Every week in the @gazetteseries there’s a soapbox section, for all parties from the Brentwood council chamber to have their say. As a rule, it’s either Cllr Barry Aspinell or Cllr Graeme Clarke, our leader and deputy leader, who feature but, on occasion, because it’s a subject close to our hearts or on which we are well versed, the soap box is safely packaged and given to one of us.
This week, it was my turn – the subject…….TWITTER!
It seems bizarre these days, with 650M tweeters and 9,000 tweets a second, to be discussing its existence still – to me it’s as bizarre as discussing the existence of the telephone!
As a rule, it’s a positive thing that means a great communication tool, new friends, new insights, new business, useful information and laughs. But, as with any form of communication, it has its pitfalls. The main issue is “internet trolls” – especially anonymous ones who use this method to insult, upset and harass people. But, people are wising up to dealing with them and their “trolling” says more about them than it does twitter – invent something else and they’d find a way to spoil that too!
It was disappointing to find people saying such unkind things about a tragic death. Did those people really mean it? They very possibly did not, in the cold light of day and in the face of worldwide exposure. I hope an apology is forthcoming from many of them.
Internet media needs to be used sensibly – Facebook is like having a chat with your family at dinner whilst Twitter is like pitching up at Speaker’s Corner.
For Brentwood, Twitter has been a positive thing with Tweet-Ups, supportive networks and information sharing (i.e. traffic hold ups) and, I hope on balance, that’s what we see.
As a Twitter-loving councillor, it allows me to messages and information out speedily – such as a lost dog – and for residents to talk to me directly about issues affecting them.
So, the pothole at the apex of Sir Francis Way, Tower Hill and Weald Road DID make it on to national TV! You can watch the clip here!
Isn’t it odd, that of all the potholes in Brentwood they managed to fill this one in – just before the original planned air date in November? It didn’t actually air until 17th December 2013.
Even though the attraction had to close when Essex County Council repaired it (badly) with a lump of tarmac rather than putting the bricks back, you can revisit it here on its Facebook page. It is safe, for now, but the workmanship is questionable at best!
…well, we are rather used to it here in Brentwood but, anyhow, I get a little mention in the Independent on Sunday today due to this post from November 2013:
I am, according to Cllr Keith Parker (Tory), an “Ugly Sister”.
Residents and councillors from both sides were pretty appalled by this behaviour of someone who is supposed to be representing them and it is not the first time Councillor Parker has done this. No apology has been made.
A real Prince Charming.
I have made a complaint this morning, not because he upset me (I can cope and I am used to it) but because I owe it to the residents who are rightly appalled that their representatives can be so lacking in good contact, good grace and politeness but first class misogynists, bigots and serial offenders.
With William Hague MP calling a female MP a “stupid woman” I would say a theme is emerging here.
Cast your mind back to Friday 1st October 2012, I was there on a cold, rainy morning at 9am with a council officer and my ward colleagues discussing a number of things following us saving Cromwell Road Play Area from the hands of greedy developers.
It was a good meeting – we were to look into an additional site, improving the current area and adding some educational play boards.
Has anything happened since. Nope. Despite me chasing it up on a regular basis.
This is a record that I see with the Tories – keep talking about these things but never actually committing to anything or moving things along. So, after 14 months of zero activity I asked Tory Cllr Jan Pound to put it on her agenda, so it could be agree by councillors and actioned ASAP.
Yet again another flurry of words from me that you may have seen before on two previous posts:
“I received a reply this morning telling me that wasn’t going to happen because it wasn’t in the budget for 2013/14 and it will have to go in to next year’s committee agenda. Once again, stalling tactics hoping that I will forget or they’ll see me off at a future election (because, this happened before and projects came to a crashing halt).
This doesn’t make sense because to be agreed for the 2014/15 budget then it needs to have been agreed so funding can be found for it – the budget setting meeting is just two months away. Not doing this means that it is kicked on until 2015/16 at the earliest – but they haven’t actually been able to pull on their big girl/boy panties once again (see previous related post) and make a decision.
But there’s a curious angle to this one – the officer concerned says there is no budget available and yet, there jolly well is. There are tens of thousands in Section 106 agreement monies generated from the developments in Rollason Way and St James Road. They are ring fenced for play area provision and, I do believe, that any need in Brentwood West should be met before these are spent in any other area of the borough. This could easily fund what we are proposing here.
When I was chair of Overview & Scrutiny before the Tories decided to have my head on a plate on spurious and evil grounds, I asked for a report on all the S106 monies. I was expecting this report in June and yet, by October it had still not materialised (even though I had seen a rough draft) due to a number of odd reasons…..is this where the bodies were buried?
Are the Tories planning another pet project elsewhere to bolster their chances of electoral success? Remember, last year an amount of £165,000 was found and shoved in the budget with no discussion, debate or council decision because the Tories wanted to make sure they kept hold of their Hutton seats. Yet apparently they cannot find, or even discuss at the relevant committee, the use of £3,000 to improve play provision after all the disruption that Brentwood West and Warley residents have had to put up with in the last ten years of construction.
So, it seems, as far as the Tories are concerned, the children who live in my ward can go whistle…..while they work!
For years, Cllr Vicky Davies and I have campaigned to have all Brentwood councillors checked by the home office in case they came into contact with children or vulnerable people (which we do, a lot), but for some odd reason, this has been refused by the Tory Leader.
Well, I am glad to say that I have, through my employer and because I occasionally deal with children, now been checked and passed (it costs about £50 and my check was back within 24 hours).
Can’t imagine anyone with nothing to hide ever refusing this.
A very impressive resident-led campaign against back garden development in South Weald Road saw the planning application REFUSED last night!
Around 100 residents armed with posters and FIFTY reasons to reject the application and two excellent speakers fighting their cause saw a unanimous decision to refuse the application to cram four huge houses in the back garden of a property and drive a road between two houses in South Weald Road.
I am staggered that this was ever up for approval by officers because the evidence was overwhelming on grounds for refusal.
I have picked out some highlights from the webcast below but really I want to say a massive well done.
Residents launched a huge campaign as you can see from the photos and bombarded councillors with emails, letters and information packs – they really fought for their community.
One good thing to come out of this, is a possibility that the Homesteads could be designated a Conservation Area in time for its centenery in 2015 – I am working with them on this and nothing would make me happier than preserving this wonderful Brentwood estate.
People Power – you can’t beat it!
#BrentwoodWest residents may have heard about Cllr Roger Hirst’s actions over the last couple of weeks. Basically, for doing my job of scrutinising the council (and ergo, the tory administration) as Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee by, erm, scrutinising, he wants my head on a plate.
He’s sorted out a great evening for me next Wednesday of, no doubt, character assassination, sniping and nastiness. I don’t deserve this and it will be horrible, but that’s what this Tory administration thinks is what YOU want them to do.
Thing is, like me or loathe me, I was elected on a ticket of speaking up for you and holding the administration to account and I am not ashamed of doing just that.
What has been fantastic is the support I have had from the other 15 opposition councillors and I am going to name them all and say a big thank you to Barry Aspinell, Graeme Clark, David Kendall, Vicky Davies, Liz Cohen, Ross Carter, James Sapwell, Philip Mynott, Russell Quirk, Phil Baker, Nigel Clarke, William Lloyd, Mike Le Surf, Julie Morrissey and Roger Keeble.
Want to know my crime? Read on for the recent stories from our main website:
Following the recent vote of no confidence in the Tory administration* at the Liberal Democrat-chaired Overview & Scrutiny Committee now, in an astonishing and vindictive twist, Tory Deputy Leader Roger Hirst has told Lib Dem Deputy Leader Graeme Clark to replace Cllr Karen Chilvers as O&S Chair by Monday OR see her face a vote of no confidence herself and be fired as scrutiny chair by the ruling administration.
The Tories say that Cllr Chilvers should not have taken the vote of no confidence at the meeting and, even though she abstained on the vote herself, they hold her responsible for embarrassing the beleaguered administration. She said:
“This situation has only arisen because the Tory-run council is constantly failing to meet its targets and none of the senior members of the administration bothered to turn up to defend their shortcomings. Not only have they let the people of Brentwood down on targets for housing, on planning and fail to pay local businesses on time they cannot even accept scrutiny of their record and demonstrate how they are going to put things back on track.
“The fact is that, as scrutiny chair I haven’t let them have an easy ride, have held a mirror up to their deficiencies and my committee has sent them a wakeup call on behalf of Brentwood. Of course they don’t like it so, rather than try to address the issues and accept they need to improve, they attempt to remove me from this crucial scrutiny role to, once again, try to silence the opposition.
“Ideally, they would prefer a patsy chair to brush everything under the carpet and do as they say, leaving Brentwood residents wanting and them to carry on regardless.”
Cllr Graeme Clark, Lib Dem Deputy Leader, added:
“Karen was elected as chair by the whole council, including the Tories, in May of this year. Since then she has steered a working party that has made recommendations on improvements to the council tax benefit scheme, given the committee the oppostunity to assist and advise officers in their negotiations with Essex County Council on the maintenance of our grass verges and recommended that a full staff satisfaction survey should take place after an absence of three years. For anyone to question her performance now, over two weeks after the last meeting, is ridiculous and to demand that Karen should stand down for doing her role effectively is wholly inappropriate and does not serve the people of Brentwood one bit.
“The Tories need to take scrutiny seriously and address the issues that have been raised rather than try to hound out a councillor who has highlighted the feeling of Brentwood residents.
“They should see the no confidence vote as an opportunity to improve, and getting all of their committee members to attend Overview & Scrutiny meetings would be a good start.”
In 2009, the Tories moved a vote of no confidence on Cllr Barry Aspinell to remove him as chair when he held exactly the same position, a decision that was later overturned.
Cllr Chilvers will be chairing a Scrutiny Call In meeting tomorrow night (Monday 7th October) at 7pm.
* A vote of no confidence in the administration was moved on 18th September by Brentwood First’s Cllr Phil Baker and seconded by Lib Dem Cllr Philip Mynott. The vote was taken and the following councillors voted in favour:
Cllr Phil Baker (Brentwood First), Cllr Liz Cohen (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Philip Mynott (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr Julie Morrissey (Labour).
Conservatives Cllr Alan Braid, Cllr Mark Reed and Cllr David Tee voted against the motion.
Cllr Karen Chilvers (Chair) abstained.
Last Friday, Brentwood’s acting Conservative Leader, Cllr Roger Hirst, demanded that Lib Dem Cllr Karen Chilvers be replaced as Chair of the council’s Overview & Scrutiny committee. Her crime? She took an item of urgent business at her committee that led to a vote of “no confidence in the Conservative Administration” being won. In no small part, this was because many Tory committee members were not present and no senior Tory was there to defend their poor performance on their key performance indicators.
Acting Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Graeme Clark, refused and backed Karen as Scrutiny Chair. As the news spread, Brentwood First, Labour and the independent councillor all backed Cllr Chilvers as chair, admirably and gallantly refusing to put up an alternative chair, on the basis that she had done nothing to warrant this action and had chaired all meetings fairly and competently.
This would leave Cllr Hirst in a difficult position as the council’s recently approved constitution says that the chair of the overview and scrutiny committee “shall be a member of the opposition” and, therefore, made Cllr Chilvers impossible to remove.
So, we have learnt that now, Cllr Hirst is aiming to change the council’s constitution to put a Conservative councillor in the role. This would mean a Conservative councillor would scrutinise their own party, a situation forbidden by the current constitution.
Cllr Graeme Clark said:
“This is a dangerous move that damages the constitution. Cllr Hirst wants rid of Cllr Chilvers but has realised that the constitution stands in his way. It states that chairs are elected for the entire year unless he or she resigns. So he is now trying to change the constitution itself, without following due process .
“This is reminiscent of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” – the animals’ initial constitution was that “All animals are equal” until power went to the head of Napoleon the Boar and he added “but some animals are more equal than others.”
“That is exactly what Cllr Hirst plans to do on 23rd October at full council.”
If you live in Chase Road, Rollason Way, Kings Chase, St James Road, Wharf Road, La Plata Grove, Railway Square or The Mount there’s a meeting on Tuesday 22nd October at the Kings Chase Baptist Church aimed at building a community in this area to make it an even better place to live!
If you would like to come along, please book HERE.
Not for the first time, #BrentwoodWest residents find themselves fighting to stop someone shoehorning in houses into a back garden. I have seen these applications fail in Westwood Avenue, Crescent Road and Western Avenue and now, hopefully, this one in South Weald Road will also fail. Four houses shoved down the back of a house with a new road for good measure is just not on in this desirable Brentwood estate.
If not, one of the Brentwood West councillors (who are all joining the residents campaign, cross party) will call this into committee. I, as one of those, will be speaking against it in the most strongest of terms.
We had a little gathering and photo on Sunday morning on the green and it was fantastic to see so many residents there.
Lovely to catch up with new and familiar faces – it was like a little party!!!
….that John Newberry (AKA Newbers) will be Brentwood West’s Liberal Democrat candidate for 2014.
I am very excited about the prospect of John joining me as councillor for Brentwood West next year and, those of you that have met him so far will appreciate his integrity and community spirit. Here’s why I am s delighted:
John, a grandfather, is a former Brentwood Police Sergeant, having spent 14 years stationed at Brentwood before his retirement here in 2000. It’s here at Brentwood that he got the nickname “Newbers”!
John now has his own counselling practice.
He also worked for two years with Essex County Council on setting up successful projects in relation to student behaviour on school transport.
He also ran a Home & Garden maintenance business in Brentwood.
John is a committed Christian and has worked with young children helping them in becoming young ambassadors for their community.
He ran a number of marathons for animal charities in his younger days (pictured: John running the London Marathon for the PDSA)!
Of his selection as Brentwood West candidate, John said:
“I really feel it is like coming home – I thoroughly enjoyed working in the ward at Brentwood Police Station in London Road and living in La Plata Grove.
“As your borough councillor I would be able to bring all my skills together and ensure that all residents of Brentwood West are listened to regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, beliefs – everyone needs to be listened to and I do not feel that the Conservatives are doing this.
“I am passionate about working with and supporting my local community.
“I also really look forward to working with two hardworking councillors – borough councillor Karen Chilvers and county councillor David Kendall. Brentwood West is the most heavily populated ward in Brentwood and, Karen in particular, could do with some help and support with the huge caseload. I can bring some new skills on community building, tackling anti-social behaviour and building an even better place to live.”
Sounds like he’s perfect to be West’s councillor!
Want news about your road or area straight to your inbox? Many #brentwoodwest residents are receiving relevant news on a regular basis when there is a planning application, proposed parking restrictions or something they need to know about their local area. How? Simples! They have just signed up to my newsletter – no spam, minimal politics, but lots of relevant news that has really helped people. That could be how your neighbour knows before you…..!
Well, common sense has prevailed (following a lot of nagging from Cllr Kendall, Cllr Sapwell and me)
I got an early morning message from Cllr Morrissey and this amazing photo! The Weald Road roundabout and line markings HAVE been put down!
It is amazing that we have to go to such extreme lengths to get the basics done, but there you go….that’s what you call fighting for residents AND getting results!
Let’s just get to the point – I have done more ward casework than anyone else on Brentwood Council by a country mile!
Top spot of 85 cases for Brentwood West by me, with the second placed councillor with 45. Overall, I registered 146 cases (on other non-ward matters) that put me second overall, with Cllr William Lloyd getting 155. So the Brentwood West stats look like this:
All these figures are YTD for 2013.
So, I am pleased to say that I haven’t let you down Brentwood West. I promised I would work hard for you and here I am doing just that.
Of the 21 Tory Councillors, six have registered ZERO cases since the start of 2013. A further six have done two pieces of casework or less.
Who’s working hard for you all year round? I don’t need to over-egg this one do I?!
It’s a pleasure to do so and I will carry on fighting for you and speaking up for you for as long as I am your councillor.
No applications in #BrentwoodWest this week, but there is some news about the derelict house in Cromwell Road.
I had this tidied up about three years ago, but it has got much worse again. This is the council’s report:
29 Cromwell Road Warley Essex CM14 5DT
WARD Brentwood West
1. BreachUntidy sites
2. Planning Considerations
A complaint was received regarding the condition of the land of this residential property.
An untidy site notice was issued in 2010 and duly complied with; however, it is evident that no further maintenance has been undertaken at the site. The front garden is overgrown with brambles and self seeding sycamore it is surrounded by a security fence and several bags of builders rubble have been dumped on the land. Overall the condition of the land adversely affects the amenity of the area. It is desired to undertake negotiations with the site owner with a view to measures being undertaken to improve the visual appearance of the site. In the event negotiations do not resolve the case, it is
recommended that authority is granted for the Council to serve a Notice under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ( also known as a an ‘Untidy Site Notice’) to secure the maintenance of the land.
That the Head of Planning be authorised to request the Borough Solicitor to take all necessary legal action to ensure that this breach is remedied, subject to the Borough Solicitor being satisfied with the evidence.
Unfortunately, not a lot more can be done with an absentee landlord, but let’s see what happens here and then what can be done next.
There has long been a number of issues in Tallis Way – the piece that faces the green.
Issues included people churning up the grass, delivery drivers swinging in to the courtyard too fast and fast traffic along Vaughan Williams Way.
Now, there are still things to do, but we may have found a solution!
A sign went up a while ago asking people to be careful and there was a motion put to council to keep the sign.
However, last night it was agreed that officers would, following a site visit I had in April, look at putting some low level fencing around the corners of the green with integral signs saying that “children were playing”. I fear that a child or dog running down that slope will not be able to stop and could meet a car coming along Vaughan Williams Way – a breaker will at least minimise that risk.
Hopefully, this will protect the green and make it a safer area in which to play.
Over the last few days it has become clear that the Crossrail cables will cause massive disruption for three months across Brentwood and that London Road (therefore most of Brentwood West) will suffer as a result.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives couldn’t be bothered to tell us about the detail of this major project as they were too busy point scoring and patting themselves on the back for being so utterly brilliant.
When the news reached me this morning, I immediately emailed the officer responsible and asked a couple of questions. I was pleased that he came back to me straight away to confirm:
The secrecy that prevails in our “open and transparent” Tory-run council is now affecting opposition councillors’ abilities to do their jobs as the administration keep all the cards close to their chests and, thereby, fail the residents of Brentwood time and time again. We, your elected representatives, have neither been informed or consulted on this and I am furious. My leader, Cllr Barry Aspinell, gives his view here.
I will continue to update you – now I know, they won’t get away with secrecy on this one.
Please note these are NOT yet decisions – I am able to refer to planning committee now.
- 67B WARLEY HILL – REAPPLICATION TO DROP KERB. Recommended for approval.
If you have any issues with the above officer recommendation then please get in touch with me as soon as possible. The deadline for referral is midday on Monday 1st July 2013 to refer the above item to the Planning Committee for further discussion.
I would also like to bring to your attention the following applications, already referred to committee for discussion:
- Warley Tavern, Warley Hill (Warley ward) – SEE LIST BELOW
The following FIVE applications from Tesco Stores Ltd are recommended for approval for the Warley Tavern on Warley Hill. As advised before, no permission is needed to convert a public house into a store, but the following items do need approval.
These have been referred straight to the Planning Committee for discussion and this will happen on Tuesday 9th July at 7pm at the Town Hall (deferred from next week’s meeting due to short notice given and Tesco agreeing to do so – thank you).
Tesco have applied for:
1. INSTALLATION OF 6NO. BOLLARDS TO FRONT
2. INSTALLATION OF PLANT EQUIPMENT ON THE ROOF OF THE REAR EXTENSION, INCLUDING THE REMOVAL OF AN EXISTING SKYLIGHT
3. INSTALLATION OF ATM (CASH MACHINE)
4. EXTERNAL ALTERATIONS TO BUILDING INCLUDING NEW SHOPFRONT
5. 1 x ILLUMINATED HANGING SIGN, 3 x ILLUMINATED FASCIA SIGNS, 4 x NON ILLUMINATED CAR PARK SIGNS AND 1 x NON ILLUMINATED INFORMATION SIGN.
I am no longer on the planning committee, but I will be making my feelings known to the voting Lib Dem members who are. It’s a curio I know, but I cannot publicly let you know my views as I would not be able to even speak at committee as this is a hop-skip-jump (literally) from Brentwood West but IS in Warley Ward. the boundary is the centre of the road. Oddly, this means that I will have no rights to speak on the matters like I would if the building was on the other side of the road.
So, I must keep my counsel and my trap shut! But, do let me know how you view the above.
For more information on the planning process, please see my advice here.
Trying to get things for the community these days is like pushing treacle up hill!
Remember I asked Royal Mail to see if we could get an extra postbox to cover Rollason Way and the hundreds of new properties.
A flat NO was the answer – no discussion – just no.
I went back to them and asked them to explain the decision but have heard nothing yet. However, I had to laugh when I went to Billericay last week to see that they had two postboxes there – about 20 shops apart!
Further proof that the world makes little sense to those with some common noddle!
Now Annual Council has been held, I can announce that I have been appointed as the Chair of Brentwood Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
This is the committee that, as the name suggests, scrutinises what the council does. Last year it was chaired by Cllr Barry Aspinell, now Lib Dem leader.
Scrutinise I will, that’s for sure. However, I won’t be speaking too much about it on this blog which is, primarily, for Brentwood West ward matters. I will link to any posts on www.brentwood-ongarlibdems.org.uk and will be tweeting as ^KC on @LibDemsBwd.
Other changes this year are that Cllr David Kendall has stepped down as Lib Dem Leader, allowing him to spend more time on being a County Councillor for Brentwood West, with Cllr Barry Aspinell stepping up as Leader and Shenfield’s Cllr Graeme Clark as Deputy Leader now.
All details of Brentwood’s Lib Dem councillors are here, as well as details of the allowances we get. I will say that I do get an additional allowance of £3,510 for being O&S chair but the fact is that I am self-employed and not independently wealthy so, to do this role, I have to give up working time and I still have to pay my mortgage and bills. Allowances are there so that anyone is able to be a councillor, not just retired folk or rich people.
I like to think that I earn my allowance – I cost every voter £1.13 in Brentwood West and, as chair of a committee on behalf of the borough 5p per person. If you don’t think you are getting value for money – try me and see if I can help.
So, there is going to be a Housing Survey – don’t miss your chance to tell the council what you think. This is important and there’s a short window for responses!
From the Council’s website:
More than 5,000 Brentwood residents will be asked by Brentwood Borough Council to take part in a housing survey during May and early June.
The Council is required by Government to have a clear understanding of housing requirements in the Borough and to carry out a housing survey every few years. The results of the survey will help the Council to develop its housing and planning policies to meet the future accommodation and support needs of local people.
On 15 May, the Council will send out more than 5,000 surveys to a random selection of households in all wards across the Borough, covering accommodation of all kinds including private and social housing.
The survey will ask people for their views on whether their current accommodation is adequate and what they think their future housing requirements will be. Residents will be asked to return their surveys by 5 June to an independent research company appointed by the Council. Each survey will carry a unique access code enabling residents to complete the survey online if they prefer that method.
Regular viewers of ITV’s “The Chase” probably got a bit of a shock tonight when I popped up as a contestant! I know a friend of mine, Cllr Daisy Benson, got a bit of a shock in Reading at the gym and local Bryan Powis did a double take too!
I recorded it back in January having passed an audition back in October 2012 but I had to keep it quiet! Not now though!
Being on TV (and yes, I’ve done it before – 1998 on Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush and in 2007 on The Weakest Link) is a lot of fun – a great experience and, you know what, you only live once so go for it if you want to!
It’s already on the itvPlayer so you can watch and find out how I did!
So, it’s nearly time to vote! If you don’t know where to vote on Thursday 2nd May, here’s my guide:
There are four polling stations in Brentwood West (Brentwood South County Division), they will be on your polling card, but just in case, here’s a map for each:
Victoria Court, Victoria Road (Polling card numbers starting CA)
Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way (Polling card numbers starting CB)
South Weald Parish Hall, London Road (Polling card numbers starting CC)
Baptist Church, Kings Chase (Polling card numbers starting CD)
If you are unsure which polling district you are in, need to return a postal vote on the day or have any other queries, just call me on 07774 248362.
I have also listed all the roads in the ward along with the polling station:
|Ashford Avenue||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Batemans Mews||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Belvedere Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Brook Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Burntwood||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Chase Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Crescent Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Cromwell Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Deans Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Downsland Drive||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Drover’s Mead||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Elm Way||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Fairfield Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Fantasia Court||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Firsgrove Crescent||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Firsgrove Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Gerrard Crescent||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Greensleeves Drive||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Halfhides||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Hanover Place||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|High Street||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Hill Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Hillside Walk||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Hive Close||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Honeypot Lane||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Hospital Cottages||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Junction Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Kavanaghs Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Kavanaghs Terrace||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Kings Chase||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Kings Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Kipling Close||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|La Plata Grove||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Langley Drive||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Lark Close||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Link Way Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|London Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Lorne Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Manor Way||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Milton Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Oldfields||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Osborne Heights||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Pastoral Way||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Pennyfields||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Potiphar Place||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Railway Square||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Red Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Rhapsody Crescent||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Rollason Way||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Selwood Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Sir Francis Way||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|South Weald Road||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Spital Lane (nos 41-51)||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|St. James Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|St. Peter’s Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Sussex Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Talbrook||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Tallis Way||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|The Beeches||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|The Chase, Cromwell Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|The Mount||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|The Terlings||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Tower Hill||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Vaughan Williams Way||Holly Trees School, Vaughan Williams Way|
|Victoria Road||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Wansford Close||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Warley Hill||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Warleywoods Crescent||Victoria Court, Victoria Road|
|Weald Close||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Weald Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|West Park Hill||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Westbury Drive||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Westbury Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
|Westway||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Westwood Avenue||South Weald Parish Hall, London Road|
|Wharf Road||Baptist Church, Kings Chase|
I still recall those heady days when Brenwood Council was in charge of its own destiny, when we could get things done for residents without playing dodge the pothole, when we had some sort of control over our parking.
It’s a different story these days, now the Tories have sold off the entire contents of the family silver, right down to the last teaspoon.
This is what happens now, if we try to get any parking restrictions in Brentwood:
You see, in my unplanned year off, the Tories decided, in their infinite wisdom, to form SEPP with other councils (South East Parking Partnership) and, basically, hand over our parking to Chelmsford City Council.
I would argue that it is not working. A few weeks ago, I asked some questions of the lead officer at Chelmsford. Here are my questions and his replies:
1. How many parking restrictions have been implemented in Brentwood West?None
2. How many are due to be implemented, following consultation in Brentwood West? None
3. How many have been rejected in Brentwood West? None
4. How many requests have been made/how many are live? Four
Rollason Way– ongoing / work in progress
Deans Road– Assessment form with Lead Officer (25/03/2013)
Honeypot Lane- on hold
Rhapsody Crescent – no further action at this time, the parking problem has gone
Well, what a resounding success!
Except then I had to go back on the following issues:
- Last year I had a site visit with an officer around Victoria Road, Cromwell Road, Crescent Road, Junction Road and Milton Road to identify minor amends that could be made to provide extra parking in the area. Was this passed on to you?
- A consultation has also taken place in Wharf Road at the end where the new houses are, what is the status on this?
