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Is Our Green Belt Safe under our Council?

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

"Safe Under Us?"

http://www.cprelondon.org.uk/resources/item/2339-safe-under-us

THIS IS ABOUT ROCHFORD DISTRICT and we provided a contribution to this report which will be “news” for everyone who is concerned about the further loss of Green Belt in our revised Local Plan where there is a Council public consultation running at this moment.

This is what the Council has not told you.

There are some scary numbers coming forward as evidence from consultants such as 392pa instead of 250pa over the district. That COULD mean another 4000 over the existing building target of 2785!

At the Council’s policy rate of a minimum of 30 houses per hectare this implies the release of another 135.2 hectares of green belt.

“The government’s planning framework states that only ‘exceptional’ circumstances should allow building on Green Belt land. However, unclear national planning guidance and confusing government messages are causing councils to believe that in order to gain national approval of their Local Plans, they must meet higher targets. This is causing them to look at Green Belt land to meet housing growth figures.”

The Council is running a LIMITED public consultation right now. I say LIMITED because it does not comply with the recently approved NEW Council Policy on Community Involvement because the methods of engagement are not deep, wide or diverse enough for full engagement with residents. And the rate of response is not being monitored by channel for intervention if the response rate is low because of the lack of Council resources. This was specifically added to the Policy in just July. Needless to say I have complained to the Council.

 

A total of 275,000 homes are now planned for England’s green belt

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

CPRE MAP SOUTH EASTThis new report from the CPRE has a map showing all the local authorities planning to release green belt.

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/green-belts/item/download/4485

A total of 275,000 homes are now planned for England’s green belt – an increase of nearly 200,000 since 2012, according to research by countryside campaigners.

This map alone says everything that residents have been concerned about ever since the Core Strategy was adopted in 2011.

And now we have the Revision of the Core Strategy for an unspecified extra number.

By entirely circling London and for good measure an extended strip across South Essex it supports either an exodus from London or London coming out to meet us to form a wider Greater London.

If you are concerned about this please share as widely as possible before Voting in the Local Elections on 5 May.

And from the PlanningResource Web Site

According to figures published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the number of homes planned for England’s green belt increased by 50,000 in the last year to hit 275,000.

It added that 11 local authorities finalised green belt boundary changes to accommodate development in the year to 2015.

According to CPRE, green belt policy is “gradually being weakened through loopholes in planning guidance”.

“Under pressure from government to set and meet high housing targets, councils are releasing green belt for new development through a misappropriated ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause,” it added.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at CPRE, said: “Councils are increasingly eroding the green belt to meet unrealistic and unsustainable housing targets. The government is proposing to encourage further development in the green belt.

“Our green belt is invaluable in preventing urban sprawl and providing the countryside next door for 30 million people. We need stronger protection for the green belt, not just supportive words and empty promises. To build the affordable homes young people and families need, the government should empower councils to prioritise the use of brownfield sites. Brownfield land is a self-renewing resource that can provide at least 1 million new homes.”

 

Why local elections could be influenced by housing hostility

April 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

rdr

Rochford District Residents has been afforded a rare but very important interview with the national professional planning web site PlanningResource. Here are just the excerpts that apply to Rochford District. 

22 April 2016 by Joey Gardiner

Opponents of controversial housing developments are standing in next month’s local elections in order to fight what they see as the over-development of their areas.

With polling day for local and mayoral elections less than two weeks away, planning issues – particularly in the form of opposition to development – have the power to shake voters out of their traditional political allegiances.

“The job of a local politician is to try to buck the national trend,” said Martin Curtis, associate director at stakeholder engagement consultancy Curtin & Co and a former leader of Cambridgeshire County Council. “Development is one of those key issues where people will vote for a different party locally than nationally. Therefore some politicians looking to make an impact will always look in that direction.”

Assessing the impact planning will have on next month’s poll, in which four city mayors and councillors in 124 constituencies are up for election, is not easy. Received wisdom has it that local elections are primarily won and lost on national issues, but with public faith in the established Westminster political parties at a low ebb, some believe that could change this year.

