Strategic Planning at Castle Point in a Spin

September 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Council fears for a concrete jungle futureCouncillors are saying “We do not want Castle Point to be turned into a concrete jungle, but don’t know how to stop it !!”

“The Government wants to see more development in South Essex and has got us over a barrel.”

What do outsiders think?

It seems surprising that Castle Point Councillors have chosen to question the Conservative led Government especially when the Council has a Conservative Administration.

One wonders what they expect to achieve because most District Councils are managing to avoid a clash with Government by putting house building plans in place to avoid planning powers being effectively taken away from the Council.

But as Castle Point Council is so against the new house building targets as a resident you would have to agree that the Council is doing the right thing.

If Castle Point truly do not know what the heck to do then perhaps the Leader of The Council should be making an urgent appointment in Westminster to tell David Cameron and Eric Pickles that Conservative Government Policy is not for Castle Point.

It is all a bit of a mystery why all the Conservative run Councils in South Essex have not got together and challenged Pickles and Osborne because they all must know that saying to residents that they had no choice but to follow Conservative Government Policy will not rub on the doorstep.

Perhaps with Campaigning for the 2015 General Election already underway there might be change in Government Policy to let Castle Point off the hook?

As regards the Rochford Core Strategy speaking to residents of Hawkwell recently identified to us some significant flaws in what is happening.  They want to know that if their children, as young adults, wished to stay in the area then they could find housing to rent or buy.  They do not understand the term Affordable Housing.  Residents think that this means that there will be one and two bedroom houses to buy at prices they can afford.  Not so. Affordable Houses means that these houses are made available for rent from a Registered Social Landlord.  Unfortunately, there are more than enough people on the Housing Register to take these up already.

Whatever Government “Help to Buy Scheme” you look at, even with the 5% cash and the remaining deposit of 15% Guaranteed by Mr. Cameron announced today, you still need an 80% Mortgage.  Even with a property costing £300,000 you still need a Mortgage of £240,000.  Plus £45,000 provided by the Government on the 15% Deposit making a 95% Loan of £285,000. Can young adults with University Loans of 20,000 – £40,000 EACH afford a Loan of £285,000 on top? 

How can these new houses be for our kids?

If the houses for sale are too big and too expensive then young adults will have to leave the area which is what the Rochford District Census 2011 suggests has happened and will no doubt continue. Perhaps this explains why the Rochford District Census 2011 also shows that there has been no increase in 0-18 year olds over 10 years.

As regards our aging population Council Officers told us at a Hearing that if older people wished to downsize then they could also apply to rent Affordable Homes from Registered Social Landlords.  But why would they want to rent 3 bedroom homes even if the Registered Social Landlords could ignore the waiting list on the Housing Register?

There is something fundamentally wrong here if residents think that the young (children) and old (parents) are not properly catered for in Council Housing Strategies for the local communities that they serve.

The housing in Rochford District has increased at average of 183 per year (2001 – 2011 by Council figures) and apart from the housing stock for rent by Registered Social Landlords this has met the needs of all age groups.

Perhaps Castle Point has more to concern itself with before it decides whether to buck Government Policy or not.

And Rochford District needs to consider these facts and trends in its Revision of the Core Strategy which starts again in January 2014.

If you want to read the Echo Article (27 September 2013) entitled “Council fears for a concrete jungle future” then it is below;

CONCERNS have been raised that the future development of thousands of homes in Castle Point could be left in the hands of the Government.

Castle Point Council is in the process of creating a new Local Plan which will act as a blue-print for where new homes could be built in the borough over the next 15 years.

It is the authority’s third attempt at putting together the housing strategy, as the original proposals were rejected by a Government inspector in 2010 and again in September 2011, following opposition from residents and backbench councillors.

Now, councillors are claiming the new draft document, which is yet to be completed, might not get voted through as it bears too much resemblance to previous plans.

If the new plan is rejected at full council, councillors fear the Government’s Planning Inspectorate would intervene and take the decision-making powers away from the local authority.

Alf Partridge, Conservative councillor for St Mary’s ward, said: “When I last saw the latest scheme I was not happy with it because it would still mean seeing the demise of green belt. I cannot see any difference between this plan and the last one.

“Council officers are making a valiant effort to try to rescue us from a ridiculous situation and find new ideas of where to put these homes, but what the heck can we do?

“The Government wants to see more development in south Essex and has got us over a barrel. It was talking about 200 homes a year and now its 250 homes. I am not happy to commit to such high numbers of new houses.

