Article: Mar 3, 2021
Five years ago, hundreds of Chelmsford residents marched (and many more signed a petition) - all concerned about a Public Space Protection Order with plans for £100 fines (from then-Conservative Chelmsford City Council).
Since the Liberal Democrats took on the leadership of the City Council, things have changed. The Council voted last week for funds to provide new support for rough sleepers and the other 250 or so homeless families in Chelmsford.
Article: Feb 18, 2021
Chelmsford City Council projected a shortfall of £7.55 million for 2021-22, having also lost £16.5m from normal income in 2020-21. The Government promised last April 'full support', but instead left the Council £5m short. All other councils are in a similar position.
So Chelmsford Council must cut costs and find income to legally balance the books. One of these tough choices to bring in new income is parking charges at Hylands Park. Which is a better choice than cutting key services (such as closing down the museum or the theatre, or not running holiday events for children) or charging for collecting brown bins or collecting extra bins or clinical waste (as some other councils have). All of these would have had a negative impact on residents.
Article: Feb 17, 2021
The Government is being asked to fully fix the scandal of possibly dangerous cladding on certain taller buildings. The leader of Chelmsford City Council, Liberal Democrat Stephen Robinson, has told the Minister that many flat-owners in Chelmsford are unable to move home because mortgage companies will not lend.
Article: Feb 11, 2021
The Government is being lobbied to make permanent the £20 increase in Universal Credit, introduced in March 2020.
Chelmsford Council Leader Stephen Robinson has joined over 30 other Liberal Democrat Council Leaders in writing to the Government.
The letter follows a vote in Parliament held on Monday 18th January 2021, in which the government abstained. All Liberal Democrat MPs attended and voted in favour. The motion to increase Universal Credit was carried by 278 votes to nil.
Article: Feb 1, 2021
Plans to transform the way people travel around Chelmsford have moved a step closer. A shortlist of improvement options for the Army and Navy junction has been agreed ahead of public consultation in the summer.
Essex County Council has been thoroughly evaluating four options for the junction - a 'hamburger' roundabout, enlarged roundabout, two-way flyover and separate T-junctions. Assessment has looked at the effects on congestion, journey times and use of sustainable modes of transport, as well as environmental and construction impacts.
Article: Jan 21, 2021
Chelmsford City Council's budget for 2021/22 will protect essential services, while dealing with a forecast £7.5 million shortfall. The budget will deliver a greener, fairer and better connected Chelmsford. It will support post-Covid recovery and address the financial costs of the pandemic.
Cash for day-to-day spending is severely restricted. However, the Council is able to borrow to invest for our future.
Article: Jan 12, 2021
A new, fast-testing centre has opened in Chelmsford for those who DO NOT have symptoms of Covid-19. The centre is at Central Baptist Church, Victoria Road South, Chelmsford, CM1 1LN - but you can only attend if you book.
Details on how to access the site and nearby parking is available on booking. This is the seventh such centre in Essex and offer the new and fast Lateral Flow Tests to the wider population. The tests are ONLY for people for who DO NOT have symptoms and give results in around 30 minutes.
Article: Jan 3, 2021
Tracing systems led by our local councils have proved to be a huge success. 86 per cent of cases are closed and 93 per cent of contacts traced. This contrasts with the Government-run, centralised tracing system with a contact trace rate of nearer 60 per cent.
Essex County Council launched a Covid-19 contact tracing service in June and works closely with partners in Chelmsford City and other borough / district councils in Essex.
Article: Dec 3, 2020
The Leader of Chelmsford City Council has signed The Charter Against Modern Day Slavery (CAMDS), after a motion was passed unanimously at a full council meeting. It is estimated that around 13,000 people a year living in the UK are victims of modern-day slavery.
2 December is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
The Charter Against Modern Day Slavery commits all local authorities to continue ensuring its contractors and suppliers comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, including a commitment to buying all goods and services ethically. It also tackles any slavery, servitude, forced, or compulsory labour, human trafficking or exploitation in local communities.
The charter was signed by the Leader of Chelmsford City Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Robinson, who said, "I am proud to have signed this charter, which reinforces our united commitment to ending the horrific scourge of modern-day slavery. The City Council will uphold these principles internally and expects these standards for ethics and transparency to be followed by companies who sell supplies to the Council. The Council is sending out a powerful message that the perpetrators of these appalling crimes have nowhere to hide."
