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Questions at the RDC Central Area Committee (9 Nov 2010)

November 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Pat James, a resident of Hawkwell sent in a question about the latest consultation on the Core Strategy.

Apart from asking about how residents would be informed about this important communication the question went on to ask;

Please explain what changes have been made and how these will effect Hawkwell, Hockley, Hullbridge and the very nearby parts of Ashingdon which comprise of the Central Area?

The Officer dealing with questions said that the answer was in writing in front of everyone so he would not read it out.  Pat realising that the last part of her question (above) had not been answered and despite putting her hand up the Chairman failed to acknowledge her request to speak.  John Mason stepped in and asked the Chairman to explain why this part of the question had not been answered.

Shaun Scrutton said that he had not answered it because the questioner could read about the changes at the places in the answer. He did not propose to read everything out.

John advised the Chairman that it was not good enough and with the Portfolio Holder Councillor Hudson sitting almost next to him, he felt that an answer in summary of the effect on the Central Area should be given.

Mr. Scrutton who went on to say that he could only read out Policy H2 and H3.

John still felt that this was unhelpful and uninformative and asked the Chairman to ask Pat if she was satisfied with that as an answer.

Pat said No and all Shaun Scrutton did was to ramble through a list of locations, numbers and dates.

At that point Pat and John both gave up.

This is what Pat James said afterwards;

“It is a shame that so few members of the public attend but I believe the public are becoming more and more dissatisfied by Officers and Councillors failing to be open or at times appear interested in the public’s opinion resulting in their questions not fully answered or worse ignored when raised.  It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there is a secrecy surrounding the issue of houses in Hawkwell and elsewhere that Officers do not wish to be  questioned on by the public and will only give replies and answers to questions that they wish the public to know about.  Thus avoiding many important questions raised by concerned members of the public who will be directly affected by an increase of housing and loss of green belt.”

A question on the Core Strategy from Councillor Myra Weir was ruled out of order and was disqualified by the Chair because she was not a member of the public.  Councillor Hazlewood also raised question and was refused by the Chairman.

Mr Alan James then interjected by saying that if Councillor Weir could not ask the question then he would and asked if it would be answered.  The quote of the week is that “infrastructure  in the Central Area is reasonable”.

The impression given was that the matter was in consultation and that no questions would be answered and that the debate could be held with the public at the Public Examination Hearings in January before a Planning Inspector.

There were only 14 people other than District Councillors and Officers present and one of these was the Press!!

How we might get a chunk of the budget for something important in Hawkwell

July 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The new concept is ‘localism’  – local budgets for Highway improvements

The County Council will agree annually a budget for highway works in Rochford District and it will then be the responsibility of the Area Committees to advise on their preferred schemes/works, with the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation determining, where necessary, the overall priorities for the District and to advise County Highways accordingly.

This was on this list – Rectory Road Hawkwell – Relocate street furniture to edge or rear of footway to allow greater access to pedestrians

Questions were asked by Hawkwell Parish Council and District Ward Councillor, John Mason at the RDC Central Area Committee held on 25 June in Hawkwell Village Hall.

Portfolio Holder, Councillor Keith Hudson had just been told by Shaun Scrutton off microphone that this was just one power pole and asked if anyone who lived nearby could confirm that or clarify the position.

Ward District Councillor John Mason said that there were around 10 items of street furniture which obstructed the footway such that wheelchair users and children’s prams had to be taken into the road. John also said that the footway was so narrow that he had personally had clothes clipped by cars even when he was on the footway when the hedge was overgrown.

Keith Hudson asked for this to be looked into by ECC urgently in view of the Health and Safety issues raised by John Mason.

John has been campaigning about this issue for 15 years and this is the first time that anyone had ever promised to look into this dangerous situation. Thank you Keith for listening.

Again initially raised by Hawkwell Parish Council concern has been raised about destruction of verges by indiscriminate parking.

Again John Mason spoke in support and raised the additional concerns of obstruction to the footway causing pedestrians and prams having to go into the road to pass.  Surely illegal and the Essex Police will be consulted.

