A wet firework at the east of the borough

Last night’s hustings in Shoeburyness was a damp squib. Rather than a debate amongst all the parties involved in campaigning at the eastern end of the borough we were treated (sic) to a disappointing match between an Independent and a Conservative. It was decided that only candidates contesting Shoeburyness ward would be allowed to participate, thus denying the audience a decent debate and Labour (in the guise of Matt Dent) and UKIP (James Moyies) a chance to put their views across. I cannot understand the logic in this – whatever you think of Labour and UKIP, their voices should be heard.

Roger Hadley was the comfortable winner as regards to what little debate we had. I am not fan of the Tories, but Cllr Hadley comfortably bested Nick Ward, who may well be the worst prepared candidate at any hustings I have been to. If Mr Ward is elected he has a steep learning curve. My view did not tally with the majority of the audience, whose prejudices against the Council’s plans for Shoebury’s sea defences meant that nothing that Cllr Hadley said would please them.

The two hours was largely taken up with Shoebury sea defences, housing on Shoebury common, the CCTV enforcement vehicle (spy car), and the closure of East beach.

Nick Ward stated (several times) that he would vote against the proposal to build houses on Shoebury Common, thus ensuring the reverse. He has made prejudicial comments at a public meeting in advance of the official review of the planning application. Whilst you can talk in generalities about types of applications, making such a statement about a specific application rules you out from participating in that decision. Each application must be treated on its merits, without prejudice, and on the day that Development Control sits.

Mr Ward stated his opposition to building on green spaces (something that I would broadly support) and then said he wanted a dual-carriageway to link Shoebury to the rest of the world; this would use up a considerable amount of green space. He wants the council to own the East beach and to pay for the removal of ordnance – but would not say where the money would come from to do this. He thinks that politics has no place in local government, yet is associated with the very political Independent Group (although he agreed that he would not be part of this group if elected – which will be interesting if he is successful). He also said he would represent residents’ views – I have yet to meet a candidate or councillor he did not say they would do this. Nick did seem somewhat bereft of positive ideas – he could state what he was against, but not what he was for.

(Nick Ward was the candidate in Chalkwell in 2012, has Mike Assenheim as his agent, and lives in Thorpe ward.)

As for Roger; well, he is not noted for his rebellious stance within his group, so every failure of the Conservative administration can be laid at his door.

Fortunately, Shoeburyness residents do not have just these two to choose from – it would be a desperately poor contest if that were the case.

I would encourage every Shoeburyness voter to back Maggie Kelly, the Labour Party candidate.

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