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Rochford District Local Survey 2007

December 13, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Your Views DO matter!

Your local Independent Councillor, John Mason, WILL listen !

Please spend a few minutes filling in this survey so that we know what really matters to you.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS SURVEY

RDC threat to Green Belt

November 30, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Thousands of homes to be built in Green Belt

Government agency agrees with HRA concerns

Hockley Residents Association (HRA) is very concerned that Rochford District Council (RDC) are planning to put thousands of houses on Green Belt land. Under government policy, RDC has to provide for an additional 4,600 homes by 2021. This is a net increase of about 3,700 homes over existing plans.

We have complained to the council that their current public consultation exercise, being undertaken as part of a strategic planning process called the Local Development Framework (LDF), is not a meaningful process as the council has framed questions to meet its own thinking. In particular, the HRA is concerned that the first question is a ‘closed’ question which leads respondents to answer affirming that Green Belt land should be released.

This conflicts with the much more balanced views in the council’s own draft strategy which reiterates, as its “Probable Option”, existing policy of restrictive development in the Green Belt. The question posed by RDC does not encourage consideration of other possible options such as in-filling and re-use of ‘brownfield” sites. Given the restatement of this existing policy in the draft strategy, we cannot understand why the questionnaire does not make any reference to the wider options and why the question is framed in such a ‘closed’ manner – it would have been easy to have asked an open question. This leads us to believe that RDC are looking to influence public opinion and that this is not a true public consultation exercise.

RDC have rejected our complaint but we remain concerned that they seem to be ruling out other options at this early stage. This is reflected in comments made by the Head of Planning who said in an e’mail to us: “One of the points we have made in the draft Core Strategy options document relates to the issue of ‘town cramming’. This is an issue many residents are concerned about and is reflected in the opposition to many of the flat schemes that are coming forward for planning consent at the moment. Therefore, there is clearly an environmental limit to the amount of new development that can be accommodated in the existing urban areas and to meet the 4,600 figure over the period to 2021, there is little doubt that some substantial areas of green field land will need to be identified for development.”

It appears RDC are directing people towards their own solutions and this must be wrong (even if they are proved right at the end of the day). It may be that the majority of people would in fact prefer “cramming” to releasing open space – we do not know – but that is the point of consultation and the current questionnaire does not give this option. This seems very inappropriate and undemocratic to us. Paul Warren, RDC Chief Executive, argues that the survey results to date do not support our concern but we believe that this probably relates more to public concern for the Green Belt than vindication of the question.

We have now discovered that Go East, the Government Agency overseeing the LDF process, have also raised similiar concerns with RDC and await a response.

The HRA is very concerned at why this question is unnecessarily phrased so inappropriately and hope this is not merely a rubber stamping exercise. However, its seems we are into a long fight if we want to save the Green Belt. We would urge all residents in the Rochford district to write to the council with their views. Full details can be found on their website:

http://www.rochford.gov.uk
Brian Guyett

Chairman, Hockley Residents Association

Hawkwell Park Drive and Park Gardens

November 10, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

New Barriers and Gates to counter Anti Social Behaviour

Building the green barricade By Geoff Percival

October 28, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Building the green barricade
By Geoff Percival

A country park which acts as a green buffer separating Southend from Rochford is set to be extended by 50 per cent under new plans revealed today.

Rochford District Council is behind plans to increase the size of Cherry Orchard Country Park by 80 acres and create a new access.

The council has earmarked £250,000 in this year’s budget to start the ball rolling.

The park, which is on the borders of Southend, is seen as an important green lung for the whole of the area. The first part was opened two years ago by the Princess Royal.

Members of the district council said the acquisition of what was originally Blatches Farm from Essex County Council would ensure there was no development of the site in the future.

There was a real concern that although the area was green belt it could have been sold by Essex County Council for housing leading to loss of a big part of the Roach Valley between Hockley, Rochford and Eastwood. Read more

Rochford District Council will not advertise Recycling Scheme on its Web Site

September 22, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite what they say there is no scheme like this set up for Rochford District !!

