Beating a hasty retreat?
August 22, 2013 3 Comments
There is speculation about the future of the Conservative Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, speculation in part fuelled by Cllr Nigel Holdcroft. It would seem that Nige, as he is affectionately known (and therefore as Cllr Holdcroft by the like of me), is no Captain Smith; he is considering jumping ship before his party meet their iceberg next May.
If I was in the mood to be magnanimous I could write about his undoubted skill and intelligence, but seeing what his government and administration are doing to Southend and its residents I am in no such mood. The one thing I will say though is that at least he lives in the town, unlike two recent leaders of his party (and two current Tory councillors).
My memory does not reach back too far as regards to Conservative leaders in the town. I recall Benfleet resident Charles Latham, Howard Briggs, Barling resident Anna Waite, and Murray Foster. The last two’s fate lay in the hands of their electorate who deemed them unsuitable for office. Cllr Holdcroft has brought some stability to the role; Tory grandees wisely opted for someone in a safe seat when The Big N got the call.
On the subject of party leaders in Southend, was there ever a leader of the Liberal Democrats before Graham Longley? In the literal sense, maybe not; the party only exists from 1988. I genuinely cannot recall who led them before Graham, in any of their incarnations. (I wonder whether the SDP had any councillors; one day I will do the research on this.)
The Independent Group have only ever had one leader; Cllr Martin Terry was their first councillor, and has held the job ever since.
Labour have had four leaders in my time as an activist: Chris Dandridge, Kevin Robinson, David Norman, and Ian Gilbert. No woman as yet. I cannot speak for the other groups, but the Labour leader has the role for a year at a time, being elected at an annual general meeting of the Labour Group (held between the elections and the first council meeting). I think it was Nigel Smith who led immediately prior to Chris Dandridge, before his move to Basildon (where he is in his second term as their Labour Group leader).
And so, as The Big N rides into the sunset the ambitious amongst their ranks will be considering their options. My one word of advice would be to suggest that the twenty-six do not opt for someone who is seeking re-election in 2014 – you cannot be sure they will still be around once the dust settles.