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No refreshments please, we’re Conservative!

Essex County Council's one-size-fits-all approach lets down South Woodham residents once again.

10 May 2024

Remember when after a walk or bike ride at Marsh Farm you could buy a lovely coffee and piece of cake and admire the view?

Those days appear long gone after Essex County Council decided that to maximize profits all its Country Parks should have the same caterer. The trouble was, as revealed by an FOI submitted by the SWF Residents Party, is that the non-local company which won it did not see any value in serving Marsh Farm users, making less than £1200 on the few days it operated.

Fast forward to 2024 and despite promises and assurances, our riverside country park is a refreshment free zone.

Now it can be revealed that Conservative Essex County Council has not included Marsh Farm in the latest tender.

The FOI which can be found here reveals Essex County Council is running a further procurement exercise with the winning company yet to be announced, but that Marsh Farm is no longer included as a location and ECC is ‘currently considering its options’ for our country park.

We are ever hopeful that that one of those ‘options’ includes the possibility that Essex County Council will think again and offer a local tender to a local business so we can all enjoy a refreshing snack while admiring that beautiful view.

Residents recognise local independents in election

Election shows more people trusting local to their independents but no independent police candidate.

5 May 2024

It has been a great week for independents standing in the local elections across the East of England, gaining 24 seats on councils as the votes were counted.  Perhaps most impressively, the People’s Independence Party, already in administration in nearby Hadleigh, saw three more councillors elected, Kate Knott, Duncan Macpherson and Aimee Harbinson achieving 65% of the vote, from a voter turnout that was actually higher than the last parliamentary elections.

Like us at the South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party, the People’s Independence Party stand for local people in the face of often stale, lazy and centralised main party politics.  Already in administration, the PIP has already overturned the Conservative’s Local Plan in Castle Point which would have destroyed much of the area’s stunning green belt, funded the Highway Ranger service which Essex County Council withdrew and saved in excess of £500k from the Council budget, ensuring they didn’t need to raise council tax like in our Chelmsford district.

A vote for Independent in Castle Point’s case was a vote for better care of the environment and better more efficient council services with a track record to back it up.

The SWFRP strives to do this with your support. We narrowly lost out in last year’s election having previously had two councillors but imagine what we could do if we get all six local council positions at the next election in 2026, in partnership with other independents across the Borough. 


And a quick word on the Essex Police and Fire Commissioner election which was won for a third time by the incumbent, Conservative Roger Hirst, albeit by a much narrower margin. We think it's a shame there wasn't an independent candidate in this election. An independent voice, free of party ideology, could have been an ideal voice for the community but now the Conservatives have 'rigged' the system away from proportional representation to 'first past the post', and with no funding to candidates to stand in such a big election, it looks like it will forever be a main party candidate at a county level, which we think is a shame for local residents.


If you are interested in making a difference then do contact us. (Pictured Kate Knott, Duncan McPherson and Aimee Harbinson of the Peoples Independence Party).

Choosing your police commissioner on May 2

In 3 weeks time we get to choose who holds our police and fire service accountable

8 April 2024

On May 2 we get to choose who governs our police and fire service in Essex.

Many of us might question why we need to vote if it's 'just' for somebody most of us haven't heard of, let alone met and research has found public perception of PFCCs is poor (https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/police-and-crime-commissioners-powers-and-functions/)

But we think you should and here’s why…

  • PFCCs are independent of the police and fire service and can hire or fire the Chief Constable or Chief Fire Officer. With all the scandals which have hit other police and fire services in recent years from Hillborough to sexism and bullying affecting several fire services (though not Essex) this can be useful.

  • PFCCs approve the budget for the police service. Police and Fire budgets have been increasing a lot recently. This year we're paying an extra 5.5% (roughly £13 more per household than last year). In 2023 it was 6.84% in 2023 and in 2022 it was 4.9% and the year before that there was an increase and so on and so on. The police had a budget of £265m in 2014. It's now £407m and increasing. Is that money being well managed, especially with recorded crime rising and a fire service ‘which doesn’t meet its own standards’ and can you afford to keep paying 5-10% more for them every year?