“But if we do not come up with a practical plan to allow a certain number of homes to be and members at the moment as we try to agree something. There is a good chance of the Government coming in and taking over. ”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “The council has found itself in a difficult position. If everyone doesn’t agree this time round, the Government could come in and decide things for us.

“I don’t think the Tories will vote it through because they are looking at a lot of development on the mainland which could lose them voters. But they have to make tough decisions.”

However, Tory councillor Bill Sharp said a new committee of six councillors has been put together to scrutinise all the potential development sites in the next few weeks.

He also said new sites have come to light, such as the Blinking Owl site off the A127, which could help relieve the pressure on the major green belt sites.

Mr Sharp said: “The Blinking Owl site has been left out in the past, but already has around six or seven entrances from the A127 and could be a suitable site. While I am concerned, I am not as concerned as I was a few weeks ago.

“I am confident we can come to a decision that will not see us lost our virgin green belt sites.”



Christine’s Charitable Work – Southend University Hospital

May 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


An Interview With The Rochford Life Magazine – John & Christine Mason

May 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


Essex County Council Elections – 2 May 2013

April 14, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

By John Mason

Essex County Council Building

We had contemplated standing in the County Council Elections but to be honest Christine and I are too busy sorting out issues caused by the DWH Development for all residents.

We are only representing you as Independents at the District Council because we are local residents who care about our local surroundings and environment and we will continue to speak out for you.

What has stimulated this Article?

The Liberal Democrats have published their “Priorities” for candidates standing for Election to Essex County Council across the whole County of Essex.

( “Essex Liberal Democrats – Our Priorities for the 2013 Elections”)

All the County Wards or Divisions in our District are in contest from a wide range of candidates.

I am personally a voter in Rochford North which covers Hawkwell. Here is what I would wish ALL of the candidates looking for my vote to address.

There are 3,500 new dwellings agreed in the Rochford Core Strategy. Already 976 have been given planning permission in the Central part of the District.

Voters cannot see how the overall highways infrastructure can cope without major improvements.

Essex County Council is the Authority responsible for Highway improvement planning.

I do not know of a single other subject that ALL voters in our District want to see addressed as a Priority by a newly elected Administration at Essex County Council, whatever the political balance at the end of the election.

The roads in the Rochford District have not been strategically improved since green-space separated all towns and villages on the Shoebury peninsular (for want of a better name).

The development of Cherry Orchard Way (B1013) resulted in Hawkwell getting true through traffic avoiding the A127 congestion for the very first time.

The Hawkwell Parish Plan Group is so concerned that it has suggested that a Rochford Bypass should be reconsidered when planning to improve the current inadequate road infrastructure. I understand that many voters in Hawkwell support this. What are the County Council Candidates views on this?

As explained by the current Administration at ECC, “the current Essex Local Transport Plan (LTP) was developed in line with Department for Transport Guidance on LTPs. This LTP represents a significant change from previous LTPs. It is not a 5 year plan that sets out a specific programme, instead it is a long term document that provides the framework within which transport programmes can be developed.”

The current Administration at ECC Essex County Council stated in an email to me on 21 December 2012 “On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.”

The Highways Authority has evidently not looked strategically at the cumulative effect of traffic impacts of planned development through the Local Transport Plan and The Highways Authority will only address improvements in a limited piecemeal fashion on each planning application for development.

This is not good enough and voters will want to hear what the Parties contesting the County Council Elections are going to do about it.

Let us hope that it is not “Nothing” !!

Update Number 1 on planning problems at Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell)

March 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Pioneer Tree Farm

As your Ward Members we ended up voting for refusal of each of the three planning applications at Clements Gate (Thorpe Road, Rectory Road, Christmas Tree Farm, Hawkwell).  On two we were successful but on the last in September 2012 the Development Committee approved the application.

We were concerned that despite previous assurances from the Council Leader, Terry Cutmore, that the public open space would more likely be a private open space for the new estate rather than one owned by a local council. RDC refused to take ownership and Hawkwell Parish Council, despite owning and maintaining acres of public open space already at the public expense with publicly owned machinery, also refused and went even further stating that it would not even talk about it. Furthermore a bridged connection between Spencers Park (Hawkwell Parish Council land) and the new public open space at Clements Gate, which was to be paid for by the developer, was also refused by Hawkwell Parish Council rendering the new public open space a private open space.

Of the residents groups Hawkwell Residents Association (HRA) backed the Hawkwell Parish Council decision which was hardly surprising given that the HRA has a Parish Councillor.  But both the Christmas Tree Farm Development  Action Group (CTFDAG, Richard Hill) and The Hawkwell Action Group (HAG, Carol Dutton) backed our request to the Developer for a further meeting.  Despite some “thank you for your patience” noises from the developer via its external communications consultant nothing has happened.