The 10 pledges that each council is committing to by signing the charter are as follows. Chelmsford City Council will:
1. Train its corporate procurement team to understand modern slavery through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply's (CIPS) online course on Ethical Procurement and Supply.
2. Require its contractors to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, with contract termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance.
3. Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor practising modern slavery.
4. Highlight to its suppliers that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to one.
5. Publicise its whistle-blowing system for staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.
6. Require its tendered contractors to adopt a whistle-blowing policy which enables their staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.
7. Review its contractual spending regularly to identify any potential issues with modern slavery.
8. Highlight for its suppliers any risks identified concerning modern slavery and refer them to the relevant agencies to be addressed.
9. Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency's national referral mechanism any of its contractors identified as a cause for concern regarding modern slavery.
10. Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually.
The Charter Against Modern Day Slavery has now been signed by more than 80 councils across the country. Find out more at https://party.coop/local/councillors/modern-slavery-charter/
Article: Dec 1, 2020
All those confirmed as currently sleeping rough in Chelmsford have been offered accommodation during the second lockdown period. Lib Dem-led Chelmsford City Council is working with other agencies in Essex to ensure that no-one has to sleep rough.
The City Council is ensuring that advice and support - not just accommodation - are provided to those who need it at any stage in this process. Staff are helping all confirmed rough sleepers to make a homelessness application to the Council. To ensure that priority is given to this group, districts identified all those known to be sleeping rough in their area on Friday 6 November. In Chelmsford, that was 16 people.
Article: Nov 14, 2020
Support grants for businesses legally required to close (as a result of the national lockdown) can now be accessed on the Chelmsford City Council website: www.chelmsford.gov.uk/businessgrants
The available grants are payable to cover 28-day periods of lockdown and vary according to a business's rateable value. As the latest national lockdown is going to last for at least 28 days, the City Council is making payments in advance to cover the period up to 2 December 2020.
Article: Oct 30, 2020
A climate summit will be run by young people in Essex next year. The summit will be held in Chelmsford and is backed by Chelmsford City Council. It's the next stage of 'A Manifesto For Essex', set up to give children and young people a platform to share ideas on protecting the environment and preventing the worst impacts of global heating.
Article: Oct 24, 2020
Chelmsford City Council will use emergency funds over this week's half term holiday, to address holiday hunger among vulnerable children. The Council is stepping in because of the Government's failure to act.
Many amazing businesses and voluntary groups in Chelmsford have already stepped up and promised to help. Liberal Democrat-led Chelmsford City Council will work with them to ensure our community supports vulnerable children.
Article: Oct 23, 2020
Chelmsford City Council has agreed a set of additional measures that will improve the sustainability of a new community. The masterplan for west Chelmsford, known locally as Warren Farm, will be amended to include an additional bridge for cycling and walking; a contribution to improving the local cycle network, and improvements to bus stops/signs.
Article: Oct 22, 2020
Many homeowners on new development sites in Chelmsford have been paying high management fees for maintenance of open spaces. They are used by the public but not owned by the public. Now the Lib Dem-led Council is set to overturn the policy.
Said Lib Dem Council Leader Stephen Robinson, "Many residents have said they resent paying high management fees to look after playgrounds and open spaces, because they think that's what their council tax is for. Unfortunately, the previous council didn't want to take responsibility for these and allowed developers to bring in management companies instead.
Article: Oct 19, 2020
"A month of ideas on growing a sustainable Chelmsford" is how October is being labelled by Chelmsford City Council.
The council has brought together organisations from across Chelmsford to create 'Future City: a month of ideas on growing a sustainable Chelmsford'. The mainly digital festival runs throughout October and tackles the themes of climate change, biodiversity and sustainability. The programme is intended to capture the moment as we think about life post-COVID-19, and it's hoped events and activities will encourage people in the city to make connections and provide fresh thinking about the future.
Article: Oct 14, 2020
Many more new houses in Chelmsford; less public input into planning applications; less infrastructure investment and fewer affordable homes. These could be consequences of changes to the planning system proposed by the Government, and Chelmsford City Council has expressed opposition.
The City Council approved its response to the Government's 'Planning for the Future' White Paper at the Policy Board on Thursday 1 October.
