Chris’ Rayleigh Times Article – With Links

Written by Chris Black in the latest Rayleigh Times:
You can do a lot in 9 years, if you have money and a vision. In the 1960s the Americans had both, and put a man on the moon in 9 years. Meanwhile our District Council started its Core Strategy 9 years ago and it hasn?t gone so well, even though it has cost over 2 million pounds ??

What has happened this year shows just how poor the council?s framework really is.
At a council meeting in January Cllr Ron Oatham and I proposed that an outcome of the Core Strategy ? the big development ?North of London Road? – should be refused. We gave reasons about flooding, highways, sports pitches and education. These are basically the questions about infrastructure that the Lib Dems have been asking ? and the Tories avoiding ? for the last 9 years.
But this time we got massive support ? not only from our colleagues in the other minority parties, but from most of the Tories. Even the Tory leaders Cllrs Terry Cutmore and Keith Hudson. We also had support from our local MP and thousands of residents.
Now, this is all very odd. Because the key vote on all this was actually taken at a council meeting back in 2009. This was when the council?s Core Strategy was voted through, which made it council policy to put 550 homes ?North of London Road?. It also included building on the Rawreth / Hullbridge border and putting houses on the Rawreth Industrial Estate, potentially trebling the population of Rawreth.
This strategy was passed by 23 votes to 4 . The 4 who voted against were myself, Jackie Dillnutt and Ron Oatham (Lib Dems) and John Mason (Resident). Councillor Cutmore called me a ?NIMBY?. Councillor Hudson called the Core Strategy ?an exemplary document and a perfectly sound workable plan.?
Isn?t it strange that such an ?exemplary and perfectly sound workable plan? should produce such a poor planning application? The answer is that it wasn?t such a wonderful plan, despite all the millions spent on it. To give three examples:
If the Lib Dems had been running the council, and had decided to build homes in one of our rural parishes , we certainly wouldn?t have been so unfeeling to build so many that they doubled or trebled the population of the parish ,as the Tories are planning to do in Rawreth. But even if we had decided to build a smaller number ? say a hundred homes – we would have engaged with the local people and parish council. We would have had the small council panel dealing with this to meet every month for a couple of years if necessary to get the local infrastructure right. In contrast the Tories have treated Rawreth Parish Council arrogantly, not making any effort to discuss issues with them. And that small council panel has, incredibly, sometimes gone up to two years without even meeting.

Another example is poor public consultation. Even as far back as 2007, when the council had a travelling exhibition but decided to have the exhibition in Rayleigh hidden away ? inside the windmill for just 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon. Ron Oatham wrote to the Council: ?the cynical among us might suggest that they are being deliberately kept in the dark. I urge you to reconsider and make arrangements for the mobile exhibition to visit at a more appropriate time and place.? Ron got the council to back down and hold an extra exhibition in the High Street.
The third example is about infrastructure. At another stage of the process, in 2012, we Lib Dems were very concerned that important infrastructure and amenities issues were being overlooked. When it came to a vote in November, we voted against, saying that the council still couldn?t say what improvements were needed to Watery Lane, there hadn?t been a traffic impact study on the cumulative effect of the sites to the west of Rayleigh and the new open spaces were too small .
We lost the vote. But if just one Tory councillor had been been willing to vote with us in 2012 on infrastructure issues , that might have encouraged some of the others to think harder and we would have got a plan with better infrastructure.
Now the success last January has been reversed. The developers are appealing to a government inspector. The council held a confidential meeting in August to decide what to do ?. and they decided not to defend the appeal ! (Ron and I voted against this). A better core strategy would have compelled the developers to include better infrastructure, which they could have afforded by paying less for the land. But there were too many Tory councillors mutely voting things through and not willing to listen.

 

 

 

 

  • Rayleigh, Rawreth, Rayleigh, Rawreth, Hullbridge, Rayleigh, Rawreth… Not just this article, which OK is in a Rayleigh journal, but right down the page.
    Can I just remind you of the name of the District, and that we are being carpet bombed with concrete boxes as well?

    • Karen, I understand what you are saying. Though I’ve just reinstated our ‘category cloud’ on the website by which you can see that although most of our articles have been about Rayleigh, we have written 227 articles over the years about Rochford town, 170 about Hockley, 87 about the Canewdon area etc .
      We concentrate on Rayleigh and Rawreth because frankly those are the areas we know best and get the most information about. If you have particular issues where you are, please tell us about them. People have written ‘guest posts’for us in the past…. maybe you could do one for us.
      You are correct that other parts of the district are getting housing as well, but shouldn’t that be expected? In previous decades there was less of a balance- West Rayleigh was seen as an easy option , which is why all the ‘easy’ sites there have been developed and development is now moving over the parish line into Rawreth. No other parish is getting its population doubled, let alone possibly trebled…

  • Thanks Chris , and well done for a clear overview summary on this issue which underlines the shortcomings of the ” Cabinet ” concept – which enables unilateral decision making to be pushed through regardless.

    You are a gentleman bound by protocol , I am not -so can go further than you:-

    The Prime Persons in all this are the then Planning supremo ( Cllr K Hudson)
    …… )and endorsed by the Council Leader ( Cllr Cutmore ). They got it wrong by choosing the ” easy option” on paper , but which is actually unsustainable in practice – they even
    publicly admitted that when they voted NO on 23/01/15 .

    Now they cannot go back on their “done deal” so are not defending the Appeal.

