Wednesday, 26 January 2011

An Era Finishes

This week, I had to take the difficult decision to cease working at Tottenham Hotspur on matchdays after 16 seasons. I used to laugh when people said to me that you see more of your grandchildren than you do of your own kids when you become a father. How true were they.

Since Miss Cox some 21 months ago both my wife and I have had the pleasure seeing her grow into a fine little lady as we say.

Working full time and representing the West Shoebury take up much of my time and it was a New Years resolution of mine to make more time to spend with my family. Both Mrs and Miss Cox have been very supportive of my work and public duties and now it is my turn I feel to repay that faith so the football lost out.

It is not all sadness as I have made some wonderful friends during my time there but I am looking forward to the day when Miss Cox is old enough for Daddy to take her to see her first Spurs game. Now that makes me feel proud!

Black Sacks Myths

Over the past week there have been a number inaccuracies in the budget coverage in the local media that as portfolio holder need correcting.

Firstly, residents currently receive deliveries of pink, black and white sacks twice a year and not four times a year as quoted. If the budget in its current form is agreed by full council, residents will receive one roll of black sacks twice a year – a reduction but not a cessation in service.

It was also stated that Southend lags behind the rest of Essex in its recycling rates. This is also inaccurate. Currently residents in Southend recycle approximately nearly 50% of its household waste and is on course to recycle 60% of its domestic waste by the end of our current contract with Cory.

It is this impressive performance by you, the residents, which has enabled us to reduce black sack provisions ensuring a cost saving. I will be making this point strongly at cabinet tomorrow

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Lies, Dammed Lies and a Hypocrite?

It seems that since I first started blogging and embracing social media a number of my computer literate colleagues from all parties have cottoned onto this medium as a good way to communicate with residents.

It is also interesting to note how many stories first broke on local blogs, facebook and twitter which have subsequently made the local media.

Some months ago I was made aware of a new blog called
Kursaal Voice. As blogs go it is generally quite entertaining. I have also recently been made aware of another blog called Tory Pier . I became more interested in this blog due to a scathing post about former Labour Kursaal councillor Judith McMahon.

It would seem that on the face of it Kursaal Voice is a blog run a by local resident concerned about the neighbourhood they live in. Given a little investigation by Tory Pier, it would appear that the blog is the work of the above mentioned former Labour councillor Judith McMahon although the blog doesn't confirm this.

There are however a few things that give the identity away when you look closer, e.g. all posts are by Judy, takes the name of the blog from
Victoria Voice a blog run by Labour councillor Ian Gilbert and only allowes anti Conservative comments on there.

What seemed to irate Tory Pier more was the lies and sheer hypocriticism of the now ousted former Labour councillor in this particular

The blog post in question starts with former council comrade pointing out that neither Cllr Robin nor Cllr Burdett live in the Kursaal ward and goes on to say:

“If you don’t live here, how do you know what it’s like? Tory councillors don’t live here.”

The implication being you can’t represent a ward properly if you do not live there. I know I am fortunate enough to represent the ward that I live in but I don't think that living in the ward should be a pre requisite for someones capabilities to be able to represent residents.

If Comrade McMahon has such a big issue with this, why does she not raise this within the Labour group in Southend? For example, the current Labour Councillor in Kursaal, Stephen George, lives in Leigh-on-Sea, several miles from the Kursaal ward. Not only that, but none of the three Labour Councillors in Victoria live in the ward they represent.

Could this be why rumours are rife that Cllr George was knifed in the back for the Labour nomination in Kursaal? I would like to know their response to Comrade McMahon’s concerns and opinion that they can’t represent their wards!

The rant which really took the piss for Tory Pier concerns the increase in the councillor’s allowance that was recently voted through. This increase of 1.2% for all members was designed to stop members from claiming for in borough travel expenses - a move which overall saves the council money.

According to the alledged posting from Comrade McMahon, Cllrs Burdett and Robin voted for this increase was “because now they cannot claim expenses to travel to the place where they don’t live”.

This takes the biscuit for three main reasons. First, the accounts available show that during his time as councillor, Blaine Robin claimed a total of zero for travel expenses. Second, Cllr Burdett has not been elected long enough to be included in an up to date set of accounts.

so where did Comrade McMahon find the figures for the travel expenses that it is suggested Cllr Burdett has claimed? So to say that Cllr Burdett and Cllr Robin voted because they could not claim travel expenses is a complete lie perpetrated by a prospective candidate in the 2011 Local Elections. Neither Cllr Robin or Cllr Burdett has claimed travel expenses from what I can gather.

Last, and by no means least, is Comrade McMahon’s own record as Kursaal ward councillor. Of course, McMahon would never claim travel expenses. It would be the height of hypocrisy, had she claimed travel expenses during her time as a Kursaal councillor.

But wait. What’s this? Turn to page 100 of the accounts of Southend Borough Council for the year ended 31 March 2008. What do we learn? That one Judith McMahon claimed £228.80.

Oh Dear, it seems that New Labour is alive and well.

Save Our Libraries...What Nonsense

It appears once again the Independent Party are playing political games to try to frighten residents into supporting them. They have been suggesting to residents in Westborough that plans are afoot to close Westcliff Library and in Shoeburyness, in a leaflet delivered just before Christmas, that Thorpedene and Friars Libraries are at risk.

This is complete nonsense. At no time during the preparation of the budget for the coming year has any member of the Conservative administration or senior officer indicated any plan to close any of the town's libraries.

I'm sure in the lead up to the elections we will see in the Independent Party literature how they have saved their library....don't be fooled by it now boys and girls!

2011/12 Budget

Today is an important day as the budget plans for the next financial years are formally released. All members of the council will receive these papers and I will have the opportunity to debate these in cabinet next week and also respond to questions in scrutiny.

Unlike in previous years, I hope all the three opposition parties engage in the debate so we can best constructive dialogue possible.

Happy New Year

It may seem somewhat belated by I would like to wish all West Shoebury residents a happy new year. Having recently just come back from a short break with the family at Disneyland Paris campaigning has already started in West Shoebury for the local elections and also as important the referendum on the the use of the Alternative Vote (AV) in Westminster Elections.

It was also pleasing upon my return to hear that Southend Council has been shortlisted for 'Council of the Year'. The result will be known later in the year and I will keep you posted on the result