Article: Sep 17, 2020
Boats could get access to the centre of Chelmsford for the first time in many decades, following a decision of the Lib Dem led Chelmsford City Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 8 September. Councillors agreed to commission a detailed feasibility study into replacing flood gates to the east of the city centre and adding lock-gates. This would allow boats to pass further west, up the rivers Chelmer and Can.
If found to be feasible, replacing the automatic flood defence gates and adding a lock should allow the whole stretch of the River Chelmer from the Heybridge Basin through Chelmsford to be navigated. Currently boats cannot navigate any further than the weir gates, situated near the Essex Record Office.
The automatic gates were built during the 1960s and are mainly used to retain water in the river by the city centre. Without them, water levels would be very low and even non-existent in some parts each Summer. They are currently operated by the Environment Agency (EA) however, the EA has indicated that it can no longer justify the continued maintenance of the gates.
Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford, Councillor Rose Moore, said, "Improving our waterways is a key objective in the Council's new 'Our Chelmsford, Our Plan' and I am delighted that we are delivering on that objective. The City Council's Waterways Working Group is promoting this plan as one way to improve and encourage the varied use of the city's waterways and adjacent paths and open spaces, and we want to engage the wider waterway user community.
"One of the key aims of the Working Group has been finding ways to enable navigation to the upper Chelmer. I am pleased that Cabinet has now agreed to develop these studies further."
Lib Dem Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Cllr Stephen Robinson, said, "Enabling boats to access central Chelmsford's waterways has long been an aspiration for many of us. There are still a number of further steps to take before this becomes reality. However, this full feasibility survey will enable the Council to assess the viability, design solution and full costs, before deciding whether the scheme should be taken forward. This is a positive step forward and we look forward to seeing the detailed feasibility study
Article: Aug 2, 2020
Yellow lines have been painted on the corners of Roxwell Avenue. Sightlines were blocked by parked cars.
Ann Davidson, Leonora Ashley and Stephen Robinson had some emails about it 18 months ago; we spoke to the residents; they got a petition up and Stephen put it in to the South Essex Parking Partnership.
Article: Jul 31, 2020
More Chelmsford businesses that are suffering a significant fall in income due to coronavirus, can now apply for a grant. Chelmsford City Council has launched a third and final round of Discretionary Business Support Grants.
The policy has been revised to bring additional businesses into scope and will increase the funding grants, on top of the £31 million that has already been paid out. Previous applicants do not need to apply again, as the Council will look at all applications to see if businesses qualify under the new terms of the scheme.
Article: Jul 23, 2020
At a meeting of the whole Council at Chelmsford City Council on 22 July, Liberal Democrats voted for a motion to take a stand against racism.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Stephen Robinson, said, "Recent events show, sadly, that racism is still widespread and actions, not just words, are needed. The City Council is committed to being actively anti-racist and will encourage the rest of our community to act with us to ensure all residents of Chelmsford are afforded the same respect.
Article: Jul 20, 2020
The plan for 800+ houses on Warren Farm, Writtle (West Chelmsford) has been referred back for the transport elements to be reassessed on sustainability grounds.
The Chelmsford Policy Board heard from the local Lib Dem Councillor, Stephen Robinson, who spoke on behalf of himself and Cllrs. Lee Ashley and Ann Davidson. You can watch what he said here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xye1Ics5tQc at 46 minutes in. Other speakers making similar points were from Chignal Estate Residents.
Article: Jul 20, 2020
Trees, shrubs and hedges are overhanging pavements and causing a hazard to pedestrians, especially those with mobility or sight issues. Cllr Stephen Robinson has received a number of such reports in the last few weeks. Cllr. Robinson recently challenged the Essex County Council Cabinet Member on the Essex Highways policy for cutting back vegetation overhanging the highway from adjacent, non-highway land.
Article: Jul 18, 2020
Plans for a Chelmsford North East Bypass and new station are now on show, in a specially created 'virtual village hall' event, following the award of £218m of Government funding for the schemes.
Commented Leader of Chelmsford City Council Cllr. Stephen Robinson, "We've waited decades for a new station in north east Chelmsford. This brings it a couple of steps closer but there is still some way to go. It is vital that Government gives councils the powers and resources to invest in infrastructure before, or at the same time as, new development."
Article: Jul 14, 2020
A new play area for Chelmsford's Andrews Park has been officially opened by the Mayor, Jude Deakin, accompanied by Councillors Stephen Robinson, Rose Moore, Chris Davidson and Simon Goldman and local residents.