    But this is only the beginning , 15 years of multi-site Construction traffic will
    further overload Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Rd/ Downhall Rd / London Rd and
    the A1245 locally. The campaign to raise public awareness as to who created it
    starts now up to and including next years Council elections.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK with regular publications……JIM. [AMENDED TO COMPLY WITH THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR COUNCILLORS -]

  • There is no doubt Rawreth has been harshly treated but it is time for everyone to start thinking wider about the future.
    Cllr John Mason has previously forecast hundreds of additional house will be allocated to the District in the not too distant future and I suspect he is right. Where will these go?
    The ill founded strategic plan has scattered housing across the district with no economies of scale and therefore no infrastructure. If and when more housing is allocated, we will have to go through the whole process again and the district as a whole will suffer and Rawreth could again be in the front line.
    With all seats up for re-election next year, it is important electors across the district understand the implications. Its time to start spreading the message.

    • Brian, after being involved with the council for many years I’m not at all confident that it could achieve any major infrastructure improvements even with the ‘simple’ scenario of a single big site.

      • Chris, I’m not necessarily advocating a single site (although this may be an option). My point is that the Core Strategy simply does not provide for future expansion. Secondly, Rawreth alone (or even Rawreth and Rayleigh combined) cannot change the Core Strategy – simple maths! As a district we need to combine together in order to achieve major change. The forthcoming elections are a rare opportunity for change – lets get away from the current “Divide and conquer’ strategy.

  • Until we tackle the issue of over population then the need for additional housing will go on. So….let’s stop immigration, stop child benefit ( why should taxpayers fund other people’s life style choice ) and get to grips with the problem. Of course, if you have contributed to one of the above then you had better stop moaning…..it’s nothing to do with me…..it’s everybody else…..

  • Re: Brian Guyett’s point also picks up my point about the need to highlight these issues between now and next years elections and he makes a good point
    that it goes beyond our own local issue.
    In fact Chris – the South Esst Essex Action Group Alliance has now produced
    a visual aid to illustrate the ( so far ) known extent of proposed building on
    Green Belt ( a swathe from Thurrock to Southend ). I will copy it to you and
    maybe you could present it on here to illustrate the scale of the problem?.

    Regards – JIM.

  • Thanks John – what this map highlights is 70000 new homes ( that we know about so far ) over the next 15 years , much of which is on Green Belt land with
    no proportional Infrastructure upgrading – ( traffic / hospitals /schools / doctors-dentists /emergency services / social services/ care homes and not
    even an extra seat on the trains.
    The first impact on everyone will be 15 years of Construction traffic ( heavy ,
    slow, noisy and spewing mud/clay and gravel up and down our roads) which
    has not been even thought about by the so called PLANNERS…..

  • Chris ( several posts above – in your experience…. ) , each District Council has representatives on the County Council – which should be the forum for looking at the bigger picture ( ie: regional infrastructure ) , why does this not work?.

    They should be opposing the Govenment pressure to expand London into Essex, on the basis that the area is already sinking under existing pressure –
    overloaded roads / Hospitals in “Special Measures” / Schools……and so on ).
    For me it is clear , just as we have a Government of career polititians so we
    now have Councillor’s who are career Councillor’s , representing their
    own/party interests – not the electorate.

    Why is our MP not exposing the shortcomings of ECC ? – because that would
    be against party policy , self/party interests again.

  • Jim. a proper answer would take too long to write – be better given face to face over a coffee. But a brief answer is

    i) As I understand it, County Councillors arent even allowed to phone a highways engineer nowadays, until they liberate themselves from all the bureaucratic controls, don’t expect to get new regional infrastructure from them!
    ii) The governments mantra is austerity, austerity , austerity they don’t want to spend money
    iii) The best time to push for better infrastructure was at the core strategy stage but we’ve let developers off the hook.

  • In answer to your last question Jim, Yes they will be all part of the same Conservative Party “Team”. I have seen election material where a benefit to the electorate is expressed in having a “Team” made up of Parish/Town Councillors (in some Parish/Town Council’s some do declare that they represent a political party), District Councilors, then County Councillors all working for and supporting the MP.

  • So ( in modern day parlance ) we have another element of ” broken Britain” –
    the “top down” management system that is completely out of touch with the
    grass roots. In fact it seems to me that the government / councils organisation structure has been analysed then manipulated to suit the needs of the few.

    They say things go in cycles ( ie: fashions ) , are we now moving towards the
    Left ( as it has in the past ) as the only option to fight the ” governing class”-
    maybe that is why mad dog Corbyn is gathering momentum , someone has to
    represent the majority.

  • ECHO today , page 14, the Map got in there – have’nt seen the words that go with it yet ( they tend to invent their own words at the Echo !!!!!! ) .
    It will now be submitted to every other paper in the district ( freebies and all ) –
    Striving to raise public awareness, starts now right through to Council elections next May ( Infrastructure / Infrastructure / Infrastructure – where is it???????

  • Basildon/Billericay/ Wickford Recorder ( free paper ) includes the following –
    Castle Point Council intend to ask Chelmsford Council to take on their new homes quotas ( and suggests Runwell / South Woodham Ferrers location ).

    But the big point is the Canvey Councillor admitting that the quotas are set
    by central government ( namely the Communities Dept ) , week after week
    MP’s and Councillor deny the targets are imposed on them – so much for the
    sham called the Localism Act. In fact “natural growth” figures for Castle Point
    are actually negative quantity – so the numbers are set by government to cater
    for the expansion of London ( FACT ).

    OH and by the way Runwell and SWF means even more traffic loading on us.

  • OH , nearly forgot , he also lists Battlesbridge too – apparently…..” Near main roads with good infrastructure…..” According to Castle Point Councillor ”
    You could’nt make it up……..