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Could YOU represent your Community? Do YOU like to be involved in local issues?

June 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Could YOU represent your Community? Do YOU like to be involved in local issues?  Can YOU assist your neighbours to find the right route to resolve a problem? If so Rochford District Residents needs YOU.

Rochford District Residents is a local political party that has its roots in Residents Associations.  Run and administered by John and Christine Mason who represent their Ward – Hawkwell West – on Rochford District Council the aims are simple:  To achieve the best possible results for the residents they represent in local matters.

Many national political parties, but not all,  set their policies focused on Parliament and Parliamentary seats and these are cascaded down from the top to the local political groups. Rochford District Council (RDC) seats come under two different Parliamentary Constituencies and the Leader of the RDC group ensures that both National and Local (Conservative) Policies are adhered to by use of the Whip. (Nothing to do with black leather (!!) but to do with ensuring that members of that group vote as instructed by the Leader of the Council.)

Rochford District Residents  are unlike national political parties as there is NO whip nor will there ever be.  We believe that everyone has a view that they are entitled to put forward and after a debate a vote should be taken on the merits of the points raised, discussed and debated.

Unfortunately at present the local administration have a different policy, their whip ensures that their Councillors vote in line with the party instructions regardless of whether it is right or wrong for your area.  The craziness of this was demonstrated by the recent Conservative led hike in car parking charges when 10 Conservative councillors disobeyed the Whip and abstained.  Yes, abstained because they were ‘not allowed’ to vote against the Conservative Policy.  Had they had the courage of their convictions and voted against the rise we would not be facing this increase, which is yet to be implemented. (Delayed from the beginning of April.)  These ten became nine etc and only one of the original ten has had the courage to continue to reject the Whip, becoming an Independent Conservative .

We are not anti- conservative, or anti-labour or anti-liberal for that matter.  We just believe that local people should have an independent  voice in local issues.  In many ways we are Independents under a Heading to allow voters to identify with us and our aims.  We had hoped that the much publicized Localism Act would create more democracy at a local level but unfortunately this has not been the case. Nor will it – ever.

Next May thirteen RDC seats are up for election, one in each of Ashingdon and Canewdon, Barling and Sutton, Foulness and Great Wakering, Hawkwell North, Hawkwell South, Hawkwell West, Rochford, Hullbridge, Hockley Central, Grange, Lodge, Sweyne Park, Downhall and Rawreth (Rayleigh Wards).

Christine will be standing in Hawkwell West seeking re-election.

Would you like to join her and stand in one of the other wards?

Even if you do not wish to use our heading of Rochford District Residents and wish to stand as an ‘Independent’ we are more than willing to help and advise you on the complexities of seeking election and representing your area and your views.

It may seem a long way till May 2015 but we feel it is best to get to know your potential ward well in advance of an election which enables you to go to the electorate with a track record and a clear understanding of the commitment you may be making.

Contact John or Christine on john.mason@bigfoot.com

Decision Making at Rochford District Council – Change or No Change?

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford Independent has run a series of articles over the last week which have focused on the new policies for local government that will be introduced by the New Lib/Con Coalition Government.

In many of these what we are wishing to do at the Rochford Independent Web site is firstly inform and then to put the issues, risks and impacts to Rochford District that we see on record and open to public scrutiny.  In certain instances we will be a campaigning voice with a point of view that we think will be supported by many residents.

In this case the Coalition Government is offering an optional basis for change to Rochford District Council.

We will allow councils to return to the committee system, should they wish to.

If you wish to see change then you will have to nudge this so please write to me at mailadmin@rochfordessex.net

But the article needs to set out some facts. Sources are quoted.

The Labour Government through the Local Government Act 2000 imposed changes on local authorities that were designed to streamline and modernise their political structures. The act was intended to end the old committee system of local government which, it was argued, was slow and ineffective although, others may counter, democratic and accountable.

Rochford District Council chose the option of a leader elected by the council, with a cabinet of between 2 and 10 councillors either selected by the leader or the full council.

But it could have chosen a modified committee system.

Since then the costs of administrating the council have increased hugely mainly because much greater monetary allowances for the leader and cabinet members have been established although it must be said that there were far more modest monetary increases to the basic allowance.

 In 2004 the total sum for allowances was £111,000 and in 2008 it had risen to £233,000.

If you want to see the data it is here(http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/uk/09/english_council_allowances/data/allowances.xls) courtesy of the BBC.