- I also know there are other requests dating back to 2009 and it appears they have been lost in the handover. Please can you confirm what was handed over to you, if anything?
I am awaiting a response on all these matters.
So, what do you think Brentwood West residents? Tories making the right decisions for Brentwood?
Please help save a DOG!
A new d-log from Louis #BrentwoodWest dog
Good people of #BrentwoofWest or #BrentwoodWest if you is human!
There’s a much more important update to read aside from all that political parking stuff!
This is my Foster Brother Bailey who is also known as Shrimp! My Auntie Karen rescued him 3 weeks ago from death row……yes, they were going to put him to his death just for being old and a bit poorly! Here’s his story.
Anyway, we have fed him, bathed him and loved him nearly better but we still need help! Bailey was rescued by Hornchurch Animal Rescue but they need all the pennies they can get to help all the animals they rescue from the pound. If we can make him better, we might have a lovely home in the offing for him!
Bailey has had to have a few extra tests so he can enjoy his twilight years – he’s about 8-10 so he’s a few good years left in him yet!
If you are a doggy lover, or just a generally nice person, perhaps you can donate a few pounds to Bailey’s vet fees – every pound makes a difference.
Thank you! Louis
The unbelievable lack of parking is now coming home to roost on the Tories’ shoulders like an Angry Great Eagle and they are now starting to see what they have created here. Am I allowed to say “I told you so”?
Not sure they, or the officers involved who seem to be incapable of listening properly to residents, and were happy to have a stand up row in the street with much pen-pointing involved, are enjoying it very much.
Parking and Rollason Way are wedded together – it’s been an issue ever since I have been involved and that was way back in 2006! However, at that stage there weren’t as many properties and it was a problem and today, it’s even worse with more apartment blocks (like Adlington House) built, but with only a few people moved in.
Now, I have tried to improve things by ensuring (in 2010/11) that there wasn’t a gap between the developer leaving and the council taking ownership of the road via this petition. I have also tried to stop the over-development in the area. but the Tories constantly voted it through.
So the situation we have is that we have around 700 new properties in Rollason Way/St James Road and they have 0.8 spaces each – but some have none and some have two or three. Along Rollason Way, there is the potential to park around 30 cars and this can only ever hope to alleviate the problem, the problem is unsolvable.
I also pointed out that we had a lot of key workers who work shifts and people who have vans for work – no one ever gave any thought to the people who were actually going to live here. It’s a shambles!
So, again, here we are looking at mitigation and not solution. Thanks Tories – we are where we are again. But I did warn you about this.
Anyway, so the meeting was a bit of a farce:
- it was organised without inviting either your three ward councillors or your county councillor
- we found out from a resident (thank you)
- Essex Council Officers were telling residents it would be “inappropriate for them to attend”
- Brentwood Council Officers were inviting all and sundry
Now, I am more than happy for residents to attend but, if they are going to be invited then it should have been done fairly, with a site notice put up – easy enough to organise for a contained area such as this when everyone has to walk/drive past the same point.
Remember, the original farce when:
- two consultations were happening at the same time
- over Christmas
- Tory Cllr Parker (who wants you to vote for him on 2nd May to be your County Councillor – by the way he lives in Doddinghurst) refused to take my advice on the area, despite the fact that I’ve been working in this area since 2006 and know it like the back of my hand! In case you were wondering, yes this is the same Cllr Parker who happily throws insults around, has been censured for being abusive to gay people, thinks that parking restrictions taking three years to install is okey dokey and is currently embroiled in the #fencegate scandal in Hutton.
Anyway, the meeting took place with all your councillors, the charming Cllr Keith Parker and officers from both authorities.
It was clear that someone needed to take control so, despite suffering with a throat infection and having barely any voice, I updated everyone on the situation.
There was some shock when I said there were only 30 spaces and we could only hope to alleviate some of the problem given that there were around 1,000 residents and we could never meet the demand,
More shock when I said this would have to be a separate parking zone as the people who lived in Wharf Road, Chase Road etc would not be able to park in Rollason Way and vice versa. I had to laugh when Cllr Parker, again demonstrating his amazing lack of understanding of the area, said a new parking zone could not be created and it would have to join the Chase/Wharf area to which I pointed out that this could not happen – it would be open warfare and the RW development was built on the agreement that those residents could not park in Chase/Wharf.
Good job I was there - no one knew that apart from Cllr Kendall and me.
We then went down to Boardman Place where there is a significant problem with pavement parking and egress from their car park. A local resident informed the assorted masses of the problem – and he got several smug looks from officers and was not, in my opinion, dealt with professionally. This is where people who don’t live there don’t really appreciate the problem because, hey who guess what, they don’t live there. When the officers leave, they can forget about it. As can Cllr Parker on his farm in Doddinghurst where I am sure parking isn’t a problem!
That’s where the concept of “listening” is important because then you start to understand the problem.
I also asked if a review could be done after a year or two – Cllr Parker said no. If it doesn’t work, they will just remove anything that is there. Great!
Anyway, after finally having an eyeball-to-eyeball discussion with Cllr Parker who is in charge of parking for the borough (and, by the way, we have had precisely ZERO parking schemes introduced in Brentwood West since he has been in charge, even one I got agreed in 2010) the following next stage was agreed:
Based on the recent informal consultation, a formal consultation will now be conducted with residents with a view to introducing a Residents Parking Zone.
This will, I am afraid, ONLY be advertised on lampposts but I will, of course, do my utmost to let you know the details.
There are pros and cons to this – obviously there is a cost to a permit, but you can buy visitor permits also. It will mean only residents with permits can park there, but the issue still is that there will be more demand than spaces and it does not guarantee you a space.
The other option is to put in a restriction of “No Parking” between certain times – say 10am to 11am – but that means everyone so you would have to move your car between those times.
I say again, it’s a first-come-first-served free for all whatever way we go, with the other option being “do nothing” and it’ll be a free commuter car park.
It is important that you put your views forward – for or against – and watch for the email I will send out (register for updates by emailing me).
I am sorry there is no solution – but, like I say, I did try to warn the Tories…!
Today, I am really proud of what we have been able to achieve, working together with ward colleague Cllr Will Russell, for everyone in #BrentwoodWest to enjoy.
This is what we have done to make a difference:
We did this through pooling our ward budgets of £1350 each to first restore the footpath for access to the Warley Country Park path and then a second phase, which has seen repairs done to the roadway that leads to the Warley Bowls Club, allotments and small animal sanctuary.
We chose to pool our joint resource and spend the money here as this was a non-essential work (according to the council) that would just never have got repaired. It is right in the very centre of the ward (at the apex of the four districts within it) so in easy reach of everyone we represent.
This will make a difference to dog walkers, bird watchers, Holly Trees school, runners, bowls club users, allotment users etc etc.
It will also mean that people with disability issues who have been put off using this park can now access it again – I have already had one call from a mobility-scooter user delighted that she can now use this lovely park again.
For me and Will, it was a chance to put our political differences aside and do what we were elected to do – make Brentwood West a better place for our residents.
We hope you enjoy it for many years to come.
No comment, due to being on planning, but you might be interested to read the comments from my colleague Cllr James Sapwell on this issue.
#BrentwoodWest’s Warley Country Park path will be repaired over the next few weeks making the path safe for all users!
This was a joint bid from our ward budget allocations from Conservative Cllr Will Russell and me.
Yes, we may differ politically but we are perfectly able to put politics aside for our residents!
It’s good news for the Bowls Club, the animals, the allotments, Holly Trees School, dog walkers, wildlife enthusiasts all around the ward.
Hopefully the contractor will start soon, it needs to be completed by the end of next month!
Thanks Will for woring together with me on this one – great result!
In #BrentwoodWest, Louis #BrentwoofWest Dog and I are just reporting back from this week’s ward walk!
We reported discarded trollies from Iceland and Sainsbury’s in Westbury Road Car Park:
We have made an enquiry about removing the former barriers in Westbury Road. It’s been out of use for best part of ten years now!
We asked for this shrub to be tidied up by Bennetts and we have already had a thank you tweet from Jane Bennett.
We reported pavement damage in High Street:
We reported potholes in the High Street:
We asked for a road inspection in Gerrard Crescent (and not for the first time, I have been requesting this for years):
More pavement damage in High Street:
We asked for lines to be repainted in Gerrard Crescent:
More pavement damage in Gerrard Crescent:
Pavement damage in Westbury Road:
Pavement damage in Downsland Drive:
If we missed anything trudging around in the rain to tell us! Keep up to date with reports here.
Just an update for anyone who uses the Bowls Club, allotments, is a dog walker, a Holly Trees parent, teacher or pupil, or just someone who enjoys #BrentwoodWest’s country park.
Today, Cllr Will Russell and I have today submitted a joint bid for funding to repair this path. Each councillor has £1350 to spend in the ward and, with this coming in at £2,000, we decided to pool our resources and try and get this work done.
Otherwise, we are looking at waiting for this until 2014/5, We are now waiting for approval to proceed and, if it is granted, the contractor should be able to start very shortly we hope.
You can read the bid in full here.
Last week, when my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Phil Mynott asked for a debate on the gritting in Brentwood the Tories stormed out of the meeting refusing to discuss it. Apparently, it will form part of their winter plan for 2013/4.
Well, it seems that winter has come back to bite them on their behinds here – this is the view out of my front door tonight! Discussion on getting it right seems such a sensible move now doesn’t it? Why can’t they see that? All we want to do is get it right and serve our residents properly.
Last time it snowed we had a blog from the council leader titled “Snow, what snow?” as all trudged around in our wellies. Wonder if this one will pass her by?
This is me 12 years ago with Schnapps, a beautiful female cat who was dumped in our lane when I lived in Stondon Massey with my mum. She lived in our detached garage whilst we looked for her owner and then found out she had been dumped, after having kittens of which 2/3 had been drowned by the evil people who had her.
We moved her into the house with our other cat and two terriers but sadly, this wasn’t to last as she got run over and killed after three months with us. We bought her to Warley with us (in her cremation casket!) and she’s buried in Mum’s #BrentwoodWest garden, playing over Lorne Road Cemetery we like to think!
Why am I telling you this sad tale? Well, because microchipping has been in the news a lot and as an animal campaigner I see this as really important. I haven’t looked at the government proposals in detail, but I certainly think any requirement to microchip is a step forward.
If your pet is lost or stolen it certainly assists in reuniting and there have been some amazing stories – the one in Brentwood recently for starters where a cat came home after 10 years!
But the other awful thing is that some pets do suffer the same fate as little Schnapps. Very often, owners never know what happened but at least a chip would allow you to know, come to terms with it and grieve.
So, I have asked today whether our refuse collectors, when they do pick up a dead animal from the road, routinely scan it for a microchip. I hope they do, if not I will be taking it forward and making sure they do, even if I have to buy the scanner myself!
In the end, due only because of the public outcry, the developer was told to skidaddle and we saved it. A council press release even followed.
The idea of the park becoming a Community Asset was also raised and this was, I though being progressed. Today I asked how far down the road we were.
Having now spoken to the former chair of Asset Panel, it seemed that this item should have come back at the February meeting for further discussion. The new Tory chair did no such thing.
If I hadn’t chased this today, I wonder if this would ever have come back to committee. Probably not.
So, today I have tabled the following motion for Full Council to ensure this matter moves on:
“Brentwood Borough Council gives full consideration and due effort to transfer the St Peters Park/Cromwell Road Play Area to the community of Brentwood as a Community Asset Transfer.”
PRICELESS – WATCH HERE FROM 1.45 TO SEE TORY DEPUTY LEADER CLLR ROGER HIRST STUMPED!
After Thursday’s censorship by Brentwood Council and their decision not to allow you to watch the Tories storm out of a meeting, I watched in amazement a this interview with Cllr Hirst – the man who thinks you’re either a shirker or a worker (he seems to think people on benefits really just being too lazy to get off their backsides of course) and that to deal with having no job and no money you just need to be “resourceful”.
Also note that Roger isn’t walking down a Brentwood street, I do believe that’s a London street masquerading as Brentwood!
What I find amusing though is that Brentwood Council proudly tweeted this link (or I wouldn’t have known about it) and, really, I think they should have tried to play this one down. Or perhaps Roger, sitting on his purpose built Hutton Mount pad, really believes what comes out of his mouth like this classic: “You have to take away some of the incentives not to go out and seek work….”
Nice one Cllr Hirst……Car Crash TV at it’s best……
p.s. Lib Dem councillors voted against this in Brentwood……
#SHOPWARLEY DAY….and what a great turn out!
Just ten days ago, we had the idea of a Shop Warley Day – asking local residents to support their local traders in the face of the imminent arrival of Tesco Warley Hill.
This was the turn out at 10.30 this morning for a quick photo – and we know a few friends had already been shopping locally!
County Cllr David Kendall, Cllr William Lloyd (Warley ward) and I had already had a scout around to find some unusual items that you won’t find in a Tesco Express – gingerbread cutters, bonnet peppers, a photo frame and some Onion Bhaji mix – just to make that very point!
Then, David, William and I set about shopping with a view to trying to buy something in all those stores who will be in competition with Tesco.
- The Emporium – Cookie Cutters
- Warley Newsagent – newspaper
- The Little Florist – bunch of roses
- The Essex Arms – Mugs of Tea for three
- AAC Electrical – Batteries
- Race News – Loaf of Bread
- Londis – pancake mix, lemon juice, peppers
- The Pet Shop – bird food
- Brentwood Market Stall – Popcorn, gravy powder, olives
- Brentwood Supermarket – Sweets and dog treats for Louis #BrentwoofWest dog
- Nico’s – chicken baguette (plus popped into ,my regular haunt Sushi City for a chat!)
Topped off with a visit to Tips at Raymond Bottone for my usual nail appointment!
I was really pleased to hear from Londis that they had had additional customers today and were delighted with this fun day of action. AAC Electrical told me that a mean who had lived in Clements Park for five years had shopped at Warley Hill for the first time ever as he usually just heads in to town!
So, I hope that made a difference today and will make local residents will do all they can to support local traders – although many do, today might have made a bit of a difference!
If you didn’t shop today, that makes it a good reason to get a takeaway tonight of course!
Thanks to my shopping buddies William and David for a fun shopping experience!
WATCH THE WEBCAST HERE!
Well, I didn’t expect to end up chairing tonight’s Environment Panel but I had to when the Tories all stormed out of the meeting – let me tell you how it came about….
At the end of a quite unpleasant meeting that had seen insults thrown at the opposition from some Conservative councillors, but prior to the meeting being formally closed, Lib Dem Cllr Philip Mynott asked for a matter – the key issue of winter gritting provision and councillor involvement - to be either taken as urgent business or put on the next agenda.
Not exactly an unreasonable request and one that needs to be discussed.
Cllr Sleep seemingly refused this request so I then took to the microphone and asked him if he would put it on the next agenda.
He refused again so I then moved a motion to bring the matter to the next meeting and was seconded by Cllr Mynott
Cllr Sleep refused, more than once, to take a vote on the item tabled and this is not allowed – if a member moves something and it is duly seconded then a vote must be taken.
He then throw what can only be described as “a bit of a wobbler” and said the meeting was closed and stormed out. He joined his colleagues who had also left the meeting before its conclusion.
So, the meeting was then in session with a live motion with only five opposition councillors left. And so we refused to move
We considered that the meeting was still in session so a new chair was elected (Cllr Russell Quirk moved that I chair the meeting for this item, Cllr Sapwell seconded that motion)
I took the chair and asked an officer to take minutes.
Cllr Mynott and Cllr Quirk spoke on the item and then we voted to bring the matter of gritting and councillor involvement to the next Environment meeting.
The vote was won 5-0 with the remaining committee members (Cllrs Quirk, Mynott, Sapwell, Keeble and myself) all voting FOR the motion to talk about the gritting issues that affect Brentwood residents and businesses.
We consider that we acted within the council’s constitution and that the chair did not in refusing to take a vote on an item raised whilst the council meeting was in session.
We consider that the decision to bring this item to the next committee was made within the constitution of the council.
So now we await officer advice as to whether our actions were correct and if our vote was valid.
But even if not, the Tories acted disgracefully tonight and I urge people to watch the webcast and then the “home video” of my time in the chair to see how they act as they desperately try to hang on to power.
A number of #BrentwoodWest residents have raised the issue of this path and I am glad to have a bit of an update.
This week, council officers will be getting a quote for the path to be repaired. Depends on how much it is, but we may be able fund it from a pot of money ward councillors have – I am actually working with Cllr Will Russell on this as it will probably take up both our budgets. If it’s more, we will have to come up with a plan….but we will keep you posted.
However, what I am annoyed about is that more than one resident has just been pushed from pillar to post – they rang Brentwood and were told it was Highways, so were sent to talk to Essex or Harlow and back again, and around in circles……
It’s Brentwood land – more of a track than a road – and is part of the Warley Country Park area.
So, just come straight to me in the future…..!
Help support local traders in Warley!
With Tesco planning on opening a store on Warley Hill, your local traders are worried about the effect it will have on them.
Someone suggested boycotting the store when it opened – well, that’s a personal choice…but here’s a better idea!
LET’S DO SOMETHING POSITIVE INCREASE OUR TRADE WITH LOCAL SHOPS INSTEAD!
On Saturday 2nd February, Cllr William Lloyd and I will be having a good old shop in Warley Hill and we invite you to join us!
- Rather than run in to Londis for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread – take some time and see what interesting and unique food they offer.
- Take your dry cleaning into one of the local dry cleaners!
- Get the stuff you need to do all the little jobs around the house in the hardware store!
- Have a meal in the local pub
- Buy some flowers for your mum at The Little Florist
- Feed the birds from the pet shop
- Pop into the cafe
- Buy a fresh loaf from the newsagent
- Get your cleaning stuff from The Emporium
- Buy a Paper from Crescent Road newsagent
Let’s all support our local businesses!
Meet William and me at 10.30am at the bus stop by the fish & chip shop!
You can join the Facebook page here.
I recently blogged about the key Conservative party priority in Brentwood – a clean green borough and I have argued that this, although important, was not the key priority.
I didn’t expect this to come home to roost quite so quickly.
Tonight, although not a member of the panel, I popped (for two hours) along to the Health & Housing Panel.
This has always been a pretty directionless panel with presentations rather than decisions on the Tory agenda.
I will say that the senior officer, a fairly recent appointment at this level, is excellent and, if we were in charge, would be able to demonstrate his skills far more but he’s having to deal with a poor agenda and alack of direction from the administration that has got us into a terrible state.
Take this figures, provided to me tonight by ex-Tory Cllr Russell Quirk:
So, from 2004 when the Tories took over from us the numbers waiting has risen from 777 to 3,054.
We asked why – they don’t know.
We asked what they are doing about it – not much.
We asked if they had a strategy – no, not really.
So, whilst the administration have been dancing around about their “clean green borough” they have added 2,277 to the housing waiting list.
It was at a respectable 777 when they took the council from the Lib Dems in 2004 – perhaps that is because our leader at the time had a real passion for housing and, when she chaired the housing panel, it showed (that’s Cllr Vicky Davies by the way).
But, surely some Tory voters will say, that’s just how things are?
No. The national increase is 27%, Brentwood’s is 224%. Our population has risen by just 15%.
A parish councillor from Ingrave, Cllr Chris Price, did say that the council should stop worrying about flower pots and start worrying about how they are going to bridge that gap.
Spot on Cllr Price, spot on.
Over email yesterday, your councillors were discussing the situation regarding the allocation and distribution of grit and salt.
Now, if you’re the Tory administration then, apparently, there is no snow and it’s all perfect.
I have to admit, things have got slightly better, mainly down to years of pressure from opposition councillors (many people are aware that I have ensured that as well as the main roads I have had agreement to clear access paths to the elderly homes and the Job Centre in Brentwood West).
We also had an allocation of salt/grit which Cllr Kendall took around the ward for me. We have also called for a further debate on how this can be improved further.
But I digress.
Rather than Cllr Madeline Henwood (Deputy Mayor and, no doubt, next year’s Mayor/Brentwood’s Highest Citizen) listen to the concerns councillors were raising on behalf of residents, she replied thus:
I cannot stand reading everyone’s ‘gripes’ constantly appearing on my screen. Please the rest of you only involve me in items of ‘chatter’ which are relevant to me and my ward.
So, as long as everyone in Tipps Cross is OK, the rest of us can get on with it.
Thank you Mrs Deputy Mayor, thank you.
I will let my letter speak for itself:
Incredibly, last month, the number of mothers of school-age children was DOUBLED on Brentwood Council when Cllr Liz Cohen was elected in Shenfield. Astonishing isn’t it?
However, this has caused some excitement amongst mums in Brentwood and it occurs to me that the council is not as representative as we should be of the Brentwood community we are trying to represent. For instance, out of 37 councillors why are there only two mums of young children on the council? Why are there no non-white faces? Why are there only five councillors under 40 and only three of those under 30? Why are there only six or so commuters amongst us? Why are there no council tenants at all?
It seems to me that one reason is that people often feel you need to be a certain “type” of person to be a councillor – a “politician” if you will, but this just isn’t true. Many of us are quite normal – I’m no career politician myself having not been elected until I was 36! We do this as well as having family, friends, jobs and a life!
Most of the Liberal Democrat councillors on Brentwood got involved because something was affecting their community – for Cllr Vicky Davies it was the presence of rats where she lived at the time, for Cllr Phil Mynott it was the William Hunter Way development, for Cllr Graeme Clark it was the speeding on his road and for me a campaign to stop a development at Thorndon Country Park. Just normal people who cared about their community and realised, on all these occasions, that it was the Lib Dem councillors who were working and fighting with them. So, we joined them and here we are!
Recently, whilst the Tory administration have been tearing each other to pieces and their factions have finally splintered and the leader of the Labour group (of two) heralds the rise of socialism in Brentwood disregarding the fact that his party finished a poor fourth/last place with 31 votes in the recent by-election, the Liberal Democrats have continued focusing on community issues – fighting to save the play areas and town centre disabled parking spaces, get action on potholes and poor pavements and stop our local services being sold off to the highest bidder because we know these issues are important to you.
Community has always been at the heart of Liberal Democrat policy and, locally, that is something that we feel strongly and fight forcefully for.
Could you be our next councillor representing your residents, speaking up for them and making their voices heard? Contact us if that could be YOU!
At Planning on Wednesday there was an application for a Pizza Hut takeaway on the site of the former bakery. It was up for approval but I seconded Warley councillor David Tee’s motion to refuse it.
The reasons were threefold:
Parking is an issue in that area – there are around 20 spaces on that stretch of the hill from the pub to Avenue Road and this does not support an additional takeaway/delivery and add that to the extra traffic movements that this would cause is, potentially, a problem.
How many is too many? Four Indians, Two Chinese, Kebab shop, Fish and Chips, pub, hotel, sushi and two cafes…..
THAT is too many. It is also not allowed for two non-retail establishments to be next to each other and that was a basis for refusal.
I have nothing against pizza, in fact it would be an alternative, but we can’t squeeze any more into that area safely.
You can watch the debate, and all the reasons outlined, here.
Several residents in #BrentwoodWest and Warley have asked me how it can be that Tesco can just turn a pub into one of their shops literally overnight.
Thing is, shops selling food & drink and pubs operate under the same “class” of commercial establishment so, it seems they can since the law changed in 2006.
Now, it’s down to me and any other councillors who take an interest in the Warley/Brentwood West area to perform a damage limitation exercise. Tesco will have to apply for signage, refrigeration and extraction – I will certainly be all over them like a scratchy itchy rash.
Residents may wish to consider whether, with another Tesco opening in Hutton soon at the site of an old pub, this might be a deliberate policy on Tesco’s behalf. I give you plenty of examples: Norwood, Croydon, wimbledon, Sandbanks Peninsula, Burton, Gosport, Herne, Bristol, Grantham, Southampton, Leicester, Letchworth, Weston…..in fact there are hundreds. Just put “pub becomes tesco” into google and be astonished.
You have my word that I will do all I can to mitigate the effect on local residents. Call me with concerns, any time.
So, the lucky people of Warley Hill and surrounding area are to have the delights of a Tesco Express.
If the state of the London Road one is anything to go by, with boxes and grime all over, then here lays my concern. If Tesco are happy to be good and responsible neighbours then that’s fine but if not, they should be prepared to endure my wrath. And it won’t be pretty.
It is unfortunate that we cannot do anything to stop the conversion from a pub due to current planning laws and this is the second time it has happened in the past year.
I am, of course, concerned for the shop in Crescent Road and the businesses in Warley Hill and I hope they have enough loyalty and support to survive. It’s going to be difficult though and it will change the nature of the area, I hope not to extreme detriment.
….Louis, #BrentwoofWest Dog and are have mostly been reporting these things in #BrentwoodWest:
Kerb damage in Kings Road
Trees needing cutting back in Warleywoods Crescent:
The damage to the salt bin in Warleywoods Crescent:
Damaged paving step on Warleywoods Crescent:
Road damage in Warleywoods Crescent:
Pavement damage in Crescent Road:
Graffiti in Kavanaghs Road/Crescent Road/Hospital Cottages:
Sunken drain in Kavanaghs Road:
We have asked for a clean up of some of the street furniture:
and reminded ourselves to tell you that the path to Warley Country Park and the allotments is being costed for repairs:
Well, that was just this week folks, please tell us if there’s anything we have missed!
Over these years, and even today, residents have raised a number of concerns with me and I think it is timely to review what was something of an experimental policy of no give way lines on the development. The restrictions were cobbled together before I was elected and I think a very different sceheme would have been put in if, at the time, I was there as your councillor. Further, the development had not been inhabited fully then and those who live there deserve the chance to have their say.
Feeling strongly about this, Cllr David Kendall and I undertook a survey but the Tories turned down our request for a review, even though 66% of residents were unhappy. You can read more here. It’s sad to note that a number of residents have moved out of the area because of the parking problems.
These are the issues that I have asked to be reviewed:
We will now wait and hope that, this time, something will be done and I hope this starts with a formal survey asking for residents’ views.
Of course, if the majority are happy then nothing will change but, let’s do the decent thing and ask!
So, starting the year as I mean to go on, Louis and I went for a ward walk this morning. As usual, we will be reporting in the problems we found but one particularly amused us.
It’s in Brentwood South rather than West – can you guess from this photo of Louis exactly where it is?
No? Scroll down….
This dreadful pavement is actually outside the Town Hall! 37 councillors (including me, to be fair, although it is not in my ward) in and out of there week in week out and no reporting!
I’ll be off to do that now!
Consultation to the Tories usually means doing the minimum – a web-based consultation usually that only a few people will complete.
This is how they come to the conclusion that the most important thing in the minds of every Brentwood resident is a “clean green” borough.
Now, I’m definitely a “tree hugger” and I recycle everything down to my contact lens capsules and a price ticket but, honestly, I do not believe this is the key issue for the majority of our Brentwood residents.
You see, as I said last night, I think that if you live many floors up in Drake House or Masefield Court and have three kids under five then you probably have bigger priorities than sitting down in the company of your cappuccino-maker and Mont Blanc pen to make notes on the council’s Corporate Strategy for 2013-6 and then email in an inspired paper on your key priorities I don’t have kids, but I’d probably wager that you’re probably going to spend more time washing baked beans off tiny T-shirts than worrying about the sell-off of the Warley Depot.
