Do we have a split amongst Southend’s Tories?

Anna Waite’s suggested cleansing of Southend’s town centre has attracted criticsim from many quarters – including her own colleagues.

Anna, I remind you, wrote: All around the town centre are run down properties, bedsits and hostels. Single mums in bedsits, drug and alcohol addicts, the homeless and those on multiple benefits do not have cash to spend in shops, therefore, when a store looks at Southend it does not come, unless it is a pound shop or similar that is.

Tory councillor Mark Flewitt has responded with this: It is astonishing to read the condemnation of single parents by Anna a former councillor and former leader of the council. …. this was deeply offensive to some and certainly against my political sensitivity

After the ham-fisted way she dealt with Blaine Robin (who openly critiscised his party for this) one wonders whether she will remain as Chair of Rochford and Southend East Conservative Party for much longer.

7 Responses to Do we have a split amongst Southend’s Tories?

  1. I found her outburst absolutely shocking and you have reminded me I was going to write into the Echo to complain not only about the views themselves, but that they were given such a prominence in the paper. It beggars belief that a councillor can not only equate women in a particular situation – not men, you understand, oh no – with drug and alcohol abusers, without any comment from the paper. I think we all know why that is….

  2. Andy, I’d point out that Anna Waite isn’t even a councillor- she was chucked out in last May’s election. Her only political significance is as chairman of the local Conservative party, which doesn’t at all warrant the prominence of her comments in the paper.

  3. sam web says:

    I wouldn’t expect you to agree with all of what Anna says however there’s no disputing that she has started an important and interesting debate. High streets throughout England are going to face new challenges over the next decade with competition from the internet, retail parks and shopping centers like bluewater. Southend high street also faces it’s own individual problems, the quality of shops in the high street have been in a slow and constant decline, and many of the side streets and residential areas have become run down as more and more family homes have been converted to bedsits. I’d be really interested to hear Labour’s solution to turning the tide on the decline that has taken part in the town over the last 20 or even 30 yrs. This is a great opportunity to voice solutions and ideas on how to save and improve our high street, rather than petty sniping for the sake of scoring political points.

  4. I have said that much of what Anna Waite wrote I can agree with. It is when she effectively talked of cleansing the town centre that I found real problems with her views.

    The decline of the High Street has been going on for decades, and I have argued that this is because of poor decisions taken by the Conservative administrations over the years.

    In this blog I have set out my views about our town, and Labour locally produces a manifesto in which we state what our program would be if elected.

  5. Rob Brown says:

    Sam, Labour have consistently released a manifesto for Southend every year. Even the Conservatives do not have the vision to do this.

    We opposed the closure of York Road market which contribted to the decline of Southend.
    We opposed the closure of Warrior Square swimming pool which forces people to go outside of Southend.
    We have been consistently calling for regeneration of of the disused area along Victoria Avenue that would be the perfect spot for a mixed housing development. Creating more brownfield development.
    We were agains the shocking waste of money of regenerating VIctoria Circus. Which now is going to have to be partly redeveloped again because of the new Tesco.

    Quite frankly the Conservative have left the town into rag and ruin. For Anna Whaite to scream about single mothers and alcoholics from the sideline is simply offensive. Southen does not need social cleansing, it needs sesible and managed redevelopment.

  6. sam web says:

    I can in no way see how see is talking of “cleansing the town center” and I don’t see how using this sort of emotive language in any way helps reasoned debate.

    I agree with you that the decline of the high street has been going on for decades, it probably started as far back as 30 yrs ago. The problems are far more complex than the loss of York Rd market and a swimming pool, In fact I personally think that in the last 7 yrs or so things have got slightly better, with the re-devopment of the Palace hotel, the seafront, vic circus, warriors sq etc tho I accept that many people will always be against change.

    I certainly agree that Victoria ave should be redeveloped with provision for either offices or flats, tho I disagree that it should be mixed housing. It’s not that I am in anyway against social housing I just feel that it needs to be dispersed and that s’end town center already has far more than its fair share, I agree with Anna that instead of building more social housing we should put the money into improving the standards of what we already have.

  7. Sam: I think Anna Waite’s intentions are quite clear. Her article starts quite well, but she goes downhill rapidly with her stereotyping and identification of certain people as being the problem. She offers no solution, other than to ship them out of their current places of residence.

    Things did get better for a while. Injections of cash from the EU and from the Labour government helped, as did the general atmosphere under a government that clearly cared for all of its citizens. I am afraid that Anna is following a long line of those on the right who like to scapegoat the vulnerable.

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