• Happy New Year!

    ….and thank you for all your support in 2016. 2017 looks to be a ‘challenging’ year. We will be here to represent our residents and make sure their voices are heard. If there’s anything you feel we’ve missed please get in touch, we’d be delighted to help!

    All the best for 2017!

     

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  • Feeling Conned by the Consultation?

    Recently we’ve seen lots of consultations by Rochford District Council. First came the local plan workshops, which has been swiftly followed by a budget survey, followed by an air quality survey, only to be followed by a community safety partnership survey. Wow I’m feeling pretty consulted out…. it almost seems like the council are so ‘out of touch’ with the residents that they don’t really know what they should be doing or is it that there is a mandatory requirement to consult?

    So is it worth your time and effort to respond to these surveys? Well judging by the responses so far I’d say most people think they’d rather not bother. I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why people don’t respond to these surveys, overwhelming I hear the same reason – the council don’t listen. Cllr Chris Black, recently commented on this at a planning sub committee meeting. Residents whom had come along to the local plan workshop had made suggestions and had ideas. What happened to these ideas and suggestions….. they got buried in this document! It wouldn’t have taken much to capture residents details and follow up with them on their ideas. Sorry RDC but if you really want this ‘relationship’ to work it can’t be one way!

    If you have the urge to respond to the surveys the follow the links above or if you want to see my opinions here’s the posts I’ve written on a few of the consultations.

    RDC Budget Consultation

    The Consultation Process 

    Rayleigh has an Unseen Killer on the Loose!

  • …and a Merry Christmas from Us!

    Christmas is nearly upon us and it’s been a busy 2016! I’d like to thank everyone for their support and I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

  • Thought for the day – If you could see the air pollution in Rayleigh would it look like this?

    So it’s a foggy day right? But as we walked back from the High Street along the London Road, I did ponder to myself whether if air pollution was visible to the naked eye, are these the types of images we would see like in China? I think it’s an interesting thought as so often it’s said “Seeing is believing” – in this case though just because we can’t see the air pollution doesn’t mean it’s not there. We are working towards scientific proof that what we think is very real. Though we still won’t be able to see the air pollution we will offer the evidence to prove otherwise.

  • Tories Gasp for Air over AQAP

    Wednesday was not a good night for the blues at the Rayleigh Town Council meeting to discuss the AQAP. It was one of those subjects that I was particularly interested in having spent my earlier life carrying out scientific studies for the MET Office and The Institute of Hydrology, and this is what this AQAP should be based on. Cold, hard FACTS.

    Getting straight to the point, on inspection of this draft AQAP there really didn’t seem to be too much science behind it! Sadly, the officer at RDC with responsibility, declined to attend the meeting as Rayleigh Town Council are just consultees.

    AQAP

    Our residents are seemingly expected to ‘go with the flow’. RDC is clambering to fill an impending deficit in the budget, and by the admission of the portfolio holder for planning – Cllr Ian Ward, they intend to build their way out of the red back into the black!! Somehow I’m feeling this isn’t the solution. I challenged Cllr Ward on the alleged £60k of public money that has been spent on ‘remodelling’ the town centre traffic system. This appeared to be news to some members. However Cllr Ward did oblige on detailing the results of the ‘remodelling’ – which appeared to be nothing more than changing Zebra crossings to traffic light controlled crossings. There was hope this would help the traffic to flow better, I’m not sure that £60k is worth ‘hope’ such as this and doesn’t seem like terrific value for money in these times of austerity.

    Other suggestions were that the Royal Horticultural Society had been engaged to advise on ‘flower power’ to help reduce the pollution. I challenged this and was informed by Cllr Margaret Spencer to refer to the ‘London Plane Trees’. I’ll openly admit I’ve not got ‘green fingers’, but I did argue with Cllr Spencer that is this the reason recently the Mayor of London has announced a $1.1bn plan to improve air quality? Sounds like a lot of trees to me, if this is the answer to problem as Cllr Spencer suggests. Since the meeting I’ve had an opportunity to see if Cllr Spencers claims can be backed up and this is what I’ve found.

    But how did it go from interesting curiosity to the urban tree of choice lining so many of London’s streets? It was planted en masse at a time when London was black with soot and smoke from the Industrial Revolution and when population expansion forced greater urban planning.

    To be fair to Cllr Spencer there maybe some evidence that this can help on the DEFRA website. For me it’s the practicalities of planting out our areas that are suffering high concentrations of gases such as Crown Hill & High Street.

    Strong discussion took place, and there were lots of concerns from the members of the council. I think one aspect of the draft plan that we all agreed on was it was entirely naive and unrealistic.

    Suggestions such as

    • encouraging the public to use buses
    • electric cars and cycles
    • infrastructure and funding for cycle lanes and electric charging points does not exist

    We had further comments from some councillors about reducing pollution in the town centre by asking delivery vehicles and taxis to turn off their running engines when they are waiting. They may not have however considered refrigerated vehicles and similarly for taxi’s it’s a choice between air conditioning and heating in the taxi and long periods between customers could mean a taxi could be an uncomfortable experience.

    My fellow Lib Dem, Cllr Chris Stanley, also informed the council that our party had offered to monitor other parts of Rayleigh that could potentially have a problem with the air quality as reported by our residents, but this offer of help was turned down by RDC’s officer! – The cynic in me wonders WHY????

    Overall it was a healthy debate and hopefully educational – Rayleigh Town Council will send off their findings to the Rochford District Council. You too can have your say as the public consultation will run until 3rd January 2017. Consultation responses can be sent to airquality@rochford.gov.uk or sent to the Council postal address marked ‘Air Quality’. The document that the consultation is based on is here

     

  • The Introduction of Electric Vehicle Charging Points in Rayleigh – A Lightbulb Moment?

