Watery Lane

Of all the issues that are raised for me to deal with the one which gives rise to most issues is Watery Lane, yet this road falls completely outside of my Division as it comes under, Conservative Councillor, Malcolm Maddocks in Rayleigh North (I cover Rochford West which is basically Hullbridge and Hockley).

However this does not stop me dealing with the issues, although it has caused some issues when Council Officers realise that it is not my “responsibility” and it also means I am not automatically told of any problems with it or get notice of any work to be undertaken.

The latest issues are potholes and poor road surface, I have (as have others) reported the large pothole but in addition the carriageway is deteriorating very quickly and the road surface is crumbling at the edges.  This needs looking at urgently and I will add it to my list.

In addition since the severe flooding of Watery Lane for 3 months in 2013 and the drain clearance at that time, Essex Highways have failed to clear the drains and regular quarterly Culvert clearing, which is supposed to be organised through the Local Highways Panel, has not happened.  So now, two years after the drains were originally cleared it looks as though they are blocked again, and this is purely down to the incompetence of Essex Highways and their private Contractor Ringway Jacobs.

This fiasco demonstrates that Essex Highways are unable to act to prevent problems occurring but have a regime where they can only react to problems once they occur.

Tories & Labour get into bed with each other

Tonights Full Council meeting at Rochford District Council was very eventful.  The first Council meeting after the elections is usually an uneventful one with just appointments of committees and Chairman to go through without much discussion.  However tonight the Tories and Labour came up with a surprise for many opposition members.

Chair of Review has, since 2007, been in the hands of the largest opposition party, this means the Conservatives have no say and cannot take it on themselves or give it, to say, an independent Conservative.  Tonight however they put forward an amendment (which many of us believe to be unconstitutional) to allow the Chairman to come from any opposition party.  As there are a number of opposition parties this then puts the Chairmanship of Review into the hands of the ruling Conservatives, the very people the Review Committee are supposed to be scrutinise.

The conservatives then gave the sole Labour Councillor one of the Conservative places on The Review Committee and then proposed him as Chairman.  Cllr Michael Hoy, the nominee of the largest opposition Group, then withdrew his nomination saying that he refused to take part in an event which made the Chairman of Review a Tory placement.

A deal had obviously been done between the Tories and Labour and we wonder how much scrutiny a Conservative appointee will put the Conservative run Council under.

Can you trust the UKIP promises?

In the election leaflet the UKIP candidate is putting around there is a statement on what they have done so far.  One of the three (yes three in a year) items says

“Spoke and voted against an increase in parking charges in Rochford District, and the abolition of the exemption for severely disabled”

For clarity severely disabled means blue badge holders.  This on the surface is fine (The Greens led the discussion on retaining the exemption for Blue Badge Holders).

However last night at the Review Committee, chaired by Michael Hoy, one of the proposals to be forward to the next Council Budget was to bring back free parking for Blue Badge Holders.  Not only did the UKIP member of the committee, Jamie Burton, vote against this they also spoke against it leaving no one in two minds where he stood, against the exemption of Blue Badge holders from charges.

Rayleigh & Wickford candidates – General Election 7 May 2015

There are six candidates putting themselves forward as prospective MP’s at the General Election which is taking place on 7 May.

The Green Party are standing a candidate for the first time in the constituency with Sarah Yapp entering politics for the first time.  As a small business owner based in Southend, but with her family coming from Hockley, she has close connections to the area and understands the problems very well and is passionate about explaining the Green Manifesto commitments which will help residents in the area ignored or who are suffering under the current coalition.

The full list of candidates is

Sarah Yapp                          GREEN

Mark Francois                    Conservative

John Hayter                        ukip

Linda Kendal                      Ind

Mike Pitt                              Lib Dem

David Hough                      Labour

Candidates for Hullbridge – Your Choice on 7 May 2015

Once again Hullbridge appears to be the most popular Ward to stand in the Rochford District Council elections with 5 candidates putting their names forward.  The ward has two Green Councillors out of the three which represent Hullbridge at District Level and this year the final Tory incumbent , Angela Hale, is up for re-election and faces a strong challenge from the Greens Stuart Wilson who is hoping to make it three out of three for the Green Party at District.

