onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


Archive for November, 2012

Hot Potatoes For A Cold Weekend

From Rayleigh’s own food blog, a recipe for roast potatoes that adds in some white wine:

I’ve got roast potato recipes here, here and here for starters. But this was another twist, derived from cooking Heston’s perfect chicken (again). The chicken there is treated with a boozy butter baste. I’d gone a bit crazy and made too much, so decided to slather it on the potatoes. And with a little lemon and garlic to really boost those flavours I think it’s a great alternative!

Any white wine would work, but I had some Pinot Grigio a-wastin’ so that’s what I used. You want something sweet-ish here I think, a dry wine could turn out bitter with such fierce roasting.

Could be good on this cold weekend:

Don’t Forget!

The Christmas Lights event  in Rayleigh is today!  Between 4:15 and 6:30.

More information on the Town Council website here.

If you take any photos this evening, please send a few to onlinefocus….

Bloody Hell ! A Stormy Night In The Council Chamber




Last night the District Council approved the latest stage of the Core Strategy – the specific allocations for housing and other development. This will now go to public consultation, on whether it  is sound and legal….

The Conservatives voted it through (although Cllr Angela Hale from Hullbridge abstained.)

The Lib Dems present  and the Greens all voted against.

Setting out the Lib Dem objections, Chris Black said that

  • the council still couldn’t say what improvements were needed to Watery Lane,
  • there hadn’t been a traffic impact study on the cumulative effect of the  sites to the west of Rayleigh,
  • the new open spaces were small compared with open places like Sweyne Park
  • Rayleigh Sports and Social Club were being bullied by the council –  into being  relocated so that houses could be built on their present site.

This accusation of bullying (not of course  by individuals, but the actions of the council as a whole)  angered a few Tories. Councillor Colin Seagers stood up, facing Chris (who sits almost behind him) and spoke to him in a stern voice. Memories differ on what was actually said (it was a highly charged moment)

Whilst Cllr Seagers was speaking there was some gentle booing from the public gallery and one lady could be heard saying  “Bloody hell”.


So What Kind Of Tuesday Did YOU Have?



A VERY difficult day today , dreadful traffic , flooding worries, plus a power cut in parts of Rayleigh in the morning, plus at least two power cuts in Rayleigh in the evening….

There’s not really any energy left tonight  to write anything…




Would You Like To Take Jessie Home?


Rayleigh Cats Protection have plenty of cats needing good homes.For example  Jessie  (pictured above) is a friendly black and white cat and would be suitable to go to a home with older children.  She is 20 months old.


They also have a cat homing  day on December 8th:

Our next Cat Homing Show, Saturday 8 December in Hadleigh

User photo not available By Nicola Pegg in General
Published: Sunday, 25 November 12 – 07:14 PM (GMT)
Last Updated: Sunday, 25 November 12 – 07:15 PM (GMT)
If you are ready to offer a cat a new home (or even just considering it), then please come along and see lots of lovely cats and older kittens at our Homing Show, being held on Saturday 8 December at the Hadleigh Methodist Church Hall, Chapel Lane, Hadleigh, from 10.30am to 1pm.
However, you don’t have to wait until the day to offer a cat a home – we’d be delighted to hear from you today.   Please contact Yvonne on 01268 750831 for more information and to arrange the home-check that will be needed before the cat or kitten is homed with you.
All our cats and kittens available for homing are in good health, microchipped, vaccinated and, dependent on their age, neutered.   They also come covered by free four weeks’ Pet Plan insurance (excess applies).
Even if you are not ready to offer a home to a cat or kitten at the moment, why not come along anyway and see how the Homing Shows work.  In addition to the cats in need of homes, we will have a sales table of brand new cat goods such as beds, cat carriers, collars, bowls, scratching posts and toys and Cats Protection new goods.
Admission is free although donations very welcome and there will also be refreshments available.   Please come along and support us.





Tom Toms And Zebras


The Local Highways Panel meeting last Friday was probably the best so far.  Though only two out of five County Councillors were there (Tracy Chapman and Stephen Castle).