Councillor John then spoke about the Essex Act in Southend where verges are protected by law but not in Rochford District.  He had hoped that his suggestion that the Essex Act made many years ago could be extended to Rochford.  To his amazement ECC agreed that they were looking into this.

Verdict on Highways Localism – so far it works – update later.

Teen Shelter at Clements Hall

June 25, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

DSC03201Hawkwell Parish Council has obtained permission from Rochford District Council to site this new development near the skate board ramp in the playing fields.  Residents at the Central Area Committee held at Hawkwell Village Hall last year voiced their concern but the consultation conducted in the Parish Council Newsletter did not raise any objection.  The Parish Council has the funding and it is now going ahead.

A resident has, however, found out that another teen shelter of a particular design has run into big problems and has had to be removed.  I have asked Hawkwell Parish Council to check this out before going ahead.

From the village of Milton

The site we chose is well away from neighbours at the back of the recreation ground, and beside the skate ramps. So neighbour nuisance has never been a problem. Supervision is minimal there, but there is a light on the adjacent basketball court.

We had suggested to them open shelters like the Ogilvie Engineering one (which I think I would personally recommend).

They wanted something more enclosed, and we ended up with Urban Engineering’s shelter, which was like a nissen hut in perspex, with bench seats inside.

From the start some young people (a minority …) unbolted the fixings, we had to get the manufacturers to put in tamper-proof bolts. The shelter was sold as ‘vandal resistent’ which proved to be an overstatement of the truth. Then the perspex was smashed. It was sharp and dangerous, and to be fair it took a sledge hammer to smash it. We had some metal cladding which the manufacturers had put on at first (not what we had ordered), and in the end we replaced the perspex with metal. Not ideal as the inside was then not visible from a distance.

This lasted for a few years.

Then they started jumping on the roof, and the cladding on the roof was bent up alarmingly. Some of the bolts were hack-sawed off, and it was reported that the shelter was in danger of collapse if any more bolts were removed. At this point the Parish Council decided enough was enough and removed the shelter. It was removed last week.
 
We are in a village location where policing has not usually been an issue. However it is reported that youths from the nearby outskirts of Cambridge may have been responsible for the damage. Whether this minority is from Milton or from Cambridge, we were clearly unwise to choose such a vulnerable shelter.
 
The Ogilvie Engineering designs are in cast iron – we have used their seats for about a decade now, and they seem pretty indestructible.

Hullbridge 500 new homes plan sparks public anger – Echo Article

October 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Hullbridge 500 new homes plan sparks public anger from the Echo
By Michael Casey

RESIDENTS are furious over plans for hundreds of homes in a quiet village.

About 500 new homes could be built in Hullbridge by 2021, under revisions to Rochford District Council’s new development plan.

The village was one of the areas earmarked to take an increased amount of housing when the number of new homes in Rayleigh was slashed from 1,800 to 720, following huge pressure from the town’s residents.

However, 80 residents who attended the council’s central area committee meeting were told they could not discuss the issue, as planning was not under the committee’s remit.

Wendy Clarke, of Mapledene Avenue, Hullbridge, said: “We are trying to get some answers about flats being built in the village.

“We were only given ten minutes for questions. However, we were fobbed off with excuses and got no answers.

“Then they spent 25 minutes telling us about an inspector the council is going to employ to look into dog mess on pavements. Time would have been better spent listening to us about our concerns.”

Chairman of the central area committee, Hawkwell Tory councillor Derrick Stansby, said while he could appreciate residents’ concerns, the area committee was not the place to discuss planning. He said: “As far as new homes are concerned, the issue is not cut and dried.

“Because of the concerns there are across the district, we have gone back to look at all the housing allocations. There is going to be another round of public consultation, when everyone can raise issues.”

Rosemary Brown, a Hullbridge Tory district councillor and chairman of Hullbridge Parish Council planning committee, echoed his views.

She said: “It has not yet been decided how many new homes will be going where. It is not only in this village people are up in arms, but across the country, because of the Government’s demands.”

