SHAPING THE FUTURE OF ESSEX by mirit35

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									                                                                     Appendix 1


SUMMARY OF THE RESULTS OF CONSULTATION ON SHAPING THE
FUTURE OF ESSEX – A COMMUNITY STRATEGY FOR THE COUNTY



Introduction and Context


The process of consultation prior to the drafting of a community strategy for
Essex began in 2000, when the County Council held a series of 11 Millennium
Seminars on a range of issues of concern to Essex People. The seminars took
place in venues across the county and attracted attendance from over 1000
people, both individuals and representatives of organizations.

The views expressed at each seminar were carefully recorded and reported and
formed the basis for the initial consultation document “Shaping the Future of
Essex: Challenges and Vision”. The County Council consulted members of the
County Strategic Partnership on the Challenges and Vision document in the
spring of 2002 and received views from most key stakeholders. These responses
in turn informed the document on which a broad community consultation has
recently been undertaken – Shaping the Future.

This last consultation was intended to confirm and verify the key issues already
identified through previous consultation and is the final stage in a lengthy
process. Other member organisations of the CSP, particularly District and
Borough Councils, Police and Health trusts, were concerned that the consultation
exercise did not duplicate consultations which they had already undertaken or
were due to undertake. Thus, the consultation process undertaken by the CSP
deliberately did not involve any mail shot to all households in the county. The
expectation is that relevant findings from partner consultations will be used to
inform the drafting of the community strategy for Essex.

The community consultation was undertaken using a number of different media:
questions included as part of a Citizens Panel, an interactive website, Focus
Groups and in-depth interviews with members of „hard-to-reach communities, an
Essex Youth Parliament workshop, a series of Workshops for County, District
and Parish elected members and a series of fifteen 2 or 3 day information points
at centres around the County where questionnaires were handed out to
interested members of the public for them to return or comment on immediately.
The detailed outcomes from each of these are available on request, as are more
lengthy summaries of the findings.

This paper draws out the key issues and priorities emerging from the different
approaches.




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Key Priorities
1.      Headline themes from submissions re top three priorities for the
        Strategy:

    Improvement of roads and public transport
    Ensure that new developments are sustainable and have access to adequate
     services
    Ensure housing is provided for key workers and that not all council housing is
     sold off: there is a need for affordable housing to support jobs
    Protect and conserve the environment, specifically green belt sites
    Clean up the litter – particularly roadside litter
    More visible policing
    Provide more leisure facilities and promote Essex‟s culture and heritage more
     positively

2.      Recurring priorities in written submissions by Crucial Challenge and
        Life Thread

There were significantly more responses to some themes including:

Crucial Challenges for Essex
Conserving our Environment
Getting Around
Creating Opportunities

a.      Crucial challenges for Essex

Changing the Image of Essex

There were challenges to the notion of Essex having a „negative image‟ and
comments that perhaps in some parts of the County this was self-perpetuating,
as people were unaware of what‟s going on in the community around them and
then disinterested to „get things going for the better‟ The idea of „positive‟ and
„negative‟ were questioned in terms of a definition and some preferred the idea of
„profile‟ to „image‟. Generally responses indicated a desire to see Essex
promoted more effectively, with its good points being stressed and high-profile
new developments being promoted where appropriate.

Promoting Active Citizenship

    Development of voluntary sector and encouragement of volunteering
    Development of statutory agencies‟ relationship with the voluntary sector
    Need for more information on community issues to „educate‟ people and
     encourage people to play a greater role in the community



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Developing Essex‟s relationship with London

    Utilise links with London but take care to retain our own identity
    London‟s status should be used to promote tourism yet we don‟t want to give
     the impression of an „urban Essex‟ and detract from our own cultural facilities.
    Don‟t become an overspill for London especially regarding housing
    People don‟t want to see Essex becoming a „dormitory‟ for London and
     housing just being „a roof over my head‟ (Annex Pg.20)

Balancing pressures for development with the need to protect our environment

    Need to conserve water when planning for development
    Plan infrastructure across boundaries including – routes to doctors, hospitals
     & social venues
    Ensure all resources are currently utilised before any more expansion
    Protect greenfield sites
    The need for affordable housing balanced with sustainable communities with
     a „mix of dwellings‟, avoiding concentrations of “special” housing

b.      Feeling Safe

    More visible policing, including more police on the beat (over half of
     responses cited need for better Law &Order / policing)
    Perception that youth often cause disturbances and damage. Drug and
     alcohol misuse are seen as contributing to this: young people need to be
     diverted from drugs and petty crime. However, a lack of locally accessible
     things for young people to do is seen as a powerful factor that should be
     addressed
    Rejuvenation of Neighbourhood Watch

c.      Being Healthy

    Co-ordination of services and partnership working
    Education in schools on health
    Emphasis on healthy living, especially healthy food and exercise
    More affordable good sport facilities including adaptations for people with
     disabilities
    Ensure all groups are involved in consultation to prevent social exclusion

d.      Creating Opportunities

    Education and pursuit of skills development relevant to the present and future
     of the local area
    Engagement of business community
    Formation of partnership to support regeneration


