James Newport - District Councillor for Sweyne Park & Grange / Town Councillor for Victoria
I am one of your 3 District Councillor's for Sweyne Park & Grange Ward and your Town Councillor for Victoria. Please feel free to contact me about any local issues that are of concern to you using the contact page. I am here to serve the residents and I will work hard to make our community a better place for all.
47 New Dwellings for London Road – Approved
Last nights development committee discussed the application for 47 dwellings on London Road (15/00736/FUL). The officers report can be read here. 1500736FUL (6 downloads) This application have been previously deferred for clarification on a number of points.
- The location and type of pedestrian crossing, taking account of the speed limits on the A129 London Road.
- What Highway improvement measures would be provided in respect of the additional developer contribution of £50,000 over and above the cost of the proposed pedestrian crossing.
- Clarification of the proposed flow rates and the opportunity to seek improvement to the rate to improve local resilience against flooding and better details of attenuation arrangements.
- The drainage details relating to conditions 7, 8,10,11, 12 and 13 to be submitted with the application for Members’ consideration.
- Details of the surface water drainage scheme /underground drainage plan to be made available to the Committee.
- Condition 13 to be amended so that it be required that the yearly maintenance logs be submitted to the local planning Authority annually.
- Off street parking spaces to be provided clear of the street.
- The road layout to be built to adoptable standards and clarification of whether the road layout will be adopted. (NOT ADOPTABLE)
- Dormer windows with flat roofs to be revised to provide pitched roofs.
- Clarification of the proposals to spend the contribution of £45,000 in respect of Little Wheatleys play space and whether instead this contribution might be used to fund a school crossing patrol for a temporary period of time.
Off to a shaky start due to the technical issues in the council chamber (no projector, so no plans available), the meeting commenced nearly 30 minutes late. There was about 10 visitors in the public gallery.
The council officer (Mike Shranks) gave his opening report on the planning application and how the issues had been addressed that concerned the members at the last committee meeting. Once we had heard the report (with no visual aids), the officer asked us to ‘trust’ his words – speakers were invited from the public. The applicants agent spoke first. We then heard questions from committee members. These ranged from clarification on the proposed crossing, off street parking, whether the road was adoptable and the proposed drainage system.
The proposed drainage system consumed most of the discussion, with Cllr Stanley taking a lead on the flooding issues asking whether the design of the system was adequate to accommodate the flooding issues that West Rayleigh has seen in recent years. I asked whether upstream flooding had been taken into consideration and was assured by the officer it had been.
I also made it clear I was not convinced the proposed crossing was adequate and safe for pedestrians being in a 40 mph zone.
I questioned as to why the new estate would not have its own play area, with a £45,000 contribution for the Little Wheatley’s play area, once the money runs out the tax payer will bear the full burden of additional maintenance.
Land will be taken from Rayleigh Sports & Social club for the proposed alleyway at the back of the development.
The report also makes mention of cycle routes (I see none of them in this area, in fact very few in Rayleigh). Finally I raised the issue of safety as the report proposes that the developer will widen the footpath in front of the development to 2m, however the London Road footpath is wholly inadequate on the North side (in my opinion) and is less than 2m wide.
Finally Councillor Mountain spoke up and reminded members that this application was again before the committee to gain clarification on the reasons the application was previously deferred – he then moved for approval for the application. The vote was taken with all members approving apart from myself and Cllr Stanley abstaining.
Crime Fighting Time
1. More local, visible and accessible policing.
2. Crack down on anti-social behaviour.
3. Be tough on domestic abuse.
4. Reverse the trend in serious violence.
5. Tackle gangs and organised crime.
6. Protect children and vulnerable people from harm.
7. Improve safety on our roads.
I must say Mr Hirst gave an interesting presentation and seemed to engage with the audience members very well. In fact at 9.30pm, Cllr June Lumley had to ask for final questions as poor old Mr Hirst wouldn’t be getting home anytime soon.