 

 

It’s Half Time on The NEW Political Structure at Rochford District Council

October 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

We looked at the NEW Political Structure at Rochford District Council about six months ago.

http://www.rochfordessex.com/rol/a-politico-blog-on-the-rdc-new-structure/

Here is the evidence that it does not work

At the Cabinet Meetings no one else can speak, not even the Ordinary Councillors that you elected to represent YOU, and you can’t even hear what was agreed.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=867 Grange Community Centre : Liberal Democrats : Uh Oh, Looks Like Chris Misunderstood.

Heaven forbid if the nine super councillors in the Cabinet get executive powers over budget and personal decision making in 2009 !!

The gang of 5 Liberal Democrats have now been reduced to having to table written questions in order that Ward Councillors are consulted.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=873 Liberal Democrats: Our Questions To Council.

And there will only be “potted” answers from Cabinet Members – but no debate of course.

But

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=874 Grange Community Centre Liberal Democrats Call In DEcision made at the Cabinet last week.

Proposals for new housing, which were only consulted upon in May and June 2007, are subjected to material change in Conservative Party Meetings held in Private and then announced to the public by a letter to the Echo.  No explanations for the changes, except to respond to political pressure from the Lib Dems in Rayleigh, and when the public come to the new Community Forums, they are denied answers and discussion.

Verdict from the Public

Residents in Hawkwell, who got no answers at the RDC Area Committee, call their own public meeting to find out about the proposals about 365 new houses proposed for their area. They decide to form an Action Group to fight the Conservative Council.

Residents in Hullbridge who wanted the same answers at the next RDC Area Committee decide to walk out in disgust having told the Chairman that no one will turn up next time !!

The Council’s Review Committee, who are reporting on the NEW Political Structure, need to talk to the public not other Tory Councillors who have done nothing to date to stop this farce.

 

 

Hullbridge Residents Speak Out

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The RDC Central Area Committee met in Hullbridge tonight.  About 100 people attended.  By and large they left unhappy. Here are a couple of quotes from those who spoke as they left. “This meeting has been carefully orchestrated so that we did not talk about what WE wanted”.  “The meeting has been all about dog crap and not about people.”  My take from those who raised issues at the beginning of the meeting was that the public wanted to talk about current planning issues and the new allocation of houses to Hullbridge.  The first questioner wanted to know how the allocation that was consulted upon in May/June 2007, turned into 400 houses for Hullbridge.  No answer was given from the Chair apart from “it’s all back in the melting pot.”

Which is actually not true because the Conservative Group, meeting in private and not in Council, came up with the new figures and published them in the Echo.  What the residents of Hullbridge wanted to know was who decided on this and on what basis considering the lack of infrastructure.  The response was its not our fault, it’s the Government and if you change the Government then the problem will go away.  Oh how I wish that might be true.  But it is not.  The Affordable House Building Deficit is as demonstrated in the Council’s own strategy documentation. Where are our children and grandchildren going to live?

The Chair’s answer on infrastructure was that developers would have to provide this.  So much is required to make new development work in Hawkwell and Hullbridge it is beyond the commercial capacity of such developments to fund all the necessary improvements and make a profit. Think again.

Hawkwell has decided to fight.  Hullbridge is in the mood to fight.  Residents in Hullbridge must call their own public meeting and, whether their District Councillors turn up or not, they must decide to run a campaign against the Conservative Party proposals of 400 houses before it is too late. The Conservatives faced a loss of seats in Rayleigh and the Conservatives cut the new housing allocation from 1800 to 740 in a stroke !! Such is the power of the ballot box and so be it.

The Conservatives might now consider the best option to be a new conurbation out to the East of the District associated with a Southend By Pass.  On this basis it would be all new infrastructure and fit for the purpose in terms of eco housing.  But don’t build the houses until the infrastructure is in place.  If we hope for developers to fund infrastructure in existing conurbations then it will be an unmitigated failure.

If that option came with a condition that it is no infrastructure, no houses then if the Southend By Pass never comes to fruition then NO HOUSES.  Might be a canny strategy after all?

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Local Residents in Hawkwell Meet to Oppose New Housing

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The meeting was so well attended that the organisers, Jamie Popplewell and his neighbours in Mount Bovers Lane, asked Belchamps if they could move the meeting to the larger upper hall.  Luckily, Belchamps were happy to do this otherwise about 90 people would not have been able to get in because the small hall only held 60.