Commented Stephen Robinson, "I am delighted to see this new playground in use; it already seems very popular. There are still a number of other playgrounds in the area that need upgrading, in particular off Avon Road."
Article: Jul 2, 2020
The latest review of Chelmsford City Council's finances reveals that the gap has now widened to £9.5 million, compared to the balanced budget that was set in February. A month ago, the gap was looking like £8.6 million, even after allowing for some funding from the Government, and it could rise further.
The financial picture is laid out in a comprehensive report to the City Council's Cabinet meeting on 8 July. The report attempts to look at prospects for the next five years, and makes estimates in the light of the enormous blow dealt to its funding by the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has had a major impact on the finances of every local authority in the country, as cash from theatres, events, car parks, properties and leisure centres has vanished, while extra spending had to be found to help with pandemic management. The cash from these charges make up over half of the Council's total income and pays for services like emptying bins, recycling collection, street cleaning, housing the homeless and community safety.
Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, said, "Almost 15% of the council's annual income has vanished. This huge shortfall can't easily be fixed just by 'cutting back a little' - it's a real threat to the most vital services we provide. At the start of the crisis, the Government told councils to step up to help our communities and we did - like we always do. The Government said they would do everything needed to get us through this crisis. Now they need to stick to that promise and support local councils.
"The City Council only receives 11% of council tax and 4% of business rates, and very little Government funding in an ordinary year, so to compensate for this lack of income we will need support from the Government."
Councillor Chris Davidson, Cabinet Member for Fairer Chelmsford, said, "Before the pandemic, Chelmsford City Council was in a relatively strong financial position, so we are better placed than some councils in other areas, who are now really struggling. We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact of this crisis on our residents and keep our most essential services running, but it is an extremely difficult situation. Without significant extra Government support, the Council may be unable to provide residents' most basic and vital services."
Councillor Marie Goldman, Cabinet Member for Connected Chelmsford, added, "I would like to thank the wonderful residents who have shown how much they care about local services since the scale of the financial problem became clear. We have received suggestions through Facebook for raising extra funding to keep services going, from people kindly offering to litter-pick their neighbourhoods to ideas for running events during lockdown. These are difficult times for everyone and it's good to know that Chelmsford stands together in protecting the services that help our most vulnerable."
The full agenda for the meeting has just been published at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/cabinet-meeting
Article: Jun 15, 2020
An anti-racism action group is being set up for Chelmsford, chaired by the Mayor, Cllr Jude Deakin. The Mayor will shortly convene a meeting of relevant local community representatives to draw up a list of actions to ensure that the Council's pledges on diversity and equality are being met.
The Council's action group will have input from the Council's Diversity Champion Cllr Lee Ashley and Cabinet Deputy Cllr Smita Rajesh and the support of Council Leader Stephen Robinson and Deputy Leader Marie Goldman.
Article: Jun 11, 2020
Residents to the west of Chelmsford have been given extra opportunities to comment on development planned for Roxwell Road, Writtle. Local Liberal Democrat Councillors Stephen Robinson, Ann Davidson and Lee Ashley have ensured a range of consultation opportunities are now available.
A revised masterplan for the development has been published for consultation. The local councillors have ensured that a leaflet is being addressed and sent to 4,000 houses near the site; residents can discuss any concerns by phone or video conference with planning officers, and an online meeting will be arranged for local residents' groups. None of this would have happened if the Conservatives were still in charge of Chelmsford City Council.
Article: Jun 6, 2020
Some roads in the centre of Chelmsford are to be made one-way, in order to make more space for cycling and walking, with changes rolling out from next Monday, 8th June.
Commented Lib Dem Leader Cllr. Stephen Robinson, "For over a year, the Lib Dem leaders of Chelmsford City Council have been pressing ahead with plans for a greener, safer and better-connected city. This crisis gives us a unique chance to support changes to travel habits on a permanent basis.
Article: May 28, 2020
The new Chelmsford Local Plan gives the Council more powers to address the climate emergency and housing crisis, both of which the City Council prioritised after the election in 2019. It was adopted by the City Council on 27th May at a special online meeting. Watch the meeting on YouTube.
Said Lib Dem Leader Stephen Robinson, "We will demand that developers provide for jobs, shops, open space and supporting infrastructure, not just new homes - all met in a sustainable manner.