So with the construction having commenced on 7 January we decided to talk direct to the developer about various material complaints coming from residents.  Things went quite well until the developer decided to have all communications via  its external communications consultant and that as District Councillors we must put everything through Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning and Transportation at Rochford District Council. This dismayed us but as Independents we decided to go our own way and pursue residents’ complaints in whatever way we felt appropriate.

It has been a busy couple of weeks and our computers have been humming with our demands and negotiations on behalf of residents.  Once a planning application is passed various Conditions are attached to it by the Planning Authority.

We expected that all those restrictions that the developer had put forward in the planning application would appear as restrictions and that if a long road closure had been sought then it would have been applied for in the planning application.


Naturally with such a large site as DWH/Barratts we were concerned that the necessary disturbance to the area is kept to a minimum and that the conditions are put in place to ensure that this is so. But not all of the issues that may arise come under planning; some for example may be Environmental Health, (which is a 9-5 Monday to Friday service as we found out when we recently had a problem ourselves!)

To this extent it is important that problems are raised as soon as possible because of the inevitable slow pace of action of any resolution and to prevent the situation getting worse.

Since construction operations started in January we have had many issues raised and below I list some of them and the state of play now:

Road Closure – For vehicles 6 months

We have an reached agreement that although Thorpe Road will be closed to traffic pedestrian access will be maintained even if the route has to be varied on occasion as previously reported ‘DWH will ensure that a pedestrian and non vehicle usage passage remains open at all times allowing residents to access from one end of the road to the other.  This route may be varied over other parts of the site for Health and Safety reasons but we have been assured that every attempt will be made for a pedestrian and other non vehicle access to be kept open.  Should they need to close it for a day or two DWH will put an advance notice out to minimize disruption.  Cyclists may also use this route but are likely to be requested to dismount and they are looking for a way to accommodate horse riders as well, perhaps with passing points.’

We have asked Essex County Council to incorporate this agreement in the Decision Notice and have yet to hear if this will be done.

Hours of Working – would the hours read out before voting at Development Committee be kept to?

After some representations we have received the following from Mr Scrutton, Head of Planning and Transportation, RDC who we understand is the decision maker on this matter.

‘It’s now been possible to check the Construction Management plan submitted for the discharge of conditions 11,15 and 26 and this does confirm the working times to be 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 4pm on Saturday, with no working on Sundays or Bank Holidays, though this may be varied in exceptional circumstances subject to approval by RDC and notification to the residents in writing at least five days in advance.

Deliveries are specified to be between 08.00am – 17.30 pm Monday to Friday and 09.00am – 15.30 pm on Saturdays.  Again no deliveries or collections allowed on Sundays or bank Holidays unless otherwise agreed in writing by RDC.’

We have requested further information and clarity regarding the Delivery aspect and await a response.

Complaint as to whether or not the tree felling plan was being adhered to:

Reply from Mr Scrutton (Head of Planning and Transportation, RDC)

“I have asked for our arb. chap to make a visit to the site to check on the situation and I am waiting for feedback.  However, I understand he has actually made at least one visit to the site and confirmed afterwards that more trees were being retained than shown on the approved plan, so I am not anticipating any issues.

As soon as I get a further update I’ll let you know.”

We will monitor this.

Request for ‘no exit/access to construction traffic’ notices at the Thorpe Road end of the unmade road to prevent mistaken exits onto Rectory Road

In place – installed by DWH at our request

Request for residents only parking notice as originally requested by Hawkwell Action Group but not responded to.

Agreed by Highways with the assistance of the County Councillor Tracey Chapman and DWH have agreed to procure and fund but residents are still waiting implementation.

 Excessive noise from tree felling

Activity ceased before this could be investigated

Rodent infestations in adjacent residential premises due to site disturbance

DWH have ‘baited’ but the problem persists.

Burning of waste on site

Being investigated by Environmental Health RDC.

Planning Issue raised by CTFDAG

“DWH went to great lengths to assure us that whilst the site offices would be behind the houses in Thorpe Road and so the sub contractors would use Thorpe Road to access the off road parking facilities around the offices, the plant and delivery lorries would be directed to an entrance in Rectory Road and subsequently Clements Hall Way so as to avoid any such vehicles using Thorpe Road for access, other than in the very initial stages of the development, whilst the site offices, yard and access road were put in place.”

CTFDAG are dealing with this matter themselves and have a meeting with the developer on 12 March.

Please let us know if you are aware of any problems and copy us into your communication with the authorities so that we can see if the issue is a one off situation or a wider issue.