  • They can help set objectives and target resources to issues that people care about such as 'bobbies on the beat' or tackling drugs or knife crime. Although several reports have found that 'crime plans' are not being well delivered, it's better than nothing.

  • They communicate to us what the police and fire service are up to with a website, events and public meetings. Do you think this is done well? Do you know good or bad our police and fire serivces are compared to the rest of the country. This could be another factor in your decision who to vote for.

In the SWFRP's view, Police and Fire Commissioners do an important job. There are many factors in deciding who to vote for. Is it a good idea for the PFCC to belong to the UK's governing party for example? Could that make them more likely to brush poor performance under the carpet and not ask government to resource our police properly? Should you choose a candidate with a knowledge of the police or fire service or a local candidate with no experience? Should they be a politician or someone from another background? There are four candidates standing, from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the English Democrats. You can read their ‘statements’ here:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cmmqqjlgedgo .The SWFRP's members will be watching and attending any events we can. You should too.

Electing your police and fire commissioner might sound like something you can sit out but we should all have our say!

When will South Woodham's 'worst road' get sorted?

Resident's complaints about Clements Green Lane still not being listened to.

1 April 2024

In January, our Essex County Councillor reported (Town Council minutes January ), that “Clements Green Lane is scheduled for resurfacing week commencing February 1st, weather permitting.” It is now 1 April, there’s been plenty of sunny, dry spells, and Clements Green Lane still resembles a moonscape as you can see from the picture below. We have had many residents complaining to our members about the state of Clements Green Lane with one stating ‘it’s the worst road in South Woodham. It’s got so bad that If there’s nothing coming, I often drive on the other side of the road to avoid it’. It’s one thing Essex County Council tolerating a road in such a state but it’s another to be promised works which don’t happen. The SWFRP is pressing Essex County Council to get the job done.

Deadline extension on St Peter's Hospital Consultation

Residents to have their say before it's too late and health services are moved.

26 March 2024

The South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party is calling for residents to take advantage of an extended deadline for a consultation on the closure and possible sale for housing of our nearest hospital. St Peters in Maldon.

Residents now have until Thursday 4 April to submit their thoughts to NHS Mid and South Essex’s consultation survey, a two-week extension on that previously announced.

Under surprise proposals made by Mid and South Essex NHS last month, St Peter’s Hospital in Maldon will soon close with its current services used by residents of South Woodham Ferrers such as maternity, stroke care and outpatients relocated to facilities as far away as Braintree, Rochford, Brentwood and even Halstead.

Residents of South Woodham Ferrers would have to drive twice as far, if not more to appointments for ophthalmology, physiotherapy, respiratory medicine, urology and stroke facilities. Those without a car might not be able to reach them at all.

And even if the residents are able to reach those services further away, it’s likely they will need to wait longer for appointments with proposals to build approximately 1,200 new homes in South Woodham, adding to up to 10,000 homes being built over the next ten years in a 15-minute drive radius of St Peter’s Hospital, creating more demand than ever.

The consultation document reveals that St Peter’s Hospital sees more than 80,000 patients a year, many of who come from South Woodham Ferrers.  And in a document released last week by the Trust (see attached), it says that ‘Existing health facilities in Tylers Ride, South Woodham Ferrers’ are being ‘suggested’ as potential future locations for the provisions of ‘ambulatory/outpatient’ services. However, the SWFRA can find no evidence of any active discussion about what that might entail and how it would be implemented.

The SWFRA is urging the Trust to get together with Chelmsford and Maldon Councils to discuss the possible use of Community Infrastructure Levy ‘CIL’ money which can be used to “fund a wide range of infrastructure that is needed as a result of development such as …. health and social care facilities”. While such money couldn’t be used for day-to-day NHS spend it could be used for the renovation or improvement of St Peters Hospital.