Policy is “It is not our policy to link to websites expressing personal opinions that could be mistaken for the views of the Council”

Obviously the Council does not want to get firmly involved in localism, engaged with the community and recycling however it is provided – how could the views of the Council differ?

There is no furniture recycling scheme in Rochford District – period -it all goes to landfill. Why doesn’t the District Council want to save costs, if not protect the environment?

Why does the Council have a problem with engagement with the community? Obvious really – it wants to ignore any personal resident initiative by policy.

Social Events

September 22, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

We are in touch with a number of organisations across the Rochford District and will be advertising what is available.

Starting with Rochford District Residents, we run a series of Fun Quiz Niights over the year – if you are interested contact Christine on christine.mason@rochfordessex.net

From our personal friend of more than 30 years, Brian O’shea here are the trips that the Hockley Residents’ Association have asked us to advertise.

Friday 29 September, London Wetlands Centre & Guided Tour Of The Royal Albert Hall.

Saturday 18 November, The King and I at the Cliffs Pavillion by SODS.

Friday 1 December, The Banqueting House & Christmas Quiz Tour.

Sunday 20 to Wednesday 23 May, 5 day break in the Derbyshire Dales.

Ashingdon Events – list coming soon……..
If you have any to add then just register and post your events.

Hockley Residents’ Association (HRA) – Council exposes tax payers to massive compensation

September 22, 2006 by · 1 Comment 

RDC have refused to consider HRA complaints, before the Development Control Committee meeting next Thursday, that the Pond Chase Mushroom Farm planning application has not been properly processed. The application is to convert part of a mushroom farm in the Green Belt into industrial units.

Once granted, planning permission cannot be rescinded. This means that if RDC or the Local Ombudsman subsequently uphold the complaints, RDC could face massive compensation bills from home owners whose properties have lost value as a result of the change of use.

The HRA has appealled to RDC to reconsider and to try and avoid this risk. Councillors cannot make informed decisions if the information they are given is incomplete, inaccurate and misleading. Its fool-hardy to take the risk of large compensation claims.

The building in question started this planning application (in the applicant’s own words) as “a shed which is inefficient”. Two months later, in the latest RDC report, its suddenly become “a substantial buiilding”! . How can this be?

The answer is, of course, that the Government’s planning criteria (Planning Policy Guidance 2 – PPG2) requires that Green Belt agricultural buildings must be capable of conversion without major structural work. Residents spoke of using this as a planning objection at last week’s meeting of the Hockley Residents Association (HRA). Suddenly, within days, RDC have changed the description. Why?

Similarly, in the August report it stated that no additional hard surfacing was required. The latest report (page 9 para 2.3) now reverses this without comment or explanation. You have to check report line by line to spot the changes.

Residents are also angry that:

  • RDC Planning originally proposed to approve this via the weekly non-contentious list, despite having received over 60 objections.
  • The council quoted 7 different planning policies 13 times when opposing a similiar application last month but only mention 1 policy 3 times in this case, so residents are concerned that councillors are not being fully briefed.
  • What lengths will RDC go to to support this piecemeal application?

Brian Guyett
Chairman, Hockley Residents Association

Evening Echo – Who’s behind phone box graffiti?

September 21, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Who’s behind phone box graffiti?
By Michael Clarke

Graffiti vandals have been paying tribute to late Aussie adventurer Steve Irwin by spraying his image on walls and bus stops.

The images, created by spraying over a stencil, have appeared since the naturalist died after being slashed by the barb of a stingray’s tail.

A service in memory of Irwin took place in Australia yesterday.

His cheeky face has appeared at a bus stop in White Hart Lane, Hawkwell, amongst a handful of other locations.

Community police officer Steve Joynes said: “His face has appeared with several slogans such as Steve Irwin Lives’ and the date he died.