But here is the sting-in-the-tail because, actually, that could matter to you.
The site in Warley (look up the junction of Eagle Way and the Drive on googlemaps) is not going to house half a dozen nice semis. It is in the shadow of the Ford Central Office Building, Mayflower House and the rather tall Gibraltar House tower block. With all those buildings around the area then a developer is going to be punching the air as he counts his money and the huge number of flats he can cram in.
Which means there will be a further strain, following on from the Clements Park and Rollason Way/St James Road developments, on our one doctors surgery in the Warley area.
So, when that (fictional-ish) mum in Drake House has an ill child then this ridiculous woolly plan (so woolly you could knit a jumper with it) is going to have an effect on her when she can’t get an appointment with a local doctor. But then, she was consulted but she chose not to contribute – naughty, silly girl. Anyway, she CAN recycle her Persil bottles every week so that’s all fine!
Now, we Lib Dems can see this and I can see that these consultations are not meeting the needs of the people who most need the council’s help and a supportive infrastructure. This is not the first time I have torn a Conservative consultation process to bits.
It is our responsibility to understand it, weight the consultation responses and make good decisions. I will be asking for the demographic breakdown of responses although, now the Tory administration has voted for this plan, there is pretty much nothing I can do.
Unless, of course, the administration changes…and the opposition is only five short of a majority.
Councillor for Crown Street in Brentwood South, sorry, Brentwood West Nigel Clarke is at the centre of a storm today after calling the UKIP Candidate for last week’s Shenfield by-election and the Chair of the local UKIP Party a racist – as can be seen by the twitter screen grab here.
Excellent conduct Nigel, your party must be very proud of your contribution.
Not sure that calling residents “racist” is within the code of conduct of either the council or your party, so let’s see how this unfolds.
Well, the good news is that the Community Groups that were promised a grant from the Brentwood Share Fund will get their money.
But not before the most bizarre meeting took place last night – a meeting at which I was asked to Vice Chair in a cross-party bench situation with conservative Cllr David Tee as Chair.
The situation was that a number of local community groups had been awarded money at the Asset Panel (chaired by Cllr Russell Quirk) and then three Tory councillors (Cllr Will Russell (Brentwood West), the Mayor Cllr Ann Coe (South Weald) and Cllr Roger McCheyne (Brizes & Doddinghurst) called in that decision.
Unfortunately, this meant that all the money that had been awarded to the groups (including the Sensory Garden in King George’s Park and Recoil Twisters) was in jeopardy and suspended until the outcome of the Overview & Scrutiny Panel last night.
Now the thing is, you may have seen that Cllr Quirk is somewhat “at odds” with the Tory administration. Well, when I say “at odds” I mean full-on open warfare…..and this is relevant.
You see, I am rather of the opinion that the three councillors were used as stooges by the leader or one of hers to call in a decision made at Cllr Quirk’s panel to undermine him. I think that is a shame and I am particularly saying this because when I outlined the fact that ALL the funding was now in doubt due to the call in and the options available to the Scrutiny committee, there were some very shocked faces amongst these three. For clarity there were three options – no further action or referral back to Asset Panel or up to Full Council.
Cllr Russell and Cllr Coe say that felt they had to do this for the conscience and yet were very unsure of what they were actually doing – nor was the mystery complaining bidder ever named.
The three also tried to make it more dramatic by saying there had been an allegation of corruption, except no one ever outlined what this allegation was and, as Lib Dem Cllr Phil Mynott pointed out, we often hear this and ask under what grounds. But no information on this is forthcoming. There is a separate process for this and it doesn’t involve calling in a decision.
The grounds it was actually called in were lack of information and that due process had not been followed.
But here’s my summary, after extensive investigation with officers and my own evidence gathering:
So, I moved that there should be no further action and that the original decision should stand, allocating the monies as agreed. To my utter shock in the most ironic thing I have ever witnessed, two of those who called the decision in raised their hand to second my motion for a vote! However, it was indeed Cllr Julie Morrissey from Labour who got in first to second me.
So there you have it – there are two warring factions within the Tory party and they are playing politics with your council resources now when they should be keeping this sort of nonsense in their group room. I don’t know which lot is worse to be honest, but the people of Brentwood would prefer a cohesive party that work together for the good of Brentwood. You won’t get that with the Tories in Brentwood – they are in meltdown. That’s probably why the people of Shenfield made a very sensible decision to elect Liberal Democrat Cllr Liz Cohen last week.
In the past couple of weeks, a few people have mentioned the Brook Street roundabout and asked whether I can do anything to help – I think the dark nights make it feel so much more dangerous than it already is.
Well, I need an update on this as the review was due to take place in the Spring and I hope to receive some more information soon.
In the meantime, a potted history of the last two years:
Busy today dealing with two housing issues in #BrentwoodWest – at least this is something we are still broadly in charge of in Brentwood and can speak to officers who know what I am referring to.
Louis #BrentwoofWest Dog came along to help me – he can’t do a lot with those large paws but he can spread smiles amongst people who need a bit of cheer!
Are we being told the full story?
Well, I raised a very important and complex issue last night at Overview & Scrutiny Committee, arising from the Extraordinary council meeting on Monday.
It transpired at that meeting that the William Hunter Way contract was extended for two years, when everyone on the council at the time (or at least those outside the inner circle) thought it was for a year.
Now, the thing is that officers should be completely impartial and write reports that give all members equal information and opportunity. But, of course, there are many ways of telling a story. Heaven forbid this is true, but could it be that officers are leant upon by the administration to provide to all members just what they (he Conservatives) want written? I do hope not.
How do we check that all councillors are told everything about an item, with nothing hidden? It is a question that needs answering.
See me request a report into this matter in the video below, at 07:10.
Well, there’s an easy solution according to Conservative Cllr Roger Hirst, Deputy Leader of the Council.
Just be RESOURCEFUL!
It’s that easy – I bet you all feel daft now don’t you!?
This is also the man who, a couple of years ago when the recession started to bite and people were really struggling, told the council a tale of his purchase of a Waffle Maker.
I suggest Cllr Hirst, as Deputy Leader of this council, finds his way out of his Hutton Mount home and goes and meets some people who are really experiencing difficult times. Some of his colleagues should go with him too, based on some of the things said tonight.
I have been there – quite recently – and it’s not funny. No matter how “resourceful” I was, it didn’t make it any easier to pay the mortgage when there was no money coming in.
On your behalf, #brentwoodwest, I was proud to attend the Remembrance Parade and Service today at the Brentwood War Memorial and at St. Thomas’ Church.
It’s one of the things that I, personally, am honoured to do for the Brentwood West residents who elected me and, indeed, all of Brentwood.
The majority of councillors, of all parties, were there today (some have other church responsibilities though) and I do believe it is something that we all feel is our duty and a privilege to attend, if not this service then another in the borough.
For me, I love seeing the breadth of age groups from very small children in awe of the band and waving their poppies to mature veterans all coming together to honour those who have fought and died in our honour. Those who carried the flags looked so proud that it made me quite emotional, and I am sure I wasn’t alone.
As in previous years, I proudly wore my large red poppy with a smaller purple poppy to honour animals of warfare. One little girl with a councillor daddy (and the initials KQ) seemed quite impressed with this and her dad tells me she’ll be writing about it for school….which is lovely!
I would like to thank the Royal British Legion band (who I hear practising for this all year), those who laid wreaths on our behalf and those who organised it at Brentwood Council. It was a truly spectacular event.
I am sure that most of us know someone who has been personally affected by way and most of us will have historical family tales of war too, but there have been some terrible war atrocities of late that can’t fail to affect us all who live in a free world because of those who went to war for us.
Last night, the opposition on Brentwood Council, collectively, got tired of being pushed about and ensured that residents voices WILL be heard, even when the Conservative administration would rather brush things under the carpet.
You can watch what happened here, but I will also explain…
Three notices of motion were tabled last night:
Motions 1 and 3 were time sensitive and needed to be debated by the entire council, not just 15 members on one committee. As usually happens, these were both referred to a later Policy Board meeting.
Having predicted this earlier in the week, we had noted that there was a constitutional clause that said an Extra-ordinary Council meeting could be requested by five councillors, on presentation of a letter to the Mayor. The Mayor then has seven days to call a meeting and then, if not called, the five members could call that meeting themselves.
On both motions, letters were presented and a meeting will now take place. Cllr Kendall did further suggest that the matter could be discussed there and then, saving the need for a further meeting, but the administration were stubborn in their response.
This is why you need a strong opposition and last night, I do believe we all delivered.
Your ward councillors went in to bat last week and fought for the play facility. This led to the developer being told that the play area wasn’t for sale.
We also had a discussion about developing new and existing areas in order to provide play provision for children of all ages and we hope to have some more news on that soon.
When we all work together great things can be achieved! Well done to everyone involved.
Two years, almost to the day, that Cllr Kendall and I went to the Highways Agency in Bedford armed with a petition from residents in Selwood Road/Talbrook and surrounding area, a comprehensive resident survey and evidence that the noise levels were too high and had actually been made worse by some work the agency had done to raise the road some years previously, it has been announced that there will be no new noise barriers on the A12.
It is abundantly clear that the department were just playing us for mugs, the promised consultation was nothing more than a paper exercise and they weren’t actually prepared to do anything from the start.
I am massively disappointed and Brentwood officers are aghast too. Today, in an email to David and me today, they said:
David and I have asked for the matter to be discussed at the next Environment Panel, hoping that a strong message can be sent from the council on this matter, but it is not looking good now.
We will fight for as long as we can and I will let you know when it comes to committee.
Facebook users can keep up with new on the play area on this Facebook page. Thanks to Cllr Will Russell for the link and for setting this up. Good to work together, cross-party, for such an important issue.
I thought it was about time for an update on this subject following this earlier post and conversations with a number of #brentwoodwest residents.
It’s been a bit of a strange tale but the basics are that there is about £50,000 to be spent on play areas from developers that has been generated from developments in Brentwood West (mostly Rollason Way). I am trying to ensure that that money is spent in West and not, for example, in deepest darkest Hutton. Back in February 2011, a meeting was held and officers agreed to undergo a feasibility study into play areas – identifying all the potential solutions. Well, I lost my seat and nothing happened.
That is until August this year when I received an email from Cllr Quirk asking me about the proposal to close/move the Cromwell Road Play Area at which time I informed him of the above. Strangely, but in that short exchange of emails, he never mentioned that there had been an approach from a developer to build flats/houses on the area. I can only assume that it slipped his mind.
I only found out about the developer approach – a proposal that, according to an email from an officer, Cllr Quirk was “very interested in….*” – when, a few weeks later, I was copied in on an email conversation.
At this point, Cllr Will Russell and I rather joined forces to get the development idea well and truly abandoned and, at the time of writing, it seems that it so has been, but I await formal notification.
So, I am back in the position of getting the money spent in the ward but I will do all I can to ensure that the Cromwell Road play area stays put.
* direct quote from officer email sent on 15.08.12.
Back from a week on holiday and I am pleased to see that this pothole outside Brentwood station is marked for repair. Watch this space!
I wish I didn’t have to throw a wobbler and send an angry email to get things done but……if it works!
Well, taking some very stern action seems to have done the trick and we might get the potholes fixed soon, leading with the Brook Road ones.
One tiny flaw in this story…..apparently the potholes in Victoria Road are to be fixed too. Great news, but Essex County Council did those ones in April 2012….not that this suggests incompetence or anything. Hush my mouth!
I am pleased to report the following action by your Lib Dems, especially when the Tories think these plans are “fair” as reported in the Gazette today. I am constantly irritated by the Tory view that the majority of people on benefits are work-shy, lazy scroungers who can’t be bothered to find a job – take that from someone who found herself having to visit Job Centre Plus every fortnight for some time last year, despite being highly qualified in her field with twenty years experience and leaving the JSA advisors at a loss as to why I kept getting rejected, even though I was applying for about three jobs a day.
Don’t get me started on people with physical incapacity, carers and others whose circumstances make them far from work-shy, lazy or scrounging.
At last night’s Policy & Resources Board (6/8/12) Lib Dem councillors voted against plans to introduce a Local Council Tax Support Scheme in Brentwood which has been forced on the Council by the Tory led coalition government.
Whilst Lib Dems believe in the principle that being in work should always be more attractive financially than being on benefit they do not feel the Government¡¦s policy on Council Tax benefit has been properly thought through and serious consideration given to its effect at a local level.
Lib Dem leader Cllr David Kendall said:
“Put simply this is localism in its crudest sense with a proposal that has been dumped on local government by central government and we are basically being told to get on with it with one arm tied behind our back.
“Most authorities around the UK are going to see a cut in their Council tax grant of 10% but Brentwood is going to be hit with a 16% cut. I asked what representations had been made to the Government regarding the size of Brentwood’s cut and was met with a wall of silence by the administration.
Lib Dems welcome the fact that pensioners are going to be protected under any new scheme and will not see a cut in their benefit they are concerned that some Brentwood residents will face cuts of 32% in their council tax benefit . They also have concerns over the following issues:
- There is no agreed definition in Government or elsewhere of what characteristics make an individual vulnerable and there is no guidance provided for designing local schemes. This could leave some Brentwood residents in a very difficult financial position and we believe that is wrong.
- Brentwood Borough Council has failed to say what extra financial support they are going to give to the local CAB office to help them with the increased workload this policy will bring.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr David Kendall added:
“It is interesting to note that eight Tory councils around the country are fighting the Government plans on Council tax benefit policy but Tory controlled Brentwood is rolling over with its paws in the air and accepting it. We believe this policy being forced on us by the Government is flawed and should be completely reviewed before pushing ahead any further.”
I have today reported for the umpteenth time a pothole at Brentwood station before someone does themselves an injury. This is what I said:
On the pelican crossing by the station there is a huge pothole. With thousands of pedestrians crossing over this morning and evening I would suggest that this is extremely urgent before someone has an accident and the council is left liable for a serious injury.
I also have had so many people tell me about the one in Brook Road that I went back a few days ago to do a comparison between when I first reported it in January 2012 and now.
Feast your eyes:
Hello good people of #BrentwoodWest. This is Louis, I’m the very lucky little shih tzu that has Cllr Karen Chilvers as his Auntie. You’ve probably seen us walking around town since I moved to Brentwood West last May. I’m the blonde.
A few weeks ago, with Auntie Karen back as your councillor person, I was also elected to the lofty position of Brentwoof West dog. I am very proud of myself indeed!
So watch this space, this isn’t just Auntie Karen proving she is a “Crazy Dog Lady” beyond all doubt, I’m also about to do all a little dog can to help to help dogs who have not landed on their paws.
Keep woofing and watching……
…and many other #brentwoodwest roads and pavements too. Quite frankly, we have had enough of being ignored and today, after many many requests from us both, Cllr David Kendall wrote a very stern email to officers at Essex County Council asking if anyone had any clue whatsoever on when these would be dealt with.
The best example is Brook Road – here’s me back in January 2012 when it was clearly in need of attention. Here we are seven months later and no further forward. There was much excitement a couple of weeks ago when it got marked out but still nothing so I asked again, only to receive this disappointing response:
Highway Matters – Carriageway defect – Brook Road junction with Hillside Walk, Brentwood
Thank you for your recent email regarding the above.
One of the big problems that we are experiencing is being able to keep Customers updated with the relevant information. Due to the incredibly high volume of reports that are received every day and the small numbers of staff who have been tasked with dealing with the enquiries we are regrettably not in a position of being able to provide timely responses to queries about potholes.
The above mentioned site has been assessed by our engineering team and there is now a committed job number 2056351 for repairs and carriageway patching. Unfortunately at the time of writing we cannot give definitive timescales.
We trust you find this information of use.
Well no. There’s nothing useful in that email – I need a date to inform my residents when something is actually going to happen. Surely someone has worked out a schedule and the contractors aren’t just driving willy-nilly around town throwing out a bit of tarmac here and there?
We understand an additional £11m has been allocated to potholes, we welcome this but fear this will simply be used to catch up on what should have been done so far and question how far this will stretch across the entire county.
Cllr Kendall has asked for information on:
· Whether the £11 million is new money or if it was already part of the Highways budget?
· What is going to happen when this £11 million has been spent?
· What money has been set aside for future pothole repairs?
· How is this £11 million going to be allocated? What will Brentwood get?
We await something happening…….
In April 2011, I was successful in getting the circus at Osborne Heights adopted by the council after a ten year fight. Sadly, it’s been neglected of late however, after a few phone calls this morning following a chat with a resident I am pleased to say that it is being cut and tended right here and now!
Today, I was able to see the list of all the road repairs that are needed in #brentwoodwest. 26 out of the 80 roads in the ward are listed – and remember that there are about 15 private roads too. It’s quite a list, but I have asked for some clarity over what is required in each:
|MANOR ROAD (could be Manor Way?)|
|SIR FRANCIS WAY|
|ST JAMES ROAD|
|ST PETERS ROAD|
|VAUGHAN WILLIAMS WAY|
There’s also a few missing that I know I have reported myself – Firsgrove Road, Gerrard Crescent and Wharf Road for instance – so I will report those again too!
I just wanted to give you an update on the campaign to get noise barriers along the A12, particularly in Selwood Road and the surrounding area. Residents have worked very hard on this over the last few years, some for decades, and it is good to report some encouraging progress.
Officers at Brentwood Borough Council have now confirmed that the Homesteads area WILL be included as part of the Highways Agency’s consultation that is taking place in the summer, meaning that the area is being considered for noise barriers. There’s still a long way to go and many years to wait however, at least we are heading in the right direction.
We will, of course, keep you informed of when you can make your views known and the more NOISE we make the more chance there is to STOP the A12 noise.
This also means that the survey and petition you contributed to in 2010 can now be submitted as part of the evidence and I will make sure that is considered.
Well it really has been the most marvellous weekend with the Olympic Torch in Essex! I was delighted to taken up the invitation from Cllr Louise McKinlay and Brentwood Mayor Cllr Ann Coe to attend an Olympic Tea Party at the Town Hall on Friday and baked some flapjacks for the occasion too!
I was even more delighted that my family, including my lovely nephew Freddie were able to come along too and we had a massive surprise when we got there…..the Torch was in the building!!! Here’s Freddie and I with that very same torch in the council chamber!
There was a fabulous turnout for the event, with may cakes consumed, and the torch finally went past us at around 6.15pm.
Then early on Saturday morning I was standing on a roundabout in Chelmsford at 6.45am for “Springetts Leg” – my friend Cllr Mark Springett from our nearest city was carrying the torch and we were all there to support him!
Mark got a tough leg to run on account of having run the marathon earlier this year – the uphill stretch from the Miami roundabout along to the VW Garage!
There’s lot of photos of both the events that you can view here!
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a lovely prize of a bottle of Moet & Chandon from The Champagne Waiter, just because I was following them on Twitter!
It’s a really novel service – they deliver a perfectly chilled bottle of champers, plus flutes to you exactly when and where you want it! Obviously, you have to be within 8 miles of Billericay so it’s good for us Brentwood peeps!
Anyway, I decided that it would be much better to give this to a local organisation to raise funds for something good. Tina Hadjicostas from Brentwood Skate Park was quick to jump in and I thought that, seeing as this was on my doorstep and used by a lot of #brentwoodwest residents that it would be a good place for it to raise funds!
So, here I am with Tina in the Sensory Gardens in King George’s Park on Monday passing the voucher on to a worthy cause!
It’s going to be raffled later in the year – so keep an eye on their site for more information!
I was very sad to read this story about the Sensory Gardens in King George’s Park being vandalised.
Oddly enough, I was there with #BrentwoofWest Dog Louis and my new man last Sunday. I particularly wanted to show him where I had spent a lot of time with Louis last year when I was recovering from being gravely ill – it was of great comfort to me to sit in this little oasis. We walked down to KGP at least weekly, through the woods and often headed straight there (sometimes getting a coffee on the way). This experience means that I understand, very much first hand, how this small garden can help people who need to find a bit of piece.
What makes someone smash up the sundial and bench is beyond comprehension.
We did notice the sundial had been broken and I did notice that our bench was missing but it was still beautiful.
I have asked what help is needed for restoring the gardens and I will keep an eye on the repair process.
I have had a bizarre little attack from a tweeter this week! Small minded isn’t in it!? I do believe this user is a Tory member though, so I thought I would share.
I play a little game called FourSquare and you check in to places you visit. On Wednesday, I checked in at a petrol station in Billericay (I was there for a business meeting) and, later, when I came out of the meeting my check in had a bitter comment chastising me for not shopping locally. I needed petrol…..!
Then, yesterday, I met a dear friend for lunch near her home in Hornchurch. She has two young sons, so it’s best to meet her way so she can be sure to be there to pick them up from school at 3pm. I checked in at the restaurant we went to and, again, the same thing happened! A chastisement and another nasty comment about not being in Brentwood!
Funny thing is, this person makes no comment about all the Brentwood places I visit, he only comments when I am elsewhere!
I do all I can to support Brentwood – but I am not a prisoner here! I am entitled to go elsewhere too!
Look forward to Target Events making a comment about when I check in at a Brentwood place like this one saying “well done for supporting new traders”, but I suspect I will wait a long time!
I would love to give you a proper run down of last night’s two meetings but, frankly, it was such a shambles I wouldn’t know where to start.
What’s clear is that the “localism” heralded at the Town Hall in 2008 is dead, as powers have clearly been given to Essex County Council. Watch the webcast for evidence but note that borough and parish councillors not on the committee are simply not allowed to speak.
The Tories spent most of the evening arguing amongst themselves (on your behalf, remember) up until the point where one of them walked out in disgust and another asked me for a Lib Dem membership form as he was embarrassed to be associated with most of his colleagues (I declind the offer and suggested he might like to buy a few raffle tickets instead).
All is not well in the Tory camp…..
I also had a chat with another who mentioned the shambles of the previous week, saying that they should have just admitted they got it wrong on the Honeypot Lane vehicular access issue. If they had admitted that, all I could have done was to thank them and move on.
But back to Highways….a two hour “county council” meeting was no more than a confused talking shop with few proper reports or maps and diagrams available on which to base decisions. A matter came up in Weald Road with no indication of where the restrictions were proposed (Weald Road crosses three wards – West, North and South Weald) but with the chair asking for a decision! It was deferred (however, to add to the confusion, my ex-LibDem-now-Tory ward colleague started talking about Weald Close!).
At the end of that meeting we came away with one monumental decision made – more cycle racks at Shenfield station!
Then there was a half an hour discussion about whether the following meeting should go ahead at all due to the shambles of the first. Then the walk out by Tory Cllr Lionel Lee, then a pretty bad tempered meeting all round!
One major issue I had was on the parking consultation that has taken place. In my view, a consultation that completely fails to meet the minimum standards of a government consultation with results that do nothing to standardise the parking fees across the borough to make them fair is not sufficient. Here’s why:
- only 167 responses received out of a population of 70,000 – that’s just 0.2%.
- 10% were outside of the borough – taking the responses down to c. 150
- 29% of these responses were from Ingatestone postcodes, meaning that 50/150 were from one village.
- the results were not weighted to ensure that no one area had more sway than another (see above)
I challenged the methodology and the excuse seems to be “it was on the web and we tweeted about it.”. No involvement from research specialists, no minimum participation levels and, if I was looking into this review, I would have made sure we had a response rate of at least 3%, preferably 5%.
I don’t say this as an armchair critic by the way, I say it as a chartered marketer with 20 years experience who has commissioned nationwide surveys for central government.
Predictably, the chair dismissed my views.
On to Brentwood West matters now – the Brook Road restrictions will not be happening now (in actual fact they were advertised by mistake) and the Milton Road, Cromwell Road and Victoria Road ones have gone back to the drawing board after I had a site meeting with the officer responsible. We think we may have found more spaces in the area.
Whilst I was on my year sabbatical, it seems a certain councillor didn’t speak up and get the Weald Close restrictions quite like we wanted. That’s now been put right too.
An eventful night!
This week, I had a letter published in the Brentwood Gazette asking why the Conservative administration are so reluctant to fight for you:
I was pleased to read Cllr Will Russell’s letter informing residents in the Rollason Way and St James Road area that he will assist them in dealing with the cataclysmic effects of the latest monstrous planning application (approved by many of his Tory colleagues) that will inevitably manifest themselves once the development is complete.
Frankly, until the end of time, anyone elected as a Brentwood West councillor will have to carry the heavy responsibility of managing 517 properties (in an area the Lib Dems zoned for just 75), traffic lights (that will add to congestion in Kings Road), a crèche (introduced despite no feasibility study in existence), a woeful lack of parking (less than one space per property) and now a “convenience store” that will, no doubt, bring increased antisocial behaviour and noisy deliveries around the clock (on which environmental health wasn’t even consulted).
My anger, shared by hundreds of residents, can barely be contained.
So, I would suggest that on reflection, residents would probably have preferred that he, and his Conservative ward colleague, spent the time prior the meeting ensuring their colleagues were fully aware of the problems that this development would bring so they had good reasons to justify a vote of refusal (the store and crèche for starters).
It may have helped also if Tory Cllr Nigel Clarke had spent more than 50 seconds of his five minute speaking allowance contributing to this crucial debate affecting the lives of hundreds in Brentwood West.
One thing that I cannot reconcile is the constant cry from the conservative benches that the developer may go to appeal if we refuse a planning application. I feel that, particularly on this occasion with a store and crèche proposal, there were solid reasons for refusal that may well have been upheld by the inspectorate. Of course, the costs of an appeal are a consideration, but this is one of the unexpected eventualities for which there are around £4m in Brentwood’s reserves – so we can fight for our residents as a council.
In my view, the 1,000 residents living in this area suffering the effects of over-development were worth fighting for. I will continue to do so.
Cllr Karen Chilvers
I am delighted to tell you that the new cemetery road planned to run from Honeypot Lane to the extension to the London Road Cemetery was finally laid to rest last night.
It is disappointing that the Tories are trying to re-write history (again) and try and tell everyone that this road was never the case. An email from a senior council officer confirms what I have been saying and also what is reflected in the minutes and clear from the webcast of 7th February:
The options put forward at the last environment panel meeting for the green burial site all involved a vehicular entrance from Honeypot Lane…
But, they are trying to deny that all four options included the road – last night they even tried to convince me it was a path that was proposed when I have the words “vehicular access” in black & white in council minutes! It’s a shame they can’t just say they got it wrong and have had a re-think.
But, what is important is that this will be a beautiful area full of wildlife and wild flowers. I also got agreement for a consultation and for all ward councillors to be involved in creating the final plans for the area (thanks to a sensible approach from committee vice-chair Cllr Lloyd, for which I am grateful…some of the Tories have their moments it seems!)
So, a successful end to the story – that’s what an effective opposition councillor does…highlights what the administration would rather you didn’t know and speak up for you. I’m claiming a little victory there in speaking up for and representing you!
On Friday, I met with James Moody, MD of Countryside Properties, to discuss some issues that need attention in the area. Principally, issues were with the huge potholes in the roads.
