Two crocks at place

Last night was begun the latest round of scrutiny; last night the Jubilee Room was scene to the Place Scrutiny Committee. Here a third of the members of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council debated the latest issues to fall within the remit of the Place Directorate (and for some reason I want to say that with a Dalek voice – hmmm).

I walk (well, hobble) in only to find that my play for the sympathy vote had been comprehensively out-manoeuvred by Cllr Carole Mulroney (Liberal Democrat, Leigh) ; Cllr Mulroney has her left wrist in plaster in what looks like a far more serious injury than mine. (I make that three councillors this year in casts – Cllr Adam Jones (Conservative, St Laurence) had the most serious of the three of us with a broken leg (ankle?).)

The first thing I noted was that the Conservative group was down on numbers, including the vice chair of the committee – making this the first scrutiny I have attended without that role being filled. Aside from a visiting Cllr Courtenay and the chair, the Conservatives present made for a subdued and quiescent lot.

It looked like a slim agenda, but we managed to entertain ourselves for more than two hours.

We discussed the Private Vehicle Crossing Policy. I picked on a couple of points of detail:

Under ‘Minimum Standards to be Met’ was this: A proposed vehicle crossing must not adversely affect the availability of on street parking.

To my mind this means that dropped kerbs (to employ the vernacular) can now only go in where there are double yellow lines. I asked for clarification, which I did not really get. However, I hope this will be considered when the document gets amended.

Under Parking Area Size was this: A car parked in the parking space should not obstruct access to the main door of the dwelling.

This, effectively, means that the parking area must not be too small. I wanted clarification as to who and what access was to be ensured, and how this would be legislated for. I suggested that the car parking bays we install should be used as an indicator of minimum size.

There was a debate on who was to be consulted regarding approval for dropped kerbs, with the suggestion that this be the ward councillors and a responsible officer. The alternative was to use the Traffic and Parking Working Party.

We then moved onto the Low Carbon Energy and Sustainability Strategy 2015-2020. If silence is taken as assent this was unanimously endorsed. The two UKIP members made somewhat contradictory interventions. Cllr James Moyies (West Shoebury) queried the amount of borrowing and the slim returns projected, whereas Cllr Lee Burling (St Laurence) suggested that discounts could be offered to businesses – which would have an impact on revenue.

The consequences of climate change are serious, and to do nothing is at best a gamble, at worst reckless. This report is very welcome, and sets out some exciting ideas as to how the Borough of Southend-on-Sea can meet its obligations regarding reducing its carbon footprint. It looks like the Council is set to join the Climate Local initiative. I hope there will be opportunities afforded to explore ideas around improving and expanding the local public transport network, and possibly entertaining ideas for park and ride. Undoubtedly the proposals for utilising solar power etc will be realised in one form or another.

There was some debate over the potential witnesses for the in-depth scrutiny project (understanding erosion of the foreshore). I have to say that when the Chair suggested he make a decision for the committee on his own, later, I was not impressed. I was actually flabbergasted that he even suggested this, and fortunately so where others. The compromise (fudge) was that a subset of those involved in this project will consult.

One Response to Two crocks at place

  1. The chair of Place Scrutiny Committee being, err, Mark Flewitt.

    I honestly can’t say I’m surprised that he would want to delegate decisions to himself as chairman, without discussion or accountability.

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