Southend Labour says: “Don’t lose your voice!”

As the local authority is dispatching voter registration forms across the borough, the Labour Group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is urging everyone to ensure that they will still “have their voice” when the next set of elections arrive.

There are two sets of elections in 2016: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections, and for the Police and Crime Commissioner. It is also possible that the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union will be held in 2016. No-one can participate in any of these if they are not registered to vote.

Being on the electoral register also improves one’s credit rating, and the register is used for jury selection.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Ware-Lane says “Registering is a legal responsibility, but it is more than that. It ensures that you have a voice. Voting matters too; nothing changes if you do not vote.”

“It’s your money that politicians are spending – and you should have a say in how it is spent”, added Cllr Ware-Lane.

See Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Household Canvass

The Cliffs Museum must not be built with public money

My objection to building on green spaces is well documented. Whilst I would not say ‘never’, I need to be convinced of real need before I would prepared to endorse concreting over any of the remaining green spaces in Southend-on-Sea. This was largely why I objected to the proposals for the Cliffs Museum. I accept I lost that argument, not enough in the council chamber shared my views. However, I am still convince that putting a museum on the beautiful cliffs is a mad and bad scheme.

However, it was approved, and only awaits sufficient funding. This funding, it has so far been hoped, will come from private backers; I take solace in my belief that this is unlikely to provide the estimated £40 million required.

I hope, though, that no idea surfaces suggesting that any shortfall should be made up from public coffers. Aside from the issue of what has to be sacrificed (that is , cut) to make this happen, the lack of private investment surely suggests that this project is not a money maker. Public money should not, again, be wasted on a project in Southend-on-Sea that sees good money effectively thrown away. The last administration was very profligate, a fate thus far avoided by the Joint Administration.

I wonder how much has been donated so far? I expect it is a fraction of what is needed, and long may that continue. It may soon be time to consider alternate venues for the Prittlewell Prince (or whatever his actual true title). Maybe the old Beecroft Gallery, opposite the Cliffs Pavilion, could be adapted.

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.

http://brian-ayling.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/august-2015.html

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

Recent polls, and what they are saying (if they can be believed)

Those of us who voraciously devour opinion polls were somewhat shocked and disappointed by just how wrong they were on May 7th. Whilst we all accept that polling was not foolproof, we can become used to the idea that they are pretty accurate, certainly when you take an average across the various polls.

It will be recalled that in the run-in to May 7th it was agreed by every pollster that we were in hung Parliament territory, that the Tories were probably going to have a few more MPs than Labour, but that Labour was likely to be able to attract more friendly faces from other parties and therefore form a minority administration. I certainly recall debates with colleagues as to the timing of the next General Election, with either autumn 2015 or spring 2016 as the likeliest of dates. How wrong we all were.

There has been polling since, but what confidence can we have in it? I cannot answer that, except to say that in the absence of anything better then what we have is what we have to go on.

So, bearing in mind that your own prejudices can have free reign when deciding to accept or reject these numbers, here is a summary of recent polls.

Lab Con LDem UKIP Grn
31 July 2015 ComRes 28 40 7 10 5
24 July 2015 Ipsos MORI 31 37 10 9
13 July 2015 ICM 34 38 6 13 4
18 June 2015 Ipsos MORI 30 39 9 8 6
15 June 2015 ICM 31 37 8 13 5
04 June 2015 ComRes 29 41 8 10 5
Average 30 39 9 10 5
GE result 30.5 36.8 7.9 12.7 3.8

What do these tell us? Within the accepted margin of error it can plausibly be argued that there has been no change since May 7th, which I find surprising.

I have found, in the few doorstep conversations I am having, that support for the Conservatives has firmed up. I also suspect that our leadership contest whilst igniting debate and making for many column inches, is portraying us as divided and flirting with a lurch leftwards. That none of this has affected polling is extraordinary.

If the averages are accurate (yes, a big IF), then we are seeing Tory support moving up a little, as are the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. Losing out are Labour and UKIP.

SEH

Milton has very few council homes, and not much more social housing – and this despite the ward having about 50% of its homes available for rent.

As a socialist I would expect to prefer council housing to be run in-house; this is the standard ideological position for someone with my beliefs. However, from what I hear from comrades who regularly deal with the ALMO, and who also dealt with council housing issues when it was run in-house, it would seem that dealing with Southend-on-Sea’s council homes at arm’s length is working.

Politics is the art of the possible. It is good politics to accept that the outcome for Southend-on-Sea’s council tenants is better with South Essex Homes than with what existed beforehand. It is therefore welcome news that the Council (is) set to extend South Essex Homes contract. Should I be told that council tenants are losing out because of the existence of SEH then I will gladly push for its termination.

It is public knowledge (declared as an interest at many council meetings) that I have a daughter who works for South Essex Homes. However, my support for SEH (always subject to scrutiny and revision) has nothing to do this, and her employment would likely persist if it ever came back in-house.

I was probably the only guy on the beach in a suit today

Some of the Warrior Soup Kitchen people

Some of the Warrior Soup Kitchen people


I realise this makes me sound hopelessly square, but in my defence I did have earlier engagements which I thought required a reasonably tidy appearance.

This afternoon I popped down to the seafront (in a suit) to attend the Warrior Soup Kitchen Tent Awareness Day For Our Towns Homeless. It was my chance to talk to some volunteers about what they are up to, and why they are particularly drawn to help to homeless.

I have stated my desire to do what I can, which really amounts to helping raise awareness. It seems pretty feeble besides what I see others do, but we all can help in own small ways. (This is my widow’s groat.)

It is a fact, a shocking fact, that whilst we live in the sixth or seventh largest and wealthiest economy in the world, twenty-first century Britain has a growing poverty problem. Something like a million people a year visit food banks, and homelessness is rising.

I met many wonderful people today (Peter, Julie, Jo, Caren, Sam and Bernie, to name just a few). I also bumped into two Green Parliamentary candidates (Simon Cross and Sarah Yapp) and we had a good political chat, on the beach, in the blazing sun, with me in the suit.

The Facebook page for today’s event explains what it is about.

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