South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party Chair, Keith Bentley, said: “The residents of South Woodham Ferrers are directly affected by the planned closure of St. Peter's Hospital in Maldon.

“Getting to the new locations proposed will take a very long time by car and extremely difficult for those using public transport.

“Residents in South Woodham Ferrers have already experienced a similar issue following the relocation of all our GP surgeries to the Crouch Vale Centre with many older and infirm residents reporting difficulty reaching it.

“Making journey’s longer for patients will have a negative effect on the health and well-being of our residents and overstretch services elsewhere.”

The district’s MP, John Whittingdale is also running his own surveywhich residents are urged to fill out too.

Time running out to save SWF's nearest hospital

St Peter's in Maldon is earmarked for closure in plans unveiled in January

11 March 2024

The South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party is calling for South Woodham’s nearest hospital to be saved from imminent closure.

Under shock proposals made by Mid and South Essex NHS last month, St Peter’s Hospital in Maldon will soon close with services such as maternity care and outpatients relocated to Braintree, Rochford and Brentwood.

Vital services such as ophthalmology, physiotherapy, respiratory medicine, urology and stroke facilities would also take residents of South Woodham at least twice as long to reach under the plans with those without a car facing day long journeys by public transport to receive many standard primary care services.

And with reported 3 ½ week waits for blood tests at Broomfield Hospital currently there is also the fear that residents of South Woodham Ferrers will have to wait even longer for simple tests and procedures as other hospitals and health centres are put under more strain from a growing population, despite assurances from the Trust that patient’s experiences will be better.

The SWFRP is urging residents to fill in NHS Mid and South Essex’s consultation survey which closes on 21 March.

The district’s MP, John Whittingdale is also running his own survey.

South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party Chair, Keith Bentley, said: “Our residents rely on St Peter’s Hospital to provide vital health services such as stroke treatment and maternity care and it is unthinkable that it is now earmarked for closure.

“Healthcare services in and around South Woodham are already over-subscribed and the proposed alternatives are too far for people to reach easily.

"We all need the St Peter's Hospital site rebuilt as a state-of-the-art hospital, as promised for many years, so that it serves all our residents and we urge everyone to participate in the consultation to let both the Government and the NHS Trust know how much local healthcare is needed."

Essex County Council to impose recycling booking system

Conservative authority decides one-size-fits-all again

26 February 2024

Despite residents in South Woodham Ferrers making clear they thought it was unnecessary, Essex County Council is set to introduce a permanent booking system  for using the town’s household waste site.

The South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party (SWFRP) made the point that as a lower use site that rarely experiences queuing, a booking system was unnecessary and counter-productive.

Instead in its one-size-fits-all approach, Essex County Council has decided from disposing of an afternoon’s grass cuttings to an unwanted kitchen, we will all need to go through an unnecessary inconvenience of booking.

A SWFRP survey submitted as part of the consultation, and ackknowledged in it, found 40% of people would reduce the amount of times they used the HWRC and hold on to their waste for longer. 62% rejected the booking system for South Woodham Ferrers.

ECC's own consultation report found that 47% of Chelmsford district residents disagreed with the proposal (the second highest district out of 12 in the county). There is no breakdown for how many of these residents were from South Woodham which is why we conducted our own survey.

The SWFRP also found that the council has not evidenced what it calls 'transference' of waste from other sites, i.e, if there is a queue at say the Maldon HWRC, that people might drive over to South Woodham Ferrers to dispose of their waste.

And there has been a concerning increase in flytipping in the Chelmsford district since the introduction of the booking system.

The council meeting to decide on the introduction of the system tomorrow (27 Feb).

The consultation reports can be found here  and here

New name, same commitment

South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party is the new ‘inclusive’ name voted for by its members.

24 February 2024

The South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party is the new name for the party after having being called the South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association for several years. 


