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…
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.
The Conservative leader of Southend Council, Nigel Holdcroft, writes here:
I attended the Local Government Association’s Annual Assembly and Conference in Manchester last week and Lord Heseltine was a lead speaker. His comments were generally well received and it was interesting that he stressed once again his belief that the future of focussed and cost effective local government should be based on a combination of directly elected mayors and unitary authorities. Whilst shying away from a forced implementation of this change Secretary of State Eric Pickles made clear to conference that he believed that it was inevitable that smaller districts would have to come to terms with shared officers or more if they wished to remain viable.
Perhaps this was food for thought for colleagues in Rochford as they seek to appoint a replacement for their retiring Chief Executive rather than opening a dialogue as to how the role of senior officers can and should be shared across south east Essex delivering significant savings without adverse effect to residents. I know my door remains open as I am sure are the doors of the leaders of Castle Point and Essex CC.
Merging with Southend or Castle Point isn’t an attractive option for Rochford – we currently have lots of green fields and no debts .
As for sharing officers – that can sometimes work, and we do it to some extent already. But would we end up just losing our own officers, and just helping to pay for Southend’s officers, still based in Southend and focussed on Southend?
From the Mayorwatch blog:
The right of social media users and bloggers in England to film and report meetings of their local councils is confirmed in a new guide published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Ministers have intervened after reports that some councils had blocked the filming and reporting of meetings, citing both health and safety and data protection laws.
Available online, the document makes clear that councillors and council officers can be filmed during meetings and that there is no prohibition on such activity under the Data Protection Act or health and safety legislation.
But unfortunately it’s not our council, it’s Cambridgeshire County Council:
A motion to Cambridgeshire County Council by Cllr Kilian Bourke yesterday, passed by all the minority parties acting together, marks the end of the Cabinet system that came into being under Labour’s Local Government Act 2000.
The Cabinet system has seen the Council Leader and a small group of executive councillors from the same political party group making all the big decisions about how the council spends taxpayers’ money.
In May 2014, this will cease and a committee system will take its place, with all councillors playing a role in council decision-making.
In yesterday’s debate, the Conservatives, who form the largest group on the council (32) but who lack the majority necessary to carry a vote, rejected the motion and proposed to keep the Cabinet system. The other parties (Lib Dems 14, UKIP 12, Labour 7, Independents 4) together carried the motion.
For legal reasons the change cannot happen until May 2014, so the Cabinet remains for one more year. The Conservative group won a three-way vote for the council leadership. The new Leader, Martin Curtis, appointed his Cabinet, all from the Conservative group.
The outcomes of Council votes are no longer predetermined. It should be an interesting year
Another new government announcement is that when a council operates a “Community Infrastructure Levy” on developers (which Rochford will introduce eventually) 15% of the money will be passed to the relevant Parish/Town Council where development is taking place with, apparently, no rules over how this cash can be spent…
Over the last four years Conservative run Essex County Council has been hit by a series of financial and other scandals
The former Leader, Lord Hanningfield, was forced to resign over his House of Lords expenses for which he was imprisoned
Lord Hanningfield’s ECC expenses were exposed which showed £287,000 had been spent over the five years 2005-10, the previous five years records having been destroyed
Further revelations showed his office staff claimed £70,000 over three years and ECC paid his £4,600 bar bill at the House of Lords
The Conservatives, with Labour support, refused a Liberal Democrat call for an Inquiry to establish who authorised those payments and why
The use of ‘P’ cards (payment cards) by officers was exposed which revealed £1.7m had been spent on luxury hotels, trips abroad and shopping sprees
Five cases of personal identity data were leaked or mislaid
The revelation that ECC had £14.5m of art treasures hidden away from public view
Developer contributions (Section 106 monies) were lost through inaction
The Liberal Democrats will make that change by:
Council meetings to be web cast
Allowing the public to speak and ask questions at Council meetings
No more decisions made behind closed doors
The last meeting of the All-Conservative Non-Rayleigh Council Cabinet supported the following proposals, they will now go to Full Council for a decision:
1.1 Recommended to Full Council that from the next municipal year:-
i) The membership of the Review Committee is expanded from eight Members to fifteen Members, with the Chairmanship continuing to rest with a Member of the main opposition party.