Now, James and I are never going to agree on how many flats were sustainable in the area but, he has a job to do and so do I and, therefore, the best thing to do is to agree to disagree and deal with what’s there. 200 flats can’t be un-built like I would like them to be, so we deal with what we can deal with. (I was however appraised of exactly how many properties have been built and I wasn’t far out….there are currently 406 in Rollason Way including the unfinished one, plus the 87 flats in Brunel House in St James Road making a grand total of 493 – meaning a grand total of 517 if the final part of Brunel House is approved on Wednesday).
James and I took a walk around the site and he has give me his assurance that the worst road defects (the ones outside Botham House) will be filled in within the next six weeks. All the defects will be dealt with but these ones, that everyone has to drive over, will be done first.
He also confirmed that the path by Boardman Place will shortly be completed so no-one will be walking over mud any more! All this land will be “made good” before things are handed over.
We were both pleased that the large green outside The Crescent (the new houses in Wharf Road) was so well used by many residents – including my friends Bob and Buster and both felt that the dog bin I secured there in my first term as Brentwood West councillor had made this a really pleasant area, in the main.
We are both aware of some other issues there, but I have also been told that these are being dealt with. Let me know of any issues you have.
I also discussed the play area issue and another exciting project that is Olympics-related, but I will tell you more on that when I can.
Countryside’s time at Rollason Way is almost at an end, it’s Taylor Wimpey we are dealing with now as they try and cram in a few more flats…but that’s another story!
If you do have a chance – this petition needs your consideration. It will be presented to the Planning Committee on Wednesday.
Tonight, I’ll be back in the council chamber after my year off , representing you once again. I can barely wait!
I also wish the Mayor, Mrs Joan Holmes, well in her last meeting as the civic head of the Borough of Brentwood and wish Cllr Ann Coe well as she takes over as Mayor for 2012/3.
This is a public meeting – so you can come along to the Town Hall and watch or, alternatively, you can watch the webcast.
This will be atop a convenience store (with its associated deliveries and increased activity), plus a creche and some offices.
Despite this new information it is STILL recommended for approval but the latest council report shows some alarming facts:
If you cannot join us – please do sign the petition against more flats in St James Road and forward to your friends too – there have been 39 objections and 62 signatures at time of writing (plus a 91-strong petition from the last development proposed), but the more signatures the better!
Since 3rd May, I have had to catch up on sleep, with neglected friends and family and rest my weary old bones! But now it is time to get back to the job of “being a councillor” and catching up on the casework that so badly needs doing.
I have a fair list to work through, and some things to pick up from my 2007-2011 term that weren’t carried through by my former Lib Dem colleague as I thought he was doing, but no matter! I am back to handle these things myself!
In the last few days, I have asked for officers to bring me up to speed on new housing issues, raised with me during the election campaign, where residents need their corner fought and I have asked for inspections and updates on roads that badly need resurfacing or repair before there is an accident. I hope a broken wall is now to be made safe and a developer will give me an honest update on a number of issues that need resolution.
I am also looking at some new facilities around the ward that I hope will improve residents’ lives – but more of those later!
If I can help – don’t hesitate to call!
In #Brentwoodwest this week there are a number of applications across the ward:
26 Hillside Walk - SINGLE STOREY REAR EXTENSION: Recommended for approval.
36 Kings Chase – SINGLE STOREY REAR EXTENSION AND PORCH TO FRONT: Recommended for approval.
45 Kings Road -CHANGE OF USE FROM FIRST FLOOR SHOP STORAGE TO RESIDENTIAL FLAT. (GROUND FLOOR PORTION OF SHOP TO REMAIN). ALTERATIONS TO SHOP FRONT TO FORM AN ADDITIONAL DOORWAY: Recommended for approval.
18 La Plata Grove – CROWN LIFT BY 3M ONE BEECH: Recommended for approval.
…it’s been great seeing you all again!
I have really enjoyed this campaign – back meeting residents again and getting things done for you again!
There’s been some great feedback too – on Saturday some of my Essex-based friends came over to help and got some really nice comments from those of you who are supporting me:
Karen actually does stuff and TELLS you what it is, the others just give you vague comments about working all year round.” – Railway Square resident.
We know Karen works hard, we are moving on Monday but we will be voting because we are moving elsewhere in Karen’s patch! – soon to be Crescent Road residents!
Oh it’s probably someone about polling day (to her little girl as she came down the stairs)……OH! It’s you Karen, that’s OK then!” - La Plata Grove resident.
It’s great to have such support and there’s just one thing you need to do now…the most important one!
Residents in Brook Street, Talbrook, Wansford Close, Spital Lane, Belvedere Road, Selwood Road, Victoria Road, Milton Road and Cromwell Road have all been fuming lately about proposed parking restrictions in their roads.
They have been even more angry about the tone and content of an email they have all received when they had the audacity to object to the proposals. Yesterday, Cllr David Kendall put in a formal complaint to a senior officer about the letter that said:
I would therefore ask you to reconsider your objection and advise me of your decision at your earliest convenience.
This is unbelievable behaviour – residents have the democratic right to object to what’s happening in their street and for the council to ask them to drop their views is quite appalling in my view. I’m sure that stronger minded residents are quite happy to stick to their guns but, for many people, this could feel quite initimidating.
But then, as the letter also states:
I appreciate that with the introduction of some of the proposed parking restrictions it will not be so convenient for the residents but Essex County Council do not provide any form of parking as it is up to the individual resident to provide their own. This may mean installing a vehicular access and hard stand to the property if at all possible, or altering parking habits.
For information, if I am elected on Thursday I will be trying to improve the parking situation in Brentwood West, not make it worse.
If you have suddenly found out you’ll not be around to vote for any reason then call me URGENTLY for a proxy vote, we can arrange someone to vote for you!
Ten votes in it last year – don’t leave it to the others, I might need you more than you know!
Polling Day is 3rd May – I need to get proxy votes organised tomorrow!
…whoever you are..a #brentwoodwest resident I assume, for leaving this message in response to the Gazette’s latest investigation into councillor and candidate recognition:
if the reporter’s had knocked at my door, they would have had a similar response……. It wasn’t easy to find out who the candidates in my ward were for 2012 although I could have told you who the exisiting 3 councillors were. That said, I couldn’t tell you what they looked like as I haven’t seen them since last May when they were elected. No canvassing, no leaflets, no nothing?
I could, however, describe as well as name the Lib Dem lady candidate for 2012 as she is so often visible round the neighbourhood. Karen is out, in all weathers, be it canvassing or just contuning to listen to and help the residents she effectively served when she was a councillor.
On my internet search of appropriate party websites, it seemed pretty obvious who actually cares about their residents’ views and which party appears to have become extremely complacent…. in my ward anyway.”
With all pre-election planning meetings out of the way, it is no surprise that decisions on FOUR planning applications including the two that are either in or adjacent to #BrentwoodWest have been kicked into the long grass until after the election on 3rd May.
Could this possibly be because they don’t want to approve unpopular developments in Clements Park and St James Road BEFORE you all go to the polls? You have to wonder, because if they were going to refuse them, this would have formed a major part of their last minute election campaign and they would probably have declared themselves heroes…..
…that I have been active in Brentwood West, unlike others!
Reporters have been knocking on doors to see if residents were aware of who their councillors and candidates were.
I was pleased to pick up this quote:
“As for the candidates standing on May 3, a number of residents in Brentwood West remarked that they had been visited by the Lib Dem candidate Karen Chilvers.”
But I had to chuckle at the Tory councillor who was rung by a resident but unable to help because he was “about to play bridge”. You really, really couldn’t make it up could you???!!!!
The word “subsidence” strikes fear into the hearts of most householders which is why a #brentwoodwest resident was in contact with me within minutes of receiving a leaflet from the Tories informing him that there was subsidence in his road. Having only recently moved to the area, thousands of pounds of work to sort the issue out was a scary prospect.
This does seem to be another one of those Tory scaremongering stories as they clamour for votes, like we have seen before. The issue is a small one to do with a drain and, if this response to another resident in the area is anything to go by from highways officers, not a particularly urgent one:
Have just called Highways as a concerned resident of —— following the note yesterday from the Tories. He checked and found there are two reports. One of “road sinking” and the other of “subsidence”. I said the very word “subsidence” could fill most householders with dread. He answered by saying that the report said that “it was not urgent and that officers would be looking into it with a view to dealing with the problem in the next financial year”.
Further to this post, County Cllr David Kendall has put this to Essex County Council officers after receiving contact from residents:
I have been contacted by some residents living in ———- regarding a letter they have received today telling them that their road “is sinking” and suffering from ”subsidence”. One of the residents has been told by ECC Highways that there are two reports on the matter.As the County Councillor for the area please could I be sent a copy of these two reports asap. Please could I also be given the Highways Depts view as to the scale of the problem and what action is being proposed to tackle it.If I could have all this information asap it would be appreciated as this letter has caused great alarm amongst my residents.Thank youCllr David KendallLeader of the Opposition, Brentwood Borough CouncilBorough Councillor, Pilgrims Hatch wardCounty Councillor, Brentwood South Division
Today’s #brentwoodwest potholes are from Victoria Road and Firsgrove Crescent! I have also reported another in Firsgrove Road.
However, the Victoria Road one is a good news story, after just a mere NINETEEN MONTHS it seems that the Victoria Road pothole outside Masefield Court and Victoria Court has been marked out for repair!
Got your council tax bill? Expecting it to go down by 2.1%? Surprised that it has actually gone up by 0.1%?
The Tories have made a song-and-dance about their 2.1% cut in council tax but, it seems, cleverly worded this to deflect the attention away from the fact that only the small borough council part of the bill has seen a reduction – the overall bill has gone up for many, if not all, hardworking council tax payers in Brentwood.
Unfortunately for me, I had already been out celebrating and gone crazy, spending my £1.29 perceived bonus for April on a jar of olives, because that’s just the decadent sort of lady I am! Thank goodness I didn’t go and blow the whole £15.40 in one go! Phew!
The latest Tory leaflet headline says there’s a 2.1% reduction. It could be suggested that this is a ruse, to get you voting for them at the elections, but I wouldn’t want to be so cynical.
The devil, once again, is in the detail.
That detail was also kept away from the Lib Dem councillors at the budget setting meeting (and not for the first time).
The other thing that worries me is the report that they found the money to give you a “2.1%” reduction the afternoon of the budget meeting. So where was this money hiding? Down the sofa? In an old handbag?
Clearly, they just had to find this to get to a neutral council tax rise or they would have had to admit to a 2.2% rise – but every time we have asked for them to spend some money for the good of residents they couldn’t find it. However, when it suits their election propaganda suddenly, it’s there.
It’s a good job the Lib Dems in government are actually making a difference to what you take home, raising the tax threshold again and putting more money in your wallet. 2,000,000 lowest paid workers have been lifted out of paying tax altogether and a further 21,000,000 have received a £546 tax cut.
Thanks to the Lib Dems, it looks like I can enjoy my jar of olives after all!
Fabulous turn out at the Brentwood Sport Relief Mile at Brentwood County High School this afternoon! I actually got a medal too! I hear that around 500 people took part – walking, running or jogging as was right for them…that’s the beauty of a big event like this!
I was there to do a mile with all six Lib Dem councillors and we all completed it! I actually managed to run a lot of the mile which is actually a bit of a feat for me, given that last year I was so ill that I had to sit down to blowdry my hair in case I toppled over in the blast!
So, regular runner Cllr Ross Carter was the first to finish the mile, followed by Cllr Phil Mynott and then Cllr James “118″ Sapwell…giving the Brentwood North boys the podium places! Then it was ME!!! Really nice to be cheered on by the boys in the final straight!
The Pilgrims Hatch councillors finished together…with Cllr David Kendall claiming to have done an extra lap…..!
It looked like everyone was having a great time and we hope you have had a chance to donate to the cause….if not just hop along to Sport Relief and this page and help us to our target of £250 (we’ve raised over £100 off line so we are looking for some more people to appreciate James’ 118 costume and David’s limbering up for the camera!)
Finally, just wanted to add a bit of a cute story! I had hoped that my little Louis dog would do the second lap with me so I took him on his lead as I went past my mum (watching and holding all bags, coats, keys etc) for a run. Well, he got a little bit scared of all the people so, after about 200 yards, he wriggled out of his collar and ran back to his mum like a greyhound (he’s a shih tzu by the way) and I had to run back with his lead and collar…so I did run slightly more than a mile!
Did you catch #bishopshell (John Bishop Week of Hell Programme) last night? Well, WOW is all I can say!
I will freely admit, I would probably neeed a lay down in a darkened room after the flight to France, let alone the cycling, rowing across the channel and four marathons covering 295 miles! See more about John’s challenge here.
Now, my little contribution is doing the Sport Relief Mile on Sunday with the rest of the Lib Dem team. We are hearing fairly strong rumours that Cllr James Sapwell will be dressing up…..
You can sponsor us here to spur us along! Come along and support us as 12 noon when we stagger over the finishing line, looking like we’ve just done a John Bishop challenge….!
It’s very sad when a lovely area like St Faith’s country park is vandalised – Cllr Ross Carter and I certainly thought so when we saw this.
Why do people do this? It’s so unpleasant.
This has led to a big problem too because the material used is unable to be cleaned effectively. In January, when Ross asked about it, the council were going to come and take the signs away until they could be replaced and that wouldn’t have been for months. We then asked them not to do that, but perhaps to make some remedial repairs such as sanding until then rather than take the signs away altogether.
Obviously, we will both keep an eye on this as it is on the border of Brentwood North and West and used by lots of dog walkers in the area.
I was delighted to be asked to write a guest blog for a friend of mine….now it’s either going to be about animals or politics isn’t it! Just click here to see more!
If I had a pound for everyone who asked me about this MASSIVE pothole at the weekend, I’d have enough for a cracking night out you know!
Well, after some considerably shouty reports by me (going back to 25th Febuary) to Essex County Council and some loud feet stamping by County Cllr David Kendall (including a direct approach to the cabinet member for highways), David has just reported that he has driven over it and it has been fixed!!
Good news all round then!
After spending four years in the council chamber and very close to the rockface, it’s been interesting to view it from a resident’s perspective, like I did the other night at Planning.
Following on from the Brentwood Gazette expose, I hope more people watch the webcasts and visit the chamber to see what level of representation they are getting.
Answers on a postcard please!
11 Langley Drive - RETROSPECTIVE FRONT DORMER: Recommended for approval.
If you have any issues with the above officer recommendation then please get in touch with us as soon as possible. The deadline for referral is midday on 26th March 2012 to refer the above items to the Planning Committee for further discussion. For more information on the planning process, please see my advice here.
This week, my attention was also drawn to the report on an issue in Pastoral Way, where complaints have been received about the mud left all over the road by developers. I am surprised that no breach was identified (see below) as I have often seen this area messy. If it happens again, feel free to let me know, it’s not the first time we have had to deal with developers on Clements Park and their questionable neighbourliness:
“there was no evidence of mud and sand at the time of my visits. I have discussed the situation with the developers, a wheel washing facility is in place and the road is cleaned daily. I have reminded the site workers of the condition attached to the application in relation to vehicles leaving the site on to Pastoral Way. No Breach.”
The result? Deferral!
After sitting through two hours of the Planning Meeting last night, the Chairman decided to defer for further reports. Now, I have seen many items deferred for good reason over the years but, most often, after a debate during which it was clear that additional information was required in order to make an informed decision.
Not the case this time – the Chair clearly knew that this at 7pm and could have moved for the deferral then, especially as there were speakers and residents there for the item. Councillors are in for the duration so it doesn’t matter, but members from all parties, led by Lib Dem Cllr Vicky Davies, complained that keeping people in a room for an entire evening just to say that the matter wasn’t going to be heard was completely out of order.
Curiously, the same decision was taken on a proposed development on Clements Park, also up for debate and deferred to a future meeting.
A debate would have flushed out all the issues and seen what was missing, even if a deferral was made during the meeting.
A cynical person might say that the Tories didn’t want to debate and/or vote on two major developments in Brentwood West just before an election. Better to do it after May, perhaps, when there are no borough council elections then for two years?
The good news of course is that this gives us time to object as I know many residents in Rollason Way and St James Road wanted to. It was made clear that new objections had been raised since the report was compiled although, curiously, the number of objections was not stated and I know it was more than double just by what I have been copied in on!
With this extra time, I have set up a petition that can be signed here.
If you don’t want that to happen, you really need to put your objection in by about 3pm today – email or comment on the council website. You’ll find a template email and instructions here.
A potted history of this site:
- Brunel House originally planned as flats and a small office block
- September 2011: Offices not built to date, 71 flats proposed instead and refused in 2010
- March 2011: Developers put through an application for a large office block, approved in no small part thanks to Tory councillor Joan Holmes supporting this development. On my blog the next day I said
What is odd is that Brentwood West Tory councillor Joan Holmes asserts that residents are all for it – saying that approving this application will stop residential development. Erm, no it will not. Even though there is an approved application on there someone could, tomorrow, turn up and put an application in for residential – one application does not stop another.”)
- January 2012 and an application for retail, shops AND more flats goes in. The fact that it is not dissimilar to that approved in March 2011 is part of the officers’ recommendation reasons for approval.
Residents in St James Road are very concerned about the “convenience store” with the noise, pollution, anti social behaviour and deliveries that this could generate.
99% of the people I have spoken to are worried about the parking, the over crowding, over development, emergency access and, frankly, have had enough.
Let’s stop building now in this area.
In #brentwoodwest, news has just been received that the application for more flats and a convenience store in St James Road, adjoining Brunel House, is recommended for approval by Tory-run Brentwood Council. This will now go to the Planning Committee on Tuesday 13th March 2012 at 7pm for a decision. This meeting is open to the public and I would urge residents to attend the Town Hall in Ingrave Road if you can to show your feelings. I hope to be there to support you.
Residents have asked questions about parking (the report concedes the provision is inadequate and the current parking problems speak for themselves), deliveries for the food store, the traffic lights due to be introduced in St James Road, parking for the retail area, more people residing in an already over-crowded area and the lack of play provision in the area.
In addition, there have been long-held concerns about emergency access in Rollason Way and I have been informed that a visit by the fire service recently backed this up as they struggled to access the road.
Please get in touch if you would like further information.
In Victoria Road #brentwoodwest there is a real nasty pair of pavement defects. I first reported this on 31st August 2010 saying:
Early today, I reported in a biggish pothole in Victoria Road for urgent attention. I am worried because this is just outside the children’s play area at Masefield Court, and just a few steps away from Victoria Court.
A deep hole in the road where children and elderly folk are likely to be passing is not good – so I hope this will be sorted very quickly.
….and despite being marked out, it has not been repaired.
Clearly, it’s been forgotten about at some time – good job I’m around to keep on top of these things even though I’m not, currently, a councillor.
Disappointing to see that no action has been taken to fix this, especially as I reported it over a month ago. I have reported it again today.
Never let it be said that I’m not living a rock and roll life!
Seriously though, the land belonging to Network Rail was a bit of a mess so I reported it and shortly heard back. In a nutshell, they weren’t clearing anything unless it was dangerous. Apparently, they have a lot of land and they can’t keep it all looking nice….(lost for words). Also note that this area is not council or public land and notices have recently gone up to prevent trespass (despite a Tory councillor promising they would clear it themselves last year at election time…!)
I made an angry mental note to turn my attention to this matter if I got back on the council in May (after all, it’s not the first time I have reported it).
Imagine my surprise when I got another call this week to tell me that, because of the Olympics, the entire track into Stratford was going to be tidied up in late Spring!
Three more potholes and a bit of fly tipping reported today, someone’s actually said they’d vote for me today just to help me with my obsession!
Absolute beauties in Selwood Road and Brook Road to add the ones at the top of Brook Road:
Oh, and driving home I noticed one at the end of Lorne Road so I reported that too.
This is what happens when our highways department gets hived off to a remote location……
The war on potholes in #brentwoodwest never stops! I’ve reported a fair few this last couple of weeks including this showstopper in Brook Road. I reported this one a few weeks ago and today reported another that’s appeared just behind where I am standing in this photo….
I also reported two humdingers in High Street, just before the police station on the evens side of the road.
I’ve also reported, for about the fifth time, the one in Victoria Road right outside Masefield Court!
The case of the disputed casework continues in this week’s Brentwood Gazette with an incredible letter from former-LibDem-now-Tory-councillor Nigel Clarke writing in to defend his record of a meagre TEN cases recorded in nine months (blogged about HERE).
The Gazette said in their article that “Karen Chilvers sent in 60 pieces of casework between 25 Jan and 4 May 2011″ and that “if she had continued at this rate throughout the year, her total workload could have been close to 240…which would have put her way out in front…”
The Tories are desperately trying to dispute this, but it marries up with my own records.
I’m not convinced he actually wrote this letter himself, as there are some facts missing, but to defend his poor score he claims that he passed 90% of his casework to me to deal with during the election period.
So, during a period where I was Chair of Overview & Scrutiny, trying to get re-elected, running an election campaign, attending 100%+ of council meeting including the labour intensive Planning Committee, doing five pieces of casework per week, working in Milton Keynes and commuting for 4-5 hours a day, caring for an elderly, poorly dog AND in extremely poor health he gave me his work to do as well…!!!!
The mystery of how I lost my seat and ended up in intensive care deepens even further!
Here’s the irony though, last June I passed all my live cases (65 in total) to him for action. If he had recorded and dealt with those alone, he would have occupied third place in the league table…!!!
That “90%” that I apparently squirrelled away would have been amongst those too….
For the second time this year, the bus stop in Vaughan Williams Way has been smashed, leaving a dangerous situation for anyone walking past to Holly Trees School and to any dog walkers who use this area.
We reported it straight away to County Cllr David Kendall and he took immediate action.
This is what will happen now:
“…..our maintenance contractor ….will attend the site today to clear away the smashed glass and make the site safe.
“As this stop has been damaged a number of times we intend to replace all the glass in the shelter with polycarbonate panels which will not be able to be smashed.“
Well done @gazetteseries for a great series of articles on which councillors are working all year round for you and speaking up for you and who isn’t. I’d particularly like to say thanks for this little piece:
Karen Chilvers, who lost her Brentwood West seat by 10 in last May’s election, sent in 60 pieces of casework between 25 Jan and 4 May 2011. If she had continued at this rate throughout the year, her total workload could have been close to 240…which would have put her way out in front…”
Based on the Brentwood Gazette’s investigation with information from Brentwood Borough Council via a Freedom of Information request, it has been revealed that:
So, if you want a hardworking councillor back in the game, please vote for me on Thursday 3rd May 2012!!!
Normal service in your ward will then be resumed…..although, this past weekend I have been dealing with 10 pieces of casework and reported eight potholes so far this month…..!
Yes, as it turns out my “retirement from politics” didn’t last more than a few weeks and, still immensely troubled by the way those 29 Tories (and their Labour chum) are running our town, I wasn’t actually away for very long. I missed you residents, I missed getting results for you and I didn’t really feel like you had a borough councillor fighting for you on those important issues like housing problems, planning and environmental concerns.
So I decided that, with just ten votes in it, I would fight another day! This decision was made some months ago and was official as of 1st December 2011.
Last week’s defection has left you without any Lib Dem representation at borough level in Brentwood West and that’s just not on – not for the 1548 who voted for him on general election day or the 948 that voted for me in 2011. I think it is also important that you have someone who is focused on Brentwood West – from the tower blocks of Masefield Court to the town houses of Greensleeves Drive and from the Victorian houses in Crescent Road to the modern properties in Hillside Walk – and not principally on their business and the Crown Street traders. I care about the town, and will support our independent traders like I always have done, but residents and their concerns were and always would be my main priority as your councillor.
Even the defector described me as “one of the most hard-working councillors” and here are just a few things I did when I was:
There’s loads of other things – just click on your road name on the right and you’ll find things that I have done for your road. I have got planters re-planted, roads re-surfaced, got roads adopted by the council where others failed, got graffiti cleaned off in the middle of the night, got fly-tipping removed and helped a lady get much-needed attention paid to her husband’s grave.
There are many things I can’t talk about like helping a lady NOT get evicted by talking to the right officers and putting bailiffs off for a few days, stopping canvassing on my election last year because an elderly lady started crying about her very sick husband so I went in and spent an hour with her checking she was OK and attending a police interview with a lady who had had an attempted break-in.
Even whilst I have not been a councillor I have been working for you – not just on the London Road speeding issue as mentioned above, but also getting agreement for the signage review on Brook Street Roundabout, working and funding the A12 Noise website and negotiating with the Highways Agency, still campaigning against over-development, organising the clearance of knotweed by talking to Railtrack AND keeping the location secret so it didn’t affect house prices.
All this AND having a 100% attendance record of attending council meetings and attending, on average, 4-5 evening council meetings a month and putting your views across at every single one.
A certain defecting councillor said he could only get things done if he was a Tory. Thing is, as I have proven time and time again, if you are really involved, do your research, talk to the right people and put up a good business case for these things you CAN get things done – even if you are not actually elected. But, it is easier if you are elected of course and this is why I ask for your vote on Thursday 3rd May 2012 so I can speak up for you (unlike some) and make your voice heard.
I’m a fighter, give me something to fight for and you won’t be disappointed.
p.s if you want a postal vote just let me know!
Well, quite a bit!
I’ve tweeted over 9,200 times, I follow 1,989 people or organisations and am followed by 1,238 tweeters!
My bio says “LibDem community campaigner, dog & cat owner. Still looking for handsome millionaire. Reports of my political demise were greatly exaggerated”
I originally started tweeting before I had an iPhone, mainly weather and travel updates because I didn’t have access to other peoples’ tweets. On getting that little Apple device in September 2009, everything changed!
I met loads of people across Brentwood – there were very few people in the town on Twitter then and I was following most of them! A tweet up would have only needed a bus stop in those days!
I was “probably” the first councillor on Twitter too – it was only when the General Election was looking in 2010 that it became popular with the other crews!
Twitter quickly became a key source of news for me – I found out about the death of Stephen Gately on Twitter as well as the passing of Paul O’Grady’s dog Buster (one of our favourites).
I announced the death of my lovely little dog Quincy on Twitter last year, and the arrival of the gorgeous Louis Dog a few weeks later, as well as many animal antics of my menagerie.
A few weeks ago I was giving late night advice to a Twitter friend who had a dog with sore paws, alongside Lib Dem Baroness Meral Ece…mainly about the merits of Vaseline for Jack Russell paws! Neither of these people would be known to me without the wonder of Twitter….!
Then of course there’s a little bit of politics – I have had many a “discussion” with other local politicians, the odd massive row (!!!) and have discovered what some local councillors are really like when they are let loose with 140 characters and a blackberry!
Guess how I officially found out I had lost my council seat last year? Yep! Twitter! I already knew, but I wasn’t well enough then to hang around for another hour in the drafty International Hall at the Brentwood Centre to wait for the result and, no doubt, have a camera shoved in my face and the press trying to get a reaction from me. So, I scuttled off and found that little news out via a Brentwood Gazette tweet, hiding under my duvet!!
How did I get interested in local politics again? Twitter! I was following the Town Hall debate via a #hashtag until it got too much and I booted up the webcast!
But, as more and more people in Brentwood have got on Twitter, it’s been great to share local stories, discuss problems and concerns, get some thank yous for things we’ve done and let people know what’s really going on in their town (which differs from the Tory or Labour version)!
I’ve been able to help charities including Hopefield Animal Sanctuary and the Mayor’s Charities.
