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Will The Fire Service Questionnaire Excite You?

The Essex Fire And Rescue Service are carrying out another consultation – you can find it here.

Don’t get too excited. All the options they’re proposing involve removing the second appliance at Rayleigh Weir. You are basically given a choice of :

cuts
fewer cuts
even more cuts
saying something else

You then get asked a load of questions about yourself.

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Essex Fire Service Consultation

One of our readers has pointed out to us that the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service are carrying out a consultation on future strategy:

Residents are being urged to have their say in the future redesign of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS), through a 12 week consultation that starts today (Monday June 15) and ends on Sunday September 6.

The consultation process, the main element of the Fire Authority’s Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), aims to address several key issues impacting on the fire service such as the declining number of call-outs and the need to increase the focus on preventing fires and emergencies from happening.

It will also look at major issues such as response times, and the ambitious target of having a working smoke alarm in every Essex home.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “This is an opportunity for everyone to have a say in the future shape of ECFRS. We want all residents and businesses to have a look at the plan and let us know what you think.

“It is clear that the best way to keep people safe from fires and other emergencies is to stop them occurring in the first place. We’ve enjoyed great success in doing so, and we are proud of our record – the number of emergencies we attend has reduced by half in the past 10 years to around 13,500. All this against a backdrop of spending reductions and a growing, ageing, diversifying population.

“As a result of this success, we face a future which will be characterised by changes to the nature of the operational demands on our Service, alongside decreased funding. But we need to ensure that as a Service we remain sustainable into the future. We will become protection and prevention focussed, but we will always have a strong response element to fires and emergencies.”

The consultation exercise is in two parts, with the initial 12-week period asking eight key questions on the Service, along with opportunities for residents to have their say on any aspect of the plan. The results of the first consultation will inform the development of a set of options for change, which will then be consulted on in the second stage.

You can find the survey here. One of the questions in the survey is a bit of a giveaway:


Question 4: Provided we were able to continue to meet our response standards, would you support a reduction in our response resources?

Also the survey has “heterosexual” spelt incorrectly….

Consultation On Open Space – Closes November 28th –

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Rochford District Council residents have been given the opportunity to comment on the RDC draft Open Spaces Strategy.

The Friends of Sweyne Park are encouraging people to respond to the consultation, saying:

The committee wants to encourage as many people as possible to respond to this survey…

In the past RDC have been criticised for not taking enough note of public consultations.  Maybe that is because so few people actually respond. In an interview on Essex Radio Cllr Simon Smith said that there were 90,000 people in the Rochford district.   A recent on line council tax survey had a response from just 24 people.

I hope we can do better than that with this important survey.  A significant amount of the Council’s budget is allocated to Open Spaces and if we the council tax payers and open space users want to see a reflection of our views we should take this opportunity to let them know what they are.

The draft Open Spaces Strategy is a large and comprehensive document – don’t be put off! Below is a link to the Open Space Strategy Consultation page on the RDC website where you can find the online form or download a paper copy.    You will find references to Cherry Orchard Park and The Friends of Cherry Orchard Park as well as proposals for all open spaces that include the park.

http://www.rochford.gov.uk/leisure_culture_and_tourism/woodlands_parks_and_open_spaces

 

 

District Council’s Budget Survey

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The District Council are carrying out a online survey on what local people think should be priorities in the council budget.

You can complete it here

It will be interesting to see if anyone mentions the various themes that we have mentioned on onlineFOCUS recently – flooding, the council cabinet, air quality, planning enforcmnt, street lighting…..

Consultation Number 2 : On Ward Boundaries

election consultation

Another consultation is on ward boundaries for council elections…

What’s it about? It’s about drawing up new ward boundaries for council elections in Rochford District.

What isn’t it about? – it’s not about parliamentary elections. Only District Council.

What’s the deadline for replying? 12th September

Give me a bit more info: Its time for a government commission to look at all the various council wards we have in Rochford District. This is to ensure that , roughly, each councillor represents the same number of people. There’s a bit of an imbalance at the moment – for example Downhall and Rawreth Ward has more residents than average. The current intention is to keep the same number of councillors – 39. But at the moment we mostly have wards with two Councillors each , for example, Rayleigh currently has eight 2-member wards. Though some wards, like Hullbridge, have 3 councillors, and some , like Barling and Sutton , have 1 councillor. The commission would change this to have all wards with 3 councillors. Now the new ward boundaries have to be drawn up, also taking into account new housing expected in the next few years.

Are there any big changes planned? Well, it’s going to mean big changes across the district. For example, in west Rayleigh and Rawreth we currently have three wards, each with 2 councillors – Downhall & Rawreth, Grange, and Sweyne Park. These are likely to become just two wards, with 3 councillors each. Where do you draw the new boundaries? One way to begin would be to expand Downhall and Rawreth ward southwards to include all of Down Hall Road.

