• Faster than a speeding car

    Well I’m no superhero, but tonight I’ve attended a community speedwatch training session in Southend.

    The session was very well attended by a lot of enthusiastic volunteers all determined to take action against the speeding motorist. There are now over 85 speedwatch groups in Essex, so it must be something that volunteers really want to get involved with. More on this once I’ve been out for my first session in Rayleigh.

    If it’s something you fancy getting involved with contact me here

    More info available here on what Community Speedwatch is all about.

  • Rochford District Budget Survey 2018/2019

    Rochford District Council have launched this pretty uninspiring budget survey. It asks residents to rate how they feel about services such as recycling, parks & open spaces, homelessness, leisure services etc.

    The survey will take around 5 minutes to complete and is anonymous. The closing date is Sunday 7 January 2018.

    I have estimated that the council will receive around 150 responses from across the district as these things are pretty low key when it comes to getting anyone excited. However it’s an important subject and perhaps should be given a more attention from residents.

  • A Criminal Misuse of Public Money?

    Disclaimer – All views are my own, as this is written on my own website, paid for with my own money – These are NOT the views of any Council that I am a member of or a view of the Liberal Democrat Party. They are simply written as a personal view of a Rayleigh Resident. Hope I’ve got the point across….

    There is an idea by the Police & Fire Crime Commissioner, that town and parish councils could now ‘buy’ their own Special Police Constables, to police their local area. Each ‘Special’ would cost the council (or taxpayer) £1000. This is an idea that has been put to Rayleigh Town Council. The role of the ‘special’ is something like this

    Call me cynical, but isn’t this just another way to extract additional money out of the taxpayer? We already have community policing teams, that are paid for from our council tax and the PFCC is now asking if we are willing to pay more in our council tax to increase policing. So it’s a double ask. The town and parish councils have to find the money from somewhere, right?

    If we are so hell-bent on having additional policing, I think someone has missed a trick here. With some crude calculations, I worked out that the £135,000 that has been spent by the district on new public toilets and the £20,000 estimated from the town council to maintain them, then this could have funded 155 special constables for 1 year. Or over the 10 year lease of the toilets, around 15 specials for 10 years. Each special averages 40 hours per month, so on this basis it would have provided funding for around 4 FULL TIME specials for Rayleigh for the next 10 years.

    Did we have a choice? No, because we weren’t asked. Could, therefore, new toilets be a criminal misuse of public money?

    Specials play an important role in the police service, and if you are interested in becoming a special you can find full details on the Essex police website here

     

     

  • Infrastructure, Housing and the ‘Outsiders’

    As landowners eye the potential rewards for putting forward their land for development, we are still faced with a lack of infrastructure to accommodate further housing needs.

    Have we been blind to the ‘unlocking’ of land in here in the Rochford District with ‘bigger’ infrastructure investments taking place right beneath our noses? Crossrail is due to commence in December 2018 and there are the second Dartford Crossing plans.

    These major infrastructure projects have the potential to unlock our District to people who can’t afford to live in London but want to be able to get from ‘A to B’ in reasonable times. Will this put further strain on the supply of ‘affordable housing’ and is this a challenge our ‘local’ residents will now face as they try to compete for the same properties?

    Some might argue that this competition already exists and I would agree to a lesser degree, but we could see a further deluge of ‘outsiders’ coming into our areas. Our housing policies must be robust to ensure that those who already live in our district are not priced out.

    Will our district be able to cope with this housing crisis in the years to come? This is something that we need to work hard on to ensure that the District prospers for all.

     

  • Pavement Promotion Problems

    Tonight’s review committee meeting brought up the issue of the pavement promotions problems. The reference to ‘pavement promotion problems’ is really to A boards.

    A boards clogging up pavements

    The blight of A boards through the High St (Rayleigh) seems to get increasingly worse – however, this may only be a ‘perception‘. Taking in to account the number of reports the council receives about this specific problem, it could be that we actually think this is a bigger problem than it is and it would be interesting to hear what residents think about this problem.

    A person displaying an advertisement in contravention of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Act and Regulation 30 of the Control of Advertisement Regulations 2007 shall be liable, on summary conviction of an offence under section 224(3) of the Act, and be liable to a fine and criminal record.

    Other unauthorised advertising in our district was also raised as a concern, from banners to illuminated signage located in inappropriate places, if its not approved by the council, at some point the owner (land owner, business owner etc) could be prosecuted and the council could even apply to recover some of money made through the illegal advertising through the proceeds of crime act. A criminal record is not something I’m sure a business would want to advertise!

    If the matter proceeds through the Court, as well as leaving the offender with a criminal record, a successful prosecution allows the Council to apply for a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) Confiscation Order.

  • Rayleigh’s ‘Night of the Year’ – the switching on of the Christmas lights

    Sadly no Ice Rink, some members of the Town Council think this can’t be accommodated – there was much enthusiasm for an Ice Rink from some members of the Chamber of Trade and members of the public. Why doesn’t the Council think outside the box or this a common trait of Councils, that like to hold back progress?

    IT’S ALL set for Rayleigh’s ‘Night of the Year’ – the switching on of the Christmas lights on Thursday, November 30 between 4pm and 6.30pm.

    It’s the night when thousands of local families throng the High Street enjoying a full programme of entertainment.

    It is now regarded as the town’s top community event of the year when families can join in the many activities that are arranged by Rayleigh Town Council, which organises the whole event.

