Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A New Haven in the Green Belt?

Fairhavens have released information suggesting that their prefered option for building a new hospice is on Belton Hills covering a 7 acre site on our precious green belt. Whilst no planning application has yet been submitted the site has been identified as providing an ideal location. There is no doubting the great job Fairhavens and Little Havens have done over many years, and clearly the current site in Chalkwell Avenue is too small and inflexible, however is there really no alternative to Belton Hills - one of the few green lungs in the Town. There are tight restrictions on developing the Green Belt so it will be interesting to see how any future application is presented however is the hospice a strong enough reason to build on such am important area and if granted will it be followed by further applications?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Leigh Folk Festival

Spent some very enjoyable hours down in Old Leigh on Sunday enjoying a fantastic Folk Festival. Great music, fantastic weather, large crowds, enthusiastic performers and cold beer - who could ask for more! This follows on from another great Leigh Art Trail. These events really connect with local residents and demonstrate how effective it is when the community takes the lead. Congratulations and thanks to all those who organised both events - your hard work was worth it. If you didn't support these events then don't miss out next year. You will not be disappointed. Quite made up for the disappointment in South Africa. Anyone for cricket or tennis?

Friday, 25 June 2010

The West Lothian Question

Spent a long and hot day yesterday doing a uni trip to Loughborough with my youngest daughter.As one daughter leaves uni the next one is looking to finalise her own plans and the whole process does raise the dreaded issue of tuition fees. A particular bugbear is that Scottish kids pay no fees whereas English kids do - even if attending uni in Scotland. Devolution is all well and good - and perhaps no bad thing for the English! - however how can it be right that decisions on matters relating only to England are taken by all members and therefore heavily influenced by members representing Scottish constituencies whose residents are not affected. As it is the Scottish are over represented on a per head basis, although we have been promised action on this by the Government. I also remain to be convinced that as English taxpayers we are not subsidising this benefit which is not available to our own children. It is time for a clear convention that if a parliamentary decision only applies in England it should be taken solely by MPs representing constituencies in England. We also need equal sized constituencies and clear confirmation that if one country within the UK decides on a cost bearing policy it will only be the residents of that country which bears the cost. In the meantime Loughborough was a great place although they were invovled in the development of the football being used in South Africa!!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Budget - first impressions

No great surprises in the budget although with such a wide range of new intiatives the detail will need careful consideration. Clearly local government will be required to deliver substantial savings in expenditure so the hard work continues. The wage freeze for council staff was well signposted but good news that the exemption has been increased to exclude staff earning up to £21K. Many of these lower paid staff make a very important contribution to front line services and will feel the effect of other tax measures more than most. The freeze will help us make economies as against our original plans. Interesting that we will be receiving support to avoid a council tax increase next year, something which I welcome, but we need to see the detail. Also good to see the Government's plans to limit housing benefit thereby cutting public funding support to private landowners - this has been a running theme for some of our Indie members who seem unable to grasp those issues which are within our control and those which are not! However a Conservative chancellor has now started to grip the problem. Good to have a government which has a clear idea of where we need to go and how to get there.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Welcome to my new blog giving me the opportunity to share up to date information on what is going on in Southend and in Southend Council and also to consult on important issues in West Leigh. Clearly the next few months are going to be challenging for us all. We have already received confirmation of cuts to funding previously allocated to the town in excess of £1M with the withdrawl of funding for free swimming for the young and over 60s with effect from the end of July - and this is only the beginning! Now all eyes are on tomorrow's budget.