ii) The specific functions carried out by the Review Committee are expanded to make clearer reference to its role in both the budget monitoring process and the forward planning around the budget and medium term financial strategy, including in-depth review and analysis of not just policy issues, but also service specific areas of work. Also, to include specific reference to the scope for joint reviews with adjoining Councils.
iii) The Executive Portfolios and responsibilities be changed as follows:- Environment to become Environment, Leisure, Arts and Culture. Leisure, Tourism, Heritage, Arts, Culture and Business to become Economic Development, Regeneration, Business Liaison and Tourism. Planning and Transportation to become Planning, Transport and Heritage
iv) Each of the Executive Portfolios allow for a Member to work shadow each of the Portfolio holders; these work shadowing arrangements to be facilitated by the Leader who will make the appropriate appointments.
v) In light of iv) above, the current two Member champion roles be disbanded.
vi) The current East and West Community Forums be disbanded and replaced by a more tailored approach, which involves:-
1) The Leader and appropriate Portfolio Holders, plus the Chairman of the Review Committee, meeting with the leaders of the Parish and Town Councils two times a year to discuss matters of common interest across the District.
2) Working with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the local Joint Crime and Disorder Partnership to promote two public meetings per year on policing and crime in the District.
3) Working with the local Clinical Commissioning Group and local Joint Health and Wellbeing Board to promote two public meetings per year on health provision in the District.
4) Arranging other topic specific or area specific meetings as appropriate, as agreed by the Leader and relevant Portfolio holders.
vii) Subject to the agreement to i) to vi) above, the relevant changes be made to the Council’s constitution to reflect these decisions.
So what does all this mean in practice?
First of all the Council’s Review Committee is going to be expanded from 8 councillors to 15. The job of the Review Committee is , roughly, to analyse council decision making and policies, and is ably chaired by the one Lib Dem on the committee, June Lumley. It’s a bit like a Select Committee at the Houses of Commons. Expanding the committee might allow it to do more work, provided that the 15 members are all keen and raring to go.
They are going to change some of the job titles and roles within the cabinet. So Mike Steptoe, the affable cabinet member for Environment, will presumably become cabinet member for Environment, Leisure, Arts and Culture. (That’s going to be a real mouthful we want to write about him – wouldn’t “Environment and Recreation” cover things?
They are going to have a few ordinary councillors being allowed to shadow a cabinet member. This would give useful training for cabinet members; it’s not clear yet if it would ever be offered to non-Conservatives.
They are admitting that the current Community Forums have been a total embarrassment, and replacing them with a different set of meetings. We hope they will work better – they can”t work any worse.
It’s interesting that Michael and Diane Hoy can get 100 people to a public meeting in Hullbridge on future development when the District Council can only get 1 ordinary member of the public to the West Area Forum, which covers Hullbridge AND Rayleigh AND Rawreth !
You can read an account of the meeting here, from John and Christine Mason. They mention:
■sewerage at capacity
■creates a new community out of cohesion with Hullbridge
■the development offers youth provision where it is not needed
■the development offers more A1 Retail where it is not needed
■access over Malyons will create congestion
■Watery Lane improvements will be 10′s of £M – economically viable?
■Flooding issues to be dealt with by major engineering offsite in the Rawreth area creating further development
■This site is not viable and nor are the alternatives which suffer from the same issues
■Surface water flooding issues are assessed on insurance claim criteria – not assessed because there are no insurance claims for flooding in green fields
■Tidal reflux in 3 rivers has effect on flooding – will affect Hockley and other areas upstream
…. the Allocations Submission Document is not sound as the Highways Authority has evidently not looked strategically at the cumulative effect of traffic impacts on the Rochford Core Strategy through the Local Transport Plan because the information quoted by Essex County Council has not been published in the Evidence Base.
Council meetings start tomorrow…. in particular Rawreth Parish Council kick off the New Year with their January meeting tomorrow night on Wednesday 2nd.
7:30 in the village hall….
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