Dumped, discarded, fly-tipped – the world as created by the inconsiderate and damnably stupid

120912131214It truly is a privilege to represent Milton ward on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. This exciting ward has many wonderful things. However, it has to be said that there are parts of Milton that repeatedly come to my attention. This, usually, is because of rubbish. Dumped, discarded, fly-tipped. Sometimes this rubbish includes excrement, sometimes drug paraphernalia.

I am reluctant to name and shame areas, largely through fear of stigmatising it. The reality is that those inconsiderate, and let’s be honest, damnably stupid people who think it acceptable to deposit their crap wherever their laziness takes them are a minority. The areas thus blighted are still largely inhabited by decent people who deserve better neighbours and visitors.

What this means is that I have to contact the Council and request that an area be cleaned up, and this comes at a cost. Every council tax payer in Southend-on-Sea is footing the bill for the wilful and ignorant whose ideas of civic responsibility would certainly intrigued this councillor.

It is not always possible for the Council to clear up rubbish – it largely depends on where that rubbish is found. The public highway and land owned by the Council is quite straightforward, private property is much more difficult.

Thus, my travels have ensured yet another missive about rubbish, another visit by the Council’s contractors to an all too familiar black spot, blighted by the inconsiderate and damnably stupid.

Lensbury & Britannic House – 5th XV

1218I moved into my current house about nine and a half years ago. Amongst a few things left behind by the previous occupants was the a team photograph of a rugby union team. This was found either in the attic or an outbuilding – I really cannot recall which. I have held onto it as because of its age. It is possible that some photographed here may have no other pictographic record of their existence.

For some time I have been meaning to do some research with a view to passing this on to someone who would have a real interest on the photo. Today, at last, I am doing this.

According to Wikipedia:

The Lensbury Club (“Lensbury Social and Athletic Club”) was established in 1920 as a sports club for Shell staff in the United Kingdom … In 1933 the club merged with “Britannic House”, a similar club operated by BP, and created a joint venture known as the “Lensbury and Britannic House Associated Clubs” – an arrangement that lasted for thirty years.

If anyone would like this photograph, please contact me and we can arrange collection or delivery. It deserves a better home than my garage, where it has lain collecting dust and cobwebs.

The picture here is poor – it is mounted on card and the card has a slight curve on it. It does look its age, but otherwise is in reasonable condition.

Anyway, here is what is written on the card.

SEASON 1935-36

G. Lightfoot (Referee)
E. J. Hart
J. Murray
C. G. Deck
I. B. Nicol
E. A. Cowderoy
M. J. Cooke
N. A. Graystone
S. Hunn
J. D. Meeke
R. L. Leisk (Vice-Capt.)
P. R. Chorley (Capt.)
J. Button
H. F. Williamson
R. G. Haws
I. Rennie


Dear anonymous lady, where is your evidence?

This is a response to the lady who left a message on my council telephone voicemail. I would have called her back except that she left no name or number.

She called regarding my article in the press regarding the homeless; she said that they were not very nice people, and that Milton ward had suffered a crime wave since they had set up tents on the Cliffs.

I really do not know how many of the rough sleepers she had actually met, but describing them all as not very nice leads down a particularly nasty road. Judge individuals not whole groups of people.

It is also some stretch to link to unrelated incidents without any evidence. A crime wave in Milton (a ward that sees enough crime without the presence of rough sleepers) can be ascribed to any number of reasons unless you, like me, prefer the rigour of evidence-based analysis.

I could also point out that the Cliffs have had rough-sleepers encamped within its environs for more than a year – it is just that the latest lot are more visible.

Lady, if you have evidence that links crime to anyone then it is your civic duty to report this to the police. Otherwise I suggest you keep your irrational prejudices to yourself.

Of course I want the problem solved, but let’s tackle this with compassion and empathy for those without a roof of their own.

Best movies ever?

I like films, and have watched a few over the years. I subscribe to IMDB, and mark the films I have watches. I can provide a top ten, based on the 932 that I have apparently marked, and here it is:

1. The 39 Steps (1935)

A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information. (86 mins.)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle

2. Bleak House (2005 Mini-Series)

A suspenseful tale about the injustices of the 19th-century English legal system (510 mins.)
Stars: Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Carey Mulligan, Finn Morrell

3. The Apartment (1960)

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue. (125 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston

4. The Good Wife (2009 TV Series)

Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm. (60 mins.)
Stars: Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry

5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse. (133 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco

6. Casablanca (1942)

Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

7. Pride and Prejudice (1995 Mini-Series)

Jane Austen’s classic novel about the prejudice that occurred between the 19th century classes and the pride which would keep lovers apart. (327 mins.)
Stars: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha

8. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s. (135 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Annie Corley, Victor Slezak

9. North & South (2004 Mini-Series)

North and South is a four part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton. (235 mins.)
Stars: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack

10. Black Adder the Third (1987 TV Series)
Episode: Ink and Incapability (1987)

Baldrick burns the only copy of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, and Blackadder has only one weekend to rewrite it. (180 mins.)
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Helen Atkinson Wood

I guess you have spotted that it is not all films, some TV creeps in. Anyway, what this says about me I am not entirely sure.

Our correspondent in Shanty Town

007I first came across the derelict garages described as a ‘shanty town’ a month or two back. I was out with some councillors and a council officer looking at fly-tipping and dumping problems. I took them down one alley that I knew was normally full of rubbish, then wandered off down another when I came across a part of Milton ward that I had not previously encountered. This was an area, flanked by housing, that contained garages that had clearly not been used to house cars for some time. I could immediately see that some of the garages had been in use, a view substantiated by a resident who told me that it was frequented by the homeless and drug users.

