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Essex County Council Elections – 2 May 2013

April 14, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

By John Mason

Essex County Council Building

We had contemplated standing in the County Council Elections but to be honest Christine and I are too busy sorting out issues caused by the DWH Development for all residents.

We are only representing you as Independents at the District Council because we are local residents who care about our local surroundings and environment and we will continue to speak out for you.

What has stimulated this Article?

The Liberal Democrats have published their “Priorities” for candidates standing for Election to Essex County Council across the whole County of Essex.

(http://onlinefocus.org/?p=12668 “Essex Liberal Democrats – Our Priorities for the 2013 Elections”)

All the County Wards or Divisions in our District are in contest from a wide range of candidates.

I am personally a voter in Rochford North which covers Hawkwell. Here is what I would wish ALL of the candidates looking for my vote to address.

There are 3,500 new dwellings agreed in the Rochford Core Strategy. Already 976 have been given planning permission in the Central part of the District.

Voters cannot see how the overall highways infrastructure can cope without major improvements.

Essex County Council is the Authority responsible for Highway improvement planning.

I do not know of a single other subject that ALL voters in our District want to see addressed as a Priority by a newly elected Administration at Essex County Council, whatever the political balance at the end of the election.

The roads in the Rochford District have not been strategically improved since green-space separated all towns and villages on the Shoebury peninsular (for want of a better name).

The development of Cherry Orchard Way (B1013) resulted in Hawkwell getting true through traffic avoiding the A127 congestion for the very first time.

The Hawkwell Parish Plan Group is so concerned that it has suggested that a Rochford Bypass should be reconsidered when planning to improve the current inadequate road infrastructure. I understand that many voters in Hawkwell support this. What are the County Council Candidates views on this?

As explained by the current Administration at ECC, “the current Essex Local Transport Plan (LTP) was developed in line with Department for Transport Guidance on LTPs. This LTP represents a significant change from previous LTPs. It is not a 5 year plan that sets out a specific programme, instead it is a long term document that provides the framework within which transport programmes can be developed.”

The current Administration at ECC Essex County Council stated in an email to me on 21 December 2012 “On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.”

The Highways Authority has evidently not looked strategically at the cumulative effect of traffic impacts of planned development through the Local Transport Plan and The Highways Authority will only address improvements in a limited piecemeal fashion on each planning application for development.

This is not good enough and voters will want to hear what the Parties contesting the County Council Elections are going to do about it.

Let us hope that it is not “Nothing” !!

What were the recent elections like for you?

June 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

BeefDid the County Council Elections prove to be the best place for important questions of policy to be answered by the existing political administration and its political challengers? Did you get the chance to even ask? Did any of the candidates ask them for you?

Faced with promises from David Cameron that Council Tax could be frozen did any of the other parties put them on the spot and extract a local commitment from the Conservatives running Essex County Council?

Well No !! 

And did anyone tell us the answer to this question “When will we get anything on improvements to cope with all the extra planned housing?”

What was the view of candidates on the London Southend Airport Plan and transport?

Talking to residents in my Ward post the elections revealed that these questions were not even asked yet alone answered.

The Local Transport Plan is the responsibility of Essex County Council.  The Department for Transport says that it wants local transport planning to be seen as a vital and essential public service – a service that can be relied upon not just to solve problems, but to deliver opportunity for all, and to enhance quality of life.

The Local Transport Plan is a long term plan which sets out Essex County Council’s plans and policies for the future of transport in Essex. The first Local Transport Plan was a document containing the five-year programme from 2001-2006. The second Local Transport Plan contains the five-year programme from 2006-2011.

If you are wondering what’s in the LTP’s here is a link http://www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/dis/faq.jsp?channelOid=16819&guideOid=39939&oid=18098

So why was it not a feature of the elections?

The LTP is, I believe, not up for formal revision until 2011 which means that the Rochford Core Strategy will be in place before this is formally revised and any infrastructural changes that we think are necessary will not have been committed to in my opinion. The only hope we have is a General Election before The Rochford Core Strategy is finally put in place early next year because the Conservative Party has pledged to stop the housing development plans.

In the meantime, as residents, we have to do what we can to influence the LTP revision and the Rochford District Core Strategy in forthcoming consultations.

According to RDC “We are discussing the Core Strategy with officers at County Hall and will feed the results of those discussions into the Core Strategy to develop the material included in the appendix to the housing chapter. Bear in mind that the Core Strategy is only intended to set out the broad principles for the development of the district – greater detail will be provided in other development plan document, notably the Allocations Development Plan Document.”

Essentially, the situation is still that each development will provide its own infrastructure under agreements with developers. It is going to be absolutely vital that individual Ward Members are as proactive as possible in giving input to the design statements for individual developments. A decision on sites will, I believe, come forward to Council in July but the detail in terms of Design Statements not till October. My greatest concern is that the Council is intending to give the task of an initial draft of Design Statements to the developers so that they will lead the process and carry most of the cost. In Chelmsford the Council employed consultants to initiate these and this is the better route in my view if residents are not to be railroaded by developers in the first draft.

So if you are not happy with the overall current transport infrastructure and the plans put forward for new housing say so in July.

And on individual sites in October.

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