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Hawkwell Parish Council is sitting on the fence on green belt housing development

February 19, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

This has been published by the parish council in its Spring 2008 Newsletter. Every dwelling in the Parish will have received a copy so I will not repeat it here (there is a Hawkwell Parish Council Web Site). 

It is a very comprehensive policy on what the parish council thinks about any future housing development in Hawkwell.

But what does it mean?

The District Council says that Hawkwell will get 365 new houses.  Where? We have already been notified a four options.

Magees Nursery,The land behind Rectory Road running to Windsor Gardens and in the other direction to Clements Hall
LC, The land running behind the factories in Main Road to the CHLC and the Rankin field adjoining Mount Bovers Lane.

The parish council policy says ” HPC further expects any new development within the Parish boundaries …………..not to increase the village footprint……………….”

I wrote to the parish council asking what this actually meant in relation to the four sites. Is the parish council against housing development in these 4 sites or not? We need to know in simple language not policy speak.

Stuart Mennell, Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council, said to me over the telephone following the Hawkwell Parish Council Meeting on 3 March 2008 “The Parish Council has declined to define the footprint”.

So is your Parish Council really against housing development in your Green Belt? What is the point of making a policy if nobody knows what it means? The policy looks like a bad case of “smoke and mirrors”. Was the published policy intended to give an impression of being against the developments?  Worse still the Council doesn’t seem to know what it’s own policy means even when it is asked a straight question.  Or perhaps the Parish Council does know what it means and doesn’t want to tell us?  

Why couldn’t experienced parish councillors Myra and David Weir who campaign against the loss of green belt make the Parish Council come off the fence one way or another?

And what is the position of the Parish Councillors representing the Hawkwell Residents’ Association? I thought that this body was against development of green belt? 

Allocation of new homes in Rochford District

January 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford Independent has seen the article by Geoff Percival in the Echo.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local/display.var.1992104.0.0.php

I would invite you to read this if you have not seen it. 

I am an independent district councillor for Hawkwell West and I have been campaigning with residents against the housing allocation for some months now. The support from Hawkwell Parish Council is welcomed.

If an additional 365 homes were to be built in Hawkwell then the road infrastructure in Hawkwell would have to be improved to cope with the number of additional cars per household multiplied by the number of average car movements per day. In addition there are many more homes to be built in Rochford District where car movements could cause those people to travel through Hawkwell on the feeder routes to the “A” Roads.  That number of additional vehicle movements would run into thousands.  If the road infrastructure were “improved” in Hawkwell to cope with that then I could forsee additional roads being built to bypass existing bottlenecks causing the loss of green space in itself together with the cost of road widening schemes.  That would make a Hawkwell a place that I would not like to see.  It would be unacceptable.  So nobody should be suggesting that Hawkwell could have the 365 homes if the infrastructure is improved.  I don’t want to the developers and the planners challenged into going ahead and making the bid for big infrastructure changes for Hawkwell in the decision process.

The report from the strategic sustainability review will be available shortly at the District Council and I have been personally invited by the Chair of the sub committee to attend.  It is premature to try and guess the recommendations but it is up to Councillors to consider what sort of policy makes sense and what doesn’t.  (Let’s hope that the strategic planners don’t now come up with a plan that will improve the infrastructure in Hawkwell.  That would ruin the environment may times over the actual impact of the allocation of the houses.) 

My proposal on behalf of the residents of Hawkwell is to say “NO” to the additional 365 homes and “NO” to any enabling infrastructure. I would appreciate the views of residents on this through our Contact Page. 

But the housing allocation for Rochford District must be formally planned for and it makes more sense strategically to put this allocation wherever the infrastructure is already and not where building new infrastructure would be an even bigger blight on the District.

As for a new “town” out to the East, in association with a Southend/Rochford Relief Road or By Pass, I understand that the sustainability figure for developers to provide that major road would have to be in the region of 12,000 additional houses in Rochford District which is many times higher than the proposed allocation. So the most likely place is in the West.  

