Staple Tye online is edited by councillor Lorna Spenceley, case worker John Strachan and the Staple Tye Liberal Democrat Team.
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Monday, 30 October 2006
Staple Tye councillors Su Lawton and Lorna Spenceley were among the large numbers of local residents and representatives at the Civic Centre for the 'challenge' event about the summer flooding in several estates, including some parts of Staple Tye.
Su is a member of the scrutiny committee which is investigating the flooding, and Lorna attended to represent local residents.
Officers from Harlow Council, Essex County Council, Thames Water and Essex Fire & Rescue were in attendance to make presentations and answer questions from councillors and members of the public.
Joe McGill from Harlow Council explained that which agencies were responsible for which types of drain; 97 per cent of Harlow's highways are 'adopted' and the responsibility falls on Essex County Council, with only 3 per cent of roads 'unadopted' for which Harlow Council is responsible. Thames Water is responsible for the main drains.
At the time of the June 2006 floods, 123 calls were received, including 24 for roofs, 40 for drains, 17 fire brigade calls, 37 for sandbags and 5 for sewage. For the July floods, there were 136 calls, including 21 for drains, 67 for the fire brigade, 2 for manholes, 5 for the police and 40 for sandbags.
Since the floods, the council has reviewed its risk register, carried out some underground CCTV surveying, met with the Fire & Rescue Service and Essex County Council and Thames Water, and agreed with Essex and Thames to review the public's responses to the questionnaire which was issued some weeks ago.
Further action will include surveying all Harlow Council land drainage ditches, reviewing the council budget, hosting four open days for advice on flooding, providing information for residents on alternatives to sandbags, considering satellite storage sites for sandbag alternatives, and carrying out a risk assessment of off-street parking (including the effect of dropped kerbs on where water runs). Su asked about the council's provision of sandbags, and the emergency response arrangements of Essex County Council.
Members of the public who spoke or asked questions included residents from Barleycroft, Berecroft, Sakins Croft and Commonside Road.
Many residents and councillors expressed disbelief at the county council's claims that its gulleys are cleaned twice a year - one resident circulated a photograph of a drain with flowers growing out of it that clearly had not been touched for years! Lorna suggested that Essex County Council and Thames Water should publish their maintenance schedules so that residents could see for themselves whether their area was being cleaned as claimed. She also drew attention to the effects of repeated flooding on Paringdon School.
Residents also complained that the streets had not been cleaned after the flooding, and that they had had to clean sewage from the roads themselves. There were also complaints about failures by Thames Water to deal with reports of problems, and a discussion about the poor levels of compensation offered by Thames. One resident said that her insurance excess had risen by 500 per cent to £5,000.
The next meeting of the scrutiny committee to consider the flooding will be on Tuesday 21 November at 19:30 in the Civic Centre. Again, it is a public meeting and all are welcome to attend.
Sunday, 29 October 2006
Berecroft football match
Berecroft football team's first competitive match, against St Germaine, kicks off at 2:00pm, and as Vice Chairman of Harlow Council I'm on the touchline. The pitch at the back of the estate is soggy and waterlogged, but no-one's enthusiasm is dampened and at least the weather is good. There's a good turn-out from the police - Gary Brown from Harlow East neighbourhood police team takes his turn on the pitch for the Berecroft team, and PC Orme and a colleague from the Harlow South police team are also there to watch.
St Germaine wins out at the end of the day, but the new Berecroft team scores a couple of good goals and comes away full of enthusiasm and looking forward to the next match. I present all the players with a medal to mark the occasion, and join the Berecroft team in the community house for tea and sandwiches after the match.
Saturday, 28 October 2006
Police on the beat
Delivering our regular FOCUS newsletter in Moorfield this afternoon, I bump into local PC Richard Orme on the beat in the estate. It's good to see neighbourhood policing beginning to take off in Harlow, and a real live police officer actually patrolling the area!
Kick racism out of football
Staple Tye councillor Lorna Spenceley joins Berecroft liaison officer Lee Dangerfield, PC Orme, Rob Ellis from St Germaine, and local children in Broad Walk to promote the national Kick Racism Out Of Football campaign, and tomorrow's local match between Berecroft and St Germaine.
Lots of shoppers and passers-by take stickers, badges, and football posters - and with all the children and adults in matching t-shirts, and an enormous banner draped between the flagpoles near the market square, the message certainly gets across.
Thursday, 26 October 2006
Out and about in Aylets Field
The Staple Tye Liberal Democrat team is out and about again, this time in Aylets Field. Chris is asked to take up a complaint about an unmaintained and overgrown piece of landscaping, and one or two residents comment about the shortage of car parking space.
Monday, 23 October 2006
Parnall House planning application
Another planning application has been submitted to Harlow Council for Parnall House, the site of the former builders' merchants building on Parnall Road.
The new application differs from the planning permission already granted by Harlow Council's Planning Committee, including additional rooms. The planning application is available for public inspection from Monday to Friday, 09:00-17:00 at the Civic Centre, and the application reference number is HW/PL/06/00361.
Tuesday, 17 October 2006
Local Democracy Week
This week is Local Democracy Week, and to mark the occasion I visit Paringdon Junior School. The head teacher Ms Pepper updates me on the school's approach to involving pupils in decision-making, and the development of the school council.
I spend a while chatting with the head boy, head girl and school councillors, who have lots of questions and comments about what's going on in the area. We agree that I'll come back and meet the school councillors again - their views are important.
On the way out, we pop into the school hall, where the floor is still badly damaged following the summer's sewage floods. The head teacher assures me that the school will be represented at Harlow Council's scrutiny enquiry into the flooding and what the major agencies such as Thames Water and Essex County Council are going to do to sort the situation out. Thames Water, of course, has just been sold by its German owners to a group led by an Australian bank, for £8 billion, including £3.2 billion of net debt. Commentators are already speculating how much debt the new owners will run up on the Thames Water business - and how it will address Thames' atrocious performance on leaks and water waste.
Monday, 16 October 2006
Out and about in Woodhill
Out and about in Woodhill this evening, Cllr Chris Robins and I receive a warm welcome from local residents. One subject - the dreadful state of Essex County Council's roads and pavements in the estate - crops up over and over again, and I undertake to raise the matter with the county council highways office.
Friday, 13 October 2006
Staple Tye councillor Lorna Spenceley joined more than 50 Moorfield residents for the Moorfield Residents' Association AGM at St James' School. The Committee was re-elected for a further year. Local PC Richard Orme then gave a brief presentation about his work as neighbourhood police officer.
The major item on the agenda was the garage project. The computer simulation of the two options was shown, and residents made comments and asked questions, which were answered by council officer Wendy Makepeace and architect Alan Whittingham. More than 90 per cent of residents who have voted so far have supported the second option, which includes unallocated open spaces as well as new, wider garages. Every Moorfield resident who currently rents a garage on the estate will be able to continue to do so - but their new garage may not necessarily be in the same place as their current one.
The proposed one way system was also discussed; the money is in Essex County Council's budget and residents are looking forward to this long-awaited scheme being completed. Lorna says:
"Congratulations to Moorfield Residents' Association on a very successful 2006, and an extremely well-attended AGM. I look forward to seeing the completion of the projects the Association has worked so hard to bring to reality."