Hullbridge has a monthly Neighbourhood Action Panel where residents can meet with the Police, Neighbourhood Watch etc. As the Police say:
“The Neighbourhood Action Panel is a monthly meeting for anyone living or working in Hullbridge to attend and highlight issues that directly affect the area. The meeting is open for any member of the public to attend and share their comments and concerns.”
The next meeting is on Wednesday 20th November at the Hullbridge Community Centre in Pooles Lane. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7.30pm and will be in the Committee Room, that is the one to the left as you go in the main doors, not the main hall.
A few years ago Essex Youth Services ran a number of different programmes from its buildings in, amongst others, Hullbridge & Rayleigh. Hullbridge enjoyed 2 open sessions and a closed one each week, run by professionals and Rayleigh catered for even more.
The Youth Service had a budget then of around £12m, that budget was cut a couple of years ago to just £5m ensuring a wave of redundancies across the County of experienced and professional Youth Workers. Hullbridge Youth Centre is now entirely reliant on volunteers to run (with some professional oversight) and Rayleigh finds itself in a similar position.
The latest proposal coming from County are cuts of £3m bringing the total budget for the whole county down to just £2m. The latest cut of £3m, or 60%, is disproportionate to the budget cuts required at Essex, yet again young people with no vote have been singled out.
There is a consultation running online at present but the closing date is the 20 November. You can find the page here and I believe that it vital that as many people respond to these proposals as possible.
The Government Inspector, David Smith, who has been conducting his review of the Allocations Document which, in relation to Hullbridge includes site SER6 and the 5oo houses, has now issued an interim report which can be read here.
Site SER6 is not mentioned at all which indicates that the Inspector sees nothing wrong with the proposals for the 500 houses, this is also the view of Rochfrod District Council.
It will however be interesting to see the final report, which probably will not know be before December/January given that the council has to carry out a further 6 week consultation on the areas which the Inspector needed to be altered. Although it looks very likely the build quantity will be at least 500 it will be interesting to see what weight the inspector gave Cllr Hoy’s arguments (and others) over the infrastructure problems and whether conditions may be placed on development relating to these.
Once this report is published the next part of the process will be formal planning applications, which District Councillors MUST NOT give an opinion on before the formal Council meeting where they are put forward for approval or refusal.
However we understand that the company which holds the option on the land (who are not themselves developers) are looking to hold a public meeting to get feedback from the public on the proposals they want to make. It is important people attend these meetings to give their honest views on the proposals and Councillors can take part in this process as well. Feedback from these meetings can be incorporated into the planning application.
We will keep you informed of any further developments around this subject.
There has been a lot of concern expressed over the proposed closure of Watery Lane and Beeches Road for 12 weeks from this coming Monday (the 14th of October) from residents and local businesses.
The closure was because of repairs to Beeches Bridge on Beeches Road which is weakened and in need of repair. A second closure was also proposed to begin on 6 January 2014 for 10 weeks to improve Hanover Bridge (the first bridge as you enter Watery Lane from the Hullbridge side).
Cllr Michael Hoy has been raising concerns about the original closure for work on Beeches Bridge since its announcement in August, and with the further proposal for a 10 week closure from 6 January he reiterated all of the arguments over traffic delays etc the closure at this time would cause. You can read a lot of those concerns in earlier posts.
Michael argued in fact that the closure should have taken place in the summer school holidays starting from 1 July, which would give 9 weeks of holiday time in which to do the work at a time when traffic would be at its lightest. Other suggestions included the use of a Bailey or temporary Bridge parallel to the current one, this however had other problems including getting agreement between 3 landowners over its siting.
Happily in a meeting today Michael argued for and, with the full support of the Cabinet Member for Highways Cllr Rodney Bass, got the agreement to postpone the closure of Beeches Bridge to 1 July 2014 (originally planned for 14 October) and to completely cancel the work proposed for Hanover Bridge. The agreement also included the imposition of a 3 tonne gross weight limit on Hanover Bridge (moving the restriction from Beeches Bridge) to prevent lorries using the road.
As many people are aware Watery Lane (or rather Beeches Road which Watery Lane runs into) is to be closed for up to 12 weeks for bridge strengthening.
I have been talking with Essex Highways on this, pointing out the problems we all faced last year and earlier this year, when Watery Lane was closed for a number of days due to flooding, with the large tailbacks and delays we faced getting out of Hullbridge as well as the problems caused to local businesses.
My main concerns have been with the expected traffic problems and any mitigation that Essex Highways can put in place. In addition I am very worried that they are choosing to do the work now rather than at the beginning of July when the roads are quieter. I believe that Hullbridge Road and Rawreth Lane will become overloaded with traffic causing lengthy delays and the following problems.
- Pupils will be late to Sweyne Park (and they will be having exams during this period)
- People will be late to work
- Doctors and Hospital appointments will be missed
- Local businesses will suffer as drivers find alternative routes
Essex Highways have assured me that they will monitor traffic and will put in mitigating measures should the traffic becomes to heavy, but I have seen no plans for how this would be done and to what effect beyond a few statements about altering the traffic light phases. Effectively Essex Highways are ignoring me and ploughing on with the scheme having failed to asses the impact of closure.
To make things worse I have today received an email confirming that, after this 12 week closure, the road will be closed again for a further 10 weeks from the 6 January 2014 to repair another bridge. I find this totally unacceptable, Watery Lane will be closed for pretty much half a year causing chaos to this part of Essex and Essex Highways have failed to consider the implications to local residents or to consult with us.
Obviously I am not at all happy with this and I have requested a meeting with the Cabinet member for Highways and the Director of Essex Highways to sort this out as a matter of urgency. I will keep you advised.
Since she was first elected in 2011 Cllr Diane Hoy has been keen to see empty homes brought back into use.
As she walks around Hullbridge (the Ward she represents) Diane makes a note of all those which appear empty and reports them to the Council. However she has so far been disappointed in the progress by the council in making those homes available to the public, either to rent or to buy.
We have obtained the figures for empty homes in the Rochford District. They are set out below.
Total no. of empty properties: 1,021
Properties empty for over 6 months: 575
Properties empty for over 1 year: 375
This is particularly important as the housing that the District is being made to build (such as the 500 for Hullbridge) are based on how much affordable housing the district needs and the total of 3,800 (approx) is extrapolated from that. If the 375 homes empty for more than a year were brought into the affordable market it would mean 1,000 fewer properties having to be built under the Core Strategy. The 575 empty for more than six months would mean over 1,600 fewer houses.
Under legislation Rochford District Council could, through a Private Sector Lettings Scheme (PSLS) such as that run by Norwich City Council, make these available to those on the Districts housing register as affordable housing. Alternatively an Empty Dwelling Management Order may be taken out by the council, a more drastic version of the Private Sector Letting Scheme.
As a further point; by bringing those properties into occupation the Council would be eligible for New Homes Bonus on them for 6 years, based on the extra council tax received, potentially around £550,000 a year for 6 years! This is another example of how the District Council is not fulfilling its function fully or even properly on behalf of residents.