The professional approach to strategic sustainability planning is about an objective analysis and assessment based on data and information.  It does not start with a notion of “Fair Shares For All” nor does it end with it and it does not appear in the middle either.

My view is that the abrupt decision made by the Rochford District Conservative Group to significantly reduce the number of new homes that the District Council might propose to be allocated in Rayleigh was an expedient decision to quell the internal concerns of the Tory Rayleigh Councillors who were being tormented by the Rochford Liberal Democrats. And there was the real prospect of a loss of Tory seats.  But will the next public consultation on the Local Development Framework be before or after the May Local Elections?  I can’t answer that but one can speculate.

Getting back to strategic sustainability planning. Let’s face it any new big enabling infrastructure is going to be very expensive.  It takes a lot of new houses to pay for what is necessary.  So I expect that the professional study will recommend building any lower level infrastructure on the existing higher level infrastructure.

A major build of infrastructure in the East is only really sustainable at 12,000 new homes.  So the probability comes back to the West, around Rayleigh. There is no point in “improving” the low level infrastructure to enable 300 houses here and 500 houses there to be built when the traffic they generate will run into a bottleneck just round the corner. My view is that the “Fair Shares For All” approach to the allocation of new homes will be recognised very soon as a political expedient and some serious planning analysis, tied to sane economics, will show the only way that makes every sense STRATEGICALLY is to develop the West with around 2,500 new homes. 

RSPB Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

AN AMBITIOUS £12million project is planned to recreate the lost landscape of Wallasea Island.

The RSPB today announced details of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project, to return the farmland back to coastal wetland to attract rare birds back to an area that has not nested in for about 400 years.

The charity hopes to raise enough money to buy three quarters of the island, farmed by Wallasea Farms.

advertisementThe cash will also fund engineering work to let water back on to the land through a series of pipes in the current sea wall.

Wallasea is eight miles north of Southend, and could provide a 1,800-acre paradise for fish and birds with its planned saltmarsh, creeks, lagoons and mudflats.

It will also provide an open space for recreation with ten miles of foot paths and cycle ways.

Project manager Mark Dixon said: “The island used to be made up of five separate islands and we want to take it back to that.

“By letting sea water in through pipes in the current sea wall we will create shallow wetlands a couple of feet deep.

“The water will go in and out with the tide.

“It will be a giant wilderness. It will prepare the land for climate change, suck up carbon and provide a space for people to enjoy, and be fantastic for wildlife.”

The charity hope to attract rare birds like the spoonbills, Kentish plovers – which have been absent for 50 years – and black-winged stilts, which have only bred in Britain three times.

Otters, saltwater fish such as bass, herring, flounder and specialist saltwater plants, including samphire, sea lavender and sea aster, could also flourish.

The plans will not affect the homes and caravan on the eastern side of the island.

An agreement has been signed between the farm and the RSPB to buy the land in two years time, if planning permission is granted and the cash is raised.

Mr Dixon said: “From the farm’s point of view, they are surrounded by 12 miles of sea wall.

“They know in the medium term the sea level will rise and their land is not going to be viable. It could breach and they could lose their land overnight.

“This is a way of safeguarding the land for wildlife “There used to be 30,000 hectares of this wetland landscape in the area, now there is just 2,000 hectares.

“Four hundred years ago most of it was surrounded by a sea wall and claimed for agriculture and industry.

“It is our hope to recreate the lost landscape, with millions of birds feeding and nesting and tens of thousands of fish breeding there.” Wetland restoration began on Wallasea last year, when Defra breached sea walls on the northern edge of the island.

It is managed by the RSPB and the area of wetland will be increased sixfold when this latest project is complete.

The £12million bill, the RSPB’s most costly and ambitious scheme, is mainly to cover the research and engineering costs of allowing water back on to Wallasea to create the marshes.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “Our plans for Wallasea reflect the very great difficulties climate change will cause but also the RSPB’s determination to find ways of combating them.

