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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

East Community Forum - 16th October

I attended the local Community Forum last night, in theory a great opportunity to put questions to representatives from both the local Council and Essex County Council.  Representatives were also available from the Police and Health Services.

Rochford Life has posted a summary of the meeting here;

I agree that it was a pity that there was such a poor attendance from the Public.  As an estimate, I reckon there were perhaps a dozen or so there at maximum.  I wonder how many people were actually aware the meeting was taking place?  Not everyone has the opportunity to regularly check the Council's website or read "Rochford Matters". That said, is also partly a case of public apathy?

Some of the questions raised, including by this writer, did indeed cover old ground.  Issues like youth nuisance in and around the Square, and the ongoing problem of traffic queuing to park in the Square blocking traffic, particularly buses, trying to pass through.

However, the reasons that questions like these are raised repeatedly are that the Council and other bodies are not properly responding to residents' concerns.  If issues are not addressed, the problems do not vanish.  So, as boring as it appeared to be for some of the members of the Form panel last night, people should keep holding the Council to account.  We pay our Council Tax and expect our reasonable concerns about local services to be listened to, and where possible, resolved.

Essex Highways had planned to reconfigure vehicle access to the Square so that entry and exit points were swapped around.  However, for a number of reasons, this appears to have been abandoned and any solution now lies years away for re-consideration as part of the "Rochford Area Action Plan".  At least this is what I was told by the Leader of the Council last night.  In the short term, the Council and the Police do not seem overly concerned about the frequent traffic chaos that occurs in the area.

And don't expect any resolution to the Youth nuisance any time soon either.  Because they are not committing any actual "crime" they will be allowed to congregate in as large a group as they wish, and to shout and swear as much as they like, causing grief to local residents and businesses alike.

That said, the Police did encourage anyone who felt a crime was being committed to contact them immediately.  A member of the Public complained that he and his neighbours had been regularly kept awake until the early hours by gangs congregating outside their properties.  Far more seriously than the usual shouting and screaming, he complained that urination in public, under age drinking, etc, was taking place.  It appeared, however, that this was the first time he had raised the issue with the Police.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Rochford Sorting Office - What's happening?

The Evening Echo recently reported that Rochford Delivery Office may close as the Post Office looks to save money by centralising operations at Short Street.  There is the potential jobs to be lost and the inconvenience caused by having to travel into Southend to pick up missed deliveries.  Whilst this isn't a "definite" yet, it does seem to be a genuine threat to a much cherised local service.  I am confident that the local community will fight this, however, and already some neighbours have designed some posters to raise awareness.

There is an opportunity to find out more about this, or any other local issue that concerns you, at the next Community Forum at 7pm on Tuesday, 16th October at The Hawthorn Centre, Rochford Hospital, Union Lane.  Follow this link for more info

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pay to park outside your home?

Living close to the centre of Rochford has many advantages, but one of the irritations for many residents - especially those without off street parking - is the challenge in finding a parking space.  Commuters, Purdeys Industrial Estate, office and shop workers all compete with residents for the few unrestricted parking spots that are within a walk of the station and centre.  It's not that there isn't parking available.  Both at the station and in Back Lane there always seem to be chargeable spaces available.  But I guess you can hardly blame people for trying to grab a freebie if it's available!  And the old argument that you don't own the road in front of your house still applies of course.  But it is definitely an increasing problem, and I have heard tales of residents almost coming to blows with owners of vehicles carelessly parking and blocking driveways, etc.

The Council is considering introducing some form of residents parking in the worst affected roads - including Rocheway.  50% or residents in the affected road have to support any such measures through responding to a Council Questionnaire which will be arriving shortly.  It's likely to include three options - no change, some form of residents permit, or, maybe a traffic order, for example restricting parking for an hour or more a day to deter those who are liable to leave their car for long periods.  It will be interesting to see how this proceeds.  Historically, Rochford has gone down the traffic order route but I understand a residents permit scheme is seriously on the agenda - if it garners enough support.  Of course there are pros and cons with all options - what happens with a residents scheme when family or relatives visit, etc - but a potential advantage for the Council in these cash stapped times would be the opportunity to make this a revenue earner.  Would, for example, a young family who constantly struggle to find a free parking space outside their home be willing to pay a relatively modest £2 or £3 monthly to have one fairly substantial source of stress removed.  I think the answer is obvious.