onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

July 20th, 2014

In Fond Memory of James Garner

The actor James Garner has , sadly, just died. He was much loved by some of us at onlineFOCUS. He starred in the film “Support Your Local Sheriff” , possibly the greatest film ever about a local government officer trying to manage without proper resources!  He hasn’t got any metal bars for his jail, though he does have a bit of red paint:

 

July 20th, 2014

Changes To Look At Carefully !

One part of the District Council’s Local Development  Framework is the “Development Management Plan”. This is the document that sets out the day-to-day policy for determining planning applications.

The document has already been to an government inspector, the inspector asked for some changes, and the council officers have now amended the document.

Cllr Keith Gordon has been the portfolio holder for planning (at least until a few days ago). He has now agreed that the revised document should go out for public consultation over an 8 week period, with the consultation responses going straight to the inspector.

However there is still time for any 3 councillors to call this in to Full Council, or for the Review Committee to call it in. The deadline for calling it in is 5 working days after July 18th.

So where can you see the document and what are the changes? Well, you can download the document here (2mb)

Here are a few of the changes:

  • The density across a site should be a minimum of 30 dwellings per hectare, unless exceptional circumstances can be satisfactorily demonstrated.
  • Instead of just refusing ‘tandem development’ ‘, which has been council policy for 30 years, tandem development would be allowed when ‘overlooking, privacy and amenity issues’ can be overcome (tandem development is when one house is built directly behind another in a ‘tandem’ arrangement)
  • Instead of sticking to minimum floorspace standards, a smaller floorspace would be allowed if compliance with the standards would be unviable or undeliverable.

But there is a lot more for councillors to study. It’s surprising that this hasn’t gone to the Local Development Framework Sub-Committee

 

July 19th, 2014

Hedgehope Avenue Works

The blocking of the ditch behind Hedgehope Avenue helped cause flooding in Down Hall Road last year...

The blocking of the ditch behind Hedgehope Avenue helped cause flooding in Down Hall Road last year…

Credit’s where it’s due. The District Council has worked behind the scenes to get Anglian Water to carry out improvements to the ditch that runs between Hedgehope Avenue and Down Hall Close in Rayleigh.
Nearly 30 years ago the District Council paid to enclose most of the ditch in a culvert, but weren’t able to do all of it. That meant there was an open stretch between two culverted sections. After the floods last year we were asking that the open section be culverted as well, so we are very pleased that the work has been done. Town Councillor Chris Lumley had a look this week, and residents there are very positive about it.

But there are still plenty more sites to deal with…

July 19th, 2014

Lightning Over South Essex

stuart dymond lightning

stuart dymond 2

There’s quite a few people feeling tired today after two nights of thunderstorms… Lawn mowers will definitely be staying in the shed today.

Photo Credit: Stuart Dymond.

July 18th, 2014

“Flood Advisory Group” Meets Next Week

As Richard Lambourne has pointed out in a recent comment, the District Council’s new “Forum For Surface Water Issues meets next week. We have it confirmed in writing that the public, and councillors who are not members, can attend. We are still waiting for confirmation that they can speak.

Forum for Surface Water Flooding Issues
23 July 2014, 7pm, Room 4 >Rayleigh Civic Suite

Agenda

Membership

Cllr T G Cutmore Cllr B T Hazlewood
Cllr K H Hudson Cllr Mrs J A Mockford
Cllr C G Seagers Cllr D J Sperring
Cllr I H Ward

Budget

Watery Lane

Hedgehope Avenue – confirm satisfactory completion of works

Sweyne Park

Highways hotspots – progress (Spa Road Hockley, Hall Road Rochford, Rectory Road, Hawkwell, and Church Road, Hockley)

Kingsmead Cottages, Barling Road

Salem Walk & Fairmead Rayleigh

Westminster Drive Hockley

Riverside Industrial Estate and the Horse and Groom Pub

Laburnham Way Rayleigh

Rochford reservoir outfall – maintenance works

Fairmead and Salem Walk, Rayleigh

Any Other Business

July 17th, 2014

District Council Website Disrupted Tonight

From the district council website :

There will be severe disruption to our online services today (17th July 2014) from 6pm – midnight for essential maintenance.

This will affect the following systems:

Services for viewing council tax, business rates or benefit account, registering or obtaining a PIN and council tax banding
Online forms
Online parking services
Committee Management Information System (CMIS)
Online planning, building control and licensing searches
If you would like to comment on an application, please email:

planning: planning.applications@rochford.gov.uk

building control: building.control@rochford.gov.uk

licensing: licensing@rochford.gov.uk

Any emails to the Council will not be received until the Council opens on Friday morning.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

July 16th, 2014

Blame It On The Tunnel…

Apologies for no item tonight, blame it on the Dartford Tunnel…!

