Speech of the Leader of the Council
Published on Tuesday, 16th July 2019
Full Council 27 June 2019
I stand as the Leader of the Council and the other Ward Member for Southminster.
Members you will have seen the defaced Union Flag of Armed Forces Week flying from the staff outside of the Council offices. Chairman, I would like to pay tribute those that are serving and have served in the armed forces and to those that have paid the ultimate price in serving their countries both during conflict and peace and to remind all Members that there are Armed Forces Day commemorations both at Stow Maries and the Promenade Park this weekend. I hope that you do try and support those events.
Chairman, I think it would be remiss of me, if I didn’t mention the outbreak of Invasive Group A Streptococcal. Members will know, Maldon District has been linked to this outbreak of the invasive type of streptococcal. Chairman, before I go any further, can I offer my condolences and thoughts to the families and friends of those that have been affected by this outbreak. The incidents, as far as we know, are isolated and seem to be restricted to the elderly and those in contact with the community nursing programme. Public Health England, NHS England and the local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) are taking all possible steps to contain the outbreak. I am engaged with our MP (Member of Parliament) who is in contact with the Health Secretary and is updating me on a regular basis. Members, can I remind you that throughout this building there are hand sanitising stations which should be used regularly when transiting the building.
Chairman, our Corporate Plan is the most innovative and succinct in Essex. The Conservative Administration will deliver the objectives for the benefit of all residents. We will deliver a sustainable Council with a prosperous future. We will engage with residents and monitor our performance to ensure that we give best value and service. That is a pledge of this administration and it will stand firm for four years.
Chairman, we are more than halfway through the Full Council Transformation programme. This is the most important project this Council has ever undertaken. Without transformation the Council would have ultimately run out of funds and ceased to exist. Transformation will deliver savings of £1.8m per annum and will ensure that our Council remains autonomous, sustainable and resistant to take over from other Councils. The project is currently running on time and to budget. The Administration is pleased to report that the project will be completed at the end of October 2019.
Air quality is becoming a massive issue in our District and this Conservative Administration will not shy away from its responsibilities and will take every opportunity to improve air quality for the benefit of residents. We are monitoring the situation in Market Hill and central Maldon and will work with others to reduce emissions through innovative traffic schemes and if necessary the Council will ask Essex County Council to create a “Low Emissions Zone” around central Maldon to prevent heavily polluting vehicles accessing the area. A Working Group is currently considering the situation.
Speeding vehicles are a massive problem throughout the District and in our villages. They harm the environment and are dangerous to pedestrians and other road users. This Administration supports a reduction in speed limits throughout the District and plans to work with Parish / Town Councils to ensure that Essex County Council responds positively to requests for 20 mile per hour zones in villages and built up areas. Councillor Beale and myself we were involved in Southminster where we have achieved this. After achieving the 20 mile per hour speed limits Essex Police Service implemented a Statutory Instrument to make sure that they were enforced. In Southminster it has been noticeable that motorists are respecting the speed limits.
Food waste - Through road side collections Maldon District Council residents are currently sending more than 2,200 tons of food waste to recycling centres every year. This is more per household than any other local authority in Essex. Whilst it is accepted that much of this waste is generated through the preparation of food it also has to be accepted that much of the waste is unused food and we do monitor this. To that end the Administration, in conjunction with our service provider Suez, will be running a campaign to encourage residents to buy sensibly and not waste food. The amount of food that gets thrown away which is purchased and not used is tremendous. Maldon residents are, per household, throwing away more food waste than all the other Councils in Essex. We need to speak to our customers to try and understand how we can resolve this situation.
The Carbon footprint of the council offices is massive. The building is environmentally inefficient, operationally out of date and restrictive. The Administration is seeking to relocate the council offices, including all our tenants to a sustainable location by 2023. Chairman it is a pledge of this Administration that this Council will be operating carbon neutral by 2027.
Delivering commercial income is a key part of a making our Council sustainable. To achieve that the Administration will be producing a District wide inward facing Commercial Projects Plan (CPP). The plan will be commercially driven and support the needs of residents and local businesses.
This Conservative Administration supports a new District wide Health Hub and is fully engaged with the Maldon Operational Group, which is there to deliver a new Health Hub. NHS (National Health Service) England has appointed a business analysist and after all these years we are now seeing some traction towards deliverability and I think we all agree that the District needs this Health Hub. We need to make that message very clear to the CCG. In the coming weeks I am meeting with the Health Secretary, Nick Hancock, and again I will plead the case on behalf of Maldon residents. I think it is worth noting that once approved the North Heybridge Garden Suburb will deliver a new doctors surgery and I am pleased to say that plans are now progressing at pace to provide a new surgery in Southminster, which will cover parts of Burnham-on-Crouch and Mayland.
