onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


April 9th, 2015

The List of Candidates

You can find the list of parliamentary candidates for Rayleigh and Wickford, & Rochford and Southend East, here.

April 9th, 2015

“Babies Will Become Heathier”



As the coalition government brings in new rules allowing shared parental leave, and the Lib Dems propose extensions on that, the Daily Mail outlines the health benefits:

How paid parental leave helps your baby: Children with a stay-at-home parent are less likely to develop asthma and hearing problems … and the health benefits last for SEVEN years

  • A baby is more likely to become a healthy child with paid parental leave
  • If a parent stays at home with paid leave for baby’s first months, the child is less likely to develop health issues, including asthma and hearing problems
  • A seven year study followed the health of more than a thousand babies
  • Paid leave has the greatest impact on health of babies in families with a lower socio-economic status
  • Parents are likely to stay at home and breastfeed their baby for longer
  • Government-funded leave’s more beneficial than workplace-funded leave


April 8th, 2015

The Main Lib Dem Policies

Mark Pack writes:

The full set of Liberal Democrat policies for the 2015 general election will appear in the party’s manifesto, which is due to be published shortly. However, the front page of the manifesto, setting out the top Lib Dem policy priorities, has already been released….

policiesClick on the image to enlarge it.

April 7th, 2015

Something Positive From the Chelmsford Lib Dems…..

From the Essex Chronicle:

BARGES, gondolas and pleasure boats could one day dominate Chelmsford’s rivers in a plan to transform the city’s waterways into a free-flowing “Venice of East Anglia”.


Campaigners are backing plans for a key canal to be built beside Essex Record Office  in Wharf Road, to open up Chelmsford to river traffic from across mid Essex and beyond.

The developer which bought the land for 350 homes however, the owners of the derelict gas works nearby and a sceptical city council stand in the way of a proposal that dates back more than 20 years.

“Our waterways are a jewel in our crown that’s under-explored,” said campaigning Liberal Democrat city councillor Graham Pooley.

Essex Waterways, Chelmer Canal Trust and the Lib Dems want the 150-metre long canal, known as “the cut”, to be dug out to link the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Canal and the River Chelmer.

It would bypass the weir and low-lying bridge which currently blocks all boats, sailing in from the sea, Maldon, Heybridge, Little Baddow and Papermill Lock, from accessing the city centre.

Instead, only canoes and rafts from the nearby canoe club in Empire Walk can paddle their way around the city.

The new waterscape might mimic not only Venice, but cities like Salisbury, Cambridge, Bedford and Chester.

The Lib Dems claim the idea has been bubbling on for at least two decades, but it has been granted fresh urgency after the land changed ownership.

The city council agreed to sell its 234-space car park at the Chelmer Waterside peninsula to developer Taylor Wimpey in a deal estimated to cost at least £15 million, stoking fears the canal idea would be ruled out forever.

Chelmer Canal Trust chairman Dudley Courtman said: “The combined presence of such boats would greatly enhance the visual landscape.

“Chelmsford is an attractive town and an added Venetian dimension would be the icing on the cake.”…..

April 6th, 2015

Rayleigh And Wickford Parliamentary Election- Mike Pitt

mike pitt  crop


We have a really good candidate. His name is Mike Pitt and he is definitely worth voting for.

Mike has a very strong background in education and business. After attending a comprehensive school, Mike went on to Cambridge University where he obtained a degree in mathematics. After gaining business experience he re-trained in education and now teaches maths –  in a comprehensive school.  He currently lives in Cambridge and is also a Cambridge City councillor. (Incidentally he wasn’t impressed about how Rochford run their cabinet system when we explained it to him).

He’s somebody who’s very bright, hardworking and with a social conscience. He’s easy to chat to, understands how councils work and how to improve them.

Over the last five years the coalition has been clearing up the financial mess left by the last Labour government. (Remember the note left by the outgoing Chief Secretary to the Treasury - “There’s no money left”). Having a stable coalition was crucial, because it helped the government to keep borrowing costs low – maybe the lowest interest rates ever .  Now we can concentrate more on maintaining and improving services. To quote our candidate:

Like most of us I am proud of the NHS, and acknowledge its pressures. Under Liberal Democrat spending plans Health Service funding will be at least £8bn higher per year in real terms by 2020. The Liberal Democrats are the only political party to set out a credible road map for how we will safeguard the NHS over the next parliament. We can’t however do this without finishing the job of deficit reduction: not cutting services for the sake of it but ensuring a fair share of the load being met by a contribution from the richest in society through targeted tax changes. In particular we will continue progress made on tax avoidance and target £6billion more by 2017/18.

mike and chris



April 6th, 2015

The Secret Button At Pedestrian Crossings

April 5th, 2015

7 Illegal Things NOT To Do In An Election

More from the same guy tomorrow, but about something totally different – pedestrian crossings….

