• 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)

    Edit your caption text here

  • Toilet Petition Now Live!

    Not being one to give up so easily, there is a petition now live on the council's website. You can find the petition by clicking the button below.

    With over 300 signatures already added we need a further 1200 to get a debate in full council, where Councillors will be forced to explain the logic (if there is any!) and the costs of £330k that the taxpayer will foot.

    Do you know a friend, relative or neighbour who doesn't have internet access? No bother! Some of our local businesses are holding paper petitions for people to sign. Full details below.

    Hicke​y's DIY, 9 London Rd ,Rayleigh SS6 9AX

    Ashley Knotts Barbershop, 221 London Rd, Rayleigh SS6 9DN, UK

  • Another Idea Down The Toilet

    So what am I talking about? Well there has been ongoing discussion about the closure of the public toilets across the district. RDC wants to save money (again) and this time it's eyed up the public toilets as a means to save a penny. However, not only have they eyed up the toilets as a means to save money, they've also been eyeing up the Parish Councils budgets!

    Transferring the maintenance costs to the Parishes free's RDC from there responsibilities - however it has surprised me that there has not been outrage by residents as in the case of Rayleigh Town Council, a £20,000 budget has been put in place to cover these costs, resulting in an increase in the precept, resulting in..... yup an increase in the council tax!

    The plan has evolved and currently (for Rayleigh), the existing toilet building will be 'gutted' and a new 'modern' block of toilets will be built on the land adjacent.

    Taking to social media to 'inform' residents of the plan - it has become evident that this is not the 'plan' that residents wish to see happen. As we (the Lib Dems and other opposition groups) have been fighting this from the outset and voting against at every possible level, District & Town, it was now apparent we would have to resort to raising a petition against the actions.

    Alas, this is not to be, I am told by an undisclosed officer at RDC that petitions are not for Councillors, they are for members of the public. I'm struggling with this - I simply do not remember waiving my rights as a member of public when I became elected as a Councillor. Someone show me where and when I signed a legal document to waive such rights and I will gladly go on my way and create no further fuss about this. Until I have this evidence I feel as though the voices of my residents have been silenced. They are not allowed to look to their elected representative to create a petition to voice their feelings about a decision that has been made by those who they didn't choose to represent them.

    Rochford District Council - I await the response to my email to tell me specifically who denied my request for a petition.

    Want to support me? Then help me by sharing this article with all your friends and family

  • Save Southend 1 – NHS Success Regime 0

    Save Southend A&E have scored an epic victory over the NHS Success Regime, with a U turn on the downgrade of Southend A&E, it is a victory for this campaign group that should be admired. Undoubtedly without this well organised group, the plans would have slipped through and we’d be none the wiser until the deal had been done.

    I like to think that some of us Councillors at Rochford District Council played a small part in this U turn. A group of opposition Councillors (including myself) put forward a motion to have the NHS give a presentation to full council on the future plans. This was led by an Independent Councillor, John Mason and I can only hope that this helped Save Southend by giving Dr Howard a platform to give her strong views against the proposals.

    Politically it was quite amusing in some ways to watch the Conservative group in shock of what they were being told when it was their masters forcing further cuts to the NHS that brought forward these plans. When will they learn that austerity has gone too far?

    Now we watch and wait for further plans for cost saving measures. We will continue to support Save Southend A&E group and keep our residents informed of future developments.

    VIVA Save Southend A&E !!

    Want to know more about the campaign? Then click here to be taken to ALL the information you would ever need about this disastrous proposal

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