It is hard to escape, with hindsight of course, the notion that the Labour Government years promoted the “more for me” culture in the public sector which should have run against all Opposition Party principles but then again we have also seen, and continue to see, the product of that culture in the MP’s and Lords Expenses scandals some of which are being heard in the Criminal Courts.

If you wish to see lower cost, greater transparency and greater democracy in RDC then you will wish to push for change.

In April 2009 the BBC’s expose journalist Donal MacIntyre on his Radio 5 Show reported as follows (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8017582.stm);

 Rochford District Council in Essex had the biggest rise in its allowances bill – of 110 per cent over the four years. Although it is still well below the level of many other councils.

The leader of the council Terry Cutmore was paid almost £10,000 in allowances three years ago. By March 2009, his allowance had gone up to £25,500.

“The reason it’s so high is we have actually gone to the average of Essex councils,” Councillor Cutmore said.

“That’s done through a remuneration panel which is totally independent and the rise has gone through because we were paid so lowly to start with.”

Heather Wakefield, from Unison, said: “I think it’s rank hypocrisy for councillors to have awarded themselves these increases when our members are being offered a pay rise of 0.5%.”

But Ms Wakefield said Councillor Cutmore’s allowance needs to be compared with council employees’ pay.

“A quarter of a million council workers earn less than the amount the leader of Rochford is awarding himself,” she said.

Allowances are voted on by councillors themselves. Initially a recommendation is made to the council by an independent panel made up of people who do not sit on the council.

But the councils can choose to ignore the recommendations. Richard Kemp said that often they will take a lower amount.

“Very few councils actually make a big difference to the recommendations of the independent panel,” he said.

Only the Cabinet Members can speak at or even address the Executive or Cabinet Committee at Rochford District Council.  But other Members of the Council and the Public can listen instead.

When this was first established myself,the Lib Dems in Opposition objected to this publicly but it is believed that many other Conservative Group Members did as well but behind the scenes.

There was no chance of change until now.  Will the disaffected Conservative Members speak up for change?

Because of the Cabinet approach decisions are being made by the Portfolio Holders only in discussion with Officers and other Cabinet Members at best.

Or is it that such consultations and discussions within the Conservative Political Group are being held behind closed doors?  This is not a transparent and democratic approach in my view.

I know that decisions can be called in the The Review Committee but initial open discussion with all Members is by far the best course and better value for money.

With the UK being run by a Coalition Government it is hard to avoid the conclusion that consensus political decision making should also return to local government.

The choice of change is there if the residents of Rochford District want it but you will need to ask or even demand it.

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.

Row over Publication of Direct Dial Number of Head of Planning, RDC

October 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

This has been printed in the “Community Voice” leaflet. “Community Voice” is the periodic newsletter of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association which owns a registered political party called Hawkwell Residents. The Hawkwell Residents registered political party has two seats on Hawkwell Parish Council.

We hear on the grapevine that someone at the Council is not very happy with the Hawkwell Residents Association about this as all calls to the Head of Planning are supposed to be screened by a Personal Assistant.

And there might have been quite a few calls because the article which gave the DD Number told residents if they were concerned about 365 new houses in Hawkwell that “you might want to contact RDC (Mr S Scrutton, Head of Planning on 01702 318XXX). [We X’d out the last 3 digits – Editor] 

We wish to make it clear that Councillor John Mason has absolutely no connection whatsoever with the Hawkwell Residents’ Association or the Hawkwell Residents political party.

Perhaps the Hawkwell Residents Association should have asked if it would be acceptable to include the information? 

No doubt the Hawkwell Residents Association will apologise for this mistake in their next Newsletter and remove the phone number from its web site immediately.
 

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.

 

 

2 Hours on What Needs to Change at Rochford Council

July 14, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Tory Councillor Heather Glynn said “how sad it was that only 3 (of the 9) Executive Councillors attended.” Those absent included the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council.

All Councillors were invited to attend the initial feedback.  Important because it was fresh with direct explanation from the whole Review Team.  Apart from many staff only 7 Councillors attended.  Tory Executive Councillors Seagers, Starke and Stansby.  Ordinary Councillors Humphreys, Glynn and Cottis for the Conservatives and myself, John Mason an Independent representing Rochford Residents.   

A written report which will be made available in August and a Presentation will be made just by the IDEA Member of the Review Team in September. Let’s hope the  Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council and the rest of the Executive Councillors fully understand what is required of them to improve the Council  and get an assessment of better than POOR in the official inspection by the Audit Commission in 18 month’s time.