Because this site has been in the local newspapers this week I decided to revisit. I was going to take photographs and do some investigating. I expected a flying visit – I stayed an hour and a half.

I parked up in the Ceylon Road car park and made my way round to the alley that runs along behind the shops and flats between Ceylon Road and Hamlet Court Road. This alley, often strewn with all sorts of rubbish seemed especially blighted this morning. I wandered into the area where there were something like twenty garages, roughly two sets of ten facing each other. Some were in a very bad way, with caved in roofs and all sorts of detritus in them.

Whilst taking a look around I spotted someone in a garage. Crouching to make myself visible under the half-closed garage door I introduced myself to the gentleman who had evidently made this his home, and asked whether I could come in for a chat.

Mr A appeared to be in his early 40s. He told me he had been homeless since February 4th, when he was evicted from his Eastwood flat. He had had a short stay with HARP, and had recently been on the Cliffs, leaving because it was quite cold there. He wanted accommodation. Mr A told me that there were six staying in these garages.

Mr B would like an address – a common theme as the morning went on. He was not able to claim benefits as he had no address (not true for all of the rough sleepers here), and had to beg to get any money. Mr B had been homeless for 19 years.

Mr C had been thrown out of HARP for not engaging. I did question why he had not engaged; he suggested that he had somewhat misunderstood what was required of him, and also said that the rules were too rigid.

Mr D, a 44 year-old, He confessed to having drug issues, and like a number of those here had spent some time in prison. He was another who had spent years on the street.

Ms E, another 44 year old, wanted a roof over her head. She had been homeless for about a year, previously leading a settled life. She was clearly not well, had not eaten much recently, and I suggested that she must see a doctor.

Mr F was another critical of HARP. Mr G, a 33 year old ex-window fitter with young children that he was not seeing regularly explained the vicious circle that was the norm for rough sleepers trying to find work – no home no job, no job no home.

Mr H, at 30, was the youngest I met today. He had been homeless for 3 months since his release from prison. He needed a roof over his head.

Some general themes: Aside from one, a schizophrenic who suffered from claustrophobia, all wanted accommodation. Yet, even the schizophrenic wanted an address – somewhere to leave stuff, etc. His requirements were for a small space to call his own.

There was some criticism of HARP. I attend their trustees meetings (as the Council’s representative) and I have nothing but praise for the organisation, but my opinion was did not entirely tally with those I spoke to today. However, there seemed to be recognition that HARP, in general, were doing a good job.

“They set you up to fail” was what one said of HARP, complaining of too many rules. Another said they were too “black and white” – not enough “grey” with them rules.

“Always worrying about what to eat. How you are going to get food, how you are going to get drinks.” “No address often means no help. Can’t get a place because you can’t get a deposit.”

One guy owed Southend-on-Sea Borough Council £720, and they would not house him because of this debt (says he).

“Drugs numb the pain” said another. I heard stories about rough sleepers being beaten up, kicked, and set on fire.

“Spoke to Family Mosaic yesterday, hopefully they can help.”

A few had mobile phones. I heard how some charged these. It seems you learn a few tricks on the streets.

I was thanked for coming and listening. They were all polite, all very erudite. They need help, but also recognised that (some at least) had made mistakes. Many had seen prison, some were re-offending owing to the need to eat. Many were keen to assure me that the rubbish thereabouts was not their fault – and I can attest to the area being a dumping ground long before the latest batch of rough sleepers had set up home here.

Many had arrived in the last week, although I think it has been used by some for up to a month.

I ended my visit by breaking one of my own rules of not giving in to begging. It was impossible ignoring a request for some money for a drink. I have so much compared to these people.

There is clearly camaraderie amongst those homeless. They do care about having no proper home, not being able to wash, have a toilet, cook, or a place to keep things. They do worry about a lack of regular income. They have problems, and need help. They were happy to talk, and polite. I was pleased I went, pleased to have chatted with them, and hope that in some small way I can make their lives better.

Despite Tory claims, the Cliffs Museum will be very visible

Some within local Conservative Party ranks may choose to believe that “the only thing visible would be the windows looking out over the sea” when it comes to the proposed Cliffs Museum. This somewhat defies reality.

The museum, if ever built, will almost be the height of the cliffs – some five storeys are planned. This includes a car park. The frontage, car park entrance, and indeed various entrances to the museum and restaurants planned will all be visible. Not only this, but the Cliffs gardens here will have to make way for this structure.

By all mean applaud your vandalism, but do not pretend that the impact is minimal. It is a carbuncle that will permanently alter the character of the Cliffs in the area where it is to be imposed. And I keep to my opposition to it.

CANEWDON ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA – to be resurfaced (at last)







  2. Whilst this NOTICE is in operation, all vehicles will be prohibited from:




  1. Nothing in the Notice will apply to:
  • any vehicle being used in connection with the execution of the said works or any public utility vehicle;
  • anything done with the permission or at the direction of a Police Constable in uniform or a Civil Enforcement Officer;
  • any vehicle on an occasion when it is being used for fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes, if the observance of that provision would be likely to hinder the use of the vehicle for the purpose for which it is being used on that occasion, provided that conditions which prevail on site at any one time do not render it unsafe or impossible for such a vehicle or vehicles to use any part of the public highway for the time being;


  2. Whilst the road is closed, an alternative route for traffic will be signed on site and resident’s access will be maintained where possible.
  3. The prohibitions or restrictions will apply only during such time and to such extent as indicated by traffic signs prescribed by the TRAFFIC SIGNS REGULATIONS AND GENERAL DIRECTIONS 2002
  4. Any vehicle waiting in contravention of any restriction/prohibition imposed by this Notice may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice and removed under the provisions of the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986.



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