Over 150 concerned residents attended mainly because of the possible threat of new housing being allocated to the Mount Bovers field but also the threats to land at Thorpe Road and behind Rectory Road adjoining Windsor Gardens and Clements Hall.

Some residents had attended the RDC Central Area Committee which was held on 24 October to ask questions about housing allocations to Hawkwell but the Chair and Councillor Hudson really didn’t want to discuss the subject pushing this out to the next public consultation in the Spring of 2008.  But he said that they would listen and would consult again and again if residents felt that they had got it wrong. 

Councillor John Mason gave a presentation of what was happening at the District Council and how the proposal for 365 new Houses in Hawkwell and only 36 in Hockley had come about.  That upset a number of staunch Conservative supporters in the audience but it was quite true.  That proposal was made by the Conservative Party in a private political meeting following which the Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the District Council (and Member for Hockley), wrote an open letter to the Residents of Rochford District containing these figures which was published in the Echo. 

Not too difficult to find the smoking gun !! It is a pity that this meeting coincided with the Executive Board of the District Council meeting on the same night because a representative was not there to explain why they thought 365 houses in Hawkwell was justified and how they arrived at this proposal. 

Nevertheless to ensure that there was political balance, John invited local resident and Labour Parish Councillor, Myra Weir to speak and for the Conservatives there was a heckler and former Tory District Councillor John Sheaf. 

Concern was expressed by many residents that the infrastructure of roads,sewerage, water, refuse, dentists, doctors, schools was not up to supporting 400 new houses in Hawkwell.  John advised that sustainability consultants were looking at these issues before the next public consultation in the Spring of 2008.

The Government has forced the District Council to consult again because the first without likely sites and justification was unacceptable.

Residents did not seem to know about the original consultation in June anyway and it came as a relief that there would be another !!  Residents decided that they wanted an Action Group to oppose all the potential sites in Hawkwell and 365 new houses anywhere. 

Volunteers came forward to run a campaign from now and until the proposal was withdrawn. They were encouraged that Rayleigh had won a reduction of 1800 to 740 by strong opposition and the fact that the Conservatives have said publicly at the Central Area Committee on 24 October, held in Hawkwell Village Hall, that they would listen and if the public said that they had got it wrong then proposals would be changed and there would be new consultations.

One resident said that he had telephoned RDC that day and been advised that “in relation to the LDF Core Strategy and the allocation of new housing, that the land already notified to RDC at Mount Bovers Hawkwell, was in a conservation zone, that it could never be built upon, that it was designated Common Land, and was SACROSANCT from any development.”

NOT TRUE SEE BELOW.

John Mason has contacted The Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton, and the reply is in the Comment below:

John,

The land referred to is shown on the ‘call for sites’ map, stretching from Main Road in the east and bounded by Mount Bovers Lane to the north and Gusted Hall Lane to the south.

This area of land is within the upper Roach Valley and is identified within the adopted Local Plan (policy NR1) as a special landscape area.

The Council has indicated that it does not want to see any development in the upper Roach Valley and certainly there has been no proposal presented to me to suggest the site proposed is one that is justified to be considered as being suitable for housing.

Therefore, the response to questions about the possibility of this land being developed in the future is to the effect that it is likely protection will remain as per the preferred approach set out in the Local Plan and reflected in the draft Core Strategy.

I should say, that having spoken to the policy team, I am told that words like as “sacrosanct” or “common land”, have not been used in providing a response.

The Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton does not agree that the RDC had said that the Mount Bovers Land could be described as “sacrosanct” or “common land” as claimed by a resident at the public meeting at Belchamps.

Newly co-opted Parish Councillor Bob Mitchell attended the meeting.  Well done Bob and thank you. 

The Echo weren’t overkeen to attend and presumably did not because they said “nothing is concrete with that area yet”

Apart from John Mason no other District Councillor for Hawkwell (there are six !!) attended.  There were enough posters around but I suppose if they did not live in Hawkwell, then they would not have been aware !! 

The Hawkwell Residents’ Association did not appear to attend. 

Hopefully it never will be “concrete” and if it is then it will be no thanks to the ECHO (who everyone thinks is a Tory Line paper). 