Certainly there are a number of examples where planning issues seem to likely to affect the way people vote. In Conservative-run Rochford Council in south Essex, opposition to two controversial 500-home developments in Rayleigh, both of which have received outline consent, has been harnessed by vocal grassroots action groups. This anger is also feeding into the council’s current local plan review process, and contributing to support for a new independent party, Rochford District Residents, which, while not officially a single-issue party, is strongly campaigning to limit the number of homes allocated to the area.

Working with residents’ action groups and in formal coalition with the Green Party, it already has enough councillors to be considered the district’s official opposition, and is fielding eight more candidates this time. The maths are against it taking away the incumbent party’s majority, but party leader, councillor John Mason, maintains it is possible. “Residents want these issues raised,” he said. “On the doorstep people talk about flood risk and the lack of infrastructure. They don’t believe the council is representing them on these concerns at all.”

 

It may be no surprise that planning is the subject of heated election debate, but those who earn a living helping developers communicate their plans say these examples show how, in the age of social media, ward-level wrangles can become much bigger issues. In Rochford, for example, the Rayleigh Action Group now boasts a 5,000-strong Facebook group of supporters.

 

Local Elections : How to Decide Who to Vote For

May 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

rdrIf you are still undecided who to vote for in The Local Elections for Rochford District Council our local paper, The Echo, decided to ask each Group Leader what their candidates planned to do if elected.

http://goo.gl/jFhePW

You can put the leaflets down at last and compare each party to the others based on just 100 words.

The whole page is carried at the link above.

If you have any questions about Rochford District Residents do ask on the new FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/rochfordandrayleigh/?fref=nf

Independent Candidates – Rochford District Council Elections – 7 May 2015

April 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochforrdrd District Residents has 8 candidates;

Hawkwell West – Christine Mason
Hawkwell South – Phil Capon
Hawkwell North – Elliot Mason
Ashingdon & Canewdon – Tracy Capon
Sweyne Park – Toby Mountain
Grange – Peter Scott
Lodge – Richard Lambourne
Hockley Central – Irena Cassar

Residents and Independent Candidates for Rochford District Residents are not associated with any of the national political parties and if elected will represent ALL residents irrespective of political allegiance on the local matters that affect us all.

The common ground between ALL Independent Candidates standing for Rochford District Residents in the Local Election on 7 May is as follows;

– Transparency and Openness of Local Government keeping residents always in the picture and consulting with residents

– Against the Cabinet System which has wasted £500,000

– Residents to drive Council policies and not National Party Politics

– There is no Whip when Independent and Residents Councillors work together

– Challenging any large development in the District so that all necessary infrastructure is in place first

– No development in Green Belt except in very special circumstances

– The Revision of the Core Strategy must include starter homes that people can afford to buy

– A full public consultation on street lighting

– No Local Subsidies of Essex County Council for Grass Cutting (£150K)

– No Local Subsidies on Flood Prevention; full cost recovery on landowners and Essex County Council

Councillor John Mason who is the Group’s Leader on Rochford District Council is not required to stand this year having been re-elected in 2014. He is acting as Election Co-ordinator and Spokesperson for Rochford District Residents.

Internet Campaigning is on Facebook – “Rochford to Rayleigh Rising “https://www.facebook.com/groups/rochfordandrayleigh/?ref=bookmarks and http://rochfordessex.com  Contact Phone Number 01702204377 and email john@onlinemail.me.uk

NOTE: John Chaffin is standing in Hullbridge as an Independent but he is NOT a candidate for Rochford District Residents

Would Ukip represent you locally when it matters?

January 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In the Echo today “Ukip suspends four councillors” – Ukip has suspended four of its Southend councillors because they disowned the party’s parliamentary candidate.

In Rochford District we ask would Ukip represent you locally when it matters?ukip

The Leader of Ukip on Rochford District Council, Councillor John Hayter, writes “Normally I should have been only too pleased to serve, but at present I am heavily committed to the General Election as the UKIP Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rayleigh and Wickford, and am not in a position to do justice to the position.”

Very little work by local Councillors gets headlines but do people want to vote for a party locally that seems only interested in using your vote as a platform for greater political power?

Let me explain;

During the whole of last week Councillors and Staff were working together in a Selection Assessment Centre to appoint staff to new new positions established in the Organisational Re-design of the Council.