We will help you as much as we can but we can only do so if we are kept informed. If you write to or email anyone about a concern or complaint please copy us in.

Also for your information there are two more planning applications pending for this site from David Wilson Homes.  One, 13/00035/FUL  is to vary condition No 4 to application 12/00381/FUL and the other, 13/00109/FUL is to Demolish Existing Dwelling and Construct Single Storey Part Pitched Roofed Part Flat Roofed Sales Building and Car Parking Area.  Any comments on these please write to Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning and Transportation but please send a copy to your Ward Councillors.   

Residents opposed to the development have rather pointedly sent us this link

We obviously can make no comment.

Part Closure of Thorpe Road, Hawkwell

February 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

It will only be part of the unmade part.

The currently made up part will not be affected by any closure and residents with homes on the unmade part at the Rectory Road end will also be unaffected.

As your District Councillors we were aware that there may well be difficulties and concerns for our community and asked DWH to meet with us.

John and I have met today, 19 February, with Terry Armstrong (DWH) and Rob Ruffy (DWH) to explain the concerns and issues that have been put to us by residents over the past few days in respect of Thorpe Road and the other matters raised since the start on 7 January.

We have been very concerned that the Thorpe Road Closure proposals were not included in the planning application. We only learnt about this last Thursday and immediately protested in the strongest possible terms to the Managing Director.

But we are pleased to be able to advise you that DWH have taken the problems and concerns that their construction is causing seriously and DWH have put forward certain arrangements that will hopefully ease the disruption and perceived potential problems as far as possible.

Whilst DWH have applied to Essex County Council Highways (not Rochford District Council) to ‘stop up’ close the road for six months this is a worse case scenario and DWH do not anticipate needing all that time.  DWH intends to start work on the Thorpe Road access road in April and anticipate this will be closed to vehicle traffic for three months between April and June.  However they have taken on board the problems pedestrians, wheelchair and mobility users, cyclists and horse-riders face with no feasible alternative to Thorpe Road for many.

DWH will ensure that a pedestrian and non vehicle usage passage remains open at all times allowing residents to access from one end of the road to the other.  This route may be varied over other parts of the site for Health and Safety reasons but we have been assured that every attempt will be made for a pedestrian and other non vehicle access to be kept open.  Should they need to close it for a day or two DWH will put an advance notice out to minimize disruption.  Cyclists may also use this route but are likely to be requested to dismount and they are looking for a way to accommodate horse riders as well, perhaps with passing points.

DWH are also going to make Essex County Council aware of their intentions so that if possible the retention of the pedestrian and other usage passage can be incorporated into the Decision Notice.  Once the Road surface and drainage is completed, the road will be open to all as before, hopefully by the end on June 2013.

We have also discussed the time span and other aspects that may impact on residents during the building of this large development and made a plea for local labour and trades to be used as much as possible.  Also they are recruiting two apprentices for this site so if you know of any local teenager who may be interested please make sure they are aware of this possibility.

We are unable to give much further detail here but we have requested that DWH confirm their intentions in a Newsletter and DWH has agreed to do this shortly.

If you have any further specific worries or enquiries please let either John or I know so that we can take them forward for you as we are going to have regular meetings to represent local concerns.


Christine Mason, District Councillor for Hawkwell West

Rochford District Council – Council Tax 2013

January 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Education Government Grants

There have been no public meetings so far so we cannot tell you what Rochford District Council is going to do about Council Tax for 2013.



However there are two main alternatives:


The Council might continue to accept a Grant from Central Government – no increase in Council Tax


The Council might reject Grant from Central Government and increase Council Tax

There are, however, a number of pointers as to what may happen based on the intentions of a majority of Councils as published in the National Press.

Many Councils are set to reject the ‘freeze’ grant, increase Council Tax with probably further cuts to services , and/or price increases to some services

If ANY of this is of concern to you please email or and tell us why. This will help us represent you.

To explain this in further detail please read on.


For the last two years the Government has provided a grant to local councils in order that there can be a District Council Tax Freeze.

This year this Government Grant reduces so that only a ‘Freeze’ representing 1% increase can be adopted by Rochford District Council. i.e., The existing Council Tax you currently pay plus the Grant = a 1% increase in income for RDC in 2013/2014 without any direct cost or increase to you.

So Rochford District Council could accept the ‘Freeze’ Grant and increase overall income by 1%


Rochford District Council could forgo this Government Grant and reject the ‘Freeze’. In rejecting the Freeze the Council could increase Council Tax by up to 2% without having to hold a Local Referendum. (Any figure in excess of 2% would require a Local Referendum which in itself is a costly exercise and seems unlikely.)