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    Balance existing business with new „high-skills‟ business and be careful - not
     to favour new „clusters‟ over old
    Stress on the contribution that could be made by disabled people and people
     with learning difficulties, against whom various barriers are felt to persist

e.      Getting Around

    Improve public transport networks (especially information and interchanges)
    Encourage use of other transport to schools – such as „walking bus‟
    Accept that some use of cars is necessary
    Improve cycle paths and footpaths
    Preferable to improve roads we already have rather than building more
    Need for balance of development with transport Infrastructure and for
     infrastructure to be in place from the start

f.      Being Part Of A Community

    Promote involvement through raising awareness of issues
    Develop opportunities for volunteering
    Provide appropriate recreation for youth
    Look imaginatively at what local voluntary groups can do, and what agencies
     can do to help

g.      Having A Sense Of Place

    Preservation of natural beauty, coast and greenfield sites
    Ensure new housing is affordable and positioned where there are jobs,
     adequate transport infrastructure and services (e.g. G.P.s)

h.      Being Served Well And Fairly

    Celebrate the diversity of Essex
    Assure all that their views count
    Where possible, ensure that suggestions, complaints and consultation
     responses are acknowledged

i.      Conserving Our Environment

    Clean up litter, especially on and by main roads
    Minimise waste and increase recycling
    Preserve green belts
    Preserve coastal habitats
    Preservation of historic and cultural areas




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J.      Having Fun

    Increase culture/leisure activities for all ages in all areas
    Encourage youth involvement in clubs and societies
    Make sure leisure facilities for youth are local and accessible


3.      Key themes and priorities arising from the Member Workshops

    We should try to bring jobs and housing close together
    Infrastructure must keep pace with housing development (but can it?)
    Our aim should be sustainable development
    Build on brownfield rather than greenfield
    Protection of the coast/ coastal environments is very important
    Public transport must be improved
    Various roads must be improved
    We need to provide more for young people to do
    Town centres should be revitalised
    Skills need to be matched to the local market, and priority given to attracting
     high-skill jobs (but making sure the local workforce has the right training)


4.      Key themes from Mori focus groups

    Protection of the environment and greenbelt
    Protection and creation of accessible open spaces for leisure and recreation
    More things for young people to do
    Sustainability
    Stressing the links between leisure facilities and health and active
     communities
    Providing affordable housing
    Getting the right skills mix
    Providing job opportunities for people with learning difficulties
    Improving public transport, especially for rural areas and young people
    Making sure transport, jobs and services are present when new housing is
     built
    Promotion of a positive image for Essex
    Concern about litter, especially along main roads
    Need to revitalise town centres
    Built heritage is important, and conservation, education, information, visiting,
     community involvement should be developed
    Improving the street scene is important
    The real priority is improving life for Essex people
    Bullying and domestic violence are important areas
    We should make sure LA21 commitments are implemented


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    Access issues, especially for disabled people, should be stressed
    Social inclusion is a key issue that should be addressed strategically
    Community safety and fear of crime are important
    More attention should be given to rural issues, especially of access to local
     services, transport and community
    Public transport is a key issue


5.      Key findings from Citizens Panel

    Residents are generally positive about their area as a place to live, with
     satisfaction levels slightly higher than might be expected given the levels of
     deprivation in the County
    Peace and tranquillity and the countryside are the best rated features of the
     County
    Improved bus services, increased policing and additional facilities for
     teenagers are prioritised factors which would improve quality of life
    People‟s key aims were a greener, cleaner environment and making it easy to
     travel within and outside Essex.
    Fear of crime and concerns about personal safety are key issues, despite
     comparatively low actual crime levels.


6.      Summary of findings from Structure Plan Issues questionnaire
        returns

The consultation documents set out six main aims for the future of the plan area.
The future in Essex and Southend should promote or enhance:

    Prosperity everywhere
    Thriving towns
    Homes for all
    Accessibility
    Culture and nature
    Coast and countryside

Importance of aims

Respondents were asked to rank each one on a scale from 1-5, where 1 is totally
unimportant and 5 is very important. For the purpose of this analysis, all
responses 1 and 2, and 4 and 5 respectively (representing
unimportant/important) have been summed, but the disaggregated responses
can be seen at Table 4.

