onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for National Politics

Essex Street Lights Switch-off To Be Raised In Commons

street-lights-1
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.

“Why we need a constitutional convention – and why we have to build it from the bottom”

britain from space

 

Colchester Lib Dem Nick Barlow writes today about why we need a constitutional convention – and it mustn’t be one run by the current political system.

The question, then, is how do we do that? Do a few of us just get a room, a website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and whatever else and commence arguing, hoping others will join in and make the whole thing snowball? Or do we need to build widespread support first, then kick it all off with a storm of involvement and publicity? I don’t know, and I’m not a mood for laying down how everyone else should do something, so what are your thoughts? Which way round does it need to be done, or should we just sit back and trust in Westminster and the system to get it right this time?

 

“We Will Remember Them – Fallen MPs”

Lib Dem Blogger Stephen Glenn writes here about the MPs who went to fight in World War One – and died during military service.

“At midnight Berlin time when the deadline for the Germans to respond passed there were young men in Westminster who were MPs who knew that their duty was to return to their regiments and take up arms. The following is a list of the young men who were Members of Parliament* from all parties who fought and died in World War I…”

In amongst the Liberal and Conservative names there are also some Irish MPs, such as Dr John Joseph Esmonde, who seems a intriguing person indeed. His uncle was a baronet, he himself was a physician and an Irish Parliamentary Party MP for North Tipperary from 1910-1915. The political group he belonged to was interested in home rule rather than independence. His political involvement didn’t stop him from serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, where , according to Wikipedia

“Esmonde died on 17 April 1915 from “pneumonia and heart failure consequent on the strain of overwork” while serving as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps”

Incidentally Esmonde had four sons, one of whom died serving in WW1, and another died serving in WW2, receiving a posthumous Victoria Cross in 1942..

Yes, Minister….

Congratulations to Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge on becoming a minister in the Foreign Office, with responsibility for Africa.

He replaces James Simmonds, who has resigned, telling the Telegraph :

…. he was quitting as a Foreign Office minister and was standing down as an MP because he was unwilling to carry on staying in hotels while his family were hundreds of miles away in Lincolnshire…

UKIP’s Deputy Leader Calls Into Question The Very Existence Of The NHS

paul nuttall

 

We’ve  had a few comments on onlineFOCUS in praise of UKIP … which is fine , as we enjoy having a bit of national politics on here occasionally. It also gives us the leeway to make the occasional comment back.
So… we hear a lot about the leader of UKIP, Mr Farage, but zero about his deputy, Paul Nuttall.  But  here’s an extract from Mr Nuttall’s own blog, where he calls into question the very existence of the NHS

Dear Editor,

I would like to congratulate the coalition government for bringing a whiff of privatisation into the beleaguered National Health Service. The fact that successive governments have undertaken what they call ‘substantial’ changes to the NHS should tell us all we need to know: there is something fundamentally wrong with how we treat the ill in our country.

The NHS is the second biggest employer in the world, beaten only by Walmart, but as with all state monopolies, it is costly, inefficient and stuffed with bureaucrats. In New Labour’s NHS, for every nurse there is a manager and vital workers, such as midwives, are falling in numbers.

The problem, however, goes far deeper. I would argue that the very existence of the NHS stifles competition, and as competition drives quality and choice, innovation and improvements are restricted.

Therefore, I believe, as long as the NHS is the ‘sacred cow’ of British politics, the longer the British people will suffer with a second rate health service.

Paul Nuttall MEP

 

Here at onlineFOCUS we support the NHS….. it’s a vital national and local service.

Hat-Tip: Tom Pride

The Budget: Main Points For Local Government

The Guardian website has a report here on the impact of today’s budget on local government.

Their key points were:
• Restrictions on public sector pay were announced.
• Welfare Cap to be set at £119bn in 2015-16, rising to £127bn in 2018-9.
• Osborne said house building was up by 23% but this wasn’t enough. He said further reforms to the planning system were being made and that he wanted to get Britain building.
• The government will make £140m available for repairs and maintenance to damaged flood defences.
• Local authorities will also be able to bid from a pot of £200m for filling potholes.

Schools Holidays Petition … And Flood Prevention Funds

green reed

The “A Green Read” website , run by Councillor Michael Hoy, has had a lot of new stuff recently, including


Hullbridge Woman to have her petition debated in Parliament.

Donna Thresher started her Government e-petition back in March 2013 with the simple statement.
“Stop Holiday companies charging extra in school holidays”
The petition is a response to the belief that holiday companies are profiteering during school holidays charging excessive prices far above those that would be dictated by normal supply and demand….
…Lib Dem MP John Hemming has proposed the e-petition for debate in Westminster Hall for 24 February 2014 after the e-petition went viral due to Paul Cookson linking it to his Facebook Group Holiday Price Increase.

Essex County Council releases £1m of emergency funding for flooded roads
Essex County Council have at last listened to the concerns of residents and have at last decided to act on the flooded roads of the County. Below is the press release allocating £1 Million to tackle road flooding in the County….
….. Within Rochford District the one road needing flood alleviation methods that immediately springs to mind is Watery Lane in Rawreth. Some schemes have been put forward including installing a drainage system on the field to the South of the to prevent it draining onto the road as it currently does (and is allowed to do quite legally) and I will be pushing for watery Lane to be put into the top 5 as we all know it floods every year not just in this one.