So Rochford would not accept the 1% Government Grant and the whole increase up to 2% would be paid by residents. (It is likely that the increase will be slightly under 2% but certainly over 1% as if 1% was being considered you would expect the Government Grant to be taken up.)

Why would Rochford District Council consider this?

We all know about inflation because with your pay freezes this means that without a rise your pay does not go as far as it did. And if you get a rise one year then the next rise you get is a rise on a rise. With the last two years Council Tax Freezes the Council has lost out on rises on rises that it forecast for the next five years or so. Less money to spend in the future. Just like you. Unfortunately you won’t be getting a pay rise but the Council will if the Council Tax goes up by up to 2% and the Freeze Grant is rejected.

Wouldn’t this annoy the Conservative Government, (sorry the Coalition Government with the Liberal Democrats)?


(but we could not find the position of Nick Clegg on this) !

Here is some of what has been published in the National Press.

  • Pickles: Freeze council tax – Source: The Times, Page: 14

Eric Pickles [Secretary of State for DCLG, Conservative] is set to warn council leaders that they risk losing next May’s elections if they refuse to freeze council tax. His intervention comes after research found that over half of all local authorities are considering raising council tax next April. A survey of finance officers, carried out by the Local Government Chronicle, found that 55% of the 326 English councils were preparing to raise council tax. Brandon Lewis, the Local Government Minister comments: “When costs are rising elsewhere the public won’t tolerate unnecessary tax increases. In particular, councillors with elections in May can either show they are helping people with the cost of living, or face explaining on the doorsteps why they have snatched money away from hardworking families and pensioners”.

(Rochford District Council has no Elections this May)

  • Tax rises “morally wrong” – Source: The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 34

The Daily Telegraph reports that Eric Pickles will today warn local authorities that it is “morally” unacceptable to increase council tax next year. More than half of councils are understood to be ready to raise the levy as the Government prepares to announce a slight reduction in their funding. Liverpool City Council said there would be “riots on the street” if council tax was frozen again, as it will lead to more cuts to services. While Birmingham City Council has also indicated that further restraint is not possible. The announcement is set to lead to a “war of words” between Mr Pickles and council chiefs. Meanwhile, Patrick Butler, in the Guardian, discusses how councils will react to the Government’s latest spending cuts. He says that many authorities will have to make cuts to previously protected areas, such as adult social care and children’s social services. He also notes that the late settlement will leave many struggling to stitch together a coherent budget by the end of January.

You might hear from District Councils that the increase is only pennies per week……….BUT this adds up to £’s

  • Families worse off – Source: Financial Times, Page: 3 The Times, Page: 43 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2, 4 The Guardian, Page: 31 The Scotsman, Page: 8

Asda’s Income Tracker has found that families were nearly £50 worse off last month than they were two years ago. Families had £146 a week of discretionary income last month, meaning they were £1 a week better off than a year ago but compared with November 2010, they are £12 a week worse off.


  • Elderly walking a financial tightrope – Source: Sunday Express

A study by Age UK has warned that more than 1.2m elderly people could be made bankrupt if they received an unexpected fuel or energy bill of more £200. Michelle Mitchell, the charity’s director general, said: “Many older people are living hand-to-mouth and dreading the day when the cooker breaks down or energy prices rise again.”


  • Rural communities to feel the strain – Source: Manchester Evening News, Page: 4

Rural communities will bear the brunt of government cuts that will force local councils to slash their services. The warning follows the publication of the government’s finance settlement, which details the amount of central funding given to local authorities. Rural councils will face a bigger reduction in central grant and spending power than urban councils, according to an initial analysis by the Rural Services Network.

  •  Our Community – Source: As published by the local Liberal Democrats

According to the BBC, Rochford District Council is facing a cut of 2.5% in funding.


So residents of Rochford District might see a rejection of the ‘freeze’ grant, an increase in their personal fixed costs, further cuts to services and price increases for individual services.

We will let you know more about what is proposed for Rochford’s Council Tax 2013 when we are allowed to say but we felt that you ought to know the way the land seems to be lying and give you the chance to comment and make your views known to either us or your own Ward Councillors if you do not live in Hawkwell West.

If ANY of this is of concern to you please email or and tell us why. This will help us represent you.

Parish Council Chairman objects to “Massive Great Shed”

June 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Disability Essex, based in Rocheway, Rochford, wants to put the 10ft by 12ft pitched-roof shed, near to the car park of its new £2million building.

Councillor John Bond, Chairman of Rochford Parish Council, – said: “Our objection is they want to build a shed to put tools in.” “They have gardeners to do their work.” “If they want to build a shed that’s fine, but they want a massive great shed.”

