Infrastructure, Housing and the ‘Outsiders’

As landowners eye the potential rewards for putting forward their land for development, we are still faced with a lack of infrastructure to accommodate further housing needs.

Have we been blind to the ‘unlocking’ of land in here in the Rochford District with ‘bigger’ infrastructure investments taking place right beneath our noses? Crossrail is due to commence in December 2018 and there are the second Dartford Crossing plans.

These major infrastructure projects have the potential to unlock our District to people who can’t afford to live in London but want to be able to get from ‘A to B’ in reasonable times. Will this put further strain on the supply of ‘affordable housing’ and is this a challenge our ‘local’ residents will now face as they try to compete for the same properties?

Some might argue that this competition already exists and I would agree to a lesser degree, but we could see a further deluge of ‘outsiders’ coming into our areas. Our housing policies must be robust to ensure that those who already live in our district are not priced out.

Will our district be able to cope with this housing crisis in the years to come? This is something that we need to work hard on to ensure that the District prospers for all.


Muddy Puddles

Walking through Sweyne Park bridle track yesterday, reminded me of this Peppa Pig story. Muddy puddles were definitely to be found and I wondered how many residents are discouraged by the amount of water that this part of the track seems to hold. I wish they would level this out as it's a great cut through for the pedestrian & cyclists to get to ASDA, St Nicholas primary school & Rayleigh Leisure Centre.

I've asked the ward Councillors to see if we can get this small part of the track maintained. In my humble opinion we need to make walking & cycling in our town more accessible to help reduce the congestion on our roads. 

What's the problem?

Fed Up Motorists Get Nailed Again

As my brother often reminds me when I mention the cost of running a car, that it’s “the joy of motoring”, however Rayleigh residents have had no joy recently with the damage to a lot of residents tyres caused by nails left on one particular cut through. On numerous occasions, Station Cresent has had nails left in the road to purposely damage drivers tyres.

Image Courtesy of Google

It seemed the police were slow to react and the culprit has yet to be caught, however, whether the Echo’s report of it being ‘yobs’ is accurate remains unknown.

It seemed the police were slow to react and the culprit has yet to be caught, however, whether the Echo’s report of it being ‘yobs’ is accurate remains unknown.

Reported in the Echo

Essex CC Launches Best Pothole Award 2017

Essex County Council who are renown for their high standards of maintaining our county road network and making the ‘right choice’ when approving plans for new housing developments, have now launched ‘The Best Pothole Award 2017’. Entries are simply made by following this link. The winner could actually expect their chosen pothole to be repaired in a timely manner and not suffer the ongoing inconvenience of having to swerve every time they think they are about to hit it.

Good luck with your entry!

The Hole Truth About Our Highways

An Audience with Essex Highways

Last night I attended an epic 2 1/2 hour briefing by Essex Highways about how they operate. (Death by Powerpoint yet again)

There is a pretty much constant complaint from residents about the poor condition of our roads in Rochford District. So it was interesting to hear for myself and Cllr Chris Stanley to hear that Essex County Council (ECC) highways report that our roads are pretty much meeting the targets. PR1 at 98%, PR2 at 99% and local roads 94% (although it was noted that they said these need some improvement)

So some statistics.

  • ECC say the Essex road network is an asset worth £10bn
  • The budget for maintaining these roads is £100m
  • Rochford District gets a £1.6m share in the budget for our roads

So it seems that the ‘road’ we were led up was that all is good – there will be potholes but some will not be fixed as any matter of urgency. Some will get repaired urgently. There is criteria – I’m not sure I fully understood although you can be sure the ones on the main carriageways will be fixed before the local roads.

One thing I did takeaway from the briefing that if you want to report potholes, lighting issues etc do it via the official ECC website as this gets fed directly into the database. Also the more people that report the problem the more likely it will gain the ‘attention’

Report Here on the official ECC website (Mobile Friendly as well I’m told)

The Introduction of Electric Vehicle Charging Points in Rayleigh – A Lightbulb Moment?

Part of the draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) references Electric Vehicles (EV’s).

Hmmm, is this a feasible alternative to our gas guzzling, fume belching vehicles I pondered? Well, there seems to be an increase in sales in the EV market, sadly though that doesn’t appear to the case in the UK. Our slow adoption might be why there are NO public charge points in Rayleigh! So unless you are at home, you are clean out of luck. Looking at ‘ZAP MAP’ the nearest public charging point is Leigh On Sea or Wickford. Whatever the urge I feel right now to come ‘clean’ – this isn’t going to work for me I’m afraid, I simply don’t think I could bear the 1hr round journey to charge my vehicle for it’s 100 mile range. Those that don’t have off street parking are left with no alternative other than to use these public charge points. Sadly, it appears this is the story of our lives here in Rayleigh, infrastructure not being in place to handle the needs of our residents. However attractive this may look I think it’s just wishful thinking by our local council. I’ll cross this one off the AQAP list for now!



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...