I managed to get some commitment from Mr Hirst – my question was “Will you reinstate the police liaison officers in schools?” Mr Hirst responded that he would, and when pressed by myself into whether he would commit, he responded that he was committed to a joint police/fire service liaison in schools.
I think Mr Hirst’s plan targets all the areas most of us would like to see. If you’ve got comments on his plan then follow this link to complete the survey.
Notable Planning Applications in Sweyne Park & Grange Ward
There are a couple of more notable applications that have been submitted to the council.
The first is application an application by Sweyne Park School for a new building for the sixth form.
The Sweyne Park School, Sir Walter Raleigh Drive, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 9BZ
Date received: 9/7/2016 12:00:00 AM
Planning for: Construct Two Storey Building To Provide Teaching Accommodation Sixth Form
The second application is an application for 47 dwellings on the land adjacent to Grange Villa (M&S Garage)
Land Adjacent Grange Villa , London Road, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 9DR
Date received: 10/9/2015 12:00:00 AM
Planning for: Form Access And Layout Site To Provide Residential Development Of 21 Flats And 26 Houses ( 47 Dwellings In Total)
What’s your thoughts on these applications? Let me know in the comments box
Infrastructure first before mass development – it’s almost common sense…
Today the Echo News reports that campaigners are asking Basildon council to force developers to provide the infrastructure to support the homes before any development is commenced. Surely this is almost common sense?
Asking developers to put their hand in their pocket is truly shocking, and even before they’ve seen any return on their investment but surely this is what entrepreneurship is all about? If they argue their business plan won’t support this type of development then perhaps they will have to look at reducing the profits they expect to return to their shareholders.
Stop Start Stop Start – A journey through Rayleigh High St
Travelling through Rayleigh is often a slow journey….
When driving through Rayleigh town I often wonder why there is so much traffic and ‘what’s the hold up’ as I’m sure many do. There are several routes to get from the train station to the other side of town into ‘east’ Rayleigh. They nearly all involve going via Crown Hill or London Hill. The tail backs seem to get more frequent and the frustration grows that this town can not take any more vehicles.
Whilst attending another meeting I heard a very interesting comment from another District Councillor. Whilst looking at the roads through the High St, the number of pedestrian crossings is a contributor to these tailbacks we all face.
So today (Tuesday) whilst driving from the train station to Rayleigh Weir via the town, I actively noted just how many times I needed to ‘stop-start’ – surprisingly, the main cause of the ‘stop-start’ was pedestrians. The crossing opposite the train station was my first ‘stop’, up Crown Hill and someone stepped onto the Zebra crossing – another ‘stop’ – and so the journey continues. Yes it’s stating the obvious but all these Zebra crossings actually do hinder the traffic quite significantly. The next big question is what can be done to reduce the ‘stop-start’ traffic system we have in place? What’s your suggestions? Post them in the comments below
The Consultation Process
Today was the first of a number of consultation workshops for members of the public to have a say on the new local plan. Cllr Ian Ward was quick to remind members of the public that this is a ‘fresh start’ and that he is doing things differently. About 15 members of the public attended the meeting, which was held in the upstairs room of the Mill Hall in Rayleigh Town centre. A brief presentation of what this consultation was hoping to achieve followed by a number of good questions from the public.
Perhaps by now, as Rayleigh is one of the last area’s to hold these workshop, I was expecting something a little bit slicker. I was sadly disappointed. Given that the average age in the room much have been at least 55+ even the text on the PowerPoint presentation was too small for this 40 year olds eyes. There was no amplified speech so again hard to hear over the hum drum of the aging air conditioning fan unit located in the ceiling.
I had to raise an eyebrow at the expectation of the next part of the ‘workshop’ – a walk around Rayleigh. Now I do a fair bit of walking, but I must say, did you expect me to walk along the Eastwood Road, Up to the Weir, Along Castle Road, Through the High St, Down Upway, Along London Road past Lower Barn Farm and then on to Carpenters Arms…….
