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Councillors may call for a Local Plan Referendum

December 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Tumisu / Pixabay

So if it looks that the Council is not listening to residents in the public consultations on the Second Local Plan for 7500 new dwellings 2017-2037 then we will step in and raise a petition for residents to call for a Referendum before it is adopted by Rochford District Council.

We know that a Referendum on a Local Plan is not included in the list of those which must be approved by the Council but why would such a Referendum NOT be approved if the appropriate number of residents had called for it in a Petition? The cost of a Referendum would be in the region of £90,000 but that could easily be found from the New Homes Bonus from the first Local Plan in Reserves.

From the Echo

Councillors in Rochford have called for a petition to be drawn up to hold a referendum on the district’s second local plan.

In a written statement, councillor John Mason, leader of the Green and Rochford District Residents Group said that during the early stages of the new housing plan, residents have complained “they feel that they will not be listened to” about their council and councillors.

Mr Mason said: “We promise our residents that we will, whether we are Councillors at that time or not, put forward a Petition to Residents to call for a Referendum on the Second Local Plan before it is adopted by the Council.

“It is the future of our District and what we do, both councillors and residents, with it that counts. No excuses.

Residents have a right to be listened to.”

A resident added: “Don’t bother lobbying your district councillors, they will not oppose any plan unless it is in there own back yard.

“They will tell you what you want to hear but will not take any positive action.”

The second plan currently aims to create an unrestrained 7,500 new dwellings in the Rochford district across Rayleigh, Hawkwell, Hockley, Hullbridge, Ashingdon and Rochford.

Consultations have begun for the second plan which on top of the first housing plan, aims to create a total of 10,000 new homes in Rochford by 2037.

Despite support from councillors throughout the district, the council are confident the process for the new plan’s consultation is going to be effective and that resident’s concerns and ideas will heard.

Rochford District Council’s assistant director for planning, Matthew Thomas, said: “Although this is an interesting suggestion, there is no provision for a referendum in the legislation governing the preparation of a local plan.

“The council intends to ensure residents are offered substantial opportunities to participate in the plan making process and we recently sent a leaflet to all households in the district to advise of the current consultation on the issues and options stage.

“The timetable for the preparation of the local plan envisages a report from an inspector on the soundness of the plan in 2021, so there is much work to do before a plan emerges that can be considered for adoption.”

Councillors have rallied to the support of Mr Mason’s statement and they hope it will encourage more residents to become involved in the issue.

Michael Hoy, Deputy Leader of the Green and Rochford District Residents Group, said: “I fully support the statement and I believe in democracy.

“I think people have the right to say which quite often they feel their views are ignored and this is a way to show their views are not ignored, especially when it comes to one of the biggest decision in the area for the next 15 years.”

Adrian Eves, Rochford District Residents councillor for Hockley, added: “I think the actual proposal is completely unsustainable.

“When you look at the problems we have with infrastructure, we are getting power outages and losses of water pressure in Hockley.

“All we can do it be noisy as possible to get the government to learn.”

Neil Hookway, leader of the Ukip group, added: “Having local referenda in regards to housing is Ukip policy, so we will always support that, but this is something that effects the whole district and that is very important.”

 

Strategic Planning at Castle Point in a Spin

September 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Council fears for a concrete jungle futureCouncillors are saying “We do not want Castle Point to be turned into a concrete jungle, but don’t know how to stop it !!”

“The Government wants to see more development in South Essex and has got us over a barrel.”

What do outsiders think?

It seems surprising that Castle Point Councillors have chosen to question the Conservative led Government especially when the Council has a Conservative Administration.

One wonders what they expect to achieve because most District Councils are managing to avoid a clash with Government by putting house building plans in place to avoid planning powers being effectively taken away from the Council.

But as Castle Point Council is so against the new house building targets as a resident you would have to agree that the Council is doing the right thing.

If Castle Point truly do not know what the heck to do then perhaps the Leader of The Council should be making an urgent appointment in Westminster to tell David Cameron and Eric Pickles that Conservative Government Policy is not for Castle Point.

It is all a bit of a mystery why all the Conservative run Councils in South Essex have not got together and challenged Pickles and Osborne because they all must know that saying to residents that they had no choice but to follow Conservative Government Policy will not rub on the doorstep.

Perhaps with Campaigning for the 2015 General Election already underway there might be change in Government Policy to let Castle Point off the hook?

As regards the Rochford Core Strategy speaking to residents of Hawkwell recently identified to us some significant flaws in what is happening.  They want to know that if their children, as young adults, wished to stay in the area then they could find housing to rent or buy.  They do not understand the term Affordable Housing.  Residents think that this means that there will be one and two bedroom houses to buy at prices they can afford.  Not so. Affordable Houses means that these houses are made available for rent from a Registered Social Landlord.  Unfortunately, there are more than enough people on the Housing Register to take these up already.

Whatever Government “Help to Buy Scheme” you look at, even with the 5% cash and the remaining deposit of 15% Guaranteed by Mr. Cameron announced today, you still need an 80% Mortgage.  Even with a property costing £300,000 you still need a Mortgage of £240,000.  Plus £45,000 provided by the Government on the 15% Deposit making a 95% Loan of £285,000. Can young adults with University Loans of 20,000 – £40,000 EACH afford a Loan of £285,000 on top? 

How can these new houses be for our kids?