“10 Reasons Why Mary From Sherlock Should Stick With The Lib Dems”

sherlock

On Buzzfeed here

sherlock1

The list begins with…

sherlock2

New Rules For Licensing Scrap Metal Dealers Come Into Force

Essex County Council Lib Dems have welcomed a new law giving councils greater powers to combat the blight of scrap metal thefts on communities across the country.

Every scrap metal dealer is having to obtain a licence to trade from their local authority under the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act with councils now able to refuse or revoke licences.

The Act also makes it illegal for anyone to buy or sell scrap metal with cash and gives councils new powers of entry and inspection and the ability to shut down rogue dealers.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales and which successfully lobbied alongside industry stakeholders for the new legislation, expects it to help solve a spiraling national problem that costs the UK economy more than £700 million every year.

It will also help protect against unscrupulous thieves targeting churches, desecrating war memorials and causing disruption by stealing electric cables and metal from railway lines.

A Local Government Association survey last year showed that 9 in 10 councils had been the victims of metal theft at a cost of more than £5 million. Stolen gully covers, electric cables and street furniture was leading to people falling down holes, power cuts and local authorities having to spend millions of pounds on repairs and replacements.

Cllr. Mike Mackrory has said:

“Metal thefts have had a hugely negative impact on communities, businesses and councils with trains disrupted, precious memorials desecrated, church and library roofs vandalised, schools targeted and road signs stolen. We are delighted that Liberal Democrats in government worked hard to ensure that this Bill became law”.

“Much of these stolen goods were ending up in scrap yards and out-dated legislation left councils powerless to act and having to pick up the bill to replace them at a time when funding cuts are putting a strain on their ability to deliver vital services.

“This new Act will help tackle this mindless crime and make it easier for councils and the police to both prevent and tackle this criminal activity that causes such damage, distress and disruption.

“It is also supported by responsible scrap metal dealers keen to see rogue traders shut down and prosecuted and stopped from bringing their trade into disrepute. From today, we can all work together to clean up the industry once and for all and protect communities from the scourge of metal theft.”

A Row Brewing….

There’s a big political row brewing over past problems at Basildon Hospital.

Peter Black (no relation) blogs about it here.

According to the Sunday Times Mr. Burnham, who is now the shadow health secretary, is preparing libel proceedings against one of his successors in that post, Jeremy Hunt over remarks made on Twitter. They say that Labour party lawyers yesterday wrote to Hunt demanding that he remove the comments from the social networking site or face further action…. Jeremy Hunt is refusing to back down, which leads me to wonder whether Burnham will go ahead with his threat to sue. After all juries are notoriously (and quite rightly) unsympathetic to politicians and their reputation.

More damagingly though such a court case could lead to a very public and forensic dissection of Andy Burnham’s time in charge of the NHS. Would any minister, irrespective of party voluntarily agree to such a scenario?

“Scrap Business Rates on small shops,” says Colchester’s MP

From the website of Colchester Lib Dem MP Bob Russell :

September 11, 2013 2:41 PM

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to scrap Business Rates on small shops – and for the introduction of a levy on out-of-town retail car parks so that the Treasury does not lose revenue overall. He made the call during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons.
And to his pleasant surprise, the Chancellor, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, said in answer that “I will take the suggestion as a good submission for a future fiscal statement.”
Afterwards Liberal Democrat Sir Bob said that if Business Rates could be scrapped for small shops – such as specialist shops in Colchester Town Centre as well as those in the various neighbourhoods of the town, and also in villages – this would help many of them to have a better chance of survival in increasingly difficult trading times.
Sir Bob added that there was not a level playing field for retail establishments, with out-of-town stores having a major advantage over established town centres and smaller shops. “A levy on car parks at these mega retail locations would be negligible for the overall turnover they enjoy, but the sum collected would offset the cost of removing Business Rates from small shops and neighbourhood stores which would thus tick a big box in the Coalition Government’s localism agenda and the last Labour Government’s sustainable communities legislation.”
His idea is not a new one, but in the past his efforts have been rebuffed.
Sir Bob observed: “The Chancellor’s comment has encouraged me to now follow this up with a formal proposition for the Treasury to consider for the next fiscal review.”

 

 

 

A Motion Worth Moving?

We’ve just had the following letter by email from the campaign unlockdemocracy.org

We’d be interested to know what our readers think about this – and especially if councillors from other parties would support it too.

Dear Councillor Black

Local pubs are in serious decline. Twenty-six pubs close every week across the country.

In many instances, valued community pubs are converted into other uses such as betting shops and pay-day loan stores or are demolished, without planning permission being required. This means that local communities and the councils that represent them have no say before local pubs are lost to the local area forever.

We are therefore asking if you could please put forward a motion for your next Council meeting resolving to submit the following proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act:

“That the Government help protect community pubs in England by ensuring that planning permission and community consultation are required before community pubs are allowed to be converted to betting shops, supermarkets and pay-day loan stores or other uses, or are allowed to be demolished.”

Below is a suggested motion you could use for convenience.

Pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year and support almost one million UK jobs, 46% of whom are 16 – 24 year olds.[1] They are a vital part of local economies.

The demolition of pubs is classed as “permitted development” meaning planning permission is not required. Between 2003 and 2012, 414 former pubs were demolished in London alone[2].

The Sustainable Communities Act is an ideal tool to use to deal with this problem. If lots of councils jointly submit this proposal to government under the Act, it will put significant pressure on government to make the necessary changes to the planning system.

I should be grateful if you could please let me know if you do put forward a motion to your Council on this.

Kind regards,

Daniel Flanagan

Projects Manager

Local Works

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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.

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.

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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”

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