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Council in Battle with Government Inspector over Core Strategy

August 13, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Everything that Michael Hoy and I (John Mason) asked Rochford District Council to do in our recent Motion on the housing needs of our district has been borne out by a Governmment Planning Inspector.

On 27 July the Motion was defeated by the block vote of the Conservative Administration and consigned to the bin.

But on 2 August the Government Inspector charged with deciding whether the Council’s housing policy and strategy for 20 years is SOUND or UNSOUND raised exactly the same type of questions formally with the Council.

Here are some extracts.

Is the Pickles Abolition of Labour’s Housing Targets a Political Sham?

August 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Promises made in the General Election and Local Elections could have been a cynical political sham.

Once the promise to revoke the RSS Housing Targets was enacted by Eric Pickles on 6 July, District Councils had the chance to make sure that the views of the majority of residents put forward in public consultations on their respective LDF/Core Strategies were acted upon.

But Rochford District Council has decided not to reduce the Labour house building targets but to just spread the same number over another 5/6 years. No green belt is saved. 

Core Strategy – A Done Deal Despite Further Consultation?

July 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Although the Dismissal of the David Wilson Homes Appeal for 330 dwellings was known over a week ago I have not felt able until now to comment over and above publicly stating in the Echo that I am delighted with the result.

The residents groups of Hawkwell, the parish council and the many residents who have individually campaigned against  the proposals of David Wilson Homes are to be congratulated heartily for the work that they have done for our community.

Will Tough talk on the election trail actually be turned into action right now?

July 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today the Secretary of State announced the revocation of Regional Strategies with immediate effect.

In its Press Release on 17 June, Rochford District Council declared that it needed legal revocation and Government guidance in order that it could take action on pre-election promises on the Core Strategy – now it has both !!

What were the promises?

“Following its adoption [The Rochford Core Strategy] and when our electorate returns a Conservative Government to Power next spring, we shall be able to carry out our own housing needs study, it is then that we shall be able to adjust the housing allocations, as I promised so many months ago, to satisfy the needs of our community – not a penny more nor a penny less.”

Will The Pickles Letter and Abolition of the RSS Actually Matter?

June 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

DEVELOPERS have won a legal battle to build more than 300 homes on Green belt land at East Tilbury, prompting a leading local councillor in Thurrock to say he fears the “floodgates” are about to open.

Whilst back in Rochford in an email to a resident representing the West Rochford Action Group (WRAG) (and openly copied with no restriction to all Members of Rochford District Council) Portfolio Holder and Cabinet Member, Councillor Keith Hudson writes I must profess disappointment and not just a little concern with respect to the planning appeal in East Thurrock towards the end of last week, the detail within the report is worth careful consideration.”

Rochford Core Strategy – It’s Half Time

June 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Basically it’s half time in the Rochford Core Strategy and the Council is taking a breather !! 

Come on England !!

This is a light hearted article by style and approach but it does focus on some real issues that concern residents of Hawkwell and the Rochford District.  

Rochford District Council, in its amorphous legal identity rather than a Cabinet Member charged with the personal responsibility for planning development or its paid Head of Planning, has issued a Press Release in response to my letter to Cabinet Member, Councillor Keith Hudson, on the matter of the Core Strategy following a series of announcements by the Conservative led Coalition Government.

Councils Can Surely Halt Housing Development Decisions – if they really try !!

June 13, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Sarah Calkin’s article on “Housing targets are to be scrapped” published on the Echo Online on 5 June carried some fairly luke warm comments from Councillor Keith Hudson who is the Cabinet Member for Planning on Rochford District Council.

I have heard Councillor Hudson say in public many times that he did not wish to see so many houses built in Rochford District but that he had no choice but to put forward such proposals because the Government required this by Law.

Here is what he has published.

Will the Rochford Core Strategy Remain Unchanged?

June 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Currently, under existing Legislation, no local authority can avoid the targets set out for it in the RSS (regional spatial strategy), as the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 strengthened the powers of the previous Secretary of State over local planning authorities.

The LDF (local development framework) and the Core Strategy, which the Rochford District Council has produced, must be in general conformity with the regional spatial strategy and is currently before an examination in public by a planning inspector before approval. That planning inspector can recommend changes and, hopefully, Miss Laura Graham, the planning inspector, will make the changes that were sought by residents at the Hearing on 12 May 2010.

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

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

Will Rochford District follow South Oxfordshire & Scrap further work on The Core Strategy?

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

South Oxfordshire’s announcement immediately follows a letter yesterday from the Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles to Local Authority Planning Chiefs telling them that Regional Housing targets are to be scrapped, which has in effect given a green light to Local Authorities to halt decisions on development plans and planning applications.

But will Rochford District Council, given the huge number of written objections made by residents over the last 3 years of expensive consultations do the same? 

Many residents groups even went to the trouble of making themselves available to discuss their objections directly with the Government Planning Inspector on 12 May which was reported on very fully by the Echo.

COUNCIL tax may have to rise to plug public sector pensions

August 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Mind The GapDaily Mail, 1 August 2009

Bob Holloway, who runs the pension scheme for local government workers, has warned the gold-plated final salary schemes are no longer sustainable because people are ‘refusing to die’.

Local authorities are facing a £50 billion shortfall In their pension pots after recklessly investing taxpayers’ money In shares and hedge funds.

The respected Public Service Journal reported that officials are considering a number of ways to tackle the deficit, including raising council tax.

They are also looking at increasing employee contributions, raising the retirement age or cutting public services. Another proposal could see public servants’ pensions based on career-average earnings rather than final salaries.

Hawkwell Bus Gloom – there could be hope !!

April 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Local Transport Act 2008 became law in November 2008 and I have been keenly awaiting the Guidance on Quality Partnership Schemes (QPS) which came into force on 6 April 2009.

There are now  far more effective set of options and powers to improve bus services. The bus in public transport provision in Rochford District has for too long been allowed to slip into decline. Now there are powers available to local authorities to work with operators to get to grips with more of the problems behind this decline.

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