Tchotchkes, tchotchkelehs and bibelots

The amount of time I can spend on pavement politics is limited in part by the weather. Rain almost always stops play; heat-waves certainly reduce the amount of doorstep activity. I have, though, still managed to put in some time recently, dodging both showers and the full glare of a very hot sun when I can.

It is vital to engage, even if this means repeated conversations. Very often it is the same subjects that come up time and again, although there can be nuanced differences. Hearing the same issues over and over again at least highlights its importance. Yes, it was more stories of parking misery, litter and dog’s mess, and low-level anti-social behaviour. Homelessness is coming up more and more, and the begging that often accompanies it. This is especially true in and around Hamlet Court Road where aggressive begging is frequently reported to me. This is being dealt with, and did improve for a while, but it seems to be getting worse again.

Residents tell me of open drug dealing, of drinking on the streets (even in those subject to alcohol exclusion orders), and I have had the occasional racist incident reported to me. Whilst it is important to note that these are often isolated and rare incidents, perpetrated by a minority, I am determined to tackle all sorts of nuisance – from the extreme right down to the trivial.

We have mixed days of good news and good results and of finite resources shrinking in response to austerity.

You do meet some very interesting characters in Westcliff-on-Sea. I have had chats with Jane Austen experts and cabaret singers, models and small business owners, artists and artisans; those struggling with disabilities, those struggling to find employment, those struggling to make ends meet. Yet, Westcliff-on-Sea remains, mostly, a happy, vibrant and diverse town.

Of course there is resentment and frustration directed to some residents who believe that dog ownership does not come with the responsibility of picking up after your pooch, and to those who find it acceptable to dump their trash wherever they please. There is frustration with unmended pavements, uneven roads, scruffy gardens, empty shops, and overcrowded streets that are all but impossible to park in. I will continue to seek to be told about these, and maybe I will be able to find satisfaction in finding solutions.

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