Happy new year and let's hope 2023 ends in a more positive mood than 2022!
I set out below my report on activities last year and just want to start by thanking you again for re-electing me. I shall always strive to fulfil the trust you have placed in me to represent your interests - it is a huge privilege.
I have divided my activities into three headings.
Creating the Future:
Our communities of Beaulieu Park, Boreham, Chelmer Village, Danbury and Little Baddow are at the very epicentre of infrastructure development to address the ever-growing population.
Across this year, I have:
- worked with the ECC Cabinet to finalise a funding agreement for the new Beaulieu Station
- served on the Army and Navy taskforce; we now have an agreed scheme and are seeking funding (not far short of £100m) from government
- dealt continuously with issues around the widening of the A12, particularly given the adverse impact on Boreham, and the ongoing and confusing revisions to Junction 19
- engaged in final designs and issues around the new radial distributor road and NE bypass
- engaged with local residents and New Hall School during the consultation on the new primary school to be created
Dealing with today:
Not surprisingly, there have been multiple issues - and varying degrees of success!
- The A414 in Danbury is one of the busiest roads around, constantly creating problems with road surfacing. Having secured funding for a route-based review in 2021, I have been complaining loud and long about the serious delays to its delivery - still awaited as I write. It is concerning that emergency road works on this road so often need to be repeated.
- Speeding. car parking and general antisocial behaviour remain sad features. The more consideration we give each other, the less stressed we all might be.
- Papermill Lock bridge has been a particular feature. I have worked with Little Baddow Parish Council to push back on plans for the bridge's replacement and this campaign proved successful. However, I have yet to succeed with a scheme to provide off-road car parking, which would make life better for all.
- Church Road in Boreham is another hotspot where parking is concerned. The death of local councillor John Galley was one of the saddest events of the year on a personal level. On a professional level, John had been working with me on a proposal for off-road parking and I fear we may be back at the starting blocks.
- Parking around Barnes Farm School in Chelmer Village has been highly contentious, with some parents (local residents themselves) seeming to have scant regard for those living nearby. I have worked with Vicky Ford MP and the school to create a new scheme to encourage walking and cycling to school and use of the Asda car park, while gaining agreement to more yellow lines.
- While grass-cutting etc is the City Council's responsibility, I have received many complaints about uncut grass being a fire hazard, as well as having a detrimental impact eg where litter and dog waste volumes are concerned.
- The Ridge in Little Baddow remains on the outstanding list, as do far too many projects stuck in the waiting room for Local Highways Panel funding. This system needs to be reviewed.
- I have initiated meetings with the Chelmsford Police Commander – a useful forum for issues around drug taking, cycle theft etc. A new commander has just been appointed and I hope these will be a regular feature in 2023.
- I have continued to take the lead in pressing for the creation of a long overdue health centre in Beaulieu Park. Construction is now due to start early in 2023, miles behind schedule.
- Supported wonderful residents taking in Ukrainian refugees and dealt with other immigration-related issues
I won't list here the numerous individual issues to which I have responded. These cover street lighting, road safety, speed limit requests, pedestrian barriers, bus services, etc.
I am pleased to say I have been able to use the locality funds (where each county councillor was given a budget to make grants to community groups in their division) available to me to support the following:
The Church of Christ our Saviour (food provision)
The Church of St Francis (towards a vehicle for their food co-operative)
The environmental group and Men's Sheds
Parish council for disabled access
St Andrew's Church Boreham
We are superbly blessed by the efforts of our volunteers and I take my hat off to all of you who give of your time and talents.
My cabinet responsibilities
I have been Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health throughout 2022. Responsibilities here are far too extensive to list, but issues I have been addressing include:
- Access to GPs and acute hospital pressures
- Social care capacity shortfalls as demand increases
- Creation of new integrated care systems with massive reorganisation involved. Uniquely, Essex is part of three such systems and I am required to serve on them all - like having triple vision!
- Ongoing vaccination and other medical programmes – most recently the shortage of antibiotics owing to Strep A fears.
- Despite all these pressures, the need for continued innovation, creating a more joined-up end to end approach, better use of technology etc