offices are considered.

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.

Why The District Council Voted To Increase Council tax by 1.89 %

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It’s estimated that in 5 years time the District Council will get £687,000 a year less in government grant than we get now.

So its not surprising that District Councillors voted last night to increase the District Council part of the council tax by 1.89 %. That’s equivalent to 7 1/2 pence per week for a band D property. We don’t have a figure yet for the overall council tax – the biggest part is set by the County Council, but there’s also parish councils, the Fire Service and Essex Police.

In a recorded vote, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Rochford Residents Party voted in favour, and the Greens voted against. Green group leader Michael Hoy said this was because they couldn’t support earlier decisions made on the council budget.

Its worth writing here about the three main types of government grant and how they are changing.

The first is the traditional “Revenue Support Grant” from Central Government. Basically Whitehall has a complicated formula to work out how much grant each council gets. Very urban, with lots of inner-city problems? You get more grant. Very rural, so your dustcarts have to drive half a mile between each home? You get more grant. Have lots of commuters coming to work in your area and dropping litter in their lunch-hours You get more grant! Trouble is, Rochford District isn’t inner city and not rural enough either, and its residents commute to other places, so our grant has always been low. And now Revenue Support Grant is being greatly reduced. This year we get £2,282,000, but it’s estimated that in five years time we will get about 2 million pounds less.

On the plus side the government is letting councils keep some business rates. The calculations are very complicated, but it looks likely that this year we can keep £1,544,000 of business rates and that in five years time we will be allowed to keep about £600,000 more.

The third part of the picture is the “New Homes Bonus”.
Some people might think it is a positive incentive to provide new homes for people , others might think it is more like financial coercion, but anyway, the following explanation of the “New Homes Bonus” was included in a report to the council meeting on Jan 28th:

This Government incentive to encourage more homes was introduced in 2011/12. It is based on the increase in new houses and bringing empty homes back into use and the grant matches Council Tax for 6 years, with 80% being received by the district council, as the planning authority, and 20% going to the county. The growth in housing is measured from a statistical return which reports the Council Tax base as at September each year and the NHB is based on an average Council Tax rate.
There is also an additional reward of £350 for each new affordable home and Council provided Travellers’ pitch, which is measured in April each year, again split 80:20 to districts and county.

On the predicted housing figures for the years ahead, it’s estimated that we will get £440,000 this year from the New Homes Bonus and about £800,000 more in five years time. So like or hate it, the New Homes Bonus is going to be important for council finances. And in fact at last night’s meeting Tory leader Terry Cutmore said “:

“We will need to ensure that we achieve growth targets in new housing to make up for this loss”

However Chris Black replied on this point , saying that he would judge future planning applications on their planning merits, and that he hoped all councillors would continue to do so!

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.

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.

The key paragraph in the council constitution is this one:

16.1 Motion to Rescind a Previous Decision
A Motion or amendment to rescind a decision made at a meeting of Council within the past six months cannot be moved unless the Notice of Motion is signed by at least 8 Members.

Read It And Weep…. Car Parking Increases Go Through , But Only 14 Councillors Vote For It

Market Car Park 2 78009. crop

The increase in car park charges went through tonight. And the free parking on Saturday afternoons was ended as well. But the vote was closer than expected – you could weep with frustration. 14 voted for, 11 abstained, 7 voted against.

14 Councillors voted for (all Conservatives) :
Butcher (Hawkwell), Cottis (Rochford) Cutmore (Ashingdon and Canewdon) Glynn (Hawkwell) Gordon (Rochford) Grey (Rayleigh) Lucas-Gill,(Rochford) , McPherson (Hawkwell), Merrick (Rayleigh), Mockford (Rayleigh) , Seagers (Wakering) , Smith (Rayleigh) , Steptoe (Barling), Wilkins (Wakering)

11 Councillors abstained (10 Conservatives and 1 Lib Dem)
Aves (Rayleigh), Dray (Rayleigh), Griffin (Rayleigh), Hale (Hullbridge), Hazelwood (Hockley), Mrs Lumley (Rayleigh), Maddocks (Hockley), Mountain (Rayleigh) , Roe (Rayleigh), Sperring (Rayleigh) and Ward (Rayleigh)

7 voted against (3 Lib Dems, 2 Greens 2 Rochford Residents)
Black (Rayleigh and Rawreth), Mrs Hoy (Hullbridge), Mr Hoy (Hullbridge), Mr Lumley (Rayleigh), Mrs Mason (Hawkwell), Mr Mason (Hawkwell), Oatham (Rayleigh and Rawreth)

It was quite a sight to see 10 Tories defying their powerful party whip and abstaining. Pity that 8 of the abstainers didn’t actually vote against – then we w0uld have won.