Whenever I visit other Local Authorities in Essex it is extraordinary that we are one of the very few now has a current Local Development Plan. This Administration will ensure that the Local Development Plan delivers on all Section 106 agreements including affordable housing and public open spaces. In a timely manner we will deliver the strategic employment sites which are absolutely essential. I am working with the developers in Burnham-on-Crouch to see if we can bring forward the employment land as they are delivering the houses.
Bradwell B Power Station - planning permission has been granted in principle by the government to build a new nuclear power station at Bradwell. The delivery company Bradwell B (or as it is known BRB) is well advanced with the Generic Design Assessment of the new reactor and pre-site licensing. I have met with the Chief Executive Officer of BRB and he has confirmed that the geological and hydraulic surveys are progressing as expected. In the coming months the Administration will strengthen our Local Development Plan by developing a Bradwell B Supplementary Planning Document – this will show what the District expects through the delivery stage, the construction phase and the long-term operating stage. It will be a document that will identify the needs of the District and its residents for the lifetime of the Power Station. In parallel with that document, Members and Officers will work together to create ‘Vision 50’, this document will seek to demonstrate what the District will look like both socially, environmentally and economically in the year 2050.
Over the years we have engaged quite strongly with the Police Force. We have had various Chief Constables over the years and then more recently a Police Commissioner. He has been a little bit shy at talking to us in the formal surroundings but nevertheless he did come. I would like to thank the members of the Crime and Disorder Committee, who also sit as the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, for the excellent work that they have done in making the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner aware of what is needed in this District. I have recently met with the Commissioner and the Chief Constable and am pleased to report that the Maldon and Chelmsford Police command is being increased by a total of 15 Officers by the end of this year and by next year another six officers. Also, the Chief Constable has recognised the needs of the larger villages and towns around us and is now to going to appoint nine officers who will be dedicated to the town centres of Chelmsford, South Woodham Ferrers and Maldon, two of those Officers will be dedicated to Maldon. The Commissioner has said that the Gypsy, Traveler and Rural Engagement Team (which is called GTETO) will increase from six to 13 officers. We know that this covers the whole of the command area which is basically the whole of Essex, but it is a lot better than what we did have, and it is noticeable that we are seeing more Police officers in the area.
Following the ongoing digitalisation of the district wide tourist information service and the development of the Visit Maldon website I am pleased to report that on average we are now receiving an extra 10,000 unique hits per month compared to last year. Box Office, which is the booking and advertising system on the site, is proving to be a resounding success. Sign posting to local businesses and events has increased in line with the increased activity on the site and we are getting positive feedback from both users and advertisers. We are currently averaging 30,000 unique hits on the website per month. That compares to 100,000 for Visit Essex. This is quite extraordinary bearing in mind that six years ago we never had a website. This year we are projecting somewhere between 350 – 360,000 unique hits on our website. Of course, we are still getting people ringing the Council offices who are being put through to the Tourism and Events Team and we also give advice to people coming to the front office. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jack Ellum and the Tourism and Events Team for the enormous amount of work that they have put into transforming the way we promote tourism and events in the District. They have come up with some new events for this year and we have had excellent numbers of advanced ticket sales. This year our flagship event is the Crouch Valley Festival of Food and Drink and entry is free to everybody. I think the event is going to be a resounding success, you can go along and sample all the fine produce from the District including Southminster Sizzlers! So, I would ask all the members and residents to check out the website and make the effort to visit that event.
The exceptional work of community leaders and volunteers often goes unrecognised. There is currently no way for the Council to recognise such service. That said the Chairman of the Council has asked me to instigate, by exception, an Alderman scheme and a Freeman scheme. Based on that request it is my intent to bring before the Council a report to consider both schemes. I use the word exception because this is what it will be, it will be for exceptional people in exceptional circumstances and it will apply to both Councillors and those who work in the community as volunteers.
Today Chairman, we heard about little Englanders, I don’t know if anybody else heard it, but it was made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary. Well Chairman, as far a little England’s concerned there is absolutely nothing little about the aspirations of this Administration. We are here for the next four years and we will deliver what the residents voted for and what we promised and that is:
- a sustainable and prosperous Council;
- a Council that puts residents first;
- a Council that supports businesses;
- and eventually a Council with the greenest credentials in Essex.
Chairman, Members I commend my speech to the chamber. Thank you.”