April 4th, 2015

Flashback To 2011

This was the second page of Ron’s election leaflet four years ago (click to enlarge)….


ron leaflet 2011

What’s happened since?

– the council’s proposed traveller site is now at Michelin’s Farm instead of the locations on our sketch map.

– the land “North of London Road” is now allocated for housing. (though it doesn’t have actual planning permission)

– The Council are still talking about relocating the businesses on  Rawreth Industrial Estate to Michelin’s Farm, and building houses there instead. But we really doubt if that’s ever going to happen.

April 3rd, 2015

Downhall And Rawreth Election – Ron Oatham

Ron after visiting the council offices yesterday.

Ron after visiting the council offices yesterday.

Ron Oatham is standing again for the District Council elections on May 7th. Ron is a long-time resident in Downhall and Rawreth Ward, living in Brixham Close. He has been one of the Lib Team of District Councillors since 2002. He writes:

I’ve always believed that a councillor’s first priority is to represent the interests of their residents. One of the good things about the Lib Dems is that we don’t use a party whip here. So I can always vote for what I think is right!

I have opposed the Tory administration’s plans for massive housing in Rawreth and West Rayleigh since the process began in about 2007. We had an early success in getting the numbers reduced from 1800 down to about 700- 800 but the infrastructure is still lacking and much needs to be done. I was pleased to second refusal of the planning application when it came to committee in January.

Nationally the Lib Dems have been in coalition with the Tories but in the council there has definitely been no coalition! We have a good local record of sticking up for residents and I hope you will give me your vote on May 7th so I can carry on with my work.
– Ron Oatham

In our early canvassing the response on the doors has been very good, but we are never complacent. We can always do with extra help with leaflets or behind the scenes with paperwork. If you would like to help us – or even stand for election in Rayleigh in future years, please contact Chris at

April 3rd, 2015

Defenders Of The Essex Sky

stow maries

We’ve written before about the early days of aviation in Essex.

One of our readers has asked us to mention a TV programme this Sunday about Stow Maries aerodrome (over the district border to us in Maldon) It’s at 9 pm this Sunday H2 Sky 531 or vm 236. There’s a bit more programme information here.

If you’ve never heard of Stow Maries World War One Aerodrome, it has its own website.

The aerodrome’s own website has some evocative photos and some photos of what you can see when you visit. The VisitEssex website has the practical info on how to visit:

Stow Maries Aerodrome is a Great War Aerodrome set in the rural Essex countryside. The Aerodrome was in use from 1916 to 1919 as a home defence station in the war against Zeppelin and German aeroplane raids. It has many of its original buildings in situ which are currently undergoing restoration to bring the site back to its 1918 appearance. It also boasts a wildlife walk which was the winner of Maldon District Council Conservation and Design Award 2010.
For further details see
Winner of Maldon District Council Conservation and Design Award 2010.
Opening details
Re-opening 31st March.
Opening days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm.

Admission Price £8 adult

Concessions and group bookings available

April 2nd, 2015

Somewhere For A Short Visit This Weekend….


April 2nd, 2015

An Appeal In the Autumn ?

Ron Oatham and Chris Black had a lengthy meeting today with RDC officers to discuss the expected appeal from Countryside Developments for “North of London Road”.

The District Council has not yet received the ‘start letter’ that sets the process underway from the council’s point of view. Once the process starts, the council will send out a communication to everyone who commented on the application, telling them that anything they said in their original comments will be forwarded to the inspector, but explaining how and when they can send additional comments direct to the inspector.

It is likely to be a formal inquiry , although it could be an informal hearing. The most likely date for this is in the autumn.

If bodies like Rawreth Parish Council wish to get involved under “rule 6″ they can do so – we were advised that it is very unlikely that they could be hit for for any costs by the inspector.

This is some of what the government Planning Portal says about appeals:

Is there a right of appeal against decisions on planning applications?

If an application for planning permission is refused by the local planning authority, or if it is granted with conditions, an appeal can be made to the Secretary of State against the decision, or the conditions, under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Before making any appeal the applicant should first consider re-engaging with the local planning authority to discuss whether any changes to the proposal would make it more acceptable and likely to gain planning permission. A revised planning application could then be submitted.

Applicants should give consideration to the merits of the case, and whether there are strong grounds to contest the conditions or reasons for refusal of planning permission before submitting an appeal….

Is there an opportunity for interested parties to submit comments or objections regarding a planning application, once at appeal?

There are opportunities for interested parties, such as neighbours, to make comments on the majority of planning appeals. The local planning authority will normally advise interested parties of the appeal start date and the opportunity to make comment.

For appeals determined via written representations and hearings such written representations must be made before the end of the fifth week after the start date of the appeal.

