• 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.

  • Autumn 2017 e-FOCUS is out!

    Our team has been out busy delivering our Focus leaflets in the Sweyne Park & Grange Ward and Down Hall & Rawerth. However, since we are a progressive party….. you can read our e-Focus (our online edition) which is available here for Sweyne Park & Grange.

  • 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!

  • Meeting the needs of our residents with affordable housing

    There must be more that we can do to meet the needs of residents with affordable housing right? Well today on my journey home from London, I read this article.

    If you want to skip to the interesting part - the article discusses Community Land Trusts. Is this the way forward for to help people get their foot on to the property ladder at realistic prices?

    More information on Community Land Trusts here - http://www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/

  • Local Policing

    What's a Tory doing on a Lib Dem blog?

    Well for those that don't know this is Roger Hirst. He's the police crime commissioner for Essex Police. 

    For sometime there have been comments from residents about policing (or the apparent lack of it). So with this in mind I recently wrote to Roger's office asking if they were planning on visiting leafy Rayleigh anytime soon to answer our residents concerns.

    I had a lovely reply from Roger's office informing me that he will attend a meeting at RDC on the 12th September. I can of course put forward any questions from residents for Mr Hirst to answer at this time. 

    If there is anything you would like to ask then please contact me here and I will pass your question to Mr Hirst.

  • “It’s okay everyone, the Magic Money Tree has been found!”

    I think there would be few people who would disagree that £330k is a lot of money. It's a lot of public money that perhaps could be used on more worthwhile projects. I don't think I'm the only Councillor shocked at this extraordinary amount of money that has been earmarked to effectively 'get rid' of the public toilets from the district councils books. 

    We constantly hear arguments that homelessness is costing the council (the taxpayer) a lot of money and there is a deficit in the budget. So it would appear that the Conservative administration has called in a favour from Labour - yes they have borrowed the 'Magic Money Tree' to fund this little project of theirs! 

    The whole process of offloading the responsibility of the toilets has, in my opinion, been a strange affair. My fellow Councillor, Chris Stanley, argued for some considerable time as to why there was a need to dispose of the Crown Hill public toilets. 'Building unsound' 'Graffiti' 'Drug Use' - all of these reasons were cited. We've actually seen NO evidence of this.

    Cllr Stanley also asked for the quotes to refurbish the Crown Hill toilets into a modern, functioning design. Quotes that never appeared. Somehow, the Conservatives believe the only way is to build new modern toilets. 

    The condition of the building has recently seen a reprieve - hooray! Now apparently, the building could be suitable for a commercial use. Address THE OLD TOILETS, CROWN HILL, RAYLEIGH. A prestigious address for a commercial unit. (thanks Cllr Eves)

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