23 December 2018
Welcome to the e-newsletter for members, supporters and friends of Witham & Braintree Green Party
If there is an event or news you would like us to include, please get in touch
Libraries under threat of closure
Essex County Council has launched a consultation on the future of library services in the county. It runs until 20th February 2019 and can be accessed here:
There will be various "drop in" events and there is a lot of data published that accompanies the consultation.
Essentially this is (yet again) a proposal to reduce a much-valued service as the council cannot afford to keep it going as it currently is. It is about money. It is the same situation as we have seen for childrens' centres, local highways panels (safety schemes), street tree care, pavement maintenance, etc.
The Government has cut and cut again at the grants it gives to councils. Whilst in the last few years many councils have been raising council tax, it is not enough to plug the gap – especially as they face growing demand for services in many areas.
That is a particular issue for County Councils which have a duty to fund social care – such as supporting vulnerable adults and children. That sector is taking up a larger share of budgets and so other areas have to be reduced.
The cuts proposed to libraries in Essex are draconian. Of 74 libraries, 25 are proposed to be closed and another layer could be closed unless run by volunteers:
Councillor Susan Barker, Conservative Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries appeared in the media stating that the consultation was about "re-imagining" libraries.
Whilst it is true that library book lending has fallen due to increased use of the internet and other factors, libraries also offer many more services nowadays such as toddler reading time, internet access for those who do not have it at home, giving out recycling sacks, somewhere that isolated people go, etc.
In Braintree District four village libraries are due to closed at:
A petition has been launched by Green County Councillor James Abbott to try to save Silver End village library. The first stage of the petition was handed in at the County Hall meeting on 11th December with 650 names and a second stage of the petition is now underway. The online version of the petition is here:
In Maldon District the libraries under threat are:
A motion was debated at the ECC Council meeting of Tuesday 11th December which stated No Confidence in the Leader of ECC and the Cabinet Member to maintain a legally compliant service. This was, as expected, voted down by the Tories.
Prior to the meeting at 9am there was a rally on the steps of County Hall to Save Our Libraries – organised by SOLE, a pan-Essex grouping.
Green, Lib Dem, Labour and Independent councillors joined residents from many parts of Essex at the rally and it was covered extensively on BBC Essex radio news.
We next meet on Thursday 17th January at 7.30pm at Fowlers Farm (just off the A120 at Galley's Corner roundabout Cressing, near Braintree).
We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month – everybody is welcome!
Contact Karin for more information at
Newsletters to residents delivered
A big thank you again to all who have helped deliver nearly 2000 newsletters for Silver End & Rivenhall recently.
Braintree District Council's Planning Committee on 20th November granted consent to Redrow Homes to destroy over 350 metres of mature rural hedgerow at its development site on the outskirts of Silver End. This was despite the hedge being a local landscape feature, a bat habitat and containing numerous native hedge species and several healthy young trees including oak. Repeated calls to Redrow to amend their plans to keep at least part of the hedge were rejected by the company - and then Braintree District Council.
A report on the decision, posted to facebook with pictures of the hedge taken last summer, went viral with hundreds of concerned people from all over the UK voicing their concerns and saying they faced similar losses locally due to a planning system which now is failing time and again to protect habitats - and is allowing developers to move on to greenfield sites while brownfield sites are still available to build homes on.
Meanwhile the Bellway application to build on the Gimsons site, next to Witham's River Walk has attracted over 200 objections already. If the plans are approved then most of the trees on the site will be destroyed, including all the trees fronting the Town Park. This would have a dramatic impact on that area visually – as well as destroying yet more valuable habitat.
Cllr James Abbott asked BDC on 24th October to place an emergency TPO on all the trees so that the application will not be decided "after the event" of the trees being taken out.
BDC has failed to respond to the request despite a reminder and a formal complaint being submitted.
BDC's Local Plan has been put back again and it now looks likely that there will not be an Adopted and complete (Parts 1 and 2) Braintree District Plan until well into 2020. So that is 2 years more of speculators picking off greenfield sites around villages in the district that were rejected from the Draft Plan following consultation with those local communities.
NEXT NEWSLETTER: January 2019
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