If you wish to join the Action Group then please email us through our Contact page.

Likely next steps are:

  • an email to all District Councillors expressing opposition 
  • further leaflet publicity
  • letters to Shaun Scrutton and Councillor Keith Hudson who is the Cabinet Member in charge of the LDF
  • meeting with Hawkwell Parish Council
  • meeting with the Chair of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association

 

 

Hawkwell Parish Council Opposes the loss of Green Belt for New Houses

October 2, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Stuart Mennell
Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council

Dear Stuart

I am writing further to our conversation this morning concerning the RDC public consultation on the LDF Core Strategy which took place in May and June of this year. 

As a District Councillor I informed residents by Newsletter that the RDC allocation to Hawkwell and Hockley was 400.  The District Council also released details of those landowners who had put their land forward for consideration of allocation for development.  You can find maps and descriptions on the RDC web site at http://www.rochford.gov.uk/rdc/main.asp?page=1101

Go East (The Government) was not happy with the proposals that RDC put out in the Consultation and has told RDC to come up with more detail and consult again. Councillor Hudson announced at the Central Area Committee that this would be in the Spring of 2008.

Since then the Conservative Party has announced in public by a letter from the Deputy L:eader of the Conservative Group that the allocation for Rayleigh has been reduced from 1800 to 740.  At the same time the Conservative Party has put forward the allocation in Hawkwell/Hockley of 400 to be split 365 Hawkwell and 36 Hockley.

I understand that the Planning Committee of Hawkwell Parish Council has discussed the issue as has your Full Council but that the Hawkwell Parish Council still has no Policy on the proposals. 

In reply, The Clerk to the Parish Council has written: Members have had extensive discussion on this and I am sure that they will discuss the matter and develop their views further as more information becomes available. Meanwhile the Council has re-affirmed its policy to resist development in the green belt and a motion to that effect was adopted at last full council.

The main sites in Hawkwell being considered are all in Hawkwell West.   53.3 hectares = 1599 to 2665 houses at the density required by Government of 30-50 houses per hectare.

Where?

Off Thorpe Road (residential but ‘open to discussion’) 11 hectares = 330 to 550

South of Ironwell Lane 0.3 Hectares = 10 to 17

East of Clements Hall Sports Centre (‘residential or mixed use’) 14.6 hectares = 450 to 750

Magees Nursery, Windsor Gardens 3.1 hectares = 90 to150

Greenacres, Victor Gardens, Hockley 2.3 Hectares = 65 to116

South of Mount Bovers Lane 22 hectares = 660 to1200

I have been contacted by residents to form two Action Groups which I will lead in opposition.

The first Action Group in Hawkwell aims to protect the area around Mount Bovers Lane and the second the area of Thorpe Road.  Taking into account rumours that two other large nursery sites might yet come forward and possibly another, the Thorpe Road Group will extend its interest beyond the site already notified in Thorpe Road.

The last major site are the farmlands behind Rectory Road, adjoining the Leisure Centre and running down to Windsor Gardens.  If residents also have objections then an Action Group can be set up for that site too if residents contact me.

What the Action Groups will want to know is whether Hawkwell Parish Council is going to oppose the loss of this green belt? I look forward to hearing from you on behalf of your Council.

In reply, The Clerk to the Parish Council has written: Members have had extensive discussion on this and I am sure that they will discuss the matter and develop their views further as more information becomes available. Meanwhile the Council has re-affirmed its policy to resist development in the green belt and a motion to that effect was adopted at last full council.
Yours sincerely

 

John Mason
District Councillor for Hawkwell West

Options for Housing Allocation – Rochford District

September 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Shaun Scrutton
Head of Planning and Transportation
Rochford District Council
Dear Shaun

Options for Rochford District Core Strategy – LDF Consultation

You asked me to submit any Options that Rochford District Residents (RDR) had on the LDF before 30 September.

In terms of the Options put forward by the Conservative Party, RDR would like to see a copy of the proposal together with all supporting papers if this has already been received by the Council before the deadline of 30 September.  If the proposal is not complete then I would like to receive a copy on 1 October please.

