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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

Housing Allocations in Hawkwell – Action Groups Set Up in Opposition

September 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Residents have contacted their independent District Councillor, John Mason, and have asked him to provide them with information and campaign assistance.

This follows the announcement by the Conservative Party running Rochford District Council that 365 new houses should be built in Hawkwell.  As the current position shows for Hawkwell that there are four major sites likely to have been earmarked for development residents in Hawkwell have added 2 + 2 and come up with 4 !!  They can’t guess which of the four sites might be chosen so they have decided to set up Action Groups to oppose development.

Some may say that this is NIMBYISM but given the successful campaign run in Rayleigh by the Liberal Democrats who can blame them? The 5 Lib Dem Councillors are all in Rayleigh and the Liberal Democrats do not have a policy for the whole the Rochford District as do the Tories.  It is understood that Lib Dem Leader has the notion that it would be strange for 5 Rayleigh based Councillors to come up with a policy fot the whole of the District. Our view is that whilst Councillors have Ward responsibilities they also represent the whole District of Rochford and it is a very poor example that is being set by a major political party. 

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 other two sites do not seem to concern residents yet.  The Magees Mushroom Farm in Windsor Gardens is now a mix of one mushroom production shed an other sheds turned over the industrial uses.  As residents nearby did not wish to have the conversion of sheds to industrial but lost narrowly lost the fight put up by residents led by Councillor John Mason, perhaps they will be just happy to put up with houses instead?

The last major site are the farmlands behind Rectory Road, adjoining the Leisure Centre and running down to Windsor Gardens.  Residents successfully opposed the imposition of a Golf Course about 13 years ago but silence suggests, despite every adjoining house having been leafleted by Councillor Mason, that residents are obviously not concerned enough to object. If they do then an Action Group can be set up for that site too if residents contact John Mason.

If anyone wants more information on the Action Groups please go to our Contact page and e-mail John Mason.   

Options for Housing Allocation – Rochford District

September 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Shaun Scrutton
Head of Planning and Transportation
Rochford District Council
Dear Shaun

Options for Rochford District Core Strategy – LDF Consultation

You asked me to submit any Options that Rochford District Residents (RDR) had on the LDF before 30 September.

In terms of the Options put forward by the Conservative Party, RDR would like to see a copy of the proposal together with all supporting papers if this has already been received by the Council before the deadline of 30 September.  If the proposal is not complete then I would like to receive a copy on 1 October please.

I am the Party Leader of Rochford District Residents which is a Registered Political Party which has the same status as The Conservative Party.  I am expecting that the Council will afford RDR equal status with The Conservative Party in considering the Options put forward.

I understand that Go-East is broadly supportive of  a new outer relief road for Southend, though it stresses this would need to be built in partnership with the County and Rochford district councils and might be privately funded.

On the basis that Go-East has already signified that such Option should be included in the next Option Appraisal for the LDF, RDR formally requests that Rochford District Council considers this infrastructural change, which has publicly stated Government support, in the way that it might affect Rochford District and the spatial housing planning allocation in relation to such infrastructural development and in particular that the whole requirement of circa 3,300 houses can be placed in the Eastern part of Rochford District in the LDF Core Strategy.

This request does not imply in any way that RDR is supportive of such Option.  It believes that such an Option cannot continue to be excluded from the next LDF Core Strategy Consultation.

RDR does not believe that the Option for Affordable Housing includes sufficient identification of the ownership models that exist to ensure that Affordable Housing is retained in that status over the coming 50 years.

RDR wishes to point out to Rochford District Council that Local authorities usually use policies within the LDF (sometimes with the proviso that if it could be demonstrated that developments serving the greater interest of the authority for example financing key infrastructure projects could not sustain affordable housing then an ‘open book’ approach is used with a claw back clause enabling the authority to receive commuted payments towards off site affordable
housing).  However there are other mechanisms as well. The Green Paper on housing delivery picks up on the responsibility of housing delivery and the penalties for inadequate supply.

