A photo relating to TICKET OFFICE REPRIEVE?

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 in Chelmsford ‘highest ever’ following introduction of ECC booking system

A photo relating to Flytipping in Chelmsford ‘highest ever’ following introduction of ECC booking system

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 SWFCTA will continue to ask questions of the Conservative County Council who implemented this unnecessary and possibly environmentally damaging policy.

Holding the parties who run our town to account

A photo relating to Holding the parties who run our town to account

Well, it's been two months since the local elections and time to move on with supporting residents where we can.

We promised to keep you informed as to what Chelmsford City and Essex County Councils are doing in respect of our Town and the local area and we still plan to!

Despite not currently having a member on either Council we believe that there is more of a need to continue our information stream to keep residents informed. We will now be monitoring both Councils' meeting agendas for items that could affect us and, if necessary, attend meetings to ask questions and observe what our elected members are doing in support of SWF.

During the recent election campaign, residents raised issues about our official name being confusing because of the word “Council”. So, we are looking at this with a view to amending and shortening the name to clear up any confusion caused.


A photo relating to SWFCTA AGM 12th JUNE 2023

The chairman, Keith Bentley, gave a report on the past year. He said it had been a difficult one with the loss of our party's 2 seats on Chelmsford City Council following the May election and the approval of the new development north of the Burnham Road which lacked adequate infrastructure to support it, in our opinion. Thanks were given to all members and friends who helped during the pre-election period, and special thanks to Scott Wilson who put together our leaflets and the double pagers in the Focus, and also to Kevin Golding who adapted our website so we could keep residents informed of our position on issues and our 4 candidates.

On a positive note, Jackie Birch got within a whisker of taking a seat on the Tory Southside, with Scott also closer than we'd managed in previous years. Although we didn't get any seats this time our share of the vote held up, too.

Keith said he hoped that over the next 2 years the Party would be able to convince residents that we provide the best choice to represent them at County Council and in 4 years we take back our seats in Chelmsford and more.

The election of officers to the executive was as follows:


TREASURER - Ian Roberts

SECRETARY - Jackie Birch



59ers MANAGER - Scott Wilson


The results of our recent survey are now in and it's looking like the cafe & toilet choice is way ahead of the rest of the field.

We worked out the results by giving 3 points to residents' first choices, 2 to their second and 1 to their third. We also counted how many residents voted for each of the 13 options. The full results are as follows:

  • Cafe & toilet - 976 points - (399 people voted for it)
  • Splash park - 332 points - (186)
  • Toddlers sand park - 313 points - (127)
  • Dog walking enclosure - 257 points - (104)
  • Pathways & seating - 242 points - (141)
  • Youth facilities - 190 points - (120)
  • Mini/crazy golf - 153 points - (89)
  • Flood prevention & drainage - 111 points - (62)
  • Lido - 90 points - (46)
  • Lighting - 76 points - (58)
  • Rope climbing frame - 35 points - (29)
  • Water drinking fountain - 11 points - (10)
  • Pétanque covered area - 9 points - (7)

We are going to invite interested residents to join us in Compass Gardens to develop the cafe & toilet idea further. Obviously, the more we want for this option the more CIL money it will use up so it may be a case of staying realistic if we are to get other items, too. Watch our Facebook posts and the FOCUS for more on this soon.

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Chelmsford City Council News

Cabinet 12th September 2023

A photo relating to Cabinet 12th September 2023


Keith and Scott attended the Cabinet meeting to ask questions on behalf of residents.

Keith asked for details of the total area lost at Saltcoats Park (SP) when the toddlers' play area was decommissioned and 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.

Full Council 25th July 2023

A photo relating to Full Council 25th July 2023

Keith Bentley and Ian Roberts attended the meeting as did all our 6 City Councillors.

Keith asked the following question relating to Town Centre road cleaning:

"In this year's budget I put forward an amendment which highlighted the need for a better level of road cleaning service for South Woodham Ferrers. Consequently, the Leader of the Council and others agreed that there was cause for concern over the quality of work done by the contractor. I had understood that the contract was due for review this summer and that bringing the service back in-house would be considered. Could Council confirm that the contract will not be renewed and that the road cleaning service will be brought in-house?"

Cllr. Moore responded by saying a review had been carried out in April 2023 and this found that the level of service by the contractor was acceptable. There was a commitment to improve communication between CCC and the contractor to ensure delivery is maintained and that the contract has been extended for a year. The cost of keeping the contract was £17,000 whereas bringing it back in-house would be around £84,000.

In our view the review could not have properly considered consistent failures over the full contract period. We are also extremely dubious about the quote of £84,000 to bring the contract in-house given the contract specification and the proximity of the City Council's facilities at Saltcoats Park.

An audiovisual of the question and answer can be found at 8minutes and 40seconds into the recording found at: Full Council recording.

Ian asked the following question relating to the lack of SWF projects within the capital budget:

"I have noticed from the information provided in the report that there is only one item of capital expenditure for South Woodham Ferrers of £275,000, for replacing equipment at the swimming pool, this surely should properly fall under maintenance.

Clearly some of the £124+ million within the total figure is tied to Community Infrastructure Levy and S106 moneys. Could you please tell me what this percentage/figure is and why SWF, which makes up around 10% of the district's population, is receiving less than 1/4 of 1% of the capital spend?

Does the City Council have no future projects planned for our town which continues to pay one of the highest Council Tax rates in the district?"