I am the Party Leader of Rochford District Residents which is a Registered Political Party which has the same status as The Conservative Party.  I am expecting that the Council will afford RDR equal status with The Conservative Party in considering the Options put forward.

I understand that Go-East is broadly supportive of  a new outer relief road for Southend, though it stresses this would need to be built in partnership with the County and Rochford district councils and might be privately funded.

On the basis that Go-East has already signified that such Option should be included in the next Option Appraisal for the LDF, RDR formally requests that Rochford District Council considers this infrastructural change, which has publicly stated Government support, in the way that it might affect Rochford District and the spatial housing planning allocation in relation to such infrastructural development and in particular that the whole requirement of circa 3,300 houses can be placed in the Eastern part of Rochford District in the LDF Core Strategy.

This request does not imply in any way that RDR is supportive of such Option.  It believes that such an Option cannot continue to be excluded from the next LDF Core Strategy Consultation.

RDR does not believe that the Option for Affordable Housing includes sufficient identification of the ownership models that exist to ensure that Affordable Housing is retained in that status over the coming 50 years.

RDR wishes to point out to Rochford District Council that Local authorities usually use policies within the LDF (sometimes with the proviso that if it could be demonstrated that developments serving the greater interest of the authority for example financing key infrastructure projects could not sustain affordable housing then an ‘open book’ approach is used with a claw back clause enabling the authority to receive commuted payments towards off site affordable
housing).  However there are other mechanisms as well. The Green Paper on housing delivery picks up on the responsibility of housing delivery and the penalties for inadequate supply.

RDR also wishes Rochford District Council to discuss this aspect in detail with the Peer Group Review Team when it visits the Council in October and report in the LDF on the content of such advice.

Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the Council announced at the Central Area Committee on 20 September that the next Public Consultation on the LDF Core Strategy will take place in the Spring of 2008.  It is of regret to RDR that Rochford District Council has not given the Party more time to research and consider the Options for the LDF.

Yours sincerely

 

John Mason
District Councillor for Hawkwell West
Party Leader, Rochford District Residents

So much for local consultation – Ignored !!

September 23, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

The Central Area Committee on 20 September in Hawkwell Village Hall considered a request by Hawkwell Parish Council for a Teen Shelter to be sited on the field adjoining Clements Hall Leisure Centre.  No details had been submitted before the meeting but the Central Area Committee was supposed to recommend this in principle to the Executive Board.  A large number of residents from Hawkwell West, my Ward, attended and some spoke out very strongly against this proposal.  Because no details had been submitted before the meeting no one knew if it required Planning Permission or not.  If it did not then the Chairman, also a Member for Hawkwell West but a Tory (Executive Councillor Derek (Steve) Stansby), said that the Executive Board would approve it.  Not so said an Officer and indeed Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the Council, but the Chairman, wishing to push this through regardless of local opinion, the people he represents, insisted otherwise.  Under the circumstances I publicly voted against because it went against the views of residents and I had not even seen the details.  So much for local consultation.  Indeed I discovered in the Minutes of Hawkwell Parish Council that only 6 adults had attended their public meeting – so the rest,54,were young people and Parish Councillors.

Other residents had come along to challenge housing allocations.  36 for Hockley and 365 for Hawkwell as put forward by the Tory Party.  Despite what Councillor Hudson had to say about specific sites not having been considered, residents did not accept this.  One answer to a written question was wrong.  The questioner asked if the allocation to specific sites could be undone at a future planning application.  Absolutely Yes wrote the Officers – THE ANSWER IS NO and residents have been misled again.

The British Horse Society and a Member of Ashingdon Parish Council came along to ask for the access from Clements Hall to a bridle way running between Hawkwell Park Drive and Park Gardens to be reopened.  This was overlooked when a new barrier and fence was installed to keep motorcycles off the playing field.  Site visit to be held for a special barrier solution.

Speeding is at the top of the list for all three local police public forums.  Data is available but nothing has been done and the police are concerned about a kick back from motorists.  I asked the police to get the data and make some decisions.  They will now do so. 

