The Perils Of the Cabinet System

We are not keen on the Cabinet system at Rochford – it’s expensive and not very democratic. Here’s an example from the Guardian website of how a Labour cabinet in Lewisham is pushing through a development that will force Millwall Football Club away from their home – even though the plan’s  not even supported by Labour’s own back-bench councillors:

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, has joined the growing chorus of dismay at Lewisham council’s “extraordinary” plans to carry out a compulsory purchase of Millwall’s land at The Den.  n a statement to the Guardian, Farron called on Lewisham council to consider the full repercussions of its land seizure. The Liberal Democrat leader said it would be “heartbreaking” if the decision to sell the land on to a mysterious offshore-owned property developer led to the club having to consider leaving the borough….

…. Farron is the first senior Westminster figure to speak out on the issue. His call for the council to work instead with the club and the community comes three days before a town hall meeting at which the compulsory purchase order is due to be confirmed or rejected by the Labour cabinet.

This will be the second time the CPO has been ruled on. The council’s own scrutiny committee urged it to reconsider last September after grave concerns were voiced by senior councillors at both the murkiness of the process and the identity of the parties involved.

Lewisham plans to sell Millwall’s land to an offshore-owned property developer called Renewal, a company whose CEO is a former Lewisham council officer, and which, records have revealed, had the last Labour mayor of Lewisham as one of its founding directors…..

…..It is understood Lewisham’s cabinet still intends to push through a decision that has been condemned by a vast majority of its own backbench labour councillors.

 

Full article here.

PRESS RELEASE – Air Quality Monitoring

Fed up and concerned opposition parties on Rochford District Council, the Lib Dem Party, Rochford District Residents and the Green Party have joined forces on the important issue of Air Quality, after Rochford District Council turned down their request to increase the number of Air Quality Monitoring stations across the district

The three parties are aligned in wanting to ensure their residents are not suffering the harmful, dangerous & deadly effects caused by NO2 gases which are caused by our increasingly congested roads.

They are launching a ‘Healthy Air’ campaign across the District and are keen for members of the public to get involved.
Spokespersons for the newly formed campaign Cllrs John Mason, James Newport and Michael Hoy state, “We believe that the continued national air quality limits maybe exceeded in some places across the Rochford District and we need to ensure that our public health is being monitored in areas of concern.

The Council’s current strategy is very limited in where Air Quality is monitored so we must take matters into our own hands for the safety and welfare of our residents.

Younger children, the elderly and people with breathing difficulties are most vulnerable to poor air quality and we have a duty to protect them.”

The first new privately funded placements of monitoring equipment have been started in Jan 2017. Funding is being supplied by the three cross party group Councillors.

Heavy Traffic And A Possible Link With Dementia

The Guardian has an article here about a possible link between heavy traffic and dementia:

People living near a busy road have an increased risk of dementia, according to research that adds to concerns about the impact of air pollution on human health.

Roughly one in 10 cases of Alzheimer’s in urban areas could be associated with living amid heavy traffic, the study estimated – although the research stopped short of showing that exposure to exhaust fumes causes neurodegeneration.

Hong Chen, the scientist who led the work at Public Health Ontario, said: “Increasing population growth and urbanisation has placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden.”

Previously, scientists have linked air pollution and traffic noise to reduced density of white matter (the brain’s connective tissue) and lower cognition. A recent study suggested that magnetic nano-particles from air pollution can make their way into brain tissue.

The latest study, published in The Lancet, found that those who live closest to major traffic arteries were up to 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia – a small but significant increase in risk.

The study, which tracked roughly 6.6 million people for more than a decade, could not determine whether pollution is directly harmful to the brain. The increased dementia risk could also be a knock-on effect of respiratory and cardiac problems caused by traffic fumes or due to other unhealthy life-style factors associated with living in built-up urban environments…..

All this research shows is that, after allowing other factors such as wealth and other health issues, there seems to be a small increased risk of dementia. However it’s not clear whether it’s caused by air pollution, or by noise that disturbs people’s sleep patterns. Or it could even be that people who are more susceptible to dementia simply have a preference for living in busier, more bustling environments , or that people at less risk of dementia have an underlying wish to live in quieter places….

More On The Dollymans Farm Waste Proposal (UPDATED)

Back in November we wrote about surprise plans for a new waste site on part of Dollymans Farm, on the Rawreth / Basildon border.

Tomorrow a 6 week consultation begins on the proposal – and we will give more details about the consultation process tomorrow night.

This evening local councillors  were given a presentation by County officers, and were able to ask questions and highlight issues of concern.

The basic situation is like this:

  • Essex County Council and Southend have to prepare a new plan for waste disposal up to 2032.
  • They prepared a plan  last year with 18 sites allocated for waste disposal. They looked at some other sites – such as Dollymans Farm- but decided not to include them.
  • The plan was then examined by a government inspector. She was concerned about a likely lack of capacity for disposing of construction waste from about 2026 -2032.
  • The landowners made representations as to why they thought part of their land should be used for the disposal of inert material from construction sites.
  • The inspector agreed that the site should be included and that the plan was unsound without it
  • One of the reasons for including it is that there is an unfilled hollow left when earth was removed for building the A130.
  • The land wouldn’t be raised above its previous level.
  • The total quantity would be about 500,000 tonnes – equal to 14 20-tonne lorries per day for 5 years,
  • Access would be from the A129 (with a road southwards through the farm to the site)
  • A 6 week consultation period starts tomorrow (on this change and other changes) .
  • Local councils, organisations and people can put forward evidence that they think the inspector didn’t have and might change her mind, or make suggestions for planning conditions.
  • If the plan goes through, there will still need to be a planning application , that will be decided by the county council.