I use Twitter to inform local people when there’s a dog lost locally through the charity I help, DogLost which has really pleased me (and upset me when it’s a sad ending) as I did try to set up a text scheme for lost dogs a couple of years ago and got slapped down by the Tory Leader.
There’s been good news too – I was delighted to read a tweet at New Year telling me my friend Bob Russell MP was now Sir Bob and that Alesha Dixon was leaving Strictly (and not before time – bring on Karen Hardy)!
This week, I’ve even showed off my new boots, played #lessambitiousbooktitles, informed people about a planning application in Brentwood West and had a tweet from a boyfriend of 20 years ago!
So, in conclusion, all I can say is that a lot of people think it’s scary, techy and wrong in some way but, really, it’s just a little microcosm of the rich tapestry we call life!
Follow me @LDKatz71.
Well, some great news for everyone in #Brentwood and anyone who uses J28 of the M25! I have received confirmation that a review of the Brook Street roundabout’s signage and lining will be reviewed with a view to making it safer! It’s taken a year to get to this point and, whilst the bloke who beat me at May was picking up crisp packets around the ward, I was sitting up until all hours putting this case together and trudging around the carriageway! Still, such is life!
“…we are aware of a number of issues that some users of this junction have with the signing and lining of the Brook Street roundabout and on the slip roads.
“A safety study to identify any changes that might improve the junction and the slip road approaches has just been agreed and will be carried out before the end of this financial year.”
Of course, it’s easy to tut and say “what a load of rubbish”, but then I thought I would give it a whirl, mainly because I met Mickey Norcross at the Councillor Scissorhands event and I watched out of curiosity.
Now, you cannot watch it seriously – to me it is just a highly glossy panto! There’s nothing spontaneous about it for sure – I know two of the streets it is filmed in very well (one is in Brentwood West….) and two “spontaneous” scenes I have seen took about four hours each to film according to accounts from my nearest and dearest BUT, it’s quite funny, it’s lively and it’s mostly quite upbeat. Don’t we all need a bit of fun in our lives?
And compare it to the plethora of Simon Cowell “entertainment” we have on our screens. I don’t watch them on principle because I do not like the way that people are led out like freaks in a Victorian Circus and children/young people are paraded on TV to break down in tears when their dreams are dashed. So, to have a pleasant programme like “The Only Way is Essex” is a much better alternative in my book!
It’s also nice to have families involved – Nanna Pat being very popular it seems – but with a lot of respect shown to the dear lady!
It’s also been good for Brentwood with more and more of our town featured in it each week. This week they were in Crown Street, the High Street and this particular road in #BrentwoodWest (that I had better not name for fear of groupies).
All I will say about it, is in the last ten years I’ve walked up and down this mystery road with four different dogs and I’ve never seen anyone walking along in a white chiffon nightie like Lucy was this week!
But a final political point – when the Tories claim that the new shops in the High Street are down to them, do remind them that it is not the “Torie” effect but the “TOWIE” effect!
I wrote, just a little while ago, about the development in The Beeches that was approved by the Conservatives in 2008 and how this would overshadow La Plata Grove. I wasn’t prepared this today when I drove down London Road – all the trees and shrubs have been ripped out to make way for this enormous development.
I said back then, when the Tories went against the officer recommendation of refusal and approved this massive building, that it was too large, too sprawling and would change the face of the area.
We were quite surprised to hear that the Tories are suggesting this car park as a potential “pay & display” during the William Hunter Way so, with some concern, we asked what residents thought of this.
On the face of it, perhaps it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. This is a season ticket car park, usually used by business users and it is rarely busy so, some think it wouldn’t be so different if used by by shoppers, let us know if you think this and we will deal with the feedback accordingly (or rather Nigel & David will) however, consider:
But, please email us ([email protected]) or reply to this post with your comments.
By the way, there is an alternative – BT may loan some spaces to us if the council ask nicely!
Amazing news today when I learnt that two Tory councillors (MacLellan and Braid) voted to go home from the Highways Panel meeting at 9pm last night!
Standing orders state that if a meeting goes on past 9pm then a vote has to be taken to “suspend standing orders” and go on until the business of the night is concluded. This is usually a mere formality…until last night when this dynamic pair said no even though only three matters had been resolved.
In my time on the council it was rare to be at a meeting where this didn’t happen, 10pm was a pretty normal finish time and 11pm or midnight wasn’t unusual, especially on Planning. But hey ho, that’s part of being an elected representative and I also had to get up early and go to work too, one of these two is even retired!!!
A classic Conservative clanger!
Cllr Clarke and Cllr Kendall were both there fighting your corner last night, long past their respective bedtimes!
I voted against this development in London Road in February 2008 and for good reason. It’s just simply too big and is an unnecessary over-development of this site as you can see from the illustration in this story in 2008.
Unbelievably, all Conservative councillors voted for this development, in spite of an officer recommendation for refusal. At the time, the chair of planning was Cllr Russell Quirk who said there would be a” net gain of houses”, “the development had to be seen in context of its proximity to the BT building” and that “doubts on care need in the borough and pressures on surgeries were seen as baseless.” Anyone who has tried to get a quick appointment at a local GP surgery is unlikely to agree with this point as our infrastructure is stretched to breaking point with this development and the enormous Tory-supported over-developments at Rollason Way and Clements Park in Brentwood West as well as others still being built in other areas.
I remember this meeting as if it was yesterday – Cllr Quirk broke with protocol (much to my considerable annoyance) and allowed the agent to have a lengthy “Q&A” session to answer any concerns or, in my opinion, give a list of reasons to support it, without an opposing view available. Usually, only a 3-minute speech is allowed for either an applicant or objector. As far as I am aware, this is something that has never been allowed before or since on any development and, some might say, shows that there was a hunger amongst the Conservative group to make every effort to grant approval to this development, against the advice of officers. Why? I just cannot answer that.
The poor residents of La Plata Grove now have to watch as four houses are demolished and they will soon find themselves in the shadow of an 89-room four-storey development.
Please don’t go off to the polls next May with collective amnesia on the Tories record on this and plenty of other issues.
It’s been such a long story, going back well over a year but you can see posting here that go back to June 2010!
But anyway, Cllr Nigel Clarke has now confirmed that the junction protectors requested by us aeons ago will be happening in the next two months!
He’s also been discussing interim solutions with residents in an attempt to stop large vehicles churning up the road. Stay tuned for more news!
Thought I would just reflect on last week’s Gazette before more revelations come to the fore tomorrow!
Now, the epiphany I speak of! I wonder why the rebels are, only now, addressing the issues that the Lib Dems have been highlighting for months and years:
What is really laughable about all this is that many of the “rebels” spent time ripping into the Lib Dems over these issues, often telling us that we couldn’t differentiate between the parts of the body we sat on and then bendy hinge joint in the centre of our arms. They didn’t sit there and quietly fume, they actually spoke at length AGAINST the very things they are now calling for!!!
I’m quite surprised that they haven’t asked us for a Lib Dem membership form!
So now they have demonstrated what a shower they are as they rip each other to pieces in public, I do hope that the people of Brentwood do not have collective amnesia next May when it comes to who is elected.
This clearly shows that it IS the Lib Dems and NO other party (remember Labour voted WITH the Tories when they wanted to move to Coptfold Road last December and on countless other occasions) that have been the voice of the people of Brentwood for many, many years and will continue to speak up for you and make your voice heard.
So the Deputy Leader of #Brentwood Council referred a planning application two doors away from his house to the planning committee but he doesn’t seem to think that means he has to declare an interest. Well, I certainly do, let me tell you about two situations that arose for me in my time on the council and you can make up your minds:
However, on both occasions, it was made quite clear that if there is a prejudicial interest then you SHOULD NOT refer it and that I would be in the soup if that was the case. The solution would be to ask a fellow ward member or the chair of the committee to refer.
I only had to mention my mum’s road in a council meeting and they would all be jumping up and down shouting “interest interest” and that didn’t even have to be a planning matter. Furthermore, when the fencing at Brackenwood Estate, where I live, was discussed I was duty bound to declare a prejudicial interest and leave the chamber until the discussions on the matter had concluded.
Not turning up to the committee meeting does not mean that the Code of Conduct does not apply. It’s quite simple and I am surprised a man of Cllr Hirst’s intelligence finds it so difficult to understand – clearly, this IS a prejudicial interest for him and, therefore, he should not have referred it.
* Particularly amusing though, was the fact that I declared that I was a customer of this lady’s shop and this actually led to 80% of the committee having to declare that they were too!!!
#Brentwoodwest, Warley and Brentwood South residents are receiving a leaflet through their doors from the Brentwood Conservatives apologising for a leaflet called “The Big Lib Dem Let Down”, distributed in Summer 2010 (the start of my re-election campaign).
They apologise for wrongly accusing Cllr David Kendall of “condoning the misleading of residents”, saying he was happy to “allow Liberal Democrat councillors to peddle dishonest propaganda and attempt to hoodwink local people” and, most importantly, the allegations “were false and were wrongly made for political gain.
I am now wondering what effect this had on my campaign and the narrow loss of my seat, given that we were the “dishonest propaganda peddling” councillors they were wrongly referring to it seems.
Of course, we have seen similar behaviour before (the Honeypot Lane allotments farce springs to mind, as does the Brentwood station matter, where they tried to take credit for someone else’s campaigning), but this takes things to a whole new level.
The leaflet is below and it should go to EVERY door in Brentwood West, Warley and Brentwood South. Please do let me know if you do not receive it, as you certainly should.
So, there’s a consultation on the Brentwood Council site on the Lighting Up Brentwood event and I thought I would complete it.
Now, I think the day for this is Saturday – not Sunday or Thursday, just Saturday. So I gave my first preference to Saturday, declining to rank the rest as I don’t want it on any other day. But you can’t do that – you HAVE to complete a 1,2,3 choice and it won’t let you submit your answer unless you rank them. Now we have seen this sort of flawed consultation before over the Brentwood Library Closure in February – where you have nowhere to make comments and have to go on the least worse option.
But the real irony is that a 1,2,3 choice is EXACTLY what the Tories were AGAINST in the AV vote!!! I do hope that this consultation is actually going to be decided on the administration’s loved and adored First Past the Post system and that the second and third choices aren’t used in the decision the Tories make!
So, I will be emailing the council with my views, ensuring that they know I only want it on a Saturday as do, I hear, over 70% of retailers. If you want to do the same, just email enquiries@br[email protected] or comment on this post and I will ensure it is passed on.
Remember, the Lib Dem group campaigned long and hard to keep this event on a Saturday – the Tories were the ones who moved it to Thursday and you STILL have to give that credence by this consultation.
I found myself talking to a Tory councillor the other day on the matter of the Town Hall and their rebellion which led to the offices being refurbished and rented out to other businesses for offices.
He rather sheepishly admitted that the motion they put forward was almost identical to the “option 3” requested by the Liberal Democrat group (when I was still one of them) in February. As a reminder, Cllr Louise McKinlay offered just two options or full of partial (87%) demolition and we asked for an option of refurbishment and rental to be explored.
“We didn’t have the numbers to support it then.” He said, struggling to stand up at this point with the obvious absence of a backbone.
But, I put to him, you may not have had the numbers, you may have not totally supported us but you didn’t simply VOTE against it -you and your colleagues stood there and pulled us to pieces, called us fools and laughed at us. Deputy Leader, Cllr Roger Hirst, threw some shameful accusations at me personally so how can you then come back a few months later and essentially move the same thing?
A slightly embarrassed councillor didn’t have much of an answer to that.
There’s no way I could ever have stood up and supported something I didn’t believe in but this is exactly what you get from this lot – what’s best for them….at the time. Now, some of them clearly see the future differently to Cllr McKinlay, their current leader.
ANOTHER CHANCE TO READ KAREN’S INTERVIEW ABOUT HER LAST FOUR YEARS AS A COUNCILLOR:
What has been your greatest achievement as councillor for Brentwood West?
Karen: I am proud of a lot I have achieved with residents over the last few years, but recently we got a seven storey block of flats stopped in St James Road. Unfortunately, the Tories then approved a six storey office block on the same land.
Going back to 2007, we also stopped the closure of the Warley Hill Post Office.
What is the greatest disappointment?
It has got to be the William Hunter Way development. The Liberal Democrats have always wanted a cinema for the town, but the Tories only gave one option which is a pretty grim looking one. This is a massive missed opportunity, it could have been something so special.
Do you live in Brentwood West?
I know pretty much every nook & cranny of the ward so I would happily take it as my specialist subject on Mastermind!
You say you knock on doors “all year round, not just election time”. Really?
YES! We actually do and the proof is on www.karenchilvers.mycouncillor.org.uk! In fact, we are much happier knocking on doors out of election time in July than April, when we are asking for your votes!
Every week, we pick up case work from residents that ranges from someone terrified they are going to be evicted from a council property to parking issues. Sometimes, we pick up really big issues like the noise from the A12 or the Brook Street roundabout but I think the fact that we make ourselves so very accessible to people means they have our details and email or call us when they need help with things like the library consultation protest or a planning issue.
If you go to my site and click on the links, you can see what I have done for the ward, the borough and even your very own street!
If you had one wish for Brentwood West what would it be?
That everyone would drive at the speed limit. Simple. It’s a really emotive issue, especially in Honeypot Lane, London Road, Crescent Road and other major roads here. I have tried to solve issues, but until speeding is as socially unacceptable as drink driving, I fear nothing will really change.
How can you fight the Tories locally when you are in national coalition?
There is NO COALITION IN BRENTWOOD I can assure you in the strongest terms!
We are the opposition locally and are in this because we are so appalled by what the Tories are doing with our town.
Make no mistake, Lib Dems will continue to fight the Tories for you here in Brentwood.
What are the immediate priorities for you and the Liberal Democrats in Brentwood?
We want to save your Town Hall, restore community pride, ensure decent accessible services, a community that champions fairness, inclusiveness, openness, accountability & involvement in key decision making & we will always put the needs of local people first when deciding on priorities. We also want to put the council finances back in order, tackle crime and keep Brentwood safe as well as introduce fair car parking charges, fight for better public transport, better community healthcare and support local businesses. All this is in our manifesto.
How will you be able to do this?
For starters, we need more Lib Dem councillors elected. At the moment, people are really positive about our ideas for the town but, when they have 27 votes and we have 8 we simply cannot vote them down. A vote for the Liberal Democrats on 5th May could stop the Tory bulldozer, quite literally, and make a real difference to all our futures.
If you are re-elected on Thursday 5th May, what do you hope to achieve in the next four years?
I want to work with residents to complete everything I currently have running for them, such as major projects like the bad signage on Brook Street roundabout. However, now with four years experience and the addition of my ward colleague Cllr Nigel Clarke, I can get it done more effectively, efficiently and swiftly with all the good contacts I have!
I would also like to use my position as a councillor to get more community projects off the ground, particularly involving young people and promoting animal welfare, such as the scheme where youngsters help senior citizens get on the Internet. I will also be able to continue to promote the Dogs Trust Freedom Project which helps domestic abuse victims flee safely with their pets.
Of course, speaking up and taking action for residents will always be my No.1 priority.
* Since this interview took place, sadly, Brentwood West Dog Quincy has passed away.
Quincy campaigned with me on lots of issues and popped up in many photos. He helped me save Warley Hill Post Office, Thorndon Park and came on Phoenix FM with me to promote the Dogs Trust Freedom Project.
This little one-eyed, black & white shih tzu came to live with us in June 2005. He was named after the Tommy Steele film “Quincy’s Quest” which was aired, just once, in 1979, about a band of broken toys, which included a one-eyed teddy bear!
To say he was in a mess was an understatement. He had hardly any fur, was covered in sores and had just had an operation to remove a huge mass. But the minute we heard about him, before we even met him, Mum & I were hopelessly in love with him!
When the little scrap came to meet us at Battersea Dogs Home, we were all smitten! A happy face and a waggy tail for everyone he met despite the fact that he had been found 10 days earlier lost and alone in Barking High Street.
His skin failed to get much better with conventional treatment and he was in danger of losing his other eye, and possibly his life, as his eyelid was so infected. So we spent six months taking him backwards and forwards to the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket to see a dog dermatologist. His skin recovered and meant that he had loads more energy and he really was the most perfect companion for Gypsy, who always loved having another dog to look after.
Quincy was well known and loved around Brentwood West and would happily say his hellos to anyone he saw walking down Junction Road. He will be missed by a lot of people, but especially by my mum and me.
Brentwood residents will have seen a parade of Labour MPs in Brentwood recently, but there seems to be a bit of a memory lapse on the Town Hall issue. I have put the record straight in the Brentwood Gazette this week:
It was good to see Labour’s Cllr Mike Le Surf join the Liberal Democrat campaign to save Brentwood’s Town Hall, especially after he originally voted with the Conservative administration to potentially move to Coptfold Road.
Back in December 2010, when this vote was taken, he didn’t seem quite as concerned about retaining the Town Hall, an option would also have seen the demolition of the borough’s most valuable asset. Residents may recall that Liberal Democrats voted against this move and launched the campaign to save the building then. For the record, we’ve promised residents that we would halt demolition plans and look at refurbishment instead.
It should also be noted that the first MP to join the campaign to save the Town Hall was Liberal Democrat Party President Tim Farron who joined Cllr David Kendall and me there in early March to give his support to our campaign. Tim spent half a day meeting residents and local businesses in Brentwood as opposed to Ed Balls 45 minute visit!
Of course, it’s not the first time that Labour has been late to wake up and smell the coffee – back in 2007 they also voted with the Conservatives when they went into the shared Chief Executive arrangement with Essex County Council whilst the Liberal Democrats forcefully opposed this move.
Since then, our Highways department has gone to Harlow, parking enforcement to Chelmsford…and who knows what next? Only the Liberal Democrats can be relied upon to see the writing on the wall and give proper opposition to this Tory administration.
There is NO Tory/Lib Dem coalition in Brentwood – just look at Labour’s voting record to see where the love lies
Cllr Karen Chilvers”
Tonight, I was knocking on doors and asked if I could do anything to help a resident. She said “A bit of a cheek, but could you get our communal grass cut for our Royal Garden Party on Friday?”, so I said I would give it a go.
Five minutes later, after making a call, I popped back to tell her that her royal request was going to happen!
Well, quite a bit! If you live in Clements Park then please check out this link, which shows just some of the things we have acted upon for you!
I was quite sad to see this yesterday – a scrappy sign saying “THIS IS NOT THE INFORMATION CENTRE”. It isn’t of course, since the Tories made this decision, but doesn’t it look a sorry site?
I overheard two elderly ladies talking about it last week – how “They” have shut it and what a nuisance that was. I just hope that when they go to vote on 5th May they remember that “THEY” are the Conservative administration running this town.
I hope they also remember that they have hived off our Highways Department to Harlow, which is leading to massive delays in potholes and repairing things like the Weald Close/Honeypot Lane junction, our parking is now controlled by Chelmsford Council and a possible link up with Basildon is n the cards. Plus the 15% hike in council rents and the loss of experienced staff with 20 or 30 years experience and a £2.1M spend on consultants instead….and don’t even get me started on the Town Hall….
Remember last July when we cleared the alleyway between Weald Road and Tower Hill?
Well, weeds have a habit of returning and so I asked the council if they could do it this time. I am pleased to say that they visited this week and also put weedkiller down (which I, personally, don’t use).
Hopefully this will maintain the area well for this year!
Somehow, despite being in the midst of my re-election campaign, I am getting through a lot of casework too. Today I have reported:
Also, a major piece of casework that Cllr Ross Carter (Brentwood North) and James Sapwell (candidate in North this year) has resulted in some improvements to the junction of High Street/Kings Road/Weald Road, as indicated below:
A site evaluation has been carried out and the traffic movements monitored and the conclusion is that a revised staging arrangement would benefit the junction, specifically giving the right turn movement that was causing problems a dedicated stage allowing right turns unopposed.
There are other improvements that have been recommended as well and I am waiting for the costs to implement these from our partnering contractors SA2000.
So good news all round!
I have had a few questions lately on the planter and have given the answer that I was waiting to hear when it would be planted. A couple of years ago it was planted up very nicely, but the plants didn’t last.
I was hoping that, this year, some bedding plants would be put in. So imagine my shock when I saw this last night?
I am particularly unhappy because I only asked for an update on planting a couple of days ago and this certainly wasn’t mentioned.
I am chasing it up right now.
As I speak to residents during the election campaign, it’s amazing what people don’t know. So here’s a handy ready reckoner of what the Tory administration have done/are doing:
I had a productive time on the High Street today – I got stopped by a good half a dozen Brentwood West residents as I went about my business! We caught up on casework that I am dealing with and chatted about the up coming election – with all of them wishing me luck on Thursday 5th May as I seek re-election!
It just struck me that this is really what being a local councillor is all about – not turning up a few weeks before the election and asking for your vote! If anyone does that, especially when they have even failed to deal with issues outside their front door, do ask them what they have been doing in YOUR name all year…..!
News reached me a couple of days ago that Tory-controlled Essex Council had decided to remove school crossing patrols from St Peter’s School in South Weald. The school is just outside Brentwood West but it affects a lot of my residents, one of whom contacted me last night.
Now, I will be honest and say I didn’t grow up in Brentwood, although I have lived here nearly 20 years, but my good friend Nina Cutbush (pictured) did and attended this school. Having worked with her on her campaign last year, what a shame that the people of South Weald didn’t elect her as you would have been assured that she would have been fighting for safety at the school she attended (we haven’t heard a lot from South Weald’s Tory councillor so far).
Still, we can’t allow this to happen as the school is virtually impossible to get to without crossing the road. The children need to be able to do this safely and removing the crossing patrol will not achieve this aim.
What’s more, Essex won’t even let volunteers take on the role!
Please can I urge everyone to sign the petition I have started to keep the control, at the request of parents, and please let as many people in Brentwood as possible know, as we need to fight this one and keep those kids safe.
I had to show you this from the Gazette today and say thank you to my sister Claire for doing such a lovely thing! Goodness knows what happened though…….!
Just a few quick updates from the rounds today!
I have reported in some potholes in Honeypot Lane and Gerrard Crescent to add to the ones we called in in Junction Road, Crescent Road and various other places last week.
I also noticed that someone had bashed into the Give Way sign at the junction of Honeypot Lane as you enter Weald Road. that’s been reported too.
We have noticed a slowing up of casework just recently, as more and more officers leave this Tory-controlled council…..
So, this is what residents in St James Road and the surrounding area are living under the threat of until 2014 since the Tories decided to vote for an extension to a development first approved in 2006. This was supported by the lone Tory councillor for Brentwood West who disagreed with me when I moved it for refusal.
I am literally lost for words. See that sunlight coming in from the opposite side of the road? That won’t be there as it is blocked by a hotel and an office building.
Please do feel free to comment.
Nigel and I have spent our Sunday in the only way we know how….knocking on doors!
We do enjoy it, especially when we are catching up with residents and chatting about the local area, but this is never our favourite time to call! We much prefer doing this in the summer or winter, when it doesn’t seem like all we want is your vote! Believe me, we much prefer solving casework and helping you. We are still doing that of course – today we dealt with some planning updates, potholes, refuse issues and updated the good folk of Weald Close and Honeypot Lane on what we’ve been doing there over the last few months.
So, if you have one of our cards…please do us a favour – click on your road on the right hand column and see what we have been doing all year so we don’t just look like we are on the vote scrounge!
The one question that doesn’t seem to have been answered is “why do both options offer Sunday closing”. I do not feel there is a satisfactory answer to why no verbatim comments are allowed either.
I can only urge you now to write in, this letter template should help.
A report back from tonight’s meeting where I had two referrals on the agenda – an extension to the planning permission for an office block in St James Road that will take that up to 2014 and the issue of a fence in Hill Road.
Despite me moving them both for refusal, both were approved by the Tories.
The odd one in St James Road where a six storey block of offices is planned and now, thanks to Tory councillors, is now able to be built any time in the next three years, taking the permission for this up to seven years in all. It’s not quite as bad as the seven storey residential block, but it will still create an overcrowded tunnel effect in the road.
What is odd is that Brentwood West Tory councillor Joan Holmes asserts that residents are all for it – saying that approving this application will stop residential development. Erm, no it will not. Even though there is an approved application on there someone could, tomorrow, turn up and put an application in for residential – one application does not stop another.
I did suggest that a better option would be for the developer to re-design the space and build a smaller development with a play area and become heroes – sadly they didn’t fancy the hero option (much better to built ‘em high and sell them cheap)!
Six months ago, I asked for the speeding issues in Honeypot Lane and London Road to be brought to committee. It’s quite clear that neither the 20mph zone in the former or the 30mph zone in the latter are working.
So, after talking to a resident about the issue by email today, I have tried again. This is my email to the members requests system:
About six months ago, I asked for this issue to go on the agenda. Can this be put on the next agenda, as well as London Road speeding, for a discussion on:
- the success of the 20mph speed limit in Hneypot Lane which is certainly not working.
- what measures, I am suggesting speed humps, could be installed.
- results of a speed survey in London Road.
- whether the provision of a speed camera is allowed
- whether a further VAS sign could be installed where I originally requested it, at the junction of Kavanaghs/London/Honeypot.
It would be interesting to hear from the police at this meeting too.
Read more about our speeding campaigns here.
I was delighted to welcome my friend Tim Farron MP, President of the Lib Dems, to the ward today! Tim came to launch our 2011 Manifesto for Brentwood with us and meet some residents and party activists too. He’s a lovely guy, great company, and went down really well with everyone he met.
We went to the Premier Inn (the birthplace of The Apprentice) for a Q&A session and Tim answered a number of questions from local people on our role in the coalition, but also spoke about the role councillors play locally.
Tim talked extensively about the 64% of our general election manifesto that was in the coalition agreement - compared to the 0% we would have achieved if we had bottled it and stayed on the sidelines ringing our hands! Apparently, Conservatives are spitting blood over how much their leadership have given way to the Lib Dems. Tim felt that Nick Clegg, in the Leader’s debate, stopped a full on majority Tory goverment and asked the group to consider what that would have been like.
Following this, the Brentwood Gazette were keen to interview Tim and, because he is fully aware of what we do in Brentwood, he had no hesitation in supporting us as we go into the 2011 elections under a manifesto promise to “Save Brentwood” and stop the destruction of the Town Hall, support local people and local businesses. Our manifesto will be available from Monday!
We also launched our 2011 candidates today and, you’ll never guess, one of them is only ME (I might have mentioned that….)
Following a quick coffee and a chat, we then headed off around Brentwood West and over the road to chat to some local businesses. We stopped off at Tips Salon and Raymond Bottone, then popped up to Go Fresh, but not before we had a chat about dog training with Roy Dyer, who has filmed the whole thing for us!
Finally, we took Tim to show him the Town Hall that the Tories have decided to demolish (or at least 87% of it), which he actually quite liked and was more than happy to support our policy of phased refurbishment (or at least investigating it).
So, a really enjoyable day that really showed that we are a fighting force in Brentwood as we move into the election period and look to take a few Tory seats. If we get more councillors, then we can make our votes really count but, at the moment, 8 cannot vote down 27!