The full list is

Stuart Wilson                     GREEN

John Bull                              UKIP

Angela Hale                        Conservative

John Chaffin                       Independent

David Broimeade             Labour

Watey Lane Update

Unfortunately I do not have much of an update despite my asking for information residents have requested.  I still have no confirmed re opening date beyond the stock answer of 15/22 October.  However in the latest communication I received (an extract is below) Essex Highways have indicated that the road may be able to be opened sooner using a two-way temporary signal system, which will at least alleviate some of the traffic chaos.

Also they have confirmed that the traffic has been measured and that the queueing wasn’t bad enough to warrant additional measures to ease traffic flow.  However they managed to measure flows on the 4 September (evening) before Sweyne-Park was fully back as 3 of the years went back on the 5th, and on 5 September (morning).  This has meant they have not observed the worst of the traffic congestion

Thank you for your emails dated 4, 9 and 11 September 2014 concerning the above.
I have liaised with the Site Supervisor in relation to these issues and have been advised as follows.
In response to your email dated 4 September 2014, I can confirm that queuing traffic on the diversion route is being monitored on a regular basis. It was last monitored on the 4 September between 16:30 and 18:00 and then on the 5 September between 07:00 and 08:00.
•         This survey showed that the morning peak was slightly worse than normal, however the queues on the Hullbridge Road approaches to Rawreth Lane/Hullbridge Road roundabout were not longer than 5 minutes.
•         Based on the survey carried out on the 4 September the extensive queuing on Rawreth Lane has not worsened. The time taken to travel It from the A1245 to Rawreth Lane/Hullbridge Road Roundabout was 20 minutes, which is less that when monitored at the start of the work. This may be because the evening peak is after than the school run and is therefore unaffected.
The use of temporary traffic lights to control the movement of vehicles on the roundabout and adjustments to the signal timings have been fully investigated; but the outcome of the investigation was that any changes would add to the congestion rather that reduce it.
In response to your email dated 9 September 2014, I can confirm that the monitoring of the traffic has shown that queue lengths at this location are in the order of 20-30 minutes. However if there are other problems on the network, such as a road traffic accident or a broken down lorry, then this will lengthen the queues.
We will look to partially re-open the road, and work using two-way temporary signals as soon as this is safely possible.
 I will update everyone as soon as I have an opening date.

Hullbridge Residents to face £300 bill per child for School Transport

With effect from September 2015 Essex County Council have changed the policy on Home to School Transport for new pupils meaning parents or carers will have to pay themselves if their children go to Sweyne-Park School even though they may live over 3 miles away and would currently be entitled to free transport.  Sweyne-Park is the Catchment School for Hullbridge and currently has 248 Hullbridge children over the years 7-11.

Currently the policy is for transport to be provided, free, to any pupil attending secondary school where they live more than three miles from that school.  This policy has been changed by the Conservative Administration at Essex County Council so that free transport will only be provided to the nearest school rather than the school attended.

Originally I did not think it would affect any pupils from Hullbridge as I measured Sweyne-Park as being closer to Hullbridge than FitzWimarc.  However Essex County Council are now saying that FitzWimarc is the closer school and are insisting that anyone who does not choose to go to FitzWimarc as their first choice will have to pay for Home to School Transport.  This will apply even though Sweyne-Park is the catchment school for Hullbridge.

Therefore if you put Sweyne-Park as first choice and your child goes there you will have to pay the £300 (approximately) it costs each year for their own bus pass, or alternatively expect them to walk along Hullbridge Road or add to the current congestion and drive them yourself.

I have opposed and remain opposed to this policy and will be campaigning against it.  I will post on here proposals for how the campaign will be formulated later.