Labour gain in Rochford at the expense of the Tories

Despite a miserable week health-wise, I did manage to put in a couple of hours yesterday evening in Rochford. I am glad I made the effort.

We expected a tough, close contest. We knew we had a great candidate, and that he had a great team. In the end our efforts were rewarded.

It was a close-run thing, necessitating a re-count. This was called for by the Conservatives who obviously felt that that four vote margin may have been counting clerk error – it was not.

Beforehand we expected it to be a three-way fight; no-one expected the Liberal Democrats to achieve anything in a ward where they have been notable by their absence for the last dozen years. The Conservatives were favourites, not only did they win here in May, but their candidate was recently made widower by the tragic death of the Conservative councillor, which necessitated this by-election.

Matthew Softly Labour 332 32.4%
Michael Lucas-Gill Conservative 328 32.0%
Nicholas Cooper UKIP 250 24.4%
Daniel Irlam Liberal Democrat 114 11.1%

See Softly softly (Rochford by-election) for previous results in this ward.

Softly softly (Rochford by-election)

If Matt Softly ends up winning next week in the Rochford by-election you can blame me; he became an activist after I knocked on his door one day. Sure, my blame is only partial, but I was there, at the beginning.

The candidates for Thursday’s (26th November) by-election :-

UKIP – Nicholas Cooper
Liberal Democrats – Daniel Irlam
Conservative – Michael Lucas-Gill
Labour – Matthew Softly

The following table shows the vote share percentages for the four parties standing in Rochford, in local elections in this ward since 2002.

  UKIP Lib Dem Con Lab
2002     48.9 51.1
2003   7.7 38.6 35.0
2004     60.5 39.5
2006     52.9 47.1
2007     68.7 31.3
2008     48.6 20.3
2010     55.7 25.6
2011     59.6 43.7
2012     51.6 48.4
2014 26.2   31.4 34.5
2015 30.6   40.2 29.2

UKIP are johnny-come-latelys here, and the Liberal Democrats rarely trouble themselves to stand in this neck of the wood. It has been a two-horse race for many years, even when other candidates have stood. It is either the Conservatives or Labour who triumph here, and I would be surprised if anything other than this was the case this time around.

It will come down to turnout, I expect. In some quarters this will be seen as another test for the new Labour leader, although I have to wonder why some think that. UKIP’s presence introduces a test for their credibility after a poor General Election and a lot of in-fighting in Essex. The Conservatives will consider themselves favourites, if only because they are the most recent winners and their candidate is the widower of the recently deceased councillor who, tragically, is the cause of this by-election.

However, I am calling a narrow Labour win here, a gain that will double Labour’s presence in Rochford District.

Saving Rochford’s badgers

In amongst the emails I have received today is this:

The following response has been made to the ePetition titled “Save Rochford District’s Badgers from Culling” that you signed:

Thank you for contacting the Council in respect of this matter. Rochford District Council is committed to safeguarding animal welfare and has published a policy, our Animal Welfare Charter, that identifies the basic freedoms that we believe animals are entitled to enjoy and the steps we will take to facilitate this. It states that the Council supports the view that all animals have a right to life free from cruel treatment and unnecessary suffering. It recognises that animals are capable of feeling, capable of enjoying a state of well being and equally capable of suffering and therefore considers animals have the right to enjoy five basic freedoms: • Freedom from fear and distress. • Freedom from hunger and thirst. • Freedom from pain, disease and injury. • Freedom from unnecessary constraint. • Freedom from physical discomfort. This policy was last reviewed on10 March 2014. This Council has no intention of instigating a cull of badgers on our own land and you may be aware that the government has recent stated that it will not expand badger culling to other areas this year to reduce TB in cattle. Defra’s own independent assessment shows that culls in two pilot areas were not effective, and raised questions about their humaneness. A vaccination project is now under way by the Essex Badger Group, with initial surveys of badger setts on Essex Wildlife Trust reserves being carried out by members of the Essex Badger Groups. These surveys will inform our list of priority sites for vaccination, to start in the late summer; our initial target in the first year is to vaccinate 100 badgers before reviewing progress. This operation is expected to last five years, although an oral vaccine is currently being developed that can be scattered near setts. It is understood that as soon as this is available they will stop cage trapping and switch to this much less invasive method. It is considered that the point raised by this petition is addressed in the Council’s Animal Welfare Charter.

The petition can be viewed here.

In amongst the signatories are several names that readers of this blog will be familiar with, three of which are Southend-on-Sea Borough Councillors. It is appropriate that I give an honourable mention to Cllr Anne Chalk, who drew my attention to the petition.

