What Have I Been Doing Lately?

a couple of days ago

Although my blog posts have been slightly infrequent, I’ve been still been busy dealing with local politics. As a Rayleigh Town Councillor for the Victoria Ward, I still maintain an interest in both Town and District matters. You might have seen our Liberal Democrat Blog ‘onlinefocus‘ which I regularly contribute to.

At the Town Council, I’m a member of the Policy & Finance Committee, which I actively participate in. Helping to reduce the Councils expenditure on some of its core costs such as telephony, postage and IT systems by making recommendations to move to use local suppliers who were able to offer competitive rates over national companies. Costs have been significantly reduced.

I’m currently on a working party to look at the Business Continuity Planning of the Town Council, after it was recognised that the District Council had handled their recent and protracted IT disasters very poorly.

Although last year I retired from the planning committee, I still follow the work of the planning committee closely and have made recommendations, which have been adopted by the Council to reduce the work of the planning committee and also to hold the District Council (who are responsible for planning) to account on matters such as travellers.

I have proactively been trying to publicise the work of the Town Council and made recommendations (which have now been implemented) to add additional notice boards around the wards.

If there are any local issues that you would like to see the Town Council tackle please feel free to get in touch with me

 

 

Question Time

a couple of days ago

Watching 'Question Time' this week, it was a surprise to see not just one, but two of my friends from school in the audience! Here they both are. The first one is one of my hand waving, best friends for over 30 years - whatever he does you can always feel the passion, a true Welshman!

Sweyne Park Play Area

a couple of months ago
There is a long running question over what exactly is happening with Sweyne Park play area. It seems to spend more time closed or partially closed than it does open. Residents have taken to social media in the past to ask what it going on and even when they have contacted the council directly, it appears they never get the answer.
Parks are undoubtedly an important facility for socialising, mental health and a good place to spend some family time.
I’ve been trying to chase down the answers for residents and have now got the following information to share.
“They have removed a lot of equipment as they plan to obtain a grant to replace it.  The gym type equipment failed a ROSPA check.  They have applied for £55,000 from Enovert Community Trust (was Cory) and the decision will be made at its meeting on 26th September 2018. The application includes new gym equipment, swings and play equipment to fill the areas they have removed equipment from. I mentioned that the public had been asking for shade in this play area and the RDC Officer is against any type of shading due to vandalism which is regular in this park.  He says that the new scheme includes planting of trees that would provide shade.”
I then asked about the inclusion of a water drinking fountain and have had the following response
“I would have concerns over hygiene and the risk of legionella in an unmanned park.”
Personally I find the response very frustrating but this is very indicative of the type of administration that is in power at Rochford District Council. It’s an uphill struggle!

Free Hospital Parking…..for Wales

a couple of months ago

Unfortunately I’ve recently had to visit hospitals in Essex and Kent for various reasons. Whilst travelling to local hospitals might be feasible by public transport, travelling to Kent by public transport isn’t the easiest, so inevitably we’ve traveled by car. Hit by expensive car parking charges, sometimes I wish we were more like Wales (except from the rain) – free prescriptions & now free parking at ALL their hospitals.

More on this here

All NHS hospital car parking charges scrapped in Wales http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45347166

The Future of our High St

a couple of months ago

Running a business is no mean feat, whether that’s a one man band or an international company – I’ve had experience of them all! I’m actively involved in the day to day running of several SME’s and the time and energy commitment it HUGE!

I’ve been passionate about our High St’s for as long as I can remember. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been involved in business. When I see changes proposed for own High St in Rayleigh, sometimes good, sometime bad, it unnerves me a little. I speak to some of the retailers and they express their concerns and I really wish the Council was a more actively engaged with them, but from where I sit, I don’t see any real development of our High St.

This week our main website onlineFOCUS reports the most recent planning applications for several units in our High St. If successful, would ‘wipe out’ 3 retail spaces and potentially remove another existing business from our High St.

If you want to see our High St thrive, I urge you to head over and have a read. Please remember to comment on the councils website too!

Computer Says…… Not Again!

a couple of months ago

It’s fair to say the IT systems at RDC during my tenure as a District Councillor, were at best flaky and at worst a disaster. So much so that the Council used it as an excuse to ‘rerun’ a development committee meeting and some members even set up a task group to try and find out what the hell was going on. With a massive overspend on the IT budget, some £600k+ you would hope that things would be a little more ‘stable’ by now.

Well, it seems that is wishful thinking as the council has announced today that they have cancelled the development committee meeting scheduled for this coming Thursday citing IT problems yet again. Their internal IT systems spend time down than up, some staff have now resorted to slate and smoke signals to communicate!

I’ve written to the Managing Director at RDC to ask when they actually think this whole sorry mess will be sorted out. I personally believe they are out of their depth and a lot of costly mistakes have been made and continue to be made.

When I hear back, I’ll update this post further

Rayleigh Loses its CCTV

a few months ago

As new data protection laws come into force, GDPR, one service that Rayleigh Town Council was responsible for has now been ‘decommissioned’

CCTV in our town centre has been all but removed due to the new legislation that would have put demands on the resources of the Town council. Other organisations such as the Chamber of Trade have not as yet asked to take over responsibility.

Many might say our town needs CCTV, but it could be argued with such low levels of crime, coupled with the fact that all licensed premises have their own CCTV as part of their licence conditions, there is no justification to the public purse that CCTV continued to operate in the town centre.

Cleaning Up Your Air

a few months ago

You probably won’t be aware in our District about ‘Clean Air Day’ on the 21st June. Our council has been reluctant to promote it and despite me questioning them on their plans I’ve still not received a response. For years in our district (particularly Rayleigh) we have had illegal levels of air pollution. With little action by the Council to try to reduce it. We continue to suffer this invisible killer. If you, like me, want to take matters into your own hands here are some tips for reducing air pollution outside.

Estate Agents on the High St

a few months ago

Anyone that has the misfortune to deal with an Estate Agent will know where I’m coming from with this post. I’m not referencing one particular Estate Agent, but when I visited one in the last 18 months I really felt that this new show draws on some close similarities.

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