onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

August 18th, 2014

Consultation Number 1 : On Polling Stations

polling station sign

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.

August 17th, 2014

The Garden Trail !

garden trail

We’ll get back to the political nitty-gritty next week.

But in the meantime here’s a reminder of the Rayleigh Garden Trail next weekend – on Sunday and Monday. There are 15 gardens you can visit.

And one of the gardens belongs to onlineFOCUS’ Chris Stanley!

August 15th, 2014

Something Warming For A Damp August

rAGUFrom Gary Fenn, Rayleigh Food blogger…


“I had a great big clear out of the freezer and unearthed heaps of lamb and pork. Great big lamb shanks and chunks of pork all solid as rock and crying to be used up. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a slow cooked pork and lamb ragu. Kinda traditional style, but I used a few Knorr flavour pots to kick things along. If you don’t have stock pots, add about 6 cloves of crushed garlic and a tablespoon of dried Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, or parsley. I didn’t even have an…”

Find the recipe here.

August 14th, 2014

“Lights, Camera , Action”

Thanks to the Mighty Oz for pointing this item from the government website

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today published a new guide for local people explaining how they can attend and report their local council meetings. New guidance explicitly states that councils should allow the public to film council meetings.

The new how-to guide gives practical information for the public to attend meetings of a council’s executive and how to obtain council documents. The government has changed the law to allow citizens to report, blog, tweet and film council meetings in England. It also outlines the assorted rights that taxpayers’ have to access council papers and documents….

You can find quite a few council chamber videos on Youtube. Here’s one from a small City council in the USA, which gets a bit tetchy, nothing spectcular, though there is some hat throwing after about 2 minutes 15 secs:

August 14th, 2014

“Lib Dem councillor censured for revealing plans to increase council pay”

lib-dem-libby small

It’s just happened in Cambridgeshire. As Mark Pack writes here

Maurice Leeke, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council, has been found guilty of breaking the council’s rules after he issued a press release about plans to increase pay for senior council staff.

From what Mark has written, Cllr Leeke issued a press release, based on the title of a document – ‘corporate leadership team pay review’, for which the title was in the public domain. Perhaps having a surname like “Leeke” is a bit of a disadvantage when trying to defend yourself from an accusation of well, leaking, but there’s a serious point that Maurice Leeke makes here:

I’m very disappointed with the decision, which shows an authority that’s keen to hide behind secrecy for matters which are inconvenient.

It’s quite inexcusable to think any authority should increase the salary of any of its staff behind closed doors without the public being aware of what is being discussed, and all along my concern has been about what I considered to be an unjustifiable pay decrease which would have been devastating for staff morale.

August 13th, 2014

“We Will Remember Them – Fallen MPs”

Lib Dem Blogger Stephen Glenn writes here about the MPs who went to fight in World War One – and died during military service.

“At midnight Berlin time when the deadline for the Germans to respond passed there were young men in Westminster who were MPs who knew that their duty was to return to their regiments and take up arms. The following is a list of the young men who were Members of Parliament* from all parties who fought and died in World War I…”

In amongst the Liberal and Conservative names there are also some Irish MPs, such as Dr John Joseph Esmonde, who seems a intriguing person indeed. His uncle was a baronet, he himself was a physician and an Irish Parliamentary Party MP for North Tipperary from 1910-1915. The political group he belonged to was interested in home rule rather than independence. His political involvement didn’t stop him from serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, where , according to Wikipedia

“Esmonde died on 17 April 1915 from “pneumonia and heart failure consequent on the strain of overwork” while serving as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps”

Incidentally Esmonde had four sons, one of whom died serving in WW1, and another died serving in WW2, receiving a posthumous Victoria Cross in 1942..

August 12th, 2014

The Official Answers

The minutes to the last Full District Council meeting are now available here.

Here you can find the written answers to the public questions – due to technical problems we can’t cut and paste them on to onlineFOCUS right now, we should be able to do it tomorrow morning…:

(a) From Mr J E Cripps of 5 Durham Way, Rayleigh, of the Deputy
Leader of the Council:-

“On the 21st September 2013 Cllr Hudson issued an open letter making
various personal pledges in respect of the Local Development
Framework- Rayleigh & Rawreth. My question relates to the following
“quoted” statement:-
“To facilitate this it will be necessary to relocate the Rayleigh Sports and
Social Club (a valued facility for our residents), they will receive new and
enhanced facilities in recognition of their contribution to Rayleigh life at no
cost to themselves – this is my pledge.”
Recently the Leader of the Council (Cllr Cutmore) has announced, via the
letters page of the Evening Echo, that there will not be any new and
enhanced facilities for RTSSC.
My question is, therefore, at what Council meeting was this
discussed/agreed and recorded.”

