Westborough Voice March 2014

WestboroughVoice

Kevin joins Mike on the 2014 Labour ticket for Westborough

Cllr Ian Gilbert congratulates Kevin Robinson on his selection

Cllr Ian Gilbert congratulates Kevin Robinson on his selection

Cllr Martin Terry’s choosing to abscond from Westborough ward a year early has necessitated a by-election, likely to run alongside the other local elections being held on May 22nd. This has meant that the Westborough Labour Party has had to choose a second candidate to run alongside Mike Royston.

I attended last night’s selection as an observer and a scrutineer of the vote. I can announce that Kevin Robinson was selected, and we now have quite a formidable pairing. Kevin has already been out and about supporting Mike’s campaign, and he resides in the ward. Kevin is also a former councillor (as is Mike) and Leader of the Labour Group and will be a considerable asset to the council chamber.

Whilst I am not counting chickens before they hatch, the Conservatives have not won this ward in living memory, the Independents here are discredited (and hence Cllr Terry’s decision to jump before he is pushed), and the Liberal Democrats gymnastic support of the Tories will be rewarded with another dismal result (see 2012 and their 5.4% and sixth spot).

On the doorstep in Westborough

You do meet Conservatives on the doorstep in Westborough, occasionally, still determined to vote blue come what may. More often you will meet Conservatives supporters who are unsure whether to stick with the blues, to vote elsewhere, or to sit on their hands. Whilst it matters little in Westborough, it does illustrate the Tory conundrum. The Tory Westborough campaign is going to be a token effort at best, even in a good year they cannot really hope for a Westborough victory. But, what you see on the doorstep in Westborough is repeated in doorsteps across the borough.

I do not believe that every wavering Tory supporter is on the brink of switching to UKIP, but clearly there are a number who will. I actually think that most will choose abstention. Parties in Government usually see their supporters switch off in large numbers, and what we are seeing today in Westborough is this, in part at least. I also sense something else though. There is disillusionment amongst their supporters, and this comes, in my experience, from their view that Cameron is weak and subject to sudden and frequent policy changes. As one lifelong Westborough Tory admitted to me: “I really am not sure what I will do in May. I have always voted, you can’t complain if you don’t. But Cameron is all over the place. He is not a strong leader.” (This is not verbatim, but certainly conveys the gist of our conversation.) I suggested that they might consider Labour – I got an unconvincing ‘maybe’ in reply.

You also meet Liberal Democrats, in greater numbers than are found in Milton ward. There is a small but significant loyal band. I have not found enough to make me (as Labour’s campaign coordinator across the borough) panic, but I think they will do better than the 5.4% they got in Westborough last time (2012). I am not sure whether they will improve on the fifth place they got in 2012 – this will depend on who else is standing. Now that there are two slots to be voted for the minor places are quite unpredictable. It will be interesting to see how much effort the local Liberal Democrats expend here as they will also be fire-fighting in three other wards. They will do well to hold St Laurence, Blenheim Park and Prittlewell, and this May will be a test of their local organising capability.

Voters still loyal after four years of coalition are unlikely to switch at this late date, not in Westborough anyway where the Lib Dem support has already evaporated. Those that I spoke to were certainly not minded to shift, but it was still worthwhile to point out just how much ground they have to make up here.

I met someone who was forming his own party. I asked that they email me details, and I will write something as and when that happens. I met many who did not realise just how close things were last time in the ward (38 votes separated the Independent from second-placed Labour), although quite a few were aware of just how volatile this ward can be.

News of Cllr Martin Terry’s dash for Thorpe ward was not greeted with surprise, even by those still unaware that this had just been announced. This left me to imagine that Westborough voters were attuned to this idea already – which made me wonder that Independent disatisfaction was very entrenched. There were voters who still declared themselves as Independent voters, but my limited sampling suggests that their appeal continues to shrink.

It is always interesting to see what response you get when you ask residents when was the last time one of their councillors knocked at their door – I met no-one who could recall when this last occurred. Ask them who their councillors were and the most common response was Dr Vel. Martin Terry was also named – even Lib Dem supporters could not name their councillor, which did surprise me. As for candidates, Mike Royston is clearly becoming better known as a number responded to my opening salvo with “oh yes, we know Mike”.

I have done quite a few doorstep sessions over the last in year in Westborough. It feels like Labour will have a good win here. I expect the Indies to run us close second – although their image has clearly been tarnished. Based on the responses I have received the Tories will again better the Liberal Democrats in Westborough – and if UKIP were to suddenly show an interest here then third spot could be a close contest.

As to issues: Westcliff library, dislike of the Tory administration, parking, jobs, and bills. Surprisingly not one mention of litter or alleyways.

Westborough Voice February 2014

WestboroughVoice

Westborough Focus – summer 2013

WestboroughFocusSummer2013It is big and it is orange. It moans about the cuts, and neglects to remind its audience that the Liberal Democrats are responsible for the cuts.

Cllr Paul Collins likes to clear rubbish, and often poses in alleys to demonstrate just how good he is at it. I have suggestion; join me and my Labour comrades who are attempting to rid us all of this rubbish coalition government.

In the meantime, if you endorse austerity be prepared to see libraries and other services suffer.

Another rift in Westborough, another let down for residents

It seems we have another spat in a residents association in Westborough ward. It is almost comical, but it is also rather sad. A few years ago we had RAW – the Residents Association of Westborough. There were squabbles within this organisation (I am taking no sides here) and the WCA (Westborough Community Association) was formed. RAW eventually became RAW 2012.

