Street Lighting

This is the first time that I have blogged on this subject. however, it was one that came up often during the election and Essex County council seem to regard this as a one-way “no brainer” to save money. It is not. There are definitely places where the lights need to be kept on, either through the night or for longer than currently.

UKIP members of TCD council are solidly behind this campaign and we do what we can within the council. However, lighting is an Essex CC responsibility so it will help if as many as possible can make their views heard. One way is to sign the Change.Org petition that can be found here: http://www.change.org/p/essex-county-council-turn-our-lights-on?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created

I hope that as many as possible of you will feel able to sign.

 

Local Plan Committee

The Local Plan committee met recently. The substantive outcome was that the existing draft of the local plan has been issued for consultation, with the full 12,000 house in it. That seems premature, as we will shortly have a revised estimate of the number of houses required. Given that in the period when the growth in population in Tendring was supposed to be plus 8,500, it actually turned out to be minus 500, it seems entirely possible that the requirement will be reduced. Also, the basis of the population estimates does seem rather odd. Any net addition to the population in Tendring was to come from people retiring from London. This does not support the draft plan’s extra starter homes for new families. It does all seem rather muddled.

Adding to the general confusion is the complaint that has been made against the Conservative councillor, Cllr Guglielmi. He is a director of Lawford Housing Enterprise which may create a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI in the jargon) that he ought to have declared. Failure to declare and register a DPI is a criminal offence and this complaint has been referred to Essex Police, who are investigating. Cllr Gugliemi was chairman of the Local Plan Committee and he stood down from that role at the meeting. Cllr Stock, another Conservative Country Club member, was immediately elected as chairman to replace Cllr Gugliemi. No surprises so far. Then Cllr Gugliemi is nominated and seconded by his Country Club colleagues to be vice-chairman. Inevitably, given the Country Club dominance on the committee, he is elected. In what way his actions bar him from being chairman but allow him to be vice-chairman, is beyond me.

Rush Green By-Election

Congratulations to Richard Everett on his successfully election as a councillor for the ward of Rush green last Thursday, 16th July. Turnout was 24.76% and the complete result was:

Samantha Atkinson, Labour 213
Richard Everett, UKIP 338
William hones, Independent 36
Danny Mayzes, Conservative 290

The seat became vacant with the resignation for family reasons of Len Sibbald, who had won the seat for UKIP back in May. It is good to see UKIP winning, even when the election is not on the same day as an election for our popular Westminster MP, Douglas Carswell. It continues Clacton’s rejection of the Conservative “Country Club” approach to local government.

House Building – Local Plan

I sit on the Local Plan committee and last Wednesday evening we had a briefing from council officers on this subject. They have certainly done a lot of work on this over several years and seem personally committed to delivering a plan for 12,000 houses to be built in Tendring over the net fifteen years. They even went so far as to explain that building houses on farmland is an environmentally friendly activity!

In summary; the rules of the game that we are being invited to play by, are that central government tells Tendring District Council how many houses to build and TDC decides where they are to be built. So much for the Conservative Party’s commitment to “Localism”. With a Conservative government in Westminster and a Conservative administration in Tendring , we have a fight on our hands.

I have a lot of learning to do, starting with where the “objectively assessed housing need” comes from. The rules stipulate that there must be an assessment done in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There is no suggestion that the 12,000 homes are required for the residents of Tendring. Indeed, the officers at the briefing were clear that the birth/death balance in Tendring is forecast to be essentially flat over the next fifteen years. The population increase is all coming from people moving into the district, almost entirely from outer London. These homes are not for you, they are for London overspill.

There are essentially two options; either to generate a plan in line with the NPPF, or . . . Not! If we do not have a plan then developers can apply to build anywhere and Tendring would not receive the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) that is payable by a developer when a Local Plan is in place. I have asked the council officers how CIL is calculated and what it has amounted to over recent years and await their reply. If we do have a plan in place then developers can only apply to build in those areas designated for that purpose, and provided they meet the requirements of the Local Plan they have to be accepted.

Those in favour of having a local plan say that builders will only apply to build house they can sell and that the rate of applications in the past has been around half of the 800 houses per year figure (12,000 houses over 15 years) that a Local Plan will require. So, these wizards say – “Let’s play the game and have a plan for 12,000 houses, it’s never going to happen in practice”. With 350 homes about to start near Gorse Lane industrial Estate and Persimmon applying to build 900 houses on Jaywick lane, I’m not so sure.

One thing you can be sure of is where they will mostly be built. The Conservative administration in Tendring has packed the Local Plan committee with a cabal of “Country Club” members, representing wards in Frinton and the rural fringe of the district. They have a 10-4 majority on this committee. Do not expect new homes to have a view of Frinton Golf Club!

Members of the Local Plan committee can be found here http://democracy.tendringdc.gov.uk/akstendring/users/public/admin/main.pl?op=ListCommitteeDetails&keyid=26 You can rely on the UKIP members and Joy Broderick from Holland Residents Group to oppose these houses. As for the rest, they need persuading.

I will let you know how this progresses.

I am away over the next month. Please bear with me.

Tendring News

Amongst the many emails that I receive as a councillor are the press releases from the TDC press office. I had not previously been aware of them, though they are all available at http://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/council/latest-council-news.
Some are also covered in The Gazette. Three struck me as particularly worth a mention.