At the last Full Council a Chief Officers Appointments Committee was set up to take this forward. Political Parties have seats on Committees based on the number of Councillors each has of the total number of Councillors on our Council.

There was no surprise when the Conservatives had 5 Members on the Chief Officers Appointments Committee, The Green and Rochford District Residents, Liberal Democrats and Ukip one place for each. Each Party accepted the places allocated to this important task.

On the day that Members met for briefing and training, 8 January, for the “selection week” Ukip were unable to participate further. (And of the two remaining Ukip Councillors it would seem that neither was able to take up the place.)

Why?

Here is the email from the Ukip Group Leader, Councillor John Hayter, explaining why to the CEO of RDC.

“I write as UKIP leader. It is with regret that Ukip will not be able to take up the appointment on the Assessment Committee.”

“I should very much liked to have continued on the Committee today. However I did not appreciate the level of commitment that the position entails. Normally I should have been only too pleased to serve, but at present I am heavily committed to the General Election as the UKIP Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rayleigh and Wickford, and am not in a position to do justice to the position.”

“May I wish the Committee all the best in their endeavours.”

It would be fair to conclude that Ukip in Rochford District may prefer to prioritise its own interests ahead of representing residents, playing their part in managing the Council and ultimately the running of the District.

Another 37 New Houses in Hawkwell !!

January 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

houseAnother 37 New Houses in Hawkwell !!

No planning application has been received by RDC but the Agents are seeking feedback from the public at this stage through a statement of community involvement to be submitted alongside the planning application.

Re-development of land at 90 Main Road, Hawkwell (Site Locationhttp://goo.gl/Q4yWcz)

 

Google Map here

Extracts from Letter to your District Councillors (http://goo.gl/jyzef2)

“Strutt & Parker are acting as planning consultants on behalf of Marden Homes Ltd with regards to the above site. It is planned that the current uses on the site are to relocate and this brownfield site will therefore become available for redevelopment. We have been instructed by Marden Homes to prepare a planning application for residential redevelopment.”

“The application will seek permission for the development of approximately 37 high quality homes to meet local needs. The
proposed new homes will be a mixture of detached, semi-detached and terraced properties, along with private amenity
space and parking.”

Site Layout http://goo.gl/kT83F1

“The site at 90 Main Road is within the existing urban area and was allocated for residential development within the 2006 Rochford District Local Plan, to support the housing needs of the district.”

 

Rochford District Residents now 7 Councillors with Greens

January 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Green and Rochford District Residents Group on Rochford District Council grows today to 7 Members of The Council.

Originally the Group had 4 Members; John & Christine Mason (Hawkwell West) and Michael and Diane Hoy (Hullbridge) yet the Group was still the largest Opposition Group on the Council.

They are now joined by 3 more Independents; Councillor Toby Mountain (Sweyne Park, Rayleigh), Councillor Phil Capon (Hawkwell South) and Councillor Tracy Capon (Ashingdon and Canewdon).

The Group Leader in Council will continue to be John Mason and the Deputy Group Leader will continue to be Michael Hoy.

John Mason said today “We welcome Phil, Toby and Tracy joining us. All 3 are very experienced Councillors who are respected in their Wards for the work they do for residents. Rochford District Residents already covers the whole of the Rochford District but with the additions to the “Team” we will have widened our coverage to having a representative in Rayleigh in the West of District. Furthermore there will be closer shadowing overall of the Conservative Cabinet”.

All 3 will be joining Christine Mason in seeking re-election in May for Rochford District Residents.

Phil Capon said “I have chosen to stand again in Hawkwell South after being approached by a number of residents. I feel that by joining Rochford District Residents, I can best represent the people who live in the ward without being bound by national party policies. I look forward to working with the other members of the Group whose sole aim is to do what is best for the district and not for one party.”

Tracy Capon commented “Now I have taken time to think of recent events, I have decided that the residents of the Ashingdon and Canewdon ward deserve to be represented by a Councillor who is not bound by national party politics and the whip during council meetings. By joining Rochford District Residents, I will be able to act in a way that is best for all concerned and I look forward to standing in this seat in May and giving voters a viable alternative to party ‘yes men (or women)’ whose sole aim is self promotion and toeing the party line.”

