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Archive for Local Democracy

Do You Want To Ask A Question?

question mark

The next full meeting of Rochford District Council is on July 29th at 7:30 p.m.

it’s worth reminding everyone that members of the public can ask questions. The questions have to be submitted in writing to the council by midday 7 days before the day of the meeting, though ypun should normally come along and read out your question in the flesh. You get an answer , and you are then allowed one follow-up question. Here are the rules in full:

10. QUESTIONS BY THE PUBLIC
10.1 General
Members of the public may ask questions of Members of the Executive, at ordinary meetings of the Council. The maximum time limit for asking each question is 3 minutes. The maximum time limit for a supplementary question is 1 minute.
10.2 Order of Questions
Questions will be asked in the order notice of them was received, except that the Chairman may group together similar questions.
10.3 Notice of Questions
A question may only be asked if notice has been given by delivering it in writing or by electronic mail to the Chief Executive no later than midday 7 days before the day of the meeting. Each question must give the name and address of the questioner and must name the Member of the Council to whom it is to be put.
10.4 Number of Questions
At any one meeting no person may submit more than 2 questions and no more than 2 such questions may be asked on behalf of one organisation.
10.5 Scope of Questions
The Chief Executive may reject a question if it:-
 is not about a matter for which the local authority has a responsibility or which affects the district;
 is defamatory, frivolous or offensive;
 is substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of the Council in the past six months; or
 requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.
10.6 Record of Questions
The Chief Executive will enter each question in a book open to public inspection and will immediately send a copy of the question to the Member to whom it is to be put. Rejected questions will include reasons for rejection.
Copies of all questions will be circulated to all Members and will be made available to the public attending the meeting.
10.7 Asking the Question at the Meeting
The Chairman will invite the questioner to put the question to the Member named in the notice. If a questioner who has submitted a written question is unable to be present, they may ask the Chairman to put the question on their behalf. The Chairman may ask the question on the questioner’s behalf, indicate that a written reply will be given or
decide, in the absence of the questioner, that the question will not be dealt with.
10.8 Supplemental Question
A questioner who has put a question in person may also put one supplementary question without notice to the Member who has replied to his or her original question.
A supplementary question must arise directly out of the original question or the reply. The Chairman may reject a supplementary question on any of the grounds in Rule 10.5 above.
10.9 Written Answers
Any question which cannot be dealt with during public question time, either because of lack of time or because of the non-attendance of the Member to whom it was to be put, will be dealt with by a written answer.
10.10 Reference of Question to the Executive or a Committee
Unless the Chairman decides otherwise, no discussion will take place on any question, but any Member may move that a matter raised by a question be referred to the Executive or the appropriate Committee or Sub-Committee. Once seconded, such a Motion will be voted on without discussion.

These rules are in part 4 of the Council Constitution, which you can download from the council website here.

Two Rawreth Meetings Tonight

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Rawreth Parish Council meets at 7pm in the village hall … followed by the Annual Parish meeting at 8 pm.

Uncontested Parish Elections!

There aren’t going to be any contested parish council elections for either Rawreth Parish or Rochford Parish this year – there were fewer candidates than spaces available. So there are two vacancies in Rawreth and five vacancies in Rochford.

Additional councillors will now have to be co-opted, this is quite common at the parish level .

Rayleigh Annual Town Meeting Tonight

rayleigh town council

7:30 tonight at Sweyne Park School

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.

Hopefully A Bit Easier Now

 

computer

Last week we asked onlineFOCUS readers how easy it was to find out from the District Council website about public speaking at meetings of Full Council.

Well , the District Council have today added some information in their “Council and Democracy” section. Hopefully this will help a bit. So a big thank-you to Corey Vost, Christine Paine and Mark Lydford for their assistance! Here’s the new wording (click to enlarge):

public speaking

 

 

 

 

 

“Getting stuff done as a ward councillor can be a marathon not a sprint. “

A Labour Councillor in Hackney. Luke Akehurst,  is stepping down after 12 years, and has written ten things he’s learned in his time in local government.

Putting party differences aside for the moment, there are some useful things for candidates from any party , especially the last five:

6) Getting stuff done as a ward councillor can be a marathon not a sprint. When I first stood in 2002 we pledged to rebuild two very rundown housing blocks, Bridge House and Marian Court. That project is happening, but it isn’t complete yet as I come off the Council now.

7) But never take no for an answer. I was told “the Council will never fit security doors on Trelawney Estate, there’s no budget for it” and “the Council will never agree to adopt Stevens Avenue (an un-adopted road hence no street lighting or road or pavement repairs), it sets too expensive a precedent”. Loud campaigning on both by the three ward councillors meant that miraculously the budgets were found to do both.

8) Life as a councillor is a lot easier when you have good colleagues in your ward. I’ve been very lucky to be in a mutually supportive team for 12 years with Guy Nicholson and Sally Mulready as ward councillors. I’ve seen councillors who fall out with a ward colleague or have to carry the workload for someone not pulling their weight made completely miserable by it.

9) Campaigning and casework aren’t separate activities. If you don’t canvass and deliver survey leaflets you won’t find out about most of the problems people in your ward want sorting out. Similarly when you do casework most of the people you do it for are far more likely to bother to vote for you.