But already Rochford Council has missed the boat in my view.  The IDEA Team Leader, himself a Chief Executive of a successful District Council, explained that his Council had adopted a cultural organisational change theme called “One Team” but this had taken 2 years to establish. And having just split the Members into Executive Councillors and Ordinary Councillors with definitive political polarisation then the Council will find that it will take much more than this to create a “One Team” at Rochford.

I know from personal contact with Pam Challis, The Castle Point Borough Council Leader, that neighbour Castle Point is already a long way through a cultural change programme there but the Rochford Council Executive Councillors are content to only discuss matters such as Handymen, Play and Weddings !!

There were some really positive findings about Rochford Council but the focus of the Audit Commission will have changed by the time the official inspection takes place and there is a huge amount of work to do if Rochford is to get away from being assessed as a POOR Council.

Here are what I think are the most important matters to be tackled from a presentation lasting two hours;

  • The Review Team stated at the outset that Rochford District Council has all of the necessary components in order to create significant improvements; green attractive environment, airport, railway, bus network etc., There is no reason why Tourism, regeneration and a vibrant market town cannot be established but there needs to be a clear strategy with established timed expectations and outcomes.
  • Council needs a cultural identity or ethos which can be embraced by all polititical parties, residents and the staff of Rochford Council
  • there is no focussed vision of what the Council will be doing – the public do not understand what the Council vision is
  • Community Strategy and the Corporate Plan are only loosely connected
  • there is an over dependence on the Local Development Framework (LDF) to deliver the overall Council strategy
  • the public do not understand the LDF and what a spatial planning strategy is
  • 67% of the population of Rochford cannot afford rented/private housing accomodation (figures from RDC Housing Needs Study 2004) so much more, even all, of the new 3700 housing allocation must be allocated to affordable housing.  In the words of the IDEA Team Leader “This will be a testing decision because residents do not wish to see new building on green belt and business are looking for initiatives too”. “Roads are congested due to residents moving out of the area for work, so more work needs to be established in the District.
  • there is only some recognition of residents opinions in developing projects, they appear to have already been decided at consultation
  • Council projects do not have firm delivery targets or stated outcomes which are tested post delivery
  • Overview and Scrutiny does not examine, challenge or relate to the vision and objectives of the Council
  • Council Staff want to know who the Executive Councillors and Councillor Champions are and what they are doing
  • there is little evidence of Members involvement in the Corporate Plan and Economic Strategy
  • area profiles do not have clear input into decision making and no devolved decision making and budget
  • no evidence of political commitment to address the needs of hard to reach groups
  • Residents do not understand what is included in Paper kerb side recycling – an example of poor communication
  • the CDRP (Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership chaired by Chief Inspector and Rochford District Commander, John Walker) needs to be less operationally focussed and focussed more on strategy – Safer by Design and Youth Engagement are examples

 

 

 

Overworked Rochford Police are asking public for help

July 3, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

POLICE officers are searching for volunteers to give up a few hours of their time to help free up police in their area.

Chief Insp John Walker, of Rochford police, said civic-minded people of all ages could make the most of their skills, whether they are in accountancy, human resources or manual labour, by helping police with small tasks.

They could even spare just a few hours to water the window boxes, wash police cars or help with administrative tasks.

Mr Walker said: “One of our big drives is about engaging with the general public, making sure we work closely together to improve the community.

“We are asking the public to work locally with us, to free up officers to concentrate on higher priority issues.”

The scheme will allow volunteers to work any number of hours, and would suit people from all walks of life. Volunteers are even invited to come up with their own ideas of how to help their station.

Call Rayleigh police on 01268 775533.

The Massive (Youth) Project by Janet Snelling of Ark II

June 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

In brief we are a registered charity that has already set up Together on Sunday Afternoon – a group for people in the community that would otherwise be on their own on a Sunday.

We meet in the Public Hall, Bullwood Road for two hours and have a free tea and social activities.  This group has been establised for 18 months now and we have recently been trying to initiate something for young people – especially a meeting place.

We have an involvement with the working party set up by Hawkwell Parish Council to look into youth provision.  I am involved with Hockley Residents Ass. and on a NAP in Hockley now.  We decided to initiate The Massive Project to start fund raising and to liaise with other individuals and community groups to work together for our young people.  In conjunction with Steve Joynes , a meeting was held on 18th June for all interested parties as we have been offered part of an industrial unit on the Eldon Way Ind. Est.