We asked lots of questions and raised important points – concerns about flooding (at the moment this hollow is valued as somewhere flood water might collect), dust, noise and traffic. One important matter to consider is what route the trucks should be allowed to make to go to the site. Another is phasing – if the problem for disposal is from 2026, should the site be phased to start then and no earlier?

We’ll add an update here on the consultation tomorrow night.

 

UPDATE: You can take part in the consultation by going to the County Council website at http://www.essex.gov.uk/Environment%20Planning/Planning/Minerals-Waste-Planning-Team/Planning-Policy/Pages/Replacement-Waste-Local-Plan.aspx

Could Be A Long Night On Tuesday…

It could be a long night at Next Tuesday’s Full Council Meeting. It includes the following:

  • There is a public question on notice from Mr Alan James about Hockley’s toilets.
  • Plus two questions from Cllr Diane Hoy , one about park homes sites and the other about car parking enforcement.
  • A notification that there will be free car parking on Saturday mornings in council car parks in the run-up to Xmas. (This had to be dealt with as an urgent item without a council vote – the arrival of Christmas seems to have caught the council by surprise.)
  • A big controversial item regarding council public toilets – to transfer to parish councils and/or replace by more modern ones:
It is proposed that Council
RESOLVES
(1)
That all public toilets, with the exception of those at Hockley Woods,
are disposed of either by closure and sale, or through transfer of the
asset upon a long-term lease to the relevant Town/Parish Council. The
disposal of these assets to be completed by April 2018.
(2) That authority be delegated to the Assistant Director, Environmental
Services, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment and
 the Portfolio Holder for Enterprise, to oversee the closure and sale of
public toilets, as above (1), subject to appropriate public consultation.
(3) That authority be delegated to the Assistant Director, Environmental
Services, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment and
the Portfolio Holder for Enterprise, to negotiate suitable lease
arrangements with the relevant Town/Parish Councils.
(4) That should the negotiations in (3) above have been successful, the
Investment Board be asked to present a business case in line with the
budgetary principles set out in the appended Options Document for the
installation of replacement public toilets.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sarah_Olney,_Liberal_Democrat_candidate_in_Richmond_Park_by-election,_pictured_in_Richmond_Park.jpg

Could You Be Another Sarah Olney?

A year and a half ago Sarah Olney  wasn’t involved in politics. Sarah only joined the Lib Dems after the last general election, and last night she became our newest MP. As the Political Betting website comments here:

That’s a fantastic result for the yellows and a tragic result for Zac Goldsmith who, of course, was beaten in the London Mayoral race last May.

The seat has, of course, been LD territory in the past and the party has flung everything at it. This has been a huge campaign which I said at the start was an absolute must win for them.

The result cuts Theresa May’s majority by 2 to a theoretical 10.

There was much scepticism when the LDs produced vote projections in the past few days showing they were in the lead. Well these have been proved right.

The main point we’d like to say tonight is that there are plenty of potential Sarah Olneys in our area – we see them on the doorstep and we chat about issues with them over coffee.  They are  women – and men – who share our concerns about local, social and political issues but lead busy lives and haven’t found time yet to get involve with us “yellows”.

Our membership is already growing locally but hopefully last night’s result will encourage a few more people to think “I could do what Sarah Olney’s done….” You might not get into  parliament – but you could get into the council chamber , or to County Hall…

Waste Site For Rawreth / Basildon Border?

We didn’t see this one coming…

Essex County Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council as have been working jointly over a number of years to prepare a Replacement Waste Local Plan.

The draft Replacement Waste Local Plan was submitted to the Government for independent examination by a Planning Inspector. We have been advised that the Planning Inspector has requested that some modifications be made to the Plan in order for it to be found sound and therefore suitable for adoption. One of the inspector’s changes is for the proposed allocation of a new site  – located at Dollyman’s Farm, on the border of Rochford and Basildon – for the purposes of the inert waste disposal needs of the Plan area.

This proposal is NOT for a new civic amenity site to replace the one in Castle Road, Rayleigh. It is for the landfill of inert materials.

Some of our immediate thoughts on this were :-

  • How much extra traffic?
  • What is the impact on drainage and has there been a flood risk assessment?
  • Whatever happened to recycling?
  • Who will manage the site and for how many years?

The ward councillors for Downhall and Rawreth – – Chris Black, Ron Oatham and Chris Stanley have a meeting in Basildon early in the new year to discuss this with County Council officers and our counterparts on Basildon Borough Council . James Newport has asked whether he and the other ward councillors for Sweyne Park and Grange ward can go as well.

We will keep you informed!