June 2012

Weekly Diary for week commencing 25 June 2012


There was a break from official duties in all respects and work! I had a brief trip to wonderful Thailand and the wonderful weather away from ‘blazing June’ in England. This was a much needed break to recharge batteries and get some sun in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Tuesday 26 June

Back with a bang!

9am saw me at County Hall, suited and booted ready to substitute for my new leader Cllr Mike Mackrory at the Cabinet meeting being held that morning. Unfortunately, my dress code was completely unnecessary because whilst I was in the air coming back from Bangkok the meeting had been cancelled. Apparently I had been informed but unfortunately, the first thing I did on landing was to make sure I got to County Hall on time and not rush into my emails.

6.30pm saw me with Councillor Graeme Clark in the unofficial headquarters of Shenfield Lib Dems better known as Costa Coffee. Here we met with one of Brentwood’s few remaining police officers and the entire ‘beat team’ for the Shenfield area which consisted of one other female CPSO (Community Police Support Officer). We had a very good frank and open discussion on the police coverage, crime prevention and crime stats for Shenfield. During our meeting a local resident approached us to report that he had been burgled. There has been significant rise in burglaries in Shenfield during the early part of the summer and these fell into two specific categories. Opportunist burglaries mainly drug users, looking for quick disposable items of worth to feed their habit and those of the more professional criminal who target houses for the cars that are sitting in the driveway.

7.45pm the same night I found myself at Shenfield parish hall addressing a group of community minded residents explaining to them the benefits of setting up a ‘partnership committee’ that would have ability to draw down funding to spend on projects within the community of Shenfield which is all part of the community secretary’s initiative called Localism which embraces the Big Society. The meeting was an unmitigated success and several residents volunteered to form the Shenfield Environmental Partnership. They agreed to meet in the near future to discuss the ideas more closely and to that end I have spoken to the Chairman of Pilgrims Hatch Environmental Partnership who has agreed to come to give them some advice and experiences of their partnership in the Hatch.

Wednesday 27 June

In order to shake off my jet lag my good friends in Chelmsford organised some exercise for me which involved walking along several leafy lanes off of the Broomfield Road pushing public information documents through everyone’s door informing them of the virtues of coming out to vote the following day. I thought this was very kind of my colleagues and appreciated it greatly.

On the 28th at 11am I was at an impromptu briefing meeting with a Conservative member of Chelmsford City Council for two hours whilst telling outside a polling station in Melbourne, Chelmsford.

4pm I attended the Standards Board meeting at the Town Hall in Brentwood where we considered the recommendations of an investigating officer reporting back on two Brentwood Borough Councillors. Our decision was made; one Councillor we considered there should be no further action taken, the other one was referred unanimously to a hearing committee of the standards board which will listen to the report, hear evidence from witnesses and accusers and then will decide upon the appropriate action to take.

6pm I attended the Pilgrims Hatch Environmental Partnership meeting as ward councillor for Pilgrims Hatch. A magnificent attendance was reported at the Jubilee Party organised by the Partnership which took place whilst I was away. All those involved confirmed a fantastic day and a marvellous event.

7.30 saw me back in Chelmsford for last minute assistance at the County by-election that was caused, sadly, through the death of Tom Smith-Hughes.

Friday 29 June

An early morning phone call to Chelmsford Lib Dem HQ resulted in the glad tidings for my Party that Stephen Robinson had successfully won the Chelmsford by-election and will now take his place with me at County Hall. Well done Stephen.

11am: I and one of my fellow ward councillors, Vicky Davis attended a meeting at Bentley School, Ashwell’s Road, Pilgrims Hatch to meet with the Headmistress and two Governors to discuss with them the horrendous parking problems that resulted from over 130 cars parking to take their children to school. Anyone who lives or drives in this area will know what I mean. A very fruitful meeting took place with a full and frank exchange and we came away feeling a lot better and little optimistic for a mutually acceptable outcome. Much work needs to be done in the meantime, but we believe a solution may be at hand with the help of the Pilgrims Hatch Environmental Partnership and the Council Community fund.

Saturday 30 June saw me back in Shenfield at 10.30 with six of my fellow Lib Dem Councillors from Brentwood calling on the residents to say hello and find out if they had any issues we could assist with there and then or problems that we could deal with at a later date. This was an extremely successful exercise and we met around about 200 residents who barring the odd few, were extremely pleased to see us and made us feel welcome. I nipped away for half an hour to have my photo taken outside the old headquarters of the Essex Fire Authority in Rayleigh Road, Hutton which I, in my capacity as Lead Opposition Member for the Fire Authority was proposing to offer as a headquarters and site office for the Crossrail project. If this goes ahead there will be massive gains for everyone in Shenfield. The residents would not have a problem with heavy traffic movement in their residential roads. The traders and commuters and local shop customers would still have car parking in Shenfield, as that was the proposed site for Crossrail’s headquarters and storage facilities. The Fire Authority would then gain some very welcoming income. Let’s hope Crossrail go for it.