The Cliffs Museum must not be built with public money

My objection to building on green spaces is well documented. Whilst I would not say ‘never’, I need to be convinced of real need before I would prepared to endorse concreting over any of the remaining green spaces in Southend-on-Sea. This was largely why I objected to the proposals for the Cliffs Museum. I accept I lost that argument, not enough in the council chamber shared my views. However, I am still convince that putting a museum on the beautiful cliffs is a mad and bad scheme.

However, it was approved, and only awaits sufficient funding. This funding, it has so far been hoped, will come from private backers; I take solace in my belief that this is unlikely to provide the estimated £40 million required.

I hope, though, that no idea surfaces suggesting that any shortfall should be made up from public coffers. Aside from the issue of what has to be sacrificed (that is , cut) to make this happen, the lack of private investment surely suggests that this project is not a money maker. Public money should not, again, be wasted on a project in Southend-on-Sea that sees good money effectively thrown away. The last administration was very profligate, a fate thus far avoided by the Joint Administration.

I wonder how much has been donated so far? I expect it is a fraction of what is needed, and long may that continue. It may soon be time to consider alternate venues for the Prittlewell Prince (or whatever his actual true title). Maybe the old Beecroft Gallery, opposite the Cliffs Pavilion, could be adapted.

My words at Development Control, today, in respect of the latest planning application for The Leas sun shelter

Many here present will recall my 55th birthday, for that was when we last discussed the Sun Shelter. On November 12th 2014 the suggestion for a rotunda on the roof of the shelter was rejected by the Development Control Committee.

It may be remembered that the suggestion for a rooftop structure at this site, which lies within the Leas Conservation Area, was rejected, in part anyway, because it was considered out of character for the area.

Many then were of the opinion that the Waites were nothing if not persistent; and so it has been proved. Today you are being asked to approve another plan for the roof, albeit one that it is being described as temporary.

I will give credit to the Waite family for one thing – they do have a certain facility for uniting popular opinion. Almost everyone who lives within the vicinity of the sun shelter is united in opposing any change to the roof.

You will have seen a number of email exchanges, and this application has been a significant feature of my inbox for several months. It has to be said that the antics of the developer has brought suspicion upon themselves, and I believe that trust has been damaged.

This is to be regretted, because their original plans were welcomed. And their proposals would be welcomed again if only they would abandon plans to extend the cafe beyond the sun shelter and the ground immediately in front of it.

The current proposals hinge on the placement of air conditioning equipment. All sorts of alterations have been made to the roof in anticipation of the developer being able to get their own way. This is an affront to how we should operate, and in of itself should be enough for a ‘no’ vote. How can you go ahead and vandalise public property without proper consent? I am outraged.

In amongst the mass of emails it would appear that the Council has been aware of what the developer was doing, although I have to say that there is an air of confusion about who knows what, and when. I confess to not being entirely on sure ground with this application, because there has been some inconsistency in what has been presented as fact.

I hope I am a reasonable person. A genuinely temporary structure that once removed (with a strict timetable) would see the balcony restored to former glories is a compromise I would be content with. However, I am less than convinced that residents, at present anyway, will be so easily assuaged.

I urge all who sit on DCC to send a signal that their authority is sacrosanct, and that any alteration to the roof of the sun shelter is not welcomed, and will not be allowed. And, if they are so minded to approve a temporary structure, I would encourage a firm and strict timetable be put in place, with equally strict requirements for the putting right of the balcony upon its removal.

Tracks no more

Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

I am pleased to note that the long-standing eyesore that was Tracks has been bought and looks like it will be an eyesore no more. It was not just an eyesore, it was also a home for vermin, a magnet for the homeless, and the subject of much grumbling from its neighbours.

I am not able to claim the credit for this undoubted improvement, not all of it anyway. But I have been vocal in my condemnation of its dilapidated state, and have sought, and achieved, council officer intervention on several occasions.

So, I do claim a little credit. I believe that my prodding has encouraged about change, even if only to wake up the previous owners to the reality of this (former) blight on the community.

Those dancing pigeons will now have to seek a new home.