“We will be providing new sites into which wildlife can move when sea level rise swallows up their existing habitats.”

The charity hopes local people will help them realise this dream by donating money as well as getting corporate sponsorship from industry and corporations.

Donations can be made via the RSPB website.

Bullwood Hall Prison, Hockley in BBC News

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7059283.stm

Local Residents in Hawkwell Meet to Oppose New Housing

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOT TRUE SEE BELOW.

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

John,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hawkwell Residents’ Association did not appear to attend. 

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

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

Likely next steps are:

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

 

 

Strokebusters Appeal – Southend University Hospital

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Residents organised a Fun Quiz Night at Hawkwell Village Hall on Friday, 12 October.  All profit went to the Southend University Hospital, Strokebusters Appeal.  Consultant Tony O’Brien gave a short talk on Strokebusters and although his quiz team did not win, they took away donations of £673.

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

October 2, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Stuart Mennell
Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council

Dear Stuart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where?

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

South of Ironwell Lane 0.3 Hectares = 10 to 17

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

Magees Nursery, Windsor Gardens 3.1 hectares = 90 to150

Greenacres, Victor Gardens, Hockley 2.3 Hectares = 65 to116

South of Mount Bovers Lane 22 hectares = 660 to1200

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

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

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

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

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

 

John Mason
District Councillor for Hawkwell West

365 New Houses for Hawkwell

September 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

365 Houses Allocated by Conservative Party to Hawkwell West but only 36 houses to Hockley

So far the only land put forward is all in Hawkwell West –  53.3 hectares = 1599 to 2665 houses at the density required by Government of 30-50 houses per hectare.

Where?

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

South of Ironwell Lane 0.3 Hectares = 10 to 17

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

Magees Nursery, Windsor Gardens 3.1 hectares = 90 to150

Greenacres, Victor Gardens, Hockley 2.3 Hectares = 65 to116

South of Mount Bovers Lane 22 hectares = 660 to1200

So where is the most sustainable in technical planning terms?

All of the sites EXCEPT South of Mount Bovers Lane have significant adverse traffic and access issues.

So far only one resident has contacted me about the site described as South of Mount Bovers Lane which I last understood was owned by Rankin Farms.

So much for local consultation – Ignored !!

September 23, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Health Profile of Rochford District

July 14, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Residents Survey 2007 – Matter of Concern Number 4 – Health

Rochford Health Profile 2006

Rochford Health Profile 2007

Local authority health profiles are designed to show the health of people in each local authority area, and include comparisons with other similar populations.  With other local information these profiles demonstrate where action can be taken to improve people’s health and reduce health inequalities.

Please take the opportunity to read the full documents attached.  But if you do not have the time here are some things that I think that you ought to know;

The Rochford Health Profile for 2006 is far more revealing than The Rochford Health Profile for 2007.

  • “Deaths from cancers have not decreased in the last 5 years despite a decrease nationally.”
  • “Of concern is the rate of road deaths and serious injuries, by vehicle kilometres, which is worse than the average for England.” This is not repeated in 2007.
  • “Treatment for Mental Health is significantly worse than the average for England.”  But this is completely reversed in the 2007 report and this deficiency does not show.
  • “Health inequalities exist across Rochford District. Within Rochford residents of the healthiest wards can expect to live 7.3 years longer than those in the unhealthiest.” You really need to look at the full document for 2006 to see if where you live has such inequalities.

I shall be meeting with our PCT to discuss these findings and what action is proposed in Rochford District.

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

 

 

 

The Conservative Policy on Housing in Rochford District

June 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Local Tory Manifesto says ” Housing – Rochford Conservative Councillors will forever be the guardians of our most precious resource; our countryside, our green and pleasant land. At the same time we recognise the needs of our growing population. We will always ensure that we make the best possible use of the land that is available to us for the benefit of our residents and their children.”

Fine words, just that, and only that, unless residents see that the ACTIONS they want are being taken to back this up; not just promises.