Cllr. Robinson (Leader of the Council) responded by saying that the repairs to the swimming pool were not routine maintenance but rather a major investment to enable the pool to remain open. He said 40% of the Capital Budget was CIL and S106 allocated and that the remaining moneys were allocated according to the council's priorities. That SWF residents would enjoy the use of resources available elsewhere in the district e.g. the Crematorium. And finally that SWF residents were paying a higher Council Tax because of the Town Council's precept.

In our view the questions Ian put were evaded. There are no further projects and from what was said SWF clearly does not feature as part of the LibDem City Council's priorities. With a Capital Budget of £75 million not allocated by CIL and S106 money the percentage allocated to SWF becomes just over 1/3 of 1% of the remaining spend in the district. This amounts to a robbery of our residents to benefit mainly those who use the City Centre. It is certainly stretching a point to say our residents benefit from investment into Chelmsford as many use other nearby towns such as Maldon, Wickford and Basildon. In any case, why shouldn't we benefit from better investment in our own town?

The question and answer can be found at 11 minutes and 20 seconds into the recording.

Keith will join 2 other local councillors as a representative for Parish (and Town) Council(lor)s on the Governance Committee.

We want to continue asking difficult questions on behalf of the town whenever we can.



With the dust settling after the May elections and the groups having sorted out who's doing what, we can now reveal which committees and positions the Town's councillors have been given.

In the yellow corner and for the LibDem administration:

DONNA ELEY - Cabinet Deputy for Community Safety, Member of Governance Committee

TERRY SHERLOCK - Member of the Policy Board, Climate and Ecology Ambassador

In the blue corner and for the Opposition Tory group:

BOB MASSEY - Shadow Cabinet spokesman for Greener and Safer Chelmsford, Member of the Policy Board

MURROUGH O'BRIEN - Member of the Policy Board

ASHLEY JOHN - Member of the Licensing and Regulatory Committees


We wish them all the best in representing our Town and we shall be closely following their progress over the next 4 years.


With a much more open contest this time round our 4 candidates missed out by a whisker to the main party candidates. Jackie Birch was only 7 votes away from 3rd spot in the Chetwood and Collingwood ward and Keith Bentley only 9 away from holding onto his seat in Elmwood and Woodville. Our progress in the south of the town is probably the only positive to take out of a disappointing result overall.

However, we are committed to seeing our new City councillors do their best for South Woodham Ferrers by showing up at meetings, speaking up for the town wherever they can and keeping their pre-election pledges. We will be keeping an eye on things ourselves and speaking as residents where issues that affect the town are being discussed. Although we no longer have any City Council members we will continue to be a voice supporting our residents where issues relating to services, planning and facilities arise.

The results in each ward were as follows:

Chetwood and Collingwood Ward

  • Jackie Birch, South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association: 527 votes
  • Jonathan Jeffrey Gatenby, Labour Party: 218 votes
  • Ashley Michael John, The Conservative Party Candidate: 534 votes (elected)
  • Bob Massey, The Conservative Party Candidate: 708 votes (elected)
  • Amanda Powling, Liberal Democrats: 205 votes
  • Ian Frederick Powling, Liberal Democrats:170 votes
  • Mary Josephine Regnier-Wilson, Liberal Democrats: 159 votes
  • Malcolm Sismey, The Conservative Party Candidate: 656 votes (elected)
  • Scott Wilson, South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association: 495 votes

Elmwood and Woodville Ward

  • Keith Bentley, South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association: 518 votes
  • Dee Davey, Liberal Democrats: 435 votes
  • Donna Kim Eley, Liberal Democrats: 618 votes (elected)
  • Murrough Francis Henry O'Brien, The Conservative Party Candidate: 527 votes (elected)
  • Ian Clifford Roberts, South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association: 463 votes
  • Terry Sherlock, Liberal Democrats: 582 votes (elected)
  • Anthony Weaver, Labour Party: 179 votes
  • Scott Wilson, The Conservative Party Candidate: 396 votes

We believe we offer the best representation for the town as we aren't tied to national party interests and speak solely on things local people care about. We need more of you to stand with us in this. If you want to find out more about us please get in touch. Contact details are on our Membership page.

CABINET 14th March 2023

Cllrs. Bentley and Roberts attended this meeting. Cllr. Bentley asked questions about the lack of progress in extending the car park at Saltcoats Park while the toddlers sand play area had been removed last year. He repeated his request that the toddlers area be reinstated at Compass Gardens near the recently refurbished one since the Town had effectively lost play space due to the closure. This is something we had called for when the upgraded play area at Compass Gardens was originally mooted.

The much-welcomed news that Phoebe's Pantry was returning to SWF next month was a real surprise to local City councillors as we had not been notified that this was going out for tender. Cllr. Bentley asked why such an important local addition had not been communicated. It turned out that no councillors had been made aware of the tender. We are hoping that in future the procurement procedures will be tweaked to provide ward councillors with the information they need without revealing sensitive business information.

Cllr. Roberts asked about the validity of SWF Neighbourhood Plan which is due for renewal this year. However, under the new Levelling-up Bill this is to be extended to 5 years to put it in line with Local Plan reviews. But what happens in the transition period? We have been assured that our Neighbourhood Plan remains valid since Chelmsford City Council has its 5-year housing requirement in place.

The minutes for this meeting can be found at: Cabinet Minutes. The recording is available at: Cabinet Recording.

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