    Part of the draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) references Electric Vehicles (EV’s).

    Hmmm, is this a feasible alternative to our gas guzzling, fume belching vehicles I pondered? Well, there seems to be an increase in sales in the EV market, sadly though that doesn’t appear to the case in the UK. Our slow adoption might be why there are NO public charge points in Rayleigh! So unless you are at home, you are clean out of luck. Looking at ‘ZAP MAP’ the nearest public charging point is Leigh On Sea or Wickford. Whatever the urge I feel right now to come ‘clean’ – this isn’t going to work for me I’m afraid, I simply don’t think I could bear the 1hr round journey to charge my vehicle for it’s 100 mile range. Those that don’t have off street parking are left with no alternative other than to use these public charge points. Sadly, it appears this is the story of our lives here in Rayleigh, infrastructure not being in place to handle the needs of our residents. However attractive this may look I think it’s just wishful thinking by our local council. I’ll cross this one off the AQAP list for now!

     

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  • The Definition of Affordable?

    It’s something I’ve had many conversations about and I’m sure other Councillors have also had thoughts about but I’ve never really got a clear answer. What is the definition of ‘affordable’ when it comes down to new housing developments. I found this definition on the Government’s website

    Affordable housing is social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. From April 2012 affordable housing is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (prior to this the definitions in Planning Policy Statement 3 apply). Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

    So that clears that up.

    The short answer is if you want to know how affordable housing is defined, don’t ask me! I’m going to admit I’m beat on this one, but I will ask about and see if someone can give me a clear explanation on it. Watch this space!

  • Mixed Messages?

    I’m a little confused today! @rochforddc have sent these 2 tweets out. Let me explain – the 1st tweet is telling you to take part (they don’t invite you, it’s more of a demanding tone…) in the Air Quality Action Plan (which incidentally is aimed at REDUCING NO2 in the town centre. The 2nd tweet, yes that’s right – invites you to DRIVE into TOWN in your fume belching vehicle to INCREASE NO2 in the town centre. Poorly timed tweets or is there just no joined up thinking at RDC?

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  • We got more than we bargained for!

    Bargain Booze

    Bargain Booze

  • Keeping Residents Informed

    If Linda Kendall's Rayleigh Action Group achieved one thing then I would personally say it raised awareness of what is going on around us and in local government. I'm keen to help carry this on. We need to know what decisions are being taken and why by our local council. We, the residents need our voices heard. Yes I'm a Councillor, but I'm a resident too.

    Yesterday I sent the Managing Director of Rochford District Council, what I considered an important question. The level and quality of Rochford District Council's public engagement. I, like some of our other council members find the communication, well let's say, a little less than satisfactory.

    Yes I did have a particular subject matter in mind - AQAP - For those who've been following my posts will know I've been bashing this one. Those who know me would probably use the term 'dog with a bone' - I'm not letting this one go!

    I was pleased the MD replied quickly to my query and has detailed the methods of engagement used for this consultation.

    • All 223 households within the AQMA have received a letter with a specific URL directing them to the consultation www.rochford.gov.uk/airquality.
    • A tailored e-mail was sent to Rayleigh Chamber of Trade, with a request that they circulate this to businesses.
    • Hard copies of the consultation have been placed on receptions at the Council offices in Rochford, the Civic Suite and in libraries across the district, and are available on request. It has also been made clear that anyone who cannot respond via these methods can call or email, our Environmental Health Team Leader Martin Howlett.
    • Martin has been liaising with Rayleigh Town Council and has a meeting with the clerk Kerry Cumberland on December 6.
    • The AQAP consultation features on our website in the ‘Have Your Say’ section which is dedicated to all ongoing consultations, it also features in the ‘News & Events’ section. We are in the process of migrating to a new website which is due for launch on Monday, following which a banner will be added to the home page. A list of FAQs will also be uploaded.
    • We are promoting the consultation via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and social media messages have been scheduled throughout the consultation period. These have been circulated on local community pages and by the Yellow Advertiser. 
    • A poster will be provided to Rayleigh Town Council for dissemination via their noticeboards. (A request I made via the clerk at the Town Council)
    • A press release has been created with an accompanying photograph taken within the AQMA area, featuring the diffusion tubes that our Environmental Health team use. This has been circulated via the Communications department to local press, radio, television and websites, as well as MPs and parish councils, Rochford Chamber of Trade and the Local Government Association. This led to an article in the Echo on November 30.
    • The press release was also circulated to Members, who as community leaders regularly work to raise awareness amongst residents.
    • Rochford and Castle Point CCG has issued press release/social media messages in order to promote the consultation
    • A decision was made to extend the consultation from 4 weeks to just over 5, to encourage participation in the lead-up to the Christmas period and beyond.
    • Emails have been sent to all neighbouring local authorities via the Environmental Health Team, along with Essex County Council, Defra, the Environment Agency and Highways England.
    • www.essexair.org also hosts the consultation document and is using social media to promote the consultation.
    • We will also use our new service, called ‘#Tell Me More’, to promote the consultation once it is launched next week. This service enables residents to sign up for e-mail alerts from the Council on subjects they are interested in. The additional benefit is that our services will be cross-promoted by other Government organisations which already use this system (including Essex County Council), with residents being more likely to read the information because they have specifically requested it.

    Although there seems a great level of methods used to communicate, I'm still not 'convinced' the message will reach those who are most vulnerable to poor air quality - the elderly.

    I'd like to know if you feel Rochford District Council have done enough or how could they communicate the message better?​

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