Update on the Mid and South Essex Success Regime

One item on the agenda at last nights full council meeting was

To receive a presentation from Dr Celia Skinner, Chief Medical Officer for the three NHS Hospital Trusts, Southend, Basildon and Broomfield, providing an update on the latest plans to reconfigure and redesign hospital services across the three sites to meet growing demands and pressures, prior to the end of the public consultation period in December 2017.

The last time the success regime came to council, as reported by the late Cllr Chris Black, we were extremely doubtful of the proposals that were being presented to us. This time it really didn’t get any better, as these dodgy double glazing salesman in white coats tried to persuade us of their new master plan.

It didn’t start well for the success regime as the motion at the last meeting included inviting Dr. Caroline Howard back to the Council along with the Success Regime team. It was not to be, as they had decided to uninvite Dr. Howard and proceed with their brief presentation. After some debate, the Chairman decided that the presentation should proceed.

I don’t think that I was the only one that was perplexed as to why Dr. Howard was absent from the meeting. Was it that she was simply unavailable? was she ill? had she disappeared? Should someone file a missing person report for her? No, panic over,  there she was sitting at the back of the room, prepared to listen to the new sales pitch. Dr. Celia Skinner quickly explained that she was best placed to give us an update on the changes that had been made to the plan and Dr. Howard had contributed towards some of these changes. Regrettably by this time, my confidence in the new plan had been lost due. I couldn’t help feeling that by not allowing Dr. Howard to speak they had something to hide.

It seemed to me that we could read the glossy brochure but not have the small print explained to us by someone knowledgeable.

Isn’t there usually more than one side to a debate anyway? The presentation concluded and Cllr Webb eagerly jumped in with a motion which was seconded by Cllr Gooding. (I didn’t catch the full motion as it was quite long…). At this point, we were unable to ask any questions of the regime and it swiftly brought the ‘debate’ to an end.

The success regime duly ended their time in the council chamber assuring us that next time they would bring along clinical leads – ahhh so we may get some clinical evidence to support that these changes are in the best interests of patients. We will wait and see. For now, I will reserve judgment.




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.

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

A Clean Air Zone for Rayleigh?

Rayleigh has a cloudy history when it comes to Air Pollution and now the Government has been forced to up the ante to solve the increasing problem with Air Pollution across the UK. Whilst we all probably realise, London suffers with poor air quality, we are in fact (and have been for a long time) facing an illegal limit of NO2 right in our own town. 

You may have read my previous posts on air pollution or seen our campaign to increase the air quality monitoring across the district. Now, however the UK Government has launched another consultation on how to reduce the pollution in our towns and cities.

The highlights of the document are the ways in which this could be acheived

  • ​Exploring innovative retrofitting technologies and new fuels;
  • Buying ULEVs and encouraging local transport operators to do the same
  • Encouraging private uptake of ULEVs via ensuring adequate chargepoints
  • Encouraging use of public transport, cycling, walking, park and ride schemes, and car sharing
  • Improving road layouts and junctions to optimise traffic flow, for example by considering removal of road humps
  • Working with local businesses and neighbouring authorities to ensure a consistent approach
  • Charging certain types of vehicles to enter or move within the zone

Now I don't have any prior knowledge of what our local council could be doing about our particular problem (as that would be a Tory decision), other than the already published AQAP - but in the Government's consultation it's suggested that charging vehicles to enter a clean air zone (i.e Rayleigh Town Centre) would be the quickest way to get the problem under control.

On the basis of the failure to act and armed with the knowledge that even OUTSIDE of the AQMA, there are indications from our own sampling that there is more illegal pollution in our town, there is a possibility that we could see a clean air zone set up in Rayleigh with some of the dirtiest polluting vehicles being charged to pass through our town centre.

Watch this space for future developments or sign up below for future updates!

Toilet Leaks

If you've been following the Crown Hill toilets saga. this week I have been handed 'The Masterplan' - So you know what is happening? I'm publishing the full details here which reveals the full approach and timescales to the future of the toilets.


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Toilet Plan

Mixed Messages?

I’m a little confused today! @rochforddc have sent these 2 tweets out. Let me explain – the 1st tweet is telling you to take part (they don’t invite you, it’s more of a demanding tone…) in the Air Quality Action Plan (which incidentally is aimed at REDUCING NO2 in the town centre. The 2nd tweet, yes that’s right – invites you to DRIVE into TOWN in your fume belching vehicle to INCREASE NO2 in the town centre. Poorly timed tweets or is there just no joined up thinking at RDC?


Rayleigh has an Unseen Killer on the Loose!