Certain parties have the right to appear at a hearing or inquiry under rule 11 of the Town and Country Planning (Inquiries Procedure) (England) Rules 2000, rule 11 of the Town and Country Planning Appeals (Determination by Inspectors) (Inquiries Procedure) (England) Rules 2000 and rule 9 of the Town and Country Planning (Hearings Procedure) (England) Rules 2000. The Inspector may also allow other interested parties to speak at a hearing or inquiry. Interested parties may occasionally want to take a more substantive role in an inquiry by submitting a statement of case. They would then be entitled to appear at the inquiry, call their own witnesses and in turn would be open to cross-examination. Further information can be found in the Planning Inspectorate’s Guide to Rule 6 for interested parties involved at an inquiry, and annex J of the Planning Inspectorate’s Procedural Guide

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April 2015
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Who We Are

We are Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in Rochford District.
We want to improve local decision-making and we see onlineFOCUS as a good way of keep residents informed and involved.
Please click here to email us .

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments, they are very important to us. However please note:
* We may not necessarily agree with the comments made by our readers
* We ask everyone to treat people with respect when making a comment. No personal abuse please.

Daily Reporting by Chris Black

With support from:
Ron Oatham Ron Oatham Bruce Smart Bruce Smart Chris Stanley Chris Stanley

Latest Comments

  • A.Matthews: They (politicians) must think we are stupid falling for the usual sound bites,unfortuna tely some do .It...
  • Linda Kendall: Policy on the back of a fag packet (sorry probably an opera programme) as usual. Please don’t...
  • Peter Scott: Indeed so Chris. Thatchers blunder was serious enough but this one defies logic. I am not against RTB...
  • Oz the Positive: Forget Pitt the Remote, meet Pitt the Invisible… ;.he could give Gino a run for his money in...
  • James Newport: I have a question too – will you turn up to any public events or is it too far from Cambridge?...
  • Christine Paine: I agree, this is a very badly thought through Policy, but what can you expect. Jim has said we need...
  • bruce smart: For years I have been asking for a slip road from Rawreth Lane into Hullbridge Road so traffic can ease...
  • Chris Black: I agree Peter. I imagine there will be a few Tory councillors around the country considering switching...
  • Jim Cripps: Are they taking the Micky or what 😋 . I watched a low-loader Lorry , coming from Hullbridge turn right...
  • Peter Scott: The whole policy is not only badly thought through but is also reckless. We have seen the damage to the...
  • Oz the Positive: I have a question, why did you not turn up at Sweyne School for the hustings ? Was it too far to...
  • admin: HUGE thanks to Maureen, Steve and Melissa…
  • Oz the Positive: Er, what happened to Pitt the Remote…..
  • admin: By the way Linda you might like to have a word with the RSPB – they don’t seem to have your...
  • admin: It was a pity Linda that we didn’t attend but our absolute priority in the last few days had to be to...
  • Linda Kendall: I like the new post ‘the campaigning squirrel’ Last night at the Rayleigh Hustings at...
  • Oz the Positive: Jim@6, mate, you will give yourself a seizure at this rate….it& #8217;s only an electionR...
  • Jim Cripps: This one is difficult , it is a British culture ( to own your own home) , even if it is only an...
  • Jim Cripps: Oz @4 – Lecturer in Statistics says it all , the condescending Geek is almost certainly one of...
  • Jason Richer: If voting changed anything they would ban it. I think parties of all colours should take a long hard...
  • Toby Mountain: Jamie Burton – This article mentions immigration, women and europe! What more can I add??
  • Oz the Positive: Here is an interesting fact taken from the BBC site, puts all those election promises of will spend...
  • Jamie burton: Toby, what an irresponsible, inaccurate and mischievous comment to make. Perhaps you could explain why...
  • Chris Black: I see this as of historical interest rather than political interest. I wonder waht work he did here. As...
  • Angelina: By candidates, I mean all 6 of them.
  • Angelina: Toby, the candidates views on this little article might make interesting debate at Friday’s hustings.
  • Toby Mountain: I hope UKIP don’t read this article – They’ll be outraged!
  • admin: Thanks Green Belt. …
  • Jim Cripps: To be honest they all annoy me , it seems to be a daily menu of promises trying to out bid each other for...
  • Greenbelt: Chris. A location suggestion which is not commonly known. As it’s only open in summer months, now is...

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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

Join Your Local Team

If you read onlineFOCUS for a while you can see the kind of things we are trying to achieve locally. Maybe you would like to help us?

If you fancy helping us deliver leaflets, or actively campaigning for us at election time, or simply just helping behind the scenes with paperwork, please contact the onlineFOCUS team here.

“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

Join the National Team

If you would like email updates on what the Lib Dems are doing nationally, click here.
If you would like to join the Lib Dems click here.