Monday, 27 January 2014

Budget Scrutiny

This evening was the first opportunity that opposition members had to scrutinise and debate the 2014/15 budget. Items potentially up for discussion were the spending plans for waste, refuse collections, highways, footpaths, libraries and parks amoungst other things.

The whole discussion on a budget around half a billion pounds lasted just six minutes. There were no questions raised by the Independent Party on capital programme items due to be financed by borrowing. There were no querying of the of the administrations budget proposals. No alternatives put forward. Nothing. We had one short comment in support of keeping our street lights switched on and investing in LED technology.

In fact there was a longer debate on pubs in the town. You could not make it up. Is this the level of representation that voters expect when they voted Independent, Lib Dem or Labour?

Friday, 24 January 2014

West Leigh By-Election Result

After a day pounding the streets, the effort was worthwhile as I am delighted to welcome Georgina Phillips as the latest member of the Conservative Group following her victory in the West Leigh by-election. The result was as follows:

Georgina Phillips - 743
Lib Dems - 688
UKIP - 418
Labour - 149

Total Votes Cast: 1998
Turnout: 26%

Sunday, 19 January 2014

UKIP 2014 Manifesto?

Time for a bit of fun. Here’s a possible UKIP Manifesto for 2014, based purely on the alleged comments and policy positions the media have reported on over the last few months. Though, given they are the party which “always tell the truth” maybe there’s a case that it should be? Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.

    1/ Autism and ADHD are psychobabble created to keep “Lefties” in jobs, or they are caused by parents who don’t care enough about their kids to feed them properly.
    2/ Teachers must be BANNED from teaching about Climate Change.*
    1/  Hang ‘Em High.  Particularly if they are foreign.  Unless they are members or supporters or allies.
    1/ Nut allergies don’t exist – sufferers just haven’t had enough chocolate.
    2/  Kids with Downs Syndrome should be aborted.
    1/ God is punishing the UK with all the “bad weather” because we introduced Same Sex marriage.
    1/ We say we hate the BNP, but really we hope they are going to join us now that Nick Griffin is bankrupt.
    2/ We pretend to hate the EDL too, but do we really?
    1/ We think that all children in care are “takers” from the systemand that they should know what parasites they are. So we tell them.
    1/ Gay people baffle us. They have every right to be Gay, but they should stop causing all this bad weather immediately.
    2/ Female gay people are the most baffling of all.
    1/ Apartheid had some good ideas. Don’t be so quick to knock it.  We should reappraise it.
    1/ A huge number of Bulgarians and Romanians will arrive on January 1st, 2014. How many? Somewhere between 29 Millionand, uh, two dozen.
    2/ More Romanians should come.  This many is disappointing.  We’d based a lot of leaflets on this lie idea.
    3/ Expel ALL migrants.
    4/ … Except if Nigel Farage wakes up on the right side of the bed, as long as he doesn’t revise his view later.
    5/  We’re not racist but…
    1/ We want to cut all taxes while increasing virtually all areas of expenditure. This is possible by continually respending the amount of money we pay to be members of the European Union.
    2/  When it comes to cutting the EU Budget though.  We won’t support that.
    1/ Eastern Europeans are only coming here to claim benefits, but are also “stealing all the jobs.” Simultaneously. This makes perfect sense.
    2/ Everything is somebody else’s fault – a law that makes more sense than Supply & Demand.
    1/  We should be allowed free speech, no matter how crazy we sound.
    2/  … Unless one of our members says something we disagree with.
    3/  If anybody uses free speech against us they should be silenced, banned or otherwise bullied into silence**.
    1/ Everything is a grand conspiracy by a secretive global group to Rule The World.
    2/ Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

West Leigh By-Election - The Real Face of UKIP

With the amount of literature published by the political parties in the lead up to the West Leigh by-election this Thursday, it will give the recycling figures for the ward a healthy boost.

Whilst out again this afternoon campaigning for the excellent Georgina Phillips, there were another couple of leaflets delivered by UKIP to assist the figures.

The first was a glossy leaflet showing all the types of people who are voting UKIP this year.

On the front page one thing that immediately caught my eye was the picture of Winston McKenzie as one of the 'faces of UKIP'. Some may recall that Winston McKenzie was the UKIP candidate in the Croydon North parliamentary by election back in November 2012. Winston made the headlines during the by election for all the wrong reasons by calling gay adoption 'child abuse'. Is this actually the true face of UKIP that residents in West Leigh want to vote for? 