Keith Bentley, Chair of the Party, said, “Our members wanted to choose a more inclusive name as not all residents are council taxpayers.  I joined the party and stood for election to represent the whole town, whatever age, gender, or social status, not just a section of it. There was also confusion before the last election where people checking our social media posts on smart phones thought we looked like the Town Council rather than a local political party. To save future misunderstandings we saw the opportunity to  make a much needed change.

“Prior to becoming SWFCTA we were the SWF Independents party. We needed to change that name when the UK Independence Party stood candidates in our local elections also using similar party colours to our own.

“Our candidates are all SWF residents who believe that the town deserves better than what the main parties offer. Our members are people of all political colours (and none) and as a party we only contest Chelmsford City and Essex County Council elections.”

The Party recently had two members on Chelmsford City Council and our members regularly attend and ask questions at City Council meetings whenever issues or items come up that are relevant to the town.

Essex County Council wasting our money again?

Shock report shows County Hall spent over £1m on freelance social media influencers

22 February 2024

One individual Simon Harris received more than £500,000 from Essex County Council to run Facebook groups and carry out other digital work during the Covid pandemic.

Others, such as South Woodham Ferrers’ Jon Morter, received nearly £100, 000 from Essex County Council for work opaquely named  ‘Digital Consultancy Support’ and ‘Digital Communities Mapping’.

Essex County Council has announced an investigation although Leader, Kevin Bentley, defended the spending saying there was “a time where we need to get information out quickly”. However, at an Essex County Council meeting on 13 February he said he was stopping the contracts saying “it's not the same as it is now and that's why we are stopping the contracts on this”

The South Woodham Ferrers Residents Party is seeking confirmation that this applies to all social media influencing contracts which it believes should no longer be awarded with public communications going through the Council’s own professional, in-house Communications team instead so that all taxpayer spending and activity can be tracked transparently.

Chairman of the South Woodham Residents Party, Keith Bentley, said: “Essex County Council is once again spending our money irresponsibly. They ought to have learnt from previous scandals involving spending on corporate credit cards and more but it seems they can’t help themselves.

“We question the suitability of some of the individuals who have been paid large sums of money for social media influencing when we have experience of the same individuals causing harm in their communities through malign activity on their own social media platforms.

“Our money needs to be spent transparently with clear accountability, which is why we call on Essex County Council to come forward with more detail on what the money was spent on and how its effectiveness was measured. Also, for them to develop and vote on a more effective social media policy, stop paying social media influencers and make better use of their own communications team.”

Residents reject booking system for recycling centre

Our survey found most oppose new waste recycling centre booking system

22 November 2023

During Essex County Council's recently closed consultation into the permanent introduction of a booking system to dispose of waste at all Council household recycling centres, the South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association ran a survey, asking you, the residents of South Woodham Ferrers, specific questions on the booking system.

This was because we do not think Essex County Council's consultation adequately explored the issues of the booking system as they apply to our town as a lower use site that rarely if ever (except during the height of lockdown), experiences queuing. We think from our conversations with you, that the booking system merely adds unnecessary inconvenience to people's every day lives.

Our own survey, unlike the ECC one, looked into whether residents had actually experienced issues in South Woodham with accessing their recycling centre before the booking system was introduced.

As a party, we have listened to residents who have concerns that the booking system may be leading to more pressure on kerbside recycling, or even flytipping with at least two districts in Essex seeing dramatic increases in flytipping over the past six months and these feeling also come out in this survey.

In this survey, completed by 28 of you, nearly two thirds (62%) of you rejected the booking system for South Woodham Ferrers. We conclude from this and our conversations with residents, that a permanent booking system in South Woodham is unneccessary. Seperately, we think that the council has not evidenced what it calls 'transference' of waste from other sites, i.e, if there is a queue at say the Maldon HWRC, that people might drive over to South Woodham Ferrers to dispose of their waste.

We also think the booking system goes counter to Essex County Council's Waste Strategy (another consultation out now) which cites several times the importance of lowering barriers to recycling, which introducing a booking system, particularly an unnecessary one, would go counter to.