If the houses for sale are too big and too expensive then young adults will have to leave the area which is what the Rochford District Census 2011 suggests has happened and will no doubt continue. Perhaps this explains why the Rochford District Census 2011 also shows that there has been no increase in 0-18 year olds over 10 years.

As regards our aging population Council Officers told us at a Hearing that if older people wished to downsize then they could also apply to rent Affordable Homes from Registered Social Landlords.  But why would they want to rent 3 bedroom homes even if the Registered Social Landlords could ignore the waiting list on the Housing Register?

There is something fundamentally wrong here if residents think that the young (children) and old (parents) are not properly catered for in Council Housing Strategies for the local communities that they serve.

The housing in Rochford District has increased at average of 183 per year (2001 – 2011 by Council figures) and apart from the housing stock for rent by Registered Social Landlords this has met the needs of all age groups.

Perhaps Castle Point has more to concern itself with before it decides whether to buck Government Policy or not.

And Rochford District needs to consider these facts and trends in its Revision of the Core Strategy which starts again in January 2014.

If you want to read the Echo Article (27 September 2013) entitled “Council fears for a concrete jungle future” then it is below;

CONCERNS have been raised that the future development of thousands of homes in Castle Point could be left in the hands of the Government.

Castle Point Council is in the process of creating a new Local Plan which will act as a blue-print for where new homes could be built in the borough over the next 15 years.

It is the authority’s third attempt at putting together the housing strategy, as the original proposals were rejected by a Government inspector in 2010 and again in September 2011, following opposition from residents and backbench councillors.

Now, councillors are claiming the new draft document, which is yet to be completed, might not get voted through as it bears too much resemblance to previous plans.

If the new plan is rejected at full council, councillors fear the Government’s Planning Inspectorate would intervene and take the decision-making powers away from the local authority.

Alf Partridge, Conservative councillor for St Mary’s ward, said: “When I last saw the latest scheme I was not happy with it because it would still mean seeing the demise of green belt. I cannot see any difference between this plan and the last one.

“Council officers are making a valiant effort to try to rescue us from a ridiculous situation and find new ideas of where to put these homes, but what the heck can we do?

“The Government wants to see more development in south Essex and has got us over a barrel. It was talking about 200 homes a year and now its 250 homes. I am not happy to commit to such high numbers of new houses.

“But if we do not come up with a practical plan to allow a certain number of homes to be and members at the moment as we try to agree something. There is a good chance of the Government coming in and taking over. ”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “The council has found itself in a difficult position. If everyone doesn’t agree this time round, the Government could come in and decide things for us.

“I don’t think the Tories will vote it through because they are looking at a lot of development on the mainland which could lose them voters. But they have to make tough decisions.”

However, Tory councillor Bill Sharp said a new committee of six councillors has been put together to scrutinise all the potential development sites in the next few weeks.

He also said new sites have come to light, such as the Blinking Owl site off the A127, which could help relieve the pressure on the major green belt sites.

Mr Sharp said: “The Blinking Owl site has been left out in the past, but already has around six or seven entrances from the A127 and could be a suitable site. While I am concerned, I am not as concerned as I was a few weeks ago.

“I am confident we can come to a decision that will not see us lost our virgin green belt sites.”

 

 

Problems at Christmas Tree Farm Site?

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

On Christmas Tree Farm

Residents have asked us who they should contact if there are problems or breaches of planning conditions during the build/construction phase of the new estate.

We hope that there are none because we took a great deal of trouble to discuss all of the potential big problems we could all forsee and make enforceable conditions with DWH before planning permission was finalised.

Having said that the build will take several years.  DWH say that there will be a Help Line provided to residents.  We have not been informed of the phone number yet.

If you encounter problems then we think that the Council ought to know and take action.  The Planning Case Officer is Mike Stranks and he can be contacted at RDC on 546366 or email mike.stranks@rochford.gov.uk

If you email the Council or Essex County Council or even DWH themselves please copy us in at Cllr John Mason <CllrJohn.Mason@rochford.gov.uk> and Cllr Christine Mason <CllrChristine.Mason@rochford.gov.uk>, although living close to the site ourselves hopefully we might have also already taken action.

 

 

 

 

 

Rochford District Council – Council Tax 2013

January 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Education Government Grants

There have been no public meetings so far so we cannot tell you what Rochford District Council is going to do about Council Tax for 2013.

 

 

However there are two main alternatives:

 

The Council might continue to accept a Grant from Central Government – no increase in Council Tax

Or

The Council might reject Grant from Central Government and increase Council Tax

There are, however, a number of pointers as to what may happen based on the intentions of a majority of Councils as published in the National Press.

Many Councils are set to reject the ‘freeze’ grant, increase Council Tax with probably further cuts to services , and/or price increases to some services

If ANY of this is of concern to you please email john.mason@bigfoot.com or Christine.Mason@rochfordessex.net and tell us why. This will help us represent you.

To explain this in further detail please read on.

Background

For the last two years the Government has provided a grant to local councils in order that there can be a District Council Tax Freeze.

This year this Government Grant reduces so that only a ‘Freeze’ representing 1% increase can be adopted by Rochford District Council. i.e., The existing Council Tax you currently pay plus the Grant = a 1% increase in income for RDC in 2013/2014 without any direct cost or increase to you.

So Rochford District Council could accept the ‘Freeze’ Grant and increase overall income by 1%

Or

Rochford District Council could forgo this Government Grant and reject the ‘Freeze’. In rejecting the Freeze the Council could increase Council Tax by up to 2% without having to hold a Local Referendum. (Any figure in excess of 2% would require a Local Referendum which in itself is a costly exercise and seems unlikely.)

So Rochford would not accept the 1% Government Grant and the whole increase up to 2% would be paid by residents. (It is likely that the increase will be slightly under 2% but certainly over 1% as if 1% was being considered you would expect the Government Grant to be taken up.)

Why would Rochford District Council consider this?

We all know about inflation because with your pay freezes this means that without a rise your pay does not go as far as it did. And if you get a rise one year then the next rise you get is a rise on a rise. With the last two years Council Tax Freezes the Council has lost out on rises on rises that it forecast for the next five years or so. Less money to spend in the future. Just like you. Unfortunately you won’t be getting a pay rise but the Council will if the Council Tax goes up by up to 2% and the Freeze Grant is rejected.

Wouldn’t this annoy the Conservative Government, (sorry the Coalition Government with the Liberal Democrats)?

Yes

(but we could not find the position of Nick Clegg on this) !

Here is some of what has been published in the National Press.

  • Pickles: Freeze council tax – Source: The Times, Page: 14

Eric Pickles [Secretary of State for DCLG, Conservative] is set to warn council leaders that they risk losing next May’s elections if they refuse to freeze council tax. His intervention comes after research found that over half of all local authorities are considering raising council tax next April. A survey of finance officers, carried out by the Local Government Chronicle, found that 55% of the 326 English councils were preparing to raise council tax. Brandon Lewis, the Local Government Minister comments: “When costs are rising elsewhere the public won’t tolerate unnecessary tax increases. In particular, councillors with elections in May can either show they are helping people with the cost of living, or face explaining on the doorsteps why they have snatched money away from hardworking families and pensioners”.

(Rochford District Council has no Elections this May)

  • Tax rises “morally wrong” – Source: The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 34

The Daily Telegraph reports that Eric Pickles will today warn local authorities that it is “morally” unacceptable to increase council tax next year. More than half of councils are understood to be ready to raise the levy as the Government prepares to announce a slight reduction in their funding. Liverpool City Council said there would be “riots on the street” if council tax was frozen again, as it will lead to more cuts to services. While Birmingham City Council has also indicated that further restraint is not possible. The announcement is set to lead to a “war of words” between Mr Pickles and council chiefs. Meanwhile, Patrick Butler, in the Guardian, discusses how councils will react to the Government’s latest spending cuts. He says that many authorities will have to make cuts to previously protected areas, such as adult social care and children’s social services. He also notes that the late settlement will leave many struggling to stitch together a coherent budget by the end of January.

You might hear from District Councils that the increase is only pennies per week……….BUT this adds up to £’s

  • Families worse off – Source: Financial Times, Page: 3 The Times, Page: 43 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2, 4 The Guardian, Page: 31 The Scotsman, Page: 8

Asda’s Income Tracker has found that families were nearly £50 worse off last month than they were two years ago. Families had £146 a week of discretionary income last month, meaning they were £1 a week better off than a year ago but compared with November 2010, they are £12 a week worse off.

And

  • Elderly walking a financial tightrope – Source: Sunday Express

A study by Age UK has warned that more than 1.2m elderly people could be made bankrupt if they received an unexpected fuel or energy bill of more £200. Michelle Mitchell, the charity’s director general, said: “Many older people are living hand-to-mouth and dreading the day when the cooker breaks down or energy prices rise again.”

WHEREAS

  • Rural communities to feel the strain – Source: Manchester Evening News, Page: 4

Rural communities will bear the brunt of government cuts that will force local councils to slash their services. The warning follows the publication of the government’s finance settlement, which details the amount of central funding given to local authorities. Rural councils will face a bigger reduction in central grant and spending power than urban councils, according to an initial analysis by the Rural Services Network.

  •  Our Community – Source: As published by the local Liberal Democrats

According to the BBC, Rochford District Council is facing a cut of 2.5% in funding.

(http://onlinefocus.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/budget-cuts.jpg)

So residents of Rochford District might see a rejection of the ‘freeze’ grant, an increase in their personal fixed costs, further cuts to services and price increases for individual services.

We will let you know more about what is proposed for Rochford’s Council Tax 2013 when we are allowed to say but we felt that you ought to know the way the land seems to be lying and give you the chance to comment and make your views known to either us or your own Ward Councillors if you do not live in Hawkwell West.

If ANY of this is of concern to you please email john.mason@bigfoot.com or Christine.Mason@rochfordessex.net and tell us why. This will help us represent you.

Glencroft Wood, White Hart Lane

March 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

IMG_20071223_1315 Winter Sunshine....Almost!John Mason, a District Councillor for Hawkwell West has been contacted by residents concerned about the future of Glencroft Wood in White Hart Lane.  These concerns had originally come from the Hawkwell Residents Association in the form of leaflets and web site news.  Because of this a petition, we understand, was sent by concerned residents to Hawkwell Parish Council.  

John contacted the Council as a matter of urgency. But here are some extracts from the email sent by Paul Warren, CEO of Rochford District Council.
 
“I can confirm that the Council owns the wood and there are no plans to sell it, develop it and put houses on it, so I do not know where the Hawkwell Residents Association gets its information from.  I can only assume it is pure speculation.”
 
