HARP’s women-only facility is given the go-ahead

Planning consent has been granted for a women’s homeless hostel at the rear of HARP’s Bradbury Centre. The unit, when built, will accommodate up to nineteen women. Access will be via the York Road establishment, with the Hastings Road entrance being used only for emergencies.

It is intended that the women’s hostel will be staffed exclusively by females.

Something like a quarter of rough sleepers are female, and this facility is definitely needed.

HARP can only house those with recourse to public funds. They also charge a nominal amount for food, although they will feed those in need who have no money. Their facilities are fully utilised, and with a growing need they are looking to expand their offering to the homeless. By the end up the year they will be able to help 140 clinets.

A whiff of hypocrisy from the Victoria Tory candidate

When it comes to leaflets I have a soft spot for the unusual. Whilst there is much to be said for a consistent look and feel (if nothing else, the average lifespan of leaflet is the length of the walk from the front door to recycling bin, so any impact has to be immediate), but I like to see creativity. Where creativity is unwanted, though, is in the text. Political literature should be honest.

Denis Garne, the Conservative hopeful in Victoria ward, has an interesting leaflet. I refer to the design, of course, although interesting may also be applied to what he writes.

Headed ‘Neglect and Extravagance’ he begins thus: Residents of certain parts of our town will know all too well how it is to live in neglected areas.

There is nothing I could disagree with there; I have long campaigned about the huge inequalities on show across the borough.

Mr Garne then goes on to lambast the current administration, whose grip on the council chamber has yet to see its second birthday.

Now, as Cllr Garne (as he was at one point) could be argued to have had a hand in how the town was run (although as a then Labour councillor he would have been in Opposition). But he will know that the borough for the vast majority of the years of its existence, and certainly in recent times, has been run by the Conservative Party. Any fault regarding neglect can be fairly and squarely laid at their door.

He reports about spending plans, either ignorant or choosing to ignore his party’s lavish expenditure, and profligate waste.

Mr Garne also criticises the current trio of Victoria councillors for not living in the ward, failing to point out that neither does he. At least all of the Labour councillors in the borough actually reside in the borough, which cannot be said for his party. To use a word frequently touted by my friend from West Shoebury, Cllr Cox, there is a hint of hypocrisy here.

A reminder that things were not always so blue for Mr Garne

A reminder that things were not always so blue for Mr Garne

Vote! Southend’s best ward

Anyone who has had an email from Cllr Aylen will have seen his sign-off :

Cllr Stephen Aylen
Voted best ward 2015

Prepared as I am to test any theory out, I will now see whether his assertion is borne out by the readership of this humble blog. Please vote!



Snog, marry, avoid (don’t bother puckering up, Ron)

There are fifty-one councillors in Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. Three for each of the seventeen wards.

The Great And Glorious Leader Of The Council, Ron Woodley, is suggesting that the number of councillors could be reduced by a third, saving £250000 (according to reports).

Going from fifty-one to thirty-four will save money, although I disagree with the sums allegedly saved. Since we must keep portfolios, etc, the special responsibilities, and their allowances, will still exist. We only save on basic allowances – which I think saves us less than £147900 per annum.

The Borough had thirty-nine councillors before becoming a Unitary Authority; and the addition of a dozen members was argued for on the grounds of increased workload. I doubt that the merit of that particular argument has gone away.

We could, of course, save money by reducing allowances.

Going from three to two councillors for each ward does allow for the intriguing game of ‘guess who is for the chop?

This must be an easy guess for Thorpe ward – one imagines that the author of this bright idea would be the first to volunteer for the Carousel. Adios Ron.

This grand version of snog, marry, avoid for our electorate does allow for some gladiatorial selection meetings. Will Lamb lose out to Evans and Phillips? Will Byford emerge triumphant in Eastwood Park – seducing those liable to believe his battle-cry of “we are full up” – leaving either Moring or Walker to contemplate a longer retirement than planned. Will Folkard again be reduced to finding yet another safe ward for his polemic abilities. Turning three into two will see all sorts of egos bruised as colleagues fight it out in the battle to survive this cull.

I think we should be looking to make savings in the chamber, but I am not convinced that a reduced membership is at all advisable. One notes that Parliament itself, author of the cuts, is increasing its membership by way of the Prime Minister bestowing so many peerages upon his friends. A classic example of do as I say ….

The need to make savings does not make any of the work go away, and so to enact a cull can only lead to a reduced service for those who elect us. As the town’s population grows it strikes me as perverse that we seek to distance those elected to serve – for distance is an inevitable consequence.

We are supposed to treasure our democracy, not knock it around to suit one agenda or another.