First, was the announcement that we have an extra Blue Flag beach this year, with the addition of Walton’s Albion Beach. The beaches at Brightlingsea, Martello Bay (Clacton), Frinton and Dovercourt Bay all retained their Blue Flag awards. Having lived for many years in the North East of England where there are many beaches on the relatively sparsely populated Northumbrian coastline which do not have Blue Flag status, I find this particularly impressive. A sincere “Thank You” to all who have helped to deliver this.

Second, is the welcome reminder that the Aviva professional women’s tour will be back in Clacton in two weeks time. I believe this is part of the only multi-day women’s cycling event . . . “in the world”! As a UKIP councillor, I cannot but feel rather irritated that the TDC press release quotes of Cllr Mick Skeels, our new Leisure portfolio holder. The councillor who could rightly claim credit for this would be Cllr Mark Platt, but his replacement was part of the deal that saw Cllr Skeels defect from UKIP only days after being elected on that platform.

Finally, welcome news that the airshow performance list is looking stronger than ever this year. The Red Arrows will be with us on both days. The Chinook display team have been added to the show. And, we keep our fingers crossed that we can sign up the Vulcan as well. The only airshow on the East Coast is something we can be justly proud of.

Leading up to the recent elections there was some mean-spirited London-centric portrayal, in the national press, of Clacton as somehow “left behind”; and not just by Matthew Parris. I just can’t see where they get that from. Clacton is thriving!

UKIP Councillors

At the election on May 7th the electors of Tendring District Council elected 22 UKIP councillors. The complete result was:

Conservative 23
UKIP 22
Labour 4
Holland Res Ass 3
Tendring 1st 1
Lib Dem 1
Independent 6

That left the Conservatives as the largest party, without overall control.

The UKIP group elected Mick Skeels as our group leader and he presented us with a proposal to join a “Grand Alliance”. That was voted down by the UKIP group. There are significant differences between UKIP and the Conservatives in terms of local policy. Not least on planning, where the last Conservative administration presented a plan for the full 12,00 houses.

It was only just before the council meeting on 26th May that it became clear that nine councillors had formed a new group called “Tendring UKIP”. They sat with the Conservatives, voting against the proposal of the UKIP councillor Mary Newton as Deputy Chairman. That seems to me to have been an error.

Today I am able to confirm that four have returned to UKIP and the other five have been suspended from the party. I would like it to have been possible for a way to be found to bring all nine renegades back into the UKIP fold. I wish electors to know that when they vote UKIP, they get UKIP. However, despite the mediation of regional UKIP officers that is not what has happened. Indeed, my understanding is that those who have not come back, did not wish to come back. How they can explain that to their constituents, is not clear to me.

I realise that the actions of the these nine councillors has caused considerable anger amongst UKIP supporters. Indeed, I have been personally lobbied to support the removal of all nine from the party. However, those returning are sincere in wanting to support the UKIP agenda on which they were elected and have had the courage to admit they made a mistake. We should be gracious enough to accept that and move on to the business of delivering for our constituents.

There is a further side to this, in that Councillor Stock was elected a leader of the council on 26th May. He has since announced his cabinet, which includes two renegade UKIP councillors. The six independent councillors also sit with the Conservatives and two of them have cabinet positions. This has been done whilst preserving six cabinet places for conservative councillors by increasing the size of the cabinet from seven to ten members. Given that each post comes with a payment of around £11,000 pa, the extra cost of this to the residents of Tendring District, over the four years of this council, is around £140,000. I wish to be generous, but I know of no good reason for spending money in this way.

To add insult to injury the previous holder of the Leisure Portfolio, who was re-elected on May 7th, was Cllr Platt. Mark is widely respected for the work he did, including bringing the Aviva Women’s Tour cycling to Tendring, whereas Cllr Skeels (formerly UKIP) has no evident knowledge or expertise in this area.

Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to allow me to communicate to the electors of St Paul’s ward in Clacton, who elected me as a UKIP councillor for Tendring District Council on May 7th. I hope others will also find this blog interesting, so please do share the link with as many people as possible. For those of you not familiar with the political geography of Clacton, St Pauls ward stretches from just east of Clacton town centre, along the seafront, including The Gardens and the Leisure Centre, to just east of Holland Park Primary School. More details here: http://www.essexinsight.org.uk/LocationSummary.aspx?rid=285025&pc=CO15 5AR

I have not blogged before and I have not been a councillor before. So, please be gentle with me! You elected me as John Ashley Mooney. However, my father is called John and I have always been Ashley. So, please go with that, and definitely not Councillor Mooney.

A brief bio on me is as follows. I was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1961 and came to the UK before my second birthday. I have travelled a great deal with work, including two years living in Saudi Arabia. I lived in the North East for 18 years, before coming to live in Clacton. I separated from my wife some ten years ago. I have two children, boy/girl twins, who are now 20 and in the second year of their university courses. Away from family, work and politics, my main interests are; running, windsurfing and gardening.

I have been employed by Andersen Products for nine years now. This is a business on Gorse Lane Ind Est that specialises in the low temperature sterilisation of medical devices. We manage the distribution of the Andersen technology for Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. More details here: http://www.anderseneurope.com/english/

I plan on blogging about once a week. Clearly, I need to cover what has been going on with some of my UKIP council colleagues sitting with the Conservatives at the council meeting last week. For now, please accept that all involved have been doing their very best to sort this out.