We have sent our survey off to Essex County Council and we hope they are able to consider it along with the huge 18,000 responses to their own. Thank you to those of you who took the time to fill out our survey. It is important to have our say no matter how futile it sometimes seems, the powers that be sometimes surprise us and reverse their decisions....see our recent rail ticket office post! So watch this space!

AN APPEAL: If you think like us that South Woodham often loses out because the main parties don't consider your views, then do consider joining us. We will listen to your views and act on the concerns of South Woodam residents- always asking what's best for us

South Woodham's rail ticket office saved in Tory u-turn

Our town's railway ticket office saved in government u-turn

31 October 2023

It comes after passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London Travelwatch objected to the proposals having received 750,000 responses from individuals and local organisations like the SWFCTA in a public consultation.

The government says it's because the proposals didn't meet the 'high standards' they expected but rail firms are allegedly furious saying the original plans had been approved by the Department for Transport.

We objected to the plans after listening to local people who felt they wouldn't be able to use ticket machines or get the right advice if the ticket office was to close.

So it always pays to protest and take part in consultations where you know something is wrong and now even the government, embarrassingly for them after talking up the plans, agrees too. The SWFCTA will always stand up for fair access to amenties for local residents.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-67263931

Neighbourhood plans under threat?

New Planning Bill fails to protect neighbourhood plans

6 October 2023

At the recent Policy Board meeting our member Jackie Birch asked why the status of Neighbourhood Plans had not been mentioned in the new planning bill which is out for consultation. It seems no thought has gone into the legal status of NPs that have already been made or are being made. This could leave the Town without the safeguard of our adopted plan since it has an expiry date and cannot reasonably be updated until after the Chelmsford Local Plan has been revised.

With cross-party support from the LibDems and Tories, Jackie's call for more guidance about the status of NPs will be added to Chelmsford City Council's response.

SWF Railway Ticket Office -Temporary Reprieve

South Woodham Ferrers residents given an extra month to save railway ticket office

27 September 2023

An extra month's 'reprieve' has been given to our ticket office as Transport Focus sifts through the unexpectedly high response to their 'consultation', including ours, objecting to the ticket office closure. Over 680,000 responded and a petition reached over 100,000 meaning it will need to be debated in parliament.

We are opposed to the closure because it discriminates against the vulnerable, elderly and disabled and will worsen passenger safety, service, accessibility, security and access to rail products such as season, family tickets and more. Also we need to know who will open and close the waiting room (or will that be closed as well), who will check for vandalism and damage to the station and more. We look forward to the outcome of the consultation and we hope the Government will listen to its outcome.


Flytipping reaches 'highest ever' in our area

Our FOI request shows flytipping at epdemic level

17 August 2023

A freedom of information request by the South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association has revealed that flytipping has reached a record high in our area since the booking system for recycling centres was introduced by Essex County Council.

After the booking system was introduced, there were a shocking 222 incidents of flytipping in our district from January to April (the booking system was introduced at some recycling centres in November 2022 and at South Woodham on 13 March 2023). In the 5 years before the system was introduced there were an average of 86 incidents per quarter, so this is 258% higher.

It is also not clear from Essex County Council’s decision on their booking policy whether their aim is to reduce the recycling they receive or to reduce congestion at their amenity sites. If it is to reduce recycling then it’s reasonable to assume that that recycling is probably ending up in over-filled kerbside recycling bins or worse in non-recyclable rubbish and therefore causing harm to the environment on top of potential flytipping.

Keith Bentley, Chair of the South Woodham Ferrers Taxpayers Association said: “While these extraordinary flytipping figures don’t necessarily show Essex County Council’s new booking system is to blame for the increase, any impediment to people being able to dispose of household recycling should be investigated.

“There have rarely been any queues to use the recycling centre in South Woodham Ferrers and we’re also concerned that this is leading to an increase in people trying to dispose of more waste via kerbside collection which could have an impact on Chelmsford Council’s resources. We’ll be pressing both councils to get more answers.”

