A photo relating to ESSEX WASTE CONSULTATION - CAN WE NEARLY DOUBLE OUR RECYCLING IN FIVE YEARS? 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


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

Read more SWFCTA News

Chelmsford City Council News

Toddlers Left to Fend for Themselves in Neighbourhood Play Area

A photo relating to Toddlers Left to Fend for Themselves in Neighbourhood Play Area

On 10th October Keith attended the Chelmsford Cabinet to follow up a question he asked at the previous meeting. 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.

Danger Looming for SWF in new Planning Bill

A photo relating to Danger Looming for SWF in new Planning Bill

The Chelmsford City Council’s Policy Board recently considered a response to the Government's proposals for changes to the national planning rules that proposes to halve the time allocated for preparation of local plans.

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.

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.

Read more CCC News