Some respondents criticised this question, which did not ask aims to be ranked
directly against each other. Others felt that it was difficult to disagree with such


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broad aims. However, the aggregated responses do show significant differences
in support for the aims. Overall, there is very strong support for the aims „Culture
and nature‟ and „Coast and countryside‟ (75% and 80% of responses
respectively ranked them 4 or 5), but more ambivalent feelings about the first four
aims (55-65% of responses ranked them 4 or 5). A significant minority (19%)
ranked „Homes for all‟ as 1 or 2, indicating they did not consider it important.


7.      Summary of comments from Information Points

    Residents in most districts expressed concern about the amount of housing
     development in their area and in Essex generally.
    Concern about public transport (needs to be improved)
    Concern over Stansted expansion
    Need for affordable housing
    No more building on greenfield sites
    No more growth without infrastructure


8.       Cross-cutting issues and action

A number of respondents made a point of demonstrating how issues listed under
different themes interconnected, and how this required a co-ordinated approach
across services. Connections that came out strongly from the responses
included:
 Recreational facilities and public open space contribute to people‟s health, so
    they must be widely available, affordable and accessible by public transport
    (implications for spatial planning, recreation, health and transport)
 For active communities and a strong voluntary sector to flourish, meeting and
    other facilities must be made available, multi-use of facilities (such as those of
    schools and libraries) must be encouraged, and planning of new
    developments must create balanced communities with easy, safe access
    around the area and good quality community facilities (implications for
    voluntary sector development, schools, libraries and partners‟ premises
    generally, spatial planning, transport and community safety)
 Where services are hard to reach (especially in rural areas), both transport
    solutions and a new look at where services are sited (including multi-use) are
    suggested (implications for services, including health and education – and for
    transport and spatial planning)
 Rejuvenation of town centers involves supporting businesses, encouraging
    leisure uses, reducing crime and vandalism and dealing with litter
 Making sure there is a good fit between local jobs and locally-available skills
    includes spatial planning, attracting certain employers, and prioritizing and
    promoting appropriate education
 Promoting top-quality cultural events and facilities can change the image of
    Essex and attract qualified people and businesses.


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9.    Links with District Community Strategies

The key issues identified in the consultation process have clear resonance with
common themes being identified in community strategies by district LSPs. Some
of these are:

         Improving public transport (particularly interchanges, information and
          rural buses) seen as very high priority
         Getting the skills mix right/ providing the skills for local people to take
          up local high-skill jobs
         Regeneration issues prioritised (Harlow, Tendring, Basildon)
         Drug and alcohol abuse and lack of things for young people to do are
          identified as causes of crime and vandalism
         Public concern about crime is identified strongly from consultation in
          some areas
         Drug and alcohol abuse is highlighted by some plans
         Improving educational attainment (Harlow, Maldon and Tendring)
         Strengthening communities seen as a key part of regeneration
          strategies
         Need for affordable housing (owner-occupied and rented)
         Creating an image of a vibrant community, not just of heritage, is a
          theme in Colchester
         Equalities issues feature prominently in some (e.g. Basildon and
          Harlow)
         Preserving the beauty of the Essex countryside, and particularly the
          coast, is a theme in some plans
         Litter emerges as a major issue in some districts (e.g. Braintree)
         Waste and energy conservation issues are prioritised in some plans
          (e.g. Chelmsford)
         Need for more activity for young people
         All plans address health: in some but not all the emphasis is strongly
          on healthy living and healthy outcomes that cannot be delivered by
          health agencies alone (e.g. Epping Forest), and some stress reducing
          health inequalities (e.g. Tendring)
         Some plans strongly emphasise sustainability

 We have taken account of these issues in drafting “Shaping the Future of Essex”
where the draft plans were available within the timescale. Those which came out
after our draft consultation document was finalised have tended to add weight to
existing themes rather than raise new issues. This degree of shared issues is
reassuring and will make it easier to ensure that strategic approaches at county
and district levels are mutually supportive.



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10.   Next Steps

The CSP and district LSPs need to co-ordinate action planning around
achievement of key priorities to ensure a co-ordinated approach is achieved
which has full support of district LSPs.

District LSPs are asked to consider this summary of the findings from the
Shaping the Future consultation process and let us have your views about which
issues and activities identified in the responses should be addressed within the
County Community Strategy and how the county-level strategy can help their
LSP achieve its goals. Your views will be key in the drafting of the Community
Strategy for Essex, and will form part of the agenda of the County Strategic
Partnership meeting on 21 July, when the consultation outcomes and initial
implications for the drafting of the Community Strategy will be considered.

Copies of the full documents, or the summary documents can easily be provided
in electronic form should further detail be required.

Please could you send your response by Monday 7 July to :

Steve Packham , Chair of the CSP Development Group
Maldon District Council
Council offices
Princes Road
Maldon
CM9 5DL

Steve.packham@maldon.gov.uk




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