Anger In Hullbridge

The meeting in Hullbridge tonight had a very big attendance – around 250 people , in a village with a population of around 7000. Some people possibly turned away because it was so crowded.

It’s certainly rare to see people walking to a council meeting in large groups as if they were on their way to a football match!

Parish Council Chair Angelina Marriott faced a very tough task in trying to chair such a large meeting- but she made an admirable attempt, and held things together.

The District Council had it’s ‘big guns’ of Cllr Terry Cutmore, Cllr Keith Hudson and Shaun Scrutton present at the front. Standing in the public section were councillors Chris Black (Lib Dem), Alistir Matthews (Independent ) and Michael Hoy (Green)

Residents of Hullbridge are suddenly waking up to the fact that the District Council has already voted for a strategy that puts 500 houses on the Hullbridge / Rawreth borders. They are concerned about traffic, schooling, drainage and the overall increase in the size of the village.

People at the meeting were:

  • critical of the District Council as a whole and Hullbridge Parish Council for not informing them
  • critical of their three Conservative District Councillors for not one of them turning up at the crucial council meeting which voted on this housing. (incidentally none of the 3 were there tonight)
  • critical of Mark Francois for not supporting Hullbridge on this compared with what he was saying about other areas
  • asking for a second public meeting – which Cllr Cutmore was reluctant to arrange.
  • 39 Comments

    1. bryan

      Thanks for the report, I was unable to attend. I can’t believe the district councillors were not present. Time for another email to them I think (which will no doubt be fully ignored and not even ackmowledged AGAIN).

      Reply
    2. Michael Hoy

      This is a very good summary of the meeting. All I would add is that the District Council did not consult properly in the first place when these plans were proposed.

      They kept talking about Rochford District Matters and meetings that took place in Hullbridge, but very few of the people in the meeting last night were aware of these plans; until a small article was put in the local village magazine (Ripples) giving some details of the planned development and asking for people’s comments.

      The Council should review the consultation process they undertake and ask themselves if they are just ticking boxes or really are trying to consult as widely as possible. The people of Hullbridge certainly were not consulted properly and I wonder if the process was in fact legally compliant.

      Reply
    3. Gary

      I found it remarkable that Shaun spoke about an independent application for 300 houses to be built in Rayleigh and used this as an example of what would happen if the LDF was not in place. As far as Hullbridge villagers are concerned they would see this as 300 off of the 4750 new homes required by the current government’s allocation of Rochford. Which puts less pressure on developing in Hullbridge.
      Something that was evident from last night is that the current crop of Rochford Councillors with a few exceptions I.e, yourself were all too quick to full in line with government policy instead of questioning the numbers and asking for details of how the allocation was reached.
      The arrogance of Cllr Cutmore was evident all night by his posture and especially when he was given a chance to speak, which he was extremely reluctant to do till his conscience/ guilt got the better of him. If his electors have any sense and understanding of local concerns they will not re-elect him.

      One question all could not answer was how many new houses have been built in the past 5 years in the different areas and how many properties were sold as a result of their occupants dying. This is relevant to Hullbridge’s issue as it has the oldest population in the area and so will by default have the highest fatality rate and highest release of property for occupancy.

      Shaun stated that the RDF was to provide a BALANCED plan so how is it that a village like Hullbridge has one eighth of all new house development in RDF (500 out 4750), a development that will increase the population by approx., by one third (2,ooo new people 7000 existing). If it was balanced how many homes would need to be built in the other areas to match Hullbridge’s quota ?
      What would the figures be for

      Reply
    4. bryan

      Is there a way to find out when the three Conservative District Hullbridge Councillors are due for re-election?

      Reply
    5. a.matthews

      Gary .I was at last nights meeting .I agree with much of what you say .You are fortunate that you are only adding a third of your population ,Rawreth is to more than double its population find room for a displaced industrial site ,and just to complete the picture a possible site for 18 travellers pitches .The origional idea was to spread the load throughout the district ,we both seem to have been dumped on ,nothing of course to do with political allegiance.The roads to Hullbridge go through our parish so we understand how unsustainable the system is , do not worry though they are to upgrade watery lane that will make a difference!!!!

