In, out, in, out, shake it all about – Aylen dumped (again)

Call me old fashioned, but I think that appointments should run their natural course, which is usually annually. In the case of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s appointments, these are made at the second Full Council of the Civic Year, normally in late May or early June.

No-one should be unaccountable, but unless extraordinary circumstances force otherwise, appointments should run for the year. Thus, in my humble opinion, no sackings or resignations.

Cllr Stephen Aylen (Independent, Belfairs) was appointed as Chair of the Public Transport and Buses Working Party this year. I would describe his chairing style as interesting. He is, though, passionate.

Anyone who goes canvassing will tell you that buses and public transport are a regular feature of doorstep conversations in Southend. The Council may be little more than a lobbying group in some ways, but it is dealing with a subject that is dear to many residents hearts. Buses matter, period.

When Cllr Aylen left the Independent Group he was dismissed as chair from this working party. At the time I thought it was heavy-handed, and so must others as he was re-instated pretty quickly. I am now told that he has been sacked again.

This is rapidly becoming a farce. Whoever is responsible (and I have my suspicions) really should understand just how daft this looks. It smacks of petty revenge from where I am sitting.

When you see close up how independents behave then you really appreciate the need for political parties.

What wounded beast ventures upon this scene?

It says something when a councillor blogger, silent for three and a half years, decides it is time to write again only when his pocket is under attack. Oh dear.

It makes for priceless reading, so much so that I have included it in its entirety below.

I am not going to tackle every accusation, most of what Councillor Brian Ayling has written is beyond childish. No wonder his tenure as leader of the Independent Group was brief. However, I am curious as to what he thinks he does in his role as councillor that is so radically different from the other fifty in the chamber?

No-one has asked that he refuse his allowance, only that the opinion of the independent body that looked into it (and decided that it should be cut) be respected. This same independent body, by the way, that also recommended rises elsewhere that I objected to (and won majority support for). He has actually come out better than most, if he could only lift those pound signs from his eyes.

Cllr Ayling thinks he deserves more than was offered, the socialists decided that we could not support any rises.

Thursday, 6 August 2015
August 2015
At this moment in time, the very structure of the Administration of Southend Council is at risk. I have been criticised for complaining about a cut in my Special allowance for Chairing the Appeals Committee. All the comments and criticism have come from Labour activists and indeed Councillors. As usual with Labour, the words and the hypothesis are manipulated to create the false and seemingly fraudulent claims of “caring” Socialists. They state that I earn £1,000 for each Committee I sit upon as Chair of the Appeals Committee A. The allowance for 2012 was £4,201 which amounts to a monthly payment of £361.37. The Appeals Committee is very important and provides, if warranted, bus passes for children to get to school and as important, reviews employment disputes. Any dispute can end up in Court with potential costs of tens of thousands of pounds, having to be found by the Council and the taxpayer.

The Labour personnel criticising me do not mention the £5,041 that the Labour Chair of Licensing receives or the other allowances that other Labour Councillors receive. Of course not because Labour is the Party of envy and indeed greed as the latest events with their Lord Sewell have shown.

My basic allowance for the past few years was £8,402 plus the allowance for the Chair of Appeals Committee A which totalled (Feb 2015 Pay slip) £1,084.10 less tax of £146 giving me a monthly income of £938.10. Out of this I pay for my mobile phone, my own Internet and the power to run the Council provided lap top and all car, mileage, insurance expenses involved in my driving around the St. Luke’s Ward to see residents and check on pavements, pot holes, signs, rubbish, verge damage, benefit problems and ASB problems. I work, probably 35 hours a week but it seems like 80 hours and at 35 hours, I receive £6.70 an hour and all my expenses come out of that so I get probably £3.35 an hour!

I will not resort to trying to establish any justification in what I do but I will condemn the Socialists who attempt to criticise me when they fail to refuse their allowances which they could do.

All will come to fruition soon and we will see those that fail to honour their own words and who can only attempt to criticise others, left by the wayside as their supporters realise they speak with forked tongues.

Dear Comrades in the Independent Group

Dear Comrades in the Independent Group

Being the ever helpful chappie that I am, I thought I would offer some guidance. You see, from where I am standing (actually, sitting) you seem to want to act like a party but cannot suppress your inner-anarchists. Whilst individualism is to be applauded, acting like a mutinous crew does not inspire confidence. If we are to be bosom buddies for more than a couple of years can suggest you look at the handy hints listed below?