How County Highways define stationary traffic. We got some interesting information on how County Highways monitor traffic flow, for example when they studied the Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road junction. They check on the speed of traffic from TomToms satnav systems in cars. Information on the speed of cars with TomToms is fed straight to the County Control centre. To see why any delays occur, County Highways install temporary video cameras. So, far example, we saw on video the incident of the bus stopping for 4 minutes.

We also found out that for the County Council, “stationary” means stopped for a whole 4 or 5 minutes without moving. So if you are going home along Rawreth Lane, and stop for two minutes at the Asda lights, two minutes at the Downhall Park Way lights, and two minutes at the mini-roundabout at the end, as far as the County Council are concerned, you really aren’t stationary at all!  This explains a lot….

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we discussed what to do at this junction. We supported two ideas. One was to move, if possible,  the bus stop for travel to  Rayleigh onto the area of grass verge slightly uphill of the existing stop. The other was to try and reduce congestion caused by vehicles turning right from Hullbridge Road into Hambro Parade. The aim would be to clear the entrance of parked cars, and provide replacement parking on the wide area of pavement.

Two Proposals for Pedestrian Crossings are NOT killed off.  One is in Hullbridge Road, opposite Lubards Farm.The other is  in Bradley Way in Rochford, Both had had surveys done, in both cases the highways engineers felt the figures didn’t justify the crossings. However Gill Lucas -Gill and Tracy Chapman still supported the Bradley Way proposal and Chris Black argued that the number of pedestrians crossing  in Hullbridge Road was so low because there wasn’t  a crossing.  The end result was that they will come back for further discussion at the next meeting and may well go through, even if it means elected Conservative and Lib Dem Councillors upsetting the shighways engineers a little.

Parking  at the top of Love Lane. Keith Hudson mentioned a letter from Mark Francois regarding the amount of  evening parking at the top of Love Lane causing problems getting in and out of the junction with the High Street.

Grange Gardens The highways officers were thanked for getting the road repaired. Apparently there were 145 cases of it being reported to Highways…..



The Demented Squirrel ….

Have any of our readers read this book?



A collection of short stories for children featuring some true characters and some fictional. It features a well known area of Essex called Hockley Woods and many of the stories in the book are based on real events and animals. Tales from Hockley Woods started life as bedtime stories for very young children and slowly the characters took on a life of their own. The children are now grown up but have never forgotten “The Demented Squirrel” and “Old Smeller.”….





Matches CANCELLED due to weather

From the District Council website:

Fri, 23/11/2012 – 2:52pm — Danielle
Football fixtures are cancelled for games played on Rochford District Council pitches this weekend (24th & 25th November). This is due to the waterlogged ground and the forecast of further bad weather this weekend. Rochford District Council apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.


Last Night’s Meeting

 Well, the 50 or so houses in Folly Lane, Hockley were approved.

Ron Oatham proposed an increase in the public iopen space provided, but was voted down by the Conservatives

Chris Black argued that the application was premature, and should have been delayed until after next week’s Council meeting, but he didn’t get much support.

Later on in the meeting Heather Glynn made a good speech which persuaded the committee to allow a martial arts centre at Swaines Industrial Estate, Ashingdon Road, Rochford. This was despite officers concerns about parking.


One Light Doesn’t Turn Off, One Light Doesn’t Turn On

There seems to be something up with the streetlights in Keats Walk, Rayleigh!

Last Friday there was this report on FixMyStreet:

Street Lighting

Reported in the Street lighting category anonymously at 12:04, Friday 16 November 2012
Sent to Essex County Council less than a minute later

This street light is ON DAY and NIGHT. It is located to the REAR of house NUMBER 23, KEATS WALK RAYLEIGH ESSEX, in the service road off Shakespeare Avenue.

And from FixMyStreet today:

Street Light

Reported in the Street lighting category anonymously at 10:04 today
Sent to Essex County Council 1 minute later

This light is not turning On at night. It is located at the FRONT of House Numbers 14&16 KEATS WALK, RAYLEIGH, ESSEX, SS6 8YG. The NUMBER on the Lamp Post is 1KW.





