Onwards, and eastwards
June 5, 2014 1 Comment
We have a change of administration in Southend-on-Sea, officially. Tonight (Thursday) Cllr Ron Woodley (Independent Group, Thorpe ward) was voted in as leader 31 – 18 over Cllr John Lamb (Conservative, West Leigh). There was one abstention (the mayor) and one absentee.
UKIP backed Cllr Woodley, although they remain in Opposition – a role they share with the Conservatives. However, it should be noted that many in the Independent Group were very pally with UKIP tonight, somewhat disturbingly in my opinion. The UKIP leader was gifted an outside body appointment by Cllr Martin Terry – doubtless in appreciation of their electoral pact.
Cllr Woodley leads a Joint Administration consisting of the Independent Group, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats. The seven person Cabinet contains three from the Independent Group, three Labour, and one Liberal Democrat.
I had argued for Labour to be a part of this Joint Administration, despite realising that working with other parties will be a test in itself. Labour has its chance to implement some of its policies, possibly all from the manifesto if it wields its influence wisely. You enter politics to make change happen, and the chance to do this cannot (or should not) be ignored.
The Labour Group will have to ensure that it carries the local parties with it on this new venture. There will be members who will feel uncomfortable with us aligning ourselves with our political foes – even for just a year – but I am confident that they will see the benefits. We must ensure that we retain our distinct voice, and I will endeavour to take my part in this.
One interesting fact – the political centre of gravity has moved eastwards. Six in the Cabinet represent wards in the east of the borough – Thorpe (2), Shoeburyness, Victoria (2), and Kursaal. The west has one representative, from Blenheim Park.