RDR also wishes Rochford District Council to discuss this aspect in detail with the Peer Group Review Team when it visits the Council in October and report in the LDF on the content of such advice.

Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the Council announced at the Central Area Committee on 20 September that the next Public Consultation on the LDF Core Strategy will take place in the Spring of 2008.  It is of regret to RDR that Rochford District Council has not given the Party more time to research and consider the Options for the LDF.

Yours sincerely

 

John Mason
District Councillor for Hawkwell West
Party Leader, Rochford District Residents

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. 

 

 

New Youth Centres possible in Rochford District

June 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

There appears to be a general consensus both from the general public and youngsters that designated meeting areas, which are supported by all, are preferred to ad hoc gathering points on street corners or other inappropriate venues. Consultation with youths across the District has already confirmed their perception that they have nowhere to go.  It therefore appears that we are all united in recognising the need to identify suitable locations for youngsters to meet up.
 
I was actually referring to some preliminary discussions about re-establishing a youth club at Rocheway, Rochford and in proposals for a new youth club in Eldon Way at Hockley.
 
In summary the police would support buildings and locations that diverted the prospect of anti social behaviour away from more residential areas, but we will do no more that support the general principles.  It is very much in the hands of local residents and councils to determine whether specific locations are deemed appropriate.

Chief Inspector John Walker
Rochford District Commander
Extension 34433

Arriva No 8 Bus – Improvements sought by RDC

June 25, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

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

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

Update

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

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

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

Verge Destroyed by Factory Parking – Main Road Hawkwell

June 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservative Party Group – RDC

June 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Is the Conservative Group on Rochford District Council already seriously split and are some Tory Members on the verge of not only resigning the party whip but leaving the Conservative Party Group?

Here is an anonymous comment made on the Lib Dems web site: http://onlinefocus.org/?p=670#comment-18795

anonone Says: June 15th, 2007 

Has the council changed forever? There are quite a lot of Tori councillors here in Rayleigh that are very unhappy with this situation and are trying to band a group to bring back the old council as we used to know it. And im not talking any of the portfolio holders whoos slip of the ______ Its time this council was reverted back to it previous state were councillors felt they were taking part not left like ZOMMBIES.

I have had recent conversations with three NON Rayleigh Tory Councillors who have also talked about leaving the Conservative Group because of issues relating to the NEW Political Structure.

They will have to leave the Party because I asked Paul Warren, the CEO of RDC, at a Member Training Session if he could forsee any opportunity to return to the Committee system. He gave me the shortest answer I have ever received from him……..an unconditional NO !!

How will the new Tory Member for Hockley North get on?  I hope that he knows that he will be assigned one or two Tory Members to act as Monitors to ensure that he tows the party line. How do I know this?  Because I had a conversation recently with a Conservative County Councillor who happily advised me that this was how the Conservative Party Group worked.  So the electors of Hockley North elected a Party not a Member who will be told what to do and say ather than represent the residents how they wish !!

 

Rochford District Council – Executive Board

June 16, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

If you want to read a report on the first Executive Board Meeting then you can find one on the Lib Dems site together with some relevant comments from residents.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=670#comment-18795 

I did not attend because I had already been advised that I could not speak and I knew that I would be completely sidelined.

The following letter is, I think, now the only way that I can represent residents on policy matters – I hope that this example proves that important matters of policy can still be influenced by ordinary councillors rather than the just the highly paid nine RDC Executive Councillors – but who knows?

Technically I could be invited to speak by Councillor Cutmore but this is unlikely because the CEO, Paul Warren, advised me in a Members Training Session that once this is allowed the precedent is made and he would be strongly advising Councillor Cutmore not to agree to any request. 

Even then the “super nine” would appear, from e-mails that I have received, to be instructed on policy by a prior Tory Group Meeting which is held privately away from the public.

I will provide an update on the response I get and what action is taken but I suspect that the issue will be directed to the Review (or investigations committee) which is led by the Opposition or a Lib Dem Councillor. I had already raised the matter with the Review Committee leadership but the subject did not appear in the working group list.  Perhaps it will now as an emergency item because of neglect by the administration?