Next up we had UKIP leaflet number 2. This time it wasn't the nastiness but the deceit.

One of the reasons given as to why West Leigh residents should vote for UKIP, is that, 'UKIP councillors do not follow a party whip' and uses the elected UKIP councillors on Essex County Council as the beacon example. What the leaflet will not say however is that last week the Southend Echo did a piece on the Essex County Council UKIP councillors and reported that they have just appointed a Chief Whip!

Do UKIP really think that people will be sucked in by portrayal of the 'nice face of UKIP' and the deceit. Sadly, UKIP seem to think so.  

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Adopting The Independent Party Whip Fetish

Despite the Independent Party in Southend voting en bloc on most issues in the Council Chamber, it can be mildly amusing when their leader Cllr Martin Terry continuously says, straight faced, that his party do not operating a whipping system to ensure that all his members vote the same way on key decisions.

It would seem that the local whip fetish has caught on with their UKIP coalition pals. Fellow local blogger Cllr Ware-Lane, had an excellent post yesterday on the information contained in a UKIP leaflet delivered in West Leigh ahead of the by-election on the 23rd January.

One of the reasons given as to why West Leigh residents should vote for UKIP, is that, according to the author, 'UKIP councillors do not follow a party whip'. Upon catching up with all the local news this evening, there was a feature in today's Echo on UKIP councillors on Essex County Council.

Tucked away in the article, was this little nugget that the UKIP group on Essex County Council have recently appointed, surprise, surprise, a Chief Whip! The claim on whipping in the West Leigh leaflet should hardly come as a surprise as the promoter of the leaflet is, step forward, the one and only UKIP West Shoebury candidate James Moyies!   

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Council budget 2014/15

The proposed budget papers have been released although they remain subject to change before a final budget is agreed at a meeting of the Full Council in February.

In general I would say that this is a budget for austere times, cushioning households from financial pressures whilst spending on things which the public say matter e.g. continuing to budget to improve roads and pavements and street lighting, investing in our children’s futures through school building, school improvement staff and future jobs whilst sustaining the excellence of our in house services achieved over recent years and done through a continued drive for efficiencies and success in levering funds into the town.

Whilst savings have to be made, the budget proposes £52.763M of new capital schemes over the period 2014/15 – 2017/18This includes Airport Business Park (£10M), Victoria Avenue (£8M), Re provision of Carefirst (£1.5M), Other ICT investment (£2.2M), Re provision of Viking Day Centre (£2M), New Primary School Places (£10M), LED Street Lighting (£2.5M), Tesco roundabout (3£.263M), Highway maintenance and improvement (£6.7M) Property refurbishment (£1.2M), Belfairs Swimming Pool (£55K).

To help hard pressed families, it is proposed that Council Tax will be frozen for the third time in four years and car parking charges will be frozen for the sixth time in seven years. 

Adding the proposed savings to those made over the last 8 years means that we will have delivered £79.05 Million of revenue savings on a year on year basis. This has been whilst meeting increasing demand for services and driving up performance across the organisation.  

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Pot and Kettle Part 2

After completing the final part of the delivery of my latest newsletter, I spent the afternoon in West Leigh, campaigning for the excellent Conservative candidate Georgina Phillips ahead of the by-election on the 23rd January.

Back in December, it was reported that an estimated 15,000 attack leaflets were posted through doors across the town by Independent Party councillor Ron Woodley pretending to be from Conservatives.

Following widespread criticism, a similar leaflet has been posted through doors in West Leigh, this time in the third tense, no doubt in the expectation that it will assist his UKIP coalition colleague in the by-election.

Whilst I am sure that the inaccuracies will be highlighted by myself  and other local bloggers in the future, it is Cllr Woodley's comprehension of Council borrowing that baffles me. My colleague, Cllr Holdcroft, has done an excellent piece on the true story of Council borrowing on his blog revealing that the cost of borrowing to the Council is only 3.8% of our current budget.

Still, how the author of the leaflet arrived at these figures should not surprise me considering that he was financial controller of a company that went bust. On a quick inspection of the leaflet, I was surprised that the Independent Party, who claim to represent Southend, chose to get the leaflet printed in Brentwood. Still, now we now that representing Southend does extend to local Southend businesses.