I think I make my point – Rayleigh is too big to have a little walk about. These workshops need to be spread out into East, West, Central and maybe more. Each area of Rayleigh has it’s own problems and with a population of over 33000, the council is going to need a better representation from the people if the council planning policy makers are serious about the problems local people face. Moving one stage further you actually need some younger people to have a voice. How to engage this demographic? What I do know is the policy that’s made now is going to have a huge impact on our children.
I think this needs a little more than tweaking. It needs some real thought to be effective, unless the cynicism in me means it’s little more than a PR exercise?
Have you spotted an empty home?
Rochford District Council are currently running an Empty Home scheme. I don’t know how many empty homes there are across our district but whatever the figures it’d be good to bring them back into use, maybe we wouldn’t have to build so many new houses then or is that just wishful thinking?
If you spot an empty home then click on the image above to report it and the council will try and get in touch with the owner to bring it back into use.
Have Our Footpaths & Openspaces gone to the dogs?
I’m a regular user of a lot of the parks and open spaces in the Rochford District, as I’m sure many of the residents are. However there seems to be a blight that is taking over the pleasure of using these areas – Dog Fouling. There clearly is a growing trend amongst some inconsiderate/irresponsible dog owners who feel it is not necessary to clear up behind their pets so this week I’ve written to RDC officers and the portfolio holder for parks and open spaces, Cllr Dave Sperring, about the issue of dog fouling.
I’m told by Cllr Sperring that this issue is being looked at and that ideas to try and combat this problem will be presented to full council in due course. I’m looking forward to hearing these ideas when presented to council, in the meantime, watch where you step!
Tesco’s reinstate bollards
Yes it may seem to some a minor problem, but the residents who live in close proximity to Tesco’s Express on London Road, have endured the problem of people exiting onto Vernon Avenue for far too long.
I’ve (along with RDR Toby Mountain) been in constant contact with the council since been elected in May and it appears that my numerous phone calls and emails have had some success!
One of the other reasons why I’ve been so proactive about this issue is that I think that conditions attached to planning consent should be adhered to and everyone in our district should be on a level playing field.
Think before you share those summer holiday photos!
As I see my social media being filled with images of fancy cocktails and swimming pools, remember this article posted last year by the Daily Mail. Insurance companies actually checking people’s social media accounts to see if they are ‘advertising’ the fact their homes will be vacant whilst they enjoy the summer holidays. If you want to read the full article it can be found here
The article makes a good point that you are not taking ‘reasonable care’ to protect your possessions to would be thieves. Criminals are getting more and more clever and we are only making their life easier if we tell them we’re not going to be at home.
Some play areas around Rochford District closed
Some of the play areas around Rochford District have been closed due to Health & Safety. Full announcement is available on the RDC website here
Potholes explained by Worcestershire County Council
Maybe the public didn’t quite need the expensive way of WCC explaining exactly what Highways do (or don’t, judging by the comments on YouTube!). Let’s hope ECC don’t take a leaf out of their book and save our tax payers money.
Recycling Targets – Don’t count on the coffee shops to help!
In Rochford District, we may actually count ourselves lucky that we don’t have too many of the big 4 coffee shops as based on this BBC program last night we could be knocked off the top 4 recycling districts if we had to process those coffee shop cups!
Essex Police need our community educated!
We often see comments from people on social media, or when you talk to residents, that the police are, ahem how should I say, often less than helpful. In fact, we, the lib dems have recently raised a motion at full council to find out the affect of the closure of the front desk at Rayleigh Police station and the station closure in Rochford. The demands of the general public are great and we are somewhat intolerable to slow response times, lack of community policing.
Well today should give us all a different perspective on what we, the general public, expect from Essex Police who have run a 24 hour tweetathon. This was run live from their control room.