But instead the Conservatives are just blaming the Labour Government as we have already seen in the Echo from Executive Councillor Mavis Webster. It is the obvious excuse for failure. Perhaps it is time for the electorate to elect politicians of status, people who will campaign for our District? The Conservative Party has financial resources, the County Councillors and the MP’s but they are evidently not working on this grassroots problem.

The Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Hudson, representing Hockley, has replied to my letter published in the Echo on June 26.

Yes, the Tories continue to blame the Labour Government and do not appear to be doing much else but preparing residents to accept what they clearly do not want.

” Its not our fault”.

Let me quote from Councillor Hudson’s Letter.

” the procedures required to be adopted by all Planning Authorities in England by this Labour Government, specifically from the pens of John Prescott and Ruth Kelly, and the subsequent contortions of bureaucracy that we are obliged to labour under, are extraordinarily complicated.”

” Its not our fault”.

“The present Labour Government has made it perfectly clear that there is no money for the improvement of our road system; they suggest that we make better use of public transport; let’s face it, with the present provision in this area the suggestion to use public transport is quite laughable.”

” Its not our fault”.

Councillor Hudson, what are the Tories doing about providing better local public transport? It’s not even in your Local Manifesto !! 

He goes on to say “The map which we are required to use and include in the core strategy is termed the “key diagram” and it is intended to provide a simple representation of the locations for development, it is based on the Ordnance Survey map for our area, but it is not intended to show the detailed web of roads and tracks and minor features; it does, however show principle features including the positions of all of our towns, villages, hamlets and minor settlements.”

” Its not our fault”.

But Tory Policy in Rochford District is as per Councillor Hudson’s Letter …we have to look to areas which are best served by our existing road structure and not to the areas that are served the worst.”  

If the planning strategy for these house allocations is the use of the best existing roads then this is what the consultation map surely needs to show; the roads, so that the Conservative Strategy can be judged. It is nonsense to do otherwise and we expected our Conservative Administration to do better for us by at least getting this requirement amended for the Consultation rather than just whine about it when I challenge what is happening.

” Its not our fault”.

Also on the Rayleigh Conservative Party Web Site, Councillor Hudson says “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are talking in terms of months for these documents to be compiled and presented for examination in public, not years. I cannot over emphasise the urgency to have your say now.

” Its not our fault”.

But the Chief Executive of the Council, Paul Warren has written in an email to me that the Consultation runs in stages to 2009, which is years NOT months? Who is right? Does it mean, if you believe Councillor Hudson, that this Consultation is the defining point?  If so it should have been far better presented to the public. 

 

 

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.

Hawkwell/Hockley Anti Social Behaviour Reduction Plan

June 19, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

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

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

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

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

Rochford District Council – Central Area Committee 12 June 2007

June 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Council – Central Area Committee 12 June 2007

NO members of the public attended.  Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PCT – Hawkwell Doctors – Monthly meeting with adhoc patients committee

    

Overview and Scrutiny – Rochford District Council

June 10, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

I am a Member of the Review Committee.

Full Council had already asked that this “investigations” Committee look at the following:

1. Understanding of Planning Appeal Procedures

From what the Chief Executive had to say this sounded more like an internally facing review rather than something that will directly affect residents.  My guess is that the Officers want Members to understand more about the cost and causes of Appeals, especially when the Development Control Committee goes against the recommendation of Officers and cause an Appeal.  But I could just be a cynic.

2. Mental Health Provision with reference to the emerging new facility in Rochford

Essex County Council are the statutory authority for this and we have to ask their permission.  But it seems likely because Essex want to use us as a consultancy anyway.

3.  Operation of the New Political Decision Making Structure

Lets hope that the Conservative Party Members who brought this in will be critical.  If they are not then I will challenge their report in Committee.

4.  Implications of Global Warming in Rochford District and the role that RDC might play

The most important of all the topics. 

I will update this site as the reviews proceed. 

