Alexandra Yacht Club fire

Cllrs Nevin and Ware-Lane by the burnt remains of the clubhouse

Cllrs Nevin and Ware-Lane by the burnt remains of the clubhouse

Milton Councillors Cheryl Nevin and Julian Ware-Lane were saddened to see the burnt remnants of Alexandra Yacht Club clubhouse today. Alexandra Yacht Club is amongst the oldest Yacht Clubs in the world. The clubhouse was earmarked for demolition next week after subsidence caused the yacht club to relocate to the nearby Naval and Military Club.

Cheryl quickly spotted the breaking news on @YourSouthend twitter feed, rang fellow councillors, cabinet members and press contacts to find out more. “It was clear that a major blaze was underway. I was concerned for residents living nearby, but had a source on scene updating me“.

Julian had been holding his rolling street surgery in Royal Terrace and Clifton Terrace yesterday afternoon, just hours before the blaze. “It is a bizarre coincidence that I was within yards of the building, and talking to residents about the condemned building, only a few hours before this terrible inferno.

Cheryl and Julian met with Yacht Club members today who were putting on their Annual Commodores Race Day to offer their help and support. Cheryl said “As a ward councillor and former dinghy sailor I am keen to offer any help I can. I hope we can facilitate the Club’s recovery and I will be liaising with Council and Club Officers over the coming weeks. I hope they can find a new and permanent home soon.

Tory councillor forgets he is complicit in the neglect of cliffs slippage

Sole remaining Milton Conservative councillor Jonathan Garston appears to be suffering from amnesia. This is the only conclusion one can arrive at after reading his comments about the cliffs slippage by Clifton Drive in Westcliff-on-Sea.

The cliffs slipped here after the August 2013 deluge – some twelve months ago, not the seven or eight that the deliberately forgetful Tory councillor asserts. Ten of those twelve months saw the borough run by the Conservatives, with Jonathan as Cabinet portfolio holder for planning. His legendary underperformance in this role was even acknowledged by his own party as they scrapped the post.

His wish for funding did not extend to his forcefully asking for this at any Council meeting I attended. This area sat largely neglected, and any tidying up it received came about through my intervention.

The area will require cash to fix it; and thanks to cuts imposed by Conservative-led Government cash is in short supply. Cllr J Garston may now hope “the area would have been opened up two months ago”, but this wish was unvoiced at the time (when his party still held the reins of power locally). Perhaps he can now remind us (since this is in a conservation area) why he failed to fulfil his promise of more regular Conservation Working Party meetings during his tenure in charge of this area?

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.

Out, always out, and sometimes about

Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, Ami Willis, Cllr Kevin Robinson - part of the team in Milton today

Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, Ami Willis, Cllr Kevin Robinson – part of the team in Milton today

A casual conversation that somehow lasts half an hour with a couple of residents that is somewhat typical. The chatter includes the news that the lady tripped on an uneven pavement and spent some time at A&E, and experience that she was very positive about. Her husband then appears and starts to complain about the local hospital, which just goes to show that our experiences are unique and different even with the same household. Another resident, a teacher this time, who had very little positive to say about the Government’s education policy. One resident showed an interest in joining the Labour Party, another had no time to converse.

Two new dog waste bins in Milton ward

Park Road

Park Road

Leonard Road

Leonard Road

Two new dogs have been sited in Milton ward, all down to me. Dog excrement is a big issue in some parts of the ward I represent, and trying to find a solution has been one of the challenges I have faced in my two years as a councillor.

Part of the solution in tackling this blight is to have more dog waste bins – although in a packed residential ward finding a suitable site is not easy.

I am pleased to report that we now have two, brand new, dog waste bins. One is at the western end of Leonard Road, the other is at the southern end of Park Road.

Two-thirds red – Cheryl wins it for Labour in Milton ward

In my victory speech in 2012 I said: “one down, two to go”. This could have been said in reverse by Cheryl Nevin in her speech in the early hours of Friday morning, her fabulous victory means that wonderful Milton now has two Labour councillors.

Cheryl has worked very hard for her success, and whilst she has had the support of Southend’s Team Labour, Cheryl has lead from the front for months and months.

It was obvious from the start that Cheryl was having a real impact, and I have no doubt this will continue now that she is Councillor Nevin, and I am absolutely delighted to have a Labour comrade in Milton to assist in making Milton better.

A big thank you to all who voted Labour this year – I hope we can repay your trust. However you voted, Milton’s Labour councillors are there for you.

The result:

Cheryl Nevin Labour 848 36.1%
Vic Lee Conservative 582 24.7%
Edward McNally UKIP 486 20.7%
Mark Sharp Independent 259 11.0%
Bob Howes Liberal Democrat 156 6.6%

Polling day – a few thoughts

ContrastAndCompareWith minutes left to polls close I thought I would share a few thoughts.

First, compare and contrast the two reminder cards (and as far as I could tell it was only Labour and the Conservatives who has these).

Labour reminds the voter about the times the polling stations open and close, and includes a few pledges. The Conservative affair mentions a referendum which neither a councillor nor an MEP can deliver – in other words it is misleading.

I spent three hours, from 7am, at a polling station. It seemed to me that voting was slow. I have little idea what happened later, but I will be interested in the turnout figure.

I saw no Conservative activists at all today. I heard that some were about, but compared to previous years they were very few and far between. It looks like the Tories are in for a bad night – time will tell.

One polling station in Milton, the one at Avenue Baptist Church in Milton Road, was in a slightly different place this year, and the entrance was a short distance from where it had been in recent years. I heard that some voters could not find it, and I am extremely concerned about this. Why wasn’t I warned about this? (I sit on the committee that deals with polling stations and nothing was mentioned via that medium either). If I had been told it could have included this on our literature. Although I do not suggest huge numbers were disenfranchised by this, if the victory margin is small there will be justifiable cause for grievance by the second placed candidate.

I also heard there were issues with a polling station for Westborough ward.

My impressions in Milton are that we worked the hardest, and for the longest. The Tory campaign began after the New Year and was reasonably active, although some way behind ours. The Independent did some work too, although produced only the one leaflet which contained very little in the way of a program for the ward, The Liberal Democrats and UKIP have done nothing in Milton.

As for the European elections, I am loathe to criticise my own party, but where the Hell is my freepost Labour Euro leaflet? If a rabble like the English Democrats can organise one then we should.

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