Where can I find out more? Look at the District Council website here You can draw your own lines on a map, and leave comments.

Consultation Number 1 : On Polling Stations

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There are quite a few consultations going on at the moment. Here’s one on polling stations:

What’s it about? Polling Stations- where people vote in elections.

What isn’t it about? – it’s not about the boundaries of council wards , or which areas are represented by which councillors. That’s a different consultation…

What’s the deadline for replying? 12th September

Give me a bit more info: Well, there are 45 polling stations across the district,, from Rawreth Village Hall in the west to the Heritage Centre on Foulness Island in the east. This is a routine consultation to check that the polling stations we have a convenient for people to get to and convenient to use.

Are there any big changes planned Should I be alarmed? There’s not much cause for alarm. The only polling station suggested for closure is at Paglesham Congregational Church, which isn’t available anyway for 2015. Probably the key question is whether the polling station at Hullbridge Free Church should be replaced by one at Hullbridge Sports and Social Club:

The Free Church is well known as the polling station for the area, however the disabled access needs improving.
Disabled access is better at Hullbridge Sports and Social Club. Parking facilities are good, but those on foot have further to walk as the club is situated down a long access road.

Where can I find out more? Look at the District Council website here. And in particular download the Returning Officers comments and proposals here.

Judicial Review !

As was mentioned in a comment here last week , campaigner Linda Kendall has arranged and financed a legal action – a Judicial Review – into whether the council  consulted properly on its core strategy and allocations document.

Even if she wins the court case and forced a rethink it might not ultimately change the amount of housing and the locations.

But even so its a very bold – though costly – thing for Mrs Kendall to do.  If anyone wants to contribute towards the cost, you could contact her via the Rayleigh Action Group website.

Essex Consults On How Good Is Your Local Chemist

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Essex County Council is holding a public consultation on local pharmaceutical services. The consultation will run until 30th April.
Members of the public are asked to complete a short questionnaire on the services provided by pharmacies, dispensing doctors and internet pharmacies in the Essex area. The results of the survey will help the County Council and the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board to understand how local people use the services, how they rate their experiences and what services they would like to see in the future.
The questionnaire is completely confidential and does not require any personal identifying information.

The results of the survey will be used to help produce a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment for Essex determining what, if any, services will be required to meet local needs. The report will be available to the public from early 2015.

Councillor Ann Naylor, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health & Wellbeing, said: “We would really encourage members of the public to tell us about their experiences of services from chemist’s shop. It will only take a few minutes to complete, so please take advantage of this opportunity to help shape the services of the future.”

The survey is live at http://www.essexinsight.org.uk/ViewPage1.aspx?C=Resource&ResourceID=919

For more information or to request a paper copy/alternative format call 01245 430 430 or email contact@essex.gov.uk

Threat To Some School Crossing Patrols

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Have you heard about the Consultation on the County Council website about removing school crossing patrols where there is a pedestrian crossing, unless the school is willing to pay for it?!

You can find it here.


School Crossing Patrols Consultation

Essex County Council (ECC) is facing a £235m shortfall over the next three years as government funding continues to reduce and demand for services increases. All areas across the Council are therefore being reviewed to see where changes can be made and services could be delivered differently. ECC wants to give schools the opportunity to protect the School Crossing Patrols from the impact of budget reductions through the following proposal.
Essex County Council is looking for ways to work with schools to support parents’ responsibilities to ensure their children travel to and from school safely.

Proposal
We are proposing to rationalise School Crossing Patrol sites where there is a zebra or pelican crossing also in place in addition to a School Crossing Patrol Officer.
There are a number of schools in Essex which are served by a zebra or pelican crossing which operate safely without a School Crossing Patrol Officer.
Although we do not believe a School Crossing Patrol Officer is required at this location, we think that some schools may wish to retain this provision and are therefore offering schools the opportunity to fund the School Crossing Patrol. This would cost approximately £5,860 per year and we would put in place an annual Service Level Agreement. ECC would still employ them on schools’ behalf and retain employment liabilities.
If schools are interested in funding the service at their school they will be asked to sign up for a minimum of one year, starting from Summer 2014. ECC would continue to provide the current service of employing, training and managing the School Crossing Patrol officers and retain the employment liabilities. In addition ECC would also continue to employ the Mobile School Crossing Patrol officers to cover absences where possible.
It is proposed that if schools do not want to fund a School Crossing Patrol at these locations, the provision will be removed.
We are interested in hearing your views on the proposal and would welcome your feedback by 24 April 2014. No decision on the removal of School Crossing Patrols has yet been taken and decisions will only be taken after this consultation has concluded.
To take part please click here
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If you are unable to complete the online survey please telephone 033301 39836 where someone will complete the survey for you.
The information contained in this document can be translated and/or made available in alternative formats, on request.

