Zygological zygnomic zoilism

Conceptions at under 16 (Conception rate per 1,000 women)

2012 2011 2010 2009
Peterborough UA 6.6 6.6 8.0 8.7
Southend-on-Sea UA 6.5 9.4 6.2 8.2
Thurrock UA 6.3 7.7 6.3 6.6
England and Wales 5.6 6.1 6.8 7.2
Bedford UA 5.1 3.0 8.2 6.1
Suffolk 5.0 5.4 5.3 4.5
Luton UA 5.0 6.9 6.2 2.9
Essex 4.9 6.2 5.0 5.7
Norfolk 4.4 5.4 5.9 6.2
Central Bedfordshire UA 4.2 6.7 6.5 6.5
Cambridgeshire 3.4 3.9 4.1 6.1
Hertfordshire 3.3 4.0 3.9 4.4


The data is the table above was extracted from the Conception Statistics for England and Wales, 2012. This is the most current information available.

The Office for National Statistics produces all sorts of fascinating data. These are open to all sorts of interpretations, but they are facts. This data, for instance, about under-age conception rates could generate all sorts of arguments over causes and solutions, but the numbers themselves are undeniable.

My interest is in how my home town compares, and again it compares unfavourably with regional and national averages. However it is a large town in the region that does not have many large towns (Southend-on-Sea is second largest behind Luton), and you would imagine that this sort of data would show urban areas with higher numbers than rural ones.

I am not prepared to be at all judgemental regarding young pregnancies, but I do want to ensure that sex education, advice, and contraceptives are freely available to all, and that the incidence of young conception is not linked to abuse, poverty, or ignorance.

Licensing in Southend – have your say

It is not often I reproduce Southend-on-Sea Borough Council press releases, but as this one really does affect Milton I am making an exception.

Southend residents are being invited to say how they would like the Council to judge licensing applications in future.
They are urged to give their views on the principles the Council proposes to use for the next five years when considering licensing applications for alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment, (hot food or drink between 11pm & 5am), under the Licensing Act 2003.

By law, the Council, as the Licensing Authority, must publish details of its draft policy and must also consult a range of people about this – including trade groups, residents, faith and equality groups.

Once a final version of the Licensing Policy Statement has been agreed it will take effect from January 2015 and last for up to five years.

This draft policy has been drawn up according to the Licensing Act’s four key objectives to:
• prevent crime and disorder;
• promote public safety;
• prevent public nuisance; and
• protect children from harm.

The draft policy can be downloaded from the Council’s website.

Copies are also available from the licensing team on 01702 215000 or via the Customer Service Centre at Southend Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend

Responses must be given in writing by Sunday 5th October at the latest, and can be emailed to licact2003@southend.gov.uk

or posted to:

The Licensing Authority,
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council,
Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue,
Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6ER.

Procurement of third party services

I have been making inquiries about how Southend-on-Sea Borough Council procures third party services. Here is a brief explanation of the classifications and thresholds.

Under the Councils contract procedure rules we have 3 classifications of contract, minor, medium and major.

For minor contracts of value up to £50k we request that Council Officers obtain 3 quotes. Under these rules these contracts are not required to be advertised, in the same way as medium and major contracts. Officers must approach 3 companies to provide written quotations for anything over £5k in value and are required to keep an audit trail of their actions.

The threshold for tendering was increased to £50k from £25k nearly 5 years ago to enable council officers to release council funds faster into the economy and to allow them more discretion to invite more local companies to quote for work while also easing the burden of the tender process for a relatively low value.

For contracts over £50k but below the OJEU thresholds, contracts must be advertised on our council website and on Contracts Finder which is a national government database of all contracts below the OJEU threshold. Contracts over the OJEU threshold are also advertised on the Council website, in OJEU and any relevant trade journal.

Going forward the Procurement team are introducing a new e-procurement system which will allow suppliers to register their interest in different types of work, all values of work will go through this system allowing more transparency and audit trail of contracts award, especially for minor contracts.

I am concerned that the £50K threshold is too high, and may not be delivering best value. I would like to see a debate around whether we should lower this.

Let’s stay together

letsstaytogetherAs the Commonwealth Games begin it seems somewhat appropriate to sign this https://www.letsstaytogether.org.uk/

A UK-wide campaign that gives a voice to everyone who doesn’t have a vote in the decision to break up Britain.”

The electronic window – who is writing the commentary

Bloggers blogging about blogs, online navel-gazing at its best/worst. So, what follows will either bore or excite.

Political blogging does affect elections; this is not disputed. Blogging often drives the news agenda, and those that get all their news and information from the internet are going stumble across blogs, whether deliberately or not. Those of us who blog regularly see a spike in hit rates at election times and when something really newsworthy is written about. This is no accident.

