Well hung (until January)

The current composition of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is:

25 Conservative
9 Liberal Democrat
9 Independent Group
6 Labour
1 Dr Velmurugan

A quick bit of adding up reveals that the opposition is tied with the Tories as they also number 25. The twenty-sixth Tory member was Gwen Horrigan – her departure leaves a finely balanced chamber. The West Leigh by-election will decide who runs the town up to May’s elections.

West Leigh is usually a shoe-in for the Tories, however poor Tory polling may make them a little anxious. The evening of January 23rd could prove an interesting occasion.

Below is a sample of recent opinion polls. These show national polling and can only give an idea of what may happen in West Leigh. Of course Labour is unlikely to poll 35% in West Leigh (although anything is possible), so it is only a general guide. For comparison, the 2010 General Election resulted in the Conservatives getting 36.1%, Labour 29.0%, the Liberal Democrats 23.0% and UKIP 3.1%.

Date Pollster Lab Con Lib Dem UKIP
1 December Opinium 35% 28% 8% 19%
1 December YouGov 38% 30% 10% 15%
29 November YoiGov 39% 33% 8% 14%
29 November Populus 38% 35% 12% 7%
25 November Populus 39% 34% 12% 7%
24 November YouGov 40% 33% 9% 11%
16 November Opinium 37% 28% 9% 16%
16 November ComRes 35% 29% 10% 17%

In the three most recent elections in West Leigh the Conservative candidates have polled between 46.6% and 50.0%, with the Liberal Democrats best performance as 37.8%. A ten per cent swing from the Tories to UKIP could see the Tories defeated – and with the likely low turnout this is not a far-fetched scenario.

I bet Tory activists are really looking forward to cold weather campaigning! Whoever wins will be in place till 2015 as that was when Mrs Horrigan was due to defend her seat.

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3 Responses to Well hung (until January)

  1. Are we counting Dr Vel as part of the opposition now?

  2. jayman says:

    I can see no legitimate reason whatsoever for why the Tory party should be granted a majority by the electorate of Southend.

    lets look at the pure evidence.

    Town planning and capital spending;

    Pier hill fiasco, Central library (university annex room with some token books in it), council commissioned art, warrior square kiosk, pier cultural centre (abstract and expensive afterthought plonked on the end of the pier) perilous over development of already overdeveloped areas, Lack of transport, utility, school, police, primary and emergency healthcare capacity to support aforementioned development.


    Southends unique and dichotomous educational landscape, the Tory party (James Courtney et al) have no intention of meaningfully addressing the scandalous imbalance. Instead, the order of the day is to embark of a year long study into the problem (?). Headteachers are being dragged over the coals with council rope and grammar school pulling power because (apparently) not enough children are sitting the 11+… This seems to be in direct conflict to statements produced by James Courtney himself in the early days where he was still attempting to produce damage limitation, distraction and confusion over the issue when he was saying that it rested on parental choice and in the best interests of the child to sit the 11+ to which the council should have no influence or no power to address it..

    yet still, the elephant in the room is sporting a blue rosette. There are not enough places where places are required for children to receive an education. Advice produced by Southend council to parents who are stuck with the reality of ‘what happens when we don’t build enough schools’ seems lacklustre, dismissive and complacent. Southend council believe that it is acceptable in our society to expect parents to.

    a) have children at different schools, regardless of your inability to distort the principles of quantum physics that would be necessary in order to get your children into multiple schools, on time, calm, settled, dry, warm and ready to receive a day of learning…

    b) move children (siblings) from one school to another to ‘support the council’ (should be the other way round!!)

    c) The councils favourite option as it removes complete responsibility and cost from the council itself…. Home educate you child yourself (if you cannot afford a tutor)

    T S Eliot said

    “people who spend their days ‘dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.”

    by this less-then-generous definition, Southends Tory council are not only dreaming of a perfect system. they have one!

    –I apologise for the long post–

  3. Matthew S. Dent: Insofar as Dr Velmurugan is not in the administration he is technically in opposition. Quite how he votes is another matter.

    jayman: I have never enjoyed living in a Conservative-run borough either. I think we will see change come May.

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