Although the flytipping incidents slightly reduced in the past quarter to 127, this is still higher than average, so the SWFCTA will continue to ask the questions of the Conservative County Council who implemented this unnecessary and possibly environmentally damaging policy.

Finding suitable play for toddlers

Our members attend another Cabinet meeting

19 July 2023

His questions and comments are set out below with some of the answers given by Cllr. Moore (blue) and our comments (red):

“At the last Cabinet meeting I asked for information about the Play Area in Compass Gardens, SWF. My question was not answered, so I would like to ask it again. How much extra land was incorporated into the Compass Gardens play area when it was remodelled, since we established at the last meeting the town had lost nearly 1000 square metres of play area at Saltcoats Park?” He also pointed out that comparing old and recent satellite imagery the play area at Compass Gardens was actually smaller than previously.

Cllr. Moore said that the area lost was less than 952 square metres since a proportion of that was grass verge and similarly there was a large quantity of grass verge in the old Compass Gardens play area.

We are concerned that the grassed areas within the boundaries of both play areas are treated as valueless. Certainly the grassed area in the Saltcoats Park play space contained some small hillocks that the toddlers enjoyed running up and down.

“Also, Councillor Moore used a document from 2012 to base the provision of play and other facilities at Chelmsford's SWF parks. Does the councillor agree with me that it is time to come up with some new ideas for our parks? This is now the 2nd LibDem administration since the Tories adopted this plan and now SWF and Chelmsford have both got adopted plans in place which aspire to greater things. Losing play space to general parkland is not an upgrade.”

Cllr. Moore said that the 2012 plan is still active and that the idea of integrating different age groups into neighbourhood play areas is one they approve of.

It is worrying that this view flies in the face of the fact that our very young children are having to share a play space with secondary school youths who are dashing about with little attention to other users.

“While I'm sure we will be pointed to future CIL money from the development north of the Burnham Road to fund new facilities, this won't arrive for some years – the developers haven't even begun work. Is it not right to use some of the district's capital budget to enhance our park facilities now? Currently this administration has allocated less than 1% of the non-earmarked capital money to projects in SWF which has nearly 10% of the district's population.”

Cllr. Moore didn't answer this directly but did say they were exploring possible grant money for park improvements.

“I would argue that a new toddlers' play space adjacent to the play area in Compass Gardens is one project the Council should be moving forward on. There are others, and I would invite Councillor Moore and her officers to ask our residents what facilities they actually want – something I did at the start of this year.”

Cllr. Moore referenced the consultation carried out to choose the design of the new play area as residents being involved. She offered a meeting at Compass Gardens as a way forward.

The concern of our party is that this 'consultation' was simply to choose between a handful of similar options and did not include anything about the loss of the toddlers' play area or whether residents wanted a neighbourhood play space rather than our favoured two adjacent spaces (0-3 toddlers' area and 3-12 children's space). We will be arranging a meeting to discuss what might be possible and we'll keep you posted.

A recording of the meeting can be found at: Chelmsford Cabinet.

Planning bill doesn't bode well for SWF

Changes to national planning rules could affect SWF

15 June 2023


Having read the consultation reports, two of our members went along to ask a question and listen to the debate. The question was asked by Jackie Birch and was in two parts. One part was to establish what Chelmsford’s preference was, to continue with the current Local Plan revision or start again with the new procedure. The second part was about the status of Neighbourhood Plans as they were not mentioned in the consultation documentation.

We were told that officers would continue with the existing ongoing plan revision. In respect of Neighbourhood Plans both LibDem and Tory City Councillors present followed up on the question raised and agreed that there should be a reference about the need to include Neighbourhood Plans in the consultation response.

The agenda and a link to the recording is available at: Policy Board Agenda.

SWF's toddlers losing out

We ask 'what's happening to old play area.