Toby Mountain said “”Since leaving the Conservatives and becoming an Independent I have been included in several open forum, round table political discussions with the Rochford District Resident’s Group. We share the same belief with regard to openness and transparency and an engagement with residents in the decision making process. Uniting to create a strong and effective non-whipped group of residents representing residents, willing and able to challenge the current administration, presents a fresh choice at the local elections in May 2015. Residents in Sweyne Park Ward will now have the option to vote beyond the traditional narrow perspective of party politics and choose a local free speaking candidate to properly represent them.”

Nothing can now change the loss of Green Belt

October 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

JuergenGER / Pixabay

Our Local Conservative Councillors have been telling residents for years that they have to remove Green Belt protection when drawing up their Local Plans, in order to meet [housing] demand.

Conservative Government Minister Eric Pickles has now stepped in to say that the Government did not require this and the move will be seen as a pre-election pitch by the Conservatives to win round rural Tory supporters who are furious about new development.

“Nothing can now change the loss of Green Belt in Hawkwell, Ashingdon and Rochford for 1000 houses where it has not been proven that these are required to meet local housing needs” said Residents Councillors John and Christine Mason.

They went on to ask “So will there be a change of mind on another over 1000 houses in green belt in Rayleigh and Hullbridge?”

“The Government seems to be blaming the local Conservative Councillors who were in charge of local planning policy which is what local residents have been saying for a long time.”

“This “volte-face” by the Government is too late to save them in the local elections unless big changes are made in the Core Strategy before May 2015 and any promises will be seen as “just election promises as usual” !!

The Conservatives promised at the 2010 General Election to reverse Labour Housing Targets and give decisions on planning to Local Residents. All that happened was the concentration of planning decisions in Conservative Councils which followed a house building diktat from the Conservative Government without any challenge to Government despite the views of local residents.

Whatever way you look at it the Conservatives are to blame. If houses have been built on Green Belt despite your wishes then you will know already how to vote.

Specifically the new guidance makes clear that councils do not have to build on the Green Belt just to meet the locally set five-year housing targets.

The new planning guidance states explicitly for the first time that “once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances”.

Councils will have to “take account of any constraints such as Green Belt which indicate that development should be restricted and which may restrain the ability of an authority to meet its need”, it says.

 

New protections for England’s Green Belt unveiled by Eric Pickles – Telegraph
www.telegraph.co.uk

Official in the ECHO ‘You don’t have to build on green belt’

September 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

blue-352470_1920Well worth reading what the Government Planning Inspector said about Green Belt which goes against the edict which has been put out by RDC for years !!

Michael Hoy and I put forward a Motion to say that housing numbers must be assessed on LOCAL NEEDS years ago and the Tories were scathing in their rejection. But now they say that local needs are the key !!

In the Echo Today, an Exclusive from Jon Austin, “GREEN belt land in south Essex could be spared from thousands of homes being built after a senior planning inspector said it was a matter for local councils to decide. Keith Holland, an inspector for the department for communities and local government, is shown on video telling Castle Point councillors they would not be forced to release green belt to meet housing targets. His assurance, made in a video leaked to the Echo, is at odds with what Castle Point, Basildon and Rochford councils have told residents while they prepared local development plans for the next 20 years.” In the video, he also says councils will not be forced to build the homes if flooding is an issue,such as happened recently on Canvey and across Rochford.”

Again in the Echo A Castle Point Tory councillor at the inspector’s briefing, said: “This is the complete opposite of what planning officers have been telling members, which is that if we don’t designate enough house building sites, then they will be imposed on us by the Planning Inspectorate, but here the inspector could not have been clearer this is not the case.”

Sounds to us Independent Councillors exactly the same message we have been hearing from Rochford Conservatives for years!!

Councillor Ward , Cabinet Member for planning at RDC said in the Echo last week blaming the Conservative Government, “We might not like it, but we have no choice” and “We are following the law of the land, set out by Government”.

MP Rebecca Harris told the ECHO “Frankly I was fed up with the Government’s view being misinterpreted. I am grateful that the planning inspector spelt it out in crystal clear terms.”

But Councillor Ward has now changed his mind by saying in today’s Echo “Rochford’s sensible, pragmatic approach to identifying land for development to meet the needs of the district in a planned way is the correct approach to fulfilling the requirements of the national planning policy framework.”

THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE 250 HOUSES PER YEAR for 20 YEARS MAY WELL BE IN EXCESS OF OUR LOCAL NEEDS AND THIS HAS NOT BEEN ASSESSED ON A LOCAL BASIS BUT PART OF A REGIONAL NEED !!

Flooding Risk in Rochford District made a political football by former Conservative candidate !!

September 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0638floodYou can read the Letter published in Friday’s Echo here.

Mr. Webb wrongly accuses  your two Independent Councillors of not attending a Council Meeting.

A Local resident has emailed to say that he has written to the Echo about Mr. Webb’s views that a cross party Flood Committee should now deal with with past and future local flooding events “This is the same party who voted to cover thousands of acres of land with concrete to build houses on which commonsense says will cause more flooding. Mike I live on planet earth where do you live?.”

Officers of the Council advised that The Flood Forum is technically an Advisory Group to Council Leader Cutmore who is the Decision Maker. BUT Council Leader Cutmore appointed ONLY Conservative Councillors to be Members of the Flood Forum. And any decision he makes on the advice given by his Conservative only Councillors cannot now be even “Called In” to Full Council for discussion.

So much for a “Cross Party” Committee as called for by Mr. Webb !”!”

Is Mr Webb saying that all 39 Members MUST attend, without fail despite illness, family and personal needs, every single Council Committee and Advisory Group Meeting, regardless of whether they are actually APPOINTED BY THE COUNCIL to those committees?

That would make every type of Council Meeting a FULL Council meeting where by COMPULSION all 39 attend?

That would make the CABINET system DEFUNCT saving may about £100,000 in ALLOWANCES for ONLY Conservative Councillors !!

Popular with Independents and the public but may be not so popular with the Conservative Party Mr. Webb !!!

 Here is the reply from the Independent Councillors to Mr.Webb and the Echo;

Wistaria Cottage
Hawkwell

29th August 2014

The letter from Mike Webb is breathtaking in the inaccuracies it contains. I totally agree that ‘all parties should be working together to try and resolve the problem’ of local flooding. Perhaps Mr Webb would have been better advised to ask this question of the Leader of the Conservatives at Rochford District Council who determined that the Flood Forum would only have Conservative members.

Rochford District Residents have not waited a year to hold a local meeting as have the Conservatives. Instead they led a well supported community initiative to clear the watercourses that were responsible for the flooding last August in Hawkwell West, last November. Indeed Mr Webb briefly turned up to assist on one of the days and used a photograph of his participation to aid his (failed) attempt to be elected to Rochford District Council for the Conservative Party. Not only that but Rochford District Resident’s Councillors filed a report to Rochford District Council last year detailing work the Council needs to do on its own land in relation to flood prevention. Despite reinforcement of this by the Environment Agency, a year later and still no work has been carried out to our knowledge.

Over the last few months both John and Christine Mason have been in regular contact in the form of site meetings and detailed discussions with the Environment Agency over the issue of implementation of the Surface Water Drainage scheme on the David Wilson Home site (which also abuts the water courses that flooded last year) and through our endeavours this has been checked and compliance with approvals ensured. All done prior to the postponed Flood Forum meeting! (Postponed due to further flooding that did not, thankfully, occur in Hawkwell West where the preventative work led by Rochford District Residents took place.)

If Mr Webb wants to criticise perhaps he could check his facts first? Out of 21 Council Wards how many did The Conservative Party agree could be represented on the Flood Forum and participate as full Members? Why only attack one Ward’s representatives? Why not include the other political groups i.e. Green Party, Labour, Liberal etc., why single out only Rochford District Residents? Or does a political motive have precedence over accuracy? If Mr. Webb intends to stand in Hawkwell West again in 2015 he should declare this so that this inaccurate attack be seen in its proper light.

Christine Mason,
District Councillor for Hawkwell West Ward
Notes:

As the General Public can attend any Council Meeting it follows that any Member of Rochford District Council can attend but each Advisory Group/Committee etc has appointed Members who ONLY have a RIGHT to speak and participate.

All Members of the Council COULD attend, like the Public, but all Members were not INVITED to attend as Members of the Flood Forum and to say this would be INCORRECT.