50 Houses In Hockley?

The Development Committee of the  District Council meets tomorrow night – and one of the items on the agenda is an outline applciation for up to 50 new homes at Pond Chase Nursery, Folly Lane, Hockley.

The scheme fits in with the council’s core strategy policy of having 50 new homes in West Hockley. Officers are receommending it for approval.

Find out more here.

What County Highways Think Of Rawreth Lane


There’s a report coming to a council panel on Friday about Rawreth Lane – is it worthwhile spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to create a roundabout at the Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road junction?

Their answer is no – a proper roundabout might actually slow traffic down even more, and in any case they don’t think there’s much of a problem anyway. The conclusions to the report are:


“The conclusion based on the assessment to date is that the Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road junction operates within its capacity on normal days.  Flow approaches capacity during the afternoon peak for a relatively short period.


Operations are such that relative small changes in demand or road conditions cause queuing and delays, as illustrated by the bus stopping on Hullbridge Road south, mentioned above.  Operations at the junction and in the area are very sensitive to changes in the network, such as the closure of Watery Lane.


There have been two slight personal injury collisions at this junction in last three years.  Therefore does not meet criteria for casualty reduction intervention.


The introduction of a full size roundabout with more weaving space and distance between entry points will increase the speed of traffic through the junction and reduce the eye to eye contact / interaction between drivers that currently happens at the mini roundabout.  This may lead to an increase in time delay for traffic entering the roundabout and in turn increase the queue lengths.”

We think quite a few residents will agree with not having a roundabout. But what about the County view that the junction  “operates within its capacity on normal days???” Perhaps the best thing to do is print their whole report below. Your thoughts and comments would be welcome!



Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road, Rochford


Proposed Roundabout / Junction Improvement Options




The Rochford Local Highways Panel is concerned about the traffic flows at the junction of Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road.  This junction is currently controlled by a mini roundabout. The LHP has proposed two roundabout options as per the attached drawings. The report below looks at the current traffic flows, congestion, collision data and the site constraints for the implementation of the proposals.


Traffic flows / Surveys

The Traffic Control Centre has monitored the flows at this site over a 5 day period (Monday to Friday) for two weeks (Monday 1 October 2012 to Friday 12 October 2012) via the service provided by Tom Tom which accurately detects stationary traffic on the network.  The final report states that on no occasion was stationary traffic detected on any approach to the roundabout.  Therefore this location is not classed as a congestion hot spot requiring intervention.

Turning movement traffic counts were undertaken between 07:00 and 19:00 on Wednesday 17 October, classifying vehicles by type at the junctions of:

  • Rawreth Lane and Hullbridge Road
  • Hullbridge Road and Ferndale Road
  • Rawreth Lane and Hambro Parade

The counts were done in preparation for detailed assessment of junction operations, including the two design options, both of which will cause reassignment of traffic currently using Mortimer Road.Automatic traffic counters (ATCs) on Rawreth Lane and on Hullbridge Road also recorded traffic for every 15 minutes from Saturday 13 October to Thursday 25 October.


ATC data


During the two weeks when the automatic counters were in place, Watery Lane was closed from 22 to 24 October and it was possible to record the effect on Rawreth Lane and Hullbridge Road.

The table below shows average days data and for the days that Watery Lane was closed.


Normal weekday

With Watery Lane Closed

% difference

24 hour flow

Rawreth Lane Eastbound




Rawreth Lane Westbound




Hullbridge Road Northbound




Hullbridge Road Southbound




08:00 to 09:00

Rawreth Lane Eastbound




Rawreth Lane Westbound




Hullbridge Road Northbound




Hullbridge Road Southbound




17:00 to 18:00

Rawreth Lane Eastbound




Rawreth Lane Westbound




Hullbridge Road Northbound




Hullbridge Road Southbound




There was a significant increase in traffic on Rawreth Lane and Hullbridge Road when Watery Lane was closed.  As shown by the smaller increase or even decrease in traffic on Rawreth Lane but significant increase on Hullbridge, it appears that some drivers avoided Rawreth Lane and probably used the London Road / Down Hall Road route instead.