This is early days, but a small working committee was appointed, with three councillors and three young people.  I have been working with Kath Muncer from the HPPG and we have been talking to young people  and this week we went to Greensward College to speak to some of the students as they have a real interest in this plan going forward.  They hope to initiate some fund raising as a result.

We have someone who is kindly putting together a Business Plan which is in a draft form at present with ongoing work regarding costings and risk assessment etc.

We are meeting with the Hockley Business Group this coming week.

Visits have been made to The Warehouse and Legacy to gain valuable information about their projects, plus a number of other meetings and helpful discussions.

Hope that this will give an overview.  We are trying to help the project come together and to help support other ideas at the Hawkwell end of the area. The working committee will be meeting soon to decide on the necessary actions.

Update on Hawkwell – Littter,Litter,Litter

June 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Hawkwell Parade of shops is private land and the litter is the responsibility of the shop keepers not Rochford District Council.  So we are grateful to Myra Weir for clearing this up for them.  I think that they should pay for this service.

SkateBoard Facility – Hawkwell Playing Fields

Dear Councillor Mason,

I have been requested by Graham Woolhouse to provide you with an update on this issue.  I can confirm that I have spoken with Myra Weir personally and ascertained that she currently collects litter in this area on Saturdays and Sundays. The main issues that she is concerned about appears to be broken glass.  This is said to be worst on Saturdays mornings rather than Sundays. As you know our normal litter collection service for this area is only provided between Monday and Friday at present.

I have noted that earlier comments from Richard Boyd regarding a specific visit he made with Myra Weir on Monday 21.5.07, so it is apparent that she is visiting at other times of the week as well. I can assure you however that our contactors are visiting daily during the week and dealing with any litter found.

I have advised Myra Weir of the service levels provided by the Council and that her efforts, whilst community spirited are not assisting the situation as we are not aware of the extent of this particular problem. She has agreed to stop this clean up activity for a few weeks on the basis that I will provide her with feedback on action we propose to take, if any.

I have instructed our Contract Monitoring Officers to undertake regular checks of the area over the next few weeks in order to assess the scale of the problem and identify an appropriate solution. It may be that additional resources are required for which a bid will need to be made.  

We do however have contactors working on Saturdays in other parts of the district, such as in Rayleigh High Street and at the Cemetery so it may be possible to extend the current service, if this can be justified.

I will contact you with an update once I receive feedback from the Contract Monitoring Officers.

Regards
Richard Evans
Head Of Environmental Services  

 

 

Green Gyms – New Initiative

June 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Health : Matter of Concern Number 4, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

This is a project that I tried to get Hawkwell Parish to get involved in but all the Parks Committee did was write to the District Council !! I can see no reason why Hawkwell Parish Council could not take on this initiative locally where there is a perfect fit between the parks that the council owns and a community activity to improve health.

I have now written to Jeremy Bourne, Head of Community Services at RDC personally as a Member of RDC and asked him to reconsider the initiative for the District as a whole.

In the meantime if you want more details:

Green Gym groups meet in their local area at least once a week. A Green Gym session lasts for up to three hours.

During this time you will be doing environmental conservation or gardening activities with a trained leader. You could plant a new hedge, cut back an overgrown path, or help build a community garden.

These activities are taken at your own pace, but there is always something to get your heart and muscles working.

More on web site http://www2.btcv.org.uk/display/greengym

 

South East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) (NHS)

June 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Medical Care : Matter of Concern Number 4, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

As a Ward Councillor I am working with the South East Essex Primary Care Trust to ensure that there are Health Improvement Programmes aimed at the population of Rochford.

These are:

• STAR Partnership – this is a multi agency partnership aimed at increasing provision of health and well being programmes through Rochford. Originally the project focused purely on two wards in Rochford town itself but has now expanded to encompass the district as a whole. projects are delivered through a  variety of settings and involve a wide range of stakeholders form both the voluntary and statutory sector. The focus of the partnership is on the wider determinants of health so do not necessarily focus on specific disease related issues but on a more holistic model e.g. healthy eating as a means of decreasing risk factors for obesity, CHD, diabetes etc. The PCT employs the STAR partnership coordinator and supports specific projects as appropriate
• National Healthy Schools Award – a number of primary and secondary schools have achieved the National Healthy Schools Award which is facilitated through the Local Education Authority and PCT as part of the Essex and Southend Healthy Schools Partnership. The PCT employs the Healthy Schools Advisor who is the key link with schools wishing to achieve the Award and again provides additional support for specific pieces of work required to support schools in this work. The Award requires schools to evidence action around four key areas all related to wider determents of health and sustainable behaviour
• GP Exercise Referral Scheme – this operates in partnership with Clements Hall Leisure Centre and enables patients who meet a specific criteria to access tailored exercise programmes facilitated by trained instructors the outcomes of which include sustainable increase in physical activity for the benefit of both their specific condition and their overall well being
• Stop Smoking Services – this operates across south Essex and as well as a specialist service that patients can either  self refer into or be referred by a health professional, would be quitters can also access support through a scheme that has been put in place with community pharmacists
• Smoke free Implementation – the PCT is working in close partnership with Local Authorities to ensure that the smoking in public places ban that comes into force nationally on 1st July is successfully implemented through increased public awareness and support for businesses on whom the ban will impact