“It’s a lot more creative than the usual mess that appears and may give some people a smile.

“However, we cannot condone this.”

Vandals have also sprayed a life-size silhouette figure of a man about to pounce from a telephone box in Main Road, Hawkwell.

PC Joynes said: “I’ve seen it while driving at night and it looks so realistic – it looks as if someone really is inside the telephone box. Quite a few people have commented on it.”

Criminal damage, and graffiti in particular, has actually been on the decline in Hockley and Hawkwell.

Incidents fell from 125 between August 2004 and August 2005, to just 45 since September 2005.

PC Joynes and his colleagues attribute the drop to a series of new activities designed to keep youngsters occupied, such as football matches, netball tournaments, paintballing, go-karting, PlayStation evenings and even a pamper session for the girls.

He said: “We are trying to look at anything locally we can use to divert the lads’ and the girls’ attentions away from just hanging around and mucking about.

“It is giving the young people something to do – we think that’s important.”

11:12am today

Planning Applications at 1 Southend Road Hockley

September 21, 2006 by · 2 Comments 

I am being challenged on the way I voted at Rochford District Council on two planning applications concerning the same property in HOCKLEY.

The locally waged campaign against the development included a spate of fly posting which was reported to the police for investigation. I was shocked at the content of e-mails and the fly posters. This was the worst campaign on a planning application I have ever encountered in 26 years of being involved in community issues.

FOR THE RECORD

I only voted on two applications because I was away for the application which was considered on 26 April 2005.

25 November 2004 – I voted against this application although I understand that someone may have asserted to others that I abstained. The Minutes are downloadable and you can see that no record of individual voting was recorded. I can accept that people can be mistaken on something that took place nearly two years and there is nothing more that can be said because there was no recorded vote!!

20 October 2005 – I voted for approval although again you can see from the Minutes that are downloadable that no record of individual voting was recorded.

The overall position is that the Planning Inspectorate has approved development at this site at appeal.

Nevertheless I do not condone the action of the developer to demolish the building and create an eyesore which was, unfortunately, legal and RDC could not stop it.

Let me also repeat, once again, that I am not against Hawkwell Parish Council taking over the Glencroft Open Space. Like 6 other Parish Councillors we just wanted the costs fully investigated and approved by Hawkwell Parish Council beforehand.

I can only think that these matters are being raised for personal reasons or some sort of political gain.

The development at 1 Southend Road has been approved by the Planning Inspectorate. There was nothing sustainable that Rochford District Council Members could do to prevent it.

Perhaps I could invite whoever has an axe to grind to put their allegations in writing on this site?

Otherwise I hope that I have cleared to air and these issues can be put to rest on a final basis.

http://rochfordessex.net/cl/Minutes – Planning Services Committee 251104.pdf
http://rochfordessex.net/cl/Minutes – Planning Services Committee 260405.pdf
http://rochfordessex.net/cl/Minutes – Planning Services Committee 201005.pdf

Allotments in Hawkwell

September 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

The Clerk to the Parish Council has been receiving a number of requests for allotments.

If there are any other interested residents please contact John Mason.

Financial Concerns over Parish Council Decision

September 19, 2006 by · 2 Comments 

Some years ago the council tax raised by Hawkwell Parish Council was much lower than it is now.  If memory serves me correctly it was about £50,000 per annum and when the Spencers and Magnolia Open Spaces were taken over the  costs increased to the high 80’s and now over 100,000.

So when the Council decided to take over the Glencroft Open Space, I was concerned that the costs were fully understood before the land was taken over rather than discovered as the project proceeded.

When Hawkwell Parish Councl took the decision to take over the Glencroft Open Space on 12 June 2006  this was made without any presentation of the way it was to be managed and by implication the costs that will be incurred on a permanent basis together with those additional capital costs of plant and equipment that will be required,

As the Open Space is being taken over from Rochford District Council it would have been appropriate to find out exactly what current costs are being incurred by RDC.  This has not be done.

