A Flavour of Last Night’s West Area Committee

The setting : People we spoke to afterwards felt that the Methodist Church was quite a good location, at least for summertime meetings. There was plenty of parking as well. Because of the involvement of the public, and the attitude of councillors, there was a good positive atmosphere.

First question from the public – was from onlinefocus regular Mike Nobes, asking how many homes has been built in Rayleigh so far this year – the answer was that the district council doesn’t know yet.

Lorries breaking the weight limit along Beeches Road and Watery Lane : Ron Oatham said he’s heard a rumour that Satnavs were programmed with this as a suitable route for lorries, and this caused part of the problem. Lyn Harvey from County Highways didn’t
think really was causing the problem – most of the lorries seemed to be from local companies, and that the police were visiting them and warning them.

Reduction in the bus service along Rawreth Lane Lib Dem Chris Lumley asked whether we could ask Firstbus to increase their services in the area so that there could be an hourly bus along Rawreth Lane.

Crime Figures Chief Inspector John Walker talked about the latest crime statistics. In the second quarter of 2007, reported crime in Rayleigh was down compared with the previous year:

Burglary 7
Common assault 16
Criminal Damage 80 (includes vandalism)
Robbery 0
Theft from Vehicles 48
Theft from the person 5
Bicycle thefts 5
Taking of motor vehicle 20
Vehicle Interference 2
Woundings 29 (includes actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm)

Total, 2nd quarter of 2007 : 212
Total, 2nd quarter of 2006 : 241

Cllr Joan Mockford said she was disappointed that these figures weren’t lower, however the Chief Inspector said that at least these figures were going down, whereas in other parts of Essex they were going up.

Member of the public Steve Skinner asked what the detection rate was – the answer was that it was currently 32.8 per cent.

Websites: Onlinefocus regular Alison Mayor said the Rayleigh Town Council website was lagging behind – there was nothing about the windmill on it , for example. Tory Town Councillor Pat Weaver admitted that their website needed improving , and that this was being discussed.

Air Pollution in Rayleigh Town Council: There was a brief discussion about the high levels in Nitrogen Dioxide that had been measured at the High Street/ Eastwood Road junction. Tory Cllr Jim Grey said that a lot of the pollution came from buses, and Chris Lumley agreed, saying that we were now getting a lot more older buses in our area.

Chris Black formally asked that the area committee get the ‘cabinet’ to have more pollution measuring at the High Street/ Love Lane junction, because it is near a primary school.

A Walk Along the Crouch? : Tory Cllr Mavis Webster spoke about encouraging tourism in the area. The best response came from Independent Rawreth Parish Councillor Alistir Matthews who talked about creating a walk along the Crouch from Battlesbridge to Hullbridge. This got a very positive response from other people at the meeting and we hope it is something that the District Council will consider.

  • I thought last nights meeting was very informative, even eye opening, what did come across was the need for change. There was some good points raised and discussed, however when the serious point of development and infrastructure was mentioned there was an audible groan from many of the councillors present. We all know that many councillors do not wish to debate this issue because of their masters and that they feel they are being cornered and there is no positive way out. The downside for them is if they do not communicate properly with the residents they represent they will not be councillors come the next election, some should not be anyway. They do have a way out. They must start representing the residents of their wards and not blindly follow what the party tells them. If they think that houses are not a point of contention with residents I can give them names of many people who are boiling just beneath the surface.

    I rose two questions last night, the first was answered in the worst way possible, the Head of Planning and Transportation does not have a clue as to how many dwellings have been approved, started or completed in 2007, worse still he is going on the figures given to him by the NHBC which will be available in December 2007, these figures will be given to the NHBC by the builders themselves, as I found out today from the NHBC.
    The second was more of a request for Councillor John Pullen to ask, at the next Executive Committee meeting if there is gauranteed funding for the infrastructure and amenities that will be required for Rayleigh if we are told these houses MUST be built. Now I really hope the Councillor asks the question and gets an answer at the meeting because if we do not get an answer and quickly it will certainly get a lot of press in both newspapers and radio.
    A little cameo at yesterdays meeting as Mavis Webster asking for ideas to attract tourists into our green and pleasant town. Green and pleasant at the moment yes, maybe not for too much longer if the developers get their way.

