onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


Archive for Public Safety

Essex Street Lights Switch-off To Be Raised In Commons

The decision by Essex County Council to switch-off street lights at midnight is to be raised in the House of Commons this morning by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell.
Liberal Democrat Sir Bob has had his name drawn for this morning’s Questions to the Secretary of State for Transport – and he has said that he will be asking about the road safety consequences for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians because of the black-out.
Sir Bob – who is a former Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Road Safety Group – has tried to get Essex County Council to alter its policy, but the Council has refused to do so.

Adder Warning !



A helpful warning from Rawreth Parish Councillor Christine Paine:

I wonder if you could put something on OnLine Focus to warn walkers, dog walkers and riders about  late season adder explosion, especially on the footpath/bridleway that goes round Dollymans and over the bridge then back to the A129. One of my neighbours dogs has been bitten, fortunately they got it to the vet in time and it’s OK, but he saw several and when I saw some riders yesterday they said six had slithered across the path in front of them. We think the work at the back of the sub-station has disturbed and displaced them as there are far more than usual, and it’s late in the season for there to be this number around, possibly the summer like weather is encouraging them out as well.

Find out more about adders here.




From the District Council website today

Rochford District Council issues free sandbags

Due to the adverse weather conditions, Rochford District Council will be providing free sandbags and sand to those in need.
These will be available from BSG Buildbase, at Purdeys Industrial Estate, in tomorrow (Friday, February 14).
Residents will need to take proof of residency with them, such as a council tax or utility bill.
They will not be expected to pay for them, merely to sign for them.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Keith Hudson, said: “Because of the exceptional weather conditions we are experiencing at the moment, following urgent discussions with our officers this afternoon, Rochford District Council has approved this move to help residents all that we possibly can.”
Rochford District Council also called a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with partner agencies to discuss the response to flooding issues.
The meeting was a move to work more closely with Anglia Water, Essex County Council’s Highways department and the Flooding Partnership manager at Essex County Council to find joint solutions to tackle flooding.

Something For The UK To Be Proud Of

Not exactly local news – but this interactive map shows the number of road deaths per 100,000 people in the year 2010.

Move the curssor onto any country to get the figures. For the UK the figure was 3.7 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s still 3.7 too many, but still better than almost anywhere else!  The figure for Germany was 4.7 , USA 11.4, Russia 18.6, Iran 34.1…

hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan

Pool? Drainage Feature ? Hazard?

The other major planning application last Thursday was near King Edmund School.

This is a 13 acre site, and the scheme was for 100 houses and flats, a new access road, a new car park and new bus park for King Edmund School, and some open space.

This scheme had already been approved ‘in outline’ – it was the details that were being agreed here.

The big issue was, rather unexpectedly, over a new large water retention pond. It would slope very gently, and the maximum depth would be 4 feet. The idea was to have a new pond here to receive rainwater and prevent flash flooding. But some councillors, such as Gill Lucas-Gill, were concerned about the safety aspects for children . Councillor Keith Gordon was concerned that when there wasn’t much rain it might it get full of mosquitoes. Other councillors were simply very wary – this wasn’t in the middle of a big park, it wasn’t too far from houses.

In the end the scheme was passed.

Embrace Life !

We’ve never posted this film before …. almost incredibly “How It Feels To Be Run Over” was made in 1900. And hopefully it shocked those watching it to think about road safety.

We post this beautiful video about once a year and will carry on doing so…. So many people are feeling good right now, with the summer holidays and the Olympics. So let’s be careful and “Embrace life” and the ones we love….

Beware Of the Algae ! Do Not Touch Scum!

Image from the Environment Agency leaflet

From the District Council Website today:

Rochford District Council is issuing a warning to all pet owners in the District who use Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park after the discovery of potentially toxic algal blooms in the lake.
During periods of warm, sunny, calm weather algal blooms can naturally appear in water.
Following the discovery of what appeared to be algae and algae scum on the lake at Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park, the Council put up precautionary notices around the lake warning visitors of the possible dangers of Blue Green Algae.
Samples of the algae and water were taken and sent for testing by the Environment Agency.
The results of these samples have confirmed that potentially toxic Blue Green Algae is present in the lake which may cause illness in humans and animals.
The Council is requesting that visitors to the lake take the following precautions:

• Keep away from the water’s edge.
• Keep pets away from the water’s edge.
• Do not touch scum, either in the water or on the banks.

The full article is here.

You can download the Evironment Agency leaflet on blue-green algae here. (360kb)

It says:

How can blue-green algae affect you?

Bloom and scum forming blue-green algae can produce toxins. Toxin producing blooms are called Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).
These toxins can kill wild animals, farm livestock and domestic pets . In humans, they can cause rashes after skin contact and
illnesses if swallowed. Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic, but you can’t tell just by looking at them, so it’s best to assume they are.

County Council Paying Over A Million Pounds A Year In Pothole Compensation

From thisistotalessex:

POTHOLES on Essex roads have forced the council to pay injured motorists and pedestrians more than £4 million in compensation in just three years.
A Chronicle Freedom of Information request reveals Essex County Council paid £4,395,144 of taxpayers’ money in damages to residents hurt by falling or driving into potholes on our county’s roads.

