My Place

This week’s sees the latest round of scrutiny meetings in Southend-on-Sea. Last night it was Place, a meeting that took just under two hours.

There were no comments about the Monthly Performance Report. As far as the Place Directorate is concerned it is all going well.

I asked a couple of questions regarding Allotments – Future Self-Management. My concerns rested primarily with access to allotment plots – I do not wanted self-management seeing anyone excluded from renting an allotment. After a bit of toing and froing I think I got the assurance I was after in this regard; I was told that the same rules and governance framework would apply under self-governance. I also sought assurance (given) that ownership of sites would remain with the Borough Council.

Cllr Mike Royston (Labour, Westborough) made a very valid point about access to sports facilities under the item Chalkwell Park and Priory Park Tennis Courts. He was concerned that charging for the two parks closest to his residents in Westborough would have a negative impact.

Under the Flood Incident Report – 24th August 2013 the officers referred to it as “extreme weather conditions”; it was also said that they were one in thirty to fifty year incidents. They then went on to mention another three or four such incidents in this year. I, naturally, pointed out that if we are seeing these incidents less than a year apart then they should more accurately be described as a one in one year event. A later explanation used percentages, describing the chances as being at 3% (it was dismissed as a matter of nomenclature) – I think 100% would be more accurate.

I stated that if these events are regular then they cannot be described as extreme. I hoped that this type of language was not being used as an excuse for failure or not doing enough

I also said that planning should now take account of the changes in our climate, and consideration made of draining and run-off issues when considering applications. I referred to the borough seeing more of its area covered by concrete, and to sewers that in many places have not been upgraded since Victorian times.

The minutes of the Chairmen’s Scrutiny Forum was briefly discussed. I wished I had queried the title of this body – I find ‘chair’ or ‘chairperson’ less sexist (especially as one of the chairs is female). On another note, all call-ins were made by Cllrs J I Courtenay and J L Lamb. I thought Group leaders and their deputies were usually credited with call-ins – has something happened to Cllr Ann Holland?

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