• Argue behind closed doors. Particularly useful if you want to keep the group intact.
• Debate like comrades. Scrapping like Kilkenny cats may satisfy your blood lust, but it may also end with you as spectators rather than players in Southend politics.
• Have a whip. If you can agree a policy line then a whip ensures that all your members honour the collective will of the group.
• Dictatorship is not leadership.
• Treat your ward colleagues like a team, not as rivals for the affections of the residents.
• If you must disagree, at least act gracefully.
• If you need to have a robust conversation do it without an audience.
• Service before self is a motto worth unofficially adopting. You serve to improve the town, not your bank balance.
• Throwing a tantrum and quitting does not serve yourselves, your group, or Southend residents. However, it does make your opponents very happy.
• Value your independence of thought, but also value collective action.

Lots of love, Jules XX

Aylen quits the Independent Group

The fallout from the Place Scrutiny Committee 13th July is that the Independent Group is down one.

Cllr Stephen Aylen (Belfairs) has resigned from the Group. In his own words:

I have been elected to represent the residents of Belfairs and I can no longer do that to an acceptable standard to my residents under the independent group control.
I was forced to make a choice between my residents and supporting the leader of the council.
Supporting the leader of the council would I believe seriously affected the residents of Belfairs and adjoining areas.

Cllr Aylen remains in the Joint Administration, although whether he remains Chair of the Public Transport and Buses Working Party remains to be seen.

This leaves the political composition of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council as follows:

22 Conservative
10 Independent Group
9 Labour
4 Liberal Democrat
3 Southend Independence
1 Independent

It is clearly a fractured picture, with Labour within touching distance of being the largest group in the Joint Administration. This will make next May’s elections very interesting.

The Greens in the East

The Green Party stood candidates in fifty-four of the fifty-eight East of England constituencies, and they lost their deposit in forty-three of them. They only attracted above a tenth of the vote in one constituency, which must be a disappointment for them.

Their best vote shares in the East:

13.9% Norwich South
7.9% Bury St Edmunds
7.9% Cambridge
6.3% South Cambridgeshire
5.9% Suffolk Coastal

And their worst:

0% Basildon and Billericay
0% Hertsmere
0% South Basildon and East Thurrock
0% Thurrock
2.2% Great Yarmouth
2.2% Harlow

My opponent in Southend West attracted 4.7%, and in Rochford and Southend East they just about saved their deposit with 5.0% of the popular vote. All round Essex was not fertile territory (Colchester saw their best vote share with 5.1%) although I doubt this will put them off.

The Southend Green performance

This year the Green Party almost fielded a full slate in the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections. Here is how their candidates got on:

Westborough 4th 11.7% 6 candidates
Leigh 4th 11.5% 4
Milton 3rd 10.9% 5
Kursaal 4th 9.6% 5
Victoria 4th 9.0% 5
Prittlewell 5th 8.8% 5
Chalkwell 5th 8.3% 5
Eastwood Park 4th 8.1% 4
St Laurence 8th 7.6% 10
Blenheim Park 5th 7.6% 5
West Shoebury 8th 7.0% 10
Shoeburyness 4th 5.6% 5
Belfairs 6th 5.1% 6
St Luke’s 5th 4.8% 7
West Leigh 5th 4.8% 5
Southchurch 5th 4.3% 6
Thorpe 4th 4.2% 5

Whilst this is the most candidates they have put up, they have been a presence since 2001. So far their impact has been as a spoiler, by and large.

In many wards it was the Liberal Democrats who spared them from last place. This was not true in Leigh, although it is true that the Green vote appears to have been drawn largely from disaffected Lib Dem supporters – and enough Lib Dem switchers delivered the surprise of a Tory victory in Leigh.

I have already written about the Milton result. This ward gave the Greens their highest finishing position, although quite some distance from success.

The number that surprised me was the Westborough vote share. Whilst I have no wish to be rude, the Westborough Green candidate did not have a good hustings and gave every impression of being unprepared for a councillor role. Perhaps that is what attracted the one in nine Westborough voters who chose Green – they wanted a candidate unencumbered by ideas of what he actually wanted to do if elected.

You would expect a large Green presence next year, as Southend-on-Sea, electing by thirds, has another round of local elections. Whether the borough-wide 7% attained this year can be reached or bettered we shall see. There will be no TV leaders debates to boost the Green profile, but then again the absence of a General Election should allow smaller parties in lower turnouts to prosper.

Southend Independence Group

Just before today’s Full Council meeting I was handed a press release by Cllr James Moyies (West Shoebury). This formally announced the creation of a new grouping on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

It begins: Councillors Callaghan, Davies and Moyies have today announced that they will be forming a new Group on Southend Borough Council called the “Southend Independence Group”.

The press release then goes on to lay out their aspirations, which include being part of the Joint Administration (which Cllr Moyies describes as the “Rainbow Coalition”).

I think this means the UKIP civil war in Southend-on-Sea is at an end, with that group now reduced to two: Cllr Floyd Waterworth leads it, with new Cllr David McGlone doubling their presence.

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.

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.