Anyway, there has now been a disagreement in WCA which has led the person in charge of their website taking it down. Without passing any judgement on the rights and wrongs in this dispute I am surprised that the website does not belong to the organisation rather than to one individual.

It does appear that the fragile egos of those trusted with running residents groups in this ward are undermining any good work they may be undertaking. No wonder these groups are finding fewer supporters nowadays – they are making themselves irrelevant. I have been involved in running enough bodies to understand that disagreements do happen; successful organisations are those that get over these internal disagreements.

If you go to http://www.wwca.eu/ you will find this:

Westborough Community Association

Due to unforeseen circumstances the WCA web site is off line for the foreseeable future so are the email addresses
The next meeting is Wednesday 18th September at the Royal British Legion, Northview Drive, Westcliff, at 7PM for 7-30 to 9PM
Chairman David Webb can be contacted at webbdavid33@googlemail.com
Dave Batter can be contacted at dave.batter@kitchenman.co.uk

Err, no you don’t!

Cllr Paul Collins has written “One of the advantages of living in Westborough is the short walk to the glorious Priory Park.

On the same page his address is shown as Green Lane, Leigh-on-Sea. This is in Eastwood Park ward.

Now, Paul is an intelligent chap, but he could genuinely not know the Westborough ward boundaries. Or he could be making a distortion.

He could claim he was not talking about himself; but then he does continue with “Today we enjoyed Jazz …”.

Another chapter in the Westborough soap opera

Cllr Dr Marimuthu Velmurugan has given me permission to reproduce the following email. This was addressed to a Council officer and copied to all councillors. It follows the public and acrimonious split between the two founders of the Independent Group.

Thank you for answering an irrelevant question to the welfare of the ward concerned from a resident which Cllr Terry The Independent party (all but name}group leader ,and the Opposition Leader of the council( which is Very Official and I accept ) did not answer and passed it on to you. . That is very clever diplomatic politics from some one who needs to face an election in 2014 if I am correct .. please spend the festival period holiday which you have earned ,with your family and friends, the very fact the SBC is the council of the year is itself answers all questions at the very top as these mentioned 4 projects only got this coveted award to this council
Time is cheap for many but money is not cheap, TIME IS MONEY. Money is Time and is very useful also at hard times.
Now I have time in my hand to take on anybody
Kind regards,
DRVEL
The NON-Dependant councillor, SOUTHEND ON SEA Borough COUNCIL, The council of the year 2012
P S I delete 90% of my Emails, I select them at leisure..

Dr Vel, I didn’t know you could get down like that

Cllr Dr Marimuthu Velmurugan has become the second Southend councillor to leave his group within the last few months. The Southend Echo reports that he has resigned from the Independent Group – in itself a logical contradiction.

Cllr Ric Morgan split from the Liberal Democrats in July, joining the Liberal Party and the Independent Group. This made the Independent Group the second largest in the council chamber, taking them to eleven councillors. Now that Dr Vel has resigned they are back to ten.

Every change in group size has a consequential impact on committee membership and so I expect another round of adjustments as a consequence. (I confess to being a little unsure of my facts here, and so it is possible that Dr Vel may still contribute to the Independent Group’s quota a per pro committees.)

The Independent Group is a contradictory body, denying it is a party yet acting very much like one. Dr Vel’s resignation will add to the body of evidence that suggests this Group is everything that it pretends not to be. As Jack Monroe has written, they give every impression of having mastered the art of looking both ways as regards being a party opposed to ‘party politics’.

It will be interesting to see whether in 2016 Dr Vel decides to seek re-election, and whether the Independent Group put up against him. In the meantime Westborough ward is now represented by councillors from three separate groupings. The fullness of time may see Cllr Velmurugan adopt new colours – his adoration for the Conservative council leader may yet see him say “I do” to any marriage proposal that sees him united with those whose views he so clearly shares. This would see the council chamber wrested back from NOC to CON majority.

Westborough’s November Focus

Westborough Focus is edited by Neil Monnery and so I was expecting something a little more, er, interesting.

Neil Monnery is a Liberal Democrat blogger who has an exotic taste in subject matter. The following is a sample of posts he has written over the last half year,

 A bad error of judgement by the Southend Lib Dems
 The story of my (very real) UFO encounter and my (quite possible) alien abduction
 The (quite) interesting and bizarre world of online dating EXTRA!
 Take Me Out Girls USA
 The day I became a woman for 12 long hours…
 The online dating world and the real world accidentally meeting…
 The problem with being a 29 year-old virgin and having a Facebook account for your sanity levels
 It is time to announce my retirement from the world of online dating
 A cream that makes a woman’s vagina ‘feel like a virgin’ again – I expected more uproar/debate…
 A dating timetable? I like this idea!
 Men with a lack of self-confidence and a one-way ticket to the friend zone I have some dating advice for you…
 A three-part dream? Yes it seriously happened and boy was it fun.
 How to write a good online dating profile
 Take Me Out Girls 2012 on ITV1 – Season 4 Photos & Details
 Tonight I met Tina Cousins and acted very cool and not fangirlish…then I realised I had my flies undone. Fail.
 First date dating tips for men
 So I had a date last night? Who wants the goss…? I thought you might…
 The stigma of being ‘weird’ and ‘creepy’ that hovers like a spectre…

Neil is very wordy in his blog, and considerably less so as the Focus editor. Perhaps having to concentrate on sensible subjects sapped his energy, or maybe it is the lack of anything resembling progress by his party that leaves him uninspired. It could even be that he casts his mind back to May and the ninety votes he got in Westborough and wonders “what’s the point?”

Whatever it is the latest edition is neither of triumph for substance nor style. I suggest a ‘please recycle BEFORE reading’ headline next time.

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