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No More Info on Housing Allocations likely before Local Elections

February 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

I believe that one of my roles as a District Councillor is to communicate as often as I can so that residents are informed.

Sometimes you have to ask some questions about upcoming issues.

The Rochford Lib Dems suggest that two LDF subcommittee meetings for April have been cancelled by the Conservative Group. 

Allocation of new homes in Rochford District

January 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

It’s Half Time on The NEW Political Structure at Rochford District Council

October 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

We looked at the NEW Political Structure at Rochford District Council about six months ago.

http://www.rochfordessex.com/rol/a-politico-blog-on-the-rdc-new-structure/

Here is the evidence that it does not work

At the Cabinet Meetings no one else can speak, not even the Ordinary Councillors that you elected to represent YOU, and you can’t even hear what was agreed.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=867 Grange Community Centre : Liberal Democrats : Uh Oh, Looks Like Chris Misunderstood.

Heaven forbid if the nine super councillors in the Cabinet get executive powers over budget and personal decision making in 2009 !!

Residents to Give Evidence on Climate Change to Council Committee

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford District Council Review Committee is to take evidence from the public following the intervention of independent councillor, John Mason. 

Officers presented a project plan to the last Review Committee which had not been tabled on the Agenda.  One Tory Councillor was concerned that this had not been drawn up by Members and the obvious unseen nature of the proposals.

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.

Is this the big debate that is needed in Rochford District?

July 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you know someone who is finding it difficult to rent or buy their own home in Rochford District, or know someone who has had to move from the District to find a home? Most likely, Yes. But what is Rochford District Council going to do?  It has been reminded that it must look at the following data so by the IDeA Review Team this week.

A Housing Needs Survey was completed in 2004 and it identified that 67% cannot afford private rental and home ownership is beyond the reach of 75% of concealed households, even though nearly 40% of them earn over £25,000 p.a.The Survey established an outstanding net total need for 291 affordable homes per annum. This calculation took into account the Council’s waiting list, homeless and concealed households, and requirements emanating from demographic changes. It is clear from the study that there is too little affordable housing in the district to satisfy local needs. Over 15 years that means 4,500 affordable homes. The current Government target for Rochford District for the same period is an additional 3700 houses. But the Rochford District Council is only proposing 30% of that figure based on each new development over 25 houses contributing 30%. There will be an affordable homes deficit of around 3,300 homes.

The two public consultations on the “Housing Target” (LDF) have shown that the public is overwhelmingly against further loss of Green Belt. But did they realise that 67% of the population of Rochford District cannot afford private rental and home ownership. Most likely, No. (Here are the latest consultation results.)

But it is clear from anouncements this week from Gordon Brown and David Cameron that this issue must be faced up to by Rochford District Council.

Gordon Brown has put affordable housing at the top of his Government’s agenda by announcing plans to build three million new homes by 2020. He told MPs that the number of new homes to be provided each year would be raised by 40,000 to 240,000 a year. He promised to “protect robustly” the green belt but left the door open to some limited building in it, saying that “principally brownfield land” would be used for the new programme. But there appears to be little brownfield available in Rochford District.

David Cameron has warned his party it may need to drop its opposition to new housing so don’t expect the Conservatives at Rochford to be able to protect Green Belt.

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.   

IDeA Peer Review – 2 hours on what needs to change at Rochford Council

July 12, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

During the week a review team made up of Councillors and Officers from other local authorities visited Rochford District Council. The review team undertook a review, not an inspection and sought to help the Council to recognise where it is strong and to identify areas for improvement, in particular, so that it can improve the assessment of POOR from the last Audit Commission inspection.  Please see the report below.

Review of Taxi Licence Conditions NOW Underway

June 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

I raised this issue with the Leader of the Council on 16 June 2007 by letter.

http://www.rochfordessex.com/rol/rochford-district-council-executive-board/

There has been no reply, of course.