Chances are if you like to shop in Rayleigh or dine al fresco then you're sure to have been 'touched' by Rayleigh's unseen killer. Rayleigh's killer has been active for more than 6 years with the Tory administration failing to act to bring this 'killer' into check for  more than 6 years.

Our town's 'killer' spares no one and it's estimated has claimed between in excess of 20,000 victims in the UK alone. The identity of this 'killer' is toxic nitrogen oxide. With 80% of nitrogen oxide being accounted for by vehicle emissions our constant congestion causes even more air pollution, the required action from our council is well overdue. With the majority of people taking to the private car it's worth remembering that a staggering 97% of all modern diesel cars emit more toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution on the road than the official limit.

With the threat of heavy EU fines, our Tory led council has opened a public consultation into how they might reduce these harmful level's of Nitrogen Oxide that blights our town centre. They are looking for your opinion of the proposed pollution reduction schemes, such as the removal of zebra crossings and replacing them with pelican crossings, car sharing and promoting cycling and walking.

"All residents within the AQMA will receive a letter directly informing them of the consultation, as will the statutory consultees. Statutory consultees include: Essex County Council, neighbouring local authorities, Rayleigh Town Council, Rayleigh Chamber of Trade, Environment Agency, Highways England and Defra"

We are concerned that this consultation will be another demonstration of Rochford District Council's failure to communicate effectively with it's residents and has seemingly 'forgotten' the residents that prop up the local High St economy by not reaching the rest of the community with it's somewhat limited communication effort.

"Apart from consultation on the extent of the AQMA, there has been little engagement with local people in Rayleigh about the AQMA"

It's high time that this issue, that is probably one of biggest public health issues in the country, is taken seriously by our council. We can not afford to be soft on this issue. With a further reduction in acceptable levels due to come into force between 2020 and 2030 we need to take firm, swift action now.

If you want to know more about our views on air quality in Rayleigh and Rochford District please comment below.

Air Quality Action Plans and Why We Need Them

Air Quality in Rayleigh has been poor for some time. In fact since 2004 Rayleigh has exceeded EU air quality limits. Rochford District Council has been monitoring Rayleigh for air pollution and as figure C1 from the 2016 Air Quality Annual Status Report shows the levels have fallen over time. However is should be noted that the 2015 data is far from conclusive in my own opinion as "A lack of resources prevented deployment of diffusion tubes during the second half of 2015." - doesn't inspire confidence when you are dealing with people's health!

Our council clearly needs to take action on this matter as there has been a constant failure to tackle this problem. In a recent court case against the government Client Earth has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK.

This week we have met with RDC's officer responsible for Air Monitoring and offered our help. We are keen to extend the air quality monitoring to areas outside of the AQMA and have been looking at locations where there could be problems with congestion and the proximity to homes.​

up to 50,000 people a year die early from air pollution-related illnesses in the UK

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

The big question is, although areas can be monitored and identified as to whether they exceed these limits, what can be done to reduce the pollution?

The council has been working on this and has taken on external consultants to make recommendations

​These are the 'broad' plans

 Monitoring

 Traffic Management

 Sustainable Travel

 Planning Policy and Development Control

 Low Emission Vehicles

 Raising Awareness

Help Required?

In the next month or so, the council will release the latest Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) for public consultation and it will be interesting to see how the public reacts. Although residents will acknowledge the fact that they don't want their health to suffer I wonder if proposals to the town centre traffic system, new homes, alternative travel and changing their cars will be a trade off they are willing to make?

Do you want to know more about Air Pollution and the harmful effects? Here's a short video from Clean Air London to explain more...

On yer bike Essex Highways!


Is Cycling the answer to Rayleigh traffic problems?

When I look at our local traffic problems, I think what a shame it is that you don’t see more families taking to the roads on bikes – then looking around Rayleigh I see that cycle lanes are either not feasible or just plain forgotten by our local highways representatives. I’m an occasional cyclist (no lycra here!) and often use my bike to nip to ASDA’s, cutting through Sweyne Park bridle track from Victoria Avenue. There is a lovely, shared footpath from the top of Priory Chase to ASDA and I’m pretty sure I could beat any vehicle that makes the same journey via the main roads. It takes me about 10 minutes to make the journey and I’m not polluting the environment or caught up in traffic.

The recent report for 47 new dwellings on London Road refers to cycle routes. I raised the point that I could not see these cycle routes around our town. In fact in some areas I struggle to see safe walking routes to be honest. I felt I was sneered at by other members for raising this and didn’t get any support but I do wonder when the last time they got on a push bike was?

I’m going to so more digging around on this subject as I think people should be encouraged to use bikes more often, but we need to make our roads more accessible for cyclists and their families.