The full  Echo article is here disabilityessex

The planning application will be considered by 8 July by RDC and as the Editor of The Rochford Independent is a Member of the Planning Authority he can make no comment.

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.

Essex has £6.5 Billion Shortfall on Infrastructure

June 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Another From a paper submitted to the Cabinet of Rochford District Council.  The full paper, Strategic Countywide Economic and Housing Issues, can be downloaded here.

“Essex has traditionally taken a significant proportion of economic and housing growth without benefitting from the necessary infrastructure improvements to enable growth to take place in a truly planned and sustainable manner. The paper estimates that the cost of delivering the supporting infrastructure across Essex is some £7.6 billion, with an identified funding gap of £6.5 billion. If Essex is to continue to deliver the levels of development anticipated, then this gap needs to be closed and greater levels of infrastructure investment achieved.”

There is a huge dependency on transport (highway) and other infrastructure identified in the Rochford Core Strategy.  The Rochford Core Strategy advises that other authorities are responsible for providing this. Clearly with this level of funding gap across Essex which is unlikely to be closed due to the present economic climate it follows that it would be unwise to rely on the infrastructure which is identified in the Rochford Core Strategy actually being provided.  So does the Rochford Core Strategy look unsustainable?

Essex puzzle enthusiast scoops £10,000 cash prize

August 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

FarmA local puzzle enthusiast has scooped a £10,000 cash prize from the UK’s leading Prize Competition organisers, Prize Magazines.

Sheila Watkins from Hockley in Essex was presented with the cheque for £10,000 by Prize Magazines owners Tony and Judy Lane after winning the main prize in a national draw being run through their seven magazines.

Sheila, who is about to start receiving her pension later this year, said “What a brilliant boost to my pension! I plan to share some of the money with my family, visit friends in Portugal for my sixtieth birthday and go on a dream trip to Iceland. I have already treated myself to a Nintendo DS too!”

An Example of Planning In Action in Rochford District

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Echo Story – At last we can build a home for our boy

A COUPLE have won their battle to build a special home for their disabled teenaged son.

Objections from neighbours and district and parish councillors had threatened plans to build a new bungalow for 17-year-old Jake Mann and his family behind their Hawkwell home.

Rochford District Council has now granted planning permission to the Manns, ending their six-year struggle to create a better home for wheelchair-user, Jake, who has muscular dystrophy
After the decision, his builder dad, Robert, spoke of his relief – and the family’s disappointment others had tried to block their plans for the plot, off Main Road, Hawkwell.

Mr Mann said : “I was really surprised anyone could feel that way

“Jake’s like a local character. Everyone here has seen him grow up and he’s got a great following of friends.

“That’s why we wanted to stay here and go to all this trouble, rather than move elsewhere.

“It’s taken me six years to accumulate all the ground and it’s something we feel very strongly about.”

The family wants to build a three-bedroomed bungalow with a garage in a quarter-acre plot behind three houses owned by the family, including their current home.

The proposal was approved at a recent planning meeting which saw Hawkwell Tory councillor, Heather Glynn, join two other local members in opposing it.

Ms Glynn expressed concerns about the loss of neighbours’ views and problems with access to the site.

Hawkwell Parish Council and the Royal British Legion, which has a club nearby, both also objected.

However, independent ward councillor John Mason spoke up for the family, saying: “I found it very surprising three Hawkwell councillors opposed it. No one has approached me to say they were against it.”

Mr Mann, wife, Karen and Jake will live in the bungalow, which will be fully adapted to cope with his wheelchair. They hope to have it built and to be moved in for Christmas. The Manns’ present home will then be sold.

The Rochford Independent Comment

Tory Councillors seem to making a habit of opposing planning applications with concern the disabled.  Remember the opposition raised against Disability Essex ?  On both occaisons I have had to lead the debate for Approval.  And it was won both times against stiff opposition.

In the case of Robert Mann, my Co-Ward Hawkwell West Councillor, Tory Derek Stansby was also against and perhaps I should have guessed that when he called a Members Site Meeting before the application was considered.

The other objector with Tory Heather Glynn who led the debate for Refusal was Tory, Michael Starke.

I really don’t understand these people.  I am glad to be around to stop these things happening. And if there were more independents so much the better. 

News Leaks from District Council in Echo

December 16, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Firstly Rochford not totally opposed to traveller caravan pitches

SOUTH Essex will have to find an extra 185 official traveller caravan pitches if new regional government proposals are accepted.