Junction Operations

 The detailed turning flow data supported by video footage of traffic condition on 17 October, which was considered a normal day.  Based on the video footage it appears that:

  • Operations during the morning peak period showed little or no congestion except for when noticeable queues developed through the junction at 08:43 as result of a bus stopping 30m south of the roundabout on Hullbridge Road.  The bus remained stationary at the bus stop for approximately 2 minutes, with little opportunity for vehicles to overtake during this period.  The junction became locked and a queue extended along Rawreth Lane exceeding 150m, whilst the queue extended along Hullbridge Road (N) for more than 250m.  However, the junction returned to normal operation within 4 minutes of the bus moving off, which shows the junction works efficiently.
  • The only significant issue observed was in the afternoon peak period on Rawreth Lane eastbound between 16:55 and 17:55 with slow moving traffic exceeding 150 metres.  Delay at the give way line appears short with vehicles able to move off quickly.

Feedback from users indicated that severe congestion occurred in the study area when Watery Lane is closed.  This situation is not unique to this area when other roads in the area are closed.  Watery Lane was closed on this occasion for planned tree cutting works.

The conclusion based on the assessment to date is that the Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road junction operates within its capacity on normal days.  Flow approaches capacity during the afternoon peak for a relatively short period.

Operations are such that relative small changes in demand or road conditions cause queuing and delays, as illustrated by the bus stopping on Hullbridge Road south, mentioned above.  Operations at the junction and in the area are very sensitive to changes in the network, such as the closure of Watery Lane.

Collisions and Safety Implications

There have been two slight personal injury collisions at this junction in last three years.  Therefore does not meet criteria for casualty reduction intervention.

The introduction of a full size roundabout with more weaving space and distance between entry points will increase the speed of traffic through the junction and reduce the eye to eye contact / interaction between drivers that currently happens at the mini roundabout.  This may lead to an increase in time delay for traffic entering the roundabout and in turn increase the queue lengths.


Option 1 – would require approximately 1,600 sqm (subject to detailed design)

Option 2 – would require approximately 17,600 sqm (subject to detailed design)

The local land owner has indicated that he is prepared to make the land available.  However this was for the original left turn lane option (see drawing XX) which has been dismissed because of the cost of moving the statutory undertaker’s plant which is estimated at £305,000.

Water Course

There is a water course to the northwest of the current mini roundabout.  This would require piping or bridging for the new roundabout.  The agreement of the Environment Agency would be required.

Statutory Undertakers Plant

There is significant utilities plant both under and over ground in the area that would require relocation.  The estimated cost of relocation is £305,000.


Rawreth Lane and Hullbridge Road are both Priority 2 routes so these proposals are not against policy.


S106 – There is currently £42,955 budget available.  This contribution is time limited and expires 29 October 2014.  It was proposed to use this funding to improve the current mini roundabout and improve the turning in to the shop access road.

Alternative schemes

Listed below are alternative options for this junction and locations within the Rochford area where congestion is an issue for operation of the network and would benefit from significant investment.

The costs are initial estimates and are subject to further site investigation and detailed design and final estimate.  No consultation has been carried out on any of these options.

  • Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road Area Improvements
  1. Relocate the south bound bus stop on Hullbridge Road to a new lay-by constructed on the verge immediately to the south of the current stop location.  £50,000
  1. Improve the current mini roundabout and right turn into service road for shops.  £43,000


  • Wider Area Improvements
  1. A129 London Road junction with Down Hall Road – signal installation with pedestrian facilities.  £500,000
  1. High Street junction with Websters Way – capacity improvements – widening to increase capacity; reconfigure signal staging and timing.  £400,000.



The construction of a full size roundabout at this junction will not improve capacity or traffic flows.  In fact delays may increase due to the possible increase in speed and reduction of interaction between drivers.

Consideration should be given to funding other alternatives which would bring bigger benefits for the wider area and better value for money.

Choose the layout you want to see

November 2012
« Oct   Dec »

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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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