Health promotion campaigns with community pharmacies  – the PCT has designed a programme of six campaigns focusing on key health improvement messages that will be delivered through community pharmacies to raise awareness on issues including obesity, sensible drinking, flu immunisation, sexual health promotion and cancer screening programmes. The programme of campaigns will run throughout 2007/8.

I am currently in discussion with the PCT about improvements to heath services and will provide further information when it is available.

Community Initiatives Fund – How was it spent in Rochford District?

June 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Essex County Council – Community Initiatives Fund 2005/2006

How was the money spent in Rochford District? 

Reducing Council Tax : Matter of Concern Number 2, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

Read more

Meeting with Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Carmel Napier

May 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

I undertook a visit to Essex Police Headquarters as part of the Anti Social Behaviour Review being undertaken by Rochford District Council.

We met Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Carmel Napier who is in charge of Neighbourhood Policing.  Rochford Area Commander, Chief Inspector John Walker reports to Mrs Napier.

Armed with our 2007 Residents Survey from Hawkwell West, I set the scene by advising how residents see Anti Social Behaviour as their number one concern, where this is supported by your view that the quality of policing still needs to be improved.  Your view on safety coincided with many of the views that essentially we live in a safe place but that anti social behaviour needs yet still more attention.  I said that Neighbourhood Policing was a strategy that was working but we needed more of it to improve the quality of policing.

Mrs Napier confirmed that her strategy for Neighbourhood Policing was long term with even more resources to be redirected to the community.

I reiterated your concerns about evenings being the priority.

I also learnt that Parish Councils could now fund a PCSO for their area and more or less have this resource ring fenced.  So come along Hawkwell Parish Council, we have had several public meetings about Policing and Anti Social Behaviour and the time has come to spend our Council Tax on something REALLY IMPORTANT to all of us.

That afternoon Mrs Napier was meeting with John Walker to talk about his plans for improving the quality of policing and she asked for a copy of our 2007 Residents Survey from Hawkwell West. 

What Mrs. Napier did say in response to my request was that the Local Commander, John Walker, would be producing a plan to reduce the incidence of Anti Social Behaviour over the coming summer months which almost always sees an increase.  His team will be targeted by Nrs Napier to reduce demand – basically less calls from you and I. 

Hawkwell Parish Council – No Village Plan When Needed

May 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Planning : Matter of Concern Number 5, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

In 2003 I was elected by you as a Member of Hawkwell Parish Council.  One of the priority projects was the development of a village plan. This is one of the projects that I wished to see taken forward by Hawkwell Parish Council 2003 – 2007.

One of the big questions is development, what is going to happen to Green Belt?  Houses or not?

What happened over 2003-2007?  Council assigned this task to the Planning Committee chaired and led by Labour Councillor Myra Weir.  Labour Councillor David Weir was also on that Committee as was a Parish Councillor representing the Hawkwell Residents Political Party.  For some unknown reason the Hawkwell Village Plan was not progressed. Council then again directed The Planning Committee to take this forward.  Still no action so in my last year of office I joined the Planning Committee and pushed the Village Plan into life.  That was then the early summer of 2006 and it still took until January 2007 to have a public meeting. BUT it was already TOO LATE !!

This was reported in the February Minutes as follows:

“Report on the Public meeting re Village Plan:

The draft report had been circulated. Cllr Patient noted that the meeting was reasonably well attended and had identified some interesting matters including some that the Parish had not previously considered, the process had been extremely useful. He had been very impressed with the RCCE representative Stella Meesters and he felt she had managed the meeting very professionally.He suggested that Members should pass on their thanks to Stella at RCCE.This was agreed. The next step was to agree a meeting date and set up a steering group from those who indicated a willingness to attend.Cllr Mrs Keenan expressed her frustration with one of the comments made inthe report about PCSO’s patrolling in pairs feeling that single patrols wouldresult in higher visibility of the police.”