UNLIKE other south Essex districts, Rochford is not totally opposed to extra pitches.

Deputy leader Keith Hudson said he had no objection to a small, properly-regulated site, so long as it did not affect local residents and had adequate road access.

He added: “I believe a site for travellers should be just that – somewhere they can stay for a short time before they move on.”

And…………..An Officer speaks in public at a sub committee about a new waste contract where Councillors who met in secret on 5 December because of confidential financial matters were asked to keep quiet until a Press Release as made in the New Year !!

Full Council Minutes of the 5 December Meeting where the decision on the placement of a new 7 year rubbish and recycling contract have been suppressed.

Why should we continue to be censored if an Officer can speak and the Echo can publish?



Residents to Give Evidence on Climate Change to Council Committee

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford District Council Review Committee is to take evidence from the public following the intervention of independent councillor, John Mason. 

Officers presented a project plan to the last Review Committee which had not been tabled on the Agenda.  One Tory Councillor was concerned that this had not been drawn up by Members and the obvious unseen nature of the proposals.

Councillor John Mason stepped in and swiftly proposed vital changes to the project plan to include taking evidence from the public and commerce before the Review Committee makes recommendations to the Executive Board in the New Year. He also made a recommendation to visit the Borough of Merton which has reportedly angered the Government by insisting that all new housing developments have a significant percentage of sustainable energy sources on site.  John said “Given that the Council is proposing building 3300 new houses in larger developments across the district then this will be a very important policy to consider.”

Meanwhile the Committee has the following to go on from nearby districts; 

In 2005 the South East Essex Green Party released the results of the public opinion poll on climate change they conducted in Southend and Castle Point.

Most people (177 out of 200) believed climate change caused by human activity is happening. Nearly half (91 out of 200) had made lifestyle changes to try and stop it, including three who had given up their cars. However, many people would do more if they knew more about how to live a Greener lifestyle and it was made easier.

The majority (170 out of 200) thought politicians were not doing enough and particularly singled out American politicians for criticism. Our politicians pay lip service to the problem of climate change, but their actions will make things worse. 

Questions that were used for the survey;

1 Do you think that climate change is happening because of human activities?

If yes 2 Have you changed anything in your lifestyle based on this view?

If no 3 why you have this opinion? A) Media B) Part of the natural cycle C) Politicians

If don’t know 4 What would convince you that it is happening? A) An event B) Arguments

5 Do you think politicians are doing enough?



Question 1-86 Yes 6 No 2 Partly 3 Possibly 3 Don’t Know
Question 2-45 Yes. 45 No. 1 Not Yet.
Question 3-1 Said A. 3 said B. 2 said C.
Question 4-4 said A. 2 said B.
Question 5-77 No. 4 Yes-Rest (19) 1 said OK. 7 don’t know /do what they can. 1 could do more. 1 no idea. 1 not bad. 1 should concentrate on other things. 5 not sure/ don’t know. 1 possibly. 1 Environmentalists create unnecessary panic
Castle Point
Question 1-91 Yes. 1 No Idea. 3 Probably. 5 No.
Question 2-46 Yes. 48 No. 1 Not Yet.
Question 3-4 Said B. 1 Said A.
Question 4-No Answers
Question 5-93 No. 4 Yes. 3 Don’t Know. 



Breaking News Feeds for South Essex, Rochford District & Hawkwell

June 30, 2007 by · Comments Off on Breaking News Feeds for South Essex, Rochford District & Hawkwell 

You can keep up to date with breaking News from South Essex, Rochford District & Hawkwell by clicking on the links below and choosing the subject you want to know more about.

These news feeds come from a diverse series of sources and we hope that you find it both interesting and informative. 

If you wish to send us a new story please click on this link

Review of Taxi Licence Conditions NOW Underway

June 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

I raised this issue with the Leader of the Council on 16 June 2007 by letter.

There has been no reply, of course.

But the RDC “Taxi Talk” Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 12 that was issued today, 28 June 2007, contains the following;


Page 6

Conditions Update

A full review of Licence Conditions is underway. 

A successful outcome, and although the Conservative Administration is going to suggest it was already happening, clearly it was not without the intervention of an Ordinary Member !!

Arriva No 8 Bus – Improvements sought by RDC

June 25, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

Planning Policy & Transportation Committee – 3 April 2007
Review of Bus Services

(1) That County Highways be asked to:-
– Explore with the local residents ways in which the transport link between the Dome and Hullbridge could be improved.
Planning Policy & Transportation Committee – 3 April 2007
-Explore ways of improving evening services generally.
-Explore the possibility of reinstating the No. 8 service from Hawkwell to Rayleigh during the week.
-Explore with the local residents ways in which the local bus services could be expanded to cater for people wishing to visit places of recreation from the Rochford District.
(2) That Central Government be lobbied to increase its funding to support subsidisation of the bus services in the county.
(3)  That Arriva be lobbied via Essex County Council to improve the condition of their buses and make them more user friendly.


