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Rayleigh Christmas light switch on has always been a popular event and today was no exception. Working as a Rayleigh Town Councillor, I was involved in helping setup safety barriers, crowd control and general duties (along with some coffee drinking!). I was fortunate enough to work along side other members of the town council who are all generally a great bunch of people all with a common goal – to make the switch on a success. By 6.30pm when the big switch on occurred we could see the fruits of our labour. A bustling High Street, awash with families enjoying the great atmosphere, which reminds us of one of many reasons that makes Rayleigh a great place to live.
As a district councillor, I had to attend the development committee meeting tonight. One of the items on tonight’s agenda was application 16/00731/OUT – LAND WEST OF LITTLE WAKERING ROAD AND SOUTH OF BARROW HALL ROAD, LITTLE WAKERING, ESSEX. What I witnessed tonight was a far from comprehensive report presented by our RDC officers. Confusion reigned in the council chamber as the addendum to the report on the application was attempted to be explained by the officer, looking around I saw raised eyebrows and blank expressions. Personally I can only describe my emotions as anger and frustration at the expectation by officers, of making a decision based on this far from complete report. Ultimately and with some relief, all members agreed this matter should be deferred. There would have been a serious injustice to both the electorate and developer if we had pressed ahead.
Sad news to read the Echo report that someone had been stabbed last night in Rayleigh.
Air Quality in Rayleigh has been poor for some time. In fact since 2004 Rayleigh has exceeded EU air quality limits. Rochford District Council has been monitoring Rayleigh for air pollution and as figure C1 from the 2016 Air Quality Annual Status Report shows the levels have fallen over time. However is should be noted that the 2015 data is far from conclusive in my own opinion as "A lack of resources prevented deployment of diffusion tubes during the second half of 2015." - doesn't inspire confidence when you are dealing with people's health!
Our council clearly needs to take action on this matter as there has been a constant failure to tackle this problem. In a recent court case against the government Client Earth has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK.
This week we have met with RDC's officer responsible for Air Monitoring and offered our help. We are keen to extend the air quality monitoring to areas outside of the AQMA and have been looking at locations where there could be problems with congestion and the proximity to homes.
up to 50,000 people a year die early from air pollution-related illnesses in the UK
The big question is, although areas can be monitored and identified as to whether they exceed these limits, what can be done to reduce the pollution?
The council has been working on this and has taken on external consultants to make recommendations
These are the 'broad' plans
Planning Policy and Development Control
Low Emission Vehicles
In the next month or so, the council will release the latest Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) for public consultation and it will be interesting to see how the public reacts. Although residents will acknowledge the fact that they don't want their health to suffer I wonder if proposals to the town centre traffic system, new homes, alternative travel and changing their cars will be a trade off they are willing to make?
Do you want to know more about Air Pollution and the harmful effects? Here's a short video from Clean Air London to explain more...
Last night’s planning committee meeting was a full evening with numerous big applications being discussed.
What did strike me as odd was the lack of public interest…. we had 2 delightful older ladies come along to make representation on one of the applications and one member of RTC that was attending as a member of the public – that was it, no other members of public! 120 new dwelling tabled for development in Rayleigh that nearly 20% of the West Rayleigh development and not a soul to make representation….. I’m curious to know, have the developers finally beaten the people of Rayleigh into submission or has the public become so disillusioned with the decision-making process that it’s almost a foregone conclusion that in as little as 10 years from now Rayleigh could become another concrete jungle?
I really thought (or hoped) the lack of turnout at the recent local plan consultation wasn’t a sign of things to come and tried in my own mind at least to put it down to a result of poor publicity and bad timings or maybe it’s true that the people of Rayleigh have just given up on the future of their town?
Today’s High Court ruling found the UK Government has failed to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. What will this mean for the impending AQAP for Rayleigh? With the emphasis on the reduction of traffic congestion and traffic volumes, one wonders if and how this is achievable given the ‘pinch points’ in Rayleigh will be loaded further with more traffic from housing developments that are yet to built. Is planning policy strong enough to deal with the influx of new development? Can the council robustly enforce these strengthened policies against the ‘deep pockets’ of the developers?
Some optimism to reducing the pollution levels is given by the usage of ‘cleaner’ transportation, with a reduction in vehicle exhaust gasses.
“We need a national network of clean air zones to be in place by 2018 in cities across the UK, not just in a handful of cities. The government also needs to stop these inaccurate Modelling forecasts. Future projections of compliance need to be based on what is really coming out of the exhausts of diesel cars when driving on the road, not just the results of discredited laboratory tests.” – ClientEarth air quality lawyer Alan Andrews
What really is the answer to the congestion in our area? Would we see more pedestrians and cyclists in our area if we have the necessary safe routes or can ‘tweaks’ be made to our traffic systems to stop the build up of traffic?
I don’t have the answers and I’m not sure if the rumoured £60k price tag for traffic modelling will fix the problem either, perhaps it’s time to leave the car at home and don the face mask!