 

Electoral Ward Review – Rochford District

August 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

LATEST UPDATE:

electoral ward review

Rochford District Council will be considering, and voting on, the model presented in the map above on 4 September. (just click on the map to see it full screen.)

If you wish to read all of the Council’s working numbers then you can download it here.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is conducting an ‘Electoral Review’ to look at ward boundaries in order to shape Rochford District Council for the future.

The first Public Consultation is taking place right now from 22 July to 29 September to determine ward boundaries across the Rochford District.

These new wards will be for all District Councillor elections from 2016.

The Commission has also announced that it recommends that the Council should have 39 councillors in future, the same number as in current arrangements. The Commission wishes to see 13 by 3 Member Wards making 39 and as close to an equal number of electors for each ward (5400) and each Member (1800).

https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/3536

If approved by Rochford District Council the above map will be presented to the Commission as the Council’s preferred model which the Commission will consider and, if necessary, the Commission will present its own model for further consultation with the public in December.

If you have any comments before the Council’s Meeting on 4 September then please email us at john.mason@bigfoot.com.

We have a few tweaks in mind to present to the Commission before 29 September because the model presented here corrected an earlier Officer error and because of that we think that some further small changes in Hawkwell are necessary.

If you submit information to the Local Government Boundary Commission athttps://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/3536 unlike other consultations no one else will see what you said until AFTER the first Consultation closes.

 

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

June 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on the Local Elections – with just 4 days to go!

May 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

By Christine Mason – Independent District Councillor for Hawkwell West

OpenClips / Pixabay

Seeking election or re-election is probably the most daunting job interview that you can experience.  I certainly felt nervous and uncertain when attending work interviews.  It takes a certain courage, or insanity, to multiply this activity a hundred-fold and effectively have a panel of examiners that cover every house and road, every opinion and point of view and to explain your perspective.

John and I are fortunate in that the community we live in seems to appreciate the work we do and often acknowledge it.  They may not always agree with us but hey! – that’s democracy.

Sometimes I think we are mad to work so hard but in truth when we are able to resolve a problem or help someone in need it makes it all worthwhile.  In some ways it is similar to having a large extended family, something I would have loved.

The banter of electoral debate heats up as we get closer to Polling Day.

Unfortunately this year has seen some difficulty where inappropriate and inaccurate statements have been made by canvassers and John was so upset that he reluctantly had to make formal complaints.  This type of unnecessary unpleasantness is hard to stomach and impossible to counter.  One thing we will not do is retaliate by descending to that level to win at all costs.

We have just 4 days to Polling Day and the difference the Postal Voting has made to the election process is very noticeable.

Friends who are away have been able to vote despite their absence (for any person of their choice of course), the issue of the weather affecting turn out is less of an issue and the constant ‘busing’ of people by the large political groups to the Polling Station is less obvious.  Another surprise was yesterday when out shopping someone called out to John that he had already voted for him.  Not only did it cheer John up remarkably but it brought to mind that voting now is a more continual process due to this facility.  I am sure it makes for a lot of hard work for our electoral staff but I observed some of their work and was highly impressed at the meticulous efficiency.

Certainly I endorse any effort to encourage more people to vote.  I have always felt it regrettable that turnouts are relatively low when I reflect on the history of one man one vote and the sacrifice by both suffragettes and our soldiers to obtain and preserve our democracy.

So please vote on the 22nd May.  I would naturally prefer you to vote for John but the really important thing is that you make your vote count.

Rochford District Council Subsidises Gala Dinner

May 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The confusion over the Rochford District Council Annual Civic Dinner persists, but we seem to finally be getting a truer picture of the event.

According to latest information from The Chief Executive it would appear that;

  • 47 guests paid for their tickets at £40.00,
  • Also 16 guests, including three RDC Councillors, received ‘free’ tickets
  • And 11 ‘chauffeurs’ dinners were provided;
  • 7 at the reduced price of £10
  • the other 4 free for RDC Operational Staff.

(Not quite sure what the difference between the chauffeurs’ dinner is other than price.)

£90 is still owed by someone.

Confusion reigns because there does not seem to be any reconciliation between the number of tickets and the income and accounts are presented without the VAT element.

My maths calculate a gross income of £1950 and gross expenditure £3920. This of course excludes any staff costs as RDC do not appropriate such overheads to individual events.