The Oddities of the Independent Party

Last Tuesday in the Echo, there was an article on the current state of the Sea Wall at Barge Pier Road. Over the Christmas period, there was damage to a couple of sections which were reported by my eagle eyed Shoeburyness ward colleague Cllr Roger Hadley.

Readers of this blog may be unaware that as part of the planning permission given for the Garrison development over a decade ago, a section 106 agreement was put in place to ensure that the developers brought the sea defences up to a required standard before the development has been completed. Upon completion, the sea defences would then be handed over to Southend council to be maintained.

Quoted in the article was Shoeburyness Independent Party councillor Mike Assenheim. I am in complete agreement with Mike in that the Sea Wall at Barge Pier Road needs to be brought up to the required standard before the sea defences they are handed over to the council and have made my feelings known to officers on the same lines.

In the same paper, 5 pages along, was a readers letter from Thorpe Bay resident and Shoeburyness ward Independent Party candidate Nick Ward.

Does Nick not talk to his fellow ward party colleagues? This type of campaigning is typical of the Independent Party in Southend. Simply, Nick would rather put lives, homes and livelihoods in West Shoebury at risk but spending council funds on sections of the sea wall that Southend Council as yet do not have responsibility for. It would also appear that Nick is in that typical SKIPP/Friends of Shoebury Common/Independent Party/UKIP do nothing camp at Shoebury Common.

It never ceases to amase me that Independent Party candidates believe that they can continue to say what they like to appease the passing bandwagon without being exposed.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Correcting Inaccuracies Part 3

Still trying to brainwash the public, 'Dear Leader' Peter took to the Echo letters pages one again to repeat his porkie that I refused to attend a debate following questions posed to me.

I exposed the truth back in December as to why I didn't attend by posting the chain of emails. Acting like a modern day internet troll 'Dear Peter' emailed around asking for people to post comments against a previous post on Sunday.

To assist the 'Dear Leader', for those who wish to post comments, I operate a moderation policy and will not publish comments that are offensive or the contributor remains anonymous. The moderation policy will be updated to include anyone related to SKIPP as I can not entertain a group who thinks it is a good idea to set up a squat anywhere over the town as and when they feel like it. Especially graveyards!  

I have publicly stated the reason why I supported the Council's preferred option. This of course differs to the 'Dear Leader' who put forward an alternative flood defence scheme yet believes that Shoebury Common will not flood!

This set of photos was taken on Saturday with no storm surge, no extreme winds and no flood warning issued yet waves were crashing up against the sea wall and breaching the flood defences at Shoebury Common. Lets no forget one of the committee members of the Friends of Shoebury Common actually believes that the current defences at Shoebury Common are a luxury.   

Whilst some will naturally agree or disagree with my stance, as an elected member I will not peoples lives, homes and livelihoods at risk.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Correcting Inaccuracies Part 2

Back in December, I exposed the fib by SKIPP/Friends of Shoebury Common that I refused to attend a debate following questions posed to me by 'Dear Leader' Peter Lovett. Unfortunately, the 'Dear Leader' decided to repeat the same line in an article for the Oracle Newsletter.

Apart from the usual whinge about the lack of democracy when they do not get the answer, response or outcome they desired the article is so factually incorrect I would still be here in 2015 correcting it!

The striking aspect of the article for me is the blatant disregard for the protection of lives, homes and livelihoods which is what the improvement to the improvement of the flood defences at Shoebury Common is all about. There appears to be more concern for Beach Huts. This should not come as any real surprise as the default position of SKIPP/Friends of Shoebury Common is do nothing.

Yesterday afternoon at high tide, there was no storm surge, no extreme high winds yet waves were crashing up against the sea wall breaching existing flood defences.

How the 'Dear Leader' could still possibly believe that Shoebury Common will not flood with the current level of protection is beyond me.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Road Closure

Notices for closures on Elm Road and a section of Grove Walk Footpath in Shoeburyness have been published. The works in Elm Road are to allow Essex & Suffolk Water Company to carry out carriageway repairs to a water main  This is programmed to commence during the evening of 10th January to the following morning. The works for the section of footpath at Grove Walk, is to allow Network Rail’s contactors J Murphy & Sons to erect a canopy over the footbridge where it crosses the railway linesThis is programmed to commence on site from 5th January to 19th January.