I supported, with another 6 Councillors, a Motion on Notice to rescind the Council decision made on 12th June regarding the Glencroft Open Space.

Unfortunately the vote to protect your financial insterests was narrowly lost 8/6 and the project will proceed on a hand to mouth basis with the Parks Committee asking for money as required.  What this will do to the figure raised as council tax I do not know.

This is the letter I sent to all councillors before the meeting in an attempt to get them to not commit unless the costs were known. Read more

Search Our Rochford District Database

September 17, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

We have composed a collection of reference documents relating to Rochford District online and have pooled these into a database that can be searched.

Click here – http://cardshark.pcs-net.com/index.htm

You can also search the articles on this site by making another search at the very bottom on the left hand side of the home page.

Echo Article – Expansion of Southend – Threat of Rochford/Southend By Pass looms

September 17, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

2,000 new homes for New Ranges
Exclusive By Steven Blaakman

Up to 2,000 new homes could be built at the New Ranges weapons testing base in Shoebury.

Consultants are proposing a vibrant new town with a tree-lined main avenue, a central park and the possibility of a landmark tower block.

Investment from big companies and the University of Essex could also create more than 3,000 new jobs, consultants Llewelyn Davies Yeang believe.

A light rail system transporting residents to nearby shops and facilities could be built along the main avenue.

The project would also include a new road to the north of the site, the catalyst for the long-awaited Southend outer relief road. Read more

Bullwood Hall – now a male prison

September 17, 2006 by · 1 Comment 

Call for boost to prison security
A Tory MP whose constituency includes Bullwood Hall Prison has called for extra security following the switch from female inmates to male.

Rayleigh MP Mark Francois called for improvements at the Hockley prison in response to anxious calls from local residents. Read more

£21million redevelopment of Rochford Hospital

September 17, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jo Bowring

A £21million redevelopment of Rochford Hospital should be fully open by March 2008, NHS officials have announced.

The news came as Rochford district councillors were given a sneak preview of facilities at the hospital for mental health patients. Read more

Evening Echo – Reluctant Rochford’s 3,000 new homes

September 17, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Reluctant Rochford’s 3,000 new homes
By Geoff Percival

Rochford councillors have reluctantly agreed 3,000 more homes might have to be built in the district by 2021.

But councillors are angry that the Government is trying to force so many new houses on area.

The proposals will mean 90 per cent of the extra homes would be in Rayleigh, Hockley, Hawkwell, Rochford and Ashingdon.

However, Rochford District Council leader Terry Cutmore (Con, Ashingdon) pointed out the plan had yet to be ratified by the East of England Regional Assembly, which drafted it.

He added: “Effectively, we are looking at a plan which has not even been approved by the assembly which put it forward, because of worries about the number of homes involved and the infrastructure of the East of England.”

Peter Webster (Con, Rayleigh Wheatley) added: “This is not what we want to do. It is something we are being forced into by a Socialist government.”

John Mason (Ind, Hawkwell) said he felt 3,000 new homes was an unrealistic number. He did not believe so many could be fitted into the existing main residential areas.“We need to put a lot more work in on this before it is finally approved,” he suggested.
Head of planning Shaun Scrutton said the plan was in its infancy and it was too early for a final decision.

Head of planning Shaun Scrutton said the plan was in its infancy and it was too early for a final decision.He pointed out there would be a period of public consultation before the council had to agree on it.

Mr Scrutton added: “The concept of the whole plan will then be tested by an inspector at a public inquiry later next year, making the final decision.”

Rochford District Residents is Independent

September 16, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been pointed out to us that Hawkwell Residents’ Association say on their web site and in their newsletter that “The Association has been contacted by a number of members who are confused as to whether the Association is linked in some way to Rochford Residents. The Association has no links to this political party.”