Here is just a couple of tweets about calls made to 999 for Essex Police assistance!
Clearly in my opinion, there is an education problem here at the very least. Let’s at least think before we dial. Of course some may need to refer to the dictionary for the very definition of ’emergency’
Rayleigh Times reports on London Road planning application
This week I will be mainly…..
Contacting planning enforcement due to the Tesco’s on London Road in Rayleigh ignoring a condition of their planning application (bollards to be raised), which I hope to be able to update on very soon. Also I will be attending training from the RDC’s licensing officer and following on from this I will be attending a licensing hearing next week for 2 different reviews. I’ll also be busy following up on some other cases that seem to have ‘stalled’ to get some updates for the local residents. More on that very soon
Rayleigh Lib Dems on Facebook
All the latest Lib Dems news is posted on our Facebook page which is available here. Stop by and give us a like!
Report local problems easily
For those that don’t know there is a useful website called FixMyStreet where you can report, view or discuss local problems. There’s also mobile apps available for those with a smartphone which allows you to send pictures of the problems with ease. Once reported the problem gets automatically sent to those responsible, so if its a pothole, it will get sent straight to Essex County Council.
1 month on….
So it’s been just over a month since I’ve been elected. What’s it like? Well, there are lots of meetings, lots of training and lots to read. Some meetings are long, some are quite short. The training has been interesting. I’ve met quite a few different people and on the whole they’re a pretty friendly bunch. I think it will take some time for the more ‘established’ members of the council to accept the new faces but I’m sure they will soften over time.
In this short month, I’ve actually made some good progress already. More on that very soon!
Tonight’s Development Committee
In front of us tonight was the detailed planning permission for Hall Road development in Rochford. Reading the officers report there were some positive aspects such as the number of affordable houses on this development. The overall design is okay but could be better if more parking for vehicles had been in the plans. By the officers own admission this development falls short of providing sufficient parking for visitors and that is based on the fact that some houses with have a maximum of 2 cars. How many families, especially those with older children still living at home will have more than two cars? For me no matter how ‘pretty’ the developer makes the frontages of these properties, residents will suffer the blight of pavement parking, congested roads and commuter vehicles parked all over this estate. We’ve seen the exact problem on the Birds estate in Rayleigh, but obviously no lesson learnt there! At least I had some thanks at the end of the meeting with some residents thanking me for my objections. Residents need to make their objections known to their representives sooner rather than later I feel
District Council Committees
When you become an elected member of the council, your party is allocated a number of seats on different committees. I’ve been ‘lucky’ enough to have been asked which committees I had a preference to. I’ve chosen development, licensing and investment.
Why did I chose these particular committees?
Firstly, there’s development. Everyone, residents and councillors, have a keen interest in this one. There’s certainly a lot of changes in our district in terms of development and I felt I wanted to be in a position to keep a close eye on things coming before committee. Some hard decisions will be made but I’m hoping I can keep my ward members updated quickly on anything that ‘stands out’
Next the is licensing. This is anything from taxi licensing, kennels and pubs/clubs. There may be others but as yet I’m not sure of all the details. As Rayleigh seems to be drawing a crowd on the weekends, both taxi and pubs need to be watched. Watch this space…
Investment – this is were the council makes investments for its portfolio. Not really sure what will come up in this one but I’m hoping with my business experience that I can make a valuable contribution.
Are we on the road to nowhere?
An interesting piece in The Echo today about the ever increasing traffic gridlock we face on our roads. I personally wonder how many people feel like prisoners in their own homes due to the levels of traffic on our roads. Whilst canvassing local residents in Rayleigh, a common concern was traffic with one resident telling me he wouldn’t even attempt to go anywhere before 10am and then avoided the peak time traffic at 4pm till almost 7pm.
Personally I’ve turned to my push bike for those short trips to ASDA or a walk into town. Not so much fun though if you’ve got a big shop to do or the weather isn’t on your side.