The Milton record

% vote share for Labour and Conservatives candidates in Milton ward, 2001 - 2015

% vote share for Labour and Conservatives candidates in Milton ward, 2001 – 2015

This graph shows the Labour and Conservative vote shares in Milton ward for every local election contested on the current boundaries.

The general picture is of declining Conservative vote share, whilst Labour’s has dipped and recovered. We are still not at the level we were in 2001, although in numbers of actual votes secured we went beyond 2001 this year. Had the Greens not secured 10.9% of the vote then the Conservatives would not have held on in May. The 1658 votes Gary Sergeant attracted would have won in any other year, and if one presumes that the majority of greens support would have come our way then a good majority would have been ours.

I have no idea whether the Greens will put up a candidate this year, my campaign must concentrate on what we will be doing and not be distracted by who the potential opposition is. I have got to concentrate and beating the Tory candidate, for this ward is a tight two-horse race, whatever the actual size of the field.

I am a long way from confident of success, but I know that me and my team will work hard. I am heartened by the huge increase in Labour membership since May, and this augers well for the mechanical side of winning elections.

I will also keep up my campaigning on those issues dear to me. Whatever residents may think of the causes I champion, and consequently what view they hold of me, they cannot accuse me of not being prepared to tackle some of the bigger issues.

Southend Labour says: “Don’t lose your voice!”

As the local authority is dispatching voter registration forms across the borough, the Labour Group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is urging everyone to ensure that they will still “have their voice” when the next set of elections arrive.

There are two sets of elections in 2016: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections, and for the Police and Crime Commissioner. It is also possible that the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union will be held in 2016. No-one can participate in any of these if they are not registered to vote.

Being on the electoral register also improves one’s credit rating, and the register is used for jury selection.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Ware-Lane says “Registering is a legal responsibility, but it is more than that. It ensures that you have a voice. Voting matters too; nothing changes if you do not vote.”

“It’s your money that politicians are spending – and you should have a say in how it is spent”, added Cllr Ware-Lane.

See Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Household Canvass

Blenheim Park Voice summer 2015


Four planning applications for Milton ward

In amongst the latest applications are these four that will interest sime:-

APPLN. NO: 15/00908/CLE
Ward. Milton
Officer: Neil Auger Date Valid. 7 July 2015

APPLN. NO: 15/00959/FUL
Ward. Milton
Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 7 July 2015

APPLN. NO: 15/00960/FUL
Ward. Milton
Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 7 July 2015

APPLN. NO: 15/01029/FUL
Ward. Milton
Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 8 July 2015

On our architectural inheritance in Southend-on-Sea

We are blessed in many ways, those of us who reside in Southend-on-Sea. Despite the occasional ravages of bad taste development we still have a fine stock of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The ward I am privileged to represent is especially enriched by its architectural heritage, and having five conservation areas in the ward is a testament to this.

I think we are beholden to ensure that the inheritance that we enjoy today is passed on to future generations. Whilst I do not for a moment think, or suggest, that no modernisation should be allowed, I do think we have to carefully consider if what we change will be the source of regret in the years to come.

Not everything old is good, and sometimes it is awful. But I believe that the town is enhanced by what has survived the ravages of time and the depredations of those for whom profit supplants all. I would guess that Royal Terrace is the most photographed street in Southend, a testament to old architecture and conservation ideals.

The town is a draw to tourists, and the old buildings play a role in this. From the iconic pier, to Royal Terrace, the Priory and Southchurch Hall, Porters too, and just as important are the legions of fine streets that show the town in all its glory. These not only enhance the lives of those who live here, they help the town’s economy too.

This week we have witnessed another Development Control Committee pass its judgement over a lengthy list of planning applications. In some ways this is a testament to a forward thinking town, that so much is being planned. I just hope that whilst pleasing everyone is nigh impossible, we will move forward in a way that is sympathetic to the character of a Victorian seaside resort.

Are the Tories giving up on the east of Southend?

The most notable thing about the Conservative shadow cabinet on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is the bias towards members drawn from the ranks of those representing wards in the west of the borough.

Had the deputy leader come from a west ward it would have been an east-free zone.

Southend-on-Sea has seventeen wards – nine forming the Southend West constituency (and hence in the ‘west’), and eight part of the Rochford and Southend East constituency (à la the ‘east’).

No places for the two candidates who got their largest votes this year either (Cllrs Phillips and Byford).

There has been a notable blue retreat in east Southend. Tory leader, Cllr Lamb, gives every impression of effectively having abandoned half of the borough.

To paraphrase that great Liberal Winston Churchill: when it comes to the shadow cabinet and the east of the borough the Tory leader is truly a lamb in lamb’s clothing.