Archive Monthly Archives: September 2017

Join Us

When I joined the Lib Dems back in 2015 I wasn’t too sure if they’d be the ‘right fit’ for me. Now 18 months later, I’m a Lib Dem District & Town Councillor representing residents in Rochford & Rayleigh.

As a ‘younger’ member of society, they were the only party for me that was dynamic and actually seemed to have their own voice and gave their Councillors the freedom to express themselves in their own way.

Nationally their policies seemed to make sense and in fact were the common sense policies that I’d been seeking.

If you fancy becoming a member of the Lib Dems and share the same common values click here to find out more. As a Lib Dem member, you can get involved as much or as little as you want.


Rising Cyber Crime & Learn How to Protect Yourself

No one wants to be a victim of crime and it could be even more devastating if you are a victim of cyber crime. Shocking figures given to us at a recent Police Crime Commissioner briefing shows there has been an increase of 245% in online crime, nationally, in the past year. (May 2016 to May 2017)

My personal view of this is that online crime will continue to grow as our lives become more and more dependant on online services. Police resources have been diverted away from traditional crime to trying to tackle this surge in online crime which is becoming increasing more sophisticated.

As an IT professional myself, it is a constant learning curve, which takes a great deal of time to keep updated on the latest threats and ways of tackling the risk of crime.

If you want to know more about how you can protect yourself from online crime there are a number of practical steps you can take.

Education, education, education! Take advantage of free schemes such as Digital Eagles from Barclays Bank. These systems are open to anyone and they also offer a wide range of online courses that you can do at home. The nearest Digital Eagles workshops are in Basildon, so not too far away.

RRAVS, in Rayleigh also run a computer course which appears to be targeted at the elderly, although I have not confirmed that with them.

There are other valuable resources online that you can check out for further information, it's important to keep your computer skills current.

What ever you use the internet for online crime can take many forms so here is a selection of useful links to check out. If you know of any other links that might be of interest to other readers please let me know and I'll add them.

A Few Words from the Managing Director

A number of us local councillors run blogs in our spare time, as an aim to keep the wider public informed of our actions, intentions and views. So it is interesting to see that the MD of Rochford District Council has now decided to write a blog.

One of his first blog posts is about homelessness. A worthy topic of a blog post, however, I’m sceptical of how this will pan out and there may have been second thoughts since there have been no updates to the blog since August. As many blog writers know readership falls heavily if there are large gaps in new content.

I have mused if the move is an unusual one and how, as Managing Director, if he will be able to maintain an apolitical view on the workings & decisions of the council.

If the blog continues it will be an interesting read, and one that will be heavily scrutinised by ALL parties I’m sure.

Watch this space

Bloomin’ Well Done

Rayleigh Town Council, celebrates this year winning the Gold Award for Anglia in Bloom.

You have to admire the determination of some of our Councillors to keep going after this award and this year their only bloomin’ gone and done it!

It’s great too, to see such a positive response from residents on social media and it’s a real testament to Rayleigh Town Council with all the hard work they put in.

Yes, I am lucky enough to be a member of the council and although I don’t always see eye to eye with all members, I’m still very proud of what they have achieved. Well done to all involved in making our town continuously better!

Travellers Move on to Cherry Orchard Park

The Echo News reports here, that 4 caravans have moved on to Cherry Orchard Park.

Not long ago, we faced the same problem here in Sweyne Park & Grange Ward but with a much larger number of travellers taking up residence on Grange playing fields. This caused a great deal of concern from residents with the legal process for eviction taking sometime to inact.

Reassuringly, the District Councils portfolio holder for Community has been quoted by the paper as saying ‘residents should not be concerned’

I’m not sure if this will give comfort to those living in the nearby vicinity, I know that I received a great many messages and calls from residents when travellers were on Grange playing fields.

Meanwhile a Rochford parish Councillor has reminded readers that a travellers site has been proposed for Rayleigh. Is this a case of NIMBYISM for Rochford Councillors?