Change fish and chip shop to flat

APPLN. NO: 14/01872/FUL

Officer: Patricia Coyle Date Valid. 19 November 2014

CHANGE USE OF GROUND FLOOR FROM FISH AND CHIP SHOP (CLASS A3) TO SELF-CONTAINED FLAT (CLASS C3), ALTER FRONT ELEVATION AND LAYOUT CAR PARKING SPACE TO REAR

198 STATION ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

This area already has problems with shops converted into flats. This has resulted in daily rubbish collections – a rarity in a borough where almost everywhere else has a weekly collection.

If this conversion is to be allowed then sufficient amenity space must be incorporated to allow for the storage of rubbish sacks, food caddies, and the like.

The Leas Shelter – APPLN. NO: 14/01507/BC4

APPLN. NO: 14/01507/BC4
Officer: Sophie Glendinning
Date Valid. 19 September 2014

USE SHELTER AS CAFE (CLASS A3), ERECT REFUSE AND PLANT ROOM TO SIDE, ALTER ELEVATIONS AND ERECT RAILINGS TO SOUTHERN BOUNDARY AND LAYOUT HARD AND SOFT LANDSCAPING, ERECT SINGLE STOREY GLAZED ROTUNDA ABOVE SHELTER

SHELTER WESTERN ESPLANADE WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA

The development of The Leas shelter is largely to be welcomed, and this is not just my view but also that of many residents I have spoken with.

However, it is clear that any development here must not be intrusive, spoil the character of the conservation area it is situated in, or diminish public access to a much cherish public resource. This proposal fails on all three counts.

It fails to satisfy because of the proposal to build above the shelter. Erecting a single storey glazed rotunda above the shelter should not be allowed to go ahead.

The rotunda will visually impact residents in the area, and is liable to cause noise nuisance. The proposed late opening times will exacerbate this, and those who currently enjoy quiet sea views will likely see this ended.

This old shelter is an important piece of the conservation area jigsaw, and its development will change this. However, whilst the development remains at ground floor level the change will be reasonably discrete; adding onto the roof will substantially alter its character, to the detriment of the vicinity.

The roof is currently used by passing pedestrians, being a good viewing platform for Westcliff-on-Sea beach and the estuary. A rotunda will deny this amenity to future visitors.

Two new dog waste bins in Milton ward

Park Road

Park Road

Leonard Road

Leonard Road

Two new dogs have been sited in Milton ward, all down to me. Dog excrement is a big issue in some parts of the ward I represent, and trying to find a solution has been one of the challenges I have faced in my two years as a councillor.

Part of the solution in tackling this blight is to have more dog waste bins – although in a packed residential ward finding a suitable site is not easy.

I am pleased to report that we now have two, brand new, dog waste bins. One is at the western end of Leonard Road, the other is at the southern end of Park Road.

The Big Tidy Up in Burdett Avenue

Cllr Ware-Lane with Keeley Boissinot

Cllr Ware-Lane with Keeley Boissinot


Cllr Ware-Lane (far left), Cheryl Nevin (third from left), Grant Blackwell (fifth from left) with some of the residents – and a big pile of rubbish

Cllr Ware-Lane (far left), Cheryl Nevin (third from left), Grant Blackwell (fifth from left) with some of the residents – and a big pile of rubbish

Milton Labour candidate Cheryl Nevin joined Cllr Julian Ware-Lane and residents in a three hour clean up in Burdett Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea. This was organised by the Burdett Avenue Neighbourhood Watch.

Footpaths, alleys, and gardens were cleared as a small mountain of rubbish was accumulated.

The clear-up started at 11am. As time went by more and more neighbours chipped in to help. Over a dozen people gave up their spare time, and this number included people from the wider community. One young lady told Cllr Julian Ware-Lane that she turned just because she felt she wanted to help out.

The street certainly looked a lot cleaner by the end and a real community spirit was on display. The amount of rubbish collected just three hours was incredible – this is one part of Westcliff-on-Sea that looks a lot better now. Grant Blackwell, coordinator for the Burdett Avenue Neighbourhood Watch, hopes to repeat this exercise every six months or so. A regular tidying up exercise should ensure that Burdett Avenue remains an attractive place to live in and visit.

Grant Blackwell said: “I may have arranged this street clean up, but it was only made possible from all the hard work from the residents who have pulled together today. Let’s hope people think twice before dumping their rubbish in our area.”