“Also, I do not know where the Association get their information about the transfer of the wood to the Parish Council.  My recollection around the issue was that the Parish did not want to take on the wood due to the maintenance obligations and costs involved.  Also, given our ownership of many woodlands across the District, the expertise and experience around woodland management rests with us.”
 
“Planning permission (08/00787/FULL) did not include the clearance of any protected trees or trees located beyond the boundary of the application site.  The application simply related to the substitution of housing types on two of the plots (43 & 44).  The site has been partly developed in two previous phases of construction along the north and west boundaries of the woodland.  All development either built or proposed is contained within the original boundaries of the site and has planning consent.”
 
“It could be that the misunderstanding has arisen from the fact that a coloured plan accompanying the recent application showed a ‘white’ path through the woodland area into the housing development – the plan was used simply to show the location of the two plots the subject of the application.  RDC has given consent for the change to the dwellings types, but that consent in no way related to the woodland, clearance of a path, etc.”
 
“The comment on a road extension is again pure speculation and has no substance.”
 
“Lastly, please be aware that our Arboricultural Officer has recently visited the wood following a request from a local resident to deal with some branches overhanging his garden.  As a result we are in the process of seeking the necessary consent from the Forestry Commission to undertake some selective thinning.  We are unable to approve this under our TPO procedures as we are the land owner.”

Rochford Square Plans

February 15, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Comment from the Rochford Independent on the article in the Echo

So the shop keepers of Rochford Square don’t want it pedestrianised and they have been supported by 500 customers.  That should be enough for the RDC Chief to withdraw this idea.  The benefit of parking in the Square is not so much that it is free but it is convenient for the shops.  Even free parking elsewhere would kill off the idea of just popping out to local shops and the Somerfield close by.  Might as well go to the super centre supermarket then….perhaps.  And if Rochford is going to have free parking somewhere then the traders of other places will want free parking as well?

Banning all cars won’t work here

TRADERS  are  worried                  By JOHN GEOGHEGAN

for   their   livelihoods   if                        john.geoqhegan@nqe.com

plans   to   pedestrianise            owner of Home Plus hard-

Rochford’s historic mar-            ware shop, in West Street,

ket square go ahead.                 and   a   member   of   the

About 500 shop owners     Rochford Chamber of Trade

and customers have signed                            committee,

a petition opposing the idea,         He said: “Lots of people

which was announced by           who have signed the peti-

Rochford District Council           tion say the plan is stupid

last week.                                 and, if they can’t park in

They are concerned the       the square, they won’t both-

move could result in no                  er to stop in Rochford.

more free parking in the               “Pedestrianisation won’t

town centre, which could          attract people. Rochford is

drive shoppers away. At the     not the place for pavement

moment, people can park in          cafes and art and  craft

Market Square free for one                                 shops.”

hour.                                      Rochford District Council

The petition was organ-           has been asking residents

ised by Mike Lucas,  64,            what  improvements they


 

would    like    to    see    in        wanted to pedestrianise th

Rochford and Hockley town    famous square in the hop

centres. The deadline for          it would boost tourist num

the consultation is today.                     bers in the town.

Ken Massow, 62, who runs       Mr Cutthore said: “The

R J Yeo jewellers, in West         concerns are really about

Street, said: “Every time          the taking away of the fre

the square’s been closed to             parking in the square,

parking, business has dete-         “Some traders have said

riorated.”                            to me if we find somewhere

However, Ian Dane, 47,        else with free parking nee

landlord of the Kings Head     the town centre, it will take

pub, in West Street, has          away some of those fears,

backed the plan.                         “We want to bring moi

He said: “I think it will do       business    to    a    revive

a lot of good for the town       Rochford town centre area

and local businesses. Ped-           want to take the traders

estrianisation   seems    to       with us as much as we can

work well in other market           An exhibition of the ear

towns.”                                  consultation results will 1

Council   leader    Terry       held in March before more

Cutmore said the council          final plans are drawn up.

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. 

But my enquiries show that there are still two dates in April set aside for LDF subcommittee meetings.  If the meetings were to be cancelled and the agendas had not already been published then information in the form of the strategic sustainability review will be exempt information provided in confidence by the consultant. It is information that will inform a report intended to be published at a future date and is therefore not available under Freedom of Information legislation or the additional rights of access available to a Member.
 
In addition the position might well be affected by election purdah period which this year runs from around 20 March. My enquiries reveal that the following case is might have a bearing on whether the meetings go ahead anyway.

http://www.planningresource.co.uk/bulletins/Planning-Resource-Daily-Bulletin/News/775859/Election-planning-decision-ruled-unlawful/

The view now seems to be that whilst originally purdah related to publicity for individuals or political parties before an election it may be that Councils can do nothing controversial or politically overt in the purdah period.

So it seems that there will be no more information on housing allocations until May.

No more homes for Hawkwell – The Rochford Independent’s Letter in the Echo

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

As a District Councillor for Hawkwell West I have a duty to represent my Ward as well as the District.  I am not doing this to preserve my re-election chances. I promised residents that I would protect green belt and I will do my best.

No more homes for Hawkwell

I am campaigning against the housing allocation for Hawkwell.

If an additional 365 homes were to be built in the village the road infrastructure in would have to be improved to cope.

In addition there are many more homes to be built in Rochford district where car movements could cause those people to travel through Hawkwell.

If the road infrastructure were improved in Hawkwell I can foresee additional roads being built to bypass existing bottlenecks, causing the loss of green space together with the cost of road-widening schemes.

That would make Hawkwell a place I would not like to see. It would be unacceptable.

My proposal is to say no to the additional 365 homes and no to any enabling infrastructure.
John Mason
Independent Councillor, Hawkwell West
Englefield Close, Hawkwell

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.

If an additional 365 homes were to be built in Hawkwell then the road infrastructure in Hawkwell would have to be improved to cope with the number of additional cars per household multiplied by the number of average car movements per day. In addition there are many more homes to be built in Rochford District where car movements could cause those people to travel through Hawkwell on the feeder routes to the “A” Roads.  That number of additional vehicle movements would run into thousands.  If the road infrastructure were “improved” in Hawkwell to cope with that then I could forsee additional roads being built to bypass existing bottlenecks causing the loss of green space in itself together with the cost of road widening schemes.  That would make a Hawkwell a place that I would not like to see.  It would be unacceptable.  So nobody should be suggesting that Hawkwell could have the 365 homes if the infrastructure is improved.  I don’t want to the developers and the planners challenged into going ahead and making the bid for big infrastructure changes for Hawkwell in the decision process.

The report from the strategic sustainability review will be available shortly at the District Council and I have been personally invited by the Chair of the sub committee to attend.  It is premature to try and guess the recommendations but it is up to Councillors to consider what sort of policy makes sense and what doesn’t.  (Let’s hope that the strategic planners don’t now come up with a plan that will improve the infrastructure in Hawkwell.  That would ruin the environment may times over the actual impact of the allocation of the houses.) 

My proposal on behalf of the residents of Hawkwell is to say “NO” to the additional 365 homes and “NO” to any enabling infrastructure. I would appreciate the views of residents on this through our Contact Page. 

But the housing allocation for Rochford District must be formally planned for and it makes more sense strategically to put this allocation wherever the infrastructure is already and not where building new infrastructure would be an even bigger blight on the District.

As for a new “town” out to the East, in association with a Southend/Rochford Relief Road or By Pass, I understand that the sustainability figure for developers to provide that major road would have to be in the region of 12,000 additional houses in Rochford District which is many times higher than the proposed allocation. So the most likely place is in the West.  

The professional approach to strategic sustainability planning is about an objective analysis and assessment based on data and information.  It does not start with a notion of “Fair Shares For All” nor does it end with it and it does not appear in the middle either.

My view is that the abrupt decision made by the Rochford District Conservative Group to significantly reduce the number of new homes that the District Council might propose to be allocated in Rayleigh was an expedient decision to quell the internal concerns of the Tory Rayleigh Councillors who were being tormented by the Rochford Liberal Democrats. And there was the real prospect of a loss of Tory seats.  But will the next public consultation on the Local Development Framework be before or after the May Local Elections?  I can’t answer that but one can speculate.

Getting back to strategic sustainability planning. Let’s face it any new big enabling infrastructure is going to be very expensive.  It takes a lot of new houses to pay for what is necessary.  So I expect that the professional study will recommend building any lower level infrastructure on the existing higher level infrastructure.

A major build of infrastructure in the East is only really sustainable at 12,000 new homes.  So the probability comes back to the West, around Rayleigh. There is no point in “improving” the low level infrastructure to enable 300 houses here and 500 houses there to be built when the traffic they generate will run into a bottleneck just round the corner. My view is that the “Fair Shares For All” approach to the allocation of new homes will be recognised very soon as a political expedient and some serious planning analysis, tied to sane economics, will show the only way that makes every sense STRATEGICALLY is to develop the West with around 2,500 new homes. 

News Leaks from District Council in Echo

December 16, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Firstly Rochford not totally opposed to traveller caravan pitches

SOUTH Essex will have to find an extra 185 official traveller caravan pitches if new regional government proposals are accepted.

UNLIKE other south Essex districts, Rochford is not totally opposed to extra pitches.

Deputy leader Keith Hudson said he had no objection to a small, properly-regulated site, so long as it did not affect local residents and had adequate road access.

He added: “I believe a site for travellers should be just that – somewhere they can stay for a short time before they move on.”

And…………..An Officer speaks in public at a sub committee about a new waste contract where Councillors who met in secret on 5 December because of confidential financial matters were asked to keep quiet until a Press Release as made in the New Year !!

Full Council Minutes of the 5 December Meeting where the decision on the placement of a new 7 year rubbish and recycling contract have been suppressed.

Why should we continue to be censored if an Officer can speak and the Echo can publish?

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local/display.var.1905801.0.bottle_banks_cut.php

 

 

Hullbridge 500 new homes plan sparks public anger – Echo Article

October 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Hullbridge 500 new homes plan sparks public anger from the Echo
By Michael Casey

RESIDENTS are furious over plans for hundreds of homes in a quiet village.

About 500 new homes could be built in Hullbridge by 2021, under revisions to Rochford District Council’s new development plan.

The village was one of the areas earmarked to take an increased amount of housing when the number of new homes in Rayleigh was slashed from 1,800 to 720, following huge pressure from the town’s residents.

However, 80 residents who attended the council’s central area committee meeting were told they could not discuss the issue, as planning was not under the committee’s remit.

