From Trials to Triumphs: Celebrating Our Journey Through the Year

It’s undoubtedly been a challenging year for local Councils across the country and the Rochford District is no exception.

Since taking (joint) control of the Council in May we’ve begun to make progress although the reality is we are playing catch up on 20 years of no investment in our District by the Tories and are significantly hindered by the lack of income the Council receives – from continuous cuts by central government to the lack of income generation investments, we’re swimming against the tide.

Though, through positivity, determination, and hard work, I think we’ve made significant progress this year, and looking back here are some of the highlights.

Mill Hall Bar
In September 2023, a decision was taken by the Full Council to reopen the bar at the Mill Hall Arts and Events centre using a third party. The bar is now open and available to hire for events.

Committee System
The Council agreed in May 2023 to move from an Executive/Cabinet model of governance to a more democratic committee system of governance. In December 2023 the council agreed to the new committee structure which will be in place for May 2024.

Skate Parks
Two new skate parks have been agreed and contracts awarded. These should be constructed in 2024 in Rayleigh and Hullbridge.

After many years of ‘talk’ by the old Conservative administration at both the District and Town Councils, we’ve taken positive action, and a fully monitored CCTV system has now been installed and commissioned in Rayleigh High Street.

Boxing Club
We’ve reopened the Castle Road Hall and have entered into a contract with a boxing club.

Lib Dem colleagues Cllr Andrew Cross & Cllr Richard Linden ‘sparring’ outside Castle Road Hall

Private and Confidential Papers
We’ve prioritised openness and transparency as an administration and officers have reviewed previously ‘private and confidential’ papers and released them to the wider public

Helping our most vulnerable
At full council in February 2023 when we discussed the budget, I had proposed free parking for blue badge holders. The Conservative administration (at the time) wouldn’t support the proposal, so I am now pleased to report, that the new joint administration has been able to make this change and we now offer free blue badge holder parking in our Council car parks.

It’s not been all plain sailing and I’m sure there are still more bumps in the road as we head into the new year, but I am confident that we will continue to give our best and will bring forward plans to enhance and support our residents lives throughout the district.

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About the author 

James Newport

Essex County Councillor for Rayleigh North, Rochford District Councillor for Downhall & Rawreth and Rayleigh Town Councillor for Sweyne.

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