At Full Council last Thursday

The meeting commenced with a minute’s silence for Cllr Liz Day (Conservative, West Shoebury) who had passed away. Very sad news.

I asked two questions.

The first was this: Members will be aware that I, and my fellow Milton councillor, Cllr Nevin, have some reservations regarding the redevelopment proposals for the Seaway Car Park. At a recent meeting I was assured by the portfolio holder, Cllr Terry, that he would ensure that the road infrastructure in and around the Seaway Car Park, would be improved to cope with additional traffic demands. Would the portfolio holder please give me an update on where we are on this issue?

In my supplementary I suggested that the portfolio holder appeared to be handing over responsibility to the developer – something he denied. This is an issue I shall be keeping an eye on.

The second was this: Noting the UNISON petition on cuts to mental health services, can the portfolio holder confirm that he has met with affected staff, and can he outline what step are being taken on this issue?

On a number of occasions Cllr Davies (UKIP, Kursaal) seemed intent on demonstrating his lack of understanding regarding council procedures. They are pretty straightforward, although I guess some allowance can be made for the first meeting, or two. But a year on – what is going on?

Under Minute 805 Monthly Performance Report the Conservatives requested a named vote as they were unhappy with the education target. They lost this voted 13 – 24, with one abstention, yet again proving how comprehensively out-gunned are they in council at the moment.

I asked a question on Minute 835 Entice 42-82 Warrior House Southend-on-Sea. I expressed regret that this application had been allowed, although I did not blame the councillors on Licensing for their decision – their hands were effectively tied. There is no Locality Policy, and I extracted from the portfolio holder a promise that he would look into this. I expressed my gratitude for his response, and stated that I believe this is urgently needed.

Cllr Cheryl Nevin (Labour, Milton) also expressed her disappointment. Cllr Judith McMahon (Labour, Kursaal), who chaired the Licensing meeting, said that the vote was not unanimous and that she had voted against it.

Labour’s promise on the natural environment

Put in place a 25 year plan for the recovery of nature, with clear five year milestones to measure progress
Give local communities the tools they need to protect and improve nature and support changes to the Common Agriculture Policy to do more to protect the environment
End the badger cull: we need an evidence-based approach to bovine TB to tackle this devastating disease
Empower local government to act on air pollution
Ban wild animals in circuses
Review the inadequate regulations on the sale of puppies and kittens
End the illegal persecution of birds of prey, such as the hen harrier
Prevent non-target animals getting trapped in snares
Ensure the humane treatment of game birds
Defend the Hunting Act

Labour’s record:

• Introduced the first National Parks in 1949
• Introduced the Right To Roam in 2000 giving a new right of access on foot to areas of open land (mountain, moorland, heath, downland, common land)
• Introduced first the Marine Act in 1999 to create “a new system of marine management” and make provision for the establishment of an English and Welsh coastal walking route
• Commissioned the UK’s National Ecosystem Assessment (2009-11) which established that 30 per cent of the UK’s ecosystems are in decline and many others are only just holding their own against an increasingly hostile background of rising population, consumption and pollution
• The Hunting Act 2004 was a hard fought, necessary piece of legislation and it remains one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government to consign the cruel sport of fox hunting to the dustbin of history where it belongs
• Ended the cosmetic testing of animals
• Banned fur farming
• Introduced the Animal Welfare Act 2006

Labour’s promise on climate change

Re-establish Britain as a global leader on climate change and put sustainability back at the top of the agenda, protecting our natural environment and wildlife for future generations
Play a leading role in the UN Paris Climate Change negotiations and within global and regional institutions like the EU, to help to ensure an ambitious emissions target for all countries, reviewed every 5 years, based on a scientific assessment of the progress towards the 2C goal
Push for global action to tackle climate change as a key part of our international development work. If temperature changes lead to more droughts or floods, farming will be at risk, and hunger will return to countries where people now have access to food. This will lead to more migration
Stick to ambitious, legally binding targets for carbon reduction – including the decarbonisation of our electricity supply by 2030
Prioritise investment in flood prevention, and produce a new plan for climate change adaptation
Full implementation of carbon budgets, and to the current Fourth Carbon Budget, which covers the period 2023-27, and commits the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent in 2025 on 2012 levels (50 per cent on 1990 levels).

Our record in Government:

• Led the world with historic Climate Change Act
• Gordon Brown MP commissioned the Stern Report, which concluded that failure to avoid the worst effects of climate change could lead to global GDP being up to 20 per cent lower than it otherwise would be. Acceptance of the report by the government laid the foundations for the substantially revised energy and climate change policies the government has pursued, particularly since 2007
• Gordon Brown MP was the first world leader to commit to attending the Copenhagen Summit
• Made life better for millions of the poorest people by cancelling third world debt and improved water or sanitation services for over 1.5 million people worldwide.