20 March 2023

They were also there to find out whether any additional space was created at the new 'neighbourhood' play area in Compass Gardens (CG) to compensate. He also asked what the plans were for the Saltcoats site which has been cordoned off for some time. In answer, Cllr. Rose Moore said that the total area removed from children's play space was 952 square metres (that's the area enclosed by the hedge). No answer was given as to whether this was compensated for at CG, so we can only assume that it wasn't – something we had suspected.

Parents report to us that their children should be able to play safely away from bigger children so we will continue to press for a proper replacement of the toddlers' play area.

In the meantime CCC tell us they intend to make the area into general parkland. Their initial plans to provide much-needed additional parking spaces to prevent vehicles being parked on Ferrers Road verges was brushed aside and they said there wasn't a demand. Apparently parking in the additional spaces at Creekview Road (when it's open) has dealt with the problem and is adequate! Unfortunately, that car park is not really in the vicinity of SP and we are still getting vehicles parking on Ferrers Road. If residents have photographic evidence that this is still a problem please send us your dated photos.

Our other question was about the possible impacts of the booking system for the Household Waste Recycling Centres. Scott asked if CCC had noticed any uplift in the amount of waste being collected at the kerbside since the Recycling Centre booking system was introduced earlier this year, as other districts have. Cllr Moore answered that they had not seen any noticable change in the tonnage but were unhappy that the Council had not been consulted by Essex County Council prior to the introduction and felt the one-size-fits-all approach was not the best way forward. SWFCTA question why our residents need to go through the extra bother of booking for something they used to just turn up and do. We are particularly concerned that older and more vulnerable people or those who are less tech-savvy are struggling to use the system.

It was good to see Cllr. Massey attended and asked a question related to the low number of Fixed Penalty Notices for fly-tipping in the district compared to other districts. He also suggested that more enforcement would raise more revenue for the Council. One of the officers answered that Chelmsford's figure was lower due to districts including other fixed penalty fines in their figures. It was also pointed out that the Conservative government have said that councils must not raise revenue through enforcement.

The agenda and a link to the recording can be found at: Chelmsford City Council. Unfortunately, Keith's questions were not recorded while Scott's start a little way in due to technical problems with the mic.


Flytipping soars after booking system introduced

Illegally dumped rubbish reaches a record high

18 March 2023


After the booking system was introduced, there were a shocking 222 incidents of flytipping in our district from January to April (the booking system was introduced at some recycling centres in November 2022 and at South Woodham on 13 March 2023). In the 5 years before the system was introduced there were an average of 86 incidents per quarter, so this is 258% higher.


It is also not clear from Essex County Council’s decision on their booking policy whether their aim is to reduce the recycling they receive or to reduce congestion at their amenity sites. If it is to reduce recycling then it’s reasonable to assume that that recycling is probably ending up in over-filled kerbside recycling bins or worse in non-recyclable rubbish and therefore causing harm to the environment on top of potential flytipping.

Keith Bentley, Chair of the South Woodham Ferrers Taxpayers Association said: “While these extraordinary flytipping figures don’t necessarily show Essex County Council’s new booking system is to blame for the increase, any impediment to people being able to dispose of household recycling should be investigated.

“There have rarely been any queues to use the recycling centre in South Woodham Ferrers and we’re also concerned that this is leading to an increase in people trying to dispose of more waste via kerbside collection which could have an impact on Chelmsford Council’s resources. We’ll be pressing both councils to get more answers.”

Although the flytipping incidents slightly reduced in the past quarter to 127, this is still higher than average, so SWFCTA will continue to ask questions of the Conservative County Council who implemented this unnecessary and possibly environmentally damaging policy.

Essex Waste Consultation-Our View

Waste Strategy bears little resemblance to reality with targets which will not be met on current tra

17 March 2023

Essex County Council’s Essex Waste Strategy Consultation closes shortly (Wednesday 22 November 2023), and for those TLDRs (too long didn’t reads), in short, the strategy is ambitious, but there is precious little on how it will be achieved or paid for.