Shaun Scrutton, The Head of Planning and Transportation at RDC has written to Essex County Council Highways Department requesting that this matter be investigated.

Following the report Cllr T Livings has had a meeting with a representative from Essex County Council to discuss the recommendations at which time Cllr Livings again mentioned the No 8 Bus Service and whilst he was advised that the extension from Hawkwell to Rayleigh is a long outstanding request that Arriva are well aware of, Essex CC have said they will raise it again with them at their next meeting.

Rochford District Houses Allocation – Call for Sites

June 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Councillor

Rochford District Allocations DPD – Call for sites

In January, the Council put out a ‘call for sites’ with the aim of gathering information from landowners and developers about land that might be allocated for development in the Allocations Development Plan Document.

For your information, please find enclosed a schedule listing the details of the sites received, together with maps showing their location within the district.

I should stress that the schedule of sites is for information only and no decisions or commitments have been given about the likelihood of any of the sites being eventually included in the Allocations DPD. The information will be reported to a meeting of the LDF Sub-committee later in the year.

In the meantime, if you have any comments on the information please let me know.

Yours sincerely
Shaun Scrutton
Head of Planning & Transportation

List of Sites





Disability Essex Opposed

June 23, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

The insanity which is prevalent in the Conservative Party reared its ugly head again last Thursday, 21 June in the Development Control Committee (Planning).  The sane Members only narrowly approved a new education centre for the disabled being provided in Rochford District.

Disability Essex is arguably the leading organisation in its field in the UK.  Not only were they applying for a learning centre but they were proposing to build an eco friendly facility which is the only one in the UK to achieve a gold design standard.

It is led by former Chair of RDC, John Gibson who is Chair of Disability Essex and former District and County Councillor Richard Boyd as CEO.

The problem was that the Essex County Council land was technically in green belt on a small part of a playing field.

This is what the Officers advised in their report.  But they still recommended REFUSAL. 

Green Belt Issues and the Very Special Circumstances

The construction of new buildings within the Green Belt is inappropriate development. It is for the applicant therefore to demonstrate that very special circumstances exist to outweigh the harm caused by inappropriateness and any other harm upon the character, appearance and openness of the Green Belt. Very special circumstances are not defined but it is for the Local Planning Authority to decide whether the circumstances submitted in support of an application amount to being sufficiently unique in nature for there to be little risk of a similar special need occurring close by so as to create cumulative environmental impact degrading a tract of Green belt.

So how many other learning centres for the disabled would “occur close by so as to create cumulative environmental impact degrading a tract of Green belt.” ?  None !!

Because of an objection from Sport England this application could be called in by the Secretary of State.  Shaun Scrutton was not happy with my proposal for APPROVAL and saying that he could not support the explanation we would have to give to the Secretary of State.  I had to go to the lengths of saying that I would go personally before the Secretary of State instead of him.

My proposal was backed by sane Hawkwell Conservative Councillor Michael Starke. 

But the VOTE was 18 for Approval and 15 Against.  All 15 against were insane Tories.  Given that there were five Lib Dems present and voting for Approval, and myself, it means that the Conservatives voted 15 to 12 against approving a learning centre for the disabled. 

My thanks go to Lib Dem Councillor June Lumley, who during a hectic debate, during which I was being heckled loudly by Tories and forcefully opposed by Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning, she pointed out to me the statement in blue above at a crucial moment before the vote.  

Verge Destroyed by Factory Parking – Main Road Hawkwell

June 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

This issue has been the source of a constant trickle of complaints ever since I was first elected in 2000.

The planning application for a car park on the farmland was understandably refused by RDC in 1999/2000.

A then also newly elected Conservative Member of RDC asked if I would sort this out for the factories. But no one ever contacted me.  That Member has now lost his seat and at the Count I remembered that conversation.

Basically the chewed up and deeply rutted, water and mud filled verge is an eyesore and in terms of amenity value it has none.

Residents have responded in the Residents Survey that I conducted earlier this year that it would be better to formalise the layby for parking by having a suitable surface.

It would also keep the parked cars from obstructing the Trotting Track which keeps horseriders off the busy B1013. 

I have asked for the views of Tracey Chapman (County Councillor) and Lyn Harvey (Highways Engineer) Essex County Council on this proposal.

Next Page »