A sunny afternoon in Blenheim Park

Chris, Kevin, Matt, Ashleigh - out delivering the Labour message

Chris, Kevin, Matt, Ashleigh – out delivering the Labour message

A beautiful warm and sunny afternoon in Westcliff-on-Sea, and what better way to spend it than in the charming company of four Labour friends.

Our pledges, Labour’s pledges:

Balance the books and cut the deficit every year while securing the future of the NHS. None of our manifesto commitments require additional borrowing.
Freeze energy bills until 2017 and give the regulator the power to cut bills this winter, ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, raise the minimum wage to £8 and provide 25 hours free childcare a week.
20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. We will join up services from home to hospital, guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week.
People who come here won’t be able to claim benefits for at least two years and we will introduce fair rules making it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers.
Tuition fees reduced to £6,000, an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the basic grades, and smaller class sizes for 5, 6 & 7 year-olds.
Biggest house building programme for a generation with priority for first-time buyers and their stamp duty cut to zero. Secure three-year rents capped by inflation.

I want a squirrel

At last night’s Milton hustings a resident interrupted Tammy Cooper (Independent) as she was saying how she would work for all residents; “yes, but what do you actually stand for? We want to see some leadership from those who represent us”.

That, folks, is as good a riposte to those who seek to be all things to all men as you will likely hear.

I am not picking on Ms Cooper, she was merely the one who attracted the resident’s comment – many who put themselves up see their roles as merely to mirror whoever they last spoke to.

I am grateful for the increased Green presence in the borough in one aspect. They are clearly a team, and are sticking to their script. For them, being in a party is important, and in that I can wholly concur. Where the Greens fall down is that their cheerleader-in-chief thinks it is part of his job description to take over a residents’ meeting.

Simon Cross appears in constant need of a soapbox; I pity the poor resident for whom he inflicted earache last night, said resident having the misfortune to have sat directly in front of Mr Cross. Simon claims he was presented to support his candidate. Fine, but that does not mean he must hijack the meeting.

As it was, Vida Mansfield acquit herself very well; she was not in need of a Sir Galahad. Her problem is that her party is attacking and attempting to attract Labour support. In Milton this will make the Tories’ job easier. What gain is that for centre-left and environmentally aware politics?

Gray Sergeant gave an assured and mature performance, and was prepared to be realistic about some of the tough choices that face councillors in the current economic climate.

Bob Howes, who arguably had the trickiest job of the lot as the Liberal Democrat representative, did at least make me laugh when he declared that the current Government is the best we have had since the war (1945). The trouble is that he was not joking.

Jonathan Garston was Jonathan Garston; as usual seemingly oblivious to the damage his party have done to Milton ward. He should be replaced by the clear winner in yesterday’s event in St Mark’s church hall, and that winner was Gray Sergeant. I hope Milton will give Labour its Milton hat-trick on May 7th.

On Wednesday evening I went to an altogether different hustings in Westborough. This was slightly better attended than its Milton counterpart (about fifty present). I do wonder why, for the second year running, it clashed with Chalkwell’s event.

Charles Willis won by a country mile, a result I expect to see mirrored at the ballot box. He will be a welcome addition to the council chamber.

The questioning began with a question on TTIP and ended with asking the candidates how they find out what was going on in the ward. In between were some searching inquiries, and to be frank some candidates come up short.

Unlike in Milton, there was no audience participation. This did not stop Simon Cross wildly applauding whatever Paul Mansfield said, even when he said he knew next to nothing about a particular subject!

David Webb persisted in describing the local council administration as an Independent one. Afterwards I asked him directly who ran the council, and he had to answer me honestly (it is the Independent Group, Labour and Liberal Democrats in Joint Administration); I then said that he had effectively lied several times to the audience. He mumbled something about it being how you chose to describe them – no, the description is taken from our agreement, of which I was one of the signatories.

Both hustings showed that there is some appetite for politics, and that people do care about what is going on in their area. Oh, how I wish for such an event in Blenheim Park.