Recycling Consultation From The County Council

 

The latest consultation from Essex County Council is on recycling centres- you can find it here.

Review of Essex County Council’s Recycling Centre Service

Essex County Council currently spends about £7m per year providing 21 Recycling Centres across the county for residents to dispose of their waste. Although some of these sites are modern, purpose built facilities many of the sites are old and small, starting life at a time when landfill was the only way we managed waste. However, the way in which waste is handled and these sites operate has changed in recent years, with an increasing need to separate many different materials. With this in mind a number of sites that we currently run may no longer be able to efficiently meet the needs of a modern Recycling Centre.

In addition to this, there have been many improvements to and an increase in the way that recyclable material is collected at the kerbside from households, which in turn, has resulted in fewer residents needing to take their recyclable material to the Recycling Centres. Due to the pressure from central government to make savings and to streamline services, Essex County Council is required to review and reshape the way services are delivered. With unprecedented savings of £235m required over the next 3 years all our services need to be looked at in order to deliver these more effectively and efficiently. The authority is keen to ensure that it continues to provide the best recycling services for its residents within available resource; however maintaining existing levels of service may not be achievable. The purpose of this survey is to collect information from residents that use our Recycling Centres.

We will then use the feedback to help us develop a Recycling Centre service strategy, ensuring we target our resources on those services that users deem most important.

There’s Still Time To Support The “5% Cap”

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It’s time to think about the core strategy again.

For each of the housing sites, RDC had proposed that slightly more homes could be built there if there was a shortfall elsewhere, but only up to a possible maximum of 5% extra. The inspector doesn’t want to have any limit on this possible extra housing, which is worrying.
You can object to this via the council’s website. The deadline is noon on January 17th.

You need to go to:

http://rochford.jdi-consult.net/ldf/readdoc.php?docid=190

You will need to register if you haven’t done so before (theres a link at the top.)

The key items in relation to the number of houses are MM18 and MM23

For example Chris Black has objected as follows:

MM18 :This 5% cap should be kept. The whole core strategy and consultation process has been based on these figures, and to allow a possible unlimited increase in these figures at such a late stage makes the whole process flawed. In addition the North of London Road site is so problematic, in terms of highways, drainage and coalescence of Rayleigh and Rawreth, that a 5% cap is particularly appropriate here.

MM23: These 5% caps should be kept. The whole core strategy and consultation process has been based on these figures, and to allow a possible unlimited increase in these figures at such a late stage makes the whole process flawed. Other sites may be becoming available, such as aT Bullwood Hall.

Make sure that your comment is shown as “OBJECT” – there’s a little drop down menu.

How To Respond To The Council’s New Planning Consultation

About 10 days ago we reported on the last District Council meeting:

“The government inspector has asked for a number of changes to the council’s allocations document. The most notable change concerns what happens if development sites are not developed as quickly as expected…
The council has to allocate land so that there is always a 5 year supply of building land available. In case there is a shortfall somewhere , the council’s document allows extra housing at the other sites. However this only happens if
A) there is a shortfall elsewhere
B) if there is still space available for any proposed amenities or infrastructure
C) any extra housing would be capped at 5% of the original proposal. So for example, at the “North of London Road” site, where the proposed figure would be 550, there could only be an extra 5% of 550, which would be 28 extra homes.

However the inspector wants to do away with the 5% cap, which means that some sites could end up with a lot more housing.

The Conservatives pushed this through last night, despite an amendment to keep the 5 percent cap, proposed by Chris Black, seconded by John Mason, and supported by Ron Oatham, Christine Mason plus Michael and Diane Hoy.

At least one Conservative councillor abstained.

This now goes to another round of public consultation…”

Well, that public consultation has now started, and you might like to respond, especially if you are concerned about the removal of this 5% cap. The inspector probably won’t take any notice, but it’s worth a try. One argument against removing the cap is that it makes unsound the previous public consultations and the evidence base for sustainability : if people were consulted on, say, 550 houses and it suddenly turns into a lot more. Or you can argue that increasing the number of homes about the 5% level is poor in terms of sustainability and quality of life for residents (both existing residents and new ones).

The best way to respond to the consultation is online – with some effort you can find it on the council website here. You need to register and then log in to make comments.

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If you want to object in terms of “North of London Road”, that is dealt with section MM20 of the document (click to enlarge)

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and you would need to say that you oppose the deletion of the words in red: “plus a flexibility allowance of 5% if required”.

In the same way, Hullbridge is dealt with in section MM44.