Wendy Clarke, of Mapledene Avenue, Hullbridge, said: “We are trying to get some answers about flats being built in the village.

“We were only given ten minutes for questions. However, we were fobbed off with excuses and got no answers.

“Then they spent 25 minutes telling us about an inspector the council is going to employ to look into dog mess on pavements. Time would have been better spent listening to us about our concerns.”

Chairman of the central area committee, Hawkwell Tory councillor Derrick Stansby, said while he could appreciate residents’ concerns, the area committee was not the place to discuss planning. He said: “As far as new homes are concerned, the issue is not cut and dried.

“Because of the concerns there are across the district, we have gone back to look at all the housing allocations. There is going to be another round of public consultation, when everyone can raise issues.”

Rosemary Brown, a Hullbridge Tory district councillor and chairman of Hullbridge Parish Council planning committee, echoed his views.

She said: “It has not yet been decided how many new homes will be going where. It is not only in this village people are up in arms, but across the country, because of the Government’s demands.”

 

 

Row over Publication of Direct Dial Number of Head of Planning, RDC

October 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

This has been printed in the “Community Voice” leaflet. “Community Voice” is the periodic newsletter of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association which owns a registered political party called Hawkwell Residents. The Hawkwell Residents registered political party has two seats on Hawkwell Parish Council.

We hear on the grapevine that someone at the Council is not very happy with the Hawkwell Residents Association about this as all calls to the Head of Planning are supposed to be screened by a Personal Assistant.

And there might have been quite a few calls because the article which gave the DD Number told residents if they were concerned about 365 new houses in Hawkwell that “you might want to contact RDC (Mr S Scrutton, Head of Planning on 01702 318XXX). [We X’d out the last 3 digits – Editor] 

We wish to make it clear that Councillor John Mason has absolutely no connection whatsoever with the Hawkwell Residents’ Association or the Hawkwell Residents political party.

Perhaps the Hawkwell Residents Association should have asked if it would be acceptable to include the information? 

No doubt the Hawkwell Residents Association will apologise for this mistake in their next Newsletter and remove the phone number from its web site immediately.
 

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 !!

The gang of 5 Liberal Democrats have now been reduced to having to table written questions in order that Ward Councillors are consulted.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=873 Liberal Democrats: Our Questions To Council.

And there will only be “potted” answers from Cabinet Members – but no debate of course.

But

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=874 Grange Community Centre Liberal Democrats Call In DEcision made at the Cabinet last week.

Proposals for new housing, which were only consulted upon in May and June 2007, are subjected to material change in Conservative Party Meetings held in Private and then announced to the public by a letter to the Echo.  No explanations for the changes, except to respond to political pressure from the Lib Dems in Rayleigh, and when the public come to the new Community Forums, they are denied answers and discussion.

Verdict from the Public

Residents in Hawkwell, who got no answers at the RDC Area Committee, call their own public meeting to find out about the proposals about 365 new houses proposed for their area. They decide to form an Action Group to fight the Conservative Council.

Residents in Hullbridge who wanted the same answers at the next RDC Area Committee decide to walk out in disgust having told the Chairman that no one will turn up next time !!

The Council’s Review Committee, who are reporting on the NEW Political Structure, need to talk to the public not other Tory Councillors who have done nothing to date to stop this farce.

 

 

Hullbridge Residents Speak Out

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The RDC Central Area Committee met in Hullbridge tonight.  About 100 people attended.  By and large they left unhappy. Here are a couple of quotes from those who spoke as they left. “This meeting has been carefully orchestrated so that we did not talk about what WE wanted”.  “The meeting has been all about dog crap and not about people.”  My take from those who raised issues at the beginning of the meeting was that the public wanted to talk about current planning issues and the new allocation of houses to Hullbridge.  The first questioner wanted to know how the allocation that was consulted upon in May/June 2007, turned into 400 houses for Hullbridge.  No answer was given from the Chair apart from “it’s all back in the melting pot.”

Which is actually not true because the Conservative Group, meeting in private and not in Council, came up with the new figures and published them in the Echo.  What the residents of Hullbridge wanted to know was who decided on this and on what basis considering the lack of infrastructure.  The response was its not our fault, it’s the Government and if you change the Government then the problem will go away.  Oh how I wish that might be true.  But it is not.  The Affordable House Building Deficit is as demonstrated in the Council’s own strategy documentation. Where are our children and grandchildren going to live?

The Chair’s answer on infrastructure was that developers would have to provide this.  So much is required to make new development work in Hawkwell and Hullbridge it is beyond the commercial capacity of such developments to fund all the necessary improvements and make a profit. Think again.

Hawkwell has decided to fight.  Hullbridge is in the mood to fight.  Residents in Hullbridge must call their own public meeting and, whether their District Councillors turn up or not, they must decide to run a campaign against the Conservative Party proposals of 400 houses before it is too late. The Conservatives faced a loss of seats in Rayleigh and the Conservatives cut the new housing allocation from 1800 to 740 in a stroke !! Such is the power of the ballot box and so be it.

The Conservatives might now consider the best option to be a new conurbation out to the East of the District associated with a Southend By Pass.  On this basis it would be all new infrastructure and fit for the purpose in terms of eco housing.  But don’t build the houses until the infrastructure is in place.  If we hope for developers to fund infrastructure in existing conurbations then it will be an unmitigated failure.