Chalkwell Tories ignore council election rules

Chalkwell inTouchI have lived in Chalkwell ward on two separate occasion, and was residing there when I first joined the Labour Party. I know the ward well.

I was in Chalkwell when the Liberal Democrats, in the guise of Bron Lister-Smith won in 1996 by 28 votes. She had to resign shortly afterwards, but she at least showed the ward could be snatched from the Tories. Interestingly, there was a dead-heat in Belfairs ward that year too, and Conservatives gained the ward on a coin toss from the Liberal Democrats.

My work in the ward shows that is a ward of contrasts; it has some magnificent properties, but also areas that look quite run-down. It also appears to be Tory-free in parts, and not just in party allegiance but also in respect of appearances by its councillors.

This leaflet includes an article from the Southend West Conservative MP. Sir David Amess MP says: The United Kingdom economy was literally on its knees in 2010.

Aside from the obvious observation that the economy is not actually an animal with legs and so cannot ‘literally’ be on its knees, Sir David is wrong. Whatever he thinks of the last Labour Government, when the we left office the economy was back in growth.

He also refers to his coalition buddies as the ‘Liberals’ (repeatedly). Did their name change pass him by.

Whilst on the subject of typos (OK, we weren’t, but I feel like pointing one out) – unless they have renamed a street in Thorpe Bay the author of this leaflet has misspelt Cllr Ian Robertson’s address.

Finally, despite being instructed not to use councillor email addresses on their election literature, the Conservatives have yet again gone ahead and done it anyway. They were repeat offenders last year too. Still, with their sense of entitlement they obviously believe rules are for other people.
Chalkwell inTouch pages 2 and 3

Southend’s litter bins that are earmarked for the chop

Here is the list of bins that may be removed (see previous post).


Arterial Road: Fairway – Boundary 1 Belfairs
Flemming Avenue 1 Belfairs
The Fairway – near junction Eastwood Old Road 1 Belfairs
Crowstone Road 1 Chalkwell
Edwards Hall Park (top of Bosworth Ave) 1 Eastwood Park
Green Lane (adj 254) 1 Eastwood Park
Ash Walk 1 Kursaal
Lancaster Gardens 1 Kursaal
St Leonards Road 1 Kursaal
Lucy Road 3 Milton
Park Road 1 Milton
Park Street 1 Milton
Seaforth Road 1 Milton
Carlingford Drive 1 Prittlewell
Hobleythick Lane 1 Prittlewell
West Street 2 Prittlewell/Victoria
Eagle Way 2 Shoeburyness
Frobisher Way footpath to Friars Park 2 Shoeburyness
Gunners Road 1 Shoeburyness
Mallards 1 Shoeburyness
Warrior Square Road 1 Shoeburyness
Shoebury Road 1 Southchurch
Trinity Road 1 Southchurch
Whittingham Avenue 1 Southchurch
Rochford Road 2 St Laurence
St Laurence Way (Eastwoodbury Lane) 4 St Laurence
Western Approaches 1 St Laurence
Pantile Avenue 1 St Luke’s
Royston Avenue 1 St Luke’s
Wentworth Road 1 St Luke’s
Church Road 1 Thorpe
St Augustines Avenue (Church) 1 Thorpe
Thorpe Hall Avenue 3 Thorpe
North Road 3 Victoria
Short Street 1 Victoria
Fairview Gardens 2 West Leigh
Highlands Boulevard 1 West Leigh
Lime Avenue 1 West Leigh
Sutherland Boulevard 1 West Leigh
Chelmer Way 1 West Shoebury
Waterford Road 1 West Shoebury

Blenheim Park, Leigh and Westborough are not losing any bins.

The Royal Hotel

RoyalHotel1934The image is from the Southend-on-Sea Official Guide 1934, and thus some eighty years old. This is still an attractive building and one that is an asset to the town. The latest news about its uncertain future is certainly not welcome.

This building lies on the corner of High Street and Royal Terrace, in an area that has many beautiful buildings. It falls within the Clifftown Conservation Area.

I hope it can be saved. I cannot pretend to have been a regular visitor here, but I did use on occasion and it was always a pleasure to walk past it and enjoy the vista.