The Leader of the Council, Cllr T G Cutmore, responded on behalf of the
Deputy Leader as follows:-
“The provision of new and enhanced facilities for the Rayleigh Sports and
Social Club was predicated on the possibility of the Council’s land
currently occupied by the Social Club being required for future housing
development. It has now been concluded that there is no requirement for
the Council’s land to be used to facilitate the building of housing. That
being the case Rayleigh Sports and Social Club, a private members only
club, can remain precisely where it is for the foreseeable future. Without
the need for the land to be used for housing it will be down to the Club, as
a private business, to determine its requirements for enhanced facilities in
the future.”

By way of supplementary question Mr Cripps referred again to the pledge
made by the Deputy Leader in recognition of the Sports and Social Club’s
contribution to Rayleigh Life and why this no longer stood.
The Leader re-affirmed that the pledge had been predicated on the
possibility of the Council’s land currently occupied by the Social Club
being required for future housing development, which was no longer the
case.

(b) From Mr R Lambourne of 7 Whitehouse Court, 158 Eastwood Road,
Rayleigh, of the Leader of the Council:-

“I note from the latest edition of Rochford District Matters that the Council
has employed a barrister to defend an action by a local resident
concerning the Core Strategy and Allocation Plan.
Can you confirm who authorised the defence of this action and in
particular the considerable extra expense that is presumably budgeted for
and will be paid for out of the council tax and why that authorisation hasn’t
been sanctioned by the Full Council?”

The Leader of the Council, Cllr T G Cutmore, responded as follows:-
“The defence of the legal challenge brought against the Council’s Adopted
Allocation Plan was undertaken by the Head of Legal, Estates and
Member Services in accordance with the authorisation conferred by
Article 13 of the Council’s Constitution.”

By way of supplementary question Mr Lambourne asked if, when
considering possibilities, account had been taken of the costs of not
defending the action and the making of adjustments to the Strategy.
The Leader indicated that every contingency would have been considered
and that the Council had the right to defend its own policies

August 11th, 2014

Yes, Minister….

Congratulations to Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge on becoming a minister in the Foreign Office, with responsibility for Africa.

He replaces James Simmonds, who has resigned, telling the Telegraph :

…. he was quitting as a Foreign Office minister and was standing down as an MP because he was unwilling to carry on staying in hotels while his family were hundreds of miles away in Lincolnshire…

August 10th, 2014

Find A Cat

billy the cat

Rayleigh and Castle Point Cat Protection have cats ready to be adopted … find out more on their new-look website here.

August 9th, 2014

Clare’s Law

Essex Police have a video explaining “Clare’s Law”:

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, more widely known as Clare’s Law, allows the public to request information about someone they suspect may be at risk of being violent towards a partner. The law was introduced after the coroner at the inquest of murdered Clare Woods, suggested that women need to know of someone’s history…

 
Find out more here.

August 8th, 2014

New Date For the Flood Meeting

 

Canterbury Close,

Canterbury Close,

The District Council have now announced a new date for the meeting to discuss flooding issues . The meeting will be held at 5.30pm on Tuesday, August 19, at the Civic Suite, Rayleigh. Members of the public are welcome to attend, though its not clear if they will be able to speak.

“A summit designed to address flood-related issues in the Rochford District is set to be held within the next fortnight.

Rochford District Council has re-scheduled an Advisory Group for Flooding meeting which will bring together organisations including Essex County Council Flood Management Team, Anglian Water, Essex Highways and the Environment Agency for a round-the-table discussion.

The group aims to find out who is responsible for carrying out various flood-prevention measures, and to try to ensure that those responsibilities are complied with.

The meeting will be held at 5.30pm on Tuesday, August 19, at the Civic Suite, Rayleigh, and members of the public are welcome to attend.

The last meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, July 23, had to be postponed as the Environment Agency and Essex County Council were busy dealing with urgent matters resulting from the storms the previous weekend.

This is the first meeting of the Advisory Group for Flooding. It follows on from two previous meetings chaired by the deputy leader and subsequently the Leader of Rochford District Council which were attended by officers of the various authorities. There has already been substantial progress in identifying who is responsible for various works, and to encourage this work to be undertaken….”

August 7th, 2014

The Annual August Exhibition

It will include Rayleigh in WW1, the  usual Rayleigh displays, the unveiling of a 1 /24th scale model of the Windmill with electric motor turning the sails, and details on the proposed Museum plans….

summer exhibition

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