The Southend Green performance

This year the Green Party almost fielded a full slate in the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections. Here is how their candidates got on:

Westborough 4th 11.7% 6 candidates
Leigh 4th 11.5% 4
Milton 3rd 10.9% 5
Kursaal 4th 9.6% 5
Victoria 4th 9.0% 5
Prittlewell 5th 8.8% 5
Chalkwell 5th 8.3% 5
Eastwood Park 4th 8.1% 4
St Laurence 8th 7.6% 10
Blenheim Park 5th 7.6% 5
West Shoebury 8th 7.0% 10
Shoeburyness 4th 5.6% 5
Belfairs 6th 5.1% 6
St Luke’s 5th 4.8% 7
West Leigh 5th 4.8% 5
Southchurch 5th 4.3% 6
Thorpe 4th 4.2% 5

Whilst this is the most candidates they have put up, they have been a presence since 2001. So far their impact has been as a spoiler, by and large.

In many wards it was the Liberal Democrats who spared them from last place. This was not true in Leigh, although it is true that the Green vote appears to have been drawn largely from disaffected Lib Dem supporters – and enough Lib Dem switchers delivered the surprise of a Tory victory in Leigh.

I have already written about the Milton result. This ward gave the Greens their highest finishing position, although quite some distance from success.

The number that surprised me was the Westborough vote share. Whilst I have no wish to be rude, the Westborough Green candidate did not have a good hustings and gave every impression of being unprepared for a councillor role. Perhaps that is what attracted the one in nine Westborough voters who chose Green – they wanted a candidate unencumbered by ideas of what he actually wanted to do if elected.

You would expect a large Green presence next year, as Southend-on-Sea, electing by thirds, has another round of local elections. Whether the borough-wide 7% attained this year can be reached or bettered we shall see. There will be no TV leaders debates to boost the Green profile, but then again the absence of a General Election should allow smaller parties in lower turnouts to prosper.

The Conservative performance in Southend-on-Sea: 2015 compared with 2010

This table compares Conservative votes shares in the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections for 2010 and 2015. Whilst it is true that the coincidence of the General Elections distorts local election voting, it nonetheless is a good guide to where Conservative support is in the borough, and how that support is holding up.

2010 Con vote % 2015 Con vote % Change
St Laurence 36.31 51.16 14.85
Prittlewell 32.17 46.3 14.13
Eastwood Park 46.09 57.89 11.8
Chalkwell 42.71 49.44 6.73
Westborough 23.26 29.44 6.18
West Leigh 46.41 52.12 5.71
West Shoebury 46.10 51.20 5.1
Blenheim Park 33.96 37.81 3.85
Leigh 37.95 41.49 3.54
Belfairs 39.21 42.56 3.35
Southchurch 37.37 38.56 1.19
Milton 37.91 38.97 1.06
Shoeburyness 38.33 38.81 0.48
Victoria 27.82 23.53 -3.99
Kursaal 29.58 25.39 -4.19
St Luke’s 25.66 20.87 -4.79
Thorpe 32.32 26.33 -5.99

I have sorted this table by the size of the change in vote share over five years. This indicates where the Conservatives are doing well, and where they are going backwards.

The first thing to note, though, is that whilst in no ward in 2010 did they receive more than half of votes cast, in 2015 they passed this mark in four places. Eastwood Park not only shows the biggest Conservative vote share, it is one of their better wards in terms of improved vote. Cllr Trevor Byford, in his acceptance speech, credited the SNP with his significantly improved vote. I am not so sure that is true, but whatever the reason it looks increasingly like their safest ward.

In four wards their vote has gone backwards. Thorpe is a surprise as this was once solidly blue, and yet now looks like they are not making a comeback here any time soon.

The 1.06% improvement in Milton was almost all of their majority there (accounts for 46 votes, and the majority was 51).

In 2010 the Conservative won in ten wards, this time around it was twelve (with thirteen councillors elected as West Shoebury gave them two seats courtesy of a by-election).

If you look at vote share there is a clear east-west divide. Of the best eight only one (West Shoebury in third place) is in the east. Considering how recently they had councillors there, St Luke’s as their worst ward is a surprise. In 2010 Westborough was their weakest ward, and three eastern wards were in the top eight.

Of the wards where they have a councillor presence they are weakest in Blenheim Park.

Silly season in Nelson Street

Nigel Holdcroft is a clever man who likes to give the impression of being a very silly one from time to time. His post on the legitimacy of a Cllr Woodley led administration (Southend Council – a question of legitimacy!) is a good example.

I shall skirt over the leadership vote in 2012, when the then Cllr Holdcroft held onto power despite his group being one short of a majority – although one could question that administration’s legitimacy. I shall not because within the limitations of the electoral system current in Southend-on-Sea, he won a fair election.

This does not change this year. The Independent Group is some distance from having a majority on its own, and so some sort of coalition has to be cobbled together. If this is achieved then Cllr Woodley continues to lead. Nigel can bleat all he likes, until his party has enough councillors they will be condemned to opposition. (One could question why they are devoid of friends – four groups look set to reach an accommodation, whereas the Tories are left on their own.)

Our Nige quotes the latest set of election results in Southend-on-Sea, and correctly points out that those adorned with blue rosettes saw thirteen victories out of a possible maximum of nineteen. However.

I counter this with a look at the votes each party attracted.

Only 39.3% voted Conservative. Whilst this is more than any other party, it is some way short of a majority, and leaves 60.7% of the borough choosing to avoid the Tories.

Legitimacy?

Labour, the Independents, and the Liberal Democrats attracted a combined 43.5% of the vote – 4.2% above the Tories. I call that a mandate.

