Dear RAG Members,
After a period of five years a decision has been taken to close the Web page for the Rayleigh Action Group.
It has been my privilege to head up this group for so long. The decision hasn’t been an easy one but the on-going time commitment and costs have led me to conclude the time is right to close the formal group. Unfortunately legal decisions taken by the EU have made it too onerous to continue to run such pages with the liability on the administrator.
We had an brief opportunity to change to complexion of the make-up of the District Council, in May, this year. The object of the Rayleigh Action Group was to get a cross-party group including Independent’s, Green’s, Libdem’s, Rochford Resident’s and Friends of Rochford as well as Conservatives members. This would have led to more accountability to the public they serve instead of the small ‘cartel’ of 8 Conservative Cabinet members that chose to ignore the public protests in the past. The public made the democratic decision to vote for more of the same so it appears the majority are happy with the status quo. We have to respect that decision.
We were formed after an initial meeting held on the 18th July 2013, called by Patricia Putt and myself, to fight for the protection of our very unique town. We had a simple purpose; to limit the mass building programme that had been adopted at the time of the Rochford District Councils Core Strategy in 2010. We achieved, in just six weeks, to collate 5600 objections to the RDC schemes. Despite proving in the High Court that the RDC failed to consult the general public on the ‘environmental impact’ of the proposed plans Mr Justice Keith Lindblom found that they had gone ‘too far’ in the process to order the quashing of the Core Strategy. We were left fighting a rear-guard action to limit the damage which the mass developments will produce. The actions of the RDC in forcing, in secret meetings, the passage of the plans for 500 houses on London Road Rayleigh, remains deeply worrying.
Some positives came out of our campaign. The Government Inspector refused the RDC permission to develop an industrial complex, similar to Brook Road, on the area south of London Road that would had the prospect of having the possibility of having a Traveller Site incorporated within its’ curtilage. An Industrial site in that location would make the old Doomsday entrance to Rayleigh just horrendous. Our campaign also protected the site of the Rayleigh Town Sports and Social Club that was destined to be sold off by RDC, the public custodians, for housing.
I will briefly remind our members that one consultation exercise aimed at 33,000 residents of Rayleigh resulted in just 195 responses. 194 rejected the proposals and 1 person agreed with them. This was evidence given to the High Court by RDC. Their plan proceeded. RDC spent in excess of £3 million pounds on the whole Core Strategy consultation exercise of which this one fact indicates was a complete waste of precious tax payers funds during a time of extreme cuts to the public services. The paper exercise just provided jobs and expenses for fellow travellers in the ‘community’ that is the planning ‘circus’.
The cost of taking the High Court action was met by my personal funds. The total legal cost due to my solicitor and barrister was in excess of £74,000. This excluded my own personal office expenses and travel etc. which were somewhat onerous. I received £11,000 from RDC as part of a ‘wasted cost’ order because of the time wasting, by RDC and their legal team, as directed by Mr. Justice Lindblom. In additional a public appeal raised £10,600 to help with my costs. I wish to put on record my gratitude to those who contributed to this fund and helped to defray some of my costs. We were helped with printing, posters, the accumulation of information, by trekking the streets delivering our literature, canvassing the general public and in may more ways to numerous to mention.
We have 9700 Facebook members and the intention is to leave this group intact, just suspended, in case it is needed to hold the council to account in the future. A follow-up to the consultation regarding a possible 7500 more homes that was signed by 947 members will be posted on FB when RDC make their decision.
I wish to thank Richard Lambourne for taking the reins of the group whilst I was seriously ill. I hope he finally succeeds in getting elected as an Independent Councillor some time soon. Finally, thanks also to James Newport for the invaluable assistance he has offered me in the field of information technology. He is a great loss to the District Council and I trust he to will consider standing again at some future date.
Thank you again for all those that offered support. I wish you all well.