  • Chris, I saw there was an Executive Board meeting on Thursday, did you attend and did Councillor Pullen ask the question about the funding for infrastructure and amenities at the meeting. If not I need to progress plan B.

  • Mike: I did attend and will update onlinefocus on this later on today (I have to go the vets soon and then see a resident with Ron).

    In brief, your question wasn’t asked. But you could ask it at full council on 31st July – I think you have to give about 7 days notice so time is short!

  • Thanks Chris, I assumed the question would not see the light of day, for whatever reason!
    One stat that never got mentioned but was in the papers for Wednesdays meeting was that of all new builds in the Rochford district during 2001-2006 45% of all the houses WERE BUILT IN RAYLEIGH and now the District Council want us to take another 1,800 houses, it beggers belief.

    As for the funding, however many houses we are bulldozed into building we need more amenities and infrastructure now, even before any foundations are laid. The question regarding the funding could have been put to the council via other means, Councillor Pullen’s heart was not in it, the resolve wasn’t there to get an answer and after all he is a Tory and his colleagues would certainly not have been happy with him for asking the question. That is my belief. If Councillor Pullen would like to answer this comment, I would be happy to listen.

    Maybe Mark Francois will be able to answer some of the questions Rayleigh wants answers to, or then again maybe not, we can only try. I just hope they dont keep on blaming labour, after all what kind of protest have the tories made so far???????????

  • I didn’t know what to expect from the meeting, like many others I suppose, but was very glad that I went along.

    I suppose that this type of meeting will find its own level – I found it a little strange that topics for discussion/comment ranged from illegal parking on grass verges in a particular street to the future of Battlesbridge, from attracting birdwatchers to pollution in Rayleigh town centre.

    Some councillors obviously care deeply about the district and I was also pleased that the public were permitted to ask questions, though there seemed to be some confusion about the protocol for questions being referred to the executive comittee.

    I was astounded to hear that the head of planning has no idea how many housing units have been built in Rayleigh so far this year. Surely this is exactly what the head of planning should know. Mmmmmmmmmm.

    Homines libenter quod volunt credunt

  • Alison, I agree it was a good meeting and it gave all of us the opportunity to put a face to a name. I was a little disappointed to find out that due to a technicality the question regarding the funding for improved amenities and infrastructure was not able to be tabled, although Cllr Pullen could have tabled the question himself on our behalf!
    Today I have conversed with John Bostock of Rochford District Council, Committee section. John has confirmed to me that as it was a question at the West Area Committee meeting, no matter when it was raised and it is also in the minutes, it will still be raised at the full council meeting and the answer will go back to the next West Area committee meeting. John also said that he will contact some senior Councillors and ensure the question is asked. Thank you John. The residents of Rayleigh need improved infrastructure now, not in the future. How many people find it difficult to find the basics in life, affordable housing, good transport, doctors and dentists where you can get an appointment when you really need it, places for your children at a good local school, decent playing fields to keep your children out of the town centre, Youth clubs! Why look at more housing when the council do not do enough for our youngsters as it is, bringing more into Rayleigh will only make matters worse.
    We have to ask the difficult questions, for too long the local Council has had an apathetic electorate and has not had to answer to the residents of this district, this must and will change. We need to put a credible opposition to many of the councillors who govern by default where no opposition has imposed themselves. If this makes the ccouncil wake up to consensus local government we have won a small battle for the district.

    As for the Head of planning and Transportation, what can I say except, liked the bow tie but not the answers to the questions!