July 15th, 2014

Michelins Farm Jail Sentence

michelins

From the District Council website:


Date:
Friday, 11 July 2014

Land owner Roger Frederick Phipps, aged 72, has today (Fri 11 Jul) been sent to prison for six months.

Chelmsford Crown Court activated part of a suspended sentence given in January last year for a waste offence after he was convicted of breaching advertisement regulations; alongside his continued breaches of planning and environmental laws.
+++++
Phipps was sentenced in 2013 to eight months imprisonment and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work for allowing an illegal waste site to be run on his farm for years. He was also fined £15,000 for breaching three planning enforcement notices and the Environment Agency and Council were jointly awarded £20,000 in costs.

The prison sentence was suspended for two years.

Since then, the court heard, he has carried out the unpaid work but has yet to pay the court costs and fines. He has failed to remove the majority of the waste from the farm by 30 June 2014, and has continued to display advertisements without consent on his land.

Michelins Farm, Rayleigh, did not have a waste permit nor planning permission to operate the site for waste purposes and it was run without an environmental permit from April 2008-11. The farm is on green belt land and is within a Landscape Improvement Area.
+++++
Site visits undertaken by the Council and the Environment Agency had observed plastics, tyres, building materials, cylinders, and plastic piping and these were seen in 35 fires that the fire service had to attend in 2010-2011.

Environment Agency officers carried out covert surveillance in May 2010 and saw lorries taking waste into the site and at the same time saw smoke regularly coming from the farm. Aerial photos taken by Council officers also demonstrated to the Court the full scale of the damage being caused by Mr Phipps.

Judge David Turner said Phipps had been given by the Court, the Environment Agency and the Council every opportunity to comply with the law and had not done so.
+++++
The Leader of Rochford District Council, Councillor Terry Cutmore said: “It is clear that Mr Phipps’ breach of the advertisement regulations was yet another example of his fragrant and deliberate disregard for the law. Mr Phipps has continued to breach planning regulations despite previously receiving a suspended sentence for similar offences, and it is right that the Court has taken this into account in giving Mr Phipps a 6 month prison sentence. Whilst the council sees legal action as a last resort it will not stand for any inappropriate actions from people who choose to ignore planning laws”.

“It is clear that Mr Phipps’ breach of the advertisement regulations was yet another example of his fragrant and deliberate disregard for the law. Mr Phipps has continued to breach planning regulations despite previously receiving a suspended sentence for similar offences, and it is right that the Court has taken this into account in giving Mr Phipps a 6 month prison sentence. Whilst the council sees legal action as a last resort it will not stand for any inappropriate actions from people who choose to ignore planning laws”.

July 14th, 2014

Liberal Democrats ‘Call-In’ Lord Hanningfield Decision

lord-hanningfield

Breaking news from the County Council – Liberal Democrats at County Hall have ‘called in’ the decision by Essex County Council Tories not to pursue Lord Hanningfield in the Civil Courts. Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr. Mike Mackrory said:

“I called in this decision because I believe we owe it to the council taxpayers of Essex to scrutinise this decision. There is an overwhelming public interest here for justice to be seen to be done; the £51,000 originally claimed back is a token amount out of the total £288,000 claimed by him whilst Leader of the Council. Why should he get away with this when people who are in arrears with their council tax or people who have committed fraud against the council are relentlessly pursued through the courts? Why is there one rule for Lord Hanningfield and another for ordinary people?”

July 13th, 2014

Do You Want To Ask A Question?

question mark

The next full meeting of Rochford District Council is on July 29th at 7:30 p.m.

it’s worth reminding everyone that members of the public can ask questions. The questions have to be submitted in writing to the council by midday 7 days before the day of the meeting, though ypun should normally come along and read out your question in the flesh. You get an answer , and you are then allowed one follow-up question. Here are the rules in full:

