Out in St Luke’s, and elsewhere

Cllr Kevin Robinson, Donna Richardson, Cllr Julian Ware-Lane - speaking to St Luke's residents

Cllr Kevin Robinson, Donna Richardson, Cllr Julian Ware-Lane – speaking to St Luke’s residents

This weekend I was out in a mere three wards: St Luke’s, Blenheim Park and Milton. I also know that we had teams out in Kursaal and Westborough.

It was a pleasure to join our St Luke’s candidate, Donna Richardson. If my snapshot is anything to go by then we are on for a Labour landslide here in May. However, that does somewhat fly in the face of the facts of recent elections, which have seen both Conservative and Labour vote shares plummet. This has enabled the rise of the Independents, whose lacklustre representation must worry residents. Their only contribution to debate recently has been Cllr Ayling’s whining about having to pay for paper and ink (currently provided for by the hard-pressed Southend tax-payers).

Cllr Ayling’s only contribution to the blogosphere in three years is a complaint about a reduction to his Special Responsibility Allowance. Come now , Brian, you were not elected for this.

Labour and Conservative vote shares in St Luke's ward, 2001 - 2015

Labour and Conservative vote shares in St Luke’s ward, 2001 – 2015

What wounded beast ventures upon this scene?

It says something when a councillor blogger, silent for three and a half years, decides it is time to write again only when his pocket is under attack. Oh dear.

It makes for priceless reading, so much so that I have included it in its entirety below.

I am not going to tackle every accusation, most of what Councillor Brian Ayling has written is beyond childish. No wonder his tenure as leader of the Independent Group was brief. However, I am curious as to what he thinks he does in his role as councillor that is so radically different from the other fifty in the chamber?

No-one has asked that he refuse his allowance, only that the opinion of the independent body that looked into it (and decided that it should be cut) be respected. This same independent body, by the way, that also recommended rises elsewhere that I objected to (and won majority support for). He has actually come out better than most, if he could only lift those pound signs from his eyes.

Cllr Ayling thinks he deserves more than was offered, the socialists decided that we could not support any rises.

http://brian-ayling.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/august-2015.html

Thursday, 6 August 2015
August 2015
At this moment in time, the very structure of the Administration of Southend Council is at risk. I have been criticised for complaining about a cut in my Special allowance for Chairing the Appeals Committee. All the comments and criticism have come from Labour activists and indeed Councillors. As usual with Labour, the words and the hypothesis are manipulated to create the false and seemingly fraudulent claims of “caring” Socialists. They state that I earn £1,000 for each Committee I sit upon as Chair of the Appeals Committee A. The allowance for 2012 was £4,201 which amounts to a monthly payment of £361.37. The Appeals Committee is very important and provides, if warranted, bus passes for children to get to school and as important, reviews employment disputes. Any dispute can end up in Court with potential costs of tens of thousands of pounds, having to be found by the Council and the taxpayer.

The Labour personnel criticising me do not mention the £5,041 that the Labour Chair of Licensing receives or the other allowances that other Labour Councillors receive. Of course not because Labour is the Party of envy and indeed greed as the latest events with their Lord Sewell have shown.

My basic allowance for the past few years was £8,402 plus the allowance for the Chair of Appeals Committee A which totalled (Feb 2015 Pay slip) £1,084.10 less tax of £146 giving me a monthly income of £938.10. Out of this I pay for my mobile phone, my own Internet and the power to run the Council provided lap top and all car, mileage, insurance expenses involved in my driving around the St. Luke’s Ward to see residents and check on pavements, pot holes, signs, rubbish, verge damage, benefit problems and ASB problems. I work, probably 35 hours a week but it seems like 80 hours and at 35 hours, I receive £6.70 an hour and all my expenses come out of that so I get probably £3.35 an hour!

I will not resort to trying to establish any justification in what I do but I will condemn the Socialists who attempt to criticise me when they fail to refuse their allowances which they could do.

All will come to fruition soon and we will see those that fail to honour their own words and who can only attempt to criticise others, left by the wayside as their supporters realise they speak with forked tongues.