 

 

Hawkwell/Hockley Anti Social Behaviour Reduction Plan

June 19, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

Anti Social Behaviour : Matter of Concern Number 1, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

So the Police want the Youth to congregate at Clements Hall Leisure Centre. Not good news for Hawkwell residents living nearby.  But the Police want the Youth to be able to use the facilities.

So will Virgin Active and RDC offer the use free or subsidised?

I have written to a senior officer of RDC to ask how this Police request will be actioned. Read more

Rochford District Council – Central Area Committee 12 June 2007

June 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Council – Central Area Committee 12 June 2007

NO members of the public attended.  Why?

But there were 14 paid employees of RDC present (cost?).  And at least 7 paid employees of Essex County Council who were not presenting (cost?).

RDC Executive Councillor Mavis Webster was down to present on Tourism but she did not turn up nor send apologies.

The Chairman of the Central Committee surrounded himself with an shield of paid employees.  The Ward Councillors were on the wings of the table and if the public had attended they would not have been able to see who was speaking or if they could who it was because the name tags would have been at 90 degrees to them.  I thought the idea was to get Ward Councillors more directly involved?  Perhaps not then?

The presentation made by the paid employees at top table were poor and there was one that I could not follow very well and the PA system was causing distortions.

The presentation of the meeting by the Chair, who is an RDC Executive Councillor was poor because all he did was read from notes in an uninteresting monotone. I am glad that the public did not attend.

Then there was the spectacle of 3 ballots with four Tories scrapping over the position of vice chair.  One candidate had no votes so they did not even rate themselves!!

The Chair was obviously confused about who could speak at the formal Committee.  A Chairman of a Parish Council asked if he could talk about the Terms of Reference.  The Chair said no but he went right ahead.  The Head of Legal Services intervened and said NO but he carried on and the Chair did nothing and allowed all Parish Councils to go on speaking and even one, Hawkwell Parish Council, made a presentation on a Youth Project where they want the District Council to support a Youth Centre in the form of a Portakabin being sited in Gree Belt on Hawkwell Playing Fields.  The Chair of the Central Committee gave this his full support. The Chair will then take all matters from the Central Committee for decision at thge Executive Committee.  So perhaps that is it, approved without planning permission?  Who knows these days when anyone can speak when they like at an RDC Committee but ordinary Councillors cannot speak at the RDC Executive Committee. 

Things you ought to know about matters raised during the meeting:

Police – In April there were only four offences in Hawkwell and combined with Hockley there were 28. By comparison with 2006 this had fallen from 35, which is a 20% reduction.  Across the District Anti Social Behaviour has fallen by 36%.

The Police policy is for all young people to congregate at Clements Hall and the Playing Fields but in small groups. The Police want small groups to be able to use the leisure facilities in small groups. The Police view on the new Skateboard Facility is that is well used and the youth wanted it.  It is early days but the police feel that it will make a difference.

Dog Fouling – Officers and Members agreed that there needs to be an example prosecution.

Golden X Flats – They have no wheelie bins and have to keep refuse inside their homes.

Highways – Major footway program in Hockley and Ashingdon.  Plumberow and Bramerton finished with Greenward and Southend Road to follow later in the year.

PCT – Hawkwell Doctors – Monthly meeting with adhoc patients committee

    

New RDC Area Committees

May 26, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The new Area Committees were the only promising part of the New Political Structure put in place by the Conservative Party Group on Rochford District Council.  But that promise has been dispelled even before they have met.

They were promising because they meet almost locally and would allow residents to speak.

The Area Committees were approved before the way that they would work with public speaking had been worked out.

I have now been informed verbally by Councillor Stansby, Central Area Chair, that residents who wish to speak will have to fill in a form beforehand !!

This was worked out by the three Area Committee Chairs without consultation with other Members.

Where do you get a Form from?  Make a visit to Rayleigh or Rochford?  Might as well write a letter to the Council instead !!! No need to wait 6 weeks between meetings.

An Officer did confide to me that one option they had put forward was that residents could just come along and speak but then the Chair of the Area Committee would have to be on the ball.  Clearly the Executive Councillors that are paid more are not up to the job and need to know what residents are going to raise beforehand.  And no doubt get Officers to do the work of research and work out the excuses for them.