If that option came with a condition that it is no infrastructure, no houses then if the Southend By Pass never comes to fruition then NO HOUSES.  Might be a canny strategy after all?

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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.

Councillor John Mason stepped in and swiftly proposed vital changes to the project plan to include taking evidence from the public and commerce before the Review Committee makes recommendations to the Executive Board in the New Year. He also made a recommendation to visit the Borough of Merton which has reportedly angered the Government by insisting that all new housing developments have a significant percentage of sustainable energy sources on site.  John said “Given that the Council is proposing building 3300 new houses in larger developments across the district then this will be a very important policy to consider.”

Meanwhile the Committee has the following to go on from nearby districts; 

In 2005 the South East Essex Green Party released the results of the public opinion poll on climate change they conducted in Southend and Castle Point.

Most people (177 out of 200) believed climate change caused by human activity is happening. Nearly half (91 out of 200) had made lifestyle changes to try and stop it, including three who had given up their cars. However, many people would do more if they knew more about how to live a Greener lifestyle and it was made easier.

The majority (170 out of 200) thought politicians were not doing enough and particularly singled out American politicians for criticism. Our politicians pay lip service to the problem of climate change, but their actions will make things worse. 

Questions that were used for the survey;

1 Do you think that climate change is happening because of human activities?

If yes 2 Have you changed anything in your lifestyle based on this view?

If no 3 why you have this opinion? A) Media B) Part of the natural cycle C) Politicians

If don’t know 4 What would convince you that it is happening? A) An event B) Arguments

5 Do you think politicians are doing enough?

Results-

Southend

Question 1-86 Yes 6 No 2 Partly 3 Possibly 3 Don’t Know
Question 2-45 Yes. 45 No. 1 Not Yet.
Question 3-1 Said A. 3 said B. 2 said C.
Question 4-4 said A. 2 said B.
Question 5-77 No. 4 Yes-Rest (19) 1 said OK. 7 don’t know /do what they can. 1 could do more. 1 no idea. 1 not bad. 1 should concentrate on other things. 5 not sure/ don’t know. 1 possibly. 1 Environmentalists create unnecessary panic
Castle Point
Question 1-91 Yes. 1 No Idea. 3 Probably. 5 No.
Question 2-46 Yes. 48 No. 1 Not Yet.
Question 3-4 Said B. 1 Said A.
Question 4-No Answers
Question 5-93 No. 4 Yes. 3 Don’t Know. 

 

  

Villagers to fight housing proposal (from the Echo)

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Villagers to fight housing proposal

By Geoff Percival

ANGRY villagers plan to set up an action group to oppose the building of 400 new homes in the area.

Rochford District Council’s blueprint for development until 2021 includes a proposal for 365 homes in Hawkwell, but only 36 in neighbouring Hockley.

The figure for Hawkwell had to be increased because of an agreement to cut the number of homes proposed for Rayleigh from 1,800 to 740.

The agreement followed fierce campaigning from Rayleigh residents, who complained the town would have taken more than half the district’s housing allocation.

But the move has now angered residents of Hawkwell, about 150 of whom attended a recent protest meeting.

The meeting was originally called because of concerns the area around Mount Bovers Lane, in the Upper Roach Valley, had been suggested by developers as a suitable site for development. The landscape at Mount Bovers Lane is currently considered to be of special value and links to the district council’s Cherry Orchard Country Park. It is part of the vision to maintain a green lung within the area, and it is unlikely development will be allowed there.

However, Hawkwell district councillor John Mason said: “Residents decided they wanted an action group to oppose all the potential sites in Hawkwell and 365 new homes anywhere.”

He said many residents expressed concerns (about) the roads, sewerage capacity, water, refuse collection services, dentists, doctors and schools (that) could not support this number of new homes.

The new action group plans to lobby district councillors, asking for a rethink on the number of homes being proposed for Hawkwell.

Monday 22nd October 2007

Local Residents in Hawkwell Meet to Oppose New Housing

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The meeting was so well attended that the organisers, Jamie Popplewell and his neighbours in Mount Bovers Lane, asked Belchamps if they could move the meeting to the larger upper hall.  Luckily, Belchamps were happy to do this otherwise about 90 people would not have been able to get in because the small hall only held 60.

Over 150 concerned residents attended mainly because of the possible threat of new housing being allocated to the Mount Bovers field but also the threats to land at Thorpe Road and behind Rectory Road adjoining Windsor Gardens and Clements Hall.

Some residents had attended the RDC Central Area Committee which was held on 24 October to ask questions about housing allocations to Hawkwell but the Chair and Councillor Hudson really didn’t want to discuss the subject pushing this out to the next public consultation in the Spring of 2008.  But he said that they would listen and would consult again and again if residents felt that they had got it wrong. 

Councillor John Mason gave a presentation of what was happening at the District Council and how the proposal for 365 new Houses in Hawkwell and only 36 in Hockley had come about.  That upset a number of staunch Conservative supporters in the audience but it was quite true.  That proposal was made by the Conservative Party in a private political meeting following which the Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the District Council (and Member for Hockley), wrote an open letter to the Residents of Rochford District containing these figures which was published in the Echo. 

Not too difficult to find the smoking gun !! It is a pity that this meeting coincided with the Executive Board of the District Council meeting on the same night because a representative was not there to explain why they thought 365 houses in Hawkwell was justified and how they arrived at this proposal. 