So what is the answer to this ever increasing problem? I’m keen to hear the thoughts of residents. Our area needs infrastructure upgrades to cope with traffic. Its not just residents but businesses too. What hope do we have of attracting big business to the area if the road links aren’t up to the job? It’s a hot topic and one that needs some urgent attention in my opinion.
Protect your Property with SmartWater
Protect your Property with SmartWater The Rochford District Community Safety Partnership (CSP)* works towards reducing crime, and the number of victims of crime.
To help tackle dwelling burglary, we are giving away property marking kits in areas most recently affected by this offence. A proven deterrent to burglars, SmartWater® forensic marking system enables you to safely mark up to 50 items of property with traceable liquid which is then exclusively registered. Property marked in this way can then be traced back to the loser in the event of it being stolen and recovered by police. Further details about the system can be found at www.smartwater.com The product is commercially available and retails at approximately £60 – but is being offered in the target areas free of charge by the CSP to help prevent you from being a victim of crime. Police Community Support Officers or accredited volunteers will call to deliver the product and give you simple instructions in how to apply it to your property. We hope to commence distribution from January. If you are interested in taking up this offer please contact the Community Safety Team at Rochford District Council on 01702 318103 or by email communitysafety@Rochford.gov.uk if your home isn’t in a target area but is within the District we are able to offer the kits for a small charge.
Rayleigh Town Council
Tomorrow, will mark the first meeting I will be attending as a Rayleigh Town Councillor. Whilst slightly nervous, I can’t wait to attend to represent the Victoria Ward. More details to follow to let you know what was discussed!
Closing the floodgates on high risk housing development
It’s reported in the news today that developers could be forced to flood proof new homes. This news could force developers to make changes to the way houses are built to ensure they are not devastated if they do flood. Full story below
At the age of 10/11 children who attend primary schools are asking if they can walk to school on their own. I know at the age of 11 I was walking with my friends across the other side of town to get to school. Besides all the other fears we have as parents for our children, we want to know they will cross the road safely to get to school.
I have to admit, it was quite by accident when we stumbled upon this problem on Little Wheatley Chase. I’ve always tried to avoid this road due to traffic and congestion, knocking on a local residents door, only then did we realise, they didn’t even have a crossing patrol. I thought it was only right that we should take up the challenge to see if something can be done about it.
The story goes like something like this……
Help save Grange Pharmacy
Earlier this week, I told members of the Rayleigh Action Group that the Grange Pharmacy was under threat from government cutbacks. 300 customers have signed their petition against closure, but they still need residents to come forward and sign their petition.
Today’s Echo reports on the story.
Our survey says…
I asked members of local Facebook groups a few questions about local issues and their views on whether local Councillors do a good job at representing them.
Here’s the results – the sample size is 96 people. Any duplicate surveys were removed.
Other issues were speeding, dog fouling, youth facilities, congestion/traffic, over development, infrastructure
To be fair, it’s probably not that shocking that the result is so poor. The public perception of some Councillors is poor and I really think this needs to be worked on.
Why is the perception so poor? We do have some very good Councillors that work very hard for the local community and have achieved great things.
Is it the few bad apples that drives the public perception down? Is it because the public don’t fully understand what a Councillor can and can’t do or is it a case of communication is so bad that the relationship between politicians and the electorate has broken down? I liken it to a broken marriage. Many people say successful marriages are built on good communication and trust. So is it time for this council to renew it’s vows with the electorate and work on its marriage?
Local Shops for Local People
Since moving to London Road in 2000, the Grange Parade has shops has always quietly gone about their business day to day. We were luckily enough to be able to send the children along to ‘Harry’s’ aka Grange Stores for the ‘forgotten’ items on the shopping list. The pharmacy provided the essentials when our son was born at home in 2004 (probably one of a few to have place of birth as ‘Rayleigh’ on his birth certificate). Along the parade, all the shops at one time or another have given good service and convenience for many.
