onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


Archive for February, 2013

Cafe/ Restaurant Use Refused In Rayleigh High Street

The District Council has tonight refused planning permission for a change of use in Rayleigh High Street.

The application was for no. 74 High Street, which until recently was Johnsons Dry Cleaners. This is a retail use, and the application was to change it to restaurant/cafe use. In fact, it would have become a Pie and Mash shop.

Officers were recommending approval, but councillors refused it on the grounds of it being against our council retail policy of at least 75 % retail use in the town centre….

A Columbarium For Rayleigh

White Dove

It is difficult to be buried or have your ashes interred in Rayleigh after you die. The Cemetery at Rayleigh has no further grave or cremation plots available for purchase, which with the exception of children’s graves has reached its capacity.

However later this year the District Council will be providing a new feature – a columbarium. This was a new word for us – if you look it up you’ll find it means:

“a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns (i.e. urns holding a deceased’s cremated remains). The term comes from the Latin columba (dove) and originally referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons called a dovecote.”

It is not being publicised yet, and the final details are still being worked out, but it will take the form of two fairly low pillars, faced in two different shades of granite, set in a small south-facing space with some rose bushes. Each compartment will be able to securely hold one or two urns. One advantage over interment is that if the deceased descendants are leaving the area, they could have the urn taken out of the columbarium for placing in another locality.

This seems to be a tasteful and thoughtful idea from officers, encouraged by the Conservative portfolio holder Mike Steptoe; it deals with an understated but genuine local need, and we believe will be financially self-sufficient. So full marks to the District Council for this.

No Ball Games ?

On FixMyStreet , a resident badly wants a no ball games sign back in Hullbridge:

Street sign

Reported by Paula harbrow at 17:12 today
Sent to Essex County Council and Rochford District Council 2 minutes later

By the green grassy area there was a no ball games street sign, it was broken years ago and I have tried every avenue trying to get it replace including Rockford district council, local parish council, local conservative and labour representatives with no avail , it might not be important to some but you don’t live here, it does help stop football balls being kicked into our property here in Keswick ave.


Congrats To Jack

Congrats to Southend blogger Jack Monroe, who has a new job and a new career – as trainee reporter with the Echo:

It’s been a long journey of job applications – over 300 saved in a folder in my email inbox marked Jobs Applied For, and many more CVs dropped in along the High Street, adverts answered in shop windows and newspapers, and a few jobs picked up and not worked out along the way. I remember the day the advert appeared in the back of the Echo for trainee reporters. I didn’t see it myself, but that morning I learned which of my friends read the Echo on their lunch break, as a slew of text messages, emails and phonecalls ensued telling me that there was an advert in the newspaper that I write a weekly column for, looking for trainee news reporters….

….I wrote back in July, before the Big Open House Sale:

“This morning, small boy had one of the last Weetabix, mashed with water, with a glass of tap water to wash it down with. ‘Where’s Mummys breakfast?’ he asks, big blue eyes and two year old concern. I tell him I’m not hungry, but the rumblings of my stomach call me a liar. But these are the things that we do…. Poverty isn’t just having no heating, or not quite enough food, or unplugging your fridge and turning your hot water off. Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one weetabix and says ‘more mummy, bread and jam please mummy’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam.”

After over a year of this, of learning how to live on a food budget of £10 a week or less, I’m finally going to have a regular salary again, a desk with a mug on it, and hopefully I’ll never have to tell Small Boy that there is no bread or jam again.

Do You Have Some Unwanted But Good Quality Stuff To Put In A Bag?

Down Hall School are doing some fundraising – please support them if you can…

You can find out more about Bag2School here.

A Fire Sale ?

A regular onlineFOCUS reader has contacted us because he is concerned about possible plans to privatise the Fire Service.
The Daily Mirror reported earlier this month:

All 46 fire and rescue services in England could be sold off to private firms under secret Government plans.Local government minister Brandon Lewis calls for new laws that “would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider” in a letter obtained by the Mirror.He continues: “I appreciate that the proposals are not without controversy; however these changes will help remove barriers and to increase choices that fire and rescue authorities have to contract out their services.

The campaign group 38 degrees is running an online petition on its website here – it has over 95000 names so far. The webpage frustratingly doesn’t have very much information, for people who like to check things out before signing anything.

However on their emails to supporters they include a link to a letter. The letter was sent by government minister Brandon Lewis to our local MP James Duddridge, in his capacity as the chair of a House of Commons committee. You can download the letter here, but here’s a snippet (click to enlarge)

As we said above, if you want to oppose this, you can sign the petition here.

Some FixMyStreet Updates

Here are some new reports that people have made on FixMyStreet. Let’s hope the County Council respond quickly….

This evening , a dangerous pothole in Hulbridge Road Rayleigh:

Pot hole

Reported in the Potholes category anonymously at 18:17 today
Sent to Essex County Council 3 minutes later

Fairly substantial hole in the road just after you turn left from the roundabout. Caused the car in front to swerve onto oncoming side of the road so as to avoid.


and more from Thursday, for Rochford, Canewdon and Rawreth:



Pot hole around drain cover

Reported in the Potholes category anonymously at 19:30, Thursday
Sent to Essex County Council 5 minutes later

As with most pot holes on this road, it is quite deep and hard to avoid on a busy narrow road



Reported in the Potholes category by Steve Currell at 18:17, Thursday
Sent to Essex County Council 3 minutes later

Four potholes round four drain covers between shops past oxford rd and holt farm school over a 100m length of road on the oxford road side of the Southend bound track




Reported in the Potholes category by Steve Currell at 17:48, Thursday
Sent to Essex County Council 1 minute later

Pothole sycamore way on anchor lane side of cedar way

Roads and Pavements, pothole

Reported by StreetReport iPhone in the Potholes category by Steve Currell at 14:18, Thursday
Sent to Essex County Council 1 minute later

First noticed on Thu, 21 Feb 2013.

