Selective schools in Southend – a hindrance to social mobility

This is a table showing the number and proportion of pupils in Southend secondary schools eligible for free school meals

School Name Cohort (Yrs 7-14) FSM
Westcliff High School for Girls 1141 5 0%
Southend High School For Boys 1130 22 2%
Westcliff High School for Boys 1111 18 2%
Southend High School For Girls 1034 33 3%
St Bernard’s High School 880 41 5%
St. Thomas More High School 1028 47 5%
Belfairs Academy 1337 85 6%
The Eastwood Academy 837 101 12%
Shoeburyness High School 1686 252 15%
Cecil Jones College 1083 271 25%
Chase High School 1109 307 28%
Futures Community College 590 174 29%
Secondary Schools Totals 12966 1356 10%

Guess which school are selective, and which are described as inadequate or requires improvement?

Grammar schools do not aide social mobility – they hinder it.

Sustainable aviation

Another leaflet I picked up in the recent past was produced by an organisation called Sustainable Aviation. The leaflet talked about cleaner, quieter and smarter aviation. The claims are that they can deliver growth in UK aviation to 2050 whilst taking net CO2 50% lower than 2005, they can achieve quieter skies than 2010 despite increased air traffic, and that sustainable fuels have the potential to contribute £480 million to the UK economy in 2030.

Rochester and Strood – please vote for real change

This is what real change looks like

Naushabah Khan, the Labour Party candidate

Naushabah Khan, the Labour Party candidate

This is what the status quo looks like

Mark Reckless, UKIP's Tory defector

Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Tory defector

Green Party leaflet, Rochford and Southend East

GreenleafletThere are elements of Green Party policy that I can happily subscribe to. I consider myself a friend to the environment, and on many animal welfare issues the Greens are very close to Labour. Of course, many Greens also describe themselves as socialists. Where Labour and the Greens usually depart is on economics.

The reverse of this leaflet includes this: “… as we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self-reliance and resource conservation …

I struggle to buy into this. Whilst sustainability is important, this does not preclude economic growth. I cannot imagine campaigning for a halt in improving living standards that this implies, and as an internationalist I wonder how local self-reliance fits into this. The implication is for a reduction in international trade – which suggests reduced choice if nothing else.

Simon Cross is not a fan of a fourteen-storey tower block being built on the seafront in Kursaal ward, and neither am I. He wants this site to become home to a small park, says that there are few attractive green spaces in Southend – which is not true. It is true that the town centre is less green than the outer wards, but Southend does have a number of nice parks and woods. Areas of greenery are slowly being eaten into and we should resist this where practical. I am on record as also wanting an urban wood established in the borough. However, whilst fourteen storeys is too high, it is a brownfield site and therefore should have some housing built on it.

Unfortunately Green politics is often NIMBY politics – which does nothing to address the chronic housing shortage. By all means seek green solutions wherever possible, but do not stop homes being built.

If this is a gateway then I am a Frenchman (si ce est une passerelle alors je suis un Français)

I spy, something beginning with 'G'

I spy, something beginning with ‘G’

To say I am not a fan of what Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has done in creating the Victoria Gateway somewhat understates it. My only crumb of comfort was that it was not the work of the Joint Administration that I find myself part of; it speaks volumes for the ineptitude of the previous Conservative administration.

I have argued that the shared space is dangerous, a view that I still hold. Council officers and Conservative councillors have disagreed with me, and doubtless they will continue to hold a view that is not only at odds with mine, but also defies the thinking of the overwhelming majority of residents I have spoken on the subject with.

At best it is a confusing spot. I was there today, and whilst taking some photos a complete stranger gave me his thoughts, unprompted. The road layout is a dog’s dinner, the largely barren space is owned neither by those of foot or on wheels. It is an ugly concrete wasteland.

The idea was that the A127 junction with the A13, where it ends, would become a window onto central Southend – a gateway to shopping nirvana, the pier, foreshore, and all its bounteous gifts. Those exiting Southend Victoria station would be welcome by the wondrous vista that is Southend’s High Street, drawn to it by the Gateway.

Ah the Gateway. In reality a alley that is largely hidden on first inspection. A wind-tunnel on many occasions, it resembles less a gateway than some concrete kettling device.

The photo here is of this gateway, and I have tried to ensure that I have used one that shows this gateway at its best – photos taken from other angles make the thing a near impossibility to spot. What sort of gateway is it that is so discrete? Of course, you negotiate the shared space, use the pedestrian crossing, and then find yourself heading towards the only available opening – but is this really a gateway? Not in my opinion.

Much like the Queensway it is a half-thought out idea that will doubtless have to have millions spent on it at some point, because at present this useless carbuncle is not fit for purpose.

And when the Seaway Car Park is turned into Southend’s very own Bas Vegas I expect traffic jams to further obscure the view.

Southend West Labour Candidate backs the Hunting Act

Hunt and houndsI smile as I recall that day, a decade ago, when a Labour Government finally ended the cruelty that was fox hunting. There can be no excuse for animal cruelty, and a measure of how civilised a society is in how it treats animals.

Today we can celebrate the 10 Year anniversary of Labour’s Hunting Act. However, the Conservative Party led by David Cameron wants to scrap the ban and bring back fox hunting.

Julian Ware-Lane said: “I hope that one day we can see the act tightened up, not it being removed from the statute book. We cannot allow this barbarity to return – it really would be a big step backwards.”

The Labour Party has a long and proud tradition of protecting and improving the rights of animals. It was ten years ago today (Tuesday 18th November) that the Labour Party finally ended the cruel and
inexcusable practice of hunting with dogs.

Unfortunately, David Cameron and the Conservatives are determined open up the debate again. The current Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss, recently said that the Hunting Act was a ‘mistake’ and that she would ‘vote for a repeal’.

The Labour Party are clear that with Britain facing a cost of living crisis, this Conservative obsession to hold another vote in Parliament shows just out of touch they are with people’s day to day lives. The Hunting Act remains one of Labour’s proudest achievements and is widely supported across the country.

My views on shooting sports

I have been contacted to ascertain my views about shooting sports. This appears to be inspired by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. I thought it would be useful to answer the questions on this blog.

I was asked to answer the following two questions:

1. Do you support shooting sports conducted according to the law and the current codes of practice?
Yes / No / Don’t Know

2. If elected would you join the All Party Group on Shooting and Conservation?
Yes / No / Don’t Know

I do not support the killing of animals for sport, and thus I cannot support the shooting of ‘game’ birds. Birds shot and eaten, humanely, do not trouble me. I do not understand why anyone thinks it acceptable to make a sport out of any animal’s suffering. I am no vegetarian, and do eat birds – usually chicken, turkey etc, but I have tried pheasant.

I would not stop shooting at targets or clay pigeons, although I confess to being nervous about guns.

I do uphold the law and I would, if elected, explore the possibility of changing the law as regards to shooting birds for fun.

I will not seek to join the All Party Group on Shooting and Conservation if elected, although I am prepared to find out more.

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