And with budgets being squeezed at county hall and funding for capital projects cut to a third, opposition councillors say that compensation claims are likely only to rise.
Tom Smith-Hughes, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “Contrary to what the administration has been saying – the state of our roads is pretty bad.
“Compensation claims are only likely to rise with the cuts, as there won’t be enough money to fix all the roads.
“My one worry is that the council accepts these payouts because it can’t afford to fix the underlying problem.”

Neil Greig, the Essex spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “The problem lies partly in years of underinvestment.
“Essex, like most local authorities, has fallen into that trap.
“Not only are we wasting millions of pounds in compensation claims but we have a huge backlog of roads that need improving.

It’s going to take years to sort this out. A good starting point would be for the Conservatives on the County Council to admit they have got us into this mess. They can’t say they weren’t warned. The Lib Dems warned back in 2008:

“It will mean that people in Essex will have to get used to bigger potholes being around for longer, as the ruling party fail to balance its funding of road maintenance. The proposals come just weeks after the Conservatives announced a £10m overspend on the highways budget.
“The report is riddled with inconsistencies and it is hard to see how it will be of benefit to residents . The basic premise seems to be to wait until damage to road surfaces get worse before even looking to see whether it should be fixed or not. The Conservatives are recommending that when dealing with misaligned kerbs, for example, there is no commitment at all to provide a date for work to be carried out.
“Apart from the obvious inconvenience to the public, we have concerns about the additional hazard that damaged road and footpath surfaces will have for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians alike. This will inevitably lead to more and higher level compensation claims being made against the council.

The Rules On Storing Petroleum

We had the following email today from one of our regular readers, “Greenbelt”

Hi ,
I thought you may be interested in what the Petroleum Regs. say about storage of petrol in cans as not even Francis Maude is aware of the law.
I have attached a couple of extracts from the regulations, which where amended by Statutory Instrument when plastic cans came into use, and these laws are,as you know, enforceable by the Local Authority.
I thought that your Focus readers may be interested in this and perhaps some guidance from RDC should be published.
The link to the full regulations is:-

A Map Of Road Deaths

The BBC website has a map showing all the road deaths in this country from 1999 to 2010.

It’s a very sobering experience to look at it and reflect that every orange circle represents a collision in which somebody has died.

The map is here, and we’ve shown below what it looks like for our area:

Let’s all be careful out there.

Embrace Life

It’s our tradition here to show a video on election day, and this one is a work of art.

So enlarge this video to full screen, and remember to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Embrace life.

What’s Happening With Our Fire Service?

The Essex Fire service seem to be considering replacing the full-time fire crews at Rayleigh Weir with part-timers.

To quote from the Echo last Tuesday:

Essex Fire and Rescue Service deputy fire chief Adam Eckley….. has now revealed more stations with full-time crews across the county could be manned solely by retained crews…….

……. Mr Eckley said pounds could be saved by changing stations from full-time to retained.

He added: “An average retained station costs around £110,000 a year.

“The lowest one is £50,000 and the most expensive one is £300,000.

“Rayleigh Weir, a whole time, four watch system, costs just over £1million a year. It would save us about £900,000 if we turned that pump from whole time to retained.”

Yet back in 2009, when the old fire stations at Rayleigh and Hadleigh were closed, the whole big ‘selling point’ to the public was that having fulltime crews at Rayleigh Weir would compensate for having one station instead of two. . To quote from onlineFOCUS September 16th 2009:

Representatives from the Fire Service explained the reasoning behind closing Hadleigh and Rayleigh Fire Stations and replacing them by one station at Rayleigh Weir. The existing stations used by retained (=part-time) firemen who had to live within 5 minutes of their station. The new station would have full-time firemen ready at the station, so the average times for answering calls would be reduced.

The implications are that two years ago we had two stations staffed by part-timers, we now have one full-time station, and could now end up with just one station staffed by part-timers…….

There’s also a financial point. The Essex Fire and Rescue Authority collect about £818,000 from Rayleigh residents this year. (for those interested in council tax calculations, that’s based on 12,321.66 band D equivalents @ £66.42 each)

We don’t have the figures for Hadleigh handy, but surely the council tax given to the Essex Fire and Rescue Authority from Rayleigh + Hadleigh combined must be quite a bit higher than the cost of running Rayleigh Weir as a full-time fire station. So why shouldn’t the residents of Rayleigh and Hockley get what they pay for?

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Latest Comments

  • admin: Nick’s words: “There’s a tendency to let everything become a process story, and I think that goes...
  • Linda Kendall: If it wasn’t so cynical it would be funny. Where did they get their transport assessment and...
  • Jim Cripps: Excellent item Admin – he endorses my recently posted dig at the so called Localism Act , ”...
  • Tony Savers: You are so sad chris, do you not have anything to talk about – like who is the Liberal candidiate...
  • John Mason: Just to be helpful…& #8230;…&# 8230;… As stated above when it comes down to it the only...
  • 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....
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  • 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...

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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.

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.

Food Hygiene Ratings

To find the food hygiene rating for eating places and other businesses in our district , click here.

Essex Political Blogs

Geography, History , Science

Lib Dem Websites

Local Council Websites

Local History

Local Info

Non-Political Stuff

Other Lib Dem Blogs

Planning Issues

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“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

When the Olympic Torch came to Rayleigh, Chris Black wrote about the town in the Guardian - read it here

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