If the Conservatives can persuade both UKIP and the Greens to back them then the debate takes an interesting turn. Until then, please shut up.

Southend Independence Group

Just before today’s Full Council meeting I was handed a press release by Cllr James Moyies (West Shoebury). This formally announced the creation of a new grouping on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

It begins: Councillors Callaghan, Davies and Moyies have today announced that they will be forming a new Group on Southend Borough Council called the “Southend Independence Group”.

The press release then goes on to lay out their aspirations, which include being part of the Joint Administration (which Cllr Moyies describes as the “Rainbow Coalition”).

I think this means the UKIP civil war in Southend-on-Sea is at an end, with that group now reduced to two: Cllr Floyd Waterworth leads it, with new Cllr David McGlone doubling their presence.

Borough elections 2015, Southend-on-Sea – the headlines

So, the local election ballot papers have been counted in Southend-on-Sea, and here is a summary.

Party Votes % Wins
Conservative 39.3 13
Labour 19.2 3
Independent 14.4 2
UKIP 10.2 1
Liberal Democrat 10.0 0
Green 7.0 0

So, an overall second place for Labour across the borough (and two second places in the Westminster elections). Three first places (two in the East, one in the West) and four runners-up ((one in the East, three in the West).

The most marginal victories:

31 St Laurence (UKIP over Conservative)
51 Milton (Conservative over Labour)
165 Westborough (Labour over Conservative)

This leaves the chamber looking like this:

22 Conservative
11 Independent Group
9 Labour
4 Liberal Democrats
3 UKIP Local Group
1 UKIP
1 Unaligned UKIP

Therefore it is still a story of no overall control.

Place Scrutiny, Monday April 13th

I was somewhat unwell at the beginning of the week, yet I managed to get to Monday’s Place Scrutiny Committee.

The only item I asked questions about was number fifteen: Parks and Green Spaces Strategy.

I asked how palm trees added to the borough’s biodiversity. The inadequate reply skirted around the question, which seemed to suggest that palm trees do almost nothing for biodiversity. I noted that palm trees have now been installed at the new Tescos roundabout on the A127; and offered the opinion that these expensive and ill-suited trees do almost nothing for local wildlife.

I wondered why the strategy offered no guarantees for open spaces, and was pleased by the portfolio holder’s (Cllr Longley) commitment to preserving our open spaces.

The strategy includes “all residents to have easy access to a public open space of at least 0.2 hectares“. I wondered how this was going to be achieved for Milton’s residents. I am not sure the relevant council officer really knew the answer to this one either. This one will definitely have to be filed under ‘wait and see’.

++ Kursaal, Milton, and Westborough wards have less than 0.3 hectares of open space.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections candidates announced

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections candidates announced

Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat UKIP Green Independent Independent
Belfairs Dave Alston Lesley Salter Mike Grimwade David Dearle Barry Bolton Stephen McKiernan
Blenheim Park Matthew Dent James Courtenay Richard Herbert Paul Lloyd Jimmy Wild
Chalkwell Lars Davidsson Stephen Habermel Jessie Skinner Peter Walker Lucy Courtenay
Eastwood Park Martin Berry Trevor Byford Paul Collins Fiddian Warman
Kursaal Judith McMahon Alex Bright Richard Betson Verina Weaver Simon Cross
Leigh Chris McGurk Bernard Arscott Peter Wexham Jon Mullett
Milton Gray Sergeant Jonathan Garston Robert Howes Vida Mansfield Tammy Cooper
Prittlewell Tony Borton Meg Davidson Colin Davis Andy Beale Paul Ryder
Shoeburyness Maggie Kelly Roger Hadley Norman Redican Susan Smith Anne Chalk
Southchurch Ros Sanders Ann Holland Roger Fisher Barrie Page Julian Esposito Keith Sharman
St Laurence Reg Copley Steve Buckley Ted Lewin David McGlone Tanya Rayment Carl Whitwell
St Laurence Sean Jones David Burzotta Carole Roast Denis Walker
St Luke’s Jes Phillips Val Jarvis Nora Goodman Roger Weaver Stephen Jordan Paul Van Looy Anthony ABC
Thorpe Rod Birks Jon Bacon Jim Clinkscales Liz Swanson Ron Woodley
Victoria David Norman Denis Garne Donna Collins Peter Breuer Ian Hurd
West Leigh Jay Woods Georgina Phillips Chris Bailey David Stansfield Sarah Yapp
West Shoebury David Carrington Tony Cox David Betson Eddie McNally Nigel Outten Margaret Haydon
West Shoebury Matt Zarb-Cousin Derek Jarvis Charlie Row Alex Moyies
Westborough Charles Willis Daryl Peagram David Barrett Paul Mansfield Alan Hart David Webb
  • Three Parliamentary candidates are also seeking a seat on the council: Collins, Cross, Yapp.
  • Three former Parliamentary candidates are standing: Bolton, Norman, Wexham.
  • UKIP’s candidates are split so that five are in the East, and four in the West.
  • Fourteen former councillors are seeking a return: Bailey, Clinkscales, Collins, Copley, Cox, Garne, Goodman, Grimwade, Hadley, Lewin, Redican, Roast , Roger Weaver, Verina Weaver.
  • Of the fourteen former councillors, three flew previously under different party banners: Garne, Roger Weaver, Verina Weaver.
  • Three full slates.
  • St Luke’s has the most candidates (seven).
  • One candidate does not live in the borough: Ann Holland.
  • Fourteen councillors are defending their seats, making five seats that will have new representation.
  • Labour are first and last alphabetically: Alston and Zarb-Cousin.
  • There are two by-elections: St Laurence, West Shoebury. Voters here will have two votes.
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