November 2015 Focus

blenheimFocusNov15The latest Focus for Blenheim Park ward features Cllr Graham Longley. I suspect he will not be seeking re-election in May, although I note that there has been no official announcement as yet.

I wish him a speedy recovery (and judging by what I have seen he is doing just that).

Over to you James ….. Blenheim Park intouch Summer 2015

inTouchBP1The latest instalment of Cllr Courtenay’s intermittent newsletters hit my doormat recently. Judging by the quality of this one I can fully understand why these are not a regular feature of the political year in Blenheim Park ward.

James expresses his delight at his re-election “with a significantly increased majority“. “I hope this reflects the work I have put in….” Whilst I am more than happy to offer my congratulations, I think even James would admit that the coincidence with the General Election was the real reason for his success. He will seek (I presume) a third term in 2019, and I expect a tougher campaign for the Tories then.

It looks like Helen Boyd will have a second stab at convincing Blenheim Park residents that she deserves their support. I fully expect that a Labour candidate (possibly Matt Dent looking to continue the good work he has already put in) will succeed next year. Helen will find it difficult going as local elections tend to find those representing the Government party as out of favour. More cuts will be biting by then too, and I expect to see more Tory losses next May in Southend-on-Sea, not gains.

The dominating theme in this leaflet is the proposals for a pavilion in Blenheim Park. Two things strike me. Firstly, whilst I welcome James’s support, the reality is that it was me who proposed referring these proposals back to Cabinet – and James seconded my motion. His article reads like it was all his work, rather than the truth which is that he played a supporting role.

The second point I would make is that whilst I am opposed to the plans, James does not appear to share this view. He merely wants to see a proper consultative exercise, and neatly sits on the fence as regards to the actual plans themselves. I invite him to condemn the proposals, or at least clarify where he actually stands in the issue.

Blenheim Park Voice summer 2015


Blenheim Park Ward – intouch Issue 8

blenheimParkInTouchThe evidence on the ground suggests that in Blenheim Park the Conservative campaign is the second-most hard-working. There is little from anyone else, except Matt Dent who is working like a Trojan.

James Courtenay is another who cannot help himself when it comes to the rules – he uses his council email and telephone number on this election leaflet. The Tories are losing all credibility when it comes to playing by the rules.

He claims, on the reverse of this leaflet, that he is a regular blogger. I suggest everyone read this particular post – 1,017 Thankyous!

In this he writes: I made some pledges in my election campaign and I will stick to them all. One of them was to do a monthly “E-newsletter”.

He has issued not one E-newsletter – mark that down as a broken pledge. His blogging is also intermittent.

I am intrigued that this shiny leaflet is ‘Issue 8‘ – I make that one every six months at best. I do not think that is very regular at all, especially as most of the others have been issued at election time.

As one of your local councillors, I feel it is very important to make myself as accessible as I can to residents” writes James. Hmmm, I think that is another failure.

UKIP in Blenheim Park

Lloyd01Last May five UKIP councillors were elected in Southend-on-Sea, allowing everyone to see whether the reality of UKIP representation matched up to the rhetoric. They fell short, very short.

UKIP’s presence in Blenheim Park ward is so low profile it has taken Labour canvassing for residents to find out that they even have a UKIP councillor. The councillor here has an indifferent attendance record and seems to have done little, if anything, for the ward or its residents.

UKIP have also spent all their energy arguing with each other, a most unedifying spectacle. Surely residents deserve better than to have representatives that squabble over who has got what role? UKIP councillors would rather serve their vanities than those that elect them.

Paul Lloyd stood in Eastwood Park ward in 2014. His failure there means he has transferred his affections to Blenheim Park. Is this what he means by ‘Real Change‘?

I think it would a ‘Real Change‘ for UKIP to actually put up candidates capable of doing the job. Since last May, in Southend-on-Sea, they have had four of their five councillors suspended by their party, one has since be expelled. They have had one stand down after a mere year in office. This is not a record to be proud of.

Blenheim Park ward Labour Voice Election Special


There’s saying you know, and there’s actually knowing

I guess there are several examples of literature straying out of the ward or constituency it was intended for, but tonight I found a candidate whose leaflets have gone out in THREE wards.

