Perhaps ambiguous

All of Southend-on-Sea’s councillors have a page on the Borough Council’s website. This page includes details about their occupation; mine shows ‘IT Consultant’

Cllr Mark Flewitt’s (Conservative, St Laurence) page shows this: Credit Controller and Library Assistant

Libraries are run by the local authority. You cannot be a councillor if you are employed by the Council. Therefore, I find this distinctly odd – I shall make inquiries.

Of course, this may be a mis-description, or I may be mis-reading what is put here. At the very least, though, it is ambiguous.

Second (of two)

A comment made by Neil Monnery got me thinking (yes, that happens occasionally). I have tried to find out who is the top ranked political blogger in Southend-on-Sea (and nearby).

It turns out that Neil has the top raking political blog in the area, and I am second. And that is it. I could find no-one else ranked by eBuzzing, and I cast the net pretty wide. If I have inadvertently forget to check someone out then please forgive me.

Ranking amongst political blogs Ranking amongst all blogs
156 1696 The Rambles of Neil Monnery
185 2243 Julian’s musings



Another busy weekend on the doorstep

Kevin, Sylvia, Tony, Michelle, Linda and Julian - part of the team out yesterday

Kevin, Sylvia, Tony, Michelle, Linda and Julian – part of the team out yesterday

One rarely encounters anything approaching abuse when canvassing, although it does happen. Like yesterday, when one of our older female activists was told to “p*ss off” by some oaf – I hope the ignoramus was proud of the profanity he directed towards someone who was giving up their time to try to find out what we could do for him.

Other than that we had a very productive weekend. Of course you will get residents who for one reason or another do not want to engage, but most seemed please we called.

I did have an interesting chat with one young man: “So, have you made up your mind how you are going to vote next year?” “UKIP”. “Oh, why? What policy of theirs particularly attracts you?” This inquiry was met with silence. I then felt it prudent to move the conversation onto other topics, but it is quite a revelation how many UKIP supporters there are out there who cannot give even the simplest reason for doing so. I had expected either ‘Europe’ or ‘immigration’ as the response but did not get even that.

As we move inexorably towards next May’s twin set of elections it will be interesting to see whether Labour will continue to grow its support in the borough, or whether the Conservative support discovers some enthusiasm. At the moment you meet very few contented Conservatives, and my sense is not just that they have sat on their hands but that they have sought solace elsewhere – including switching to Labour.

The Royal Hotel

RoyalHotel1934The image is from the Southend-on-Sea Official Guide 1934, and thus some eighty years old. This is still an attractive building and one that is an asset to the town. The latest news about its uncertain future is certainly not welcome.

This building lies on the corner of High Street and Royal Terrace, in an area that has many beautiful buildings. It falls within the Clifftown Conservation Area.

I hope it can be saved. I cannot pretend to have been a regular visitor here, but I did use on occasion and it was always a pleasure to walk past it and enjoy the vista.

Not from central casting but valuing principle over posturing

Ed Miliband made a speech yesterday setting out the standards against which he will ask to be judged as Prime Minister. Here is an extract:

“When people say ‘you’re all the same, you’re in it for yourself, you don’t care about my life’, they are talking about us: the politicians. Millions of people think that for us, it actually is all about us, that we are in it for ourselves, for our own success, not the country’s.

“They believe we value posturing more than principle, good photos or soundbites more than a decent policy, image more than ideas. Unless we stand up now and say that we want to offer people something different, more and more will simply turn away. And if we allow that to continue to happen, we will also rob people of the debate they deserve, about the things that matter.

“David Cameron is a very sophisticated and successful exponent of an image-based politics. He made his name as Leader of the Opposition for some fantastic photos, like hanging out with huskies in the Arctic Circle.

“Even my biggest supporters would say I haven’t matched him on that. It is not what I care most about. And it’s not where my talents lie —as you may have noticed.

“I am not from central casting. You can find people who are more square-jawed, more chiselled, look less like Wallace. You could probably even find people who look better eating a bacon sandwich. If you want the politician from central casting, it’s just not me, it’s the other guy. If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don’t vote for me.

“But I believe that people would quite like somebody to stand up and say there is more to politics than the photo op.”

“If politics is going to respond to the distrust people have, it has to begin to respond to talking about you.

“The current Prime Minister might take a good picture but he can’t build a country that works for you. It is not what interests him. And it is not who he stands up for.

“Here’s what I think matters. The leadership you need and the leadership this country needs is one that has big ideas to change things, with the sense of principle needed to stick to those beliefs and ideas even when it is hard, and with the decency and empathy to reach out to people from all backgrounds, all walks of life.

“For me, those qualities are the gold standard for what a modern leader should offer. I will sometimes fall short of that gold standard. But it is what I aspire to.

“I know the qualities I have talked about don’t just matter to me. They matter to you. They are the bedrock of this party.

“Let’s show people that we have new ideas to address the problems the country faces, that we seek to offer principles that prove that politics can be about more than what is expedient and convenient, that we believe decency and empathy are crucial values not just for our communities but for our country.”

Saving Rochford’s badgers

In amongst the emails I have received today is this:

The following response has been made to the ePetition titled “Save Rochford District’s Badgers from Culling” that you signed:

Thank you for contacting the Council in respect of this matter. Rochford District Council is committed to safeguarding animal welfare and has published a policy, our Animal Welfare Charter, that identifies the basic freedoms that we believe animals are entitled to enjoy and the steps we will take to facilitate this. It states that the Council supports the view that all animals have a right to life free from cruel treatment and unnecessary suffering. It recognises that animals are capable of feeling, capable of enjoying a state of well being and equally capable of suffering and therefore considers animals have the right to enjoy five basic freedoms: • Freedom from fear and distress. • Freedom from hunger and thirst. • Freedom from pain, disease and injury. • Freedom from unnecessary constraint. • Freedom from physical discomfort. This policy was last reviewed on10 March 2014. This Council has no intention of instigating a cull of badgers on our own land and you may be aware that the government has recent stated that it will not expand badger culling to other areas this year to reduce TB in cattle. Defra’s own independent assessment shows that culls in two pilot areas were not effective, and raised questions about their humaneness. A vaccination project is now under way by the Essex Badger Group, with initial surveys of badger setts on Essex Wildlife Trust reserves being carried out by members of the Essex Badger Groups. These surveys will inform our list of priority sites for vaccination, to start in the late summer; our initial target in the first year is to vaccinate 100 badgers before reviewing progress. This operation is expected to last five years, although an oral vaccine is currently being developed that can be scattered near setts. It is understood that as soon as this is available they will stop cage trapping and switch to this much less invasive method. It is considered that the point raised by this petition is addressed in the Council’s Animal Welfare Charter.

The petition can be viewed here.

In amongst the signatories are several names that readers of this blog will be familiar with, three of which are Southend-on-Sea Borough Councillors. It is appropriate that I give an honourable mention to Cllr Anne Chalk, who drew my attention to the petition.

Southend West Labour Party AGM

I have been Treasurer of Southend West Constituency Labour Party for eight years, split into two spells: 2003 – 2007, and 2010 to the present. At last night’s annual general meeting I was re-elected and will (barring accident) get to nine full years. I was also elected as IT Officer (having previously held this post for four years from 2006 to 2010); I was re-elected as the Trade Union Liaison Officer, a post I have held since 2010.

Charles Willis remains Chair of the CLP. Tony Borton moves from Secretary to Vice Chair and the secretarial duties will now be in the hands of Cllr Kevin Robinson.


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