One thing Tim said about Nigel, David and I in Brentwood West was more than true, as the debate about councillor value for money rumbles on, election time won’t be the first time we’ve knocked on your door this past year!
I chair the only committee that is run by an opposition member – Overview & Scrutiny – and I make it my business to do “exactly what it says on the tin”! So, here’s a quick update:
- At a previous meeting we were asked to endorse a report by the Local Strategic Partnership however, I was not happy to do this because I couldn’t see enough action or any outcomes or outputs and the committee agreed. So we invited Cllr Tony Sleep, who is now taking charge of this organisation, to do a presentation. He left us feeling that he was dealing with this in a business like fashion, as you would expect from him, and setting firm objectives.
- We heard from officers about the changes in Dispersal Orders. The good news is that this is now going to move back to the police and let them do the policing. Good news.
- We had a report on the Community Sports Network following a “Task & Finish” group of four councillors asking questions about it’s value to Brentwood residents. The officers work very hard on promoting and co-ordinating sports in Brentwood and shared some tangible outcomes. The committee agreed that for a cost of about £50 and about four officer days, it was value for money and something we should continue doing. It was then agreed to look at Community Transport.
- The report on councillors representation on outside bodies was felt to be somewhat lacking – this will be looked at in detail later in the next council year to ensure proper, detailed reports are submitted.
- There was a lively discussion about the “Your Brentwood, Your Budget” consultation and I agreed to go away and talk to the council’s monitoring officer about the political impartiality of consultation.
Then finally, I thanked the committee for their contribution, the officers for their time and wished my Vice-Chair well in his political retirement!
The Brentwood Gazette has reported on councillor’s allowances and used the oddest calculation to work out our hourly rate. Mine, based on my (100%) attendance rate, is £125.35 – I wish!!! This would work out at just over £255,000pa!!! If I was earning that sort of money, I would probably be writing this from my yacht and not my one bedroom flat!
This calculation takes into account just the hours spent in the council chamber – not the preparation time for meetings, the time spent (often late into the night) on casework, meeting residents and getting things done. Take a couple of projects I’m working on: Brook Street roundabout and Brentwood Library - both of these take preparation time and actual time to do the work. For Brook Street, I took a day off work and, as I am a freelancer, I gave up a whole day’s pay. Similarly, to prepare for Overview & Scrutiny, another two days off work to prepare, have officer meetings and make sure I am doing the job of scutinising. These alone actually wiped out my whole net allowance last month.
There are also glaring flaws in this article. Not only have they had to admit that there figures were wrong anyway based on late information given but the average meeting length was calculated at two hours…???? I am on planning, it is a rare occurence that we get out of there before 10.30pm, after arriving at 6pm for preparation and having given up another 3 hours to do site visits. Nor does it take into account meetings where we attended additionally, although not on the committee.
Come on Brentwood Gazette – you can do better than this!!!
Some people also believe that it is an allowance over and above a councillor’s salary but it isn’t – that’s it. No mileage, train tickets or expenses can be claimed and, interestingly, the reason it is called an allowance and not a salary is that it is below the minimum wage – but it is fully taxed and subject to national insurance.
I wish I could do it for love but the truth is that it costs money and I am not independently wealthy. I spend it to cover what it takes to do the job properly and if I thought I was taking the money immorally and doing nothing with it then I wouldn’t take it. There are some councillors who rarely turn up to meetings and are never seen in their ward – I feel you should ask what value for money you are getting from yours.
This, I feel, is a more realistic calculation:
- I cost each resident in Brentwood West £1.33. There are many that think they have had their money’s worth. If you haven’t then please make sure you do. I’ve probably knocked on your door at least eight times over the last four years and asked if I can help you – take me up on that!
- I get an additional payment for chairing Overview & Scrutiny which should be shared across all of Brentwood – roughly 4p per Brentwood resident. Again, I think I have done as much as possible to scutinise the council and bring benefits to residents – not least involving the Youth Council in proceedings and scutinising the procurement strategy and Community Sports Network.
However, I hope residents will have noticed that neither Cllr Clarke and I have missed a meeting this year – unlike a number of our colleagues!
Back in the summer of last year, we started a campaign to reduce the noise from the A12 and residents filled in a survey illustrating their problems to the Highways Agency. Cllr Kendall and I then went to the agency in Bedford to present the petition – I blogged about it here.
We told them how the road noise had raised since the road was raised about five years ago and they promised to come back to us within ten days.
They didn’t do that and I have been regularly chasing them since. This week, I have had notice that they have been in touch with Brentwood’s Environmental Health Officers.
We await with interest……
Home from work tonight and straight into catching up on some casework!
A varied bunch of things to get my teeth into tonight – helping a resident appeal a parking ticket, giving some feedback to residents about an overgrown patch of land near them, following up on the Weald Close/Honeypot Lane junction that still needs fixing (I had to chase it up again) and various emails to send, lots to people who are still writing in about the “Nightmare on Brook Street Roundabout”.
If I can help you with any issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
It really was good to see so many people there today – young and not-so-young! The library was busy on Sunday afternoon, which is why I think Essex County Council (and not just me) should re-consider this consultation and allow people to really have their say.
Now, I have discovered (buried deep in a background document) a way to make your feelings known and I have put together a template letter for you to use, amend or use as a template for your own views. Here it is:
Your address here
20th February 2011
Director of Libraries and Culture
Room 11, Library Headquarters
Essex CM2 0EW
Dear Ms Carragher
Thank you for asking us to take part in the consultation about the future opening hours of the library.
We are disappointed that there are no options to keep our library in New Road open on a Sunday as this is a time we frequently use the library.
We would ask that the consultation includes an option to open on a Sunday and please take notice that we would like to retain the 1pm – 4pm Sunday opening.
Additional comments here
We hope that more options would be explored before a final decision is taken.
cc: Cllr Karen Chilvers
So, a consultation into the future of Essex libraries has begun. The current opening hours are:
Monday-Friday: 9.00 – 7.00
Saturday: 9.00 – 5.00
Sunday: 1.00 – 4.00
These are the two options that form part of the consultation:
Mon: 9am – 7pm
Tue: 9am – 7pm
Thu: 9am – 7pm
Fri: 9am – 7pm
Sat: 9am – 5pm
Mon-Sat: 9am – 5pm
That seems to be something of a loaded question to me…and those are your ONLY choices (apart from “C – no preference”). So what if you can only visit the Library on a Sunday? If anyone fancies borrowing a book this Sunday afternoon I may well bump into you!
Please do have your say on the consultation and, if you want to keep the library open on a Sunday, please make your views known.
I have been knocking on doors today in Clements Park and it showed that there were still many problems with car parking. Problems caused by the Conservatives moving much too early to install yellow lines around the estate in the winter of 2007 and then refusing to review them a year later, despite the desire of residents.
I was also concerned to see the state of the lampposts (see above). This is another unresolved issue that I will be asking for an update on today. I raised this eighteen months ago and it clearly hasn’t been fully resolved as the roads have been adopted. Despite the Tories claiming victory in getting all the roads adopted just before the council elections in 2008 and leafleting the whole estate on the issue, we still have outstanding issues here.
Then there is the situation in Osborne Heights with the circus still unadopted (despite them turning up to tell the residents this had been agreed before the 2010 council elections).
However, a bit of good news as I was pleased to see that the majority of houses in Fantasia Court now have opened up their bonus room with the provision of rooflights!
I also met a lovely little white shih tzu – something that never fails to make me happy, no matter how the owners may vote!
So the container was moved from Milton Road – I found it yesterday morning in Warleywoods Crescent!
Immediately, I knocked on a few residents’ doors to see how they felt about it being there. They are resigned to it, but I am still going to see if we can get it put in a little less conspicuous place!
Hope the irony of the sign it is parked next to is not lost on you…..!
Over the last few months I have had some very generous and welcome donations from Brentwood West residents to help me fund my re-election campaign and I am really grateful for that. It’s even easier now if you would like to help me – you can just click on the paypal button on the right of this page and make a secure payment via paypal, direct debit or a debit/credit card.
We receive no funding from the national party – everything we do is funded by your councillors, local Lib Dem members, the occasional grant, our fundraising events and donations from residents.
And elections don’t come cheap these days……
Here are two lovely doggies I met walking along William Hunter Way yesterday – both Wallace Kennels dogs currently being fostered in Brentwood and looking for homes!
Dudley, posing beautifully for the camera is a football-loving, 10 month year old dog who was found abandoned. He’s gentle, kind and looking for a forever home. He would make a lovely family pet.
Violet is clever, loving and is looking for a home where someone can be with her most of the time. She is not a fan of cats, but is fine with dogs and children.
If you would like to know more call Julie on 07999 537 291 about Dudley and Gillian on 01277 211 502 or 07795 170 222 to talk about Violet.
You may have seen the feature in this week’s Brentwood Gazette following my call to the Highways Agency to review the signage at this roundabout after many residents raised the issue with me last year.
Well, the good news is that I have been successful! I will be spending some time on the roundabout with officers responsible in a couple of weeks’ time.
Obviously, I will be taking all the comments with me as well as these ones that appeared on the Gazette’s website after the article was published.
Well, certain Tories seem to think that the state of our High Street is a laughing matter. Cllr Phil Baker has been quoted in the press as saying we are the “Lib Glums” over the High Street. Well, look at these photos and see if you think we are being unnecessarily gloomy about this? Certainly, when I was speaking to residents in Brentwood West yesterday, many failed to see the funny side and were pleased with Lib Dem actions to try and address some of the problems.
So, whilst Cllr Baker tries to carve out a career in stand-up with his “hilarious” jibes, your Liberal Democrat councillors have been fighting for Brentwood Town Centre week-in-week-out for as long as I have been on the council and many, many years before.
In particular, we have been fighting for some free parking to encourage trade, for a town guide, help in phasing business rates and Nigel & I have supported local businesses beyond the call of duty!
I wrote about this junction last June after I successfully put this on the agenda and got agreement for some action on junction protectors. As you can see from the picture, whilst we have been waiting for this to get to the top of the list, it has got a lot worse. I have pictures that show a series of ploughed verges the length of the road but this has damaged the pavement and possibly the drain. So, I have requested that this be put on as an urgent item and discussed again at the next Highways Panel meeting on 2nd February with a view to protecting the verges, repairing what is there and looking into parking restrictions rather more quickly than first envisaged.
It also seems that the Tories are suggesting we simply re-seed the verges! I think it might take a little more than a few grass seeds to solve the problem!!!
…working for you because that’s what we do….all year round!
Our casework this weekend has included:
A Brentwood West resident has told me that the Tories have been out in the ward today with a petition against development on the Honeypot Lane allotments. I had heard nothing and the “rumour” seemed a little bit shaky on the information I had been given. I also had a chat to another few residents when I knocked on their doors and formal conversations had taken place amongst committee members and nothing was known.
So, when I got home I started investigating and spoke to someone very knowledgeable about the allotment situation in Brentwood.
Well, the good news is that although there had been a rumour it had turned out to be completely false.
But, even if there is some truth in the rumour, I am very confused as to why the Tories are putting a petitition together. You see, the thing is that the allotment land is council-owned, so the first thing that would need to happen if it were to be sold for development is that it would need to be agreed by the relevant committee on the council. That, I believe is a committee that comprises 8 Tories, 2 Lib Dems and the independent member. So, who is it making that would be making that decision to sell of the land??? Ah yes, the Tories!
People may feel that there could be a similarity here to another recent campaign where the Tories tried to take credit for something they hadn’t done at Brentwood Station and the occasion where a petition for a dog bin in Wharf Road was submitted AFTER I had got the matter agreed by thc council, except this one seems to have an element of scaremongering about it.
Let me cast your mind back to April 2009, when I had cause to complain about Tory spending on the tax-payer funded advertising campaigns they run.
Well, there I was on the train this morning when I saw this complete waste-of-time poster that informed us WE needed to save money. I found out later that this same poster is on trains across Hertfordshire – so it isn’t even targetted correctly.
Now, as a chartered marketer with twenty-odd years marketing experience, for the reason above and many other, I consider this to be a total waste of OUR money, especially when important advertising campaigns, on flu and road safety, are shelved at the moment. This says nothing and serves no purpose rather than to promote Essex County council and it’s Tory administration because councils are not something you can choose.
Why is this money not being spent on bus services, gritting services or just to make up some of the savings. I will be endeavouring to find out over the next few weeks…..
Last night, just after 9pm my lights flickered here and everything went off. Which meant I lost the plot on the drama I was watching and gave up!
However, further into the town centre outages varied from three mini blackouts to the town centre where lights were out for an hour. More seriously, the pedestrian lights weren’t working on the crossing in Kings Road. We are not sure what caused it although I know the Brentwood Gazette are on to it.
Last night, I ventured on to Twitter to put out a message and see if everyone was OK. It seemed so – although there was a poor woman in the dark in the showers at Fitness First, Laurie in the town centre whose house then reeked of candles and Sarah, one of Cllr Clarke’s stylists, finishing her last hair cut by torchlight!
I’ve had some experiences of blackouts in my time – when I lived in Stondon Massey, a sparsely populated area, we were way down the list as far as power companies were concerned and were often days without power. But, back ten years when I worked at Hartswood Hospital, despite many calls we couldn’t even get them that bothered about the fact that we had a hospital full of patients when we had an all-night power cut one evening.
When you think what we pay for power, we should get a better response.
Indeed we are! Just had a call from a resident who was a bit nervous about calling me on a bank holiday…don’t be!
Your Lib Dem councillors are available all year round and are happy to help! We can be reached by the following methods:
Cllr Karen Chilvers – tel 07927 404 827, email [email protected], Twitter @LDKatz71
Cllr Nigel Clarke – tel 07927 404 826, email [email protected] and you can always pop in to 31 Crown Street
Cllr David Kendall – tel 07768 667 824, email [email protected], Twitter @CllrDJKendall
We also have a ward email address that is monitored daily – [email protected] – and you can send us an email here to go on our regular mailing list.
To join us on Facebook – here’s the link!
If you want to write to us, our postal address is 67 Junction Road, Brentwood CM14 5JH.
Well, Christmas and bank holidays over and we were straight back in to case work today!
Well, yesterday in fact when on the way to our team Christmas lunch, we saw that a fence in the ward to an open space had been deliberately cut down over the break. We reported it immediately to the emergency number immediately, fearing what could happen next, based on previous experience on bank holidays with travellers. (I am being very cagey here – and I would ask you to be vigilant in open spaces).
It seems that some people have taken the opportunity of some time off to have a bit of a clear out! Nothing better than a good old bit of feng shui! However, we would rather people disposed of their rubbish correctly, rather than dump it around our ward.
So, whoever it was who dumped a pile of carpet under the railway bridge at the Crescent Road/Kavanaghs Road junction or an old wardrobe in Honeypot Lane – we have reported this and it is shortly being removed. Yes, we know it is expensive due to our Tory administration, but that doesn’t make flytipping OK!
You may have seen my letter in this week’s Brentwood Gazette praising the Brentwood Youth Council. They really were impressive, perhaps a few “grown up” councillors could take not of some of the points I made regarding conduct!!! Here it is, in case you missed it:
Recently, we welcomed the Brentwood Youth Council to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and I really must commend all members of the BYC on the work that they do and the contribution they made. Special mention must go to Becky Lynch, who put a lot of time and effort pulling together their excellent presentation.
As Chair, keen to involve the youth council in democratic proceedings, I further invited them to participate in the council meeting itself as our guests on two agenda items where I felt they would be interested – Dispersal Orders and Equality & Diversity. Paul Yates and Emma Pearce were elected by the group to represent BYC and we were all impressed with how they conducted themselves in the most exemplary fashion and made a more than credible contribution. They did what elected representatives should do: consult with those they represent and present their views in a professional, responsible and balanced manner. They made some excellent, well constructed statements and asked questions showing maturity beyond their years.
Young people can often be vilified for no good reason although many are perfectly well behaved. It is sad how the minority can let the majority down.
I hope to see more interaction from the BYC as they have the potential to really make a contribution and see more young people getting involved in clubs and activities that interest them. As I said to BYC, no charity, organisation or group started on its own – only because someone got up off the sofa and made it happen.
Cllr Karen Chilvers
Liberal Democrat Councillor
Chair of Overview & Scrutiny Committee”
A wonderful afternoon has just been had by my nephew Freddie (3), my mum and me this afternoon enjoying the Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner! The production was fantastic – and shows exactly why our theatre is so loved!
Thanks to Mark Reed, the cast and crew at the theatre for such a wonderful event – and good value too!
Just in case you ever need them…but we really hope you don’t….
Emergency (Police, Fire & Rescue, Ambulance, Coastguard): 999
Police Non-emergency: 0300 333 4444 or www.essex.police.uk
Gas Emergency: 0800 111 999
Electricity Emergency: 0800 783 8838
Water Emergency: 0845 782 0999
Age UK: 0800 169 65 65 or www.ageuk.org.uk
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555 or www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
Basildon Hospital: 01268 524 900 or www.basildonandthurrock.nhs.uk
Brentwood Community Hospital: 01277 695 000 or www.bhrhospitals.nhs.uk
Brentwood Council: 01277 312 500, Out of Hours service: 01277 261112 or www.brentwood.gov.uk
Brentwood West councillors: 07927 404 826 or www.karenchilvers.mycouncillor.org.uk
Child Death helpline: 0800 282 986 or www.childdeathhelpline.org.uk
Childline: 0800 11 11 or www.childline.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau: 0844 477 0808 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Cruse Bereavement Centre: 0844 477 9400 or www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk
National Drugs Helpline: 0800 77 66 00
National Missing Persons Helpline: 0500 700 700 or www.missingpeople.org.uk
NHS Direct: 08 45 46 47 or ww.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
NSPCC: 0808 800 5000 or www.nspcc.org.uk
Queens Hospital, Romford: 01708 435 000 or www.bhrhospitals.nhs.uk
RSPCA Cruelty Line: 0300 1234 999 or www.rspca.org.uk
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90, [email protected] or www.samaritans.org
Social Services (emergencies): 0845 606 12 12
Travel: Rail: 08457 48 49 50 or www.nationalrail.co.uk, Bus : 0871 200 22 33 or www.traveline.info
Womens Aid (Domestic Violence): 0808 2000 247 or www.womensaid.org.uk
These numbers also appear on our Christmas card, which you can download for future reference. with our handy calendar for 2011.
Well, the snow’s back and it took me 4 hours to do an hour’s journey this evening. Hope you managed to get home safely – the M25 was at a standstill so I took a tour through London!
During the last snowfall, Cllr Kendall, Cllr Clarke and I made several requests to have paths and roads cleared where they were extremely dangerous. These included places like Junction Road and Downsland Drive – in some cases David and Nigel cleared the snow for you and we know you were grateful. I was also successful in getting a path to the job centre in Fairfield Road cleared as a regular thing and also requested paths for elderly homes to be cleared. The key to this was to ask for a footpath to be cleared rather than the whole road – more chance this way (Junction Road from Sanders Court –> Warley Hill, Tower Hill from Chichester House –> High Street and Victoria Road from Victoria Court –> Warley Hill).
But today, eleven days after my request was received, this was the response from Tory-controlled Essex County Council:
“Dear Cllr Chilvers,
Thank you for your recent communication to Essex County Council’s Highways and Transportation Service regarding Winter Service. I am sorry that you have occasion to make comment about one of our services.
Due to the volume of correspondence currently being received by Essex County Council on this matter, it is not possible to divert resources presently dealing with the County’s response to adverse weather conditions to answer each of these enquiries specifically.
The ongoing action being taken by the County Council in response to the recent snow and icy conditions is summarised for your information.
Essex County Council aims to grit its precautionary treatment network in accordance with our Winter Service Operational Plan, with the aim of keeping the strategic routes in the County free from snow and ice.
Other routes are presently not receiving any treatment other than by manual means to remove snow where this is possible within the resources available. We recognise that this may make travel very difficult but we have to take priority decisions to make the best use of the available resources.
Above and beyond treating the precautionary network, the County Council has undertaken work on key urban pedestrian routes, attended locations at the request of the emergency services and worked alongside district councils to clear key sites.
There may be small breaks in the weather window but the present forecast continues to predict further sub zero temperatures with a risk of more snow. Due to the early impact of the severe weather it is essential that the Council ensures it has sufficient salt stocks to deal with these events to continue to keep the main road network open and safe. You may be aware that there is a national and European pressure on the supply of salt and the heavy snowfall across much of the rest of the country is impacting on salt deliveries.
At this time we do not have the resources available to divert away from these key activities. Any requests received to fill up salt bins will be logged and dealt with at a later date when resources dictate. Therefore no salt bins will be refilled at this time.
In the winter of 2009/10 there was a major issue around the liability of residents clearing the highway. The Government has published clear advice on this matter and is actively encouraging individuals and communities to get involved. Essex County Council is supporting this initiative and further advice can be found on the Direct Gov and Essex County Council web sites. www.essex.gov.uk/winter
Please be assured that we are giving this matter our utmost attention and the provision of winter service for the residents, businesses and travelling public of Essex remains a high priority.
Please accept our apologies if this does not answer your specific issues but we hope you will understand the reasons for this.
Director for Highways & Transportation
Essex County Council | telephone: 0845 6037631 | fax: 01279 404650 | email: [email protected]”
I would be interested to hear your views.
Finally, many of you have asked for salt bins. Well, that’s not going to happen. We were told they were trialling a salt bin project and that residents could request them and I have been asking for you.
We weren’t told that they were only doing 30 across all of Essex…..I can think of at least a dozen roads in Brentwood West that could do with this.
p.s. what a great photo of London Road cemetery!
On last night’s full council agenda, we were due to discuss the Town Hall and the potential for moving elsewhere, notably Coptfold House.
Well, this was supposed to be the night that we were going to make a decision but, as we saw with William Hunter Way, the Tories seemed to get cold feet following resident feedback and put the decision off. Who knows when it will be made? A cynical person may say the decision will be delayed until after May’s elections.
But, we Lib Dems are clear. We want to retain the Town Hall, perhaps sharing some of the building off for others to use, but certainly we feel that this asset should be retained. We are also unhappy as we feel we are being pushed into the purchase of Coptfold House, next to the library.
So, when the Tories suddenly came up with a change in recommendation at the meeting we could not support the options they had laid out.
So, Nigel, David and I voted against their latest moves. We want to keep our Town Hall.
Previously, I have mentioned how it has taken a mere 16 months for the Tories to produce a guide to our town. Despite the High Street re-opening in November 2009, the guide is not planned until March 2011. Missing two Christmases and not exactly helping Brentwood businesss to survive.
I was pleased therefore to hear the news that an interim guide was going to be produced for this Christmas. But has it materialised No!
I asked about it at full council last night and got a waffling response on how great the town guide was going to be from Cllr Phil Baker so I asked again about the interim guide that was going to be produced. More waffle. So, I concluded by saying that now it was only ten days before Christmas, we’d assume that this was just another broken promise that was never going to materialise.
That’s a shame, I could have got a guide designed, printed and distributed within about three weeks. Poor old retailers, I wonder how many more will see their businesses close in the new year.
Well, many roads have improved and are free of ice, but in hilly Brentwood West some are still very dangerous so I have made the following requests:
At our elderly residents homes:
- Path to be cleared on Junction road footway, odds side, from Sanders Court to Warley Hill (as it happens, the whole road was gritted)
- Path to be cleared on Tower Hill footway from Chichester House (evens side) from entrance to High Street. This will also be useful for the many elderly residents in Tower Court.
- Path to be cleared on Victoria Court footway (evens side) from entrance to Warley Hill
Hilly areas that are preventing access and egress:
- Chase Road and Kings Chase have been requested this morning
- Downsland Drive was requested yesterday (additionally, Cllr David Kendall went down there with a bag of sand to help clear the road)
Salt bag requests for future severe weather planning:
- Residents in Osborne Heights and Downsland Drive have spoken to me about salt bag provision and I have put in requests for both of these.
- If you wish to investigate the provision of a bag, please let me know as soon as possible.
UPDATE: 07.12.10 at 6pm
I am just sharing the response my colleague Cllr Ross Carter got from Essex County Council:
“All the main roads are being gritted. Gritters were out 7 times on Tues and Weds in total.”
We have all sent detailed requests with good reasons, i.e. school/elderly home access, and this is actually the sum total of the response. We will keep you updated.
Twitter has been full today of talk about a Daily Fail article (I’m not a fan….) and I have just had a chance to read it. It’s from a well off woman who wants to cancel Christmas because she has fallen on hard times (only bringing home £2000pcm & her husband’s salary) and can no longer shop in Harrods and spend £50 on velvet & silk ribbons for her presents, can’t afford £90 per ticket for a Christmas theatre outing, is struggling to afford her second home in The Cotswolds and can’t afford an iPad for her daughter or a violin for her godson (a Stradivarius I assume).
Wow. When a recession hits, it hits hard doesn’t it? I defy anyone not to find this article crass in the extreme.
But, back here in the real world, I have found a different attitude to Christmas. Everyone I know is being cautious, perhaps because work is slow or their job is under threat and it is really nice. My friends and I have set a £10 limit on presents and family have decided on a “one present” rule – no need for loads of silly extras that cause a quick laugh and then end up stuffed in a cupboard for years. I love this way of present buying – why? Because it means that a lot of thought goes into what is actually bought and it takes the pressure off everyone.
We have largely shopped this way in my family though since my parents split up, leaving my mum to look after two daughters aged 17 and 14. So many Christmases I don’t remember when we had plenty, but the one I do remember is the one where the three of us set a limit of £15 each and really put tonnes of thought into it. We were happy, and it only cost £30 in presents (and a tin of tuna for our cat)!
Perhaps this is a wake up call for everyone – time to think about what is important and realise that maybe, just maybe, what matters is not to be found in an iPad?
I have had a number of calls today and, as usual, my residents in the very hilly Brentwood are stranded – Downsland Drive is particularly bad at the moment I hear and, obviously, affecting everyone in the Westbury area. Westwood Avenue & Westwood Avenue didn’t look too clever when I went past earlier and I was unable to turn off Junction Road or Crescent Road earlier as it just looked too icy and dangerous.
Time and time again, we have highlighted the problems we have to the Tory administration but here we are again – no better off than we were last year.
So, where are the promised salt bags? Would you believe a presentation last month by Essex officers informed us they were “learning” from last year’s problems (I would have preferred they had LEARNT by now) and also that they would make salt bags available to parish councils but, guess what, there are no parish councils in Brentwood West or anywhere in the huge urban expanse we have here. To me, this is a total lack of understanding of how Brentwood is set up, but that is going to happen when all (but one) of our highways officers are based in Harlow and have no details knowledge of the area. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water!
So, where does that leave us? Don’t think that your Lib Dem councillors are any better off! After a day stranded at home and an afternoon clearing his road with his neighbours, Cllr David Kendall rang to see if he could get a salt bag for his road. Possibly, but not until next Wednesday and only after full training has been given!
We need to let these councils know how frustrating it is and ask for a full review, with the involvement of ward councillors. So, please let us know your problems and make sure you also contact the council, the more calls they get they will surely have to take notice:
CALL 0845 603 7631 and EMAIL [email protected]
If you want to call, you will have to wait until tomorrow. They shut at 5pm. Yes, seriously!
