This post is to share some of the issues that have been raised with me. Hopefully this will give some insight into what I have been doing, and can do, for you. I shall leave planning issues to another post. In all cases I have called upon the expert advice of council officers.
One constituent raised a problem with a car being offered for sale in a parking spot on Third Avenue, next to the playing fields. The parking is clearly intended for those using the playing fields. It turns out that offering a vehicle for sale on a public highway is not allowed. The constituent now has the direct phone number for the relevant officer, though the car has not reappeared.
I was asked to see what could be done to prevent reported drinking, smoking and substance abuse in the skate board park at Clacton Leisure Centre. I met with the manager and they are well aware that this is sometimes an issue. If it can be raised with them at the time then they will attempt to deal with it. This is [clearly] not an easy conversation to have. However, the young people using this space do take some ownership of it and do engage is some “self-policing”. On the policing, the cuts to PCSO’s have meant that they now carry out almost almost no surveillance.
Another constituent raised the problem of teachers at Shorefields school parking in adjacent roads, especially Southcliff Park. The particular issue here is that Shorefields is a Special School, with a teacher to pupil ratio that is above one. So parking is a day long issue and not just at the beginning and end of the day. The issue is particularly acute in Southcliff Park, which has essentially become a single track road, that is to say essentially unusable at busy times. TDC officers visited more than once and advised that the cars were legally parked and would not prevent the access of emergency vehicles. I met with the head teacher and they offered to include a request to teachers not to park in Southcliff Park in future. Clearly they will park somewhere, presumably in the Gardens and in Eastcliff Avenue [where I live]. Shorefields School is widely recognised as doing an important job very well. So, if the teachers free up Southcliff Park then the rest of us will just have to accept that any inconvenience is a contribution we make to the harmony of our community.
On the examples so far, I felt I was able to make some progress. When I was asked to support that placing of a plaque on the seafront I was met with implacable opposition from the relevant officer and the Portfolio Holder (Cllr Nick Turner [Con]). The person concerned’s partner had enjoyed watching the new beach being constructed before they passed away. The request was for a plaque to be sited overlooking a particular bay. The resident was willing to pay for the plaque and its installation. Two difficulties were raised. First, that placing the plaque would damage the sea defences, which I regard as the worst sort of “jobsworth’ism” that should have been confined to the 1950’s. Second, that if we allow one then we will be overwhelmed and the seafront would be covered in plaques, rather like all those locks on that bridge over the Seine in Paris. After some discussion, a solution was outlined where; only residents could have a plaque, and that the plaque would be taken down after a set period (maybe 5 years). Instead of a sensible arrangement, I am afraid I lost this one.
So, by and large, good people doing the best they can. And if you want a more responsive council, then please, please make sure that you never, ever vote conservative again!