I see this as high priority.

Massive pothole at junction of slip into rawreth lane


New Chief Constable

The new Chief Constable for Essex is Stephen Kavanagh, currently Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Met.

You can see more about him on the Police and Crime Commisioners blog here. He takes over on May 3rd:

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said: “I feel hugely privileged to have been selected as the next Chief Constable of Essex Police. I greatly look forward to working alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner and everyone in the force to deliver our shared vision for policing and keeping our communities safe.
“I was born and bred in Essex, and I feel very proud to have been presented with this opportunity.”

The Police Oracle website writes about it here and describes him as “much respected”:

The officer started his career in policing in 1985 as a constable in Met before being promoted to detective sergeant in investigative and forensic management positions.

He was a founding member of the Racial and Violent Crime Task Force where he helped to write the ACPO Race/Hate Crime Manual following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

He became homicide SIO in 1998 before climbing the ranks to DAC for Territorial Policing in April 2011, after completing his Strategic Command Course at Bramshill. He also gained an MPhil in Criminology at Wolfson College in Cambridge.

The officer became DAC for Specialist Operations in November 2012, and has had the responsibility for several high-profile ongoing investigations.

Grappling With The New Council Tax Support System

As we have mentioned before, this year some people will have to pay some council tax when they didn’t have to pay before. It does NOT apply to people of pension age. You can find out more on the District Council website here.

At the moment the council has arranged home visits to those affected. The visits will entail a representative (working for a company called Hambury Tilmond) presenting residents with a letter urging them to seek help and advice with financial planning. They will be carrying clear identification indicating they are acting on the council’s behalf.

Residents can seek advice via the council, or via the Citizens Advice Bureau (on 0844 477 0808)

Congrats To Chelmsford Lib Dems

Congratulations to Graham Pooley who gained a seat for the Lib Dems in a Chelmsford Council by-election this week:

Lib Dem 543
Cons 423
UKIP 280
Lab 129
Green 47
1426 22.2% turnout

In his victory speech Graham paid tribute to the previous councillor, the late Delmas Ashford, who served as a councillor for 56 years.

The Grace Of Birds And The Grace Of Yoga…

There’s quite a bit of stuff to write tomorrow, including items on Council Tax and FixMyStreet. But for tonight here’s two brand new short videos.

This is one on nature conservation featuring David Attenborough that a friend sent to Chris Black:

And one from a Rayleigh Yoga teacher promoting her classes: (Hat-tip to the Rayleigh Essex facebook page for this one)

Watery Lane Still Closed

We’ve been advised that at 5 pm today, Watery Lane is still officially closed….

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February 2013
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Latest Comments

  • bruce smart: Seems to me that the social housing tenants need to remember where they were before they moved into it....
  • Christine Paine: Bruce, you are right, if they weren’t busy then yes some would close, however, my thoughts are...
  • John Mason: I am glad that you have also raised Homelessness. The Review Committee has been investigating the extent...
  • Oz the Positive: Toby@12, I had completely forgotten that the Taxi Drivers run the town, how is it that these small...
  • Toby Mountain: There needs to be some rounded thinking and less bureaucracy – Look at the calendar and start...
  • bruce smart: Christine – we probably all agree that there is an excessive number of eating places in the Town...
  • admin: Well , thats a pity , Oz.
  • Oz the Dissapointed...: Ron, thank you for the reply however I am slightly disappointed, I’m looking to vote...
  • admin: James, the action plan’s modified version has the following paragraph: “The Council recognises the...
  • Angelina: Good luck Ron.
  • Christine Paine: Bruce, I think you are approaching a Catch 22 situation with the High St. The more coffee shops,...
  • James Newport: Ron wasn’t the A1 target being reduced in the action plan recently as it couldn’t be...
  • admin: One thing that Ron didn’t mention was the campaign to keep free parking on Saturday afternoons in...
  • Ron Oatham: The council’s targets are 75% retail(A1)in the primary shopping area and 50% in secondary. These...
  • bruce smart: Best way is for people to use the existing shops and make them profitable. Being positive, I think...
  • Oz the Positive: Ron, could you please give me your thoughts on the best way to maintain the retail / service balance...
  • Jim Cripps: OK thank you CHRIS – think I will do an open letter ( via the ECHO letters page ) and ask what they...
  • Chris Black: Jim. District and Parish councillors can get involved in the really local highways stuff – for...
  • Christine Paine: It’s not so much the queues Oz, it’s the fact that the road system is not robust enough...
  • Oz the Positive: Ladies, I feel your pain, all that traffic, I don’t blame you for complaining, just like the...
  • Jim Cripps: ECC are responsible for Highways – just which (Parish/Town/Di strict ) Councillors represent us (...
  • Janet Warner: Thanks Christine. Unfortunately I had no choice on Saturday, as I had approached the Carpenters Arms...
  • John Mason: I understand that the main Green Party Web site had been under a Denial of Service attack but it has been...
  • Chris Black: Oz, yes other majority parties can definitely behave differently. I’ve seen three majority groups...
  • John Mason: This is a significant watershed not just for Rayleigh, Sweyne Park Ward, but for the whole of Rochford...
  • Oz the Positive: Would any other majority party behave any differently ?
  • Chris Black: Geoff , I spoke to County Highways yesterday, the junction has been inspected, and its on the list to be...
  • Christine Paine: I would like to wish all the non Tory candidates the very best of luck in the election. If they take...
  • Christine Paine: Janet, I saw the queue of traffic Saturday and decided to go London Road way. London Road/Crown Hill...
  • David Montgomery: The car that Clive is sitting in in the photo above has a Buckler DD2 chassis.

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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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