Councillor Richard Siddall
Annual Review for Great Totham Ward –
Great Braxted, Great Totham and Little Totham
Maldon District Council
The past year has been an interesting experience for me, and it has been challenging and fulfilling. As some of you may know it has also been at times frustrating, and personally testing and trying. On the whole and especially when working with residents it has been hugely enjoyable, rewarding and satisfying.
It was fantastic to get elected for the first-time last year and to have gained the faith of the community in such a short space of time. Spending time between the months of March and May knocking on as many doors as possible and engaging with the residents of the 3 villages. I know for many residents that this was the first time anyone seeking election had knocked on their door.
Since the election, it has been great to continue to engage with the community and to serve and assist in the needs of the ward. My approach has been to be as proactive and active as possible. Over the past few years, I know residents had become frustrated by a lack of response and engagement. I changed that, by making sure I if someone gets in touch, I get back to them within 24 hours.
I have also endeavoured to keep residents informed by writing the monthly updates in the Parish Newsletters. In addition to increase engagement, I have posted information and updates, on the Facebook page Totham Matters. This also gives the opportunity to provide information at the time it is announced. This has been particularly useful during the Covid-19 situation.
In addition, I have been holding bimonthly surgeries in the ward and these have proved to be popular, these enable residents to meet face to face. I will continue to run these across the ward. These may be combined with other representatives and the police service. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis has curtailed these activities, however as soon as it is feasible, I will ensure that the surgeries are reinstated.
If the events are held, I hope to be able to get to as many of the community events in the villages over the remainder of the year. As I am unable to meet residents face to face currently, please feel free to contact me via email or telephone. You can also message me via Facebook.
I have helped support residents with planning issues and personal enquiries. Road safety issues and traffic. Where I haven’t been able to help directly, I have given them advice as to who to and where to go to.
Over the past year I have progressed some of the highway problems in the Great Totham ward, and these have all moved forward for consultation.
We have had the Heybridge garden village outline permission get passed, which we need to consider for the future and how it impacts on the Great Totham ward. We have had speculative housing applications again, which the current 5-year land supply protects from happening.
At the end of last year, the land tribunal approved the outline planning for Hall Road. This is a very contentious development with a long history. Now this is passed we need to ensure that the development fits with the character of the village. I will also ensure that the remaining land’s covenant is protected and enforced. I have had recent correspondence on the land, and I have ensured this is escalated at MDC.
I have learnt a huge amount about Maldon District Council since being elected and its needs and requirements. The organisation has just gone through a major change which at times has caused issues for the employees and the processes. This caused a major delay to the end of year accounts. It also affected staff moral and motivation, and as a result under resourcing. This has then caused delay in meeting the needs of the residents.
Covid-19 has now created further pressure on resources, and we will have to ensure that the council, manages this effectively. The council has to meet the needs of residents and businesses and at the same time manage its resources. Its priority should be providing an effective and efficient service.
Whilst the changes in the processes of the council, have provided far more opportunity to self-serve when accessing services, which is progressive, however we need to ensure that those who do not use the internet, who are often the most vulnerable can still access services.
I have tried to help in ensuring the council makes sensible decisions, and that we address the future of the barge operators and Maldon Yacht Club. There are new proposals coming forward, which will provide long term solutions. We need to protect our community and heritage.
It has been fantastic to see the community response to the Covid-19 and the support we have given to each other. We are lucky to live in wonderful rural community and have the support of good neighbours. Maldon District council has worked hard with different community and volunteer groups to provide support and information to residents. If you are in need please make use of the support network.
In the next year I will try to progress the implementation of a Dart bus service, so that we are able to provide a bus direct link to the hospital. This type of service is a mixture of taxi and bus, where it can be requested to stop at your home.
Having met with the Essex community policing team at MDC, they are happy to engage with the community and I am scheduling when they will come to the ward. We also need to get more presence on the streets, and this is something I discussed with them.
Bradwell B is now at the first consultation stage and it is important that if you have a concern, that you complete the survey. If this goes ahead it will have a major impact on the area, and we need to ensure that the council exploits any opportunities and at the same time mitigating any of the problems
There is also a consultation into air quality in the town centre, we need to ensure that we have the right solutions. I think that the solutions for this are very simple and it is being over complicated, as we are after all a rural area.
It has been very good to assist the residents, businesses and Parish councils over the past year and I look forward to the next few years. After spending time catching up with issues that hadn’t been addressed for a while, it now gives the opportunity to identify other needs and actions. I will also continue to provide support and assistance with residents.
I look forward to representing Great Braxted, Great Totham and Little Totham over the next year and supporting the needs of the residents and businesses.
Councillor Richard Siddall
Councillor Richard Siddall