  • The company I work for, above Liverpool Street Station, employ many people from this area and the one thing they are talking about is the proposed development in Rayleigh. Some are looking to move out of Rayleigh now because of this issue, many were born and bred in the district and most have voted Tory in the past! The people who want to remain have said to me that many of the councillors do not listen to what they are saying.So as well as apathy in some of the electorate we also have apathy in many of the Councillors. There has never been a better time than now to ‘turn over’ some of these councillors, who frankly ‘dont give a damn’. If I were a Tory councillor now, I would be very worried. Look what happened with the BNP, up the road. Next year is a big year, if the Tories do not start to listen to what the people who they are supposed to represent are saying and enough parties put up decent candidates many could lose their positions! This is not rocket science this is the majority party thinking all they have to do is turn up and get re-elected.

    The people I feel really sorry for is the Tory Councillors who want to do a good job for the people they represent.

    Maybe it is about time they looked inside themselves and decided who they really represent, the people of this district who in the PAST voted for them in good faith OR a soulless party who gaggs councillors from speaking at meetings, makes decisions behind closed doors, ensures councillors tow the party line against their wishes, does not like to answer the ‘difficult questions’ and many many other policies that put PARTY BEFORE PEOPLE. It will just take a few parties to start listening again and we may see inclusive local government back again!

    Tory Councillors you have a choice, but not for too much longer. If you feel fenced in by your party, there is a way out.

  • Mike, well said. The trouble is , the Tory councillors are too bound to their party line.

    Our main effort over the summer break is to recruit more potential candidates and helpers so that we can offer people good candidates in as many wards as possible. And we need to boost our local party funds!

    Some of the Conservative councillors are anxious about a Lib Dem surge, others are discontented at the way their own party operates. The Conservative party is defending 6 seats in Rayleigh next year, 7 seats elsewhere.

    I believe the local Tory party is fearful we will win 4 in Rayleigh next May, and take control of the West Area Committee. That would also give us a seat in the cabinet.

    – Chris

  • Ok its the early hours of Sunday morning. I have just had a great evening with my friends and family talking about the good and bad of Rayleigh, which followed on from a very pleasant Friday evening talking of similar topics with like minded people. At the end of both evenings I got the the same feeling, Rayleigh is still a great place to live and work and to bring up a family, but for how much longer? As with other communities in this part of England our children are feeling left out of the future of their home town. For the residents of this community that are in their fifties, how many can say that their children will be able to buy their first house at the age that we did? I would hazard a guess at not very many. The houses that are going up are way out of the range of the younger worker. I would just like to focus, on this comment, on this very important issue. These are some of the facts that I know to be correct.
    1. The ‘Head of Town Planning and Transportation’ for the Rochford District does not know how many houses have been built, approved for development or will be completed in 2007, until the National Home Builders Confederation (NHBC) tells Mr Scrutton in December 2007! He will therefore be unaware until then of how many will be ‘affordable houses’, please do not laugh.
    2. The Council appears to be at ease with this situation, despite the very serious concerns that the residents of Rayleigh have with them not having any idea how many houses will be built in this area.
    3. The most important issue of all, the Conservatives have not commented on this topic. This would appear to be that either they are happy with the situation or they are not prepared to enter into debate on this issue and issue it certainly is. Every resident of this town wants their offspring to have the same opportunity they had and if the Conservatives had gone about resolving this issue to the benefit of residents I would not be writing this comment!
    4. How do we resolve the issue. Things must change and change NOW. The council has to know how many houses are being built (I doubt that they do not know.) The Conservatives must be open and honest to the the people they represent (how many times have we heard that?) They must also act for the people they represent and not the National Party (mr Francois please take note).

    As I have commented on in previous posts, the next year will be very important for for the local Conservatives but even more so for the Lib Dems, we know where the Tories have failed the people of Rochford District and we know that there is apathy in the tory party BUT I and many other residents feel this apathy is about to be repaid in the most effective way. RAYLEIGH does not want and will not tolerate Councillors who take us for granted.