This Week I Ask – Are RDC Officers Plugged In?

No, not literally, but ‘plugged in’ to opportunities for funding from central government.

It’s all very well us bleating on (and being told) about air pollution and our environment if we are not going to take steps to try and reduce the amount of pollution that we create.

One of the main cause of air pollution in our district is cause through vehicle movements. Having looked into this before I was well aware of the fact that there are ZERO public electric vehicle charging points in our district – not exactly pushing the boundaries then eh? When I later discover that indeed the Government is giving money away (albeit the taxpayers) to install these EV points, I just had to ask RDC if they had applied for this funding!

So I’ve written to one of the RDC officers in our Environmental Health dept to ask the question….

From:[email protected]
Sent: 29 March 2018 11:16
To: Martin Howlett
Cc: Louisa Moss; Shaun Scrutton
Subject: EV Charging Points


Dear Martin,

Could you please advise if Rochford has applied for funding for EV charging points for the Rochford District?




Cllr James Newport

Sweyne Park & Grange Ward


I’ve had a brief response back pointing to the ‘press release’ for the A127 ‘plan’ for reducing vehicle pollution… however this is not related to this specific question about whether RDC has applied for this funding. I’m told by the officer to expect a response from him when he returns from annual leave.

I’ll be updating this post when I hear back hopefully this week.


I’ve had a response back from the MD on this question and he replies…..

So, we have a significant pot of money from government for charging points near the air quality problem areas – around Rayleigh in our case…that is great news.

We have now started looking at the options for the Rochford capital pot, but part of that work involves ensuring that we take advantage of any funding/grant opportunities at the same time. I was aware of the slow progress with the on-street initiative, though I did have in mind there is a specific reason for these grants – inner city streets with apartments and flats where charging options are limited.

That said, we’ll be considering the possibilities of bringing in additional funding and this grant pot needs to be looked at as part of the project……


Candidate Announced – Round 1

I’ve read today that one of the Lodge Ward candidates for the local elections here in the Rochford District is Richard Lambourne. He stood in 2016 and narrowly missed out winning a seat, this time around I hope he’s more successful. He standing as a Independent for Rochford District Residents.

Richard has spent a lot of time campaigning on the public toilets, Frances Cottee Lodge and the processes that the council uses. I think he will represent residents well if they place their trust in him.

Mid Essex STP

NHS services are being ‘reshaped’ by Mid Essex STP and they’ve been running a public consultation on the plans. In a nutshell, they want to do away with the more general model of hospital and create specialist centres. One aspect of this would mean transporting seriously ill patients between hospitals. Questions have repeatedly been asked of the STP on how exactly this would be achieved and resourced, but we are none the wiser to this day.

Rayleigh Lib Dem group has made a formal submission to the consultation raising our concerns about transportation and other issues.

If you did miss the consultation here’s more details on the STP’s proposals.

Pot Luck on Potholes

Today I write out of sheer frustration on the situation with our potholes on our Counties roads. There doesn’t seem like one short journey you can make on our roads when it is sheer ‘pot luck’ if you don’t inadvertently hit a pothole in the road. I know, as I’ve just been presented with a bill from the garage for nearly £200 due to part of the suspension on our car being damaged. I’m convinced this occurred during a journey along the A130, or was it the A1245, now come to think of it, it might have been the A129….mmmmm maybe it was when I was driving through the High St. You get my drift, they are everywhere!

Speaking to a local resident recently, he told me how he hit a pot hole on the Hullbridge Road and it caused his air bags to go off! Not just one but a few of them.

Well, I’ve had enough of this ‘dodge the pothole’ game, I’m writing to our County Councillors to see if they will step up and get our roads repaired. Essex Highways May have limited funds but are we getting our share? Time to find out.

Tescos – Every Parking Space Helps

A common complaint by many residents is the lack of parking in the Tesco's Express on London Road. You will notice that in the last week or so, work has finally begun on extending the Tesco's car park to increase the number of spaces. Plans for this extension have been around for some time (over 2 years) and I have been constantly chasing the various authorities on progress.

The redesign of the car park will see bollards installed along Vernon Avenue to stop pavement parking and an extension of the double yellows. Delivery lorries will no longer be able to exit Vernon as the car park has been redesigned to allow them to turn around and exit onto London Road in a forwards motion. 

I expect this design will not please everyone but this is a site that in my opinion, should never have been allowed planning permission. If you want more information about this application the full details are here

Looking to Buy a House? You’ll Need 10 Times the Average Salary

We often hear the argument that more housing is needed to meet the demands of residents and in particular their children. So while you contemplate the ‘affordability’ of housing in our district here are some interesting facts that you are faced with when trying to get onto the property ladder in the Rochford District.

  • Average house prices are above the national average at £306,852
  • The rising cost of homes in the Rochford District means that the average home costs over 10.2 times the average salary
  • In addition, average private rents in the Rochford District now cost £898 a month
  • Many working households are reliant on Housing Benefit to cover rents, with 25% of all Housing Benefit claimants in work
  • The income required to get an 80% mortgage is a whopping £70,138

What are the options for those starting out on the property ladder? Better jobs, the bank of Mum & Dad, lower expectations, renting or perhaps an inheritance.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on getting your foot on the property ladder here in the Rochford District.

*Statistics from ONS – correct as of 2016

Doctor Doctor

It’s really no joke, yes it’s true I’ve been trying to get an appointment at Audley Mills in Rayleigh for the last 2 weeks. It’s not a life-threatening condition (or at least I hope not) but I need a face to face appointment. Being greeted by a ‘we can not connect your call’ at 8 o’clock in the morning isn’t exactly the way I like to start my day.

So today I took to Facebook to seek advice from the grand masters of getting a doctor’s appointment to see how exactly I can get an appointment at my doctor’s surgery. I was beginning to think it was either witchcraft or voodoo magic that was needed but now I’ve found ‘just what the doctor ordered’

Option 1

The Tent – Camp out until 7am in the morning when the doctor’s surgery opens. You can then rush the receptionist for that 1st appointment






Option 2

The Computer – Wait till midnight to use the online booking system







Option 3 

The Phone – Call frantically at 8am and ‘hope’ you get through to a human






I’m going to take the advice of these experienced operatives and by the time I get to see a doctor I will need treatment for hypothermia, tiredness and repetitive strain injury. Wish me luck!

For more helpful advice and tips on getting to see your doctor, funded by YOU the taxpayer see the Facebook post

Cyber What?

I was rather bemused to read this ‘tweet’ sent out by RDC

Back in June 2017, I sent an email to the Managing Director, Shaun Scrutton, with my concern that some members were still operating iPad 4’s which were shortly to become ‘end of life’ – this means, of course, no further security updates released for the devices. In December 2017, again I made an attempt at getting the Council to ‘see sense’ and take action on this worrying state of affairs. I have now had to ask whether I am liable for any data breach if my iPad is ‘hacked’ – no reply at the time of writing.

I was assured in another more recent email that we would be migrating to O365 in January – still no sign of that migration happening!

This is not just a fuss about nothing – lessons should have already have been learned from the NHS cyber attack. Let’s hope Cllr Cutmore, as leader of the council, puts into practice his understanding from his recent lesson in cybersecurity and orders that Rochford District Council updates their iPad’s as a matter of urgency.

If you are interested in reading more about the issues that could affect ios devices, here’s an article from the Telegraph.