Participation Not Required (By Some)

Politics can be cruel, it can be kind, but it can be disappointing too. I often have a wry smile when I attend District Council meetings. For they are the meetings when participation is not required by some it seems. The administration appear to have some voices that are not to be heard. Some faces look expressionless into the room waiting only for the crucial moment to raise an arm to make sure the votes add up. It could be that even local government is suffering the lack of participation that House of Lords is suffering

I believe I am not alone in my thinking of who votes for these Councillors that take their seat ignoring the very reason they are in the room? Perhaps Rochford District has bred a "something for nothing" culture that has gone unnoticed for too long?

Let's hope next May brings us some fresh voices and a wider debate on the future for Rochford's residents.

Police Crime Commissioner is put in the dock by Councillors

Last nigh Essex Police Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, gave a briefing to District and Parish Councillors in the Rochford District. The council chamber was fairly full (rather like Southend Police Cells! More on that later) and attended by 13 opposition members and just 9 Conservative members. 

The presentation started with a brief slide show from Roger Hirst on the revenues received by selling off the police estates and the investment that the police have made in modern technology. I wonder what they will sell off when everything has been sold, but I'm sure someone has already thought of that.

Members were invited to ask questions to Mr Hirst once his presentation had finished and there was plenty of those!  A usually vocal (ahemmm), Cllr Newport remained quiet throughout, as I had the insight to present my questions to the PCC prior to the meeting and which I had already had responses from Chief Inspector Westley.

There were some interesting questions presented to the PCC and he was challenged on accusations (as the Echo reported) of the police being too busy to collect CCTV evidence from a recent crime scene. A slightly embarrassed Mr Hirst, could only accept that the police were 'guilty as charged'

A recurring theme of Councillors went on to report to Mr Hirst that the spiraling drugs problem across the district is not being addressed. (one of the questions I had already put prior to the meeting) Concerned Parish Councillors reported how the lack of police presence in Hullbridge has seemily led to open drug dealing outside the primary school and the persistant Parish Councillor repeatedly told Mr Hirst that the lack of police presence in Hullbridge was acutely noteable. 

CCTV evidence was another topic of conversation, as members informed Mr Hirst that there seemed to be a reluctance by police to process footage. Mr Hirst explained that the current technology that the police have means that it is cumbersome for the police to process this evidence. 

Other challenges made to Mr Hirst were made on the 101 service and the severe delays on getting through to report crime (some references to 1hr plus), one example given the caller was asked if they could be called back and to wait until at least the next day! Again the evidence put to Mr Hirst was damning and there was little defence from Mr Hirst only that they need to do better.

I think it was an uncomfortable evening for Mr Hirst and his defence was weak. He is clearly a 'hands up' guy and he can only be commended for admitting where there are failures - I think he has his work cut out. Will he be able to get the confidence in the police service restored any time soon? I'd be hesitant to think so. 

If your interested to know more on how the evening went Cllr Chris Black will be reporting here

Poisoned Playgrounds

There's a killer lurking outside of our children's playground across the Rochford District and residents don't currently have the comfort of knowing it's not about to get into the playgrounds. Why? there is absolutely NO air monitoring data outside of school playgrounds in the Rochford District.

That is why the Lib Dems, Rochford Residents & Green groups have come together to carry out their own air monitoring tests. We want to know if our residents are at risk from illegal levels of air pollution. Client Earth's postcode checker does not represent our area and I'm in contact with them to get this ammended. 

Watch the video below, it's pretty powerful stuff.

Back to Hydrology

Years ago, I spent some time working as a hydrologist for Institute of Hydrology – so last nights training session on SuDS was of interest to me. However, the value of the training session was questionable for many Councillors. Of course, in theory, well-designed schemes should relieve flooding, but as Cllr Chris Black discusses in this article, the design on its the own is not enough!