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.

Game, set, and match to Floyd Waterworth

A taxi for Cllr Moyies; thus, the inevitable.

Politics aside, there are two things that characterise UKIP in Southend-on-Sea. One is their oft-reported unwillingness to properly serve their residents. The other is their inability to act like a team.

This latter trait has most obviously manifested itself in the falling out between the Group leader, James Moyies, and the Parliamentary candidate, Floyd Waterworth.

I barely know Cllr Waterworth, I have known James on and off for about five years. However likeable I find James, there is no getting away from the fact that his party prefer Waterworth – despite the latter’s unwillingness to perform or endure at council meetings.

The UKIP group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is a farcical body. It is now led by someone who has been expelled by the party, and its three other members are suspended – perhaps also waiting on their P45s from UKIP HQ. The only councillor who can properly claim to be in UKIP is Cllr Waterworth. As it stands, Cllr Waterworth, as far as the Council is concerned, is a truly independent independent (much like Cllr Velmurugan prior to regime change in the borough).

The Southend Echo reports Ukip councillor James Moyies permanently expelled from the party, and their article includes this:

Floyd Waterworth, parliamentary candidate for UKIP in Rochford and Southend East said: “This announcement of UKIP expelling Cllr Moyies is welcome.”

Non, je ne regrette rien, in other words. Waterworth, steely assassin, unable to express any remorse at his former leader’s demise.

It is much like Captain Smith saying “I taught that damned iceberg a lesson it won’t forget”.

Moyies, comprehensively bested by the indifferent skills of Waterworth, will now have to contemplate his future. Can anyone pass James Howling Laud Hope‘s ‘phone number?

My budget speech from last night

Mr Mayor, this is my third budget speech. On each of the previous occasions I described those budgets as ‘miserable’, and in many ways that description can be applied to this one too.

Let me be clear though, and before some get too excited here, I will be supporting this budget.

So, ‘miserable': how else can one describe the retreat of public services?

I remind members that we are making cuts because of an £11 million hole in our finances, a hole put there by the Conservative-led Government.

When members rightly blanche at the prospect of less bins, then I hope they remember why that is. When members rightly blanche at the prospect of more job losses, again I hope they remember why that is happening. And on May 7th, I hope they recall these, and other, cuts, and use their vote to pass judgement.

On the 9th of October, 2013, I wrote a blog post entitled “It’s about whether this administration has the will to support the most vulnerable in our town”. It was a reference to the then Holdcroft-led Conservative administration, and it was a direct quote from Cllr Ron Woodley, made at the previous evening’s Place Scrutiny Committee.

I think the evidence is clear, the will was not there. Since then the good people of Southend-on-Sea has passed judgement on that administration, and found them wanting.

In contradistinction, this Joint Administration is trying to support the most vulnerable. This includes those who use our care homes, and I celebrate in being part of an administration that has listened, and is saving Priory House.

We have had debates about the draft budget proposals, and I am pleased that my entreaties regarding public lavatories were listened to. I have long argued that the toilet provision which already exists is not adequate, the prospect of fewer left me quite uneasy. Notwithstanding the £11 million hole in our finances put there by Mr Cameron’s Government, we have managed to find savings elsewhere.

I am also pleased that the listening administration has listened to my pleas regarding textile waste collection; I am assured that kerbside collection is to continue.

Some have been scaremongering about waste collection. Some have objected to the contract renewal process. I guess the huge savings made by our officers will also attract scorn from those same people. Aside from the value for money argument, with an £11 million hole to fill how else do those voices expect this administration to act? We shall see when it comes to the vote who supports the saving of £825,000.

In the circumstances this is a very good budget. If we did not have to deal with this year’s savage cuts, £11 million imposed by the Conservative-led Government, then it would have been different in many respects. So, I call on all members to support this budget. I also call on them to join me in trying to change a national administration intent on savaging local government finances.

Vote for Reg in St Laurence

Reg Copley with Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, discussing issues in St Laurence ward

Reg Copley with Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, discussing issues in St Laurence ward

I am personally delighted that Reg Copley is standing again in St Laurence ward. Reg is a hugely experienced campaigner, arguably the most experienced in the borough, and has fought many elections over the years. He is also a great source of information and a wise counsel.