I think that now is the time to clear some air.

Rochford District Residents is a registered local political party and we say that upfront on this page. We have two Councillors. Christine Mason has a seat on Hawkwell Parish Council and John has a seat on both Rochford District Council and Hawkwell District Council.

We do not have any current links with the Hawkwell Residents’ Association.

I left the Hawkwell Residents’ Association and the political party, Hawkwell Residents that it controls because the Hawkwell Residents’ Association had changed too much for me from the basis it had in 1994.

I was told that I could only represent as a Councillor what the Committee agreed using as an example about such issues as a new major road through the green belt of Rochford District. I had taken my “authority” to oppose this from the Constitution which simply required the Association to protect green belt.

Indeed the Association’s Constitution now only speaks about local green belt and has dropped coalescence which means that they would not mind if Rayleigh, Hockley, Hawkwell and Ashingdon was joined up with no green gaps into one urban sprawl.

Neither was I prepared to abandon the interactive community web site, that the Committee had previously agreed to, to one where the committee supplied the content and did not let the community feedback !!

Personally, despite having worked so hard for the Association over 10 years, I felt that I was being hounded out of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association because this was an abrupt and unsignalled change in committee policy which was communicated only in the Minutes.

I should, perhaps, have not been surprised about that because this change of policy preceded some personal difficulties with two Committee Members.

What is surprising is that the Committee of Hawkwell Residents’ Association says that it is still a non political organisation in its Constitution when it controls a political party called Hawkwell Residents !! And it has three Hawkwell Parish Councillors representing that political party.

Would it be misleading for the Hawkwell Residents’ Association to claim that it is a non political organisation?

Could standing as candidates in the elections be deemed to be inconsistent with the Association’s constitution that states that the organisation will be non-political?

Clearly this should have been changed when the next revision of the Constitution took place following the creation of the political party because the Hawkwell Residents’ Association is clearly political if it controls a political party.

Funding for Local Groups

September 16, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

RDC has not got a co-ordinator as such to access lottery and other funding streams. However, RDC has acquired access to Grantfinder, a software system which helps us source funding streams and the criteria employed. A selected number of staff, particularly in Leisure , Contracts and Corporate Policy can access it. Those staff are those who work with and are in contact with voluntary, community, businesses and the parishes so that if projects do emerge/ develop, they can give help and advice re potential funding sources and criteria.

RRAVS are currently employing a funding officer to try and build up oppportunities.

New Re-Cycling Scheme for Rochford District

September 16, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford District Recycling Exchange is here http://rochfordessex.net/recycle/phpBB2/index.php

rochford district recycling exchange

Since Southend Borough Council cancelled the grant for the warehouse there is no more furniture re-cycling for our residents either.

As RDC previously rejected the idea of our district having its own warehouse we applied for a Rochford District Freecycle Group.

Unfortunately there was a long waiting list !! They said a month but that has now long gone.

This recycling scheme runs of the same basis as Freecycle. We do not think that they will mind.

The worldwide Freecycle Network is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It’s a grassroots movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for FREE in their own towns.

How does the Rochford District Recycling Exchange work? People who have things they want to get rid of contact people who can use them. Our goal is to keep usable items out of landfills. By using what we already have on this earth, we reduce consumerism, manufacture fewer goods, and lessen the impact on the earth. Another benefit of using Rochford District Recycling Exchange work is that it encourages us to get rid of junk that we no longer need and promote community involvement in the process.

Everything posted must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. When you want to OFFER something – whether it’s a chair, fax machine, piano or an old door, simply post a note in the Exchange Space.

After that it is up to the giver to decide who receives the gift from the responses only they receive and to set up a collection time, and finally post an item TAKEN message.

New Rector for Hawkwell

September 13, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rev Peter Smith was inducted as the rector of Emmanuel Church, in Main Road, and St Mary’s Church, in Rectory Road, during a special service on Monday.

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