UKIP councillor believes that links to the English Democrats creates negative views

In an earlier post I incorrectly stated that Jamie Burton, a UKIP candidate in Rochford District (Grange ward), had previously stood as a candidate for the English Democrats. I have corrected this. I have also apologised. It was a genuine mistake, and goes to show that despite my best attempts to be as accurate as possible occasionally human error creeps in.

Mr Burton feels that being associated with the English Democrats is libellous and creates negative views about him, which rather leads me to wonder what this says for two of his UKIP fellow candidates in Rochford who are former English Democrat candidates. He feels so aggrieved by my error that he threatens legal action.

What does this mean for Jason Hodson (UKIP candidate for Whitehouse ward) and John Hayter (Trinity ward)? Will UKIP de-select them now that their former allegiance is considered so poisonous?

To quote from the two emails that Mr Burton sent to me:

I have never represented the English Democrats at any election, at any level of politics. I have never been a member of the English Democrats and have never even so much as voted for them.

You have deliberately attempted to mislead your readers by suggesting a link between myself and the English Democrats. You have then followed this up with an attempt to link the English Democrats and the BNP. Both you and I know that any association with the BNP could severely damage ones credibility come election time. As I have absolutely no connection with either the English Democrats or BNP, I would like you to rectify your intentional attempt to dis-credit me without delay. This is not an error on your part. Had I stood in many elections as a candidate for different parties I could perhaps afford you the benefit of the doubt. However, as my political career thus far has only ever consisted of standing at one election as detailed above, and as it is clear you have an obvious dislike of UKIP, I believe your intentions were intentionally to mislead those that may read your posting.

Rest assured, should this not be done to my satisfaction within the next few hours, I too may consider taking legal action against you for making libellous statements.

Please create a new posting high-lighting your error, and apologise for mis-leading and confusing those who may have read your original posting.

Only then, will I be satisfied that you have taken appropriate steps to reverse any negative views of me that your posting may have caused.

I have forwarded our exchange of e-mails to both my family solicitor and UKIP’s legal representatives along with a screen shot of your original post.

Rochford District Council election candidates

By party:

13 Conservative
11 Labour
3 Liberal Democrat
2 Green
2 Independent
1 Rochford District Residents
1 no description

Labour and the Conservatives are both fielding five women candidates.

Two of the UKIP candidates have stood previously for the English Democrats: Jason Hodson and John Hayter.

Some readers will recall my being sued for defamation by the Chair of the English Democrats for highlighting BNP entryism amongst their Southend candidates.

Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat Green UKIP No description Independent Rochford District Residents
Downhall & Rawreth Keith Podd Chris Black
Foulness & Great Wakering Myra Weir Tony Porter Neil Hookway Vicki Brandon Trevor Goodwin
Grange John Jefferies Carol Pavelin Chris Stanley Jamie Burton
Hawkwell North Kevin Salt Jo McPherson Keith Gibbs
Hawkwell South David Lench Heather Glynn
Hawkwell West Gill Gibson Michael Webb John Mason
Hockley Central Steve Hickin Carole Weston Gabrielle Yeadell
Hullbridge June Mather Mark Hale Micheal Hoy
Rayleigh Central David Bodimeade Margaret Spencer Stephen Tellis Sally-Ann Twydell
Rochford Jerry Gibson James Cottis Jacqueline Moyies Arthur Williams
Trinity Victoria Williams Bob Milne John Hayter
Wheatley Rachael Broomfield Jack Lawmon Robert Murgatroyd
Whitehouse Robin Dray Jason Hodson

Labour in Hawkwell

Kevin, David and Gillian

Kevin, David and Gillian

Labour’s three candidates for Hawkwell (Rochford District Council) in this May’s elections are Kevin Salt (Hawkwell North), David Lench (Hawkwell South) and Gillian Gibson (Hawkwell West).

David has answered a few of my questions:

Name: David J M Lench
Age: 55
Occupation: Support Officer for a well known supermarket
Have you stood before (and where and when): Stood before in Rayleigh, Canewdon, and Rochford South over the past twelve years
What you are campaigning on: Public transport and the bedroom tax
An interesting or unusual fact about yourself: I have written the lyrics to several top 10 songs
Hobbies: Music, gardening, trains, football, rugby, first aid

Is this a misuse of a council resource by the Tory candidate for Hawkwell North?