Reg is also a great comrade, and I regularly exchange ideas with him, as well as occasionally seeking his advice on various issues.

I am convinced he will be a great asset if he returns to the council chamber in Southend-on-Sea.

The horse as ridden by Jes

One of the long-standing opinions is that in a General Election independent voices are squeezed out of the picture, a voice in the wilderness so to speak. Almost everyone will go to their local polling station on Thursday 7th May with one thought uppermost in their mind. Voters will be choosing their Member of Parliament, and by extension stating which Government they would prefer.

This is a generalisation, but I think it will be true in the overwhelming number of cases. Local elections are being held on the same day, and it certainly used to be true that votes cast in a council election would invariably be for the same party as was chosen for the Parliamentary election.

Add in the increased turnout, likely double or more of what is normally cast in local elections, and it becomes obvious that any independent, who also has to contend with a backdrop of blanket coverage for the national parties, is going to struggle to make an impact.

Cllr Paul Van Looy should be facing a fight to the death in his St Luke’s ward. Whilst Labour are giving it a go, both the Conservative and UKIP candidates seem to be asleep. Neither the Greens, nor the Liberal Democrats, have selected (or announced anyway); this is going to be a late show for them.

The Tories made a big show of announcing their slate in the East last year, and by selecting a Rochford Parish Councillor (James Cottis) they were making a statement. Judging by the amount of campaign time Cllr Cottis has put in since selection I do not think it was of the “you really matter to us” variety. Either James is a poor campaigner, or the Conservatives really have given up on St Luke’s.

Roger Weaver’s fanfare was about as far as it got for UKIP in St Luke’s too. He has perhaps been hampered by having a local party more willing to fight amongst themselves than to take it to the opposition; Paul must be enjoying that spectacle.

I fear that it might be an over-used phrase in the coming weeks, but the campaign in St Luke’s is (for the present at least) a two-horse race. It is Phillips versus Van Looy; big party candidate or independent.

In any other year Paul Van Looy would be the favourite. Elected with a handsome majority, an incumbent who is a member of the new, and popular, administration. However.

Jes Phillips, a young mum, has the benefit of a national campaign running aside her own personal one. Usually reluctant residents will come out, and whilst little thought will be given to her campaign, she will be the beneficiary of a vote to banish Cameron from Number Ten.

It promises to be an intriguing contest ….

Southend UKIP: where the vanities of their councillors seemingly out-weigh the concerns of residents

I once had someone tell me that any publicity is good publicity. The famous Oscar Wilde quote comes to mind: “there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

This is not a universal truth. There are occasions when a period of quiet is welcome, especially when the alternative is a series of own goals.

UKIP High Command is of a similar opinion it appears, especially when it comes to their five councillors in Southend-on-Sea.

The last week has seen the effective dismantling of the UKIP group locally. Cllr Waterworth, expelled last week, now looks like he is UKIP’s sole official representative following the suspension of Cllrs Burling, Callaghan, Davies and Moyies.

According to the press release from the Acting Chairman of UKIP’s Southend and Rochford branch (one Cllr Floyd Waterworth) the four suspended councillors cannot

• Use the UKIP logo
• Attend party meetings
• Participate in campaigning
• Use websites to promote UKIP
• Use UKIP in dealings with the media

I think James Moyies and Tino Callaghan need to amend their Twitter accounts prompto.

The press release also includes this gem: ‘However, our campaigning in the constituency is going well. Private polls show we are ahead of the Tories now’. This is a quote from Cllr Waterworth.

I do not believe that Southenders will appreciate a party that has engaged in a civil war for the last six months, and from what I can tell their campaigning has stalled, if not stopped completely. This is a party that has expended more energy fighting each other than it has on working for those who they represent. This is self-obsession on a grand scale, where the vanities of their councillors seemingly out-weigh the concerns of residents.

My message to UKIP in Southend-on-Sea: You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you.


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