Here’s a good podcast from Radio 4 on Air Pollution that’s worth a listen if you want to learn more.
Today I’ve been poking around the Essex County Council website, it’s actually amazing what you find out if you click around for a bit. Some may think it might have been better not to dig around, especially when I came across this page!
Does anyone know where I can buy an Ark?
What can I say it’s actually quite scary how many houses in Rayleigh are at risk of flooding. I’ve drilled down on their GIS system and look at this….
So it won’t happen to me right? Well these maps are 1 in 30 years. Seems like the frequency of the chance of flooding is not something we should ignore.
Personally, Yes I live in the ‘Flood Zone’ – Do I have faith in the council’s flood forum to know something is being done? – Put simply NO! Working as a hydrologist in my former years I’ve seen the devastating power of mother nature and I’m not about to take any risks. I’m taking reasonable steps to protect our home so I’m off to get some sandbags from Rayleigh Town Council (Yes they offer free sandbags and they are available to all residents).
My fellow Lib Dem Councillor Chris Stanley, has been actively engaged with ECC to have the ditches and drainage systems along the London Road cleared and maintained and I’m very grateful we’ve got such a proactive Councillor on the case. It would seem they have been neglected for some time!
Source – Essex County Council Flood risk and asset register map
We often hear residents say that they'd like to see more police on our streets. The reality is resources are limited and the resource they have is spread thinly among many emerging threats. A big shift of their work has moved from being on the beat to 'patrolling' the internet.
Whilst of course the internet has brought many positives to our everyday lives, the threats to our communities have also increased. You can do your bit to help by simply getting yourself and your family educated about the internet. Internetmatters.org does a very job of explaining the dangers you and your family could face and I highly recommended having a browse around their site.
If you've been following the Crown Hill toilets saga. this week I have been handed 'The Masterplan' - So you know what is happening? I'm publishing the full details here which reveals the full approach and timescales to the future of the toilets.
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Consultation with the residents is often said to be incredibly difficult. However, it’s no different to marketing a business. You want to tell the potential customers (audience) about what you are doing or selling. You want them to be interested (engaged) and ultimately you want them to buy (respond).
So just why do councils struggle with this process? Could it be the lack of trust in the first instance, or could it be the message they send out (telling not asking) and when they decide to buy they are sold the wrong thing!
Despite the fears of some councils, the easiest way to ‘engage’ and get the message out to the residents is often via social media. There are several community groups across the district which have good memberships. They rely purely on ‘shares’ to the groups to get important messages from the council. I don’t know why the council don’t or/and won’t engage with these community sites and post directly to them. Here’s a list of some sites they could consider.
I’m not suggesting that social media replaces the need for proper consultation but compliments the efforts to communications that are already in place. The council’s own social media page has a lowly 1k likes. The ‘tell me more’ is a step in the right direction but I think memberships such as the RAG group prove that the residents are interested. It might have cost Linda Kendall £55k, but she has built (with a little help from her supporters) an engaged and often responsive audience.
Some may think it’s money well spent with a new wave of Councillors elected and a reduced Tory majority, the Pandora’s box has well and truly been opened.
Budgeting for the following financial year is undoubtedly an important year. I assume most households run some sort of budget, trying to live within their means.
I’ve recently been invited to attend the Rochford District Council ‘budget away day’. As a new councillor I was invited to the same ‘away day’ last year. After attending I wondered if it held much value for us as councillors and indeed whether it was entirely necessary to hold such a day.
On weighing up the pro’s and con’s this year I’ve decided to decline the invitation. I feel in times of austerity, with threatened closures of public toilets, cuts to children’s playgrounds and the huge costs involved in dealing with homelessness, the money could be well spent elsewhere. Now is not the time to be frivolous with the publics money. In my reasoning for not attending I have citied the former to the council and I have also stated that the council has adequate facilities to hold this ‘away day’ on its own premises that is already being paid for.
I’m pleased to report, I am not alone in my thinking and other members of the Lib Dems have declined the invitation as well.
Let’s hope the council see that their number is up on this one!