This results in a loss of £1970 for the 47 paying guests, or alternatively a subsidy of about £42 per full priced ticket, meaning that the full cost should have been £82 instead of £40.

There are of course many other ways of looking at this.

But however you look at it the event makes a loss and is a drain on the public purse.

Multiply this across every Council in England and the potential cost could be substantial.

If RDC wish for a Civic Dinner perhaps they should ensure that it is cost neutral, or even better raises money for the Chairman’s Charity.

Certainly most organisations would not run a loss making event year on year and since the Recession in 2008 the cost to the community is over £16,000.

A little bird tells me that they might seek a Sponsor for next year’s do.

Perhaps we shall see a menu with builders’ soup, highway congestion of mixed vegetables and a large slice of humble pie.

Personally I think the answer is simple – raise the ticket price to cover all of the costs.

What do you think?

Email john.mason@bigfoot.com or Comment on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rochfordindependent

Free dinner guests below:

• Chairman, Councillor Mrs B Wilkins
• Mr Martin and Mrs Julie Butler (Citizen of the Year Winner and wife)
• The Rt. Hon Mark Francois MP (Guest Speaker)
• James Duddridge MP and Mrs Katy Duddridge (wife)
• Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex
• Mr and Mrs Julia and Charles Abel Smith (High Sheriff of Essex and husband)
• Mr Nick and Mrs Pippa Alston (Essex Police & Crime Commissioner)
• Rev. Alun Hurd (Chairman’s Chaplain)
• Mr Malcolm and Miss Rosanna Hiscock (South East Essex Symphony Orchestra – one of the Chairman’s Charities)
• Leader, Councillor T Cutmore (hosting a table)
• Councillor Mrs Mockford (hosting a table)

John Mason – Local Elections 2014 – Hawkwell West, Essex

April 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Why John Mason is asking you to Vote for him on 22 May 2014 at the Local Elections in Hawkwell West, Rochford District Council

Why You Should Vote For John Mason on 22 May

April 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

[evp_embed_video url=”http://rochfordessex.com/rol/images/Elections2014.mp4″ width=”500″ height=”400″]

Residents of Thorpe Road Have Had Enough !!

April 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

shmaResidents of the “Unmade End” of Thorpe Road. Hawkwell have suffered so much damage to the road surface that they have issued an Open Letter of Complaint to David Wilson Homes/Barratts at their Clements Gate (Christmas Tree Farm) Site.

We hope that Barratts will now listen to the these residents and put things right immediately.

Street Light Re-location in Rectory Road

Rochford District Council has also issued the following by email.

“Dear Councillor
It was apparent that the lamp columns along Rectory Road, which were required to be repositioned off of the footpath, had been installed by the power utilities company in the wrong place. They have been instructed accordingly and will put right their error.”

“FYI…there is an officer meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the ‘correct’ position of the relocated lamp columns.”

Damage to the Verges in Rectory Road and Thorpe Road

Because of the above problem there will be a delay in seeing this damage put right as well !!

 Open Letter of Complaint from Residents to David Wilson Homes/Barratts at their Clements Gate (Christmas Tree Farm) Site.
Dear Sir

I write with regard to the unmade end of Thorpe Road opposite the four bungalows numbers 82,84,86, and 88 and along the side and front of the bungalow on the corner of Rectory Road number 400. The road has been dug up some four times now and left in the most appalling state by YOUR contractors and despite several complaints to your communications people nothing is being done to correct the damage, we are therefore asking you directly for the following:

The grass verge opposite the four bungalows has been dug up and just left as mud, as has the verge along the side of number 400 Rectory Road. We ask that the grass verge is reinstated.

The entrance to Thorpe Road either side is churned up with deep tyre tracks by YOUR contractors lorries and diggers and has been left in that state. We ask that the entrance to the road is cleaned up.

The unmade road fronting onto numbers 82,84,86 and 88 Thorpe Road was repaired last summer by the residents with hardcore provided by yourselves. This was extremely hard work and we do not see why we should have to do it all over again when the damage has been done by YOUR contractors lorries and heavy plant. Contributing to this is the number of lorries, big ones, that ignore the ‘No Access’ signs at the entrance to the road every single day. We have asked for a yellow ‘Construction Traffic’ sign with an arrow pointing up Rectory Road as this might help, but this has been refused!! We ask that potholes are repaired and the road reinstated to how it was last summer.