They’ve been through a lot together and seem like a tight knit bunch. Tesco’s has ‘rained on this parade’ but they have dug their heels in and still see off the competition with their friendly faces and personal service.
Speaking with the owners today, it just goes to show that we’re not always fully aware of what goes into the running of these small businesses. They’ve had lack of sympathy from the local council on many of the issues they face and it would appear double standards.
I very much support their entrepreneurship and I hope, in the future to be able to support them further grow and develop their businesses for all the community to benefit.
Flooding – is this old news?
I don’t think so! The flooding we saw in Rayleigh, was something that really hit the community hard, especially in the Sweyne Park & Grange ward. Besides the council leaders helpful response “Sandbags are what you need” we’ve had the incarnation of the Flood Forum. I’ve yet to get along to it as its held in the daytime, but I’m keen to hear what and how the council and other agencies are going to help protect residents in this flood zone in the future.
The problem of flooding has not gone away and mother nature can be a nasty beast.
This weekend we’ve been out and about speaking to people in the Sweyne Park & Grange ward. Luckily the weather has been on our side.
It’s been really enlightening to speak to so many people and listening to their views and concerns about our area. One concern that is always mentioned – TRAFFIC! It’s clear that the current Tory council have really not done their job with public consultations. Traffic is a bug bear for everyone and whilst car ownership has increased over time, the roads around Rayleigh have not kept pace. Lack of investment in our infrastructure has certainly shown what can happen to a small town like Rayleigh with almost guaranteed traffic jams at least a daily occurrence – the only thing that changes is the severity!
With the ‘lurking’ of the inevitable ‘mini village’ we need to ensure that we get the investment from the developers for the infrastructure and that the money is utilised in the best interests of the local residents.
I will be fighting to see that our residents are consulted before any infrastructure changes are made and that money is invested in the right areas.
If you’ve not received my leaflet….
You are able to download it from here. Just click the link belowLeaflet - 2016 Sweyne Park & Grange (216 downloads)
Take part in our survey to give your views on what are our issues in Rochford District. The survey takes about 2 minutes to complete and you can complete as much or little as you want. Just click the launch me button below to start.
Candidates for Sweyne Park & Grange
We are all aware of the reduction in funding by central government. We all need to feel safe in our local community. We would welcome more policing and the Lib Dems are pressing for adequate funds for our bobbies and a better use of resources. This may not be easily achieved, but together we can promote safer communities giving more help for Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. If you’d like to get involved, please register your interest here
I share local residents concern about the parking chaos and litter problems caused by the Tesco Express. We all need local shops, but when the plans come forward the Council need to ensure changes in shop usage are a ‘good fit’ in the area they are sited. They should not cause the chaos we see at the Vernon Avenue / London Road junction – seven days a week! This has been ongoing since Tesco’s opened, now is a time for a fresh pair of hands to deal with this local problem. I will work with residents and both the District Council and Essex County Council to try and solve the problem.
Bad parking can be a real issue in our already congested town. Local hotspots for bad parking in our area extend from
- Tesco’s Express on London Road
- Outside local schools and in roads adjacent
- In close proximity to the railway station
It seems a never ending list of the odd few leaving their cars in the place where car’s really shouldn’t be left. The problem can really intensify at peak times, and I’ve witness a few occasions car’s being damaged in the Tesco Express car park due to sheer overcrowding and inconsiderate parking.
I’d like to see more regular patrols by parking enforcement in our area to send a clear message that we need to think a little bit more about where and how we park our cars.
My name is James Newport and I am 40 years old. I studied Land Administration and Mapping Science and have a HND and Degree in these subjects.
My working life has been varied and I have worked for, to name a few BT, GSK, ICL Fujitsui, Institute of Hydrology and Jardine Lloyd Thompson. I now run my own business.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time walking and cycling.