      Reply
    6. Graham Marshall

      I too was at the meeting. I was disappointed that clear, understandable, answers were not always given. I was equally disappointed that the proposal to postpone the closing date for consultations was rejected and that there would be no more public meetings held before the closing date for consultations.

      Still, at least the good people of Hullbridge seem to have made their feelings abundantly clear. I just hope that those same people will write to make their opinions known as many people standing near me left the meeting grumbling that it was a “stitch-up” or a “done deal”.

      I think it is inevitable that some development occurs in Hullbridge – it is the scale of the proposed development that seems to have caused most concern.

      Incidentally, I note that “public transport infrastructure and service improvements” is mentioned in the DPD Discussion and Consultation Document. However, it has been made abundantly clear to me in previous planning meetings that it is not within a Local Authorities power to compel a public transport company to run bus or train services, it is entirely down to a commercial judgement made by the transport provider. Unless, of course, the local authority partially or fully subsidises the bus or train service and that is very unlikely indeed!

      Reply
    7. Rayleigh Resident

      I sincerily hope that people are waking up to just how RDC work – after I attended my first meeting I posted this on this site:

      This was the first meeting that I have attended and I left feeling totally disillusioned with the whole process. I felt that the issue of the Teen Shelter, was, in the eyes of the council, a ” done deal” and residents concerns were not being listened to. It’s a matter of record that the RDC officer speaking about the shelter did not know about the measures to decide if it will be success or not nor did she know how long the temporary period would last.

      Forget the local Teen Shelter issue in this case – the real issue is local councillors and unelected officers in RDC riding roughshod over what they see as “little people” who do not matter. Well they do – I urge everyone who cares about our local area to attend at least one meeting, I guarantee you will be totally appalled….I wonder what the prospective Lib Dem candidate has to say ?

      Reply
    8. Michael Hoy

      The Hullbridge Action Group is to hold a public meeting on Friday 7.00pm at the Community Centre, Hullbridge, to advise and help people in writting letters in protest to Rochford District Council about the 500 houses planned for Hullbridge. These will be delivered Byby the Hullbridge Action group to Rochford District Council.

      Reply
    9. Mike Nobes

      RR, completely agree. The Conservative Council have lost the ability to listen and take on board what ‘their residents’ are telling them. Its the Maggie syndrome, 2010 style. The cabinet system is totally undemocratic, which gags Councillors at meetings and stops open debates, while the portfolio holders and senior Councillors enjoy the large rises they were given. The whole system needs mending so democracy is once again part of RDC.

      Reply
    10. admin (Post author)

      Gary at 3 – actually , the developers application for 300 homes is in Rochford…

      Bryan at 4 – one comes up for re-election this May, May 2011 and May 2012. Rosemary Brown is up for election this time but she is stepping down. The new Conservative candidate , lives in Hockley and is a Hockley Parish Councillor. Which begs the question, if he’s elected and the choice has to be made between building houses in Hullbridge or Hockley, how will he vote? We have just seen the Conservative leaflet for Downhall and Rawreth , which does not give the Conservative candidates home address. Look out to see what address is shown on the Conservative leaflet in Hullbridge….

      Reply
    11. Donna Thresher

      Hi I was at the meeting but for those of us at the back we couldnt here what we needed to do, I gather we need to write a letter and I note a post about there being a meeting on Friday to help with letters etc but we need to get these meetings known, many of my friends are still unaware of what is going on.

      In order to find this post I have gone through many sites and links, I always post info on my facebook page to try and help the cause but I didnt even know the Action Group existed. As a community we really need some visibilty some signs stickers etc. And defo vote in a Hullbridge councillor!!

      Reply
    12. bryan

      admin, thanks. I’ll do some digging and I’ll let you know if any of the Hullbridge counillors respond to my latest email. I’ll send a copy to Cllr Cutmore to see if I get any response their.

      Thanks for the good info again.

      Reply
    13. Mike Nobes

      Personally speaking I hope that we do not have to suffer the Conservatives for too much longer. Their jobs, as Councillors, are never easy but one thing they could do is listen, listen to what the residents are telling them and act in the interests of those residents. They have been inept at doing this and I feel for every person who has spoken of their needs and have been ignored in favour of business predominately developers. It is about time this council was voted out.