For example, the strategy reckons we'll all be recycling 70% of our waste by 2030...but the Essex average at the moment is just 49.8% and our own Chelmsford district languishes 183rd in the country at 41%*. It's only been going up 0.2% a year, so 70% in five years, a near doubling, you might think is pretty ambitious.

To achieve this you think they'd have really well thought out plans, perhaps yearly targets too, but in our analysis we couldn't find much more than warm words like: "we will support business to deliver reuse and repair services…we will support communities to deliver local reuse and repair initiatives…we’ll develop and deliver information and activities to help and inspire residents to reuse and repair more".

Are these things really going to do more to increase recycling than at any point since the 1990s?

Pretty much all of the above are being tried extensively already.

But have you seen any effort by our Household Recycling centres to inspire people to re-use and re-purpose their waste? Electrical items which presumably could be repurposed are just sat in open air cages, with bad weather rendering anything salvageable useless. Let alone a booking system which puts up barriers to recycling which we've mentioned before.

There is also precious little information out there on what happens to our recycling to inspire us to do more at Recycling Centres or issued by our local authorities. If there was a bit more information that said our recycling didn't end up being exported to developing countries, or going to landfill, and that it did actual good, many of us would be eager to do even more, but there's often just an information vacuum.

The strategy also talks about:

Recovery: Mentions Energy From Waste a lot but no evidence this can achieve the kind of numbers they need. Doesn’t give any examples of where this can help reduce to zero like they are saying.

Recycling Centre: “work together to make the network of recycling centres, waste transfer stations and depots as efficient as possible”….what does that mean? We need more HCRW’s that recycle more types of waste, with less barriers like booking systems, more capacity.   The 'means' of achieving re-use are woefully inadequate. There are no 're-use' facilities at HCRWs at the moment and you get in trouble for taking anything away to re-use. There aren't even any signs at typical HCRWs encouraging recycling or explaining where the recycling goes or what part residents play in recycling. Many existing HCRWs are just a haphazard selection of containers, often at height, poorly arranged and designed, especially for people with accessibility issues and now there is an onerous booking system on top, totally unnecessary in the case of South Woodham.

Lobbying: The strategy says Essex authorities “will lobby government to accelerate a repair and reuse culture within business.”  This is great but where is the evidence that this will make a difference?  Lobbying government difficult and almost irrelevant given political turbulence and a government which has declared a ‘war on green’ and is pushing back carbon targets, saying there’s no need for a national recycling system etc. It reads of a slight desperation of realizing that instead of empowering Local Authorities over the years or showing leadership, the government has actually taken away powers from them, such as the ability to combine in regional partnerships and so on.

Cost: Where are the costings? Getting from 41% to 70% is unlikely to be free. Where is the honest assessment of how much this is all going to cost at a time many councils are facing extreme financial challenges from years of Government cuts. Where is the extra money coming from?

The strategy could also have explored ideas like providing recycling incentives like deposit return schemes, discounts off council tax or other 'nudge' tactics, but the strategy's authors seem to think a bit more Facebook advertising and leaflets is going to get us to increase recycling by more in 5 years than it has in 30. So at the SWFCTA we welcome the ambition but we are disappointed by the lack of an action plan on how to reach it. We think recycling should be made easier, not harder, with booking systems or potentially charging people for garden waste bins and the like. We hope this strategy isn't a dead duck but we fear it might be.

Some of those other targets by the way, include Zero Waste by 2055, Zero Waste to Landfill by 2030 and reducing waste by 10% by 2035. All great ambitions. Shame it's not clear how we can get there.

So do have a read, form your own view and respond to the consultation if you can by 23 November, you can find it here: Essex Recycling Consultation And let us know what you think below too.

AN APPEAL - We are a small local residents’ party which is fighting for a better deal for SWF. We are always looking for new members, from all backgrounds, to help us look into matters which affect our town and win in local elections. (NB: We don't fight national elections and our members vote for who they like at Westminster.)

*figures from Lets Recycle.co.uk

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