Dear Councillor Cutmore
 
I am writing to you formally as the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Executive Board.
 
I am sure that you also received a copy of Graham Patchings’ letter regarding Taxi Licensing/Regulations.

I  telephoned the Officers at RDC to ascertain what is happening regarding Graham’s letter. I was advised that the matter would be considered at the Executive Board.

The Officers also advised that ALL the conditions are “way out of date but they do not have the resources to undertake a review and update which they agree needs to be done.” There are insufficient resources.
 
I am unable to speak at the Executive Board and under the circumstances I can only ask you to deal with my representation to you in this respect, namely that the Council engages immediately, sufficient resources to undertake such a review of all taxi conditions and regulations and present new taxi conditions within 12 months.

Bearing in mind that this is a major responsibility of RDC which seems to have been neglected and there is no plan to up date and there are insufficient resources any way will you please advise me what action you and the Conservative Group is going to take in respect of the present status of the taxi regulations in Rochford District.
 
I have referred to the Conservative Group making a decision because you will recall that reference was specifically made to this prior policy making procedure by John Honey,Councillor Hudson and Councillor Seagers all in e-mails that were widely circulated.
 
I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Councillor John Mason

 

 

 

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. 

 

Still No NHS Dentists for Hawkwell and Hockley

June 10, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

Neighbourhood Action Panel (NAPs) – Essex Police

June 10, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

This is a Panel of Residents put together by Essex Police.

The names of the members are not published and will change from time to time as it would be pointless to always have the same voices. It is not open to Councillors or people with any particular political view.

The agreed priorities will be published in various ways, initially on web page http://www.essex.police.uk/hockley

Where it says Hockley the Police mean Hawkwell/Hockley (it says Hockley because that is the name of their team!!)

The Neighbourhood Action Panels (aka NAPs) are intended to set the Neighbourhood Policing Team priorities ie speeding, nuisance, youths etc.,

The policing priorities for Hawkwell/Hockley are:

  • Youth nuisance
  • Criminal damage
  • Speeding/driving issues
  • Anti-social behaviour – other
  • Graffiti

The last NAP was held in early April. The panel suggested the following priorities that the team will focus on:

Speeding – especially around Rectory Road and Main Road, Hawkwell.
Nuisance Youths – throughout Hawkwell/Hockley.
Mopeds – pulling wheelies and general poor driver behaviour.

But according to my Residents Survey:

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

Green Gyms – New Initiative

June 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Health : Matter of Concern Number 4, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

This is a project that I tried to get Hawkwell Parish to get involved in but all the Parks Committee did was write to the District Council !! I can see no reason why Hawkwell Parish Council could not take on this initiative locally where there is a perfect fit between the parks that the council owns and a community activity to improve health.

I have now written to Jeremy Bourne, Head of Community Services at RDC personally as a Member of RDC and asked him to reconsider the initiative for the District as a whole.

In the meantime if you want more details:

Green Gym groups meet in their local area at least once a week. A Green Gym session lasts for up to three hours.

During this time you will be doing environmental conservation or gardening activities with a trained leader. You could plant a new hedge, cut back an overgrown path, or help build a community garden.

These activities are taken at your own pace, but there is always something to get your heart and muscles working.

More on web site http://www2.btcv.org.uk/display/greengym

 

CCTV at Hawkwell Parade – Update

June 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

This is a project that many residents wish to see implemented by Hawkwell Parish Council and the businesses at Hawkwell Parade.

Update from the Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council.

“Estimate for camera pole now in and awaiting fix date, I will let you know a date asap, camera to be ordered when date known.”

Speeding in Rectory Road and Main Road (nr Mount Bovers Lane)

June 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Yes, this is anti social behaviour by adults as well.  Not just the youth !!

At the request of a significant number residents I contacted PC Steve Joynes and asked for the new digital speed panels to be deployed in these areas.

What you may not know is that they recorded the actual speeds for further analysis.

I have asked Steve for the data and I will let you know what we found and what action can be taken. 

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