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.

Solid Gold Blenheim Park Action

006I was out again this morning, delivering leaflets. This time it was in Blenheim Park ward, and our team included Matt Dent. Whilst it was certainly fresh, it was dry and the sun was out.

If I make a list of wards where we have been delivering recently I get to a healthy seven: Belfairs, Blenheim Park, Milton, Prittlewell, Shoeburyness, St. Luke’s, Westborough. Since I know that there is further campaigning going on this week I know this list will grow. You could get the impression that it is only Labour that is taking the impending elections seriously in Southend-on-Sea. I accept that my information will not perfect, but I believe that the Conservatives have done a bit in Blenheim Park and Milton, and UKIP have been out in Prittlewell and Milton. I have seen no evidence of recent activity from either the Liberal Democrats or the Independent Group.

Milton is shaping up to be a real bun fight in May. We are hopeful of completing a Labour hat-trick, but the Tories will be desperate to retain the seat and UKIP (and possibly an independent) will certainly make the contest a close call. I do not expect much of a Lib Dem presence.

Blenheim Park has a history of marginality, and I sense that despite a low profile here UKIP will be hoping to double their presence in the ward. This is being defended by Conservative Cllr James Courtenay, who cannot be sitting comfortably. It could go any one of four ways, and I know that the Labour candidate, the aforementioned Matt Dent, is determined to make a big impact.

Prittlewell ward is another where the result could go any number of ways. Cllr Ric Morgan was elected as a Liberal Democrat in 2011, and if he defends his seat he will do so as a member of the Independent Group.

It was mentioned to me the story of canvassing a while back when a colleague was discussing the local elections with a Milton resident who said that they had always been Labour until they had had a conversation with me. I recall this because it does illustrate that you cannot please everyone. Politicians inevitably fail their residents at some point; this is not to say that you should not try to accommodate all views – and seek compromise. What has frustrated me over the years is that whilst I try to be honest, I am aware that there are those who will say whatever they think the resident wants to hear. I mention this because as the elections draw ever nearer we will seeing a lot of politicians engaging in doorstep conversations, some of which will be designed to seduce a promise to vote for them. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this per se, I do have concerns about what is being said. This is one of the reasons I commit my thoughts to this blog – no-one can accuse me of saying one thing and doing another.

Blenheim Park’s Labour Candidate is also an assiduous blogger, and Blenheim Park voters will have at least on candidate whose views will not change from door-to-door.

Cllr Holdcroft: I apologise

Cllr Holdcroft has taken exception to my post where I stated that his “A tale of 2 cycle paths!” is “ambiguous at best”. It struck me on first reading that he was making an ill judged comment about Belfairs councillor Stephen Aylen.

Cllr Holdcroft has written that my post was “misguided, inaccurate and offensive”. He wants an apology.

I am not about to beat about the bush; I cannot read minds and so if Cllr Holdcroft says that he was not insulting the Belfairs councillor and that my interpretation was wholly inaccurate then I will have to believe him.

I therefore offer an unequivocal withdrawal and apology.

Now, since Cllr Holdcroft takes “considerable exception when they then subsequently misquote me” perhaps he would like to withdraw his lie about me when he wrote that he “was surprised to see that Labour’s new Labour Councillor in Milton was vocal in opposing the obtaining the injunction” in reference to a recent proposed cruise event.

Additionally, he may think that my living a mile from the ward means that “there is a greater need to ensure that you are able to empathise with the concerns of those you represent – something which in this case you have clearly failed to do!”, but has made no comment about the two Conservative councillors who reside outside of the borough.

Cllr Holdcroft would make my life a lot easier if he learned to write better, and with more accuracy.

However, I really do not want to descend into a personal war – my arguments with Cllr Holdcroft (and Cllr Cox) should be over policy. I was stupid, I was wrong, and I apologise.

Belfairs and West Leigh candidates announced

Jane Norman

The good news for the Labour Party in Southend West is that two experienced and highly thought of candidates have been selected for Belfairs and West Leigh wards in this May’s local elections.

Jane Norman, currently working hard as mayoress to husband David, is a former councillor who has a wealth of community experience on her CV. A West Leigh resident, she will again be representing Labour in this ward.

Ian Pope has stood for Labour on a number of occasions. He is secretary of the Southend Trades Union Council and a former chair of the Southend Borough Labour Party. He will be contesting Belfairs.

Belfairs, Blenheim Park and West Leigh Branch Labour Party

I am Secretary of the Belfairs, Blenheim Park and West Leigh Branch Labour Party. We had committed to an August meeting, and a small, but beautifully formed, number of us met last night.

August is traditionally a month when not many meetings are held, but good business was done last night. I volunteered to organise a fund-raising event – not my strong suite, but we will see how it goes. Campaigning and selections for the 2010 council elections were amongst the other topics covered.