Parking Fees reduced!



one hour successParking charges to go down under the Accord Administration!

With the Lib Dems, I can’t remember a time when we weren’t fighting to make parking fees more reasonable!  Now we have done it – and the Tories voted AGAINST our plans!

We pulled this off by being fair – we introduced an overnight parking charge of £2 to capitalise on the TOWIE visitors.  This has yielded around £60,000 in income which has meant we can do the following:

  • Reduce the all day car parking fee from £10.50 to £8.00

  • Introduce a new Saturday workers fee of £4 in Westbury Road Car Park

  • Introduce a new £30 weekly charge in the William Hunter Way Car Park

This will take around ten weeks to introduce once it is advertised and consulted upon.

It is unbelievable that the Tories voted against on the basis that we hadn’t reduced it enough, despite them voting for a 117% increase in the one hour charge in 2012 (and that includes current Brentwood West Tory Cllr Will Russell, who’s up for re-election in May).

It’s also interesting to see that another Tory scaremongering activity didn’t come true.  Back in 2011, two days before I lost my seat, they put out a leaflet in Brentwood West saying that, should a night time charge be introduced then people would be forced in to the side streets to park and, therefore, we would all be wading around in “rivers of vomit”.  Yes, they put that on a leaflet and people believed it!  So, watch what they say when it comes to May’s elections!  It turns out not to be the case, so just as well no one opened up a Wellies Shop in anticipation.


Hardworking, conscientious council officer cares for sick father whilst continuing to diligently perform key role…

…not quite the Daily Mail headline – but then that wouldn’t sell papers would it?

A statement from Lib Dem Deputy Leader on Jo-Anne Ireland and her current working arrangements:

Dear Resident,

Today, The Mail on Sunday published an article about Brentwood Council’s Acting CEO, Jo-Anne Ireland. You may already have seen it in the newspaper. If not, you can read it here

If you read the quote from William Lloyd (Deputy Leader) before the rest of the article (it’s buried right at the end), you might see that there are two sides to this story. Miss Ireland is paying all her own expenses, so there is no additional cost to the taxpayer. As the article itself says, she has spent 8 days in Brentwood this month and 10 days in January. That works out as 50% of her time spent in the office. I can vouch for the fact that she is easily contactable via email and/or phone for the rest of the week and indeed, into the evenings and weekends.

Looking at this situation another way, we’re in a period of transition, with a new CEO starting in March. We, the Accord Administration, decided that we didn’t want to lose our most senior officer in the run up to the new CEO starting. Allowing Miss Ireland to work part of the time from Cyprus was a management decision taken to retain her essential experience and make sure we had continuity during the transition to the new CEO. This is also the time when we set the budget and, as the most senior finance officer, losing Miss Ireland would have caused a number of problems.
Miss Ireland would have stayed in Brentwood until after May this year and the transition to a new officer would have been smooth and not at all newsworthy. Unfortunately, her father had a stroke late last year. He lives on Cyprus, so her plans to move there had to be accelerated. We are fortunate that Miss Ireland has been so willing to work with us at this time. She could have resigned with immediate effect and we would then have had to recruit interim staff at a much higher cost while looking for a permanent replacement.
I hope that this gives you a different perspective on the Mail article. We were only contacted at 5pm on Friday for our comments and we rapidly came to the conclusion that the journalists were working to someone else’s agenda and weren’t interested in the broader story. Please forward this to your friends so that the other side of this story can be told.
Best wishes
Cllr Graeme Clark
on behalf of the Accord Administration

The worst petition in the world ever…..

Let me present you with one of the best comedies you have seen…really it is just comedy gold!  This petition is so bad that two members of the Tories walked out of the meeting before it was even voted on – and it was their petition!  One of those even denied signing it when they had AND were in the Brentwood Gazette photo call!

To quote planning chair Cllr Phil Baker: “Not only can you not run the council properly, you can’t even put a petition together!”