10. QUESTIONS BY THE PUBLIC
10.1 General
Members of the public may ask questions of Members of the Executive, at ordinary meetings of the Council. The maximum time limit for asking each question is 3 minutes. The maximum time limit for a supplementary question is 1 minute.
10.2 Order of Questions
Questions will be asked in the order notice of them was received, except that the Chairman may group together similar questions.
10.3 Notice of Questions
A question may only be asked if notice has been given by delivering it in writing or by electronic mail to the Chief Executive no later than midday 7 days before the day of the meeting. Each question must give the name and address of the questioner and must name the Member of the Council to whom it is to be put.
10.4 Number of Questions
At any one meeting no person may submit more than 2 questions and no more than 2 such questions may be asked on behalf of one organisation.
10.5 Scope of Questions
The Chief Executive may reject a question if it:-
 is not about a matter for which the local authority has a responsibility or which affects the district;
 is defamatory, frivolous or offensive;
 is substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of the Council in the past six months; or
 requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.
10.6 Record of Questions
The Chief Executive will enter each question in a book open to public inspection and will immediately send a copy of the question to the Member to whom it is to be put. Rejected questions will include reasons for rejection.
Copies of all questions will be circulated to all Members and will be made available to the public attending the meeting.
10.7 Asking the Question at the Meeting
The Chairman will invite the questioner to put the question to the Member named in the notice. If a questioner who has submitted a written question is unable to be present, they may ask the Chairman to put the question on their behalf. The Chairman may ask the question on the questioner’s behalf, indicate that a written reply will be given or
decide, in the absence of the questioner, that the question will not be dealt with.
10.8 Supplemental Question
A questioner who has put a question in person may also put one supplementary question without notice to the Member who has replied to his or her original question.
A supplementary question must arise directly out of the original question or the reply. The Chairman may reject a supplementary question on any of the grounds in Rule 10.5 above.
10.9 Written Answers
Any question which cannot be dealt with during public question time, either because of lack of time or because of the non-attendance of the Member to whom it was to be put, will be dealt with by a written answer.
10.10 Reference of Question to the Executive or a Committee
Unless the Chairman decides otherwise, no discussion will take place on any question, but any Member may move that a matter raised by a question be referred to the Executive or the appropriate Committee or Sub-Committee. Once seconded, such a Motion will be voted on without discussion.

These rules are in part 4 of the Council Constitution, which you can download from the council website here.

July 12th, 2014

Attack Of The Giant Leeches

Regal Cinema Being Demolished

Regal Cinema Being Demolished

Back in February, we mentioned that Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass had a feature on the Regal Cinema.

One of our readers, Stephen Pickard, has just left a comment that’s worth repeating as an item in itself:


I have very fond memories of the Regal Cinema. When I was 11, our family moved to Eastwood in January,1959. Sometime in ’60’61, when I was able to travel on my own, I started taking the bus to Rayleigh high street on Saturday mornings to the Regal cinema and recall being transfixed by the ‘Batman’ serial they showed at the time.
On Sundays they used to show double bills of ‘X’ films of ’50′s horror and science fiction which I was eager to see but at the time there was a restriction to everyone under the age of 16 being admitted, whether or not you were with an adult.
_
It seemed that it was a big challenge to kids like me, that were only 13/14 was to challenge the law to try to see an ‘X’ film under age.
So, I sacrificed the ‘Saturday morning pictures’ and decided from now on I would be an adult! I approached the pay-desk, (my heart was beating twice as fast!) I recall very clearly the lady selling the tickets, she was either Scottish or an accent from further north. When I asked for a ticket, she would reply in very concerned voice “Are you sixteen?”. On saying yes, up popped the ticket of which I grabbed and quickly ventured into the darkness of the cinema before the manager saw me.
I recall what the manager looked like. He was in his 50′s or 60′s with grey hair and mustache, always dressed in a suit and shirt and tie.
I felt a little guilty about going in under age, but I will be forever grateful to the Regal for those special memories.
I remember that the first ‘X’ films I saw, for those interested, were “Cage of Doom” (“Terror from the Year 5000″) “Demons of the Swamp” (“Attack of the Giant Leeches”) and “The Fantastic Disappearing Man” (“Return of Dracula”). I still have these movies in my collection and whenever I watch them I always fondly remember where I first saw them. Regal Cinema RIP.

Giantleeches

July 11th, 2014

Officers Recommend : Don’t Allow This Church To Be Demolished

united reform church

There’s a planning application on the latest “Weekly List” to demolish the United Reform Church to be demolished and be replaced by a two-storey garage/ games room for an adjacent dwelling.

The key question here is not whether the building should be kept as a church, because planning permission has already been given to convert it to one residential unit. The key question is whether the building should remain, as part of the Great Wakering Conservation Area.

Officers are recommending refusal of the application because of its ‘positive contribution’ to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.

You can find the officers report here.

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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.

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The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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