By May 2007 a Steering Committee had still not been formed and the next meeting to do this is not until 25 June.

But Why was it important to start this in 2003 and not 2007?

Because the District Council was to commence its Local Plan Replacement Review, which was superseded by the requirement by Government to create a Local Development Framework, it was an important opportunity for Hawkwell Parish Council to consult with the community on a Village Plan. More importantly the Hawkwell Village Plan could be legally admitted as a pivotal Local Development Framework Document.  And before the District Council got to the point of determining its preferred options for how the Hawkwell Parish is to develop over the next 14 years !!   An array of issues need to be decided, including the general locations for new housing, areas to be protected, future employment provision, affordable housing, the approach towards tourism and leisure, and more.

Unfortunately Hawkwell Parish Council has over four years not engaged residents to create a Hawkwell Village Plan and it has no Hawkwell Village Plan to offer on behalf of residents under the Rochford District Core Strategy consultation on the allocation of new housing to Hawkwell.

This is one of the projects that I wished to see taken forward by Hawkwell Parish Council 2003 – 2007 and why I have left that Council to concentrate on District issues and make sure that you are represented and informed in the allocation of our green belt.

There is now no need for Hawkwell Parish Council to bother with that part of a Village Plan that deals with housing. The Steering Committee will not be formed until 25 June. It will be all over anyway by 2 July 2007 when the vital consultation on the allocation of additional housing development closes and if there has not been objection Hockley and Hawkwell (mostly Hawkwell) will get an additional 400 houses.
 

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.

RDC New Political Structure – Some councillors who want to be busy are left with nothing!

May 20, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

(NOT ME, I AM VERY BUSY !! – John)

This was an interesting statement left anonymously the Liberal Democrats Web Site. (Could it have been a disgruntled Tory?)

Initially it provoked me, an “independent” Member of RDC to feel the same but an enquiry of John Honey, Corporate Director of Internal Services at the Council reminded me that ALL Councillors can attend ALL public meetings and speak.  But you can only vote on those Committees to which you have been appointed by Council.

Independents don’t get to be on many.

Not because they are not interested but because the Controlling Political Party does not allow them to be.  And no Chairs or Leadership positions.  And not because an Independent is not qualified, experienced and not because they do not have all the relevant business skills. (I do !!, CV available on request.)  What a waste to the Community.  If the Political Parties thought more of the best person for the job then the Council would be better for all of us.  But that is politics !!

Having been made redundant, I can now attend meetings during the day and even being a non driver I can claim travel and child care expenses.  I was not aware of that until a day or so ago when John Honey confirmed that I could.  It may not have been what the political parties intended but the rules allow me to claim my taxi fares when the No 8 bus stops running in the evening after 7.00pm.

So I will be attending as many Council Meetings whether I can vote or not but have a say on behalf of RESIDENTS !!

Watch this site and I will tell you what really goes on and is not in the Minutes !!

John Mason 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.6% Possible Increase in Hawkwell Parish Council spending the last straw !!

January 6, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Christine and I have decided to leave Hawkwell Parish Council and concentrate on other more productive work for the community.  Christine will continue to run the Smellies for the Sick at Southend Hospital which covers Southend, Rochford and Castle Point Districts. They will both continue to run the Hawkwell HeartStart Group for the benefit of Hawkwell, Hockley, Ashingdon and Rochford areas.

John will continue to represent you at Rochford District Council.

Dear Colleague

We have decided to resign as Members of Hawkwell Parish Council with immediate effect.

We both feel that our reasons for doing so should be put on record.

When John was elected in 2003 he put forward a number of proposals for Hawkwell that were all achievable ambitions which we both believe would collectively have significantly improved the quality of life across all ages in the Parish. It has, however, not been possible for Hawkwell Parish Council to demonstrate its commitment to the level of change, energy and drive required.

In addition John has found Council Meetings an unpleasant experience over the last 9 months and recent unfounded complaints about him have left him wondering if his motivation would return.  Sadly it has not.

Christine has been equally dismayed by way Council business has been conducted since she was elected and under the circumstances does not wish to serve alone.

The last straw is evident in the proposal being made to Finance Committee which, if agreed, could cause an increase in the Parish Precept of 11.6% without any increased benefit to the community.  We cannot support this as a matter of principle and we both feel that the only way that this might be stopped is to resign in protest.

Yours faithfully
John and Christine Mason

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.

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

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