This week, Jaywick in Essex was evacuated. This should be a stark reminder of the real threat of flooding that we face across our district. Just a few years ago, flooding caused devastation for families in Rayleigh when their homes were flooded. Our own home too, came under threat. Although not in the news this week, Rochford District could easily be back in the news in the blink of an eye. The flood risk is severe and mother nature has no mercy to it’s victims.
So what are are Lib Dems doing?
Lib Dem Councillor Chris Stanley has been proactively, trying to ensure that ALL ditches and drains are being maintained regularly by Essex County Council. Chris is a member of Rawreth Parish Council, whose community is constantly threatened with the fear flooding. If you spot a drain or ditch that is blocked please contact [email protected]
What other help is available?
If you are living under threat from flooding and live in Rayleigh, the Town Council operate a sandbag scheme. More details can be found in this link.Continue reading
We've been told on numerous occasions that the air quality in Rayleigh's AQMA is 'marginally above the limit'. In this press release made on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Councillor June Lumley was pictured holding some diffusion tubes. She also had this to say....
And herein lies my problem. I've looked at the data for 2016 and the results are shocking. At least 7 sites in Rayleigh EXCEED the LEGAL AIR QUALITY LIMITS
Let's consider this for ourselves looking at the actual published data for air quality from the 'official' Essexair.org website.
Above The Legal Limit
Eastwood Road / Webster's Way
Eastwood Rd/Websters Way
Above The Legal Limit
Above The Legal Limit
12.5%, 37.5%, 50% - These don't seem like 'marginally over the limits' to me. Put simply this problem is out of control and the Tory administration have done NOTHING to either FIX or ATTEMPT TO REDUCE the dangerous levels of NO2 in our town. These are just 3 sites, there are more..... I kid you not, the problem is of an epidemic scale!
I ask you is it really any surprise to the residents that they have outright refused (and denied our residents) any further monitoring of the Rochford District, or is the problem so widespread it would highlight even further that our district is at breaking point and our residents are suffering the consequences of successive Tory administrations.
It might be that you have never been caught short whilst doing a bit of shopping on the High St in Rayleigh, but at some stage you might just have wished there were facilities nearby that you could use. The emotive issue of public toilets comes before Rayleigh Town Council on Monday. Public toilets have been closed across the country by other councils, as they have faced funding gaps and now it could well be down to the town council to keep these facilities in our High St.
Item 6 on Rayleigh Town Council, full council meeting (full details in the link) should raise some public interest.
Sometimes it’s good to visit a ‘site’ before you discuss it at a council meeting. So today I wondered along to John Fisher Playground, otherwise known as the Grange playground, to see what sort of state it was in.
Sometimes you get that kind of heart sinking moments and this was one of them. Whilst most of the play equipment remained intact, it really is showing it’s age and signs of little maintenance. It’s sad when you see this as play areas like this are lovely, traditional spots for children to socialise outside of the school playground and also an opportunity for parents to enjoy their children in the outdoors. As a parent myself, it’s one of the few outings when you don’t have to dip into your pocket!
Rayleigh Town Council has already decided on the transfer of the play equipment maintenance from Rochford District Council to Rayleigh Town Council. Rayleigh Town Council is renown for it’s high standards of maintenance in King George’s Park, so this really is a test for them. On the surface it looks like a good idea, though I do have my concerns over sustainability of the maintenance in the long term. Just as once Rochford District Council could afford to maintain these play areas (they now have a budget of around £25k for the whole district), who’s to say Rayleigh Town Council won’t be hit by the same cuts and strains on their finances in the future years?
I happy to report, that RDC’s officer responsible for these play areas will be in attendance at the meeting on Monday to answer a question I have put to Rochford Council, as to whether they will transfer section 106 payments over to Rayleigh Town Council that they have received from developers. Once the better weather comes along (hopefully), it would be nice for these areas to be reignited with the sound of children’s laughter and happy memories.
If you are able to attend the meeting please come along. You can speak if you wish or I would be happy to hear from you prior to the meeting to put your views forward on your behalf.
I will updated this post after Monday with more information…..