The grass verge and the driveway across the outside of number 400 Rectory Road has been left in a mess by YOUR contractors and despite several complaints nothing has been done to tidy it up. We ask that this work is done.

A line of Lavatera bushes along the right hand side of the entrance to the road, planted by residents, has been trashed and left. These need tidying up or replanting.

Every time we complain we get the answer ‘nothing to do with us’. These are YOUR contractors and YOU are responsible. WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR MONEY, WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR COMPENSATION, WE ARE SIMPLY ASKING THAT THE AREA IS PUT BACK THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE YOU DUG IT ALL UP.

I have copied in our local Councillors Christine and John Mason and give them permission to publish this email on their website and to forward it on to anyone they think might be able to assist us. If nothing is done our next step is to go directly to Mr David Eardley who I am told is the Managing Director of Barratt Homes.

I look forward to hearing from someone in authority or perhaps it might be a good idea to send someone along to actually look at the mess!

Yours sincerely

Carol Dutton

84 Thorpe Road
Hawkwell

UPDATE FROM DWH/Barratts

In respect to the grass verge, this is the responsibility of one of our statutory service providers, Power On Connections. These works are still to be finished in this area and they are due to return and conclude works on the 17th and 18th April. They have a contractual obligation to reinstate the area of their works to its original state and this usually occurs within a month of work being completed.

In regards to the disturbances on the unmade section of Thorpe Road, I believe Nikki has explained that we are unable to repair these ourselves as not all of the residents want it repaired, out of a wish to deter non-residents from using the road as a thoroughfare. Therefore, we are happy to provide material for individuals to carry out the works on their own initiative. We can get you this material fairly quickly but believe it is best to wait until Power On Connections have finished their works.

Local News from Hawkwell, Hockley and Rochford District

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

front pageIf you live in Hawkwell, Hockley and Rochford then please “Like” and “Share” Our Page on Facebook or “Bookmark” to get regular local news.  The Rochford Independent was first published in 2006 and is a trusted source of local news being run by John and Christine Mason who are also Independent Members of the District Council.  
If you give our FB Page a “Like” we promise you that there will be no advertising feature articles or adverts just relevant local news and updates.
So please do give this “free offer” a go !

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 20

March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0680

GB_Rochford District Residents_254Development Committee was busy this week particularly for your Hawkwell West Councillors, John and Christine Mason, as two applications that affect our Ward were up for consideration. These were both for alterations to Conditions for the Housing Estate that is currently being built. Despite the developer receiving full, detailed approval in Dec 2012 our Officers seem to be constantly having to work on proposed alterations.

This time the first Application heard was for an alteration to the Flood Risk Assessment. Since last August John and I have been researching and studying the complex terminology and criteria that affect this issue, with help from local residents who have expertise in this field. We now feel we have an adequate understanding to ask the right questions of the appropriate authorities. In view of this and with the support of the Development Committee we have asked for a couple of important aspects of the revised proposal to be clarified and the Development Committee also determined that we, as Ward Members, should be involved before final approval to the revised scheme is given by our Head of Planning and Transportation. Flood prevention and surface water drainage are subjects that create considerable concern and whilst we are by no means experts we can at least communicate these concerns together with our intimate and extensive knowledge of the local area.

The second was another request for an alteration to a Condition that requires the alteration to the mini roundabout at Hall Road/Rectory Road to be complete before first occupation of any house on the new estate. The Developer wanted to be able to have 22 properties occupied before this was completed. However the mood of the Committee was unanimous in support of Refusal. Councillors felt that Conditions, which Members and Officers alike spend considerable time on agreeing to, should be adhered to. We also pointed out that there were other Pre-occupation Conditions that had not been fulfilled and that the work on the roundabout commenced on the 3rd February with, we understand, a very generous time scale of six weeks. Maybe this is due to the fact that there would appear to be a cessation of activity, certainly no work has been noted this last week despite equipment being left on the verge.

Let us hope that this work will be completed in a speedy manner, likewise the supposedly temporary closure to pedestrian access in Thorpe Road.

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