 

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

Does this affect you? Sites Suggested for Housing Development in Hockley/Hawkwell

May 31, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

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

Sites Suggested for Development in Hockley/Hawkwell

These sites have been suggested by landowners to Rochford District Council as part of its consultation on the Rochford Core Strategy.  An allocation of 400 houses is recommended.  Does this affect you?

 
1                 Land off Folly Lane , Hockley

2                 Land off Magnolia Road, Hockley

3                 Land off Thorpe Road, Hawkwell

4                 Land off Beckney Avenue, Hockley

5                 Site at the Pear Tree, New Park Road, Hockley

6                 Land at Greensward Lane, Hockley at the junction of Trinity Wood Road

7                 Land adjoining Marylands Avenue, Merryfields Avenue, Brackendale Close and Plumberow Avenue

8                 La Vallee Farm

9                 Land at Church Road, Hockley

10             Land to the south of Ironwell Lane, Hawkwell

11             Land at Greenacres, Victor Gardens, Hockley

12             Land at 57 High Road, Hockley

13             Land at Pond Chase Nurseries, Hockley

14             Land on the north side of Mount Bovers Lane, Hawkwell, Essex (between ‘Lynton’ and ‘Clairmont’)

15             Land between Holyoak Lane and Mount Bovers Lane, Hawkwell, Essex (adjacent to Pear Tree Cottage)

16             Land at Folly Chase, Hockley

17             Land east of Clements Hall Sports Centre, Hawkwell

18              Land at Magees Nurseries, Windsor Gardens, Hawkwell

19             Land south of Mount Bovers Lane, Hockley

20             Essexwire Works, Lower Road, Hockley

21             Land at 155 Greensward Lane

22             Land at Plumberow Avenue, Hockley

23             Land south east of Hockley Station, Hockley

If you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own lookout

May 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

I don’t really mean that but it is an eye catching heading on a subject that really does matter.

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

The Vogon Constructor Fleet is the fleet of alien spaceships in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that demolishes the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass,and they despair at the fact that the planning application has been advertised at Alpha Centauri for 50 years (when of course earth people did not know about it and could not get there anyway !!)

Much the same in Hawkwell.  An allocation of 400 new houses by the Conservative District Council in a less than interesting document called Core Strategy Preferred Options (Regulation 26) Draft.  But all is revealed in an unpublicised public exhibition on 31 May 2007 at Hawkwell Village Hall, 16.30 to 19.30 when you are either coming home from work or having your tea !!

I understand that about 40 people attended the session – the main questions related to concerns about housing numbers and particularly the lack of infrastructure.But as the Captain of the Vogons, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, said to Earth just before it was to be destroyed, you had the chance Hawkwell !!

“People of Earth, your attention please,” a voice said, and it was wonderful. Wonderful perfect quadrophonic sound with distortion levels so low as to make a brave man weep.

“This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council,” the voice continued. “As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less that two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.”

The PA died away.

Uncomprehending terror settled on the watching people of Earth. The terror moved slowly through the gathered crowds as if they were iron fillings on a sheet of board and a magnet was moving beneath them. Panic sprouted again, desperate fleeing panic, but there was nowhere to flee to.

Observing this, the Vogons turned on their PA again. It said:

“There’s no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now.”

The PA fell silent again and its echo drifted off across the land. The huge ships turned slowly in the sky with easy power. On the underside of each a hatchway opened, an empty black space.

By this time somebody somewhere must have manned a radio transmitter, located a wavelength and broadcasted a message back to the Vogon ships, to plead on behalf of the planet. Nobody ever heard what they said, they only heard the reply. The PA slammed back into life again. The voice was annoyed. It said:

“What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? For heaven’s sake mankind, it’s only four light years away you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own lookout.

“Energize the demolition beams.”

Light poured out into the hatchways.

“I don’t know,” said the voice on the PA, “apathetic bloody planet, I’ve no sympathy at all.” It cut off.

There was a terrible ghastly silence.

There was a terrible ghastly noise.

There was a terrible ghastly silence.

The Vogon Constructor fleet coasted away into the inky starry void.

 

 

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