Richard “Blenheim man” Herbert is also Belfairs and Prittlewell man it would appear, judging by where his Blenheim Focus laughter sheet is being delivered.

It could be that he is standing in all three wards – perfectly allowable in electoral law, although should he be successful in more than one place he will have to explain why he has lumbered hard-pressed tax-payers with a costly by-election.

I suspect, though, that he is only standing in two places (his commitment to Blenheim Park being so strong that not only does he fail to get the ward name right, but he is also standing in the Leigh Town Council elections for a different ward). His delivery team really ought to acquainted themselves with where the ward boundaries are.

I cannot recall ever having a resident so delighted with my delivering a leaflet that they gave me a campaign donation on the spot. That’s another score for party funds. “It’s Julian” they exclaimed, before pumping my hand. That’s one vote then.

There are still a lot of people yet to decide how they are voting. However, in the areas I have been it will be a remarkable turnaround if either the Liberal Democrats or the Greens score significantly. It could happen, but it really seems unlikely. I do detect a slight movement towards the Tories, which mirrors what the national opinion polls are showing. I still think it is very tight and anything could happen. I expect we shall see the odd shock, possibly in my neck of the woods.

At last, the Liberal Democrats turn up in Blenheim Park

BlenheimFocusPoor Cllr Mary Betson, snubbed by her colleagues. You see Cllr Richard Herbert was “invited by Cllr Graham Longley to join him in Blenheim. Having discussed it with other LibDem councillors like Alan Crystall, Peter Wexham and Carole Mulroney Richard decided it was the right thing to do.

No mention of ward members in Blenheim Park (yes, the proper name of the ward is Blenheim Park), which either suggests that things have got so bad that they have no ward members left, or that they have been bypassed on this occasion. A selection process that involves casual conversations with all but one of the Borough Council Group is an odd thing, to be sure. It is a desperate measure by a desperate party.

In another reference to a non-existent ward is this: “Cllr Graham Longley introduces Cllr Richard Herbert to Blenheim Ward“. This is followed by: “Richards knows the area well“. So well that he has to be “introduced“!

The whole leaflet is rather poor. The same picture of Cllr Herbert is used four times. The Lib Dems moan about the waste contract renewal – a subject that their sole speaker at the recent Full Council Budget debate avoided mentioning.

According to his website Cllr Herbert is contesting two elections in May, in two different places – so much for his commitment to Blenheim Park ward. He represents Leigh Road Ward on Leigh Town Council, and there is no overlap between this ward and Blenheim Park.

So, the Liberal Democrats have turned up, at last, in Blenheim Park ward. But do not be fooled into thinking that there is any real commitment here.


If Matt Dent was to do a Monnery, and reduce the Labour vote to a third of what it was in Blenheim Park last year, then Neil may be right, he might be talking absolute bollocks. You see, magnificent Monnery as he is known in Westborough ward obviously followed his own advice in 2012, because his derisory vote must have been the result of doing nothing until the very last moment.

Neil’s yellow-tinted take on things really is blind to the reality in Southend-on-Sea of a Liberal Democrat party very much in retreat. Whilst a turnaround is possible at some point, it is very unlikely that a late Lib Dem surge will be seen on May 7th.

One of the by-products of being a regular pavement pounder is that you get a sense of what is going on. I admit we are not everywhere all of the time, and our political noses are not perfect. But you get a sense.

We know that Labour has been working all year. We know that UKIP started last summer, and stuttered very quickly. We know the Greens are out leafleting. We know the Tories are getting into gear. We also know that the Lib Dems have done nothing.

Please correct me, Neil, if I am wrong. Send me the leaflets your party has been putting out. Show me the press articles, give me a flavour of what you are doing on the ground.

The reality is that in terms of actually doing any work with residents it is a two-horse race. The Tories are well organised, and I hope we go some way in matching them.

I am humble enough to admit I am wrong when I am wrong. Show me some evidence, Neil, show me that Matt Dent is writing absolute bollocks.

Blenheim Park Voice winter 2015