Flawed thinking: Green hysterics

jonFullerDotOrgJon Fuller advertise his website on his election literature. His sole article (so far) is an exercise in flawed thinking.

The climate changes, indisputable. Some 11,000 years ago we saw the end of the most recent ice age – the world has been warming up since then. This is not a consistent warming up, the mean temperature for our planet actually fluctuates quite a bit.

Some of the warmest years on record have occurred recently, and some of this will be down to the natural climate fluctuations. Some of this will, though, be a by-product of man’s activities.

According to Southend West’s Green candidate, Jon Fuller, there is certainty in the science. He is sure of what he believes, and his hyperbole brooks no argument.

I think he is blinkered. I am an environmentalist, and I do think we should be doing more to arrest global warming, but I think people like Jon damage our prospects. He comes across as irrational.

The science is inexact and opinion varies. However, I have always argued that in of itself, despite climate change, environmentalism is good. Being respectful of the natural world and being careful with scarce resources strikes me as sensible .

There are a whole host of reasons for poverty and starvation, and most of these are down to world of unfairness. We produce enough food to feed everyone, but tied to global capitalism we are unable to fairly distribute it. Whilst we throw away huge amounts of food, others starve.

Using the holocaust to boost one’s arguments is revolting. Whatever Mr Fuller thinks of mass consumption, consumers are not Nazis. Neither are governments merely seeking to make their people prosper.

People want choice. People want to travel. People like electronic toys, and all sorts of consumer items. People want their children to be more prosperous than them. Green Party policy attempts to shut much of this down. I think we need to strike a balance. For instance, making aircraft greener has got to be the way, not banning them.

The denial of austerity (which I do not like, but I accept that we have to tackle debt) is one thing; to talk of shrinking GDP and yet promising all sorts of expenditure is primary school politics.

We have to be greener, and the only way this is going to happen is with a Labour Government. Making daft and exaggerated comments only discredits arguments for greener politics. I like passion in politics, but I also like discipline when it comes to making one’s arguments.

The Liberal Party, in Chelmsford

chelmsfordLiberalNot every member of the Liberal Party was overjoyed when they merged with the Social Democrats – there is still a small rump of old Liberals who are clearly not enamoured of Nick Clegg or his party.

I am not sure how many candidates they are putting up in the General Election, but they are contesting Chelmsford. They should eat into the Liberal Democrat vote here.

A mere twitch, the barest movement in the polls

July last year I did a round-up of the opinion polls.

The averages then showed the following:

35.3% Labour
31.8% Conservative
15.4% UKIP
7.9% Liberal Democrat

Given the margin of error for all polls is +/-3% you could argue that ten months on nothing has changed,

Lab Con LDem UKIP Grn
18 April 2015 YouGov 36 33 8 13 5
18 April 2015 Opinium 32 36 8 13 5
20 April 2015 Populus 34 32 9 15 4
20 April 2015 ICM 32 34 10 11 5
20 April 2015 Ashcroft 30 34 10 13 4
20 April 2015 YouGov 35 34 7 13 5
22 April 2015 YouGov 34 35 7 13 5
23 April 2015 Panelbase 34 31 7 17 4
23 April 2015 Survation 29 33 10 18 4
23 April 2015 ComRes 32 36 8 10 5
23 April 2015 YouGov 35 33 8 13 5
Averages 33.0 33.7 8.4 13.5 4.6
Avgs Feb 25th 33.1 31.4 7.9 16 5.6
Movement -0.1 2.3 0.5 -2.5 -1.0

In ten months Labour have dropped 2.3%, the Conservatives have gained 1.9%, UKIP has fallen 1.9%. and the Liberal Democrats 0.5% up. Given that all movements are less than 3%, and therefore within the accepted margin of error, it looks pretty steady.

With a mere thirteen days left then, the question remains: will anything change? If not then we are clearly in hung Parliament territory. However, with still quite a number declaring as undecided there is still everything to play for.

If the numbers are accurate then there is perceptible squeeze on UKIP and the Greens going on.

Teacher can’t spell!

ChalkCllr Anne Chalk exhorts all to “Meet the Candidates Here their views“. ‘Here’? ‘Here’!

She means (I hope) ‘hear’.

Cllr Chalk is a retired teacher.

After last year’s fiasco I will not be going to this event. It was a stage-managed, Chalk-arranged, gerrymandered affair – quite the most disappointing hustings I have been to.

If you have a couple of hours to spare on Monday I suggest you help Maggie Kelly’s election campaign.

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