Lesley Butcher 2013I have been contacted by someone complaining about the election literature of Lesley Butcher, Conservative candidate in the Hawkwell North by-election. They feel that the use of a councillor email address (that belonging to Cllr Jo Mcpherson appears twice on the leaflet shown here) is wrong.

I have had a quick look through Rochford District Council’s Members’ Code Of Conduct
and could not find anything on this.

Whilst searching for anything related I did come across this:

Councillors are provided with an e-mail address: ie “”. This is an official address and may only be used by Councillors as part of their duties as an elected member. It may not be used for any party political purpose or appear on any election material or publicity whatsoever. Councillors may use their Council e-mail address on their Ward newsletters as a means of enabling their constituents to contact them. However, the Council e-mail address should not be used in Ward newsletters during an election nomination period or any that contain election material.

Yes, yes, yes, it is an extract from Colchester Borough Council’s Resources Protocol, and therefore nothing to do with Rochford, but it does raise the question as to the appropriateness of using a councillor email address on one’s election material. If Colchester feels that this is an abuse of resources then maybe Rochford should have a rethink (and I apologise if it is covered and I have missed it).

Any resident who feels aggrieved could use the Members’ Code of Conduct Complaint Form.

The by-election follows the resignation of Cllr Pointer. There are four candidates:

Lesley Butcher – Conservative
Keith Gibbs – UKIP
John Jefferies – Labour
Arthur Williams – Independent

In the meantime I must check what Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s rules are on this.

A look back at Rochford

Here is a quick analysis of what went on in Rochford District.

% vote share seats won candidates fielded
Conservative 54.5% 12 13
Labour 22.9% 0 13
Green 11.4% 1 3
English Democrat 4.9% 0 3
Liberal Democrat 4.6% 0 4
UKIP 1.8% 0 2

Foulness and Wakering had the lowest turnout at 22.5%, and Hullbridge the highest with 31.7%.

The narrowest majorities were

45 Rochford – Conservative over Labour

74 Trinity – Conservative over English Democrat

190 Hockley North – Conservative over Labour

The Conservative, Green and Labour vote share increased as compared to 2011. The Liberal Democrat vote share is about a third of what it was last year.

Rochford candidates for May

Nominations have closed, and there are no hiccoughs for Labour in Southend – our candidate list is as was expected. I do not yet have a full list of candidates, but will post as soon as it is known.

Rumour has it that Labour is at or near 100% coverage in the East of England, a remarkable feat and tribute to the hard-working comrades in all six counties.

It looks like Rochford Labour have heeded my whinging – they have a full slate! Hurrah!

Here is a complete list of the candidates across Rochford district:-

Rob Brown – Labour
Gillian Ann Lucas-Gill – Conservative

Ashingdon and Canewdon
John Henry Jeffries – Labour
Terence Geoffrey Cutmore – Conservative

Foulness and Great Wakering
Myra Anne Weir – Labour
Barbara Jean Wilkins – Conservative

Hockley Central
Emaily Barker – Labour
Brian Thomas Hazlewood – Conservative
Gabrielle Mary Yeadell – Green

Hockley North
Stephen Hicken – Labour
Mike Carter – Conservative

Hockley West
Jeremy Henry Gibson – Labour
Malcolm Maddocks – Conservative

Debbie Townsley – Labour
Mark Peter Hale – Conservative
Diane Hoy – Green

Patricia Norrington – Labour
Jason Robert Hodson – English Democrat
Neil Kirsch – Green
David Merrick – Conservative

Rayleigh Central
Christopher Bazley – Labour
Elena Black – Liberal Democrat
Thomas James Broad – English Democrat
Jamie Burton – UKIP
Cheryl Edwina Roe – Conservative

Sweyne Park
David Lench – Labour
Joan Mockford – Conservative
Trevor James Parrett – Liberal Democrat

Stephen Hinde – Labour
Keith Anthony Gibbs – UKIP
John Hayter – English Democrat
David John Perring – Conservative
Chris Stanley – Liberal Democrat

Oliver Graham St.John Ware-Lane – Labour
John David Griffin – Conservative
Paula Hayter – English Democrat

David Dennis Bodimeade – Labour
Simon Paul Smith – Conservative

(Yes, our Wheatley candidate is my younger brother.)

Rayleigh Central Ward by-election

I shall keep this brief for fear of letting my true feelings escape regarding the Labour failure to field a candidate in the Rayleigh Central Ward by-election.

Reluctantly I urge Rayleigh Central voters to vote Liberal Democrat. At least Elena Black has red hair. Story here –