      Reply
    14. Michael Hoy

      With regard to Friday’s meeting we have been out tonight putting A4 posters on most of the telegraph poles in Ferry Road and also the bus stops.

      I will probably be out leafletting tomorrow and will tell everyone I meet about the meeting and I will put out group invitations on the facebook groups I am admin of.

      Lets get 1,000 people there and 1,000 letters to match the petition total as of last night.

      We have now revised our figures upwards on the attendance at last nights meeting to 270+.

      Reply
    15. Mike Nobes

      Bryan, tory councillors not attending meetings in Hullbridge has been going on for far too long. They do nothing for the residents, I have no idea why they are still councillors????

      Reply
    16. bryan

      Mike N, time for a change I think, at least for the one spot that’s up for grabs. We’ll deal with the rest as and when they come up.

      Michael H I’ll get as much on www,hullbridge.me as I can. Piop anything over that you want included otherwise I’ll just add links (may not be until Thursday now).

      Reply
    17. bryan

      Is there an easy way to find out the attendance record of specific councillors at meetings?

      Reply
    18. admin (Post author)

      Donna at 11 – welcome to onlinefocus. As you can see , we have been going a while but it’s difficult to get people to know we exist!

      Local politics is going to change with the web – people are starting to understand that council issues aren’t always boring , and that local residents can sometimes have a real impact. (which of course they should , always)

      If different sites link to each other we can make some progress….

      Reply
    19. admin (Post author)

      Bryan at 17

      If you go to http://cmis.rochford.gov.uk/cmiswebpublic/CalendarEvents.aspx ypu can click on ‘meetings’. From there you can look at the documents for a particular meeting .

      For example, if you find the Development Committee (which deals with planning applications) for 25th March, the agends lists all the members of the committee – every councillor except two (who appear to be Cllr Mrs Brown and Cllr Steptoe).The minutes show who attended, and who gave their apologies. (But some absentees might not give their apologies).

      Overall attendances have been published every year, though the council may be doing away with that.

      I found the attendance records for 2007-2008 at http://cmis.rochford.gov.uk/CMISWebPublic/Binary.ashx?Document=15606

      I can’t cut and paste them, but if you are interested, the 5 councillors who attended most meetings in 2007-2008 were:

      Terry Cutmore 58
      Peter Webster 49
      Mavis Webster 48
      Derek Stansby 47
      John Pullen 45

      The 5 who attended the fewest were:

      Rosemary Brown 10
      Trevor Goodwin 16
      Lucy Cox 16
      Peter Robinson 16
      Tracy Capon 20

      Obviously illness and pregnancy can have an impact. as well as clashes with other types of council meetings (eg school governors).

      You’ll see that none of the Lib Dem councillors appear here – our attendance records are all reasosnable, and we tend to have fewer possible meetings to go to than some of the Conservatives. ( e.g. Terry Cutmore attended an impressive 58 out of a possible 58. I attended 32 out of a possible 38)

      Reply
    20. Mike Nobes

      Hullbridge Action Group, good luck. At last residents are taking their future into their own hands. Hopefully the Conservatives will lose many seats on the council to people, of what ever party, that really care.

      Reply
    21. bryan

      I emailed Shaun Scrutton today and received a reply within a couple of hours. My email said;

      I believe the consultation process and selection process are floored and should be reassessed or at least extended beyond the 30th April deadline for the following reasons; 
       Hullbridge District Councillors have been derelict in their duties. They have not sought or reflected Hullbridge residents opinions and were not even present for the crucial District vote on Sept 9th 2009
      The large 900 page document recently produced by Rochford council to consider the various sites put forward by land owners appears to completely neglect the assessment of 1 crucial field in the Hullbridge part of Watery Lane.  This field is included in 2 of your preferred sites. This area is regularly flooded and this lack of assessment is a flaw in your process. This field is highlighted in pink in this picture but if your email systems block this picture it can be found here; http://www.hullbridge.me/housin1.jpg 
       There seems to be no assessments that include the listed building(s) at Malyons Farm in Hullbridge. 
      There is an obvious risk of flooding in many of the 4 council preferred options which seems to have been ignored in the recommendations made.  
      I’m interested to hear your views on these points. Thanks,