But the RDC “Taxi Talk” Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 12 that was issued today, 28 June 2007, contains the following;

taxitalk

Page 6

Conditions Update

A full review of Licence Conditions is underway. 

A successful outcome, and although the Conservative Administration is going to suggest it was already happening, clearly it was not without the intervention of an Ordinary Member !!

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.

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?

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.

Meeting with Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Carmel Napier

May 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

I undertook a visit to Essex Police Headquarters as part of the Anti Social Behaviour Review being undertaken by Rochford District Council.

We met Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Carmel Napier who is in charge of Neighbourhood Policing.  Rochford Area Commander, Chief Inspector John Walker reports to Mrs Napier.

Hawkwell Parish Council – No Village Plan When Needed

May 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

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

In 2003 I was elected by you as a Member of Hawkwell Parish Council.  One of the priority projects was the development of a village plan. This is one of the projects that I wished to see taken forward by Hawkwell Parish Council 2003 – 2007.

One of the big questions is development, what is going to happen to Green Belt?  Houses or not?

The Woes of being a Tory Councillor

May 20, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Tory raps ‘lazy councillors’

From the Echo  Monday 23rd April 2007

A FORMER council leader has claimed his own colleagues are more concerned with their allowances than working for their constituents.

Tory Rochford district councillor Peter Webster launched an astonishing attack on his fellow members who, he claimed, were “too lazy” to fill in a questionnaire about how the authority worked.

The questionnaire was sent to all of the 39 councillors, asking for their views on the workings of the review committee during its first year of operation.

Taxi Owner says – Taxi Licencing Regulations in Rochford are out of date

May 20, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Alerted by a letter of complaint from an individual taxi owner about Taxi Licencing Regulations, John called the Council to ask how this was to be dealt with.

Whilst this complaint will be dealt with in June the officers 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.

Because of the parlous state of public transport in Rochford District this is a major and responsibility of RDC which seems to have been neglected and there is no plan to up date and there are insufficient resources.

Central Area Committee – Hawkwell, Hockley and Hullbridge – RDC

May 20, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

As the Chair had been appointed and the first meeting was due on 12 June, I wrote to Derek Stansby and asked how the public could participate.  These new Area Committees are about consultation with residents but no details were available to advise residents.

I sent the letter and the by the afternoon of receipt by Derek Stansby, it had been passed to Rochford District Council Officers to ascertain how the Area Committees were to work!! I thought that these “super councillors” on the Area Committees and Executive Board were paid additional allowances for additional responsibilities.  If they are going to use the old ruse of asking the Officers what to do then why do we need executive councillors who are paid?

Rochford District Council is Weak – Audit Commission

May 20, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Audit Commission assesses the performance of councils and the services that they provide for local people.

The way that Rochford District Council is run and the delivery of services has been assessed as weak (on the scale excellent / good / fair / weak / poor).

Quote: Its priorities are not based on a clear understanding of the needs of local people.
Rochford District Residents still does not believe that this is being dealt with.

Did the needs of local people include as priorities the early introduction of a new political structure or the increase in members allowances?

NEW HOUSING FIGURES REVEALED FOR ROCHFORD DISTRICT

March 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW HOUSING FIGURES REVEALED FOR ROCHFORD DISTRICT

“The Council sets out a policy allocating the total number of housing units to the top tier (90 per cent) and second tier (10 per cent) settlements , to gain a smaller number of large sites which will deliver the greatest number of infrastructure improvements. The split is as follows:

Completions 2001 -2006: 900

Rochford/Ashingdon : 1000

Hockley/Hawkwell : 400

Rayleigh : 1800

Smaller Settlements 500

====

TOTAL : 4600
(By “1st Tier ” this means towns and large villages – Rayleigh, Rochford, Ashingdon, Hockley and Hawkwell. By “2nd Tier” this means Hullbridge, Canewdon and Great Wakering. “Completions 2001-2006″ means houses already built.)

Financial Concerns over Parish Council Decision

September 19, 2006 by · 2 Comments 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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