Top

Rayleigh Homes – No Change Says Tory Leader

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

From the Echo – 8 February

Rayleigh homes row

LIB Dems on Rochford District Council have been accused of scaremongering by suggesting 1,800 new homes could still be forced on Rayleigh.

The Lib Dem Focus website, run by group leader Chris Black, is claiming ruling Tories may revise the current suggested figure for the number of homes the town must take to meet Government housing demands.

The website says: “It’s possible officers might suggest a variation of the 740 figure for Rayleigh. “The Conservative group could backtrack. After all, there’s been no council vote on their figures, just a publicly stated proposal. “Once the elections are over, the Tories will have some new members, replacing old ones. They might well have a new leader.”

However, council leader Terry Cutmore said: “As far as I am concerned, the figures for Rayleigh and the rest of the district were decided by the Conservative group after public consultation, when it became clear the original idea was not acceptable.

“Obviously, there is still a long way to go and there is going to be more consultation starting after the elections, after all the representations have been studied and sites identified.

“Without being specific in any way, what we are finally proposing will go a long way to alleviate the concerns among local people.” 

The Rochford Independent Comments:

There are some intriguing  political positions emerging in the public debate over new homes in Rochford District and where they should be built.

Hawkwell Parish Council contacts the Echo and suggests 2,200 new homes should be built in a new town in West Rayleigh. The announcement was made by former Lib Dem District Councillor, Vic Leach supported by former Labour District Councillor Myra Weir.

Just before Christmas I had a private conversation with an Executive Member of Rochford District Council whose view was very similar to that put forward by Hawkwell Parish Council.

But the Tory Leader, coming up for personal re-election in May, now accuses the Lib Dems of scaremongering but makes some reassuring noises to Rayleigh.

But some of the things he has said have either been misreported or, if they are pukker, then I am afraid they are too cryptic  for me.

What does the construction around “finally” mean in “Without being specific in any way, what we are finally proposing will go a long way to alleviate the concerns among local people.”?

And the words “As far as I am concerned” could mean that the party whip is in because whatever he says the rest must follow or that it is purely a personal view?

In the full context the quote reads “As far as I am concerned the figures for Rayleigh and the rest of the district were decided by theConservative group after public consultation, when it became clear the original idea was not acceptable.”

One thing I do know is that neither of the two main political parties on Rochford District Council have come up with a thought out and formally presented strategic plan for the District. The Tories have the responsibility as majority party to come up with a proper plan; Fair Shares for All is a political fudge and it does not do any justice to the accountability for proper planning.The Lib Dems have no strategic plan for the District either but with the party only having seats in Rayleigh you can at least understand their policy of just seeing reductions in Rayleigh and the expedience of a plan that is Fair Shares for All. It is going to be a complete mess with blotches of houses here and there based on a piecemeal assessment of the individual sites that have already been put forward with no joined up thinking or rhyme or reason for the future.

In the forthcoming consultations in June the public should demand to see what the strategic planners do recommend (even though the Councillors may reject the proposals) because whatever the professionals say it will make much more sense than Fair Shares for All which is no strategy just a political expedient.

Fortnightly Refuse Collections – Residents Councillor Speaks Out In Echo

October 11, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Fortnightly Rubbish Collections on Agenda

ROCHFORD district councillors are set discuss the controversial issue of fortnightly rubbish collections as their current waste contract comes up for renewal.

John Mason, a councillor who represents Rochford district, said he did not believe fortnightly waste collections were feasible until the range of recyclables and composting was extended. He said: “The grey, general waste bins are going to get too full, unless more can be taken out of them to recycle.

“The Council can’t just say, it’s going to have to be grey bins every fortnight’ without any changes, because it’s simply not going to work.

“I think people will be co-operative with more recycling, but they’ve got to have the chance to do it.”

 

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  

 

 

Still No NHS Dentists for Hawkwell and Hockley

June 10, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Hockley Residents Association (fondly known as the HRA) has been campaigning for several years to get NHS Dentists for our area.

Brian Guyett, the Chairman of the HRA, is leading the campaign and I called him for an update.

Effectively, we are a bit stalled.  Our petition to Rosie Winterton was met with the predictable straight bat – “its down to the PCT”.
 
PCT say no money and seem to be favouring the less socially affluent areas of the District (always assuming they can get a dentist to open there).
 
So our aim is to raise local profile and invite PCT to a meeting in the autumn.  Sadly, despite best efforts we also got little press coverage.

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.
 

A Politico Blog on the RDC New Structure

May 21, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

So my personal role in Council is Opposition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial Concerns over Parish Council Decision

September 19, 2006 by · 2 Comments 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Re-Cycling Scheme for Rochford District

September 16, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

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

rochford district recycling exchange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benchmark Doors Ltd. 90 Main Road. Hawkwell, Essex

May 18, 2006 by · 3 Comments 

Benchmark Doors Ltd. 90 Main Road. Hawkwell, Essex

Environmental Protection Act 1990
Statutory Noise Nuisance from: Dust Extraction Unit

Here is an update with regards to the ongoing noise nuisance investigation.

This has now been resolved but I still need to be satisfied that there are no dangers of pollution.

As soon as residents told me about the noise nuisance I took the matter up with the Officers at RDC because this was in breach of a planning condition introduced by myself to safeguard residents. RDC yesterday served a noise abatement notice on Benchmark Doors under s.80 of the above Act. It requires the company to abate the statutory noise nuisance by Friday 2 June 2006. Under RDC advice, the company has engaged an acoustician in order to resolve the issue and RDC is expecting to receive his preliminary report this week. This report will form the basis of the company’s efforts to comply with the abatement notice.

 John Mason

Bottom