WATCH HERE (should start at 3h09m)

But let me explain:

  • For nothing other than pure and overt political reasons, Cllr Louise McKinlay (former – thank goodness – leader of the council) put together a petition called “Hands off our green spaces”.  Neither Cllr McKinlay or her deputy Cllr Roger Hirst were at the meeting.
  • This was an attempt to mislead the people of Brentwood over the local development plan and trying to pretend that we – The Accord – are desperate to build on the green belt.  The irony is that we have lost count of the number of green belt applications the Tories approved for the ten years they were in and that weeks prior to this they were planning to build 1500 homes on the green belt in West Horndon.
  • This petition was aimed at only Hutton and rural areas – obviously they just don’t care about the town centre area such as Brentwood West where we really can not handle much more development.  A crass political stunt.
  • The petition referred to the “Lib/Lab coalition” – that doesn’t exist.  The Accord is made up of three parties and an independent member.  Factually incorrect again.
  • The petition was worded wrongly – it spoke not of the green belt but the “green spaces” so where are we going to build the 5500 homes we must build?  They clearly want to say no to every single development across the borough (ironic given that they wanted a green belt refusal recommendation overturned an hour earlier).  That’s not helpful for those who wish to extend their homes.
  • The Tories had a complete lack of understanding talking of “degrees of green belt”.  This is made up.  It is either green belt or it is not.
  • During the debate, Cllr Henwood refused to confirm that she was a member of the Tories and stormed out of the meeting shouting at the chair (the second of the night)
  • Infantile language was used in the petition that was, frankly, insulting to residents and the signatures were illegally gained as the wording was factually incorrect.
  • The petition was so bad that even the three Tories were left at the meeting (after two had stormed out) didn’t support it at the vote!
  • The petition was illegal according to the petition rules introduced by the Tories last year.

This is so embarrassing – and they ran the council for ten years up until May.  Please Brentwood, don’t lose faith and vote the inept Tories back in in May.  We are taking Brentwood forward and being honest and open with you as we go.

Rollason Way – road adoption & parking schemes

rollason way

When I got re-elected in 2012, one of the first things I did was get in touch with the developer in Rollason Way to find out how long it would be until this happened and I was told “within six months”.  That was June 2012.

Thirty months later, and this was the response received by Cllr Kendall just before Christmas…

Dear Cllr Kendall

Thank you for your email received 18 December 2014, regarding the adoption of Rollason Way.

I have been advised by the Development Management Team that the adoption (the S38) is being progressed between the legal teams. There are remedial works being progressed with the developer/contractor which includes street lighting issues.

Parking issues are still a major concern for which a residents parking scheme is considered the best option; and we are currently awaiting a decision from the South Essex Parking Partnership (SEPP).

Thank you for contacting us in respect of this matter and I trust the above information clarifies the current position.


The only mildly good news here is that there is still life in the residents parking scheme, which we are also pushing for.  We haven’t let this one go – although I have to remind everyone that this is about mitigation and not solution – the Tories allowed so many flats there that there will never be enough parking for everyone.  We are aware of the Fire Authority’s ongoing concerns and we are asking for more detail on this.

Cromwell Road Play Area – clarification

I just wanted to set the record straight as – once again – little untruths are being told about me.  Conservative Cllr Will Russell is telling residents that, back in 2011, I wanted to the Cromwell Road Play Area shut down.

This is completely untrue.  He is threatening to publish an email conversation about it.  I have seen this email trail and it says nothing of the sort.  Plus, I never said it!

All the councillors at the time (Joan Holmes, Nigel Clarke and I) were discussing possibilities about play areas across Brentwood West and then, on 1st October 2012, Nigel Clarke, Cllr Will Russell himself and I took a walk around potential sites for play areas in the ward as well as spending some considerable time looking at what investments could be made in Cromwell Road.

Any plans were, as far as I was concerned, not going anywhere until a resident consultation took place.

I am, however, in possession of a strategy document that was written under the Tory administration that quite clearly states that the Cromwell Road Play Area should be disposed of, and I will happily publish it.

William Hunter Way consultation – a reminder

whw sign


Over the weekend, each household will receive a letter addressed to whoever is on the council tax account about the William Hunter Way consultation and here’s why…

On 1st September 2014, after the failure of the former Tory administration’s town centre development (along with eight wasted years and hundreds of thousands of pounds) the Accord administration launched a very genuine consultation – developed in consultation with local residents – that would go to every household in the borough.  It was initially launched online with a paper consultation planned to go through every door.

All was going to plan until a couple of weeks ago when we started to get calls and emails from residents to say they hadn’t received the consultation paper – what’s worse is that this was in areas very close to the site such as Wellesley Road, Weald Road, Gerrard Crescent and huge areas in Warley.

We hoped this would right itself but, with a week to go until the consultation ends in the past week we were still hearing this from our residents and a lengthy conversation on confirmed our worst fears.