What is less certain is just what effect local blogging about local elections has. The reality is that however seemingly Herculean our efforts may be we are swamped by national news. But when what separates victory from defeat is numbered in handfuls of ballot papers then clearly an influence is magnified.

The blogosphere in Southend-on-Sea does not mirror the local power balance; it does approximate the national balance though. I am biased, but I think the best blogging comes from Labour, but the Tories do have a reasonable presence. The Tories have more bloggers, but their writing is not regular, and the quality is decidedly mixed.

I am somewhat embarrassed by my own numbers – which can be interpreted in a number of ways (for instance, do I actually have a life?) I think my blog has the most visitors, and this is a guess. I am not the most assiduous tweeter, and maybe I ought to do some sort of research there too.

Here is the state of play as regards to political bloggers in Southend-on-Sea – my apologies if there are any omissions.

author Party posts since elections address Last post
Cllr Julian Ware-Lane Lab 63 warelane.wordpress.com 21 July
Tony Cox Con 26 shoeburyblogger.blogspot.com 16 July
Nigel Holdcroft Con 25 nigel-holdcroft.blogspot.com 21 July
Matt Dent Lab 25 matthewsdent.wordpress.com 21 July
Cllr Mark Flewitt Con 18 markflewitt.wordpress.com 18 July
Neil Monnery Lib Dem 8 neilmonnery.co.uk 15 July
Paul Collins Lib Dem 6 paulcollins.mycouncillor.org.uk 10 June
Cllr James Courtenay Con 5 jamescourtenay.wordpress.com 18 July
Gray Sergeant Lab 5 graysergeant.blogspot.co.uk 22 June
Southend Fox Unaligned 3 southendfox.wordpress.com 2 June
Cllr Anne Chalk Ind 2 anne-chalk.blogspot.com 29 May

No UKIP bloggers, only Anne Chalk for the Independent Group. Paul Collins has retired his blog, so Neil Monnery is the sole flag-flyer for the Liberal Democrats. The field really does belong to the two major parties.

As the Tories adjust to life in opposition it will be interesting to see how their online presence develops.

My favourite non-Labour blogger in Southend? It has to be Nigel Holdcroft at the moment, whose writing is both intelligent and perceptive. I certainly do not agree with much that he writes, but I value what he contributes to the debate.

The under-assistant Westborough promotion man

Sylvia, Linda, Kevin and Lydia - the rest of yesterday's Westborough team

Sylvia, Linda, Kevin and Lydia – the rest of yesterday’s Westborough team

When not painting Milton red I like to help comrades elsewhere. Recently I have taken to my ward of birth to assist there. It was a pleasure to be out with the team yesterday.

Tchotchkes, tchotchkelehs and bibelots

The amount of time I can spend on pavement politics is limited in part by the weather. Rain almost always stops play; heat-waves certainly reduce the amount of doorstep activity. I have, though, still managed to put in some time recently, dodging both showers and the full glare of a very hot sun when I can.

It is vital to engage, even if this means repeated conversations. Very often it is the same subjects that come up time and again, although there can be nuanced differences. Hearing the same issues over and over again at least highlights its importance. Yes, it was more stories of parking misery, litter and dog’s mess, and low-level anti-social behaviour. Homelessness is coming up more and more, and the begging that often accompanies it. This is especially true in and around Hamlet Court Road where aggressive begging is frequently reported to me. This is being dealt with, and did improve for a while, but it seems to be getting worse again.

Residents tell me of open drug dealing, of drinking on the streets (even in those subject to alcohol exclusion orders), and I have had the occasional racist incident reported to me. Whilst it is important to note that these are often isolated and rare incidents, perpetrated by a minority, I am determined to tackle all sorts of nuisance – from the extreme right down to the trivial.

We have mixed days of good news and good results and of finite resources shrinking in response to austerity.

You do meet some very interesting characters in Westcliff-on-Sea. I have had chats with Jane Austen experts and cabaret singers, models and small business owners, artists and artisans; those struggling with disabilities, those struggling to find employment, those struggling to make ends meet. Yet, Westcliff-on-Sea remains, mostly, a happy, vibrant and diverse town.

Of course there is resentment and frustration directed to some residents who believe that dog ownership does not come with the responsibility of picking up after your pooch, and to those who find it acceptable to dump their trash wherever they please. There is frustration with unmended pavements, uneven roads, scruffy gardens, empty shops, and overcrowded streets that are all but impossible to park in. I will continue to seek to be told about these, and maybe I will be able to find satisfaction in finding solutions.


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