A number of residents have spoken to me recently over their concerns about the Brook Street roundabout so, I have asked for a review of the signage.
It’s very confusing. When you come back under the M25 from Dartford or Romford the signage puts you in the right hand lane and you have to cut across two lanes of traffic to get back on to Brook Street. Locals often get into the “wrong” lane to make sure they are in the right position to get home but then they meet others who don’t know. Perhaps it would be better to direct Brentwood-bound drivers into the middle lane under the roundabout?
So, I have written to my contacts at the Highways Agency and formally requested a review of the signage and markings by expert officers.
Last week, some information came to light that gave me, and my Lib Dem colleagues, even more concerns over the Lighting Up Brentwood event.
You will know I am sure that we did not support the move to a Thursday evening from Saturday, specifically on health & safety concerns. Well, that’s pailed into insignificance at the latest revelation that volunteers have not had Criminal Record Bureau checks. These were put in to place to minimise the risk to children and vulnerable adults but volunteers who are acting as marshalls on the night have not had them.
The reason I have extra concerns is that Tory councillors have been appealing for help in the press for random helpers to come forward and help. I know, from experience, that if there is an unsuitable person out there, they will welcome this opportunity with open arms. Let’s imagine a scenario where a lost child wanders up to someone who is, in their eyes, an official in a yellow jacket and this was one such opportunist? Lots of ifs and buts I know, but these things often happen just because of a chance chain of events and I couldn’t sleep unless I knew I had done everything I could to prevent it. Better safe than sorry surely?
A little more preparation, or perhaps employing a professional outfit in whom we could have confidence would have been a better decision. However, no-one seems to be in overall control of the event and the council have no professional events organiser.
It seems something else is being done on a wing and a prayer, and this time it is of major concern.
The first residents started to move into Rollason Way about nine months before I was elected and now there are hundreds of people living there – 320 on the electoral role alone!
I noticed that Wilkinson Court had people living there a couple of weeks ago – just over half of the 41 flats are now homes! Nigel, David and I would like to wish all our new residents a warm welcome to Brentwood West!
Nigel won an election overwhelmingly last night when we elected him Chair of the Brentwood & Ongar Liberal Democrats – taking over from me as I completed the maximum three year term allowed under party rules!
I have enjoyed being Chair as I have had the opportunity to strengthen the local party and end up with more councillors, more members and more enthusiasm than ever before!
So good luck to Nigel – I am sure he will add to the success of the local party over the next few years and he’ll also be helping me in my re-election campaign so he’ll be busy!
Well, the Tories have only listened to me for once!!!!
In September I raised the question of why an store guide could not be quickly produced and perhaps this post resonated with the powers that be!?
It seems that now, even though we are still waiting until March for the full guide, that an interim guide is going to be produced in house. It’s only a year since the High Street improvements were complete after all…..
Something is better than nothing I suppose.
Attending the Remembrance Sunday Event on your behalf is one of the high spots of my year. It occurred to me this morning, standing there in the civic party with Cllr David Kendall and Cllr Nigel Clarke, that I see the whole thing from a very close angle so I thought I would share it with you. There are some photos here on my Facebook page showing some of the inspirational groups that take part in the parade and service.
As so many Brentwood West residents use Brentwood Station, I’m sure there is huge delight that National Express has confirmed that the long awaited improvements at Brentwood Station are due to start this month.
It shows how lobbying has paid off – the Brentwood Bus & Rail Users Associationhas been campaigning for these improvements for many years and they were delighted that National Express chose their AGM last month to launch what they were doing in recognition of all their efforts.
National Express confirmed that:
Cllr David Kendall is a founder member of the BBARUA and is Secretary of the Association. The association was set up after the Tories took control of the council in 2004 and disbanded the Pensioner Forum and Bus & Rail Task Force that we had running under our administration. He said:
“After years of lobbying by the Association for these much needed improvements we are delighted work is finally going to start.”
I would particularly like to send my congratulations to Chairman Wendy Way, who has worked so hard for this achievement!
However, I am also going to have a major rant. So, this is for committee members such as Wendy, David, Julie, Richard, Ken and all those members of the BBARUA who are working behind the scenes and have made these things happen.
Completely inappropriately, Brentwood Conservatives are now trying to wade in at the 11th hour and try to claim credit for this. A website and petition has sprung up to get “station improvements” – the very same ones mentioned above. This is clear electioneering to try and take credit for what a non-political group of volunteers have already done with a view to using it on political leaflets in the next council elections. I am a member of BBRAU, and was once on the committee representing rail users, and they are mainly older people with a passion for improving bus and rail facilities. Let’s please not take it away from them – that’s just plain wrong.
BBARUA has always been a non-political group, but one that no Conservative has ever joined (at the princely sum of £3) or ever really supported it. It would be wrong to try and take credit for these improvements.
Don’t be hoodwinked – look to the people who have worked hard for years on this project.
I often get very worried residents ring me about a planning application – sometimes because they need my help to refer it to committee but usually because they are objecting to something that is happening right next to them and they don’t know what to do. That’s what I am here for – so please do call.
However, I really felt that the information on how things worked really needed to be in your hands so we have distributed a “How To” leaflet across Brentwood West. Feedback has shown that many of you appreciate this and have just tucked the leaflet away for a day when you might need it.
The important thing to say is that when you are notified of an application near you, it may seem that all is lost, but very often they get refused. Don’t panic – give us a call – and we will talk it through. Remember, it is an application at that stage and nothing else.
The leaflet is here, in case you missed it. But here also is a quick 10-point guide:
1. Check regularly on www.brentwood.gov.uk to see if there are any applications in your street -or set up an automatic alert on www.planningalerts.com.
2. Look out for yellow signs tied to lampposts in your area and look at the applications published in the Brentwood Gazette.
3.If directly affected, a letter should be sent to you from Brentwood Council. This is your cue to put in your objection, or even a letter of support, whether you get a letter or not.
4. If you do get notice of an application through your door – DO NOT PANIC! It’s not a foregone conclusion that it will go through and many applications do get refused.
5. If you find it difficult or upsetting then it is absolutely fine to ask a relative or friend or one of us to help you.
6. Once the consultation is finished, a planning officer will make a recommendation of refusal or approval on the weekly list (published on a Friday). Un-referred items get approved or refused as per the weekly list recommendation.
7. On this website I publish recommendations made as soon as possible and we have until the following Monday week (ten days) at midday to refer them to the Planning Committee.
8. Once referred, an application goes to the next committee (they are held monthly). Prior to this, the members of the committee will visit the site to see it for themselves, usually on the Saturday morning before the committee meets.
9. When the application is debated at the committee, an objector and supporter can speak for three minutes each outlining their case.
10. Finally, a vote is taken and a decision is made.
So, please try not to worry too much and call us as soon as you can so we can help you through the process.
If you live in Kavanaghs Road, Terrace or Court I am pretty sure you will be interested in this. I saw it on our planning site visit to the Warley Hospital site today. It says:
Warley Hospital stands on the site of the Brentwood Hall estate, once home of the Kavanagh family, The Tudor style hospital building, designed by London architects Kendall and Pope of Brunswick Square was opened in 1853.
Which explains why we have a “Kendall Court” in there too!
I just wanted to share this – the effect of the Tories’ over-development on the Rollason Way/St James Road site (you remember how they have voted this up to 450+ properties?).
Well, parking is now a nightmare here and this is what has happened – cars parked wherever they can find an inch and no room for people to get through at all. I have had complaints from people with young children and buggies. But I can see both sides of the argument here.
All I can ask is that people do try and be a little bit more considerate and not completely take up the pavement – although I can also see that there is very little option.
I have probably been to most of the markets and have always come away with a box of cakes at the very minimum but there is so much to choose from including books, crafts, jewellery, sausages, fruit & veg, jam……and all from local producers! Pictured is our Mayor at the first anniversary event in September with Claire Mackaness, organiser, and some of the stall holders.
I hope to see you there!!!
Recommending a terrific and healthy new Brentwood West business where I got a fabulous lunch today!
Go Fresh opened recently in Kings Road, just over by the turning for Fairfield Road and offers a range of soup, salads and other lunchtime goodies! You can see how fresh and healthy all the food is and I don’t hesitate to recommend them to residents – especially as my good friend and Brentwood West Lib Dem Vice-Chair June is working in there!
Good luck to James and all the team!!
Just a quick post to say well done to Brentwood West businesswoman Claire Tipler who has just opened the Tips Salon at 128 Kings Road! Claire’s handiwork (quite literally) was featured on the ITV2 programme “The Only Way is Essex” on the hands of her client Sam!
Whatever you think of the programme I just wanted to say a big well done to Claire, a Clements Park resident who I have known and been a client of for years. Good to see an enterprising young lady set up her own business!
I was really pleased to see some coverage for the A12 noise story on the front page of both the Brentwood Weekly News and the Brentwood Gazette this week. I have to say that I think, this week, George at the Weekly News did an excellent job of putting in all the details and he rang me a couple of times so he, a new journalist to Brentwood, fully understood all the issues.
Obviously the issue is not resolved yet, but we have taken it as far as we can and we will continue to chase up the Highways Agency. We will certainly be on the phone when the spending round happens in February.
“We know we have a problem and we know we have to address it.” Highways Agency Senior Officer – 14th October 2010.
So, here I am pictured in deepest darkest Bedford* - home of the Highways Agency - presenting the petition to get noise mitigation measures at the stretch of the A12 along Selwood Road to Wigley Bush Lane.
Residents have reported an increase in noise levels since the road was raised about six years ago and it was this, and other concerns listed in this document, that County Cllr David Kendall and I took to this central government department. We also took along all the survey forms and petition signatures completed by Homesteads residents, predominantly in the Selwood Road and Spital Lane area.
There is some good news, well more of a double edged sword, in that this area has been identified as one of the top 1% problem areas in the country that fails to meet the EU Noise Directive and action on this noise must be investigated. The bad news is that mitigation measures are still likely to be 2-4 years away, as this is a national programme with around 1500 such areas identified.
However, it is hoped that bids will be approved in February 2011 and designs could be agreed in 2012/13. If funding is available and the scheme is a simple one, it could happen quicker than many others.
We were also able to give them the latest readings from our council officers, which backed up what residents were saying. They acknowledged that this was clearly a problem that was affecting the majority of residents in the area, and not just a few gripes.
We managed to secure a commitment that they would investigate the increase in noise since the road was raised as this really, really shouldn’t have happened and they were visibly very alarmed to hear this. We will report back on this as soon they come back to us, hopefully next week.
* No expenses were/will be claimed for this trip – this is what councillor allowances are for.
Nigel and I have been out today, meeting our residents in Brentwood West. There’s a lot of doors in this ward – it is the biggest ward by house (2,876) and in total number of people – 5,059 as at 1st September (a rise even from the election day count of 5014)!
Since getting home (separately I should add!!), we’ve both been dealing with case work – it ranges from a request to remove a dead tree to finding a lost key to a common area and from requesting a disabled parking bay to asking for an update on a situation with the water company!
If we didn’t catch you at home today – feel free to get in touch with us if we can help you. If you would like a regular update about what’s going on in your ward, just send an email to [email protected] and we will add you to our e-newsletter distribution list!
A lovely day was had by all today at The Greyhound where lots of Castledon Greyhounds (homed and some needing a home) gathered for a namesake day!
“Greyhounds at The Greyhound” was the idea of my sister, Claire, pictured above right with Cllr David Tee, Mayor of Brentwood, and her dog Slippy. The pub manager, Matt Brewer (who we apparently went to school with?!) was delighted, having wanted to do something like this for ages and lots of greyhounds brought their owners along for a pint and a meal!
A tombola and sale of doggy things raised money for the rescue centre and we hope it raised awareness of greyhounds as pets.
I am delighted to say that £175 was raised for the greyhounds today too!
Thank you to everyone who responded to our noise survey. By now you should have the results through your door via our street letter but here they are for easy reference, along with some of the comments made by residents.
In addition, the following comments were added, sometimes by a number of residents:
Unable to leave windows open
Noise starts at 4am
Getting noisier as road gets wider
Worse in winter
Noise is 24 hours
Having trouble sleeping
Residue on curtains
Constant hum is depressing
Impact of A12 is worse year on year
Cannot sit in garden
Patio tiles get black with pollution
Constantly having to repeat conversations and shout
Concerned about my children/grandchildren
My asthma/eczema has got worse/have developed asthma/eczema
Unable to sleep due to noise
Motorbikes speeding are the worse
Seems to be a high cancer incidence in our street
Environmental impact on trees and wildlife is a concern
So, Cllr Kendall and I will be off to see the Highways Agency next month, armed with the survey results, the petition and your comments.
We will keep you informed, of course.
If anyone thinks we are in a coalition with the Tories locally, please do sit down with a cuppa and treat yourself to a viewing of tonight’s meeting via the council webcast – it was, shall we say, “lively”.
We all know these are difficult times, but constant empty promises are not helpful. A few examples from tonight:
Let us add some other recent broken promises:
Tonight also, I went into bat on Rollason Way and the need to consult on the restrictions residents want before the road is adopted so there is no gap that will allow it to be a commuter car park and cause more problems for residents:
Empty promises are no good to anyone.
A very frustrating night at the business panel tonight.
I simply do not understand how it could possibly take more than a year after the High Street re-opened to produce a town centre map or list of shops. I say this from the knowledge of being a chartered marketing manager with 23 years experience in retail and marketing and I know I could have something designed, printed up and distributed within 6 weeks. But, hey, what do I know???
It was June that the Tories told us we would be producing this guide – seven months after the High Street opened and here we are, September, being told that it won’t be available until March. Why can they not apply some urgency to this to have it ready for Christmas?
Lost for words! Thoughts?
We have had some lovely feedback from residents who have been involved in or watching this campaign. Amongst the comments:
“Well done guys! It’s nice to know residents got involved but they always need a good driving team!”
“Thats fantastic news, well done to everyone who protested strongly against more development in St JamesRoad/Rollason Way.”
“Fab news Karen!”
An elderly resident raised an issue with me last week. His wife, who died last year, is buried in London Road cemetary and there were two large potholes on the entrance - a bit upsetting for everyone.
Pleased to say that Cllr Clarke and I just had a quick look to find that these have been fixed. Good news.
On Sunday, I was made aware of a continuous controlled fire burning in Clements Park. We just want to assure residents that we are doing all we can to get this situation resolved with the building site owners.
We have spoken to council officers who continue to monitor the site’s activities, but they can’t be there all the time so please continue to keep us informed of what’s happening, particularly if there is a “smoke nuisance”.
Well, I am delighted to say that we have had a real success tonight in Brentwood West! A resounding and unanimous NO for the 7 storey, 71 dwelling apartment block in St James Road that would have affected so many residents in the area! It seems the committe agreed that there should be NO MORE FLATS in the area!
I spoke at length on the issue and outlined all the concerns residents have raised with me. You will be able to watch on the webcast soon and I will provide some more detail tomorrow (but for now I’m starving – just got in!).
…had an early email this morning to tell me that the situation where the refuse had not been collected is in the process of being sorted out with residents and officers working together.
Now, don’t pop the champagne corks just yet as it has to go to Planning Committee for discussion on 7th September and could still be approved, but I hope not.
So, here’s a summary of the summary:
- would make existing parking situation, with cars parked on pavements and lack of on-street parking, worse
- area already extremely overcrowded and anti-social behaviour more likely
- already anti-social behaviour, litter and traffic problems
- a seven storey building would be unpleasant, dark and create a tunnel effect on the street scene in St James Road
- overlooking and lack of light would result to Brunel House
- local infrastructure will suffer and doctors and dentists already under pressure
- still unbuilt flats at Base development as well
- no safe places for children to play and local schools already full
- on street parking could restrict access for emergency vehicles
- current problem with smells of sewage from under existing flats needs to be resolved before any further development permitted
- would be of no benefit to area
- would spoil character of Brentwood
- building work would be very disruptive
- would effect rental incomes and property values
- existing development poor quality build
- increase danger at junction at end of St James Road
- land should be used for car parking or play area
- would be more noise and pollution in evenings/weekends than offices
- would set precedent if allowed
- not enough green areas
- flats would be occupied by commuters – no investment in local businesses
- no demand for additional flats
- would be overdevelopment
- existing problems from Affordable Housing tenants
- would have serious impact on skyline
- little space on site to store materials or for lorries to park
- would block views of sky from their lounge
And the officers concluded that it should be refused on the basis of loss of employment opportunity, it would be visually harmful to the area, would not offer a good quality of life to occupants and that there was not enough parking.
Today, I have had a pleasant time in the Homesteads area talking to residents an collecting in some more A12 forms. Lots of people had them ready and waiting for us so we saved them a stamp! We also ventured to the bridge across the A12 (there’s me on the left above, clinging on for dear life) to illustrate to people just how close these homes are to the A12. That’s the Homesteads’ Selwood Road in view so, clearly noise barriers would be beneficial to the area.
The other reason we were there was to look at the state of the foot-way which, coupled with the overgrown vegetation and walking is a big challenge! We will be dealing with both these issues, but feel we will probably get the vegetation more swiftly dealt with so you will only have to mind your step rather than your head too!
But, just to make sure, we have also posted it on-line for you to read. You can find it here.
Remember, the newsletter is paid for by the local Lib Dem team and delivered free by volunteers (with a few posted if we can’t get into places!)
I really must thank Cllr David Tee for the donation that he has taken the trouble to send me for Castledon Greyhound Rescue – safely received through my letterbox this morning.
Mr Mayor sent a tweet out last Friday asking for betting tips as he was off to Romford Greyhound Track. So, I gave him my usual advice (as good as any) which is to bet on the prettiest/most handsome dog or pick the same number throughout the night! I was doing this whilst sitting with my nephew Freddie and his lovely greyhound Slippy and we thought we might be a bit cheeky and send him a photo of Freddie & Slippy asking if he would donate to Castledon if he won big!
Well, he was modestly up on the night after going down the “prettiest/handsomest” route and decided to give his profit to us for the rescued greyhounds at Castledon in Wickford!
Well done Mr Mayor – much appreciation from some lovely dogs!
Buy the Gazette today and you will see some excellent coverage (written by Paul Ainsworth and taking up half of page 9) about the A12 noise campaign. Special mention must go to pretty young lady Eve Whiteley who happily took to the grass of her garden with her ears clamped to make the point!
I have been pleased to work with residents to highlight this issue over the last few weeks and I have some excellent feedback via the Noise Survey that will help with our case when we present the petition to the Highways Agency next month.
Residents in Selwood Road have been in touch with me regarding the noise they experience from the A12, especially since the road was raised six years ago. Obviously, it affects residents in many other areas of Brentwood West, especially Talbrook and Spital Lane.
We have started a campaign to lobby the Highways Agency to introduce noise reduction measures, most likely a barrier system.
I will be going to SW1 to present the petition in September, so please try to sign it by 31st August 2010.
Like I’ve said before, I do tend to fall over a lot for someone who barely drinks! So, in usual form, I stumbled when I was visiting Corfe Castle in Dorset this weekend and have come home with a badly sprained ankle.
So, I hobbled into the Town Hall earlier on a stick and the caretaker waited at the top of the stairs to open the door to the council chamber, which was very thoughtful of him.
When I left, the barrister representing the Sugar Hut opened the door to let me out.
Yet, in between times, certain people let me stagger through heavy double doors without offering to help!!!
Feel better for getting that off my chest! It may well be raised next time we have a disability awareness training session….!
Between these two roads in the town centre there are a couple of alleyways which, over the years, have become very overgrown. I have tried to get them tidied up before but it seems it is not council land and it isn’t quite clear who it does belong to.
Anyhow, it was clearly bothering many of our Brentwood West residents so, armed with a strimmerwe headed off yesterday afternoon to have a bit of a clear up.
We got rid of a lot of weeds, ten bags full that we took home to recycle ourselves, trimmed the overgrown vegetation and generally made it a lot more aesthetically pleasing all round!
The end result? Lots of aching muscles but a much nicer area for our residents!
I have just read a press release from the Conservatives and they have accused me of trying to delay their marketing plans for the town (the initiatives described by the press as “desperate” this week).
Just in case they misheard, what I actually said was:
Hope that clarifies things for Cllr Roger Hirst, who seems to think I wanted to delay the marketing. No, it’s already nine months too late and the planning of this is abysmal. Just ask the retailers.
Well, in a turn up for the books….this is the Committee for which I am chair! Responsible for scrutinising council performance I was pleased, not only that my own Lib Dem colleagues turned out in force to my first “gig”, but also that we were all able to put political differences aside and have a fairly convivial and productive meeting on Monday night.
It wasn’t a controversial meeting, it really just set the agenda for the year. Many items will be discussed including reviewing the procurement strategy, having an in-depth look at the staff survey, reviewing the new out-of-hours service, reviewing parish councils, looking at the council’s partnerships, monitoring equality & diversity and a review of Youth Dispersal Orders.
Thanks to everyone who has signed the petition, blogged about it, told people about it, objected to it and anyone generally causing a bit of a hulabaloo about the plans for ANOTHER 71 FLATS in St James Road. For anyone wanting to make their voice heard, here’s the low down on what to do:
ATTEND THE PHOTO CALL Saturday morning outside Brunel House at 11am
IT IS IMPERATIVE that you send in your formal objection by 14th July 2010 (the formal consultation period) to: Mr B Fagg, Planning Department, Brentwood Borough Council, Ingrave Road, Brentwood CM15 8AY or by email to [email protected]
STATE ALL YOU REASONS FOR OBJECTION on the letter/email (not just parking)
SEND A COPY of the letter to Cllr Nigel Clarke and/or me too
SIGN THE PETITION HERE
LET THE PRESS KNOW YOUR VIEWS – talk to or send a letter to the Brentwood Gazette, write to the Brentwood Weekly News, Yellow Advertiser or Brentwood Recorder.
TELL all your neighbours and ask them to do the same INCLUDING others in the Brentwood Station vicinity who are affected by the constant over-development in your streets.
We recently let you know that Westbury Road was to be re-surfaced. Glad to report that we have a date for this – it will start on 5th July and take three days to complete. The road will be closed between 9.30am and 3.30pm but, at the end of it, we will have a road in a much better state than pictured above!
One of my favourite delivery rounds is Rollason Way/St James Road and I was there yesterday morning with lovely Lib Dem activists Linda (aka my mum) Price and June Spencer delivering the latest Brentwood West newsletter.
They went off to deliver Brunel House for me, an apartment block I’ve been delivering since people started to move in a couple of years ago and came back telling me that they couldn’t find the third of the three sets of post boxes.
“It’s OK”, I said, “I’ll show you it’s a secret network of corridors but it’s round the back”.
Then I went home and watched Saturday night’s Doctor Who, where James Corden guest starred. Strange goings on were happening in the flat upstairs and, to cut a long story short, there was no upstairs – it was a space ship disguised as a floor of a house……
Answers on a postcard please!!!!
UPDATE 18.06.2010: It appears I am not losing the plot! A connecting door has been closed between the two sides of the building and I have now found the 58-83 postboxes where I left them!!!
On 27th May, I ordered a few bits from Marks & Spencer. They committed to deliver them by 2nd June, which is fairly reasonable, five working days. On Saturday, there was still no sign. I tracked my parcel on-line to see it had been sitting in the depot in Romford since 31st May.
So, I rang up to find out what was going on only to hear that they had been “refused delivery”. Not by me, so it seemed fairly certain that they had gone to the wrong house, despite the fact that it was clearly labelled for 76 Brackens Drive. After arguing my case, I agreed to still accept the goods (after a partial refund had been offered and the delivery charge waived) and they said they would email the depot and get it delivered on Monday.
Monday came. And went. Tuesday was almost all the way through and I thought I would check again. Where was my parcel do you think? Romford? Brentwood? Nope….Droitwich, Worcestershire!!!
Well, now the goods have been completely re-ordered and should be here today and, to be fair to M&S, they have held their hands up and tried to put it right.
But one thing to remember is that you have additional rights when you buy on-line, which can sometimes mean it is a very sensible way to shop. This six-minute video (which I produced before I left Consumer Direct – hello to Sion, Kate and everyone involved) guides you through the extra rights you have when buying on the internet, and it’s also fairly amusing, even if my old boss insisted I edited out my favourite joke!
UPDATE 10.06.10: STILL NO PARCEL!!!
I’ve just had quite a productive exchange with Cllr Roger Hirst regarding the provision of dog bins in the borough. There are a couple of locations in Brentwood West where we really need dog waste bins but, it seems, we are at capacity.
Roger and I (both dog owners) agree that this is an issue and it needs sorting out. However, we are currently at capacity – no comfort if you’re wandering round town with your pooch and a little bag of tricks!
So, he is asking for a review/plan of the issue to see what we can do without a major cost. I also suggested to him that we have a consultation paper for doggy owners on the council’s website and he certainly seems very warm to the idea.
Hopefully, a plan will come to committee for a decision before too long.
Apologies if you were eating your tea when you read this!
So, the first council meeting of the new council year and two of the four applications for consideration were in Brentwood West:
I am sad to say that in Rollason Way an application for 54 more flats was approved – only my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Vicky Davies and I voted against it. I am so worried about this area, it is absolutely at capacity and yet, here we go again. I did think this was likely to happen and, therefore, I took the opportunity to try and improve the area. The developer had said they would give us money towards “investment in existing play facilities for children”, but I knew that this would be the Cromwell Road Play Area (about fifteen minutes walk away). I have asked officers to negotiate for some sort of play area actually IN Rollason Way so that there is something nearby. I would prefer kids were playing there than in the street. I will keep a close eye on that one and keep you informed. It won’t solve the parking issues, but once you’ve lost a battle it’s best to salvage something from the situation.
However, brighter news in Downsland Drive where a lovely couple were extremely worried about a planning application that they had put in, so they could have living room for their family when they visited. Pleased to say that this one was approved after I referred it to committee and then moved it for approval at the meeting. Cllr Nigel Clarke also spoke up for them and sent a strong message from the ward councillors that we supported families who wanted to stay in Brentwood and enjoy our town!
WATCH THE MEETING HERE…
Last night was the start of the council year – you can read a full report on the meeting here.
The main business of the night was to elect a mayor and deputy mayor for 2010-11 and we wish Cllr David Tee and Cllr Joan Holmes, Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively, all the very best for their year in office. Cllr Tony Sleep stood down as mayor last night and he will be a tough act to follow for sure! Cllr Kendall paid tribute to the retiring mayor.
You can see which committees we are serving on by following this link, we’ll certainly be busy speaking up for you as usual! Nigel is on some key committees - his place on the Business & Economic Panel should be beneficial to all with his first hand experience of Brentwood commerce (I just hope the Tories appreciate his input).
For this year, I will be serving as Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Panel which, unfortunately, precludes me from being on anything else bar Planning. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be attending other meetings and putting the case for our residents, it just means I won’t be able to vote on the matters – but my colleagues will.
Recently, Cllr Karen Chilvers has been informed that there have again been parking problems in Firsgrove Crescent. I thought it would be a good idea to re-cap on the agreement we made in our recent residents meeting.
About a year ago, a residents parking scheme was drawn up but it was unpopular with residents and was rejected. Following a residents meeting, at which the difficulties were explored, it was agreed that the Firsgrove area would form part of a pilot scheme that was being worked on. Karen made a personal request to the Chair of the Parking Panel and it is hoped that this will be on the agenda in the new council year (which starts next Wednesday).