On Saturday Cllr Russell Quirk, chair of the William Hunter Way Working Group (WHWWG), called an urgent meeting of this group tonight (6th October).  Councillors Quirk, Baker, Mynott, Sapwell and I met with officers at 7pm to discuss how this was going to be sorted out.

And sort it we did.

  • The deadline for the consultation is to be extended to 5th November 2014.
  • Every resident on the council tax register will now receive a letter reminding/informing them to complete this important survey
  • They will be able to complete it on line or have a survey sent to them
  • We will ask for further help from the Brentwood Gazette, Brentwood Weekly News and Phoenix FM (which may include taking out advertisements)


I am so pleased that we have been able to find a way to promote this consultation further at this late stage.  What’s better is that these “belt and braces” actions still keep us well within budget for the consultation project and assures residents that we have done everything we can to make sure every one of them has an opportunity to give us their views on the future of their town.

Make no mistake – this is important as it is about the long term future of the town which is why we are not taking it lightly.”

However, even with this unfortunate series of – now solved – problems, officers have confirmed that with well over 2,000 responses already this is the best response for a Brentwood resident consultation since records began.

UPDATE: Tower Hill/Weald Road and “Shame on Cllr Chilvers”

Well, that told me for daring to bring resident concerns to committee for debate and discussion.

For over four years, I have tried to get maintenance for the Tower Hill/Weald Road alleyway.  I’ve even cleared it myself with former Cllr Nigel Clarke, and Cllr John Newberry has been down there to tidy it up recently.

This can’t go on – it needs resolution not short term fixes and so I referred it to committee for discussion and decision so my residents could, at the very least, know whether they are responsible or not.  Rather than a good debate, this caused Cllr Paul Farragher to throw a big old Tory hissy fit and accuse me of all sorts from hypocrisy to “shameful behaviour”. My crime? Bringing it to committee…priceless!

I invite you to watch from 1h20m to watch John talking about the area, Cllr Russell backing us up and then Cllr Farragher’s attack.


It won’t deter me, we will keep trying to find a resolution whether it is good or bad so we know where we are.

Oh, and I will keep referring things to committee if that needs to happen…….that’s why we are there!

We are in Accord!


I am delighted to say that, last Wednesday evening, we removed the inept, stifling Tory dictatorship from power.  In a somewhat historic move, Brentwood Council is now under the leadership of an “Accord” comprising 11 Lib Dem councillors, 4 Brentwood First councillors, 3 Labour councillors and the independent councillor Roger Keeble.

cllr-barry-aspinell-4Cllr william LloydCllr Barry Aspinell (Lib Dem) is Leader and Cllr William Lloyd (Brentwood First) is Deputy Leader.

We also elected Cllr Vicky Davies (Lib Dem) as Mayor and Cllr Roger Keeble (Ind) as Deputy Mayor (Vicky pictured above with her husband/consort Alan Davies).  If you want Madam Mayor to attend your event, you can request that here.

I will be chairing the Community Committee (with Brentwood First’s Cllr Jo Squirrell as my vice-chair), Cllr David Kendall will be chair of the Business & Town Centres Committee and Cllr Newberry will be leading on Crime and Disorder.

Accord 1We agreed the Accord on the day after the election when we found ourselves with 19 combined councillors – one more than the Conservatives but it is not opportunism or vanity that binds us together – it is a wish to do what’s best for Brentwood whisked up with a lot of friendship and more than a smidgen of respect. We have seen the Tories arrogantly ride roughshod over the residents of Brentwood and, over the last 18 months, have worked together to highlight this to them…but they’ve never listened and so here we are – putting right what once went wrong.

If you think we won’t get results, think again.  We have already clawed back £16,000 in revenue they failed to claim and reduced councillor allowances by £3,242.  Almost £20,000 back in the coffers and we’ve been in control two working days!

If you want to hear the new Leader’s statement then you can see it here.  If you want to know more about the Accord, we now have our own website.

School Crossing Patrols: Lib Dems force Tory U-Turn

john 1lollipop_man_puppetAfter calling us “puerile” and “a joke” for our motion to cancel the axing of School Crossing patrols, the Tories had a change of heart today and decided not to.

I’m sure this has nothing to do with a major panic about the elections on Thursday…nothing at all.

Still, a result is a result and this is another one that John Newberry has worked on, contributing to our 239-strong petition.  By contrast, we have heard tales this week of Brentwood West’s Tory councillor turning up for photo shoots and then disappearing before the ground work starts…..