      Response from Shaun Scrutton;
      I thought it might be helpful to provide some comments in response to your questions, but in providing a response, I would reiterate the point made by Cllr Cutmore of the need to ensure you take the opportunity to make formal representations to the Allocations DPD discussion and consultation document. 
      1.  The decision by Full Council on 9 September 2009 to accept the Rochford Core Strategy for submission was in accordance with standing orders and the relevant legislation governing the operation of local authorities. 
      2.  The field you have coloured red was not put forward by a landowner/developer in the call for sites and therefore is not shown in the assessment detailed in appendix one.  It is though suggested as an option for discussion by the Council.  The land is not within the Flood Zone 3 (1 in 100 or greater risk of annual flooding), nor is it part of the functional floodplain.  Any issues relating to the likelihood of surface water flooding would be dealt with through the provision of a sustainable drainage system (SUDS).  I should also point out that the sites shown in the document are for discussion only at this stage, they are not ‘preferred” sites as you suggest. 
      3. There are no statutorily listed buildings at Malyons Farm.   
      4.   The sites suggested in the discussion and consultation document are in an area classified as being at low probability of flooding.  Nevertheless, as explained, any surface water flooding issues will be dealt with at a later stage of the Allocations DPD process when specific sites are outlined, and any such issues will be dealt with through the design of the SUDS. 
      A final point to note is that all proposals included in the next version of the Allocations DPD will be subject to the very detailed tests included as part of a sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment.  For your information, the SA/SEA will analyse the emerging plan against the following headings: Balanced Communities, Healthy & Safe Communities, Housing, Economy & Employment, Accessibility, Biodiversity, Cultural Heritage, Landscape & Townscape, Climate Change & Energy, Water, Land & Soil, Air Quality, and Sustainable Design & Construction. 
      Regards 
      Shaun Scrutton

      Reply
    22. bryan

      Interesting that Watery Lane is viewed as being ‘in and area classified as being at low probability of flooding’.

      I’ll dig into the listed building question more, that’s not what the farmer at Malyons has been telling me for years!

      Reply
    23. Mike Nobes

      Bryan, This is another way that the Conservatives have connived to ensure that any vote goes their way.

      Shaun Scrutton said the meeting was in accordance with standing orders and relevant legislation, however I would have thought that not having Hullbridge councillors there to ‘vote in the residents favour’ was certainly not best practice, taken from a Governance stand point? The Governance of RDC, to me, appears to suck. This would never be allowed in my sphere of work and I am knowledgeable, may I say, in this area. The Governance within local government appears to be swayed in favour of the council. I would have thought that you would have a good shout at making the council take another vote and making sure that you inform your councillors that they will lose their position if they do not take into there account your views. But and it is a big but, you must keep on harassing the council to do this. If I am elected, RDC had better get their act together because I will question every decision they make, even if I am not allowed to!! Good luck. Lets get this crowd into the 21st century!

      Reply
    24. Chris Black

      Mike, I can see where you are coming from, but the LDF document is now in the hands of the inspector, who will have the final say. . The action group should now aim to get their views through to her.

      Reply
    25. bryan

      Chris, once agan I’m asking for help – who is or how do I contact the inspector?

      Thanks

      Reply
    26. Greenbelt

      Bryan, to ease Chris’s work load the inspector is Laura Graham BSc MA MRTPI.
      The Programme Officer is Lissa Higby at RDC Offices Tel. 01702 318062. Her email is
      programme.officer@rochford.gov.uk
      The Examination website is
      http://www.rochford.gov.uk/planning/policy/local_development_framework/core_strategy_dpd.aspx although I have had problems with this.

      Reply
    27. Brian Guyett

      Bryan,
      You may have a problem with the Inspector. As I understand it (and I’m no expert) the Inspector will only consider representations made in the consultation which closed last November. She will not consider new objections. You may want to check this out.
      The only option I can suggest is to get someone who is alreay registered to speak at the hearing, on the aspects you are concerned with, to speak for you.
      No doubt someone will correct me if I have got any of this wrong!