We will keep you informed on the progress, but there are no specific timings at the moment on the issue. The delay is frustrating, but after rejecting the original scheme, unfortunately, options are very limited. We are happy to hear from you if you have any thoughts on the scheme, as Cllr Clarke and I are eager to represent your views.
We knocked on a lot of doors yesterday telling you it would be close – but I had no idea how close it would be.
At 6am, after four recounts and with over 3,000 votes cast it finally came down to 1578 votes for Nigel and 1578 for the Tory candidate – dead heat.
The election was then decided by a drawing of lots and I am so happy to say that Nigel’s name was pulled out of the hat!
So now the Liberal Democrats hold three of the Brentwood West council seats: County Councillor David Kendall and borough councillors Nigel Clarke and myself.
I am also delighted to say that we now have a new councillor in the shape of Cllr Philip Mynott in Brentwood North too – making a very strong representation for the Liberal Democrats in the town centre.
We would like to thank all those residents who came out and voted Liberal Democrat yesterday!
You can view the full results here.
We’ve been busy over the last week or so delivering our latest leaflet across Brentwood West. However, sometimes people miss it! So, we’ve uploaded it here for you to enjoy!
Just to respond to certain people, and to reassure you: I let you know in March: (1) I would be leaving my full time government job and (2) I am standing for parliament in the next door constituency of Hornchurch & Upminster. The consequence of (1) being that I had ample time to do (2) with no break in the quality of service I offered my residents in Brentwood West. I’ve hardly made a secret of it…scroll down for a link to my Facebook page!
However, a certain person seems to think I am neglecting my residents because I hadn’t updated my blog for a few days (mainly because there was such an important story on there I didn’t want to knock it down the page). Not the case, as many residents know – I’m blogging less but I’m knocking more!!! I have knocked on many, many doors in Brentwood West with Nigel Clarke over the last few weeks and months and have had plenty of time to chat to residents over the garden gate when delivering newsletters. No matter what people may try to imply, I have just as much time for you as ever, if not more so. Just a few, a tiny percentage in fact, of the things that I have worked on recently and that you could ask residents about:
Like I’ve said before, I cost each of the (now) 5002 Brentwood West voters £1.02 per year – I am happy to provide your money’s worth! Feel free to give me a try!
Yes, I might have responsibilities elsewhere, but it would be the same if I had a full time job in London….which I did until 5th March and, yet, I still managed to spin a LOT of plates then!
Betwixt all the campaigning, delivering leaflets, standing in the general election and updating websites, there’s no way I would even thinking of neglecting my residents!
Today I reported in two potholes in Westwood Avenue and West Park Hill, followed up on someone’s issue with a house being built across the street to them and continued to deal with a parking issue in the Victoria Road area. Yesterday I had to pop to see a resident and close some casework where I had been fighting a shopping centre’s draconian parking management company who had to stop suddenly to help her disabled mother and got a £90 parking fine for her trouble. They wouldn’t even refund half, by the way.
One thing that strikes me is that people still hesitate before they contact me. Please don’t! Your issue is never too big or small, too silly or too serious to get my attention. I really was elected to help you and I do all I can for my residents.
I hope you will be electing Nigel Clarke on 6th May so there are two of us continually looking out for you.
Despite good news on the saving of this service, today we learnt that the bus route will not continue around the Crescent Road/Kavanaghs Road/London Road loop.
County Cllr David Kendall is now on the case and we will report back when we know more.
I haven’t had a chance to comment on the dangerous dog plan that the Labour government came up with last week, due to being at conference and all. But today I hear that they have done a U-turn and decided against introducing a law for EVERY dog to be insured for third party damage in case they attack someone. Chris Huhne, Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary, summed it up by saying:
“Another headline-grabbing Labour announcement has gone to the dogs.
“The law on dangerous dogs does need to be tightened up but not by a canine tax on millions of law-abiding British dog lovers.”
Let’s put this in context. For those who don’t know my little dog, this is a picture of Quincy. This gorgeous shih tzu belongs to me and my mum and lives with her in Brentwood West (thereby known as Brentwood West Dog).
He’s at least 14, has a back problem which means he falls over every half a dozen steps, three teeth, is hard of hearing and has one (not very good) eye. Now, seriously, how likely is he to launch an attack on anyone?
The only way Quincy would cause someone a mischief is if you fell over him!
But we love him!
Sorry to report that one of the lifts is still out of order – unfortunately the engineers are still waiting for parts to fix it. I’ve followed it up again today and I hope things will be fixed soon. I know this is hugely problematic for residents.
I will keep you posted on the issue – don’t hesitate to call me for anything else too.
Now, the high spot of the weekend has to be the photo here – ME AND NICK CLEGG!!!!
I’ve been at a few meetings with Nick over the last couple of years, but this was the first time I got to have a brief chat and a photo with him.
Most of all, I really enjoyed being in the company of hundreds of good, decent and enthusiastic people who really care about this country and what happens. We’ve all had enough of the same-old-same-old, red-blue-red-blue politics and it really is time for something new, brave…real change that works for you.
It would be lovely to have a discussion about parking without it descending into name calling from the Tories, but sadly not the case (we’ve been called Catwoman and The Riddler, which I didn’t actually mind, but Delboy and Rodney/Trigger was a bit unnecessary).
The Lib Dems were looking into changing the system to a one hour free parking offset with charges in the evenings. As far as I am concerned, an idea with legs which could have been piloted, but no, the Tories just want to take 20p off your parking charges for the first hour. and tinker about making it more expensive to stay longer. We have supported this now, because it was the only offer on the table and something is better than nothing, but I’m not sure this will bring people flying back into Brentwood, especially as out-of-towners will now be charged more!
Funny, when David Cameron became leader of the Tory Party he wanted an end to “Punch & Judy politics”. If he comes to Brentwood, he’d better make sure he’s stocked up on strings of sausages. So much for a “changed” Tory party and delivering promises.
According to some Tory councillors, parking isn’t an issue anyway and it’s just the fact that the Lib Dems keep raising the issue. I beg to differ!
Back in early 2009, Cromwell Road Play Area had some work done to it. As part of this, some trees had to be removed. I was faithfully promised that these would be replaced with some sort of planting in February 2010. I checked last month and, sadly, that promise has been reneged upon.
I will be doing all I can to get some more shrubs in that area, but this is very disappointing news.
I will be standing for parliament in the General Election in the next door constituency of Hornchurch & Upminster – the two places that I grew up. I lived in Hornchurch until I was 3 and in Upminster until I was 21 when we moved to Brentwood. Naturally, that makes it the next logical place to stand after Brentwood & Ongar and I would like to thank Havering Lib Dems for inviting me to be their candidate.
It’s exciting stuff! When I agreed to stand in Brentwood West in 2006, I never thought that it would lead me to this sort of opportunity and I am grateful to those who helped me achieve the status of “prospective parliamentary candidate”, especially as the Liberal Demcocrats continue to prosper (after all, we are now the second biggest party in local government).
I’m sure I will be accused of many things by my opponents having made this announcement and called a “career politician”, but I’m really not. I’m just an ordinary person who happened to get into politics to speak up for people and feels that this is the right thing to do.
Where does this leave my residents in Brentwood West? Well, no change really as I have now given up my job and have all that spare time! Should I get elected as MP for Hornchurch & Upminster then I would still serve out my term (ends May 2011) as I am bound to do. (After all, Bob Russell, Colchester’s Lib Dem MP, served as MP and borough councillor for five years concurrently, so there’s no reason why I couldn’t do the same!).
If I’m not an MP by the summer, well then it’s business as usual! I will continue to do what I love, being ward councillor for Brentwood West and look for re-election in my seat next year.
But have no doubts, I’ll still be knocking on your doors and am happy to assist with any problems that you have and hoping that the good people of this ward elect Nigel Clarke as your second Lib Dem borough councillor on Thursday 6th May!
A little announcement about me! Tomorrow will be my last day as a civil servant – I will be leaving the Office of Fair Trading and my role as Head of Marketing for Consumer Direct.
I’ve been very fortunate to have been in a job ever since I left school 23 years ago and I have worked at some interesting places (including Selfridges, Tesco Clubcard, Lakeside & Hartswood Hospital). But, this job has come to a natural end and it is time to depart. I think I have earned myself a little break, so I’ll be concentrating on politics for now and my role as Campaign Manager for Cllr David Kendall as he bids to oust Eric Pickles as our MP and as agent for Nigel Clarke as we bid to get you a second Lib Dem councillor in Brentwood West to speak up and fight for you.
Although I am allowed to be politically active in my role (not many civil servants are), I’ve also found it difficult to separate the two roles. So, for a while at least, being a councillor will be my main job, and I am pleased to have this opportunity because I love representing you!
My life has changed quite a bit since I started this job four years ago – I got elected as Lib Dem councillor for Brentwood West a year later and, what started as a hobby, has become fundamentally important to me as I have seen this Tory council drag us down to being the worst council in Essex. I believe I am doing what I can for residents as a key opposition councillor and I will now get the chance to do more.
I should just end with a plug for Consumer Direct, as I am proud of what I’ve achieved there. If you want to know your consumer rights you can follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Consumer_Direct or find CD on Facebook!
It will also be good to see more of my cats, my little dog and lovely nephew Freddie who turns three on Saturday!
I’ve been out today with Nigel, and our colleague June, knocking on resident doors. It’s something we do all the time really. We want to make sure that you know we are there for you and that you know you can contact us. It was good today to catch up with old friends and new residents in the ward!
We’ve picked up some case work today but, if you think of anything after we’ve left your doorstep, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Recently, I’ve noticed that lots of things I have requested or reported have not been acted upon so I am chasing those up with officers. However, some of them have been cancelled and not delivered as promised. I’m not happy about this and I will be meeting with senior officers to ask questions on such issues.
Things have changed – when I was first a councillor things used to happen fairly quickly, but the Tories had only been in control for three years then. Another three years on and promised works are being cancelled.
But don’t stop reporting them and asking me though!
One more thing – have spent the day pushing leaflets left by other people (specifically the M25 Widening leaflet) through your doors. I have complained about this!
I spend this allowance on communicating with my residents, phone calls, petrol, stationery, late night dinners when I’ve gone straight from work to a council meeting. Goodness knows how much time I actually spend on being a councillor, but I spent seven hours at the council offices over two days just working on the budget setting meeting and preparing for full council, as well as attending the meeting until 10.30pm.
I spend most of my non-work time dealing with resident issues, going to council meetings, resident meetings, studying agendas, talking to you on the doorstep and communicating. There’s no extra communications allowance – this website is funded by me, as are the Focus leaflets, street letters and case work letters I do on your behalf.
Brentwood West is also the ward with the highest electorate at 4984 voters – beating the next highest ward (Ingatestone, Fryerning & Mountnessing) by 255 voters.
So, working on that basis, I cost each voter £1.02 per year (less than 2p per week). Those who I have helped will, I hope, consider that value for money! But, if you don’t think you have had you £1.02 worth this year then I am happy to hear from you. Seriously, I am – there’s not an ounce of sarcasm in that statement!
Elected to help and that’s what I enjoy doing! Give me a try!
So, on Tuesday night the budget was set and we are now facing a 2.89% increase in our council taxes, as well as some reduction in services:
The Tories will often tell you that we had double figure increases when we ran the council, but are reluctant to say how much money that actually was! Why? Because it was a percentage on a much lower amount. Even 50% of nothing is nothing!
When the Tories came to power, they put in a 0% increase – but are we paying for it now? Decent services come at a cost and we are now paying for the cheap headlines we’ve seen from them in the last few years. This is one of the highest council tax rises in Essex this year. Beware of Tories trying to convince you to vote for them just before the election and remember:
Compare this to the fact that, when the Lib Dems were in control:
For Cllr David Kendall’s formal statement on the budget, click here.
As a town centre councillor, I was so pleased to see Leader Nick Clegg unveil our policies for High Streets today. You’ll know that Nigel Clarke and I have done our bit for the High Street in Brentwood recently.
The policy includes the following:
I was delivering a few leaflets yesterday when I found a key in someone’s front door. I knocked and a very grateful young lady thanked me for letting her know. Someone could have taken that key and broken in whilst she was at work.
This isn’t the first time I’ve found a key in a lock or a door open during my rounds, so I thought these hints and tips from www.direct.gov would be helpful. One of my friends has been burgled this weekend, so please do have a quick skim through these tips.
I was burgled once and it is a very unpleasant experience however, all I cared about was that the animals were safe. Stuff is stuff, they were most important and they were a little bit scared afterwards.
You can take this quick two minute test to see how safe your property is.
Just when you thought nothing else could go wrong (after all, Cllr Louise McKinlay did say we had “hit the base”) the council overlooks renewal of our licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office. This error could have cost us a lot of tax payers’ money and rendered parking fines unenforceable, CCTV unusable in court and that council tax was being processed illegally. You can read more here.
”What’s next?” said Zippy and George….!
It seems that the national press have picked up on the complaint I have made about Cllr Keith Parker’s comments about gay people and victims of domestic violence. The story was in the News of the World yesterday and a full report has appeared in The Daily Telegraph today.
Just reflecting on what a positive residents meeting I had in Firsgrove Cresent on Friday night. We were all able to discuss some issues, about parking principally, and I left them with a number of options to consider.
Last night was one of the most unusual council meetings I’ve been to! As this certainly was a non-political meeting we didn’t sit in our political groups and we mixed it up – leaving me between Cllr Mark Reed and Cllr Lionel Lee and Cllr Kendall sitting in the back row with Cllr Russell Quirk!
The meeting was called to decide on whether we should spend some of the Assizes Trust fund monies – a fund set up in 1860 for the good of Brentwood.
A number of projects had been suggested by councillors from all parties and we all put our views across. I should add, that what made this meeting so different is that we weren’t there as politicians, but as trustees of the fund.
I’m really pleased about some of the things that were approved, especially the go-ahead for the refurbishment of the public toilets in the High Street. One of my colleagues really made me laugh when I said I would rather go home than use them and she said she would rather go in the street (not that she has, she hastened to add!)!!!
What’s really fantastic is that we will be able to have the Changing Places fully accessible toilets now, allowing disabled visitors to the High Street, especially those with severe physical disabilities, to use the facilities in a dignified and appropriate way. As I pointed out at the meeting, in 1860 a lot of these people would be in institutions, away from society, so I think we can be proud of how far we have come as a community.
Just a quick report back from last night’s meeting. I’m not on this committee, so confess I don’t routinely attend, but there were a few Brentwood West issues and others that I had an interest in so I went along.
Westbury Road Car Park: Some time ago, the possibility of this car park being available for overnight parking was discussed. Unfortunately, this had to be abandoned due to the high cost of lighting and new entrances. It is pleasing to learn, however, that the residents who did originally request this are entitled to on-street parking permits so it’s not all lost, although not ideal of course.
Town Hall Car Parking petition: This was finally discussed, eight months after I presented the 420-strong petition. However, it seems that the Conservatives are holding back on announcing their car parking charges – after all the fuss we’ve made there’s a chance we may have boxed them into a corner and a review of parking charges is taking place. If this happens, remember that if we hadn’t highlighted the issues, Lib Dems and residents together, then nothing would change.
10:10 Motion: Cllr David Kendall put in a motion which asked for the Tory controlled council to sign up to 10:10. We won’t be. Apparently we are doing it already. Fine and dandy, but this is a major campaign that seeks to unite every sector of British society behind one simple idea: that by working together we can achieve a 10% cut in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2010. However, as usual, they can’t see the sense in signing up to a formal campaign to encourage others to do the same through a simple umbrella campaign. I’ve signed up to 10:10 and you can too.
Winter Maintenance Programme: Please to see that the council now have a plan to help with the snow! I asked for Fairfield Road to be added as a key road due to the Job Centre Plus being there.
Disabled Spaces at Coptfold Road: The changes to Crown Street car park has meant the loss of some disabled spaces and, at last month’s planning meeting, there was an application to put them on the verge outside – concreting over the grass there. We deferred it as we did not have enough information to make the decision and I wasn’t happy in losing another piece of green or satisfied that this would not compromise the oak tree. At last night’s meeting, a lot of the questions from Planning were answered, which begs the question as to why those who sit on both those committees (including the Vice-Chair of the E&PM Panel) did not answer the questions at planning. I feel the application came through for rubber-stamping, with a lack of information.
What I didn’t expect was a note from Cllr David Tee trying to imply that we were trying to delay parking provision for disabled residents – apparently he was “flabagasted” (did he mean flabbergasted?) and attacked me, and another councillor, on our green belt record which is something which is completely and utterly unjustified (Tory councillors, led by Cllr Tee and the Warley members, once voted for an extension to something in Warley Rural because the applicant was slightly famous). For the record, I have championed the rights of disabled people for a long, long time and I have stood up for the green belt time and time again, but the decision needs to be the right one on this, made with all the facts at hand.
This one is beyond belief! For a full catch up on this long running saga, click here.
Further to the consultations about removal of the Western Road/Weald Road hedge in which came back 75% and 80% against removal, you’ll remember the Tories dragged it back to committee determined to hack it down at the first opportunity.
Cllr Karen Sheehan (panel chair and my Tory ward colleague) then decided that we would have a consultation, by councillors, across the entire wards of Brentwood North and Brentwood West. Yes, as far away as Clements Park and Ongar Road (after all, Tory Cllr Russell Quirk pointed out, they may drive past it sometimes). Could this really be the same council that refused to do any more than the statutory minimum consultation for the William Hunter Way development just a hop, skip and jump away?????
So, it was then on the agenda for next week’s meeting, with a handy consultation paper attached with the Tories anxious to get out there and prove that this hedge should be taken out because they wanted it gone (the options were something along the lines of “1. remove it and make the area on oasis of beauty or 2. leave as is”). Then the agenda vanished! But it has reappeared. Apparently, due to a technical issue this would be a very expensive thing to do so the recommendation is now to leave it well alone.
Good idea, just like residents asked us to do in the first two consultations.
This is an unbelievable waste of precious officer time, committee time and most of all the worry that has been caused to residents who live in that area.
Had it not been for this technicality, would it still be on the table?
Some of you would have spotted a letter from me in today’s Gazette – just 99 days away from the most likely date for the General Election. You’ll also notice that I signed off as “General Election Campaign Manager”, this is an exciting additional role that I am taking on as we challenge Eric Pickles for the Brentwood & Ongar seat!
Here’s the letter just in case you missed it:
You were absolutely spot on last week when you said that the Liberal Democrats were the main threat to MP Eric Pickles at the General Election. It is clearly a two horse race and a race, between Mr Pickles and our candidate Cllr David Kendall, far from won due to a number of factors:
- Residents are not happy with a Tory administration that has, amongst other cataclysmic clangers, dragged Brentwood from one of the top councils in the country under the Liberal Democrats to one of the eleven worst and the worst in Essex. They are, quite rightly, very concerned about how a national Tory government would run the country when such incompetence has been displayed at town hall level.
- Mr Pickles’ role as Tory Chairman sees him relishing the national stage and he is all over the country working on other campaigns in Great Yarmouth, with ex-Brentwood leader Brandon Lewis, Pendle, Bedford and Norwich to name just a few that I am aware of. Chris Patten, former Tory Chair, lost his seat in the 1997 General Election, when he spent far too much time on the national campaign and far too little time in his constituency. That seat, Bath, is held by Liberal Democrat Don Foster to this day. He was a loyal local councillor and campaigner, just like David Kendall.
- Of course, one might assume that Mr Pickles is busy representing our views in the House of Commons, but www.theyworkforyou.com shows that he has only spoken in TWO debates in the last year (but note that he attended parliament to vote “very strongly” for the Iraq war). By contrast, Cllr Kendall has rarely missed a borough or county council meeting at which he was due, attending a number of meetings on crutches in 2008.
- Nor are people convinced, especially in these difficult economic times, about the dynamic duo of Cameron and Osborne. Not when you compare this to the combination of Nick Clegg (a recent poll showed he was perceived as the least arrogant and most honest of the three party leaders) and Vince Cable, one of the most widely respected and credible politicians this country has seen.
The thing about these polls is that they do not fully represent local opinion and, with people so let down, feelings are running very high.
Let battle commence!
Cllr Karen Chilvers
Liberal Democrat General Election Campaign Manager
Now, I deliver a fair amount of leaflets to keep you informed of what’s going on and I always like to do it in a tidy fashion. I always put them fully through your letter box, even if I’ve met a couple of mad dogs on the way and come close to losing the odd finger, and I certainly won’t open the door to your block of flats and hurl a pile of leaflets in!
So, just so you know, I was the “tidy leaflet fairy” in Rollason Way on Tuesday who had a little tidy up of others’ mess and took it home to put it in my recycling bag. It’s all part of the service!
Well, having had the opportunity to review the webcast, it wasn’t just a homophobic comment, there was also a poor taste comment made about those who are suffering domestic abuse. Something which I have very strong views on and have tried to assist people with.
This gave me no choice but to make a formal complaint about the conduct of the councillor concerned. Why? Because you elected me to “stand up for you and make your voice heard” and that includes the groups mentioned above. All councillors have a responsibility to the community they serve and I take mine very seriously indeed.
You can hear the comments at the O&S panel by going to the webcast of the meeting on www.brentwood.gov.uk and watching from 1hr 39m 35s and my attempt to clarify his comment at 1hr 42m 37s.
I went to Overview & Scrutiny tonight, I can’t believe what happened. Right in the middle of a debate about diversity, when we asked why gay and lesbian groups were not being consulted on their issues, two Conservative councillors came out with such a web of homophobia that I thought I had travelled back in time. Then, one made a wholly innapropriate statement.
I’m a Liberal Democrat, which means I reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and I will not put up with this sort of behaviour. I am taking advice about what to do about the events of this evening.
On the positive side, there was a presentation about Brentwood Community Hospital (I missed it but got there for the questions) which seems to be of enormous benefit to the people of Brentwood.
Only a 45 minute meeting, but a lot seemed to happen! I’ve only recently gone on to the Licensing Committee and I’m finding it very interesting.
There were a number of issues on which we agreed – a system to deal with cumulative issues in drinking establishments and an agreement that we would not proceed with refusal to licence older taxi cabs and instead look at their condition. There were though, two things that couldn’t be agreed.
The first is an issue that came up regarding taxi licensing that I am extremely uncomfortable with (more on this once I’ve taken some advice) and also disappointment that we couldn’t find a flexible approach to licensing boarding kennels and catteries. A lady in Pilgrims Hatch is boarding a dog or two at a time but is having to pay the same as an establishment that could take 20 at a time – I’ve spoken to Linda a number of times and I just feel that this is one of those industries that can offer business opportunities to people, especially women, and we could do more to help.
The good thing that did come out of that discussion, however, is that the council website will contain details of licensed premises. I’m always traumatised about leaving my cats in a cattery (more than they ever are of course!) and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would appreciate such information being available.
Just received some fantastic news! After a 10+ year battle by residents and, latterly, a lot of pressure from me on the issue we have finally got agreement from Crest Nicholson that they will transfer the circus area in Osborne Heights to council control. This means that it can be properly looked after, planted and maintained.
This has been enormously upsetting for those who live in the area so I hope they are happy to hear this excellent news!
Unfortunately, I got a rather rude awakening this morning on my first full day back in the UK when I tuned in to Andrew Marr, mainly to see the Chris Evans interview, and then decided to watch the airbrushed one himself (see picture).
Thing is, when even Doctor Who is saying that David Cameron is “scarier than the cybermen”, you know Marr is going to have some fun! What’s even scarier is that they will spend £18m in this election and I fear that the British public will sleepwalk into a Tory government and their empty promises of “change”. Back to Doctor Who for a minute, and think about the episode where Harold Saxon (The Master) became Prime Minister by duping the public into promising them everything they wanted, with David Tennant and Russell T Davies both Labour supporters I think we can see a little parody here!
I’ve got to say though; it was good to watch Cameron squirm this morning. If you watch his body language he was clearly very uncomfortable with the tough line of questioning that Marr took, quite in contrast to the excellent interview Nick Clegg gave to the BBC Hard Talk programme earlier this week. He was far more comfortable when he managed to take charge of the interview towards the end and “came alive”. Wheeling out spin and sound bites puts Mr Cameron back in his comfort zone it seems!
• the most down-to-earth
• the least arrogant
• the least secretive
• the least uncaring
• the most honest
• the least out-of-touch
• the least foolish
Please don’t sleepwalk into a “cyber-government” and please look in to what the Liberal Democrats offer as a real alternative and a real change.
So, David Cameron has again been trying to fool voters into thinking that there is no difference between our two parties. I can assure you there is! Perhaps he should come to Brentwood and see how differently we act – recent issues such as Hedge-gate only go to prove how his party don’t want to listen to residents and the Lib Dems take note of what they say!
The challenge finished a few weeks ago, but we also committed to do the same with our Christmas shopping and you can find our Christmas run down here!
Hope you all had a great Christmas!
As sure as winter follows autumn, resident calls about the ice followed the fall of snow. And you can hardly blame them. Back on 22nd April 2009, I had a letter published in the Brentwood Gazette, from which I quote:
“….many roads and pavements across Brentwood went un-gritted in February’s snow, with Brentwood and Shenfield high streets left as skating rinks and some roads rendered impassable……Not surprising as the budget for gritting across the county was just over £2.5million. However, the Marketing and PR budget was £4.8million – the ninth highest spend in the country.”
With Saturday being heralded as “the busiest shopping day of the year” and heavy snow forecast, I would have hoped that our Conservative-run councils with their “joint partnership” would have learnt a lesson from February’s snow fall and gritted the pavements prior to these events. But it would seem not, having slipped twice in the High Street myself there were also many accidents and near misses. The casualty in one accident was a 30 year old female friend of mine, pretty sure of her footing, so you can hardly blame infirmity, age or “the wrong shoes”.
Nigel Clarke, long time Crown Street trader, has never known of so many ambulances called to the High Street in one day and, given the number of calls and emails we have had from residents who have struggled to keep upright after these “improvements”, I would suggest that the first test for our “non-slip” paving has not been a resounding success.
It seems that as long as the PR machine keeps on rolling, residents can roll over.”
Let’s hope that they start to take some notice. We will continue to challenge them.
In February, when it snowed, Brentwood and Shenfield High Streets turned into ice rinks. Your Lib Dem councillors asked for action to be taken, but nothing happened on the basis that they would only grit pavements if they had enough left, and they didn’t.
I’m astounded that this year, exactly the same scenario. I slipped twice myself outside Peacocks today and know of at least three incidents where ambulances have been called.
I have asked for urgent action to be taken because this cannot keep going on. Why has the administration not made this a priority, given that we have had problems once this year already? It’s hardly as if this snow was unexpected – we all know winter follows autumn……
However, on the positive side, I drove home from my sister’s down The Avenue and Eagle Way and Thorndon Park just looked glorious!
UPDATE: I’ve just heard from a very good friend of ours that she was the lady who slipped on our ungritted high street and ended up flat on her back this afternoon. She says just the same as me – why is winter such a massive surprise and why wasn’t the High Street gritted for safety when we had days of snow warnings?