Nevertheless to ensure that there was political balance, John invited local resident and Labour Parish Councillor, Myra Weir to speak and for the Conservatives there was a heckler and former Tory District Councillor John Sheaf. 

Concern was expressed by many residents that the infrastructure of roads,sewerage, water, refuse, dentists, doctors, schools was not up to supporting 400 new houses in Hawkwell.  John advised that sustainability consultants were looking at these issues before the next public consultation in the Spring of 2008.

The Government has forced the District Council to consult again because the first without likely sites and justification was unacceptable.

Residents did not seem to know about the original consultation in June anyway and it came as a relief that there would be another !!  Residents decided that they wanted an Action Group to oppose all the potential sites in Hawkwell and 365 new houses anywhere. 

Volunteers came forward to run a campaign from now and until the proposal was withdrawn. They were encouraged that Rayleigh had won a reduction of 1800 to 740 by strong opposition and the fact that the Conservatives have said publicly at the Central Area Committee on 24 October, held in Hawkwell Village Hall, that they would listen and if the public said that they had got it wrong then proposals would be changed and there would be new consultations.

One resident said that he had telephoned RDC that day and been advised that “in relation to the LDF Core Strategy and the allocation of new housing, that the land already notified to RDC at Mount Bovers Hawkwell, was in a conservation zone, that it could never be built upon, that it was designated Common Land, and was SACROSANCT from any development.”

NOT TRUE SEE BELOW.

John Mason has contacted The Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton, and the reply is in the Comment below:

John,

The land referred to is shown on the ‘call for sites’ map, stretching from Main Road in the east and bounded by Mount Bovers Lane to the north and Gusted Hall Lane to the south.

This area of land is within the upper Roach Valley and is identified within the adopted Local Plan (policy NR1) as a special landscape area.

The Council has indicated that it does not want to see any development in the upper Roach Valley and certainly there has been no proposal presented to me to suggest the site proposed is one that is justified to be considered as being suitable for housing.

Therefore, the response to questions about the possibility of this land being developed in the future is to the effect that it is likely protection will remain as per the preferred approach set out in the Local Plan and reflected in the draft Core Strategy.

I should say, that having spoken to the policy team, I am told that words like as “sacrosanct” or “common land”, have not been used in providing a response.

The Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton does not agree that the RDC had said that the Mount Bovers Land could be described as “sacrosanct” or “common land” as claimed by a resident at the public meeting at Belchamps.

Newly co-opted Parish Councillor Bob Mitchell attended the meeting.  Well done Bob and thank you. 

The Echo weren’t overkeen to attend and presumably did not because they said “nothing is concrete with that area yet”

Apart from John Mason no other District Councillor for Hawkwell (there are six !!) attended.  There were enough posters around but I suppose if they did not live in Hawkwell, then they would not have been aware !! 

The Hawkwell Residents’ Association did not appear to attend. 

Hopefully it never will be “concrete” and if it is then it will be no thanks to the ECHO (who everyone thinks is a Tory Line paper). 

If you wish to join the Action Group then please email us through our Contact page.

Likely next steps are:

  • an email to all District Councillors expressing opposition 
  • further leaflet publicity
  • letters to Shaun Scrutton and Councillor Keith Hudson who is the Cabinet Member in charge of the LDF
  • meeting with Hawkwell Parish Council
  • meeting with the Chair of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association

 

 

Strokebusters Appeal – Southend University Hospital

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Residents organised a Fun Quiz Night at Hawkwell Village Hall on Friday, 12 October.  All profit went to the Southend University Hospital, Strokebusters Appeal.  Consultant Tony O’Brien gave a short talk on Strokebusters and although his quiz team did not win, they took away donations of £673.

Fortnightly Refuse Collections – Residents Councillor Speaks Out In Echo

October 11, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Fortnightly Rubbish Collections on Agenda

ROCHFORD district councillors are set discuss the controversial issue of fortnightly rubbish collections as their current waste contract comes up for renewal.

John Mason, a councillor who represents Rochford district, said he did not believe fortnightly waste collections were feasible until the range of recyclables and composting was extended. He said: “The grey, general waste bins are going to get too full, unless more can be taken out of them to recycle.

“The Council can’t just say, it’s going to have to be grey bins every fortnight’ without any changes, because it’s simply not going to work.

“I think people will be co-operative with more recycling, but they’ve got to have the chance to do it.”

 

Which Village Cops the Increase in New Houses from the Reduction in Rayleigh?

October 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford Independent has been asked by residents to look at the original the housing allocations actually put forward to the public in the recent consultation and find out which parts of the Rochford District are the unlucky ones which receive the increase of 1060 houses from the Conservative Party resulting from the reduction in the allocation to Rayleigh.

  • Rochford and Ashingdon increased by only 125 from 1000 to 1125
  • Hawkwell and Hockley 400 (no change but Hawkwell West gets the lot !!)
  • Smaller Settlements (Hullbridge,Canewdon,Stambridge & Great Wakering) increased by a MASSIVE 555 to 1055
  • The difference between the increased allocation to the rest of the District of 1060 and the actual allocated increase of 680, namely 380 is, presumably, made up of the extra houses that are already planned to be built.

We hope this helps everyone in Rochford District understand what happens when a reduction is agreed in one place. And the decrease of 1060 was actually only an increase of 680 elsewhere. But that’s quite enough to be of concern.

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