Meetings For Central Area – Hockley, Hawkwell and Hullbridge 

12 June 2007      Greensward College, Hockley
24 July 2007    Hullbridge Community Centre
20 September 2007       Hawkwell Village Hall
24 October 2007 Hullbridge Community Centre
4 December 2007 Greensward College, Hockley
22 January 2008 Hullbridge Community Centre
6 March 2008    Hawkwell Village Hall

All meetings are scheduled to start at 7.30pm

Other attendees are Parish Council representatives, Police representatives and Essex County Council representatives.

A Politico Blog on the RDC New Structure

May 21, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

It was inevitable that only members of the Conservative Party have seats on the powerful Executive Board.

Whilst decisions can be questioned by Full Council or Overview and Scrutiny in reality the Party Whip will ensure that the Conservative Party majority will prevail.

All other Councillors on RDC are consigned to the only remaining role available – Opposition. I mean ALL OTHERS, including some disgruntled Conservative Councillors. The spectacle of Conservative Councillors scrapping for votes to become Area Committee Chairman must have upset the losers.

This New Political Structure has for once and for all polarised the business of Council.  Something that the system that the public liked, The Committee Structure, did not.

So my personal role in Council is Opposition.

The New Political Structure is counterproductive in Local Government.  Polarisation with an Opposition stifles cooperation and constructive debate.  

With nine Conservative Super Councillors, the remaining 20 or so Conservative Councillors must feel pretty sore.  From what has been said anonymously in the Lib Dem Web Site this must be true. It must be even harder to be a silent dissenter in the Conservative Group.  I doubt whether The Conservative Group is democratic with a majority carrying the decisions.  The Party Whip must be omnipresent and omnipotent. They could leave and become an Independent but the future would not be comfortable.

The New Political Structure is no good for the political parties and more importantly our residents.

The nine Conservative Super Councillors will acquire individual executive powers next year. So far the Officers do all the work and I am wondering if  this will change?  Better that they make a decision based on sound Officer work rather on their own skill base according to the Anonymous views on this posted to the Lib Dem site.

Insurance of assets can save in times of trouble. Most commercial insurance is still not done online while personal insurance has online presence. You can have online car insurance quotes and loads of companies give online insurance quotes for various personal items. To get an insurance quote from a broker search for “brokers insurance” on Google. Effort should be made on our part to know various insurance laws such as health insurance law law.

Central Area Committee – Hawkwell, Hockley and Hullbridge – RDC

May 20, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

As the Chair had been appointed and the first meeting was due on 12 June, I wrote to Derek Stansby and asked how the public could participate.  These new Area Committees are about consultation with residents but no details were available to advise residents.

I sent the letter and the by the afternoon of receipt by Derek Stansby, it had been passed to Rochford District Council Officers to ascertain how the Area Committees were to work!! I thought that these “super councillors” on the Area Committees and Executive Board were paid additional allowances for additional responsibilities.  If they are going to use the old ruse of asking the Officers what to do then why do we need executive councillors who are paid?

LETTER

I have been asked by residents to ascertain how they may arrange to speak at the Central Area Committee.  What will the environment be like?  Standing or Sitting?  Delivered to the Committee from what situation?  In what format?  How long?
 

The request is for the first meeting of the Central Area Committee on 12 June and I understand that those who wish to speak may wish to call an Officer from Essex Police in support.
 

How will such matters be taken forward.  Will there be debate on the night?  Can the residents join in the debate?
 

Do I as a Member have any rights to place items on the Central Area Committee Agenda.  Please advise the procedure and the basis of determination if an item is to be admitted to the Agenda.
 

You will recall that the latest report on the matter of the Local Development Framework was rejected by Full Council for further review.  This will now be undertaken by the Local Development Framework Sub Committee of which you are a Member by virtue of being the Chair of the Central Area Committee.  Given that further review has being determined by Full Council I wish to know whether the subject of the Local Development Framework will be reviewed by the Central Area Committee before the Local Development Framework Sub Committee reconsiders the matter?
 

As there is such little time before the summons is issued for the 12 June Meeting of the Central Area Committee my own view is that the matter has some urgency especially as residents have expressed an interest in the Central Area Committee.
 

    

 

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