St.Luke’s Voice – Spring 2015

stLukesVoice

Jes on why she is standing

1601120_611664038913337_1732041_n-001I recently asked Jes Phillips why she was standing as the Labour candidate in St Luke’s, and her response is here:

As for why I’m standing… I live locally to St Luke’s so a lot of the issues affecting residents in that area either affect me and my family or could in the future. The only way I know to protect the services (St Luke’s medical and Temple Sutton children’s centre) that we use is to stand up and fight for them. For me that is standing as a representative of local residents, as a Councillor.

It will also provide me with a platform to work in areas that really matter to me, such as helping protect young people from Tory scapegoating. Making those aged 18-21 work 30 hours a week to claim benefits, and not allowing them to access housing benefit makes me angry as I was in that position at when aged nineteen.

I choose to live in Southend. I was not born here but it’s now my home and I want to do everything I can to make it a fantastic place to live. Especially as it’s where my son will grow up, go to school etc.

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 ….

Jes Phillips for St Luke’s

Jes Phillips has been selected to contest St Luke’s ward for the Labour Party. Jess will be hoping to unseat Independent Group councillor Paul Van Looy, which according to amateur pundit Rob Brown is very much on the cards (Crystal Ball 2 – Southend Election Analysis and Predictions).

Weaving; Roger tries out his fourth party

Roger Weaver, one-time Conservative mayor of Southend-on-Sea, has become the latest recruit to UKIP’s cause locally. He has been described as ‘high-profile’, although I think ‘has-been’ may be more accurate. Roger has had no role in politics in Southend for over three years.

Here is Roger Weaver’s recent electoral record:

2002 Eastwood Park Conservative 2nd (and elected)
2003 Eastwood Park Conservative 1st
2011 Westborough Conservative 3rd

In 2005 Roger Weaver joined Alliance Southend, the predecessor to the current Independent Group. He did not defend his Eastwood Park seat when his term expired in 2007.

I heard someone describe Mr Weaver as a political chameleon; aside from being a member of the Conservative Party and sitting as an independent (in the guise of Alliance Southend) I am told he was also at one point a member of the Social Democratic Party. Chameleon may be one way of describing him, confused is the word I would use. I cannot help but wonder how long his flirtation with UKIP will last.

UKIP last put up a candidate in St Luke’s ward, where Mr Weaver will be flying their colours in May, in 2010, finishing sixth out of seven.

The Matryoshka post: I write about Gray writing about St Luke’s

Gray Sergeant has written thoughtful account of his campaign in St Luke’s (St Luke’s Result 2014). I would add a couple of points.

Firstly, it must be remembered that this seat was being defended by a Conservative, a popular Conservative. Gray beat her, ensuring third spot for the blues.

Secondly, in 2012 the Independent Group had a 336 majority – this year that was reduced to 302. (In 2011 it was 601 – there certainly is a trend developing.)

Thirdly, democracy does not exist without opposing views and candidates representing those views. Whatever the St Luke’s residents thought of Labour at least Gray presented them with a socialist alternative.

We must, as democrats, accept the will of the people, and so I offer my congratulations to Cllr Endersby and hope she serves her four years with distinction.

As for Gray, he surely has a bright political future in front of him.

The result:

Caroline Endersby Independent 965 38.6%
Gray Sergeant Labour 663 26.5%
Sally Carr Conservative 557 22.3%
ABC Independent 246 9.8%
Pamela Waldie Liberal Democrat 70 2.8%

Gray Sergeant’s urgent message

GrayUrgent

Avoid Bad Company (or Anything But Conservative or Always Be Careful or Anybody But Caroline or Already Been Chewed or Answer Back Code or Active Bias Circuit)

ABC2There is a curious squabble going on in St Luke’s between the two Independents, and in some ways this highlights the ridiculousness of the anti-politics stance of the Independent Group.

They have claimed that Tony Chytry cannot be a real independent as he has been a Conservative candidate in the past. They conveniently ignore the fact that Brian Ayling has a long-standing Liberal Democrat member who was a Lib Dem councillor in Rochford. As recently as 2007 Brian stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in St Luke’s.

Mr Chytry’s somewhat hysterical writings will win few supporters. I do not believe voters are excessively exercised by the mechanics of local government organisation, which seems to be the main thrust of his manifesto.