      Reply
    28. Rayleigh Resident

      Jane Lydford says: I don’t want to hear of block party voting, I just want people that are supposed to represent us – that members of parliament members, Essex county council, Rochford District Council, Town Council etc – to do so.

      Jane- try to attend your next area meeting – you will be appalled at how RDC and some councillors make decisions that affect us without any thought as to the impact.

      Reply
    29. Michael Hoy

      Have to say we had an excellent meeting in Hullbridge yesterday, with over 400 people packing into the Hullbridge Community Centre to get information on what to put into their letters and how to word them.

      Thanks must go to Cllr Chris Black for turning up and helping with answers to our questions (none of our own Councillors could be bothered to show up) and helping us all get a better understanding of the process.

      Mark Francois (as he pointed out not currently an MP) did brave the meeting and did as well as he could hope for against an unimpressed audience.

      Reply
    30. Greenbelt

      Brian G. Getting someone who is already registered to speak at the hearing will be difficult as that person will only be allowed to raise their previously nominated objections. For example, as I understand it, if that person objected to Policy T1 Highways, they will only be able to speak on that subject and any questions from the inspector will likewise be related to that subject.
      In addition to this, any further statements from participants registered to speak must be submitted by the closing date of 20th April.

      Reply
    31. Gary

      Bryan,
      Could you ask Shaun to clarify whether the owner(s) of the land in SWH1, 2, 3, 4 submitted it during the call for sites, if they did not I would advocate that the Allocations DPD Discussion and Consultation Document document is invalid as I understand only sites submitted by the landowner or developer would be considered.
      If the land was not submitted it means the council would invoke compulsory purchase order which is not mentioned in the document.
      This is not the first time I have heard that the farmer in question did not submit the land.
      I was surprised to see that other buildings in Hullbridge are not listed, and as Malyons (High Elms) is one of the oldest farms (medieval I was informed), Tom or Martin should be able to confirm things on their property deeds. It would not surprise me if some building(s) was once protected but that status was lost during changes in the organizations responsible for monitoring/ protecting buildings.
      I look forward to hearing Shaun’s reply.

      Reply
    32. bryan

      Gary, the farm was on the ‘call to’ document for as long as I can recall – I’m sure this only came from those landowners putting their land forward wasn’t it? The field I’m mot sure if the field I highlighted in pink (on another thread) is part of Malyons or if it was part of the ‘call to’ document, I can’t find that item now. It certainly wasn’t ‘risk assessed’ in this stage of the process.

      Reply
    33. Brian Guyett

      Thanks Greenbelt. I agree with you. Getting to speak to the inspector seems incredibly difficult and I know of several groups still waiting for confirmation that they can do so, despite having gone through the correct procedures hitherto.
      The problem is, I do not know how new groups can now get their views known. Has anyone any ideas?

      Reply
    34. Michael Hoy

      When I looked at the responses to the calls for land there were two fields only offered by the farm.

      Reply
    35. bryan

      Is the document still available anywhere?

      Reply
    36. Chris Black

      Guys,

      First of all, I don’t think the council plans to do any CPOs.

      If you are looking for stuff on the call for sites, there’s a link to the council website in our righthand sidebar which will eventually get you to the latest ‘call for sites’ list.

      However if you look back to onlinefocus in June 2007 we did three separate posts about the call for sites – with links to maps via Jon Mason – that you may find useful.

      Either go via our archives tab at the top of the page or go to http://onlinefocus.org/?m=200706

      Reply
    37. bryan

      I’ve been doing some googling and found this that I hadn’t seen before;
      http://www.rochford.gov.uk/PDF/planning_evibase_landavail.pdf
      It seems to be part of the assessment process but different to the recent 900+ page document.
      There’s a text document relating to the ‘call for sites’ here;
      http://www.rochford.gov.uk/pdf/planning_rochford_district_allocations_dpd_call_for_sites.pdf
      I can’t find a good quality map of the sites anywhere though

      Reply
    38. Michael Hoy

      There is actually a link on the investigator version of this site which takes you straight to the information about the call for land.

      Reply
    39. bryan

      Michael, I can’t see the map version of the call for land document that was around earlier this year – the links are dead now

      Reply

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