Are you Jonathan Garston? and other themes

I do not attempt to record every action undertaken for residents in this blog, It would be plainly ridiculous. Important as each individual thing is, a long list of pot holes reported, broken streetlights fixed, etc would not be much of a read (some might argue that this blog is not much of a read anyway). Sometimes, though, I think it is interesting to report on some of my conversations.

So, in no particular order, here follows a selection from my recent chats in and about in Milton ward.

“Are you Jonathan Garston?” asked one resident. I had to disappoint this particular lady. I am not sure how we could be confused – I am some twenty years older, fat, and grey (almost white) haired. “No, I’m the Labour councillor” was my reply.

One resident had mould in their living room. They’ve had it for four years. Four years! A partially collapsed kitchen ceiling added to their woes. Litter and dog waste are still a feature of doorstep conversations. I managed recently to persuade a reluctant council official to give me a dog bin in Leonard Road (Westcliff-on-Sea). It is not there yet, but it has been promised. Untidy front gardens and the wish for wheelie bins, bad pavements (again, and again, and again), overdevelopment, wasteful spending by the council, and potholes. On that issue I could at least claim to have asked for Canewdon Road to be re-surfaced; I will keep my fingers crossed for that one.

Overgrown bushes, lack of streetlighting, more bad pavements, and more worries about over-development. Pity that the portfolio holder for Planning wasn’t in Milton ….. oh, hang on ……

I have had a couple of conversations recently about CRB checks, in particular the fact that nothing ever gets dropped from them. I am not sure what the new DBS checks bring, but these checks were introduced because of fears for the protection of children. Yet, these checks can create problems for people who have committed offences some years ago. A spotless record for more than two decades does not remove old offences, and can therefore cause problems and embarrassment. I remember when CRB checks came in because all football referees had to have them. A number of referees quit because of this, and not because they had suspect pasts, but because they felt this was an unnecessarily intrusive.

No-one mentioned the Cliffs Museum, the old Central Library, or the Shoebury flood defences. No-one mentioned the Cabinet system either.

One or two claimed they did not understand politics and so they did not vote. Some were unsure what they would do in May, except that they would not be voting Labour; fortunately they were outnumbered by those who were definitely “not Tory”.

Group, Diwali, CAB

BAPS Shri Swaminarayam Mandir celebration

Another Labour Group meeting chaired by me this week; Cllr David Norman is recovering from an operation and is temporarily absent from council meetings. My attempt at a short and swift meeting singularly failed – we managed two and a half hours. Still, by the standard of some of the meetings I attend that was a short one.

Until recently I was unaware that my ward contained a Hindu temple. It is tucked away in a road with no residences, and so only infrequently visited by me. I was delighted to attend for a short time their Diwali celebrations. Whilst I am an atheist I do campaign for freedom of worship. I enjoyed a small sample of their food and was able to meet and discuss some issues concerning their community.

I recently became a member of the Southend-on-Sea Guild of Help and Citizens Advice Bureau. Their AGM was held this week and I was delighted to be invited to attend.

Tomorrow I am seeing my second architect in eight days regarding a planning application. I am also speaking with SKIPP about the central library. Sunday morning is game three of my football season: Leigh Ramblers versus Area Boys.

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