Two ground floor flats applied for

APPLN. NO: 14/00353/FUL

Officer: Sophie Glendinning Date Valid. 7 March 2014

CHANGE OF USE OF GROUND FLOOR FROM DOCTOR’S SURGERY (CLASS D1) TO TWO SELF CONTAINED FLATS (CLASS C3)

31 PRESTON ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

On the doorstep in Westborough

You do meet Conservatives on the doorstep in Westborough, occasionally, still determined to vote blue come what may. More often you will meet Conservatives supporters who are unsure whether to stick with the blues, to vote elsewhere, or to sit on their hands. Whilst it matters little in Westborough, it does illustrate the Tory conundrum. The Tory Westborough campaign is going to be a token effort at best, even in a good year they cannot really hope for a Westborough victory. But, what you see on the doorstep in Westborough is repeated in doorsteps across the borough.

I do not believe that every wavering Tory supporter is on the brink of switching to UKIP, but clearly there are a number who will. I actually think that most will choose abstention. Parties in Government usually see their supporters switch off in large numbers, and what we are seeing today in Westborough is this, in part at least. I also sense something else though. There is disillusionment amongst their supporters, and this comes, in my experience, from their view that Cameron is weak and subject to sudden and frequent policy changes. As one lifelong Westborough Tory admitted to me: “I really am not sure what I will do in May. I have always voted, you can’t complain if you don’t. But Cameron is all over the place. He is not a strong leader.” (This is not verbatim, but certainly conveys the gist of our conversation.) I suggested that they might consider Labour – I got an unconvincing ‘maybe’ in reply.

You also meet Liberal Democrats, in greater numbers than are found in Milton ward. There is a small but significant loyal band. I have not found enough to make me (as Labour’s campaign coordinator across the borough) panic, but I think they will do better than the 5.4% they got in Westborough last time (2012). I am not sure whether they will improve on the fifth place they got in 2012 – this will depend on who else is standing. Now that there are two slots to be voted for the minor places are quite unpredictable. It will be interesting to see how much effort the local Liberal Democrats expend here as they will also be fire-fighting in three other wards. They will do well to hold St Laurence, Blenheim Park and Prittlewell, and this May will be a test of their local organising capability.

Voters still loyal after four years of coalition are unlikely to switch at this late date, not in Westborough anyway where the Lib Dem support has already evaporated. Those that I spoke to were certainly not minded to shift, but it was still worthwhile to point out just how much ground they have to make up here.

I met someone who was forming his own party. I asked that they email me details, and I will write something as and when that happens. I met many who did not realise just how close things were last time in the ward (38 votes separated the Independent from second-placed Labour), although quite a few were aware of just how volatile this ward can be.

News of Cllr Martin Terry’s dash for Thorpe ward was not greeted with surprise, even by those still unaware that this had just been announced. This left me to imagine that Westborough voters were attuned to this idea already – which made me wonder that Independent disatisfaction was very entrenched. There were voters who still declared themselves as Independent voters, but my limited sampling suggests that their appeal continues to shrink.

It is always interesting to see what response you get when you ask residents when was the last time one of their councillors knocked at their door – I met no-one who could recall when this last occurred. Ask them who their councillors were and the most common response was Dr Vel. Martin Terry was also named – even Lib Dem supporters could not name their councillor, which did surprise me. As for candidates, Mike Royston is clearly becoming better known as a number responded to my opening salvo with “oh yes, we know Mike”.

I have done quite a few doorstep sessions over the last in year in Westborough. It feels like Labour will have a good win here. I expect the Indies to run us close second – although their image has clearly been tarnished. Based on the responses I have received the Tories will again better the Liberal Democrats in Westborough – and if UKIP were to suddenly show an interest here then third spot could be a close contest.

As to issues: Westcliff library, dislike of the Tory administration, parking, jobs, and bills. Surprisingly not one mention of litter or alleyways.

From shop to drinking establishment

APPLN. NO: 13/01254/FUL

Officer: Sophie Glendinning Date Valid. 1 September 2013

CHANGE OF USE OF GROUND AND FIRST FLOOR OF PREMISES FROM CLASS A1 (SHOP) TO CLASS A4 (DRINKING ESTABLISHMENT)

121 HAMLET COURT ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX