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.

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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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