The September Rebuild…

Good morning everyone… regular readers will know that our site has been hacked by nasty people in the last few months. So we have deliberately gone back to an old back-up of onlineFOCUS from last February.
Hopefully the site is now clean on any hack – but it means we are going to have to manually recreate every post and every comment since last February , and this will take two or three weeks.

But we are hopefully back in business now and you can get expect new items on here almost every day.


Your Website Challenge !

Once in a while we like to set our readers a challenge, to see how quickly they can find out something from the District Council website –

Your challenge this time is – Go to the council website and find out what is the basic allowance that an ordinary Rochford District Councillor gets each year? This is information that should be readily available, so that someone thinking of standing for election and wondering how it would affect their life can find it easily. Please time yourself so you can tell us how long it took you.

In your comment, please give an answer, how long it took you, and how sure you are that you have the correct answer.

The new city boundaries at Battlesbridge?

A New Blog About Essex – Essexology

It’s good to see a new blog about Essex – not a political blog, but one that seeks to challenge Essex stereotypes and remind people of our county’s natural beauty, industrial heritage and historic locations. It is called Essexology , is written by Julia Hammond and you can find it here.

Here’s a sample about Battlesbridge:

It takes its name from the Battaille family, with a mention in a 1351 document as the settlement of Bataillesbregge. This also indicates that there was a bridge as far back as the 14th century, though the present day iron structure is much later, dating from 1872. It was the second iron bridge to be constructed; the first was struck and irreparably damaged by a passing steam traction engine.


If you want to keep an eye on how your MP – or any MP – votes – have a look at The Public Whip website.

It gives you information on when an MP has voted differently to his or her party’s official view on an issue. Plus a lot more information if you look for it…

For example , in Colchester Nick Barlow has just used it to check here on how his local MP voted recently about the issue of VAT on female sanitary protection products… Which is an issue we might come back to next week…


Why Social Media Can Be A Trap For Politicians And Campaigners

Social Media , such as blogs and Facebook, can be a great way of communicating for politicians and political campaigners.

But they can create a big trap. Instead of reaching out to people, and exchanging ideas, you can end up only talking to people with exactly the same views as your own. Anybody with alternative views is criticised and made unwelcome. So the people in the group feel that the majority agree with them – when that’s not the case.

To quote Tristam hunt from the Guardian on Thursday:

“What people say to each other on the internet – and social media in particular – rewards strong, polarising opinions and primary coloured politics.

“Far from broadening the mind through access to the greatest library human beings have ever created, people’s experience of the internet is increasingly a narrow online world where anyone who puts their heads above the parapet can be the target of an anonymised digital mob.”

So its important for onlineFOCUS to get a variety of politely expressed views – even if the editors at onlineFOCUS Towers don’t always agree with them. Especially if we don’t agree with them. 😉

This is supported by member of the Welsh Assembly Peter Black who says:

Although I spend a lot of time using social media, I would endorse these views. You need to keep perspective and as politicians we need to get out more and talk to ordinary people.


Aiming For A Healthier Essex

The District Council’s Review Committee met last night to hear two presentations on health and care in Rochford and Castle Point.. They were unusually interesting – although too detailed to summarise here. Also full marks to the Labour chair of the committee, Jerry Gibson, for allowing the public to ask questions at the end.

However there are two points worth making. First of all, an effort is being made to get all GP surgeries in Rochford and Castle Point to open 7 days a week.

Secondly , the County Council has a fairly new website to encourage healthy living   – Its worth a look.


Benefits Update

From the District Council website:

Intermittent disruption to Revenues and Benefits online services

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

We are experiencing intermittent issues with Revenues and Benefits online services, which are currently being investigated.  These may affect access and/or functionality.  The online payments service is unaffected.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

carnival 1929

Peering Into the Past

Yesterday the British Film Institute launched a section on its website called “Britain On Film” where you can find thousands of ‘beautifully preserved old films’ showing life in Britain for the last century or so. You can serach by local area, topic, or decade. There are three from Southend, one of them being the 1929 Carnival Procession. (pictured above)

Hat-tip: Liberal England


How To Find The New Countryside Application

The District Council Website isn’t the easiest to navigate.

To find the latest big planning application from Countryside – for housing “North of London Road”:

Go to the Council website at
Then select “Planning” from the menu on the left side of the screen.
Then select “Planning Appications”
Then select “View Planning Appications”
This takes you to a map, with a search box above it. Type into the search box either “London Road” or “15/00362/OUT” and you should then see a paragraph describing the application. Click on the link there and you will get to all the details.
You can then click on “Click Here To Leave Comments About the Application”

OR … if the link is working OK, simply click on^REFVAL^=%2715/00362/OUT%27

and hopefully that will work….