    The High Street will be closed at the top of Crown Hill from 1.45pm until 9pm. Access to the Bellingham Lane car parks will continue until 3.45pm. There will be no taxis in the rank after 1pm. Provision, however, will be made available in Bellingham Lane outside HSBC and side of the WI Hall for pick up only.

    Signs and posters around the town will display alternative arrangements for taxis and bus diversion routes. Wheelchair users will be allowed access into the marquee area to view the event; if interested, it would be appreciated if residents could contact the Ryleigh Council prior to the event.

    Town clerk Kerry Cumberland explained: “We will have all of our usual attractions at this year’s event, including a festive market, fun fair rides and Father Christmas with his sleigh.

    “BBC Essex presenters Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt will be on stage with popular local singer Reggie Manus, Southend United Football Club players, the Mushroom Theatre Company and our primary and senior school choirs.

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  • Tory Rayleigh and Wickford MP says Greater Anglia train line should give discount due to ‘persistently poor performance’

    Mark Francois is right (did I really write that?)- why should commuters have to put up with shoddy service and poor trains? 2019 is still over a year away and I expect the train company will put up the rail fares again as they usually do to ‘compensate’ themselves for the investment in the new trains. Hand out the discounts now as Mr Francois has asked on behalf of commuters.

    A TORY MP has called on a rail company to give customers a discount ’because of persistently poor performance’.

    Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, has written to the managing director of Abellio Greater Anglia, which runs the train line from London Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria.

    In a national survey last month it was revealed that Greater Anglia generated the highest level of customer complaints of any rail company in the country.

    Mr Francois said the company should follow the lead of South Western, which gave commuters the equivalent of 10 free days of travel after a period of closure.

    He said ’dissatisfied’ Greater Anglia season ticket holders should be given a discount as a ’gesture of goodwill’.

    He wrote in a letter to company boss Jamie Burles: “As you know, I have been critical for some time of the way in which Abellio Greater Anglia are providing their services to my constituents, who this year have had to put up with numerous delays and cancellations on your Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line.

    “In addition, they have not been able to use the railway on numerous weekends because of engineering works carried out by Network Rail and also, for months, have not been able to travel home by train after 9.30pm from Liverpool Street because of further engineering works.

    “On both occasions you have laid on buses but this has happened so frequently that it seems at times Abellio is becoming more of a bus company than a rail company.

    “We now face further line closures and more buses from December 23 until the New Year.

    “Given all this, I am writing to formally request that you should give my constituents a discount on their season tickets when, as most of them do, they renew them in January.”

    Greater Anglia did not specifically comment on Mr Francois suggestion of a discount, but issued a statement saying the ongoing disruption was part of a plan to improve the line in the long run.

    It said the line was ’undergoing a major transformation to make it fit for future generations’, including the replacement of 60-year-old overhead wires.

    The statement said: “Unfortunately, this work cannot be completed without impacting on trains.”

    The company said new trains were coming with wireless internet, air conditioning and USB plugs, due to hit the line in 2019.

    The statement continued: “Currently our performance is just under 90 per cent, which is above the national average. We have direct control over one third of delays or cancellations, for which people are compensated through our Delay Repay system, which we have improved so customers can claim online for multiple journeys and receive payment in a number of different methods to suit them.”

     

  • For Fawkes Sake

    Last night we attended the annual fireworks display by Rayleigh Lions. The weather was on our side and as usual, it was a great display. Rayleigh Lions does a lot of good work in our community and as well as enjoying the fireworks you also are helping a very worthy cause.

    The crowds that gathered in King George’s field to watch the display were on their best behavior and it was good to see such a high turnout for the organised display. Top marks to Rayleigh Lions! See you at the Christmas lights switch on in a few weeks time.

  • Councils ‘to blame’ for pollution deaths

    Councils ‘to blame’ for pollution deaths

    The Conservative Government have been slow to act on pollution. It’s high time they realised that we are storing up problems for tomorrow and there is a desperate need for a new clean air act. Society needs to take it’s responsibility too, we could all do better with trying to protect our environment.

    From www.echo-news.co.uk

    COUNCILS which fail to act on combating excessive levels of pollution are “culpable for the deaths of their citizens”, a Friends of the Earth campaigner says.

    Jon Fuller, from South Essex Friends of the Earth said: “Southend Council is badly letting down people in this town by failing to tackle fumes from traffic and from Southend Airport

    “Councils which refuse to act are culpable for the death of their citizens.”

    Southend, Stanford-le-Hope and Thurrock are highlighted in a World Health Organisation report on the most toxic areas to live in in the UK.

    Diesel cars are being blamed for the main cause of pollution which is said to result in 40,000 premature deaths each year.

    But Kerry Smith, Basildon councillor responsible for housing, said building more and more homes in already built-up areas was another obstacle when it comes to combating the problem. He said: “The Government has got it completely wrong with its obsession with building all over Basildon’s green belt.

    “Removing green open spaces and vegetation is not going to help. Its’s going to reduce life expectancy.

    Southend and Rayleigh both have air quality management areas which carry a statutory requirement for the local authority to monitor pollution levels.

    Those living in areas with high nitrogen dioxide levels along the A127 near Rayleigh and Southend are in particular danger of suffering the devastating effects of air pollution.

    James Newport, Lib Dem councillor for Rochford District Council, said local authorities were not acting swiftly enough to combat such a major issue.

    He said: “We have been doing our own independent study into air pollution levels and traffic. Congestion gets worse on a daily basis and contributes to pollution but we haven’t seen any really positive steps in terms of trying to reduce that for some time. I’d like to see Essex County Council promoting electric cars, walking and cycling more. But there is not a single vehicle charging point in Rayleigh.”