10) Good officers are as important as good councillors to driving forward change. We were very lucky that at the point when we really needed to improve Hackney we were able to persuade key people like then Chief Exec Max Caller to take a huge risk with their careers and be part of Jules Pipe’s attempt at rescuing what was a badly failing council. Without dedicated and incredibly hard-working civil servants implementing the changes Labour wanted, we wouldn’t have been able to turn Hackney round.

Hat-Tip to Southend councillor Julian Ware-Lane for this.

Whipping Themselves Into Errors

ukip

 

There’s a slightly peculiar article in the latest Rayleigh Times this week,  from the UKIP candidate John Hayter. It’s called “THE SCOURGE OF THE PARTY WHIP  – ITS IN THE PARTY’S INTEREST NOT THE ELECTORATE”. As you can guess, he’s not keen on the party whip system.

The article begins:

The local elections are fast approaching with 11 wards to be contested in Rochford District. There will be several key issues . There is the matter of the party whip employed by the three main parties – the Lib Dems,  Labour and the Conservatives…

… The Conservative councillors are told which way to vote, and do so for their party, and not for the electorate. The same applies to the other two main parties in councils…

And that’s just incorrect . Because the Lib Dems haven’t had a whip on the District Council for years  and there haven’t been any Labour councillors at all for years.  It shows a pretty shocking lack of knowledge about the council.

And then the article goes on to describe things that UKIP are committed to doing in our district.  Which is weird. Because how can UKIP promise in advance how any UKIP councillors would vote – without having some kind of a whip themselves?

 

 

 

 

This Week in Rawreth…

 

240px-Rawreth_sign

Rawreth Parish Council meets this Wednesday at 7:30 in the Village Hall . You can find the agenda here.

A hot drink for the public (maybe even a biscuit). Public Question time, a bit of laughter and a chance to see how local democracy should be….

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).

Rawreth Parish Council Meets Next Wednesday

240px-Rawreth_sign

The next Meeting of the Rawreth Parish Council will take place on Wednesday 4th December 2013, at Rawreth Village Hall, Rawreth, at 7.30 pm.
The Christmas meeting is always a very friendly one, but one of the items on the agenda is:

217. VILLAGE REPORT- To receive details of concerns or items worthy of note around the Parish, including a recent increase in Burglaries in and around the Parish

Plus grant requests, the setting of the parish precept for 2014-2015 , and a chance to bend the ears of Parish , District and County Councillors…

Fancy Watching A Council Meeting?

If you’ve become interested recently in what the District Council is doing, but never been inside the council chamber, why not come along next Thursday 22nd to a meeting of the Development Committee? You won’t be able to speak, and you might find it boring – but on the other hand you might find it quite interesting .

You can find more information on the meeting here..

The meeting is dealing with planning applications :

13/00367/OUT – 177 Main Road, Hawkwell
To consider an outline application for the demolition of an existing dwelling and re-development of the site, including land to the rear of No. 173 and 175 for one no. four-bedroomed detached two storey dwelling with integral garage and four no. three-bedroomed bungalows with garages and new access. All matters reserved except access, layout and scale.

13/00370/FUL – Site of Former Shellfish Packing Station, South Fambridge
To consider an application for the change of use of the northern building to use for storage ancillary to car repair use, layout car parking, store excavator and storage container with hardstanding.


13/00332/FUL – 36 Main Road, Hockley

To consider an application change of use from A1 (shops) to A5 (hot food takeaway) including installation of extract system/ducting to rear elevation.

13/00344/FUL – 32 High Street, Great Wakering
To consider an application to remove condition no. 2 of planning permission 12/00095/cou (change of use from A1 to A3 (restaurants and cafés)) to allow the selling of hot food to be consumed off the premises.

13/00381/FUL – Land Between Main Road and Rectory Road and Clements Hall Way, Hawkwell
To consider an application to replace a single garage at plots 44 and 45 to layout as approved on 17 December 2012 under application 12/00381/FUL with pitched roofed double garage.

13/00376/FUL – Land Between Main Road and Rectory Road and Clements Hall Way, Hawkwell

To consider a revised application to construct a single storey part pitched roofed part flat roofed sales building and car parking area for period of 24 months.

Four things to bear in mind:

These are serious meetings, so people watching in the public gallery can observe, but not call out.
It’s a rather handsome council chamber.
Unlike just about every other council in the country, all 39 councillors are members of the committee and can speak, move motions and vote.
There is never any political whip, which means that votes can be very close and councillors from the same party may disagree with each other – but councillors from different parties often support each other. Everyone listens carefully to what everyone says – but especially what the ward councillors say.

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Latest Comments

  • Christine Paine: Last August, the incredibly wet winter, and Sunday afternoon. Three “once in a hundred...
  • Gordon Toal: Again our elected council are acting in an arrogant and foolhardy manner. The changes to the Development...
  • Jim Cripps: It is all very well but it’s all after the event stuff – what is needed is a recognition that...
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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.

Reporting A Problem

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.

The Roads That Need Repairing


The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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