Three things worth mentioning:
1) Cllr Dray abstained, though the minutes will probably show him voting for, that will be corrected later.
2) It was good to see some people watching in the public gallery.
3) By this evening, it was clear that the increases are no longer linked to flood prevention measures, it’s part of an attempt to increase council reserves from £750,000 to £2,690,000

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Latest Comments

  • admin: Jim @ 4 I’m not sure if its seen quite like that – it’s a professional challenge for an...
  • Jim Cripps: Thanks John @ 3, I did’nt mean vote at the Appeal – but the fact that we elect people to...
  • John Mason: I am still hoping that there will be people who will try to answer my questions @9
  • John Mason: Jim @ 1. There is no vote for Councillors in an Appeal. Only Ward Councillors will be permitted to speak...
  • Oz the Positive: Linda @ 10, like you I do not know the facts behind the tragic accident in the Hockley Rd but I do...
  • Linda Kendall: It seems we will have a way to be heard if the RDC decide not to challenge the appeal. Of course they...
  • Jim Cripps: Thanks for starting a thread on this – And the point you make about Councillors being actively...
  • Jim Cripps: And ,if I might say so ,an excellent body swerve by yourself Oz – and no I am not party to...
  • Linda Kendall: I reason the accident that cost the life of a young man on the Hockley Road might have been partly...
  • John Mason: Does anyone know please (genuine questions). Why were the street lights previously on all night? What was...
  • Oz the Positive: Jim@7, you have neatly avoided the question… .I personally do not believe that there has been...
  • Jim Cripps: OK facts then Oz the Poz , how many accidents would warrant putting them back on?.
  • corey vost: John Mason @ 3, there is no law in the United Kingdom that forces any authority to provide any form off...
  • admin: Jim I will start a new post this morning on the subject of the appeal, people can leave further comments...
  • Oz the Positive: Has the predicted chaos / crime wave / mayhem caused by the turn off actually happened ? Facts...
  • Jim Cripps: Me @ 15 – can anyone explain how it works , do we ( those directly impacted ) have any opportunity...
  • Jim Cripps: Think this comes under the heading of progress , a long time ago there was none, then oil lamps, then...
  • John Mason: Jim, it could just be that both the professional planners and political planners decide not to defend the...
  • John Mason: Apparently, from an Officer Report, Essex County Council has NO OBLIGATION to provide Street Lighting....
  • Jim Cripps: Current theory is the people we elect to represent us are not driving the agenda but being driven by the...
  • Jim Cripps: Brian @15 – 55 is Bullwood Hall ( Millionaires Row ) , did’nt know about the 200😤
  • Linda Kendall: Martin. It isn’t money that is the issue with the lights. What most people don’t know is...
  • Oz the Positive: If anyone is interested here is a little video from Mark Gino Francois’ s Facebook page...
  • Jim Cripps: So who do they appeal to (Secretary of State ? ) who appoints an Government Inspector to rule on it...
  • Brian Guyett: The Echo is reporting that ECC are refusing to support plans for 6,000 homes at Dunton until more...
  • Brian Guyett: Jim @13: Just to clarify your figure of 55 for Hockley. That relates to land off Folly Lane only. For...
  • John Mason: In the Echo today. But it is is Land North of the London Road NOT Hullbridge !! “DEVELOPE RS have...
  • A.Matthews: Just going out Dear to Tesco,s be back next year !
  • Jim Cripps: The new A130 section between the A13 > A12 was presumably a strategic link ( for example ) between the...
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500 HOUSES BETWEEN LONDON ROAD AND RAWRETH LANE

There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

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If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
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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To find the food hygiene rating for eating places and other businesses in our district , click here.

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